Parks Foundation - October Newsletter

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Ottawa County Parks Foundation - October Newsletter

High quality parks are good for our local economy.

Your continued support helps us preserve park lands that entice new residents and businesses to the West Michigan area.


Green Investment: Parks Offer Green Enticement to Talent, Business

Grassmid Family

Dana Grassmid loved the mountains of Colorado in seven years living near Denver, but even their heights didn’t measure up to Lake Michigan and the outdoor spaces West Michigan has to offer.

So, when her and husband Adam’s first child was young, they moved back to Ottawa County.

Sure, the primary reason was family.

“But part of it is the water. That was not something that was easily accessed in Colorado,” said Dana Grassmid, an architect with Lucid Architecture in Zeeland. “We missed the lake and all the opportunities that the water here provides. We always said we loved the mountains, but nothing replaces Lake Michigan for us.”

Those kinds of words bring a smile to Ottawa County-area business leaders and recruiters: Ottawa’s investment in parks and green spaces is a big differentiator in recruiting business and young professional talent to West Michigan

“Tackle talent challenges” is a core focus for Lakeshore Advantage, the regional economic development agency. Its survey found that 55 percent of area business report barriers to growth, and, of those, 49 percent said the most significant barrier is finding enough employee talent, reported Emily Staley, the agency’s vice president of marketing and communications.

“Can I keep talent here? Will my engineers want to live here and raise their family here? Can we recruit young professionals here, and how do we do that?” are the questions businesses ask.

(Read the full article here.)

lake Michigan

“Lake Michigan is our huge differentiator, but really the access that every community in our area has to a great Ottawa County or local park system is very attractive to young professionals,” said, Emily Staley, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Lakeshore Advantage.

The area’s commitment to stewarding natural resources, such as the efforts of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, is another attractor for young professionals, Staley noted. “For the younger generation and young professionals, these issues of our environment and where we live and how we are stewards of the resources we have, are very important.”

Continue reading about how parks support our local economy >>

Green Investment is an occasional series about the positive impact of Ottawa County parks on the quality of life in West Michigan, presented by the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.

Ottawa Sands

Although Ottawa County Parks does not yet own the entire Ottawa Sands property, the  345-acre site opened to the public on October 15, 2018.

Ottawa County Parks was able to purchase half of the property using grant funds. The other half was purchased by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, using a $4 million loan and leased to Ottawa County Parks. 

A grant application was submitted to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to fund acquisition of the remaining property and repay the loan. An announcement is expected in December. 

Until then, the Land Conservancy is fundraising to cover costs related to the loan and to permit the grant amount to be reduced, which would increase the likelihood of getting the grant.   

Over the summer, the Ottawa County Parks Foundation hosted an event on behalf of the Land Conservancy to help with their fundraising efforts, but the campaign will continue until they reach (or exceed!) their $250,000 goal. Without the Land Conservancy’s help, this property would likely have been sold to a private developer.

Public support will be taken into account by the MNRTF and anyone wishing to support the Land Conservancy’s fundraising campaign can do so here:

ottawa sands