Funding Downtown Improvements

We appear to be heading into a battle about funding of some of the public improvements that voters “approved” in Maps 3 (approved is a loose term, since we approved sales tax collection for improvements in general). I think now is as good a time as any to point out something that I haven’t seen discussed much – private assistance. If some of our community leaders are so enthusiastic for certain projects, why aren’t they offering up some private assistance of their own?

I grew up in a similar consertative political atmosphere in West Michigan. When I was young, a group of local business leaders realized that quality of life was extremely important, and they started to band together to help supplement public funds in order to create great amenities for Grand Rapids and other areas. Their group, called Grand Action, has helped with various items, including a new convention center and an arena (something to think about, OKC).

The information below comes from the Grand Action website.

Van Andel Arena: Public funds – $56,000,000; Private funds – $21,000,000

DeVos Place (Convention Center): Public funds – $181,800,000; Private funds – $33,200,000

Michigan State University Medical Center: Private funds – $40,000,000; Corporate donation from Spectrum Health – $55,000,000

Other projects have been funded as well. You can check them out on the website.

One Reply to “Funding Downtown Improvements”

  1. Grand Rapids seems to have a great philanthropic base which has shaped the city and aided in their transformation into the 21st century. I don’t know where “generous contributions” or other civic gifts stopped. Possibly the depression-era generation is still holding on to their pennies knowing it CAN get worse, or if people feel that they’ve seen history be demolished in one foul ignorant swoop and don’t want to waste their own hard earned money.

    On a purely observational note, it seems those that have done well at preserving their city’s history as well as growing their own businesses from within (as opposed to giving it all away to corporate giants) seem to having that giving culture built in. GR included.

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