Plenty of reasons to relocate to West Mich.

There’s no denying the effect the Pure Michigan propaganda has had on promoting our state as a tourist destination to those across the country.
Sep 19, 2013


A new campaign is gearing up to bring people here not to visit, but to stay. Aimed at luring Chicago-area talent, the “Find Your Reason” campaign promotes West Michigan as a wonderful place to live and work.

Compared with the Windy City, West Michigan has a lot to offer.

The cost of living is generally lower; and, in many cases, the quality of living is much more desirable.

That’s not to paint Chicago in a bad light. As one of America’s largest cities, Chicago has plenty to offer, especially when it comes to culture, restaurants and entertainment. Nothing in West Michigan can compare.

But we’re making strides. Grand Rapids has become a cultural hotbed, with the upcoming ArtPrize competition leading the way. Craft breweries continue to pop up at a rapid pace, leading to Grand Rapids being voted Beer City USA in 2013.

Our schools are, for the most part, exemplary. And there’s plenty of opportunity for higher learning, from Grand Valley State University in Allendale to several satellite campuses for universities from across the state in Grand Rapids.

Great things are happening in West Michigan.

But to take a page out of a professional sports team’s playbook — to be the best, you need to attract the best talent, and that’s been a problem. People who grow up in the quiet communities along the Lakeshore often head off to college, get caught up in the bright lights of the big cities and never come back.

Adding more bright, up-and-coming people to the workforce makes this area even more attractive for businesses looking to expand.

Many people from Chicago vacation in West Michigan, relishing the chance to get away from the big city, if just for a weekend.

If the new “Find Your Reason” campaign has the desired effect, perhaps they’ll stick around a bit longer.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Want people to move here? Scenery doesn't do it. JOBS get people here.
Sure, GR is booming, but here on the lakeshore, most jobs pay in the $9-$13 dollar range....all in a shop or factory.
Get some of these high-paying jobs west of GR, and watch the population increase.


thats exactly what I was thinking! but I'd say they start minimum wage to about $13 or a little more.
there arent many jobs around here, people cant survive without money


It's not just west Michigan. Although the media won't report it, this is a national problem. Unemployment rate is MUCH higher that the Gubment lap dog media leads us to believe. All states are suffering. Who's to blame?

Mystic Michael

Well it's a Catch 22, isn't it? If you want to attract dynamic new business & industry, then you want to offer them access to bright, well-educated, skilled & talented staff. And if you want to attract bright, well-educated, skilled & talented people from the big cities, you have to have be able to offer them real opportunity.

As much as those people might love the laid-back lifestyle, the family-friendly culture, and the natural beauty, if they can't thrive there with a comfortable standard of living and some opportunity for real progress and self-actualization, then they won't come - as much as they might like to.

During the late 70s and early 80s, Michigan lost nearly half of an entire generation of young people for this very reason. Many of them wanted desperately to stay in Michigan. They left only because they were faced with a no-win proposition: Remain in Michigan and continue to stagnate - or relocate out of state and enjoy the opportunity to have a real life.

It's a boom-and-bust cycle that's been going on for at least 40 years. Michigan has so many natural resources & advantages, but much of it remains undeveloped and under-utilized. I fault elected officials and corporate leaders for their laziness, complacency & lack of vision. They assumed the auto industry would continue to carry the state's economy indefinitely. And they didn't even begin the process of serious economic development & economic diversification until AFTER the bottom had already dropped out!

My feeling is that there are more than enough highly competent people in western Michigan to staff any number of companies & industries. And beyond that, the companies themselves can provide training & development. They'll win loyalty & good will for themselves that will last for generations - IF they're far-sighted & prescient enough to realize that...and act upon it!


" And beyond that, the companies themselves can provide training & development. They'll win loyalty & good will for themselves that will last for generations - IF they're far-sighted & prescient enough to realize that...and act upon it"!

Well, I hate to be a Danny Downer (Debbie's my sister), but that ain't gonna happen without a major shift in the magnetic poles. I've worked in manufacturing in Western Michigan for the last 40+ years and the Grand Haven area since 1977 and my entire "career" has been a series of 2 to 5 year long jobs, interspersed with lay-offs as each previous company, either downsizes or drops off the grid entirely.

When I first came to G.H. there were still places where you could earn a living good enough to raise a couple kids and own a decent home. Nowadays all those companies are history and they've been replaced by rinky dink outfits who spend more on landscaping than employee benefits and can't be bothered to hire their own employees, leaving it to a clueless third party to find people who'll work for peanuts to run their million dollar machines with minimal to no training. This isn't an opinion, this is fact. I was there and lived it.

I've worked for idiots and clueless morons most of my life. There has been the occasional good employer, but they were grossly outnumbered by the ones who only wanted to look successful, but didn't want to do the work to actually be successful, which in the end resulted in the demise of their business.

Western Michigan is a beautiful area. I love the woods and waters and don't want to live anywhere, where there are more people than trees, so I made my choice to stay here and do the best I could, instead of heading for greener pastures and the big city.

At one point, when my kids were little, I had the opportunity to start my own place. I had the backing from people that liked my work, but I didn't want to be gone from home 18 hours a day and miss my kids growing up. In retrospect maybe that was the wrong decision, but it's too late now so I move on.

Bottom line is American manufacturing has been dying a slow death the last 30 years and without the ability to make things this countries quality of living will decrease and the middle class will continue to disappear.

I was pretty much forced into retirement due to the depression of the last 5 years and lost most of my savings, my retirement property, my bike and other assorted "things". At this point I'm a bit disgruntled about the fact I busted my hump for 40 years only to be tossed when things got ugly in 2009, but it is what it is and now I'm going to spend my limited retirement funds on doing things I enjoy.

I feel sorry for any young guy who goes into manufacturing these son is working at a local stamping outfit and he is making the same exact wage today as I was in 1985! I had to get out an old check stub to prove it to him. We had to watch our pennies back then at that wage level, but we did he can't afford to have a new car, or even think about buying a house or starting a family. I tried to warn him, but he was too smart for me.

Yeah, got off on a tangent a bit, but you hit a nerve. I'll shut up now before I get really ticked off.

Good luck finding those visionaries.

Mystic Michael

Buddy, I can feel your frustration & disillusionment. I was born & raised in Grand Haven. I was still living in western Michigan during the year when you moved in, and I had my share of dead-end manufacturing jobs before I ultimately moved on. I've been there too.

American manufacturing has indeed been in steady decline for nearly four decades now. Unfortunately the economic base throughout Michigan has been declining right along with it - because not nearly enough was ever done to compensate for the loss of manufacturing, nor to replace it.

The wake-up call was the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. That's the point at which Michigan should have sprung into action and begun preparing for the changes that lay ahead. But nothing happened.

Western Michigan could be such a great place for all kinds of alternative ventures & endeavors (i.e. renewable energy, technology R&D, new synthetic materials development, etc.). But apparently the right combination of research, economic planning, leadership & capital has never been put together into a long-term initiative to make it happen. So instead the region continues to flail & flounder.

That was kind of my point...


The ENTIRE nation is suffering for lack of honest work. Do you think that it is worse Michigan than any other Midwestern state? The cost of living in Michigan is very affordable in comparison with say, Illinois, where the unemployment rate is considerably higher, not to mention the WHOMPING taxes.


Yeah, that's true Sandy, but this article is about Michigan, not Illinois.


i, after living in western michigan for many years, moved to a state in the southwest and wouldn't move back to michigan for a few million bucks - gray and overcast almost all the time, no sense of adventure among the majority of the residents, little diversity...about the only things i miss are the blueberries and the lake...i love the freedom and spirit of the west and intend to stay here...


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