Grand Rapids’ new $212 million convention center was recognized at an Economic Club luncheon today as the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 2004 Newsmaker of the Year.
“When you look at the term ‘newsmaker,’ it’s open to interpretation,” said John Canepa, who along with Dick DeVos and David Frey co-chairs the Grand Action Committee, the private sector driver behind the project. “From notorious to unusual to distinguished. I would hope you would agree with me that the actions of Grand Action were distinguished.”
Along with the Grand Action trio, former Grand Rapids Mayor John Logie, former Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Heacock and Downtown Development Authority Chairman Verne Barry also picked up framed commemorative front pages of the Business Journal as mementos of their efforts.
And that’s really what was at the crux of the convention center’s victory, said Carole Valade, Business Journal editor.
“The 2004 Newsmaker of the Year is the largest public/private accomplishment ever achieved in West Michigan,” she said.
The other nine finalists included U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra’s battle against Federal Prison Industries; Riviera Tool Co.’s collaborative effort on new Mercedes Benz projects; small market insurance reform; The Right Place Inc.’s position paper on manufacturing; Spectrum Health’s efforts regarding Medicaid and cost shifting; the NxOpinion initiative from Sagestone Consulting and Robertson Research Institute; Gallium Group’s fight to build a hotel on Calder Plaza; Alticor’s move into the nutrition, skin care and biotech industry spurred by purchasing controlling interest in Interleukin Genetics LLC; and the new Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences health education offerings to West Michigan students in all health professions.
“Each of these is worthy as a newsmaker of the year,” said Valade. “The fundamental reason for being the newsmaker, though, is economic impact.”
Canepa, who accepted the award before a luncheon crowd of more than 500, said he was proud to accept the award and was quick to offer congratulations to all those who made the center possible, both public and private.
“This is an unprecedented alliance so unusual in its structure and support that it’s become a role model for other mid-sized cities,” he said. “A top-notch convention facility in a dynamic city … is big news. Grand Action will continue to make sure the news is good for West Michigan.”