West Michigan Progress

West Michigan has been know for many things over the years since it’s founding in 1826. Being settled along the Grand River and only 30 miles from Lake Michigan made it perfect for industrial growth. As a natural lumbering center, that industry allowed for the establishment of the furniture industry. Many furniture companies popped up and Grand Rapids became the “Furniture City”. Furniture companies included the William A. Berkey Company and its successors, Baker Furniture Company, Williams-Kimp, and Widdicomb Furniture Company followed by Herman Miller and Haworth. Other fine wood product manufacturers sprung up in the region as well, Like Howard Miller, makers of beautiful Grandfather Clocks.

Companies have come and gone over the years, just like any other city. West Michigan also has many manufacturers of automotive parts that supply the big 3 automakers in Detroit. Naturally, some of these companies have left or are out of business but many have remained and are flourishing.

West Michiganders are inventive by nature and are always creating new businesses, large, medium, small, and mom & pops type businesses. The most recent boom, the last ten years or so of the craft breweries. If know anything about the area, you know this is kind of funny. Why ? Well let’s just say that the area has a diverse culture of folks that settled here. In trying not to call a particular group out, one in particular helped the area in being nicknamed the Bible Belt of Michigan. Before the mid 1990’s, having a brewery on every other street corner would have many up in arms.

Times are a changing ! As we all become more open minded, new and exciting companies will continue to start and grow their businesses in West MI. Take the all the focus on medical marijuana for example, a friend of mine started a company selling CBD Hemp Oil at www.newlifehempoil.com. His products are FDA approved and legal to ship to all 50 states. This is great progress and my friend has done this in what has been know to be, a very conservative area. BEER, and the fact that we have more award winning craft breweries than any other state, speak volumes to the progress and new found open mindedness.

Tourism in West Michigan is always growing as we have so much to offer visitors. I’ll only mention my favorite right now and highlight others in separate blog posts. Artprize is happening right now in Grand Rapids. If you have never visited GR during this time, please do. It is the largest competition of fine art in the world. Open to any artist in most mediums, artists display their work in businesses and organizations throughout the city. Winners are judge and winners are chosen by the public and a juried panel of art critics and art museum curators. Truly a fantastic two weeks of walking around downtown GR surrounded by outdoor sculptures, performance art and visiting buildings full of 2D art and much more !

Anyway, that all for now. Please check back often for more things I dig about West Michigan.

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2014 ArtPrize winner, ‘Intersections,’ by Anila Quayyum Agha $200,000

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