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Soul of the city: Retail and small business breathe life into Grand Rapids

Despite retail giants like Toys “R” Us and GR-based MC Sports closing their doors, GR recently took second place in the category of “Best Cities for New Small Business” in a LendingTree report. In this installment of Making it in GR, Rapid Growth observes the relationship between the current state of national retail and the local retail climate, as well as the effects of e-commerce on local business.

Gwadue Bossuah

RapidChat: Gwadue Bossuah on celebrating the highs and lows of being a local business owner

After four years of being in business, Gwadue Bossuah, creator and owner of FZIQUE full body cycling studio, takes a walk down memory lane with us. Remembering all of the highs and lows that brought him to where he is today, Gwadue plans on hosting an extra-special celebration this month at his new Midtown location.


Neighborhoods of GR celebrates our city's places and spaces

Over the past 10 months, Rapid Growth has featured the places and spaces of GR in our Neighborhoods of GR series. Catch up with the amazing people, nonprofits, and businesses that have graced our pages.

Buffalo Traders

A spirited quest: The journey to find Grand Rapids' best cocktails

Where are you sipping your favorite cocktails this holiday season? In a quest to find, taste, and explore local spirits and concoctions, Managing Editor Lauren Fay Carlson and Publisher Tommy Allen went searching for some of Grand Rapids' best cocktails.


One potato, two potato: Grocery retail loan projects aim for food access for underserved areas

Two Grand Rapids projects just received funding from the Michigan Good Food Fund, a $30 million public-private loan fund that finances good food businesses that increase access to affordable, healthy food in Michigan’s underserved communities.


Neighborhoods of GR: The history of Midtown

Modern-day Midtown, with a population of just over 4,000, according to 2013 Community Research Institute figures, is bordered to the north by I-196, to the east by Fuller Street, to the south by Fulton, and to the west by Union. It's one of the oldest and most venerated neighborhoods in Grand Rapids and is just as tethered to historical events as its neighboring communities.


"Food, farms, and community": The Fulton Street Farmers Market in its 95th year

This year, the farmers market is celebrating its 95th year in operation with a new logo that reads “95 years of food, farming and community.” Markets like Fulton Street often help incubate local trade, commerce, and businesses, provide healthy alternatives to most modern food, and in many cases just provide the daily warmth of a smile and a handshake with each purchase.

RG grocery-3144

Down with food deserts: Incoming stores, co-op & others are changing how we buy groceries in GR

For Grand Rapidians dreaming of being able to go grocery shopping near their home, the landscape is shifting. Incoming grocery stores will soon bring big changes to the city, and existing shops are expanding their options to meet the needs of a growing population. Plus, a co-op is in the works and aims to bring affordable and healthy goods to a food desert.


Pushing us past the ordinary: Five chefs who are changing the way we eat in Grand Rapids

From serving dishes in top-secret dining spots to carefully crafting globally-inspired meals with local ingredients, these Grand Rapids chefs are changing what we eat and how we eat it. They are redefining the traditional dining space and pushing us to think past the ordinary.


Escaping a world of fast food: Grand Rapids schools tackle hunger, food security with gardens

From providing lessons about growing food in urban spaces to giving children fresh produce to take home, school gardens are playing an increasingly vital role in Grand Rapids' community health landscape.

Drew Coppess

UIX: Now B Corp certified, 616 Lofts is poised as force for environmental good

Walk through any 616 Lofts building and you'll notice exposed brick and other architectural elements lend an identity to the space. It's the same way the company, now B Corp certified, does business, says Director of Environmental Sustainability Drew Coppess.


Tacos, tamales, tripe & more: A guide to Grand Rapids' Latino grocery stores

These notable Latino markets will help fill everyone's stomachs, whether you're a connoisseur of Central and South American food or know nothing about it.


Who will fill the 2nd Ward seat? Candidates tackle development, diversity & more at debate

Whoever takes the office, the community has made clear the importance of housing affordability, diversity, small businesses, and equality in Grand Rapids' 2nd Ward.

Chris Wagner

UIX: Chris Wagner's team of minority contractors make construction EZ for local nonprofits

Chris Wagner is building communities, both literally and figuratively, with his team of minority contractors in the EZ Construction Network. By using talented workers within the job site neighborhoods, Wagner is able to bolster careers while building homes where they're most needed. Story by UIX Editor Matthew Russell with images by Steph Harding.


Smart, local ways to be well in 2015: Doorganics

Yeah, yeah: you want to lose five pounds, exercise more, eat less. Who doesn't, at least during the month of January? But wellness means more than numbers on a scale, and a few local initiatives are playing their part in crafting a healthier Grand Rapids. Each week this month, Rapid Growth will feature one unique way to be well in West Michigan. Want a more thoughtful, sustainable path to feeling better in 2015? Read on.

Deb Moore, left, and Betty Epperly, right.

Do Good: Personal historians' book shares the stories of local nonprofits

When local authors Betty Epperly and Deb Moore sat down to write about local individuals whose lives have been changed by their interactions with West Michigan nonprofits, they discovered a ripple effect. Do Good editor Victoria Mullen gets the story behind the stories in a book that's a must-add to your holiday shopping list for people who care.

Dr. Mark Gurney

Brain trust: Local biotech company could help shape future of Alzheimer's, brain injury treatments

A Grand Rapids-based biotechnology company is making progress on a pair of new drugs that could offer hope to patients of Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury. Steven Thomas Kent reports on the cutting-edge developments and nationally recognized research coming out of this spot on the Medical Mile.

GRWW Preliminary Plans

The next big thing: Downtown's hottest projects

From river restoration to expanded transportation options and from brewpubs to apartment towers, big things are happening downtown. We asked, you answered, and now the results are in from last week's reader poll. Read on to find out which downtown projects your fellow Grand Rapidians are the most excited about.


On the cusp of a downtown apartment boom?

Six years ago, the Grand Rapids construction boom was primarily medical and institution related. Lately, it seems that downtown is filling in with thousands of new residents. Urban living is having a moment, and developers are scrambling to keep up with demand. Rapid Growth explores the opportunities and ramifications of this new downtown residential "boomlet" in the first of a two-part series.

Deborah Johnson Wood

After almost a decade of development, Deborah Johnson Wood predicts the future

As she leaves her development news editor post, Deborah Johnson Wood reminds us of just how far Grand Rapids has come, reminisces about her favorite projects, and predicts the future in this honest interview. 


For local life science entrepreneur, immigration creates a roadblock

As Michigan struggles to attract and retain talent, immigration policy plays a role in allowing entrepreneurs to live and work in The Mitten. Steven Thomas Kent profiles Dr. Stanley Samuel, who has established a Grand Rapids-based life science startup and worked to develop a new drug administration technology, even as his immigration and visa issues loom in the background.


Marco's Magic: Riolo Creative Engineering

Artist, entrepreneur, and all-around maker-of-magic, Marco Riolo is making his mark on West Michigan with Riolo Creative Engineering. Audria Larsen finds out what makes this creative tick and why he's decided to call Grand Rapids home.


Good Medicine: Medical research collaboration booms

Grand Rapids' Medical Mile continues to live up to its name, as Spectrum Health, Van Andel Research Institute, and Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine collaborate on research. Marla R. Miller finds out why adding a "bench to bedside" research component is good medicine for patients.


From Grand Rapids to Ghana: In developing-world healthcare market, low-tech is the new cutting edge

Local medical device startup Sisu Global Health plans to create a channel for needed technology to the developing world, while infusing Grand Rapids’ startup scene with a mentality for global impact.


RapidBlog: No groceries downtown GR? Think again.

Downtown dweller and local foodie Marjorie Steele answers the oft-asked question of urban residents: Where do you buy groceries downtown Grand Rapids? Read on for an urban forager's guide to groceries in GR.


Flat Lander's wants to make you a connoisseur of cocktails

Part distillery, part neighborhood watering hole, Flat Lander's brings its boozy, rugged charm to Michigan Street when it opens this weekend. Tiffany Ewigleben finds out why these locally distilled spirits come straight from the heart.


Real, Good and Vegan: Food to live for

Grand Rapids' growing foodie culture has not only made vegan food accessible, but has also encouraged the most unyielding carnivore to consider a change of pace on their plate. Tiffany Ewigleben hits the street to report on some of the best local players in the burgeoning vegan scene.


G-Sync: Fresh Food Diva

This week, a lot of messages out there will tell you to grab the freshness of our area's produce while you're able. But Lifestyle Editor Tommy Allen discovers a fun way you can have it all today -- and later, too.


G-Sync: A Fresh Food Facelift

It is common knowledge that fresh food can improve your quality of life, but can it give you a facelift, too? Lifestyle Editor Tommy Allen considers how the local food movement is providing a face-changing opportunity in West Michigan for everyone, everywhere.

Lifestyle editor Tommy Allen recaps the best of Gsync in 2012

G-Sync: A Baker's Dozen

Lifestyle Editor Tommy Allen digs deeper in 2012's backyard after being inspired by Viget.org's re-launch and finds something wonderful buried in our past.


G-Sync: Obscene Green?

There is a movement afoot in the city of Grand Rapids and these girls are making sure you are paying close attention. Lifestyle Editor Tommy Allen says, "Eyes on the page, please," as he explores in G-Sync the real obscene green.


G-Sync: Local Ballot Measure is a Real Job Killer*

What happens when you elect the right people? Well, sometimes they work themselves out of a job. Lifestyle Editor Tommy Allen jumps in on Local Prop 1, but also finds a connection to Local Prop 2 as well.


G-Sync: The Buzz on DCGR

A local initiative on the November election ballot might determine whether you want to continue to call or make Grand Rapids your home. And no, this is not about ArtPrize or the Walker transit vote, but about the city in which you want to live. Lifestyle Editor Tommy Allen investigates and finds that all is not well in the River CIty for some, but it could improve soon as a result of fresh thinking around an old problem.


A New Farmers Market

The Fulton Street Farmers Market has been around since the early 1900s. On May 5, opening day will see a renovated Farmers Market with more space and advanced technology. Development Project Manager Christine Helms-Maletic tells us what's new.


The Rise of the Cycling City Part 2

In our continuing coverage of Cycling City, a group of cycling advocates takes to the streets of Grand Rapids to assess its "bike friendliness."


The Rise of the Cycling City

Bikes and cars in Grand Rapids, sharing the roads in harmony?  Some people have that dream. Come find out what it's all about June 29.


Protecting Land, Air, and Water via Mass Transit

Few people disagree that good mass transit is a key to the vitality of a metropolitan area, and The Rapid is sponsoring a series of articles and videos that promotes conversation about what will serve metro Grand Rapids best.

Festival at Forty

Like a beacon, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse sculpture calls hundreds of volunteers to take part in Festival, a West Michigan tradition in celebrating the arts

Showing the Ropes

The mastermind of Elevator Up, Aaron Scaap questions whether the old concepts of competition remain true for local software developers who do work nationally, or even globally

Closing the Digital Divide

Marie-Claire Camp and others in the metro Grand Rapids region hope to level the playing field for the disadvantaged by providing them with computers -- the new necessity for daily living

Food For Thought

Jim Osterhaven says it was worthwhile to build a $1.5 million addition to Superior Foods' refrigerated facility if it means getting fresh produce from area farms to local restaurants. Here's what Superior Foods Co. and other local businesses are doing to keep the fresh food flowing

The Other Side of the Law

Tracey Brame juggles a number of roles as an assistant dean at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, but her favorite: Serving as a model for minority law school students

Encore For a Local Audience

A bevy of local organizations are targetting Baby Boomers boost the quality of life in metro Grand Rapids. See what's ahead for the over 50 crowd

A Passion for Fashion

With some everday items like a computer, digital camera, and checkbook -- and a heavy dose of love for apparel -- you too can start your own fashion design house in Grand Rapids

A Life-Saving Literary Life

An infectious disease physician by trade, Roni Devlin is breathing Literary Life into the Wealthy Street corridor.

Meet Kristin Salerno

In the not too distant future, Kristin Salerno may very well be a household name. To a legion of local non-profits, musicians and politicians, she already is. 

Beauty (Industry) of Grand Rapids

A city's fashion starts from the top down. Rapid Growth takes a hard look at the continued growth and viability of the West Michigan salon scene.

They Make West Michigan Beautiful

Beauty is their trade. Meet five of Grand Rapids' hottest stylists.

Restaurant Remembrances & Resolutions

Rapid Growth's resident foodie Amy Ruis gives us her picks for eating in the year-gone-by and the year ahead. We even let her pick some in the suburbs.

Grand Rapids' Green Grocers

Who needs Whole Foods? Natural and organic grocery stores are committed to West Michigan's neighborhood revitilization. In some hoods, they're the only grocer on the block.  

The Affordable Gift

The final installment of Rapid Growth's guide to shopping local and sustainable this holiday season. This week: How to watch out for your bottom line.

RGTV: The Schnitz

The Schnitz, has been the off-downtown lunch spot for a decade. It recently underwent an interior renovation to combine its space with the neighboring coffee house. Take a look.

A History of Environmental Action

Forty years ago, a diverse group of local citizens and community interests united as the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and changed the world. Today, a new generation celebrates that anniversary and an exciting era of renewed environmental awareness.

A Green and Local Holiday

Big boxes, asphalt and urban sprawl are great for Black Friday door busters, but for those of us with an eye toward the triple bottom line, the holiday shopping season is a great time to go green and local. Part 1 of 3


WMEAC Executive Director Rachel Hood shares the history of the state's original grassroots environmental group, shows off its gold standard green building and discusses a new era of citizen action. 

Thyme for a Home-Cooked Dinner

In their second careers, Ken and Karen Bryan have found a way to help busy Grand Rapids families make time for healthy, home-cooked meals. 

RGTV: Wealthy Theatre

You could call it the Wealthy Theatre neighborhood. Grand Rapids' answer to the Apollo, this iconic local theater has embodied the revival of one of the region's hippest neighborhoods and the growth of the local urban music scene.

Growing Your Indoor Garden

Because zen gardens aren't just for people with big backyards: Indoor gardening can make a home, make food safer and more efficient, and maybe even save the world.

Living la vida Locavore

Locavore (lok•a•vor): Eating, drinking, living better for you and your community. Amy Ruis, our resident locavore, shows us how.

A Local First Treasure Map

Local First is launching a new coupon program this fall modeled after a West Coast campaign that produced an 80 percent shift in local shopping behaviors. Sarah Kommer reports.

Decked Out

Whether you want to watch people or water, sip a pint, or take in some fine food, West Michigan has the outdoor patio for you. Rapid Growth Foodie Amy Ruis offers this starter list of al fresco places

Vinyl Variety

Record shops are disappearing in the age of digital downloads. But those that remain are a basic and popular component of any vibrant city. NYC has Finyl Vinyl, Portland has Jackpot, and GR has Vertigo, Corner, and Dodd's

All for Audio Art

Punching Bee Music, a collective of local artists organized in 2005, aims to promote the health of the local music scene through networking, collaboration, and events. Tune in now

Growing Pains

Call them green thumbs or urban farmers, more and more people are digging in Grand Rapids' dirt. But even though growing food locally strengthens communities and builds food security, it takes a committed city to make urban agriculture take off

Foreclosure is Not an Option

Mainstream media is filled with stories about West Michigan's foreclosure crisis. But did you read the one about the savvy  Grand Rapids nonprofit that rescued 300 mortgages and saved the Kent County community $15 million? Here it is  

A Toast to Sustainability

Green Drinks International, a network based on informal social gatherings for the environmental crowd, counts some 350 local chapters in cities worldwide. And Grand Rapids is now one of 30 members in the U.S. So what are you doing after work on the third Thursday of every month   

What's a Bicyclist To Do

Grand Rapids' Master Plan calls for a network of superior bike routes that citizens can take safely to school, stores, work, and recreation. So what's taking so long 

Why Civic Centers Matter

We shape our public spaces, Winston Churchill once suggested, and thereafter our public spaces shape us. That means a plan and money to upgrade metro GR's underperforming parks is essential to the community's economic, environmental, and cultural vitality. Fortunately, the work already is underway    

Grooming the Green Collars

John Ebers graduated in 2003 from Aquinas College with a degree in sustainable business. Sound like a ticket to oblivion? Think again. Today he has a good-paying job on the cutting edge of the national movement to green the health care industry

Head Start on Sustainability

Experts predict the United States will generate millions of green collar jobs in the next decade. So it's no wonder that C.A. Frost, the environmental science academy of Grand Rapids Public Schools, is one of the region's more popular educational institutions for young people

Ready to Serve

Bridget Clark-Whitney initially started the Kids Food Basket as a way to finish her studies and graduate from Aquinas College. Today the grassroots operation counts more than 1,000 volunteers and daily provides more than 1,300 sack lunches to hungry kids in GR. Time to help make the sandwiches 

A Road Paved Green

The Green Chauffeur, started by twenty-something entrepreneurs Stephen Knight and Zack Burkum, isn't the first cab company in America to employ gas-saving hybrid vehicles. But it's the first - and only - one in Grand Rapids. Who's your designated driver?

RG Rerun: Michigan's Best Burlesque

So you think churchy Grand Rapids is too squeaky clean for the ribald humor, suggestive scenery, and gender bending of burlesque? Think again. Meet The Super Happy Funtime players.  

Linked for Success

If creativity is a key commodity in the knowledge economy, West Michigan needs to attract and retain creative people. An innovate new website targets home grown 17-24 year olds. Spread the word

Sunny Side Up

Even in too often sun-starved West Michigan, solar energy can help electrify the power grid and reduce the region's dependence on fossil fuels. Tom Leonard reports from Rapid Growth's sustainability desk

Three Wishes for GR

What, in your opinion, are the three most important moves West Michigan can make to improve life for kids, adults, and elders? Curious minds want to know

Home Girl

Jessica Onan, one of the energetic young leaders of the city's sustainability movement, grew up in Burton Heights, graduated from City High and Aquinas, and today lives in Midtown because, she says, GR is in her heart. She sat down to field a few questions from Rapid Growth.

GRPS 101

The print headlines and nightly news casts that shape the public record tend to suggest the city school system spends more time stomping out fires and cockroaches than preparing capable and productive workers. In his 2008 State of Our Schools Address, Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor aimed to set the record straight.

The City We Dream

In his 2008 State of the City Address, GR Mayor George Heartwell envisioned a city with kids in jobs not jail, wind turbines rather than smokestacks, and streetcars instead of traffic jams. Working together, he said, citizens can make that vision a reality.

Got Beer?

Home to more than 70 breweries, Michigan ranks sixth in the nation when it comes to the sheer number of beer makers per state. On February 23, the gang will descend on the frozen tundra of Fifth Third Ballpark for the annual winter beer festival. 

Visit Our Archive

Read any article ever run in Rapid Growth - from feature stories to development news to complete sets of neighborhood guides - by accessing our archives. Find the big horizontal photo at the top of this page, click on the green bar below it, and learn more about the latest and greatest on Michigan's West Coast. Or do a quick search in the handy dandy search box!

RG TV: Landing on Urban Planet

UrbanPlanet.org is an online community of people talking about neighborhood revitalization, architecture, and a variety of other issues affecting America's cities. With more than 250 registered users discussing thousands of topics, the Grand Rapids section is one of the more popular in cyberspace. Vlogger Andy Dragt introduces you to the Urban Planeteers.

The 10 Trends Reshaping Grand Rapids Public Schools

GRPS is quietly building a new generation of educational facilities to elevate the level of achievement and opportunity for city students in the 21st century. Dr. William DeJong, a nationally recognized expert on school planning and a GR native, explains why the district's timing could not be better.

'Tis the Season to Shop Local

Sick of the heavy traffic, pushy people, and long check out lines at the big box stores and mega malls? Take some of the stress out of the holiday season, and find that special gift, by shopping the neighborhood business scene. Festivities throughout the city are already underway.

RG TV: Get on the Bus

The argument that nobody rides the bus has come to the fore in part because more substantial criticisms against ramping up investment in mass transit have lost their credibility. Now vlogger Andy Dragt reveals the folly of that misconception too. All aboard!   

And the Winners Are...

The winners of the 2007 Neighborhood Business Awards were announced last night - Thursday Nov. 8, 2007 - to a packed house at Wealthy Theatre. Deborah Johnson Wood brings you the results from Rapid Growth's development news desk.

Strike Up the Trolley Band

Civic leaders recently launched an investigation into the potential for a streetcar system in downtown Grand Rapids. The experience of cities like Portland, OR suggests that's reason to celebrate.

Clang Clang Clang Went Grand Rapids

If you think Grand Rapids' revival is rocking now, watch what happens when the city lays down some streetcar track. A growing band of developers, bankers, and young professionals say that will take the renaissance to a whole new level.

What Streetcars Look Like

Trolleys already roam the streets in cities like Philadelphia, Tampa, Little Rock, and Seattle. And dozens of other places are studying, engineering, or expanding streetcar routes. Could they work in Grand Rapids?

RG TV: The Road to Women's Wellville

When the doors open in summer 2008, the Women's Health Center now rising on Health Hill will be one of only a few facilities in the nation focused completely and exclusively on the wellbeing of women. Vlogger Andy Dragt navigates the bulldozers, cranes, and construction dust to bring you this footage of GR's latest medical landmark

Questions for Kevin Stotts

The czar of leadership talks about developing community trustees, what Gen X wants in the central city, and plugging young people into civic life

Wanted: A Kid-Friendly City

Grand Rapids ranked 20th in a recent survey of America's most child-friendly mid-sized cities. Can that score be improved?

The Bear Necessities

Barry and Jackson VanDyke, and their sister Heather Vandyke-Titus, believe in the power of neighborhoods. That’s why the siblings are committed to improving them

Everything is Free

If you believe you can't get something for nothing, you've never been to the Freedom Celebration.

Mass Market

The Fulton Street Farmer's Market is one of the oldest, more abundant, and popular outdoor markets in GR. Grab your grocery bag.

Public Works Party

Attending this year's Growing Communities conference is a must if you pay taxes, drive on roads, connect to the Internet, live in a house, or simply like to bike and walk safely around town. Click here to register.

RG TV: Bowl-O-Rama

GR bowlers recently rolled the rock in friendly competition to benefit local artists' markets. Vlogger Chuck Peterson puts you on the scene at the Clique

Meet the Beetles

The voracious Emerald Ash Borer bug threatens to destroy every ash tree in the city. But it also presents a powerful opportunity to ramp up efforts to green the city and grow the tree canopy, according to Sustainability Correspondent Tom Leonard.

The Green Imperative

How can Michigan reanimate the attributes that once made it great? By taking the lead in the green economy, according to Rapid Growth correspondent Tom Leonard, who reports from the state's 12th Annual Sustainable Business Forum Conference.

Vroom With A View

With gas prices, traffic congestion, and other auto costs soaring, GR's counterculture discovers the convenience of a different motorized ride.

The Local Lowdown

Local First is one of two organizations in Michigan - and 50 in the U.S. - promoting the power of neighborhood business. Elissa Sangali, the group's new leader, explains why keeping it local is so important.

Postcards from the Future

How can cities better prepare for the future? Tara Lemmey, CEO of LENSVentures, explains different strategies for innovation and why it’s essential for cities, businesses and organization to take the risk.

Campaigning for Conservation

Some say energy conservation is America's ticket to economic competitiveness, a healthier environment, and global peace. Tom Leonard, Rapid Growth's sustainability correspondent, explores what it really means for our quality of life.

The Winds of Politics

Al Gore's sizable electric bill - and the way in which he pays it - illuminates the sustainability issues surrounding residential energy use, and the 21st century opportunity for Michigan businesses and leadership.  

Learning Curve

Only one West Michigan high school ranks among the nation's Top 100, according to a recent Newsweek survey. So how do we improve the region's education system and prepare students for a knowledge economy?

Moonshine Math

Ethanol is touted as a renewable energy that will generate jobs, diversify the economy, and help kick America's dependence on foreign oil. But what will it really do for Michigan?

Leaders of the Lead Rebellion

Landlords James Loftus, Dan Brink, and John Sanger have removed toxic lead from more than 40 of their older properties. All three were recently recognized for their commitment to providing Grand Rapids renters with healthy homes.

Finding the Pollution Solution

The City of Grand Rapids by 2019 will spend another $50 million to modernize its sewer system and cleanup the Grand River. But is there a faster, more cost effective way to swim and fish without sewage?

Windows on the World

For Gretchen Minnhaar, an organizer of the Chiaroscuro film series, the cinema is about much more than entertainment. Film is a powerful art form that illuminates the world around us.

Living for the City

Urban policy guru Bruce Katz says reinvesting in cities is among the most important thing Great Lakes leaders can do to make their communities more competitive in the global knowledge economy. His think tank's latest report lays out a widely accepted path to 21st century prosperity.

Get the Power

Energy innovation promises to generate jobs, strengthen national security, sustain the environment, and stretch the value of taxpayer dollars, particularly in Michigan. All that's needed is leadership.

From Hope to Tech Help

They might not be Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google fame. But Mat Nguyen and Mike Harris are building a respectable tech business of their own.

A Philadelphia Story

The once empty streets of Philly's Central City District now bustle with new workers, residents, and sidewalk cafes. Phil Levy credits the establishment of a special business improvement district, an idea GR now is looking to expand. 

Foreign Force

Nearly 21,000 people, a full 10 percent of Grand Rapids' population, were born outside the United States. Meet a few of them who are changing the city's culture and economy for the better.

United in Purpose

Unity was the central theme of GR Mayor George Heartwell's 2007 State of the City Address. "If we remain united," he said. "I promise we will make history every single day of the following year."

You GROW Girl

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women helped establish 40 new businesses and generated some 270 jobs in 2005. Jennifer Beaumont, who just opened Yoga on the Hill, is one of the group's many successful graduates.

Why Isn't Stanford Ovshinsky a Billionaire?

The sustainability movement is commercializing new ideas, generating jobs, and fueling economic expansion from Arizona to Japan. How long before Michigan takes it seriously?

In Search of a Mobility Scenario

At the close of 2006, Grand Rapids dispatched a small party of civic leaders to learn about mass transit in Portland. They came back with news of a streetcar revolution. 

GR Interactive

With nearly 60 million blogs on the Internet, G-RAD offers a forum where the contributors all have one thing in common: Grand Rapids

Season's Greetings from Rapid Growth

Well, there's no snow on the ground yet. But, like rappers Run DMC caroled, "it's Christmas time and we got the spirit." So we're taking a break for a couple weeks. But we'll be back January 11, 2007 to bring you a new year of stories about growth, investment, and unique stories of urban life on Michigan's west coast.

Neighborhood Sensibilities

World-class cities and vibrant neighborhoods don't just happen. They're the product of big dreams, targeted investment, and thoughtful planning. The Sustainability Package is Grand Rapids latest effort to bring those critical elements together. 

Child's Play

Health activist Paul Haan has helped secure millions of dollars in public funding and reached out to hundreds of families in Grand Rapids in an effort to eradicate childhood lead poisoning. The plan is working. Now he's targeting radon and other environmental health issues. 

The Beer Barons of River City

Entreprenuers began brewing beer in Grand Rapids before the city became a city. After some ups and downs in the industry, the tradition continues today.

An Economy of Apples

Farmland in west Michigan typically is more valuable for building superstores and subdivisions than growing fruits and vegetables. But, with increasingly more mouths to feed in heavily populated places like China, a growing crop of thinkers questions whether that's the best way to put the region's unique landscape to work in the global economy.

The Color of Money: Diversity Improves Economy

Kent County is becoming more diverse. Asians and Hispanics are moving here, and the result is a more robust economy and a place more interesting to educated, mobile people.

Car Talk

The car is king in Grand Rapids. And road trips and Sunday drives are great American past times. But for daily transit needs, just getting conveniently from point A to point B, there has to be a better way. Is Grand Rapids ready?

She Means Business

Kimberly Van Dyk's goal is to reenergize urban life in Grand Rapids by putting a vibrant commercial center back into neighborhoods. She sat down to field a few questions from Rapid Growth.

Eyes on Design

Architecture. Furniture. Film. Advertising. Grand Rapids area designers are leaders in their industries, and they hold some of the keys to the region's economic success.

Draggin' Stuff Home

They're not World Market or Ikea, but the local thrift shops and salvage yards carry interesting items for the home decorator at a fraction of the cost.

The New Flavor of Business

Not only is the sustainability movement for real, Tom Leonard counts six ways it's becoming an inevitable revolution.

Stars Align for Kids in GR

Brian and Kathleen Kelly are fortunate to have friends like best-selling author Mitch Albom and rock star Brian Vander Ark. They're leveraging those friendships to raise $100,000 for DeVos Children's Hospital. 

Uncorking Citywide Sustainability

Corky Overmyer became Grand Rapids' first 'Sustainability Manager' on July 1, 2006. His charge: reinvent the city.

The Dawn of Electric Mobility

Throughout its history, the City of Grand Rapids has stood at the forefront of transportation design and innovation. So what's next for Michigan's second largest metro area?

Horsin' Around Town

Tired of wood plank roads and muddy walks around town, Grand Rapids embraced horse-drawn street cars near the end of the 19th century. The move set the stage for a monumental transformation from primitive frontier town to modern American city.

Giving Away in Grand Rapids

Whether it's a $5,000 grant to lift up a neighborhood association or three-quarters of a million dollars to renovate an old building, a determined culture of giving has helped set the stage for Grand Rapids' renaissance.

Housing at All Costs

From a million-dollar high-rise condo unit to luxury lofts, upscale options are adding diversity to the central city's housing market and making the area a stronger and more attractive place to live.

Welcome to Green Building Capital, USA

From water-free toilets to rooftop gardens, green design has quickly emerged as the new regional standard for developing sustainable buildings. Columnist Tom Leonard explains why, more and more, developers choose to go green.

Defining 'Sustainability,' Grand Rapids Style

'Sustainability' is the word for the new millenium. The term is popping up everywhere. At community meetings. On corporate advertising. In political speeches. But what does it mean? Tom Leonard explains in the first of a series of regular columns exploring what the philosophy of sustainability means for the future of West Michigan.

Grand Gourmet

Grand Rapids likes its meat and potatoes. But a growing number of international grocers are spicing up the city's culinary scene with more international flavor. Now everything from sting ray meat to banana flower is readily available at local markets.

Moving Ahead

Instead of griping about gas prices and wasting time in traffic jams, a growing number of Grand Rapidians are simply choosing to leave the car at home. They're taking up walking, riding the bus, and other ways to get around town.

Greening Grand Rapids

Metropolitan Grand Rapids today is considered one of the elite sustainable cities in the United States. So what does that mean?

The Bark Unleashed

The Grand Rapids dog park is more than just a place "where the elite with four feet meet," to paraphrase San Francisco cartoonist Phil Frank. It also serves as a community yard for people to unwind and connect with new friends.  

A Place To Grow

While parks and recreation areas fill a need for city folk seeking green spaces, a sense of ownership or belonging is often missing. At the Hillcrest Community Garden, people come together on common ground to prepare the land in the spring, swap growing tips and techniques throughout the season, and clean up in the fall.

College Town

With several major institutions of higher education growing in and around Grand Rapids - and a Big Ten university looking for a place to land - there’s definitely a pervasive college culture alive and well and thriving in the city

Welcome to Rapid Growth

Welcome to Rapid Growth a free, weekly e-magazine that tells the story of the growth that’s changing the face of Grand Rapids and its neighborhoods.
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