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The Business Press in Grand Rapids, 2017 Newsmakers and the local Power Structure

January 12, 2018

Reading the business press can be difficult at times, but for those who are engaged in grassroots organizing, it is important for us to monitor such news sources. It’s important because those who have economic and political power are often more candid with what they think in the business press than in the more mainstream commercial media.

In addition, the business press also is pretty up front about their bias, even allegiance, to those who wield tremendous economic and often political power. This was demonstrated recently in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, with their announcement of the 2017 Newsmakers of the Year awards event, scheduled for January 31st at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. 

The list of nominees reads like a who’s who of the Grand Rapids power structure, with mostly familiar names, to those who follow power dynamics in West Michigan.

There are 16 separate categories, with 3 nominations in each category. However, it is interesting to see how deeply certain people, families and companies are represented in the nominations.

The family/business with the most mentions are of course the DeVos Family. Dick DeVos is a nominee for Economic Development and his wife Betsy DeVos is a nominee for Education. In addition to that power couple, Dan DeVos is a nominee for Sports (ownership of the Grand Rapids Griffins) and Daryn Kuipers is a nominee in the Beverage category because he works for Boxed Water. Boxed Water is part of the DeVos owned Windquest Group Core Companies

Of course, the DeVos connection doesn’t end there. In the category of Non-Profit newsmakers, AmplifyGR is nominated. AmplifyGR is funded by the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation and was created for the purpose of getting the family into the development business, along with AmplifyGR’s partner Rockford Construction. Which brings us to another connection, since Rockford Construction is nominated for two categories – Construction and Sustainability.

Being nominated by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as a 2017 Newsmaker, of course is an endorsement that what these individuals or companies were doing in the community over the past twelve months. We take a much different view of these nominees, so we’d like to offer our own awards for each of the people named above.

Daryn Kuipers/Boxed Water wins the We’re Profiting Off of the Sale of Water Award.

AmplifyGR, along with Rockford Construction, wins the Gentrifier of the Year Award

However, since Rockford Construction was also nominated for the Sustainability of the Year Award, we’d like to give them the – We Had to Destroy the Neighborhood in order to make it Sustainable Award. 

Dan DeVos, owner of the Grand Rapids Griffins, wins the We Own Everything Else, Why Not the Sports Teams Award.

Since Dick DeVos was nominated for the Economic Development category, he wins the How to Use Public Money for Private Profit Award.

Lastly, since the Grand Rapids Business Journal nominated Betsy DeVos for an Education award (even though she is the only person nominated who is not working in Grand Rapids), we give her the How to Dismantle Public Education Award.

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