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Contact: Jon Nunn, Grand Action
              PH: 616-456-8100

Study recommendations aim to elevate the region as top-tier visitor destination

Grand Rapids, Mich. (Dec. 5, 2016) – The Grand Action Committee revealed findings from their Grand Rapids Destination Asset Study today at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids luncheon. Presented by study author John Kaatz of Conventions, Sports and Leisure, International (CSL), the comprehensive evaluation of our destination’s assets and infrastructure found opportunities in multiple sectors for projects and investments that could elevate Grand Rapids and Kent County as a top-tier visitor destination.

“Grand Rapids and Kent County have enjoyed tremendous growth in visitor attraction during the last decade, and we can’t stop now. It is time to move up to the next level,” said Grand Action Co-Chair David Frey, who added that visitor spending in Kent County was $1.16 billion in 2014 and that tourism is one of the region’s leading industries.

“When we build a city that people want to visit, we build a better city,” continued Frey. “That means we’re also building a city where people will want to live, work and do business.”

Grand Action has been the catalyst for key projects that have grown the visitor economy and was encouraged to partner with both Experience Grand Rapids and Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. in this analysis. Increased visitor attraction has been embraced by an array of community stakeholders as a strategy to enhance the region as a destination to live, work and do business and is a critical strategic priority of Experience Grand Rapids.

Grand Action retained CSL of Minneapolis to conduct the study in which visitor attraction drivers, current regional assets and competitive markets were evaluated. The study recommendations are organized into the following areas:
    • Convention Center, Hotel Opportunities
    • Attracting Professional Sports
    • Enhancing Amateur Sports Offerings
    • Leveraging the Grand River
    • Outdoor and Adventure Opportunities
    • Downtown Transportation for the Visitor, and
    • Destination Awareness, Inclusion and Diversity

Study authors sought input from 125 individuals from 100 organizations representing various community sectors including stakeholders, businesses, city and county leadership, nonprofits, and more. They also consulted previous and current community studies and plans, including the DGRI GR Forward plan, the Grand Rapids Whitewater plan and economic impact study, and plans to “reimagine” Calder Plaza. 

“This Destination Asset Study looks at all we have in place and the plans we have underway through a vistor’s lens,” said Experience Grand Rapids President and CEO, Doug Small. “Grand Action has played an integral role in the vision and creation of many primary tourism related assets, and it makes sense to lean on their experience as we establish a blueprint for continued  growth of tourism in our region.” 
Over the next 10 years, focus will be on extensive planning and identifying project funding sources. The Grand Rapids Destination Asset Study Executive Summary can be viewed at

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Grand Action is a business based private not-for-profit organization which, since 1991, has targeted major downtown Grand Rapids economic development initiatives including Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, Civic Theatre, and the Downtown Market. It has provided independent evaluation, advocacy, private fundraising and planning services for those projects. 
Grand Action is co-chaired by John Canepa, Dick DeVos and David Frey.