GRAND RAPIDS (MICH.) — Did anybody around here ever hear of the Grand Rapids that’s in Minnesota?
Well, if you happen to type “Grand Rapids Tourism” into the Google search engine, the town in eastern Minnesota gets top billing. In fact, it has seven listings compared to a mere three for our community.
But this isn’t the fault of the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The site’s listings were done by Expedia.com, which is marching to a different drum from that which our promoters beat.
Go to the bureau’s Web site, www.visitgrandrapids.org, and it’s a whole different story from the Expedia listing.
Either way, the two Grand Rapidses (if that’s how you write the plural of Grand Rapids) have some things in common.
Both are fairly close, for instance, to the big lake. It’s roughly 40 miles from downtown to Lake Michigan at Muskegon and about the same distance from Grand Rapids, Minn., to Duluth, the big industrial port on Lake Superior.
Each town is the birthplace of famous people. Contrasted with our Gordon Lousma and former President Gerald Ford, the other Grand Rapids is Judy Garland’s birthplace.
As the communities’ names indicate, each lies on a river that once was a whitewater stream, though dams have tamed both. That Grand Rapids matches our Grand River with its own stretch of the upper Mississippi.
Our dam, so far as we know, is unnamed while Grand Rapids, Minn., is the home of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Pokegama Dam, which creates a large inner city lake.
But if our community is the powerhouse of West Michigan’s economy, you can’t quite say the same of Grand Rapids, Minn. It lies roughly halfway between Bimidji and Duluth on Highway 6 and has nothing like Gerald R. Ford International Airport or an emerging DeVos Place in which to host conventions.
Though perhaps temporarily more prominent on the Internet than our town (and possibly more attractive to anglers and tourists looking for pretty scenery) Grand Rapids, Minn, offers us no competition for convention business.
Its population is slightly over 8,000.