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How is it that we allow groups like Grand Action 2.0 to get away with the shit they do?

March 21, 2021

There are many definitions of the term stakeholder, but most often, when used by those in positions of power it usually means, “denoting a type of organization or system in which all the members or participants are seen as having an interest in its success.”

The organization known as Grand Action 2.0, recently published their plans/wish list for further development in downtown Grand Rapids, development that is primarily about attracting tourists to the area. In fact, the document is referred to as Venue & Attraction Development for Grand Rapids.

On the last page of this document, there is a listing of all the Interviewed Stakeholders. If we are using the working definition of stakeholder listed above, those included in the Grand Action 2.0 document are almost all groups that would have an interest in the success of the development plan.

What follows is a list of the 57 stakeholders that were interviewed, with a hyperlink included for those who many not be familiar with the entity. However, in most cases the hyperlink takes you to the leadership or Board of Directors of the entity listed, so you can see how in most cases there is a small sector of the community, specifically representing the Grand Rapids Power Structure, which dictate do much of what happens not only in downtown Grand Rapids, but throughout the city.

After that, we want to organize the 57 entities under the following groups: DeVos family run, other entities that make up the Grand Rapids Power Structure, entities with DeVos family representation on its board of directors, businesses that would profit from the Grand Action 2.0 development plans, government entities, stakeholders that were included because of their tourist appeal, and stakeholders that were included because they represent the optics of community.

AHC Hospitality https://www.ahchospitality.com/properties 

Amway https://www.amwayglobal.com/ 

ASM Global https://asmglobal.com/p/our-story

Bluewater Audio & Video https://bluewaterav.com/

Brigham Consulting https://www.brighamconsulting.com/  

City of Grand Rapids https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Home 

Colliers https://www.colliers.com/en/about#56bf90ae-53a7-4c31-b4e4-57fc4c0298a4 (Global Real Estate Company)

CWD Real Estate https://www.cwdrealestate.com/ 

DGRI https://downtowngr.org/about/dgri

Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation  https://www.dbdvfoundation.org/ 

DP Fox Ventures https://www.dpfox.com/

Experience Grand Rapids https://www.experiencegr.com/contact-staff/board-of-directors/

Fifth Third Bank https://www.53.com/content/fifth-third/en.html

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park https://www.meijergardens.org/storage/docs/21-024_Board_of_Directors_Web_Update.pdf 

Frey Foundation https://freyfdn.org/founders-and-trustees/

Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority https://www.grr.org/airport-board 

GR Community Foundation https://www.grfoundation.org/about/trustees-committees 

GR Mobile https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Boards-and-Commissions/Mobile-GR-Commission

Grand Action https://www.grandaction.org/who-we-are 

Grand Action 2.0 Executive Committee https://www.grandaction.org/who-we-are

Grand Rapids Ballet https://grballet.com/about/board-directors/

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce https://www.grandrapids.org/your-chamber/board-of-directors/

Grand Rapids Community College https://www.grcc.edu/about-grcc/leadership-administration/board-trustees

Grand Rapids FC https://grandrapidsfc.com/

Grand Rapids Next Gen Advisory Board https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Boards-and-Commissions/The-Mayors-Next-Gen-Advisory-Board

Grand Rapids Opera https://www.operagr.org/board-of-trustees/

Grand Rapids Symphony https://www.grsymphony.org/board

Grand Rapids Urban League https://www.grurbanleague.org/board-of-directors

Grand Rapids Whitewater https://grandrapidswhitewater.org/funding/

Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority https://www.vanandelarena.com/p/about/about-caa

Grand Valley State University https://www.gvsu.edu/boardoftrustees/

Jandernoa Foundation https://www.open990.org/org/383083625/jandernoa-foundation/

John Ball Zoo https://www.jbzoo.org/about/board

Kent County https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/BOC/members.htm

Kent County Hotel Advisory Board https://www.kentcountyhospitality.org/hotel-advisory-board/

Keystone Fund https://keystonefund.org/revenue-source/

Live Nation Michigan https://www.livenationentertainment.com/leadership/

Major League Lacrosse https://majorleaguelacrosse.com/news/2019/2/25/about-mll.aspx

Michigan Travel Commission  https://www.michigan.org/board-members#asset-aid-19976

Midwest United https://www.midwestunitedfc.com/boardofdirectors

Northland United Soccer Club https://northlandunited.org/current-board-members/

NWSL https://www.nwslsoccer.com/leadership-team

Orion Construction http://orionbuilt.com/about-us

Osteria Rossa http://osteriarossa.com/about/

Pioneer Construction https://www.pioneerinc.com/our-team

Premier Productions https://www.premierproductions.com/about

Progressive AE https://www.progressiveae.com/overview/people/

Rockford Construction https://rockfordconstruction.com/team?drawer%5B0%5D=department-corporate

SJC Alliance https://www.scjalliance.com/culture/our-team/

Steelcase Foundation https://www.steelcasefoundation.org/staff-and-trustees/

Terryberry https://www.terryberry.com/about-us/

The Right Place https://www.rightplace.org/about-us/board-of-directors

United Methodist Community House http://www.umchousegr.org/about-us/our-board/

Van Andel Enterprises https://www.linkedin.com/company/va-enterprises-llc

Van Andel Institute https://www.vai.org/leadership/trustees/

Wege Foundation https://wegefoundation.com/trustees/

West Michigan Sports Commission https://www.westmisports.com/board

Western Michigan Hispanic Chamber https://westmihcc.org/board-of-directors/

Who these Stakeholders really represent

DeVos Family run entities – AHC Hospitality, Amway, Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, DP Fox Ventures and CWD Real Estate (partial ownership).

Other Grand Rapids Power Structure Stakeholders – CWD Real Estate, DGRI, Experience Grand Rapids, Frey Foundation, GR Community Foundation, Grand Action, Grand Action 2.0 Executive Committee, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, Grand Valley State University, Jandernoa Foundation, Orion Construction, Pioneer Construction, Progressive AE, Rockford Construction, Steelcase Foundation, The Right Place, Van Andel Enterprises, Van Andel Institute, Wege Foundation and the Western Michigan Hispanic Chamber. 

Stakeholders with DeVos Board Representation – DGRI, Experience Grand Rapids, Grand Action, Grand Action 2.0 Executive Committee, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Community College (funding), Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Whitewater (funding), Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, Grand Valley State University, Kent County Hotel Advisory Board, The Right Place, West Michigan Sports Commission and the Western Michigan Hispanic Chamber.

Businesses that would likely profit from the Grand Action 2.0 development plans –  AHC Hospitality, Bluewater Audio & Video, Colliers, CWD Real Estate, Orion Construction, Pioneer Construction, Progressive AE, and Rockford Construction.

Government entities – City of Grand Rapids, GR Mobile, Grand Rapids Next Gen Advisory Board, Kent County, and Michigan Travel Commission.

Stakeholders with tourist and venue appeal – Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Opera, Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, and John Ball Zoo.

Stakeholders that are community-based – Grand Rapids Urban League and United Methodist Community House.

The Rich get Richer and everyone else pays for it

In a March 10th WOODTV8 story, it was reported that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved steps to create a new oversight group for the Grand River “development plans.” While the Grand River development plans are not the same as the Grand Action 2.0 Venue & Attraction Development for Grand Rapids document, these projects overlap and involved the same stakeholders, ie, representatives of the Grand Rapids Power Structure. 

In the WOODTV8 story, one DDA board member, Greg McNeilly, had reservations about having “ too many oversight groups over time.” McNeilly, who represents the DeVos owned Windquest Group at the DDA meetings, is also the President of the Michigan Freedom Fund. It’s not surprising that McNeilly, who has been a DeVos operative for years, would verbalize his objection to too much oversight, but he really shouldn’t worry about this, since it is likely that whatever oversight group is put in place, will represent the DeVos and other Grand Rapids Power Structure member interests quite well.

Lastly, as thousands of families in Grand Rapids continue to face eviction, food insecurity and unemployment, the Grand Action 2.0 plans will continue to move forward without a hitch. In fact, those behind the Grand Action 2.0 plans, along with the stakeholders involved in the project, are delighted that so many people are busy just surviving, since that means they are not pissed off and organized against the Grand Action 2.0 plans to use public money to development more of the downtown area, which will lead to expanding the wealth of the members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure. If those who were struggling to survive knew what those in power were up to, it might look a whole lot like what happened on May 30th last year, when the police could not control the thousands of people who mobilized with righteous indignation against police repression and the concentrated wealth that exists within the Capitalist Class in the downtown area. The question for groups doing work outside of the non-profit industrial complex is, “how can we mobilize the disenfranchised to bring down the Grand Rapids Power Structure?

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