GRBJ: Partners launch ‘Grand Rapids X GRAM’ video series

The series will introduce guests such as US Representative Peter Meijer and GR Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, as well as offering tours of Medical Mile innovators and destinations in West MI.

A new video series of talent attractions shows Grand Rapids as a place that has it all.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing to produce a six-month video series, Grand Rapids X GRAM, in which local executives and residents talk about all of the area’s job opportunities, industries, and lifestyle attractions. The series is part of the Chamber’s Opportunity Awaits program in partnership with Hello West Michigan and Experience Grand Rapids.

The trailer was posted on YouTube last month at The first video episode is expected to go live this week. The series will introduce guests such as US Representative Peter Meijer, R-Michigan, and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, as well as tours of Medical Mile innovators and destinations in West Michigan.

Andy Johnston, vice president of government and corporate affairs for the Grand Rapids Chamber and Chelsea Keeton, marketing manager for Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing recently spoke to the Business Journal about the partnership.

From GRAM’s perspective, Keeton said the video series is about continuing to attract high-profile talent to Grand Rapids by celebrating the booming life science industries in Grand Rapids and West Michigan, as well as the many other benefits of living here.

She said after moving to GRAM from the east side of the state just under two years ago, she was surprised how many local residents were unfamiliar with the company and its mission to make life-saving, injectable drugs. At the same time, the people she spoke to at trade shows knew very little about Grand Rapids and had all kinds of questions. She started giving presentations on why GRAM chose Grand Rapids and is staying here instead of moving to the east or west coasts which have larger biotech clusters.

Keeton believed there was a better way to showcase the region and its life science industry than one-off conversations. When she found out about the Opportunity Awaits initiative, she thought it was a perfect fit.

“It’s just so cool that we can work with the chamber to connect with more local businesses, more locals, and get our name better known and working together,” she said. “We have done a lot with the City of Grand Rapids and various organizations in Grand Rapids, but this is a new perspective that we are very excited about … especially since we made the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and people don’t understand that this happens in Grand Rapids in her hometown. ”

Keeton said GRAM hopes to show customers in the US and Europe what Grand Rapids is made of and what factors led GRAM to be on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in the country in four of its eleven years existed, which could lead to new business development opportunities.

She said GRAM wouldn’t mind convincing talented individuals to consider the company for their next career move, either. GRAM hired around 125 employees last year and currently has around 75 positions in the areas of quality assurance, production, management and more. While she said the company has found reasonably good talent so far due to the multitude of universities and research institutions in Grand Rapids, she believes the video series will train professionals from outside the area, which GRAM is not island; It’s part of an emerging health and life science scene with many different opportunities.

Johnston said the Opportunity Awaits project arose during the pandemic when the chamber watched the “Zoom Town” trend of moving people from densely populated, high-cost urban areas to smaller communities with more natural resources.

“If you can work anywhere, why not in beautiful West Michigan? We’re this mid-size city with the urban amenities we all want, but also enough space to be outside and alive and still have great affordability and value, ”he said. “We thought … this was an opportunity to get our existing business community and the people living here in West Michigan to possess this message and to reach out to people who may have traveled to the east or west coast or some other city to say, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity to return home. ‘”

While the property market here is still “incredibly hot” and Grand Rapids, like any other city, has many problems, Johnston says the region is working together to address those problems.

He said the Grand Rapids X GRAM video series will feature compelling visual content that people can share with non-resident friends and family members to convince them to come to Michigan and be part of the vibrancy and economic growth here.

“Whatever industries you work in, we believe there is a place for you in West Michigan,” said Johnston. “We want to share the stories of others who made the move.”

He pointed to examples like the city’s new communications director, David Green, a resident of Austin, Texas, who chose West Michigan not just for his new job, but because he and his wife were dying to live here. In addition, Katie Doyen is the Chamber’s new Government Affairs Coordinator, who moved to Michigan after spending two years in Denver. Originally from the east of the state, she had previously vacationed in Grand Rapids, but then her career took her to Colorado. While she loved the Rockies, she ultimately drew the community, culture, “amazing Midwest vibe,” and lakefront beauty to West Michigan, as she said in a blog post on Opportunity Awaits.

Johnston said stories like this keep coming up.

“I think we figured out if you can overcome the apocalypse. This is not the worst place to do it,” he said. “The pandemic has left people reevaluating what is important, what they are grateful for, what assets we have or what we may need, and I think this campaign really came about from that and the opportunity we see to take advantage of who we are is going to be really well positioned for success. “

For more information on the Opportunity Awaits initiative, visit The Grand Rapids X GRAM video series can be viewed at

* This story was originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

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