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AmplifyGR wants to use public money on property demolition for a new company that they are unwilling to even disclose the name of

December 3, 2020

On Tuesday, December 1st, MLive posted an article with the headline, Amplify GR seeking $2.2M in incentives to demolish vacant factory, construct office building.

The MLive story claims that the DeVos-created group, AmplifyGR, is asking the City of Grand Rapids to provide $2.2 million of public money for a demolition of a vacant building at 1601 Madison SE, which sits on a 10 acre lot.

The City’s Economic Development Team document for December 1st, pages 4 – 12, provide some additional details on the AmplifyGR-led project. The City document and the MLive article both mention that there would be the creation of 26 new jobs at an average wage of $21.57 per hour. This is somewhat misleading, especially since we don’t know what this company pays the administrators, office staff or data entry employees. The company could pay some people $30 an hour and other employees $11.00 an hour, which would make the average wage roughly $21 per hour.

The MLive article also states that 30% of the 26 new persons (7 employees) hired would have to be from the 49507 zip code. The boundaries for 49507 are Franklin to the north, 131 to the west, 28th street to the south and Sylvan to the east. Since AmplifyGR is only asking for 30% of the new people hired to be from that zip code, why not narrow the area down to the Boston Square neighborhood area, especially since it only means 7 new jobs?

Then there is the issue of anonymity, since the company that is proposing to purchase the property at 1601 Madison SE nor AmplifyGR is willing to reveal the name of the company. It would seem that knowing which company might be moving to the 1601 Madison SE location would be an absolutely necessary requirement before moving forward on this or any project. The City of Grand Rapids and the public has a fundamental right to know the name of this company. Transparency must be a priority, especially in this case, where they are asking for public funds to be used.

The next step in this proposal is for AmplifyGR to go before the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority on Dec. 9. The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has a board, which is made up primarily of people from the business community, which reflects a serious bias.

Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority

Stanley Wisinski – Real Estate, Kristine Bersche – Natura Architectural Consulting, Guillermo Cisneros – Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Lynn Rabaut – retired, Troy Butler – Thacker Sleight, John VanFossen – Meijer Inc., Renee Williams – Huntington Bank, Kim McLaughlin – Wolverine Building Group and Joshua Verhulst – Tech Defenders.

If the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority votes to support AmplifyGR’s request for $2.2 million in public money for the for this project, it will then go to the City Commission for approval, which would not be until after the New Year.

Earlier this fall, the City of Grand Rapids voted to approve the 9-acre development proposal for the Boston Square neighborhood, which will also rely on public funding, specifically through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, for a housing development project. It’s instructive that AmplifyGR continues to ask for public money on their projects, especially since the DeVos-created entity, which is working in tandem with Rockford Construction, has already spent over $10 million to purchase properties in the Boston Square area. The question we should be asking is, why would the DeVos family and Rockford Construction, through their surrogate AmplifyGR, need to use public money, when they are both disgustingly wealthy? 

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