New study finds economic impact for restoring the rapids

Posted at 12:56 PM, Sep 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-08 13:01:13-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- We're getting a better idea of the kind of economic development restoring the rapids would produce for the city of Grand Rapids.

In a scenic location over the Grand River, representatives from the city, state and economists joined Grand Rapids WhiteWater to talk numbers.

"This study shows there is a great base on return and allows us to continue forward with more engineering," explained Chris Muller with Grand Rapids WhiteWater.

A study, conducted by Anderson Economic Group, found restoring a two mile stretch of the river could attract about a half million visitors to Grand Rapids and pump as much as $20 million into the local economy each year.

With the potential to create more development, the study also suggests $250 to $350 million in new downtown real estate investment, plus nearly 100 new jobs yearly.

"From an economic view, the project will pay for itself and that will lead to lots of economic opportunities," said  Paul Isely, Chairman of the Department of Economics at Grand Valley State University.

But economists say there are many more benefits that the study doesn’t articulate.

"All the people who don’t use the river are excited about it," Isely added. "That leads us to really branding Grand Rapids and having a lifestyle and belief structure that leads people to want to live in Grand Rapids and that has economic impacts that are hard to measure.”

The project is expected to cost $30 million which would be funded through city, state and private entities.

This study just focused on the recreational value restoring the rapids would bring. Grand Rapids WhiteWater will be looking into the impact it would have on the habitat as well. While a date is hard to set, they hope to start seeing work in two years.