GRDadof3

What are Grand Rapids' best assets?

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What would you say are Grand Rapids best assets today? What are its best assets to come?  When I say "Grand Rapids" I would say it applies to the whole metro GR/West Michigan region. 

Backstory: I met some people moving here from Denver this past week and they (she) really put me through the ringer in a discussion about Denver's economy/assets versus Grand Rapids'. They have concerns they're making the right decision. They cannot help equate Grand Rapids' economic fortunes with Michigan's. 

Put yourself in this position and how would you respond? Stay in Denver? :rofl::P  Just kidding, I don't think so personally. 

 

 

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My daughter works for the largest AE company in the US and thus interacts with offices around the country. It's not unusual for her co-workers in distant offices to think GR is a suburb of Detroit and the associated negative things.  I've always said how Detroit is viewed so is GR and the State of Michigan., therefore we need to be supportive of any effort to make Detroit great again.

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GR vs Denver is tough. I feel GR competes well against equally sized cities. For people in my office that come from "interior" states that have relocated to W MI people are blown away by the quantity of available water options. Lake MI, inland lakes, rivers, up north (I feel that TC can be a selling point for GR as well. Schools are also pretty good in most of the metro.

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Great schools (I have a lot of east coast friends that are shocked by the quality of schools and programs we have (immersion, STEM) without having to pay for private schools. Proximity to natural resources (though Denver has that), quick commute times, affordability of housing, etc. I personally think our downtown is more interesting than Denver’s (though they have the pro sports teams). We’ll also legalize marijuana soon, so they won’t miss home. haha

I personally think Detroit is a pretty cool town, but maybe we should just call ourselves a northern suburb of Chicago. :)

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I don't think G.R. and Denver are a fair comparison because they are two completely different cities in geography  and size.  I assume someone making that move would be doing so for a job which means they could buy more house for the money in G.R.  But I think the area's greatest asset is proximity to Lake Michigan (and all the Great Lakes for that matter.)  I think folks in Michigan sometimes take the lakes for granted, but they really are a big deal.  The lakes are by far what I miss the most about Michigan - especially Lake Superior.  Texas doesn't have one single natural lake entirely inside its expansive borders.  So yeah, the lakes are a big deal.  

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In what context was she referring to Assets?  Cleveland has amazing cultural assets in its art museum, orchestra and other things,  but that doesn't mean squat for it's future outlook.  Did she not realize that she moved to one of the lowest unemployment rates/highest growth of educated workforce in the Midwest?  Sounds like she needs to take a xanax, and chase it with some Chardonnay while she ends up in a 5000sf home with excellent suburban schools,  and paying 1/3rd what's she'd pay in Denver.   Then she can continue working herself up into a histrionic frenzy over the possible bad decision, while driving in the extra car she bought from all the money she saved.  :cry:

Next time you see her give her a book on economics, and one on the history of Michigan.  So she can understand how the economic growth in the region has worked for the last 60 years, followed by schooling herself in how different Grand Rapids is compared to the post industrial cities in the Great Lakes region, and why it's always grown in comparison.  

*Although if she's basing her opinion on the fact that our infrastructure looks like it's falling apart I don't blame her.  I blame the state of Michigan and it's epic inability to get out of it's own way.  I think there are a lot of people from high growth states that invest in their infrastructure that think they've moved to the 3rd world when they see the rusty freeway overpasses, potholes, and weeds on the side of the road here.   We see it everyday so we don't notice it as much.  When I first moved home after college it was all I could see.  It really is a terrible representation of what the actual economic situation is. 

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13 hours ago, Raildude's dad said:

My daughter works for the largest AE company in the US and thus interacts with offices around the country. It's not unusual for her co-workers in distant offices to think GR is a suburb of Detroit and the associated negative things.  I've always said how Detroit is viewed so is GR and the State of Michigan., therefore we need to be supportive of any effort to make Detroit great again.

Comparing Grand Rapids to Detroit would be like comparing Pueblo to Denver. Whatever Denver is, surely Pueblo also is. 

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Beer scene (which is better than Denver IMO), Lake Michigan, beach towns, Manistee National Forest and associated natural areas, cost of housing/living, our diverse and intact neighborhoods (comparable), hiking and mountain biking opportunities (I understand that Denver has this but we have different types here, less downhill MB, more singletrack, etc.), easy access to Chicago (3rd most populous city in US), colleges/universities/research institutions (Denver has this too), our regional trail and rail-trail system, and endless paddling (kayak, SUP, etc.) opportunities with our quantity of rivers/lakes/Lake Michigan. 

 

EDIT: Wine growing regions within a reasonable drive (we have five north and south of us in the Fennville AVA, Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Tip of the Mitt AVA)

Edited by demhem
Wine

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14 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

What would you say are Grand Rapids best assets today? What are its best assets to come?  When I say "Grand Rapids" I would say it applies to the whole metro GR/West Michigan region. 

Backstory: I met some people moving here from Denver this past week and they (she) really put me through the ringer in a discussion about Denver's economy/assets versus Grand Rapids'. They have concerns they're making the right decision. They cannot help equate Grand Rapids' economic fortunes with Michigan's. 

Put yourself in this position and how would you respond? Stay in Denver? :rofl::P  Just kidding, I don't think so personally. 

 

 

What do they value the most? Are the assets they listed off things that are exclusive to a large city? Or are they things that Grand Rapids can counter as a medium-sized city?

What Grand Rapids offers, in my opinion, is stability. It isn't a boom or bust town. It is diverse economically and somewhat culturally. It has a stable (yet low) income base with a marketplace that is lower in prices compared to a city like Denver. Any home they buy likely will never go belly-up like they did in the 2000s. They will always have an endless supply of fresh water, where as in Colorado - and the rest of the western US - they're running out. We have an inland sea to take advantage of from its beaches to its boating and fishing. We also have thousands of inland lakes and rivers. They have a few reservoirs. Wildfires never happen here. They happen out west on an almost regular basis. Our biggest downfall is our proximity to Lake Michigan with our 5-6 months of snow with constant snow cover. Denver gets snow storms, but then the snow melts and the weather is great until the next snow storm.

Now...If you want to talk things to do...Denver will always outpace us. We have breweries, the outdoors, and minor league sports. A city the size of Denver has everything (minus the beaches). 

Edited by GRLaker

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Our best asset is stability, and relative isolation.

People around here are more chill. Fairly low crime, very safe neighborhoods, people dont engage in the civil strife that you get in big cities. We are separated from Chicago by a lot of water, and from Detroit by other cities to hopefully filter out all but the most determined. It's cheap and easy to live here

We also dont have earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tidal waves, or shut-down cities over .25" of snow.

 

Come to GR if you want to take a breather from the world.

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No comparison, I think Denver beats us on any rational index.  We have a lot going for us right now - and I do love my city - but we have a weak willed city government and a dumpster fire of a state government.  Our infrastructure is in bad need of modernization and maintenance.   The northern 2/3rds of the state is an economic and demographic sink hole (if only we could gift the UP to Wisconsin).

If I was them I certainly would not move here.  Stay in Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, ... all of which have a more certain future.

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25 minutes ago, whitemice said:

No comparison, I think Denver beats us on any rational index. 

Not true, we have more tall blond women.

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33 minutes ago, whitemice said:

No comparison, I think Denver beats us on any rational index.  We have a lot going for us right now - and I do love my city - but we have a weak willed city government and a dumpster fire of a state government.  Our infrastructure is in bad need of modernization and maintenance.   The northern 2/3rds of the state is an economic and demographic sink hole (if only we could gift the UP to Wisconsin).

If I was them I certainly would not move here.  Stay in Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, ... all of which have a more certain future.

Cost of living is a rational index and we certainly beat Denver there. Without knowing what rational indexes you're referring to, i'm not sure I can agree with your catch-all blanket statement.

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They're moving here to be closer to family actually, and both she and her husband work from home and can live basically anywhere. They're definitely going to buy here and are committed, but they had concerns about "Michigan's economy" and it's relative lack of diversification and ability to handle the next recession.

As far as housing goes, I looked up their current home and it's in a new development near Denver airport and the Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Their yard will definitely be bigger here :)  and the home here will be slightly bigger and very similarly priced, actually.  200 square feet larger here actually for about the same price.

I just wondered what the UP group would say about the "assets" here because it's hard to argue the Michigan lack of diversified economy.  I told them West Michigan is not Michigan and they said "yeah right." :)

I did say that GR is not Denver and will never be, but we definitely hold our own in our weight category lol. 

 

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Some of these things may have been mentioned but as someone who has lived in both cities, I can say that GR and Michigan tends to get a bad rap from outsiders, generally grouping it with other midwestern stereotypes like all of Michigan is Detroit crappy or Minnesota cold or Nebraska boring ect. Denver on the other hand tends to get the opposite and imo is overhyped.  So comparing the two cities and explaining what some of the best assets are pretty much boil down to ease of getting around and lower costs. Of course a big one is the water, lakes and diverse outdoors with EASY access, no you arent 100 miles from Vail skiing but you dont have to deal with bumper to bumper traffic either and on that note, Michigan drivers are MUCH better than Colorado drivers, they are pretty much oblivious to others on the roads and there are traffic backups and accidents everywhere no matter the time of day or weather. CO of course has mountains but you can do many of the same things in the MI outdoors and  easier. More people in MI tend to have boats, atvs, campers, toys, ect.  You can ice fish, snowmobile, hunt, boat, camp, trail ride ect. all over plus there is an advantage to being much closer to other lager cities like Detroit, Chicago or Toronto, Denver is very secluded and a day + drive to anywhere, the airport has a lot of flight options but it also takes for ever to get to and get to your gates (Denver landing your plane exiting and getting to downtown would take an hour and a half, GRR exiting plane and getting downtown would take 45 min). Also noticeable cost of living difference and even food/drink and especially beer prices. A really fast growing economy like Denver has a lot of downsides, construction everywhere, understaffed restaurants and stores everywhere, undersized parking lots. I have heard that W. MI tends to be closed off to outsiders but in general is a much friendlier place than Denver at least in casual encounters like driving, or stores clerks or on the sidewalk where in Denver people will avoid eye contact at all costs let alone say "hi" in passing. Michigan taxes are less than anywhere around Denver. There tends to be less restrictive laws ie. fireworks and buying regular beer at the grocery or convenience store, ect. Theres a little more of a culture in MI than CO where hardly anyone in Denver is from there. People like to say CO has great weather but its not all that great, compared to GR, Denver gets smoggier, dustier, windier, hotter in the summer and colder overnight lows in the winters (my car died and never started again when it got -25), plus the sun is very powerful there and easy to get burned some some people. Also to add about the economic concern here,  Denver isnt recession proof either, there was a time that the economy there was heavily tied to oil and gas and ag, those industries took a hit and so did Denver which had a couple decades of declining population and home prices. The economy there cant really hang their hat on one industry and is well diversified but for midwest standards, so is GR, theres a lot of manufacturing here which isnt really in CO but its not all automotive and even the automotive here is mostly lower teir and OEM suppliers so that diversity in itself as manufacturing and automotive wont ever go away. 

No place is perfect and GR might not be for them but I like the idea of being able to live in a place like Hudsonville with some property and nicer, newer house for less and even in rush hour can be downtown, the airport or the beach in under 30 minutes.  Ramble over...

Edited by GR8scott
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One thing to keep in mind when bringing up the lower cost of living is the wage scale is lower too. So whatever money is saved from lower costs may be offset by smaller paychecks. 

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20 hours ago, jthrasher said:

Pretty sure Denver doesn't have a giant Castle Apartment building.  They can't compete with that.  Mic drop.   haha.  

 

images.jpeg

They sort of do. It's called the Gaylord Rockies Resort out by the airport. Saw it a few weeks ago under construction. 

Aerial_Photos_10.17.2017_(1)_Page_4_Imag

 

It's gigantic and looks like a cartoonish castle:

gaylord-1-1080x675.jpg

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4 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

They sort of do. It's called the Gaylord Rockies Resort out by the airport. Saw it a few weeks ago under construction. 

Aerial_Photos_10.17.2017_(1)_Page_4_Imag

 

It's gigantic and looks like a cartoonish castle:

gaylord-1-1080x675.jpg

Thats WAY better!  It looks like it's a suburb of Dubai by those photos. haha

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19 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

They sort of do. It's called the Gaylord Rockies Resort out by the airport. Saw it a few weeks ago under construction. 

Aerial_Photos_10.17.2017_(1)_Page_4_Imag

 

It's gigantic and looks like a cartoonish castle:

gaylord-1-1080x675.jpg

So. Much. Brown. There is an asset for Grand Rapids...We actually have green lawns, trees, farmland, etc. 

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1 minute ago, GRLaker said:

So. Much. Brown. There is an asset for Grand Rapids...We actually have green lawns, trees, farmland, etc. 

I know.  When I was out there for a wedding in June I mentioned to someone there that it will be shock going back home, because we live in a rainforest compared to where we were in Denver. She didn't know what I meant, had never been to Michigan before. ^_^

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51 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

I know.  When I was out there for a wedding in June I mentioned to someone there that it will be shock going back home, because we live in a rainforest compared to where we were in Denver. She didn't know what I meant, had never been to Michigan before. ^_^

Yes agreed.  People think i'm crazy because I prefer the lush green east of the Mississippi, over the brown hills and weeds of the west. 

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58 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

I know.  When I was out there for a wedding in June I mentioned to someone there that it will be shock going back home, because we live in a rainforest compared to where we were in Denver. She didn't know what I meant, had never been to Michigan before. ^_^

TRUTH. I experience the reverse when I visit Michigan from California.  CA has vegetation, but it's still a desert.  Coming from the brown hills of CA, the lush green of Michigan is overwhelming.

Edited by RegalTDP

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