3.2.17 – Luncheon Notes
SPOKES Notes written by Shannon Kolarik.
President Sytsma opened our Rotary meeting with announcements and celebration of anniversaries and birthdays. We have members that have been in our club for many decades. Thank you for your service and dedication! Invocation was led by Mark Peter, guests and visiting Rotarians were welcomed by Tom Dorwin and our newest members, Loic Dimithe and Leslee Fritz, were introduced by their sponsors, each taking the microphone to share a unique part of their story with us. Lastly, Tim Dye introduced our keynote speaker, Doug Small. Small came to Grand Rapids in 2008 from Denver, Colorado at a time when Grand Rapids looked very different than it does today, merely 9 years later. He joined Experience Grand Rapids as President and CEO and has led them in their mission of strengthening the region’s
economic vitality and quality of life by marketing Grand Rapids as a preferred visitor destination.
Small shared with us the ways that Grand Rapids has grown and continues to grow through the following initiatives:
1. Fill hotels. Find ways to bring people to Grand Rapids to spend money and strengthen the economy.
2. Bring the rapids back. This will help rebrand our community and prevent travelers from asking “Where are the rapids?”
3. Continue to partner with the PURE Michigan Campaign which has brought between 8-10% of overnight travel to Grand Rapids and generated over $223 million in incremental spending.
4. Continue to be innovative. Experience GR has rolled out several “trail maps” that help visitors navigate our city based on their interests. These maps include: Music Trail, Ale Trail, and Food Trail. Experience GR has also rolled out the Brewsader Passport that can be stamped at local breweries and submitted for a free Brewsader t-shirt.
5. Artprize Shuttle. One of Experience GR’s newest initiatives, the shuttle brings visitors to and from various attractions for ease of experiencing Artprize, an annual event that has helped put Grand Rapids on the map.
6. Become an Urban Adventure Destination. With the restructure of the river and its pathways, Grand Rapids is taking strides to become more bike-friendly and hopes to bring kayakers to the river once the rapids are back.
On a final note, let’s reiterate the brilliant buzzwords that Small shared with us that his team has been
1. Artthrob – a destination that makes art-loving hearts flutter
2. Biteseeing – to experience a destination through its flavors and foods, one spoonful at a time
3. Brewsader – an advocate, enthusiast and imbiber of great beer, on a never-ending quest for the perfect brew
4. Fambition – the desire to achieve the best family vacation ever
5. Trekreation – refreshment of the mind and body through outdoor activity and exploration
6. Tunetrotter – a person who travels in search of great live music
Cheers! to Grand Rapids and all that it has to offer thanks to the leadership from community pioneers like Doug Small.