Keynote speaker describes huge growth opportunities in store for Rockford Photos by TOM SCOTT The cost of the “Taste of Rockford” buffet at the annual Rockford Chamber of Commerce ceremony was likely the best dining deal members’ have ever experienced. The evening’s entertainment, included election of board members, an awards ceremony recognizing Business of Distinction and Business of the Year, and a humorous Year in Review. The restaurants who provided food and beverages included D&W Fresh Market, the Corner Bar, Jody’s Restaurant, Herman’s Boy, Epic, Polly’s Passions, the Gristmill, Twisted Vine, and Grill One Eleven. Dad’s Tents provided the linens and centerpieces for the tables. Floral arrangements were provided by Polly VonEschen. Andy Tidey, of the Corner Bar and Chamber Board member, announced he is leaving Rockford and moving his family out west. Businesses and individuals received recognition in a variety of categories with Blaine Kellermeier of Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc. receiving the highest honor of Business of the Year. Other winners were Dan Biemer in the new category of Networker of the Year. Lynda Nance and Polly VonEschen tied in the category of Volunteer of the Year. Beth Altena, Managing Editor of the Rockford Squire newspaper was struck speechless at the announcement that the newspaper had earned the Business of Distinction Award in the Community Service category. Joel Koch of Bluegrass Promotional Marketing was recognized in the category of New Business. Keynote speaker Mike Guswiler, Executive Director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, touted the economic benefits of the sports complex which will be built in Plainfield Township off Ten Mile Road. He said there was “no better community than Rockford” for the sports venue. Hosting baseball, softball, cross country skiing, archery and more, the complex will be a boon in visitor spending and an economic engine for the greater Rockford area. Guswiler said a complex of similar size in a town comparable to Rockford made a huge difference in economic vitality. He said the sports complex there spurred the growth of three hotels to fifty hotels with an eighty-five percent occupancy rate. “It’s all about economic growth enhancing our quality of life.” The annual meeting, open to members of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, was held at the American Legion banquet facility, 330 Rockford […]
Five-year estimate is $20 million in economic growth by BETH ALTENA A new era for Rockford has arrived as the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) announced a state-of-the-art youth and amateur sports facility with 12 ball fields, concessions, boulevard landscaping, parking for nearly 1,000 cars, play areas and picnic structures will be built on a 79-acre property off Ten Mile Road in Rockford. On 110 acres adjacent to the baseball and softball fields will be an Olympic-style indoor/outdoor archery complex, mountain bike courses, soccer fields and 25K cross-country course. The economic benefit to Rockford in having such facilities here is profound. Mike Guswiler, executive director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, said the estimated economic impact to the area in the first five years could be $20 million. Guswiler and other spokespersons for the project announced during a luncheon November 16 that the complex would be built and that $4.3 million of the funding for the first phase was secured. Another $1.7 is being sought. “We needed to demonstrate strong support for this facility among lead donors, and they stepped up in a big way,” said retired president of Grand Valley State University Arend Lubbers. The WMSC has announced their funding campaign for the $1.7 “Everyone Wins” is underway. “This project is first and foremost an economic engine for our community,” said Richard DeVos, one of the project’s major donors. “Youth and amateur sports tourism generates about $6 billion in direct spending each year—youth baseball and softball are among the top five travel sports contributing to that figure. We want to capture a piece of that market. But this is also about the love of sports and enhancing the quality of life here in West Michigan.” The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation are the championship field sponsors with a one million dollar donation. Other major donors of $300,000 or more are Wolverine Worldwide, Meijer, Peter and Joan Secchia and family, Dan and Pamela DeVos Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and John and Nancy Kennedy. Donors of $30,000 or more are the Steve and Cindy VanAndel Foundation, the Dave and Carol VanAndel Foundation, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, Fifth-Third Bank, Gordon Food, and Steelcase. Businesses, organizations and individuals are asked […]
Townships, City learn financial opportunities of Rockford sports complex By Matt Marn The Plainfield Township board welcomed the township boards and planning commissions of Algoma Township and the City of Rockford the evening of Tuesday, May 25, for a special combined meeting. The informational meeting discussed the project of creating a sports center, complete with a number of baseball diamonds, in an area near the current North Kent Transfer Station off 10 Mile Road, owned by the Kent County Department of Public Works. George Meek, Plainfield Township supervisor, said it was time to share the idea that has been discussed for a number of years. Meek said for now, it was simply an informational meeting, and that if further steps were taken to make this plan a reality, all three township boards and planning commissions would be involved. “If this takes place, it will have a very strong impact on the communities around us,” said Meek. Plainfield Township welcomed its speaker, Mike Guswiler, Executive Director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, the group responsible for bringing this idea to the table. Guswiler explained the commission was formed in 2007 to promote West Michigan as a premiere venue for youth and amateur sports. He went on to say another goal of the commission is to improve the quality of life for people in the area, including bringing in customers to benefit local businesses such as restaurants, stores and hotels. Guswiler said so far the commission has planned 136 events, and has already brought in $140 million in revenue for local businesses through youth and amateur sports events. “In 2007 we conducted a plan… we wanted to become the go-to organization for youth and amateur sports organizations,” he said. “Much of that effort is bringing awareness and volunteers to the sports, as well as sponsorship and venue assistance.” Guswiler said the West Michigan Sports Commission has another objective – to further develop the infrastructure of facilities in the area, from high schools to universities. He said after forming a research task force, the commission found the sports that would most benefit from such an area was baseball and softball. “In the seasonal period, you can have a tournament each and every weekend,” Guswiler said. “We wanted to […]
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce another installment of its popular Bi-Monthly Luncheon Series for 2010. The luncheon is scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. on June 7 at the Rockford Ambulance Community Room, 8450 Shaner Ave. NE (on the northeast corner of Ten Mile Road). The event will feature the culinary delights of long-time Chamber member The Corner Bar, complete with grill and tent for a tailgating atmosphere. Mike Guswiler, executive director of the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC), will discuss the impact this organization has had in its first three years and how they have created a signature event to continue the momentum of generating visitor spending in our region through youth and amateur sporting events. Guswiler was named the executive director in June 2007 and has been leading the organization in all of it daily operations. His primary responsibility is to champion the mission of the WMSC to the state, region and nation as a premier destination in the effort to promote sports tourism and secure sports-related business. If you would like to attend the luncheon, please register by Friday, June 4 by contacting the Chamber office at (616) 866-2000 or e-mail Jeannie at firstname.lastname@example.org with your reservation. The luncheons are open to everyone. Cost is $15 for Chamber members and $20 for non-Chamber members. Please note that if you are unable to attend the luncheon and have registered, you are urged to contact the Chamber office prior to the luncheon to avoid being charged. The bi-monthly luncheon is a wonderful way to enjoy good food, expert advice and excellent company in a relaxed atmosphere. Drawings for prizes are conducted at the conclusion of the event. The luncheon is also a great networking opportunity, so participants are reminded to bring their business cards.