The Convention and Arena Authority is providing specific objectives aimed at assuring that the community’s “diversity” is represented — and apparent — in the performances at the Van Andel Arena. While it might be said that such has always been the intent, it is true that intent falls short of action. The lion of the recent directive to specifically begin a minority community outreach plan is CAA Chairman Steven Heacock, who has long called minority representation a priority.
It may be a no-brainer for other urban communities in
The example of how it begets continued failure is evident in the comments of law firm partners who lose almost as many minority recruits as they invite. Statistically, such recruits are attracted to the larger firms in the larger metro areas. In a story in sister publication Grand Rapids Magazine (May 2006), Warner Norcross & Judd LLP partner Valerie Simmons noted, “Minority law students in general really aren’t much interested in being trailblazers or one of a few. They’re looking for places where they can be comfortable — places where other people look like them.” Harvard grad and Dickinson Wright partner Patrick Miles also commented on how
For those who remain in the community, the challenge becomes one of overextension, especially in the nonprofit sector where the few are asked to contribute comparatively inordinate amounts of time to “represent” minorities, yet are challenged by the number of those willing to sacrifice unceasing time commitments. It can be compared to the same names going up on major community buildings.
Joe Jones and Skot Welch, both highly regarded for their community leadership and integrity, won the CAA contract to provide the outreach plan. In what may be unprecedented for any business holding a government contract, both Jones and Welch have indicated the level of their commitment to the project, opting to provide two hours of pro bono work for every billable hour. It sets a new bar for giving in the
Grand Rapids Business Journal suggests that the CAA and Kent County Grand Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau will benefit from such assistance as well in contracting for conventions more specifically related to a vast number of minority groups across the country.