In 2010, approximately 2% of Grand Rapids residents claimed Asian-only descent. Their influence on the city is much greater than their numbers would imply, as first-generation Asians have married into and been adopted by non-Asian families, combining their unique cultures and traditions with our own.
Grand Rapids is home to people from every Asian country, particularly Vietnam, Korea, China and India.
Grand Rapids was one of the first American communities to accept Vietnamese refugees in the mid-‘70s, led by a consortium of area churches. By the 2000 census, only three other Midwest cities had more Vietnamese-American residents than Grand Rapids.
As in most U.S. cities, the first influx of Koreans came to Grand Rapids as wives and children of U.S. military personnel serving in Korea during and after the Korean War. Today, more Koreans come to Grand Rapids through adoption by non-Korean families than come with their birth families.
Few Chinese settlers made their way to West Michigan until 1965, when changes in immigration law made it possible for those with superior skills and education to find employment in our technology-forward companies. Beginning in the 1980s, Chinese-American business owners developed a small "Chinatown" district along south Division Street in Grand Rapids, with shops and services catering to Asian tastes.
Most Asian Indians and Pakistanis also came to Grand Rapids after 1965, when immigration laws were rewritten to emphasize education and skills rather than race. While tension is high between their home countries, Indians and Pakistanis here have bonded as one community.
- Cultural organizations include the Asian Center, Chinese Association of West Michigan, West Michigan Asian American Association, and West Michigan Filipino-American Association.
- Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and other Asian cuisines are well represented at the area's Asian restaurants.
- A number of Asian markets around town offer groceries and specialty items - including Asian Delight Market, Saigon Market, KB's Oriental Supermarket (616.248.9999), and Kim Nhung Super Store Wholesale & Retail (616.406.1918).
- Asian churches serve a variety of religions and denominations.