GRDadof3

West Michigan/Grand Rapids Economy

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Well I think the biggest factor in that comparison is that Rochester peaked in population in 1950 like so many other industrial cities.  Grand Rapids has been a little up and down over the decades, but this comparison really only works in the past 10-15 years or so.   In 1950 Rochester's population was almost double that of Grand Rapids.   To me that answers the question of vibrancy.   GR has been on the rise, where Rochester has been battling decline. 

 

I know, but the cities are so similar, that it's interesting that one declined and one did not over the last 20 years. What's the magic formula? (or is there one?). I would say that having Xerox and Kodak as two of your largest employers certainly doesn't help, but Steelcase also used to be one the largest here and is a fraction of its size that it was back in the 90's. 

 

What makes for a vibrant growing metro area and what does not? It's not always good weather (Tucson is not growing as fast as GR) as the media would portray. 

 

Does Grand Rapids have some kind of "emergence" theory going on? That a lot of other cities this size do not?

 

If you were given the task of taking a group of visitors from Rochester on a bus tour around the city of GR to show off the "most exciting and/or interesting" parts of the city, where growth is happening, you'd really have a hard time coming up with a tour that didn't last all day long. If you included the lakeshore it'd have to be a 2 day tour. :)

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One of their major streets is also Monroe.

They also have a nicer bridge.

 

They also have ONE Frank Lloyd Wright home that is a museum of sorts. 

 

Also, check out their street grid. It's almost as if two distinct downtowns are coming together (like GR):

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Rochester,+NY/@43.1575475,-77.6043148,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89d6b3059614b353:0x5a001ffc4125e61e

 

Oh look at that, a Flatiron building:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Rochester,+NY/@43.157572,-77.604313,3a,75y,90.23h,89.64t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sce5whQoVQCq7eec9qrkbgw!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89d6b3059614b353:0x5a001ffc4125e61e!6m1!1e1

 

 

Weird......

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There are a lot of similarities to both cities, but Rochester was a city of the 20th century, hopefully Grand Rapids will be a city of the 21st century.  Like was mentioned, the city of Rochester was nearly twice the size of Grand Rapids in the mid 20th century, and thus had/has a larger downtown, with taller buildings, and more commerce and culture. Fortune 500 companies like Kodak and Xerox brought lots of high paying jobs, both white collar and blue collar making for a very strong and stable city.  The demise of Kodak has been disastrous for Rochester.

 

While Grand Rapids was a strong and stable city in the 20th Century, I think the city is better positioned moving forward.  It's diverse economy, and can do - collaborative spirit, is a huge advantage moving forward.  

 

I even hear that Tesla is now in town.  Apparently the just purchased Riviera Tool in Cascade. 

 

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2015/05/07/tesla-acquires-michigan-based-auto-supplier/70931142/

 

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/05/tesla_acquisition_revives_west.html#incart_river

Edited by mpchicago

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Well, to start, we should factor in the Erie Canal, which was a major waterway from the 1820s to the 1950s.  Though the cities are the same age, Rochester's population boomed to 36,000 in 1850 (a major city back then) while GR was still around 2600.  Though inner-city populations peaked in 1950, Buffalo used to be a major port and a center of cultural influence prior to that, and the Buffalo-Rochester relationship was probably similar to, say, Dallas and Fort Worth today.  That all changed when the Seaway opened, which was like a one-two punch when combined with the suburbanization going on at the same time.  Rochester's biggest bright spot is that at least it's not Buffalo.

 

But none of that explains what's happening in GR these days.  It's an interesting question!  Something to ponder...

Edited by RegalTDP

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Well, to start, we should factor in the Erie Canal, which was a major waterway from the 1820s to the 1950s.  Though the cities are the same age, Rochester's population boomed to 36,000 in 1850 (a major city back then) while GR was still around 2600.  Though inner-city populations peaked in 1950, Buffalo used to be a major port and a center of cultural influence prior to that, and the Buffalo-Rochester relationship was probably similar to, say, Dallas and Fort Worth today.  That all changed when the Seaway opened, which was like a one-two punch when combined with the suburbanization going on at the same time.  Rochester's biggest bright spot is that at least it's not Buffalo.

 

But none of that explains what's happening in GR these days.  It's an interesting question!  Something to ponder...

 

 

It is interesting. It would make a great case study, because frankly, if you compare the GR area to many other cities of its size, and to the State of Michigan, we shouldn't be doing as well as we are. We've lost some major employment (Steelcase for instance), the weather is basically not great, we have a heavy manufacturing base. 

 

But other than major investments from the Amway family downtown, which certainly helps, the growth in most of the city is organic "from the ground up." 

 

I do think we are poised well for the 21st Century, and really haven't even seen anything yet. 

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Well, to start, we should factor in the Erie Canal, which was a major waterway from the 1820s to the 1950s.  Though the cities are the same age, Rochester's population boomed to 36,000 in 1850 (a major city back then) while GR was still around 2600.  Though inner-city populations peaked in 1950, Buffalo used to be a major port and a center of cultural influence prior to that, and the Buffalo-Rochester relationship was probably similar to, say, Dallas and Fort Worth today.  That all changed when the Seaway opened, which was like a one-two punch when combined with the suburbanization going on at the same time.  Rochester's biggest bright spot is that at least it's not Buffalo.

 

But none of that explains what's happening in GR these days.  It's an interesting question!  Something to ponder...

As an avid Buffalo Sabres fan, i travel to Buffalo to take in games every so often. The city of Buffalo is also slowly turning itself around. They have begun to build around the arena as well as the old Erie Canal. They've dredged part of it up for skating and such during the winter.

 

Plus, that hockey team is going to a threat to the eastern conference really soon.

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Not sure if this was posted elsewhere but it's interesting that Tesla is supposedly interested in the area:

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2015/05/06/tesla-motors-acquisition-riviera-tool-grand-rapids/70916758/

 

Yes, see post 79  ;)  This certainly could be very good news.  It would be nice to see an expansion project of their operations here.

Edited by mpchicago

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The pages always refresh on my iPad in a weird manner. Anyways, it is nice to see that we're getting some more attention.

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It would be so cool if Tesla sets up in a major way in Michigan by planting all of their work only in GR or Ottawa and Muskegon counties as a big screw you to the big 3 in Detroit.

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It would be so cool if Tesla sets up in a major way in Michigan by planting all of their work only in GR or Ottawa and Muskegon counties as a big screw you to the big 3 in Detroit.

 

It has happened before. West Michigan lost. Looks like we're poised for a comeback. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_automobile_manufacturers_of_Michigan

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This announcement was a big deal:

 

https://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=dw5MG3dZSuhapiM6MVQFs3r5GKR2M&q=tesla+grand+rapids&lr=English&hl=en&sa=X&ei=z65MVaCOO8yfgwSYmIGwDQ&ved=0CCgQqgIwAA

 

Their plants are probably not that large, since their volumes are low. But they are getting into battery technology, which West Michigan has successfully attracted several battery plants.

 

Would be cool to see them build a campus on the old GM plant site in Wyoming. A real "sharp stick in the eye" to GM. 

 

 

 

 

 

Their plant in Fremont California. They'd have a lot more access to a supply base and automotive R&D here than there. 

 

hero@2x.jpg?3

 

 

factory_map_large.jpg

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I noticed this in the Google feed - CNBC reporting the penny stock Riviera Tool shooting up 10000% after the Tesla acquisition:

 

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102662082

 

...And then not even 40 minutes ago, the Free Press is reporting all those stocks aren't real, as Riviera ceased to be publicly traded 8 years ago:

 

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2015/05/08/tesla-motors-riviera-tool-penny-stock-finra-trading-halt/26971439/

 

Hilarious!  Hold on to your money, guys.

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Also, hopefully Lansing will do away with that stupid law preventing Teslas from being sold in MI.  You know, stop using laws to hurt a Michigan business, know what I'm saying...?

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Also, hopefully Lansing will do away with that stupid law preventing Teslas from being sold in MI.  You know, stop using laws to hurt a Michigan business, know what I'm saying...?

Tesla just can't sell teslas. They can set up a dealership model to sell their cars here if the choose.

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Tesla just can't sell teslas. They can set up a dealership model to sell their cars here if the choose.

 

Why should they be forced to use a model they don't consider beneficial to their business?

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Why should they be forced to use a model they don't consider beneficial to their business?

Because Michigan laws concerning dealerships are wack. They protect established new car dealerships and stifle innovation.

Edited by temporary.name
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Michigan was not the first state to put that law into effect.  Their were several states that already had similar laws for the very same reason.  

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Michigan was not the first state to put that law into effect.  Their were several states that already had similar laws for the very same reason.  

Texas has that same stupid law which is surprising considering how pro-business Texas is in general.  It's all because of the powerful Automobile Dealers Association lobby that will do anything to protect their outdated business model.

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Texas has that same stupid law which is surprising considering how pro-business Texas is in general.  It's all because of the powerful Automobile Dealers Association lobby that will do anything to protect their outdated business model.

 

Exactly.  All it does is make Michigan look afraid of new business.  It's embarrassing.  Despite all the good news in GR lately, Michigan is still fighting an image that its economy is stuck in the past, and this reinforces it.  Texas doesn't have that problem.

 

But the point is, Tesla is a Michigan business now, so there's no point in the state actively trying to hinder it.

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Exactly.  All it does is make Michigan look afraid of new business.  It's embarrassing.  Despite all the good news in GR lately, Michigan is still fighting an image that its economy is stuck in the past, and this reinforces it.  Texas doesn't have that problem.

 

But the point is, Tesla is a Michigan business now, so there's no point in the state actively trying to hinder it.

Except that traditional auto still out employs tesla 1000-1? Now, if tesla was going to build that $5B giga battery factory in Michigan vs Reno, NV, then they may have had some clout to enact change.

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I hear from a knowledgeable source that this regulation could be revisited soon in Lansing—and that this was in the works before Tesla announced their acquisition here.

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