It all starts with a visit

The work of a destination marketing organization like Experience Grand Rapids can be thought of as two sides of the same coin—we advocate for, invest and engage in initiatives that create a terrific destination for visitors and help build a great place for people to live. The two go hand-in-hand.

A respected U.S. tourism industry leader put it this way:

“If we build a place where people want to visit, we will build a place where people want to live. And if we build a place where people want to live, we will build a place where people want to work. And if we build a place where people want to work, we will build a place where business has to be. And if we build a place where business has to be, we will be back to building a place where people have to visit. It all starts with a visit. And that visit doesn’t happen without us.”

Beyond a Visit

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As Grand Rapids’ and Kent County’s destination marketing organization, our team has the privilege every day of telling – and showing – people what a great place this is to visit. That’s our job. But…

Building the destination—and our community

That’s why, in 2016, Experience Grand Rapids championed and helped drive the Grand Rapids Destination Asset Study. The study, formally commissioned by Grand Action, looked at our community from a visitor’s perspective. It took a deep dive into existing assets such as entertainment venues, hotels and convention space, outdoor recreation, sports, and cultural amenities that are important to attracting and accommodating visitors. Importantly, the study made visionary recommendations designed to elevate Grand Rapids’ position among visitor destinations nationwide.  

Fast forward to 2022. Two of Grand Rapid’s most anticipated developments today were born of the Destination Asset Study—the planned riverfront amphitheater and downtown soccer stadium.

And while these exciting venues were identified as attractions that would drive tourism, elevate our region as a travel destination and build our economy, they’re also assets that will enhance the quality of life for the people right here in Grand Rapids and in the surrounding region.

Our job was to envision and evaluate which assets will bring the greatest community benefit.

Greenspace and entertainment, on the river

A 2020 feasibility study commissioned by Grand Action 2.0 reported that the proposed 12,000-seat riverfront amphitheater could attract more than 261,000 attendees to over 40 events each year, including concerts, symphony performances, comedy shows, and festivals reflective of the diverse cultures, ages and musical tastes of our community.

The venue is planned as part of a 31-acre development along the east bank of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids. The concept plan calls for up to 1,750 mixed housing units, retail and mixed-use commercial properties that prioritize minority-owned businesses, an adventure park, and 10 acres of accessible community green space, including a ribbon of parkland along the river.

According to Grand Action 2.0 co-chair Tom Welch, “Our job was to envision and evaluate which assets will bring the greatest community benefit.”

Similarly, by creating a home for professional soccer in downtown Grand Rapids, the soccer stadium will bring big benefits for visitors and residents, alike.

The planned multi-use, multi-season 8,500-seat soccer and event stadium is an exciting development that will enrich the quality of life year-round for area residents and will take West Michigan to the next level as a visitor destination for sports and entertainment.

That’s the kind of destination we can be proud to call home.