Why Entrepreneurs are Starting Up in Grand Rapids

By Mayra Monroy on April 28th, 2016 / Comments

Grand Rapids has seen business growth in recent years, from rises in employment to organizations making Grand Rapids their home, bringing in tourism, money, and of course, integrity. In 2015, the city was ranked third in the United States in term of economic growth. With the second largest city in Michigan providing access to a growing community, Grand Rapids entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations share their insight on what drew them to the growing city.

We had the chance to catch up with three emerging leaders in Grand Rapids to find out why they choose to start and grow their companies in the Grand Rapids area.

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Jamiel Robinson, founder of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses

“I would describe the business community in Grand Rapids as having potential. What drew Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) to launch in Grand Rapids was the need in the city for what we offer and the opportunity to make transformational impact in our community. In addition to that the city’s entrepreneur scene, tech to neighborhood businesses has really begun to fully bloom due to Grand Rapids being “resource rich” despite being “systems poor”. What I mean by that is the city has a ton on business and economic development tools yet they don’t often align and for some difficult to access.

Being born and raised in Grand Rapids helped shape who I am today. The community has made it possible for me to do what it is that GRABB does because of the relationships I’ve been able to develop. So I’ve been able through GRABB to bring resources back to neighborhood businesses and mentor young people from my community.”

Alli McDonough, founder and owner of Fido & Stitch

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“Aside from being residents ourselves, my husband and I chose Grand Rapids for our business because of the growth and development that is happening and will continue to happen. There was also a need for smaller, boutique style dog store in the city, due to the migration of pet owners to the downtown area apartment and condo complexes, which are mostly pet friendly.

There is a lot of “local” based small businesses, which are doing very well and residents really enjoy having these types of businesses downtown. There is an awesome vibe and energy that downtown has, and it will continue to get bigger and better with so much happening and coming to the downtown area. We wanted to be a part of that, in a neighborhood close to city center (Monroe North).”

Missy McCall, owner of BoxedGR

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“Over the last 10 years especially, so much has changed and evolved and this has become a really cool city.  I can say with so much pride that I am from here and when I talk to people in other parts of the country, they actually have heard about some of the really great stuff we have going on here.

My business was born out of a love for this city and from a desire to promote the locally owned businesses and locally crafted products.  Over the past 2 and 1/2 years that I have been doing Boxed GR, I have come across so many wonderful, passionate, creative people who are so willing to help, to mentor, to share experiences, and to encourage me in my entrepreneurial journey.  I think anyone who is thinking about starting a business should consider Grand Rapids as a vibrant city full of possibilities and residents who are really passionate about supporting all things local.

I think more shopping options in the downtown area are needed.  As more and more people live downtown, we need to fill in some retail gaps for sure, like a drugstore, a larger supermarket, and it would be great to see someone open a larger general retail store, like a local version of a Target store.

As far as diversity is concerned, I would love to see more minority and women owned businesses, and in all areas of the city.”

We’d love to hear your story starting up and growing in Grand Rapids. Comment below or feel free to reach out anytime.

About the Author

Mayra Monroy

Mayra Monroy

Mayra Monroy is studying communication and journalism at Aquinas College. A Texas native, she enjoys studying communication culture and the arts in West Michigan. She currently resides in Grand Rapids and works as a editor-in-chief for Aquinas’ collegiate student newspaper and a freelance journalist.