What Does Rapid Growth Do... Exactly?

This summer, I attended a pitch meeting, where various organizations went from table to table to talk to media outlets about their efforts.

At one point, a woman from a local non-profit took a seat, and began by saying she was already aware that we only covered good news and so her non-profit was probably not of any interest to us.

In this month's Revue, the pseudonym-ed Stad DiPonzi writes about Rapid Growth in his "Mean & Sober" column. He writes:

"Of course, for pure news boosterism, you can't beat Vapid Growth, the Ritalin-racked never-blinking cheerleader of the bunch. While it gets minor props for intellectual honesty (um, we don't like bad news), it gets major demerits for not stepping up as a potential valid model for local social media."

We have included a stock image of a cheerleader for perusal.

Stad, whoever he/she is, is not alone in mistaking our editorial model for an onslaught of recklessly positive news, though we prefer the term 'critically optimistic.' But it's kind of like complaining that Cat Fancy writes too much about cats, or that Maxim doesn't have a section to talk about this season's cutest shoes. We have a role to fill, and that's what we work on. We don't expect Revue to become a news outlet over an arts & entertainment guide, or for West Michigan Noise to include a dining column when their focus is local music.

It's our fault Stad and others don't understand what we do. Each media outlet is unique, and has its own appeal and demographic. Perhaps we, as a media outlet, never made ourselves clear.

Rapid Growth Media is a weekly, online magazine covering what's new and what's next for our region. We talk about people, companies, industries and organizations that move Grand Rapids forward. We will run features on any emerging economy and the people behind it. We will also report on the latest development, innovation and job news from our region. It is not a news outlet. Rapid Growth is a niche publication, and a part of Issue Media Group. IMG has several publications, very similar to Rapid Growth, in several cities across the country. As a Michigan-based company, several of those publications are nestled in the Midwest.

What this means on a local level is that we write about investors like Mark Sellers planning to open up a new music venue with the owners of The Meanwhile Bar, Jeff and Tami Vandenberg. Or we write about the revitalization of a neighborhood, like today's feature on LINC, highlighting Urban Pizza, a new Uptown business. We cover small business owners like George Bayard and artists like Alynn Guerra.

We write about new community initiatives and events, large and small. We write about ArtPrize and 5x5, and we write about Sunday Soup and the Lotus Odyssey. We cover the openings of new hospitals, restaurants, breweries and residential spaces. We write about jobs created, not jobs lost. We write about businesses opening or expanding, not closing or downsizing. We host blogs from people who have something to say about the city we're living in. We talk about Grand Rapids in terms of its economy and community engagement.

We don't talk about Grand Rapids as a dystopia, but we do not live in a vacuum where we imagine that only growth and development are occurring around us.

We write about social issues and problems in terms of solutions or activists. For example, we've written numerous articles about the biking improvements to our city, but also about Bike Man, who seeks to use Critical Mass as a vessel for changing motorists' perception of the bicyclist.

We also have Tommy Allen's editorial, as well as submissions by our bloggers for additional perspectives. We employ multiple freelance writers living in the Grand Rapids area as our feature writers.

For a more charged experience, Rapid Growth hosts a monthly speaker series where we hope to create discourse. We've had events where creatives talk about the value of their work and the importance of artists getting paid in a society where oftentimes, artists are expected to work for 'exposure.' We've had events where we discuss diversity in our community, and how we can increase that diversity and overcome the struggles that are preventing us from becoming more diverse. Although we had planned the speaker event on the revitalization of Uptown before the Christmas Day vandalism, the event occurred after, changing the tone to one of contemplation. These speaker series are only as engaging as the people who attend make them. They are free and open to the public, and almost always held at Wealthy Theatre, usually in the early evening.

We'll continue to bring you stories about new jobs and job retention, growth, diversity, development, innovation, sustainability, talent attracting other talent, retaining talent, investment, entrepreneurship, creative people doing creative things, urban living and how community impacts all of these things for years to come. Feel free to engage us on our Facebook page, or through Twitter, and get our publication by signing up for our e-newsletter. Here, you will receive invites to our speaker series and meet-ups.

It's not a bad thing to be called a cheerleader. If our team is the city of Grand Rapids, then we're here to encourage. It's our job. No halter tops, though.

J. Bennett Rylah is the Managing Editor of Rapid Growth Media.
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