Published in Economic Development
Left to right: Tom Welch, Carol Van Andel, and Dick DeVos Left to right: Tom Welch, Carol Van Andel, and Dick DeVos COURTESY PHOTO

Grand Action relaunches to focus on transformational projects in Grand Rapids

BY Monday, March 09, 2020 09:54am

GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Action, the business group that pushed some of the largest downtown developments over the last 25 years, plans to resume operations with new leadership.

Carol Van Andel, Dick DeVos and Tom Welch, the regional president of Fifth Third Bank, serve as co-chairs of Grand Action 2.0, which intends to “to foster public-private collaborations on transformational projects that benefit health, education, science, the arts, economic vitality, and the residents of the region,” according to an announcement this morning.

“After 25 years of visionary work and collaboration, we can easily see the tangible economic impact of the past work of Grand Action,” Carol Van Andel said in a statement. “It is now time to re-engage with the community to continue the momentum on new ways to build on and collaborate to promote an even more compelling and welcoming culture.”

DeVos was involved as well in the original version of Grand Action, which formed in 1992 and went on hiatus in early 2018 with the retirement of co-chairs John Canepa and David Frey.

During that time, Grand Action pushed major downtown developments such as Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center, the relocation of Michigan State University’s medical school to Grand Rapids and the Secchia Center, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, renovation of DeVos Performance Hall and the Grand Rapids Civic Theater.

“The widespread cultural and economic impact of those projects has been tremendously important for the region, and it is the type of impact that keeps building each and every day,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc. “Not only did those projects create jobs, income and tax revenues for the region but they also made the region more attractive for other businesses to relocate here.”

Those projects combined accounted for $420 million in direct capital investment that included raising $130 million in private funding.

“We are fortunate to have a powerful sense of community spirit in the region which has helped drive our economic success,” Welch said. “It is imperative that we carry on the amazing work of the original Grand Action group in order to build on past successes and shape a vibrant city for the next 25 years.” 

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