The lighter side of real estate

You Might Pack Up Everything And Move To Grand Rapids After Watching This

Grand Rapids is experiencing exciting growth, and this video will make you look at it in a whole new light.

Travis Sawrie

Content Creator

107 articles, 5 comments

Places like Grand Rapids don’t get a ton of national attention, which can make it feel like you don’t live in a world class city. But as this video confirms, you really do.

I love what Todd Herring of ArtPrize says at the 0:29 mark, “There is a key difference to the spirit of this city than the spirit of other cities. Grand Rapids really has something going for it that is intangible and exciting.”

I hope this video titled “Thrive Grand Rapids” gets you excited about the city and the potential it has. Join these entrepreneurs in embracing Grand Rapids and choosing to make it a better place every day.

Thrive Grand Rapids from MAINSTAY on Vimeo.

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posted on: May 2, 2014
116,257 views, 15 comments


  1. Patti Caudill

    This is another marketing piece that misses the mark on the vibrant diversity that is Grand Rapids. Perpetuating the stereotype that Grand Rapids is not welcoming to all cultures. It continues to be disappointing that these videos ignore the multi-cultural population of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids has vibrant and active groups who are working to put a true face on Grand Rapids that includes all in marketing and inclusion efforts. If there is another effort to produce this type of video, please please please engage all segments of our population. Resources such as the Community Inclusion Group (CIG), Hispanic Chamber of Western Michigan, the Grand Rapids Black Chamber, the Asian American Professional Association, the Grand Rapids Urban League, the NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Grand Rapids African American Businesses and others I’m sure would be more than happy to assist in showing the true face of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is a world class city with a vibrant multi-cultural population.

  2. Dan

    Cool video, but it’s illegal to skateboard downtown now! They take your board even if you are trying to get from one side of downtown to your home!

  3. Juano

    Showing the word “Mexico” as the radio announcer says “we’re an open community”, ha ha ha… Come on now! People beyond the division of race and class wouldn’t cut to that visual for that statement. Too contrived man! The Producer, or more importantly the Editor, should know that it’s a small minded, small town town move… Other than that, it’s a cool video… I’m still very fond of G.R. but after living in NYC, Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA you still see West Michigan’s old (conservative) mentality alive and well in your “New World”… Just saying :-)

  4. Taylor

    This is a disappointment Grand Rapids is a great city with great industry. the art, culinary, furniture, health and tech communities stretch so much farther than the four blocks that they showed. The community is much greater than what happens in the three ‘Artistic Blocks’. And it is ridiculous that there isn’t even a single person of color in this video, when we are a strong ethnic center for loads of cultures. And if you want to show the beauty of the city why didn’t they show your the grand river, or Reeds Lake, or the native american burial mounds. If they wanted to show industry why didn’t they show Jersey Junction, the Electric Cheetah, the Bitter End, Steelcase, the medical mile, or any shop in little mexico. This video dumbed down and white washed our city to look like some kind of weird, yuppie, haven.

  5. Clark Clarkson

    hahaha wow

  6. Ogie Dreyer

    I’ve lived in Grand Rapids and surrounding areas for over 62 years and this isn’t at all what I see. I worked downtown until December of last year, and I’m proud of it’s growth, it’s excitement, vitality, but I didn’t see one person of color, and mostly what I got was an advertisement for ARTPRIZE. AP is NOT all that we have.

    No mention of Festival of the Arts, Rosa Parks Circle, Black Heritage and artists like Mr. Paul Collins. I didn’t see anything about Frederick Meijer Gardens and the Summer Concert Series, or Blues on the Mall.

    Listen, if I want another AMWAY scam, I can get that from my neighbors…let’s try the reality of a mult-cultural village that is overflowing with talent in all areas of entertainment and technology.

    Show some class next time, and please…don’t use our town for that hack ARTPRIZE B.S. (Has Rick De Vos sent the bill for last years event yet?)

  7. Nat

    Great video really. Whoever made this though did you realize that every single person in your video is white? How about some representation of the diversity that exists in the city. Im sure all this growth isn’t being done by all white people is it? I love Grand Rapids but one of the things that I dislike about it is the lack of diversity and even more the lack of representstion of the little diversity there is. Think about that when creating such an inspirational video that so many people will see.

  8. MichaekPacker

    Not only is it awfully white, it’s also sort of ageist and sexist (shelly aside) – as a 58 year old person who started The Jammies at WYCE, the film program at UICA and a number of other focal events of this city (and live downtown) – I’m sorta wondering – what’s the deal?

  9. Levy

    Seems like the only intolerant people fixated on race are the people that sat and counted skin colors in the whole video, that then try to paint all of the normal people in GR as racist because we dont spend time counting skin colors.

    So sick of these tired complainers that just sit and complain about DeVos or VanAndel like they have been this evil curse on this town when they are the ones that laid the groundwork for these losers to have a place to sit and eat 3.00 doughnuts and 8.00 coffee while they pat themselves on the back for being so “creative” and “progressive”.

    • Taylor in response to Levy

      I’m not complaining about DeVos or VanAndel. I think they should have showed Devos hall and VanAndel arena. However the problem is that Grand Rapids has lots of people of color in it, an that wa not represented in a video that is supposed to show what our town is like. The video was white-washed to seem “normal”. It’s a bit problematic even in the way you said “normal people”. That implys that people who notice this discrepancy, which are usually the people not being represented ( people of color) aren’t normal; and only white people are.

  10. bullsballs

    Having lived my life here in the Grand Rapids area,
    the camera view seemed too constricted, like blinders
    were blocking the entire view, side to side, and top
    to bottom.

    Grand Rapids has improved tremendously in the last twenty
    years, but most of the people in the community have not
    seen the low point in GR’s history, unless you open your
    eyes, that is. The racism and poverty can still be seen
    on the streets. Some of the boarded up buildings are still
    around from the race riots of the sixties.

    Fifty years after the riots, and race is still not blended
    in this community, everyone has ‘their place’, and it does
    not look to be improving soon.

    My only time in downtown GR seems to be on 131 or 196, as
    I travel through it. Rarely do I exit the expressways and
    venture downtown, as I can find what I need elsewhere.

    I still need to travel to other cities, like Detroit, to
    see the entertainment I want to see. The big name acts
    don’t stop in GR, and they never have. It is like GR has
    never been attractive for entertainers to play here, but
    they have never had a problem going to Detroit.

    So far, the excitement is still lacking in downtown GR.
    When they get the excitement, then they will experience
    the growth they need and deserve. I look forward to that
    day, and I hope it comes soon, as I am not getting any

  11. Lori

    I watched the video and was impressed by the beauty of it, until I realized, where are all of the minorities? I mean, is an “exciting” city a non-multicultural one? There are many amazing artists of color who contribute to the beauty and diversity of Grand Rapids. I am appalled at this oversight. This is NOT my Grand Rapids.

  12. Peggy Leven

    We moved from the suburbs into downtown last year, and while it’s better than suburbia, it’s no Chicago.

    The setting here is beautiful, on a gorgeous river, very clean and easy living for a city – because it’s not really a big city. Nice buildings, people investing in renovations is good. But, Grand Rapids likes to promote itself as a “hip” city – but it will be at least a generation if that ever happens. Notice in the video, the city streets are largely absent of people! We live in an area where people prefer national chains to great restaurants, malls to independent stores and grocery store chains to markets. This will take decades to change. A handful of brave retailers open boutiques and don’t last long. The few that remain are usually empty without much merchandise. Grand Rapids is a wanna be city – trying desperately to be a Portland or even a Milwaukee. Then throw in the usual self-proclaimed “hipster” joints, of course – Madcap Coffee (not the best in town), Propaganda Donuts (impossible to find and never open), etc. We have one bike shop, one donut shop, one comic book/game store and even then, I wonder for how long.

    I moved here because it’s the closest I’ll ever get to living in a city, but Grand Rapids’ fixation on self-promotion reminds me of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Find a couple “hip” looking bald guys with stubble, hipster glasses and a pink shirt and – voila – you’re “hip”.

  13. Dale Zalaoras

    I found the comment “Fifty years after the riots, and race is still not blended in this community, everyone has ‘their place’, and it does
    not look to be improving soon” … rather “off the mark” …

    The West side of GR never had any blacks in the 50’s and 60’s, but it had the most poverty (per my “Urban Problems” class of 1966). It now has a very different, and mixed population.

    Burton Heights went from a wonderful neighborhood, to a white ghetto, to a recovering area, and now with a large Hispanic influx.

    The more near SE end went from Roman Catholic Italian immigrants, to a black ghetto, to a still struggling recovery. Whites are moving back in, but the black-on-black drug violence is a sad commentary on the majority of the good people living there.

    I hope to God, it never becomes anything like Chicago! I can get from one end of GR to the other in 10 minutes, as long as there isn’t a delay on the freeways. Ever try to drive through Chicago at midnight, to find it takes an hour because traffic is going 25 mph, and there is a toll to pay? Ever try to eat in a restaurant in Chicago on a Sunday morning, but there is nowhere to park, unless you want to double park (like many do)?

    As far as this 5 minute propaganda video goes, their agenda was (obviously) not an all inclusive view of Gr’s racial makeup, diversity, culture, features, geography, transportation, et cetera. How much could they possibly show in 5 minutes?

  14. Brad

    I love Michigan; everything about it, including Grand Rapids. If your target was primarily the Creative Community, I think you came close.

    Just a technical observation from a lifelong photographer. I love ambient light too; I get that. But on some of these tight people shots, just a simple Tota-Light bounced into an umbrella would have made so much difference. For what it’s worth.


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