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GRDadof3

It's all of our responsibilities to sell West Michigan

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Forum invites all to recruit for Medical Mile

By Kristina Riggle

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- Michigan State University's new medical school is an exciting development for this area, but now the challenge is to find and recruit the best medical minds available.

And part of that effort means convincing them Grand Rapids and West Michigan are great places to live. Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc., and Dr. Marsha Rappley, dean of the MSU College of Human Medicine, addressed this issue Thursday at a meeting of Inforum, an organization for professional women.

Klohs challenged the crowd of 200 or so people at Grand Valley State University's Eberhard Center to make the region a welcoming place for all people. She called it "cultural competency."

Not only for the med school, but for the 550 people needed at VAI II and hundreds more needed at Spectrum over the next 3 - 4 years. Do you help "sell" the area? Do you help make West Michigan an open and inviting community to newcomers?

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I'd say so.

I am always sure to take newcomers to my favorite local restaurants, take them on the "scenic" routes through EGR, East Hills, Downtown, and Heritage Hill instead of the quick route, and point out new developments. Occasionally, I'll make reference to something that Grand Rapids did first, or is the best in.

Personal selling, not advertising or PR, is the BEST way to market anything.

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Do we really have to sell anything? I mean, unless you don't like "down home," the area pretty much sells itself. Has Metro GR come to a point that people have to say something good in order for outsiders to notice?

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Do we really have to sell anything? I mean, unless you don't like "down home," the area pretty much sells itself. Has Metro GR come to a point that people have to say something good in order for outsiders to notice?

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Yes, by all means it still needs to be sold. When I say sold, I mean "touted". Many, no MOST, people in the U.S. and internationally have no clear picture of what Grand Rapids and West Michigan are like. And with the state of the state's economy, they will most likely lump us in as "Michigan".

Pretend like you have never been to or heard of Grand Rapids and have just found out you will be moving here, or there is a very lucrative job transfer for you here. You think Grand Rapids, Michigan is the same as Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Of course, most of us know better but do other people? Start doing a search on the internet and see what you find out about Grand Rapids. What kind of picture is portayed? Say you wanted to find out about the schools, the culture, crime, opportunities, economy, employers, shopping, neighborhoods, the future of the area.

If you are committed to Grand Rapids and West Michigan, your future livelihood just might depend on it.

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Of course, I'll keep saying that its a great place all around. I've done that on more than a few occasions when people ask of where I'm from. My responsibilities start at ambassador and end at salesman. It seems that Medical Mile is having trouble attracting non-Whites and non-Americans. :dontknow: Something tells me this goes way beyond nice neighborhoods and great schools -- but selling the area as socially transforming.

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If I was in that position my search would start on the Internet. Google points to: www.grandrapids.org. They have a "Newcomer Relocation Packet" for purchase at $5.00. I might even ask around my social network to see if anyone has an opinion of the place. Heck even do a Google Image search and find Flickr photos. This could be a helpful resource for potential employees to the area.

I remember this article that touches on the whole recruitment subject.

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On the several other forums and discussion groups I frequent (with subject matter on everything from music to being over 50), I mention this place. Unique position: I decided to live here. And every day I like it more. This is brought out in sig lines and casual comments, as well as replies to posts.

Yesterday I updated my web page for the contra dance in Holland, explaining that this is Michigan, we are tough, a couple inches of sn-w should not keep anyone home on the couch because the fun will be happening as scheduled.

Not to mention the human wayfinding sign stuff I'm always pulling when asked for directions. Been known to sketch a map for them on a business card, and tell them to call me if they get lost.

Birgit Klohs should send me a medal.

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Since this topic is about making GR a welcoming place for all, I thought I'd share a recent experience I just had. I volunteer Friday afternoons at The Network in Eastown (our local LGBT community center www.the-lgbt-network.org ). Anyway, last Friday I took a call from a young man in LA who was looking for a transfer in his company, because he was tired of the hectic west coast. His choices were GR, Cincinnati or Tulsa I believe and he was trying to find out which cities were gay friendly. His boss in LA was apparently from Michigan and had warned him that he would not be welcome in GR, because it's known to be such a conservative place. Well, he did some research and found our community center's website and thought he'd call to get another opinion. I did my best to sell the area. I told him about how much it has changed in the last ten years. There's certain neighborhoods that are very gay-friendly, Heritage Hill, Cherry Hill, Eastown & even EGR. I also e-mailed him several links to various web-sites about the city (including Urban Planet), to show him all the change that's going on here. My point about all of this, is that at least once a month, I take calls from people relocating wanting to know how gay friendly GR is. The general reputation we have out there is that were mainly family focused and not very accepting of other lifestyles....

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I think diversity and tolerance will have a huge impact on whether we attract the type of people we are looking for. I don't know how gay-friendly Grand Rapids is, but it is something we should work toward. There is a lot of economic power within the gay community. It can also be said that a lot of "what is cool" is driven by the gay community who are a little more willing to try something different, take chances, etc. I don't think Heritage Hill, Cherry Hill or Fairmount Square would be where they are today without the gay and lesbian community.

Another issue is religion. Tolerance toward other beliefs is a must if we want to attract world-class talent!

Joe

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First time poster here, long time lurker...

First off, I'd like to tell you all that I really appreciate your updates/pics (especially GRDad) and the interesting conversation...

I grew up in GR and moved a few years ago down here to sunny FL while my wife completes her medical training...

Like many others, we are trying to decide if we will be coming back to settle down... We love the improvements and the new opportunities in GR and are following the city closely.

I try to sell GR every chance I get as most down here in FL don't know anything at all about GR.

Keep up the good work :thumbsup:

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First time poster here, long time lurker...

First off, I'd like to tell you all that I really appreciate your updates/pics (especially GRDad) and the interesting conversation...

I grew up in GR and moved a few years ago down here to sunny FL while my wife completes her medical training...

Like many others, we are trying to decide if we will be coming back to settle down... We love the improvements and the new opportunities in GR and are following the city closely.

I try to sell GR every chance I get as most down here in FL don't know anything at all about GR.

Keep up the good work :thumbsup:

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We left Chicago to move to Grand Rapids last winter. It's a lot more tolerant, a lot more open, and a heck of a lot cooler here than it was when I left in 1990! I am continually impressed by how progressive this area has become. :thumbsup:

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An article in the Press today about VAI talks about the "impressions" of West Michigan to potential recruitees:

GR Press article

It's something of an oddity: a cancer research facility in a medium-sized Midwest city.

Building a reputation "takes time for an institution of this sort, particularly in an environment that doesn't have a culture of research," said Tony Hunter, a top cancer scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. "I would say it's building slowly. They're hitting their stride now."

Hunter was approached a year or so ago about succeeding the Van Andel's founding research director, George Vande Woude, but took himself out of the running.

"I'm sure it would have been an interesting and fulfilling job," said Hunter, a member of the Van Andel's board of scientific advisers. "I basically said, 'I'm happy where I am.' Grand Rapids is a nice community, perhaps a bit conservative. I know there have been other senior people who have been looking, and that has been an issue for them."

..Cindy Miranti was studying at the Harvard Medical School when an adviser encouraged her to apply for a job at the new cancer institute headed by Vande Woude.

"She said, 'The only downside is it's in Michigan,' " Miranti recalled. The Illinois native came anyway and heads a lab studying prostate cancer.

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...

..Cindy Miranti was studying at the Harvard Medical School when an adviser encouraged her to apply for a job at the new cancer institute headed by Vande Woude.

"She [the adviser] said, 'The only downside is it's in Michigan,' " Miranti recalled. The Illinois native came anyway and heads a lab studying prostate cancer.

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I moved here from another city, and I was, admittedly, concerned about the open-mindedness of Grand Rapidians and the diversity and tolerance of the area. All I heard about Grand Rapids was that there were a lot of white religious people and that Amway was here. When I told people I was moving here, someone asked, "What, did you lose a bet or something?" I was quick to explain how great it was out here, and how many opportunities there are. After living here for over a year, I really like it, and think that the perception of 'Old Grand Rapids' (or at least any negative stereotype) is slowly fading. There are a lot of really interesting, open-minded and diverse people here, and that part of the community is continually growing.

I was at that InForum dinner, and the speakers were very interesting and inspiring. I also believe that we need to sell the city to all we meet, even those who don't come to the core that often. On the flip side, there are definitely some people who want it to stay 'the way it is (was)' [and I think you find this in any community]. When we had breakout discussions about how to make the area more attractive to outsiders, there were definitely some people who had an attitude of "either they adapt to us, or go back to where you came from", which surprised me. I say we should welcome all people with open arms, and the city (and its makeup) will change in a positive way.

That dinner was the first time I've heard the President of The Right Place speak. The organization sounds really great, I'm a convert! :)

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