2021 40 Under 40 award recipient: CJ DeVries

CJ DeVries. Courtesy 616 Media

CJ DeVries, 36


GRNow/Innovative Social Exchange MKTG/Catalina & Ora Hat Co./Glamp Rapids

CJ DeVries sprang into action when small businesses had to resort to pick-up orders and outdoor dining during the pandemic.

She used her business, GRNow, to promote other businesses that were struggling with the pandemic. DeVries created a comprehensive list of outdoor dining establishments in Grand Rapids that people could choose from. She created content that provided takeout, outdoor dining and restaurant updates. DeVries also shared with people ways they could help local businesses such as by buying gift cards and posting the information of businesses on social media. 

“We did not take any advertising dollars from suffering businesses and instead offered our services free of charge — most times with me consulting them on ways to get more people in,” she said. “I listened to the community and what the businesses needed. They couldn’t do it all without help, so I stepped in.”

DeVries also worked with organizations such as Windows GR as a media resource to shine the spotlight on the events and projects the arts organization was working on to help underrepresented populations in Grand Rapids.

“I acquired GRNow because of my passion for Grand Rapids,” she said. “This city is a work in progress — filled with so many people that care deeply to make it an epicenter of inclusivity. These inclusive stories, events and projects are what resonate with me and what I try to spotlight. Owning a company that is focused on building up businesses was my dream, and I believe I found it with GRNow and my marketing company Innovative Social Exchange …”

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