By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern

If you’re anything like me, you bleed maize and blue. You live for A2. You spend your summer dying to come hoMe. You get chills hearing the school’s fight song, and most importantly – your face melts into an unending grin as you near the door of Frita Batido’s.

Yeah, I know. The smell of Parmesan garlic fries about puts me over the edge too.

When thinking about our big-scary-future/post-graduation plans, staying in Ann Arbor with its booming technology scene or getting in with a cutting-edge Detroit-startup seems like an obvious path. It’s where we are comfortable, it’s where we’ve made connections, and the media is constantly telling us how “cool” these cities are for our generation. And they’re right.

But if you adjust your compass slightly, due west, towards the second largest city in our state, what you find might surprise you. Grand Rapids has a few things going for it: Beer City USA, named one of America’s Smartest Cities by Forbes, ranked Groupon’s #1 place to visit in the United States this year.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen- Grand Rapids.

Most students who come to Michigan from out of state, or even many of us who are fromMichigan, have no idea how much opportunity and excitement is brewing on the west side of the State. It’s slowly getting more and more media attention – but that barely scratches the surface. Don’t believe me? Well first of all, I was born there. If that’s not credible enough, as part of the Entrepreneurs Leadership Program (ELP), the Center for Entrepreneurship is offering a student trek to Grand Rapids that will give you exclusive access to the entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and nearly 5,000 alumni that are making the city rapidly grow. See it for yourself.

The Grand Rapids Entrepreneurs in Action Trek (GREAT), ELP’s kick-off immersion experience for the fall, is happening from 7:30am – 8pm on October 16 (transportation provided). Applications open to all students are available now and are due Wednesday, September 30. Don’t wait! If you want to be a part of this incredible opportunity, apply ASAP because there are limited spots.

To get you hyped about visiting Michigan’s next greatest city (after A2 – I mean Parmesan Fries, come on…), and prove I’m really not pulling your leg, here’s 5 Reasons to Move to Grand Rapids After You Graduate:


1. One glorious word: BEACH.

Beaches, lakes, ponds, and rivers surround Grand Rapids. To be more specific – there’s this BIG WATER, GrGRbeacheat Lakes kind of beach. After Chicago, Grand Rapids is the next big, thriving city where you could, in a few minutes travel from downtown, be at Lake Michigan. City + beach living in once place? Can’t beat that. Plus, the Grand River runs right through the center of the city, providing space for rowing, fishing, kayaking, and floating.




2. Just like Ann Arbor, GR is made up of brilliant people. MedicalMileGR

Grand Rapids was ranked in Forbes’ Top Five Smartest Cities in America, and they have the resume to prove it. With some of the nation’s highest ranking school districts, more than 15 colleges and universities, and the nationally renowned “Medical Mile”, citizens and students alike are making groundbreaking discoveries in business, technology, and medicine. If you want to work on starting a business, curing cancer, or connecting the Internet Of Things, GR is the place to be. (Medical Mile pictured right).


3. Activities for all interests: from art to sports.

ArtprizeGrand Rapids is the host of the globally recognized Art Prize where thousands of people and artists flock to show off their newest artistic explorations and expand their minds. Rick DeVos, who founded Art Prize, is on the CFE’s advisory board and met with GREAT students last year. In addition to Art Prize, GR houses several museums – both art and historical. And, of course, we can’t forget about the Grand Rapids Symphony and Ballet, which include some of the world’s most talented dancers and musicians. While art is held in high regards, so are sports. So is beer. It serves as host to several winning teams: The West Michigan WhitecapsThe GR Drive, and The Grand Rapids Griffins. If you’re on the locally brewed craft beer bandwagon, look no further. It’s the birthplace of entrepreneurial breweries like HopCat, Founders Brewing Co., the Grand Rapids Brewing Company and many more. Want to clear your head and go for a run? Grand Rapids hosts the 5/3 River Bank Run – a marathon that runners from all over the world compete in (and have many more throughout the year). Should I keep going? (Lantern lighting at Art Prize 2013, photo left). 


4. There is ALWAYS something to do. Seriously, always.

From ice-skating to swing dancing, the people of Grand Rapids never have reason to be bored. There is a constant push for TacosToDocommunity interaction, resulting in the Zombie Walk, Movies in the Park, and even city-wide lip dubs (which broke a world record by the way!). And food, you ask? Duh. The newly opened Downtown Market provides the citizens of Grand Rapids with food from around the world, fresh produce, and literally the best tacos I’ve ever tasted. And ANOTHER perk – everything is quality, everything is inexpensive. Want dinner and some fun? You’re going to pay way less than if you were in Chicago, New York, or even Ann Arbor. If you’re looking for a city where you can show off your killer dance moves, grab a stellar taco, or land your dream job, Grand Rapids is the place for you! (Pictured right – those delicious tacos I’m talking about). 


5. Speaking of dream jobs…

DreamjobGrand Rapids is home to thousands of booming businesses and successful start-ups. GR is the place to pursue any and all of your dreams. With an economy that is on a consistently rising, we see successful start-ups and incubators such as: Start Garden, GRid70, and even Founders Brewery! Start Garden is just what it sounds like- a garden for start-ups; they fund and support nearly 70 projects and 22 projects, totaling to over $15,000,000 in value. Then you have GRid70, a space where companies can collaborate on engaging fresh ideas for their clientele, providing the perfect spot of out-of-the-box-thinking. And the best, Founders Brewery, a family start-up where you can enjoy Grand Rapid’s best beer and burgers. Ready to start your own business and work in the city where the possibilities are endless? Grand Rapids is your place. (Photo taken at Start Garden from last year’s GREAT trek). 


To learn more about the Entrepreneurs Leadership Program (ELP) and experience one of Michigan’s finest cities, join The Center For Entrepreneurship on GREAT, immersing U-M students to all that GR has to offer. Apply today to discover Michigan’s next hottest post-grad city.