GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — From the quaint Fulton Street building that houses Pa Latte, Michi Farias is hard at work roasting, steaming, filtering, flavoring and pouring coffee.
Around her, the walls are adorned with what remains of the ArtPrize entries the coffee shop played host to for 18 days while the competition was still going on.
Her family has run and owned the coffee shop for years. For just as long, they’ve been an ArtPrize venue, but no year has perhaps been as important as this one — the year a pandemic brought many local businesses to a halt.
“It’s been awesome for business,” Michi says. “We’re a family business, so it helps float us over the slower period. I’m sure that’s the case with a lot of the businesses in town.”
It is — or at least it appears to be the case. In a time where small, locally-owned businesses needed it more than ever, one of the world’s largest art competitions provided a boost in business they likely wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
“Business has been wonderful because of ArtPrize; although, we are very tired,” said Michi. “I’m sure most folks like us are very tired.”
Official reports haven’t been finalized yet, but Craig Searer, executive director of ArtPrize, is expecting numbers similar to the last competition in 2018: around $33 million dollars.
“That number has a lot of factors that goes into it,” Searer said. “Both business economic impact, the actual visitor engagement with the city, hotels; so there’s a lot that goes into it.”
In 2018, Grand Rapids also clocked around 350 new jobs thanks to ArtPrize. Searer says businesses that doubled as venues have told him their numbers are similar to 2018.
“All roads pointing to a successful ArtPrize,” said Searer. “That was really the up-in-the-air question mark this year was: What’s it all going to look like?”
Searer expects the official numbers to be out sometime late next week.
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