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Grand Rapids and West Michigan – Marketing Phenomena or Are Things Really This Good?

Oct 18, 2017

As a follow up to my recent post about West Michigan’s Creative Class, I was set to share some creative culinary spots and history in the area, but then an article caught my eye, and I decided to shift gears.

Last week, the Grand Rapids region was touted as being one of the best places to retire!  Wait a minute.  Can it be true?  Obviously the study wasn’t conducted in February, right?   I’ll admit, it is a special place with tons of activities for the young, but I learned that retirees love West Michigan for many of the same reasons – proximity to Lake Michigan, the arts culture, an explosion of restaurant offerings and a strong faith-based, close-knit community atmosphere.  As I began to dig in about how GR made the Best of the Best, I noticed many other lists that the city has recently appeared on, too.  Here are a few from just this year.


On August 17, 2017, Grand Rapids was named by Forbes as the #1 Fastest Growing Economy in the U.S.  This information was compiled and verified by Headlight Data.  Grand Rapids eked out the first-place spot in front of Orlando, FL, Nashville, TN, Charlotte, NC and Salt Lake City, UT.  We knew West Michigan’s economy was booming, but this is quite an amazing national statistic.



Outside Magazine listed Grand Rapids as one of the 25 Best Towns of 2017 in its June 15, 2017 edition.  Outdoor touted Michigan’s overall rebirth as a prime reason, but also Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, high-paying jobs, “great food and even better beer” and the fact that Lake Michigan is only 30 miles away.  There’s a lot more to the story, and I think it’s very accurate.  https://www.outsideonline.com/2193631/best-towns-2017

Food Scene:

On April 19, 2017, Testing Table named Grand Rapids one of the 27 Most Underrated Food and Drink Cities in America.  While they tout the brewery and wine establishments for the reason Grand Rapids made the list, they rightfully focus on the food offerings, not just the booze.   Testing Table honed in on mainly the downtown area, but if they had only spent a little more time in the city, they would have fallen in love with the amazing offerings in the booming Uptown and Westside areas.  GR will make a lot of other Food and Drink Best Of lists in the coming years.


And finally to my original point,


U.S. News & World Report, on October 2, 2017, unveiled their list of 100 Best Places to Retire in the US.  To develop their list, U.S. News “analyzed data for the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the USA to assess how well they meet Americans’ retirement needs and expectations.  Top criteria include the happiness of local resident’s, housing affordability, tax rates and healthcare quality.”  Guess who came in 4th behind 1st Place retirement mecca Sarasota, FL?  Yes, our very own Grand Rapids.  A line in their analysis that sticks out for me: “Midwest friendliness is no exaggeration in Grand Rapids, which, despite being the second largest metro area in Michigan, exudes small-town warmth.”


Congrats Grand Rapids on your accolades.  Yes, this place is as great as these news outlets report and you’re really making it difficult to not move back home.

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