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Chinana

Grand Rapids deficiencies.

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What in your options is weak side of Grand Rapids comparing to other cities?

E.g. crime rate etc...

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Before anyone flames you, let me help. I assume you are looking for constructive criticism and not just blatant bashing. This thread probably fits better in the coffee house but I'll give this a shot. I think there are two things that would benefit Grand Rapids greatly. They aren't things the city has real control over but they would be nice...

1. A downtown HQ/building which would be home to a Grand Rapids based business

2. A stronger cultural identity. Cosmopolitan is fine for the central city but it would be nice if the city had a vibrant ethnic enclave somewhere. The west side would be a great place b/c the history is already there.

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I just dont think we offer a really tight, complete package.

(Im just picking whatever comes off the top of my head)

*Our DT is very hit or miss. you have some places that feel very cosmopolitan, then you get places that look straight out of the 1970s urban decay era. Some parts are almost completely barren of life.

*OK architecture with little that stands out.

*Over reliance on cars no matter how hard you try to get away from them.

*No city-wide sense of pride in the same place. People are New Yorkers, Chicagoans, Portlanders. Grand Rapids just feels like a thing that doesn't really project a coherent image that we ID ourselves to.

*We are surrounded by some pretty uninspired cities. Boston, SF, and Seattle are ringed by incredible towns and villages. Other than EGR, GR is ringed by the same bland places, just under different managements.

* We don't give a person a reason to come here just because. You go to Chicago, because it's Chicago. You go to GR because that's where you have to man the booth at the National Stamp Collectors Convention.

Dont get me wrong, the potential is there, and if you really squint hard, you can see it starting to come together, but it's just not there.

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Its my impression that Grand Rapids is a growing city but it still feels like a town. Vitality is probably the biggest factor. Despite recent growth, the downtown still feels like a 9-5 community, it is still relatively small in size, theres not enough places to shop or enough residential density of to support them (yet), most college grads still move away for jobs, theres not enough places that are open late and if there was there still isn't enough people to keep it open. A big one has always been the public transportation. It is getting better but its still quicker and easier to drive cars. The busses still serve those whose time is not worth very much money (lower classes, students, disabled, seniors etc). The up and coming bus rapid transit and sought after light rail would still mostly help existing commuters until more jobs and businesses are created. A lot of people move away and come back to start businesses here because its affordable and hopefully things like that will help GR accumulate some of the qualities of life that are enjoyed by people in larger, thriving cities. I feel like if I left and came back in 10 or 15 years, GR might be where I want it to be right now...

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Its my impression that Grand Rapids is a growing city but it still feels like a town. Vitality is probably the biggest factor. Despite recent growth, the downtown still feels like a 9-5 community, it is still relatively small in size, theres not enough places to shop or enough residential density of to support them (yet), most college grads still move away for jobs, theres not enough places that are open late and if there was there still isn't enough people to keep it open. A big one has always been the public transportation. It is getting better but its still quicker and easier to drive cars. The busses still serve those whose time is not worth very much money (lower classes, students, disabled, seniors etc). The up and coming bus rapid transit and sought after light rail would still mostly help existing commuters until more jobs and businesses are created. A lot of people move away and come back to start businesses here because its affordable and hopefully things like that will help GR accumulate some of the qualities of life that are enjoyed by people in larger, thriving cities. I feel like if I left and came back in 10 or 15 years, GR might be where I want it to be right now...

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I don't know what deficiencies there are that most other cities in michigan don't also have but what I can say is that when talking to people around the state, at least those that have been to grand rapids, that it gets overwhelmingly a positive reaction. more so than any other city in the state. of course there are a large number of people who have never been here. A good number of them talk about moving to grand rapids but at the same time they need a reason. i.e. a job. which may be the largest deficiency. more white collar work is needed, especially outside the medical field. I think that while grand rapids is much more diversified than the rest of the state, it is still too dependent on manufacturing. I don't believe that there is any real future in manufacturing. maybe in the short term to transistion to a knowlage based economy, but labor is far too expensive here. Of course the more the dollar drops the cheaper it gets to make things, so you never know. the infrastucture is here so put it to use as long as possible.

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I'd say one really nice thing GR has going for it (especially recently) is a diverse economy. You can find a whole lot of diverse companies and industries compared to many cities that are based around one single industry.

GR is kind of funny in that the name doesn't ring a bell for most people outside of a few Midwestern states, but those outsiders who do visit seem to really enjoy it and pass on a good word to individuals unfamiliar with the state.

Crime, public education, etc. seem to have experienced/are experiencing the problems that many cities have faced.

Oh and for what you get, it is incredibly affordable!

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It is my experience that a majority of those Michiganders not from GR still give it the negative conservative, close-minded, overly religous connotation. They clearly haven't lived there or visited. I thought it was a great place to live and had some fun after college living there. However, I, like many others left the state. Did a tour in Chicago and now in S. Florida. I now wish I was living in a place without all the people and congestion of S. FL. Not too mention, it is way to hot in the summer here, but 9 months of the year are basically perfect.

Might come back in a few years...depending on the economy.

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I think there are great neighborhoods surrounding the center city. They could use some help in infrastructure though.

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I don't know what deficiencies there are that most other cities in michigan don't also have but what I can say is that when talking to people around the state, at least those that have been to grand rapids, that it gets overwhelmingly a positive reaction. more so than any other city in the state. of course there are a large number of people who have never been here. A good number of them talk about moving to grand rapids but at the same time they need a reason. i.e. a job. which may be the largest deficiency. more white collar work is needed, especially outside the medical field. I think that while grand rapids is much more diversified than the rest of the state, it is still too dependent on manufacturing. I don't believe that there is any real future in manufacturing. maybe in the short term to transistion to a knowlage based economy, but labor is far too expensive here. Of course the more the dollar drops the cheaper it gets to make things, so you never know. the infrastucture is here so put it to use as long as possible.

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Well said jasonsquiresdo. Grand Rapids could have the perfect weather, with perfect schools and perfect amenities, but if it's not creating jobs, people can't/won't make the move here. And face it, most people who relocate are doing it for a specific job or opportunity, not to "create jobs". The State's gotta step up and help small entrepreneurs (the gazelles).

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Well said, Jason and GRDad: As someone who left GR as a young person, the biggest need is to create jobs that will make young persons, especially college educated young persons (because they will have bigger disposable incomes) want to stay in West Michigan. Grand Rapids has done more, I think, than any other city in Michigan and even perhaps in the upper Midwest of similar size to try to revitalize its center and to expand its cultural opportunities. It has the benefit of an excellent housing stock. But there is a real deficiency that has to be addressed:

Schools -- when I was a very young lad, my parents actually moved INTO GR because they perceived that the GR public schools were superior to the schools in Plainfield Township. Until the schools improve, or there are decent private/charter alternatives, you will not attract young families. From what I have read, the new superintendent has some good ideas -- but will he have the support and the money to carry them out?

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It is my experience that a majority of those Michiganders not from GR still give it the negative conservative, close-minded, overly religous connotation. They clearly haven't lived there or visited.

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1. Lack of world-class/professional 24-Hour R&B FM Radio Station with radius equal to 1-hour drive (we are the largest metro area in America without one and - NO - WSNX is completely not it - see WJLB Detroit and WCGI Chicago for proper examples).

2. Downtown GR still not fully catering to the housing, entertainment and retail needs of the 30,000+ downtown college students (these folks have direct access to their parents' wallets and famously spend their money with impunity with whomever caters to their wants, needs and desires).

3. Downtown GR not fully utilizing attraction of highrise RENTAL housing as another means to keep the development of downtown going.

4. Metro GR still has no commuter rail between the Metro Triplex hubs (GR, Muskegon, Holland).

5. High-end department store retailers are still lacking (Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom and Parisien are lurking out there looking for a GR place to land).

6. We still use Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and its contracted 700,000 population reference when talking about Metro Grand Rapids while the rest of the world has switched over to MSA'a replacement - Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area / Combined Statistical Area (CMSA/CSA) - and its associated 1.3 million people reference to the true Metro Triplex Grand Rapids.

7. Engaging quality-of-life needs of all cultures is still a peripheral concept at best and an alien concept at worst.

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This all are macro level (city scale) but what are disadvantages/advantages for single citizen in GR comparing to something like NYC?

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This all are macro level (city scale) but what are disadvantages/advantages for single citizen in GR comparing to something like NYC?

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This all are macro level (city scale) but what are disadvantages/advantages for single citizen in GR comparing to something like NYC?

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If you're single and over 27, you're pretty much screwed, especially if you're a woman. One of my favorite movie lines of all time comes from the father figure in the Matthew Lillard flick Salt Lake City Punk, "It's so easy to be a single man in this town--the women are so...desperate" That's Grand Rapids. It's better than, say, Salt Lake City or Bangor, Maine, but it's pretty much the pits when stacked up to most top 50 markets.

One caveat--if a rocking evangelical church is your idea of a good time, then you'll have more fun here than Disney World.

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What is this a function of? Not enough places to meet late 20s/early 30s men? Not enough good men still available? Not enough to do for a woman of that age?

What makes other cities better?

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I'd say all of the above, but mostly the middle one. Other cities have a higher percentage of single people. It's worse for women because it's not as easy for them to date someone five to 10 years younger, but I don't think it's easy for men to meet someone here either.

I don't think I'm saying anything controverisal.

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My thoughts on this:

1. The city and area need a stronger marketing campaign to make the city and area more known to the rest of the world as a place to live, work, and play, as well as doing business.

2. We need to shift transit priorities away from the automobile to mass transit. Most American cities sorely need to do this esp. in the face of rising energy costs and the need to correct an unsustainable way of life. But if GR wants get ahead of the curve it needs to be first off the starting line. Hopefully the proposed BRT line for S. Division and the proposed Streetcar line will be implemented and be successful enough to get the ball rolling.

3. GRPS needs to be fixed. I know this as been said a million times. But make GRPS into a good school system and we will see families move into the city instead of the 'burbs. Secondly we are going to need a working GRPS because rising gas prices may one day force a mass migration from the 'burbs into urban cores. GR would be no exception since Michigan has some of the highest gas prices in the nation.

4. Downtown needs a great retail options that rival at least that of what is offered by large regional shopping centers like Rivertown Crossings, Woodland Mall, etc.

5. On an economic level GR needs to ensure that the local economic base remains diverse. Diversity is what is shielding this area to a great extent from the negative impacts of Michigan's troubled economy. The area right now is seeing its Life Sciences and Healthcare sectors taking off like rockets which is awesome. However in the same way GR is welcoming and encouraging the Healthcare boom the city needs to encourage other industries to come in and flourish in the city.

That's about all I can think of for now.

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3. GRPS needs to be fixed. I know this as been said a million times. But make GRPS into a good school system and we will see families move into the city instead of the 'burbs. Secondly we are going to need a working GRPS because rising gas prices may one day force a mass migration from the 'burbs into urban cores. GR would be no exception since Michigan has some of the highest gas prices in the nation.

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What makes the GRPS schools so bad. I don't have kids so I don't really know what parents look for. is it a limited curriculum or lack of extracurricular activities? I hope it isn't graduation rates or test scores because those things have very little to do with the school, more so with the people in the school. Every one talks about improving the schools but nodody every talks about what specific problems are other than "old schools that don't meet the needs of the students" and other similarily vague statements. It's hard to solve a problem if it can not be specifically identified.

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I can't comment on the quality of teaching, only the students. I did some subsitute teaching there a couple of years back. The elementary schools seem good, but it is when you get to the middle school kids. They are way out of control and I think it stems from poor parenting. The high school kids were ok as well, as most that don't want to be there have dropped out or been kicked out by then.

Now that I am a criminal defense attorney, I get to see the results of poor parenting on a daily basis.

My advice, make all students wear uniforms system wide. Some of the elementary schools require that and the kids were the best behaved IMO.

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