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Positive About West Michigan’s Growth – Pete Brand

Pete Brand, Principal, Mindscape/Hanon McKendry

Pete Brand, Principal, Mindscape/Hanon McKendry

As founder of Mindscape at Hanon McKendry, Pete Brand expresses a deep appreciation for the growth of small entrepreneurial business and the growth of West Michigan. From his perspective, despite more recent changes, greater Grand Rapids will continue to grow and bring investment to the area. New forms of commerce will be created.

Along with these great additions will come the challenge of supporting increases in traffic activity. It’s a challenge to change our thinking – to handle the growth.

Brand forecasts that creating more parking isn’t the answer to house all the growth. He sees public transportation as a resource that can address growth and offers energy to the areas it serves. It’s a lifeblood for business – including getting people to work.

Having the proper infrastructure in place to handle the growth is critical.

“We need to think about the community we live in. We need to think outside of ourselves. If I’m asked to support something that will increase the infrastructure and help this area become more prosperous – I’m all for that.”

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Committed To Improving Accessibility – Rae Bower

Rae Bower, Board President, Disability Advocates of Kent County

Rae Bower, Board President, Disability Advocates of Kent County

In spite of physical limitations, Rae Bower considers herself to be an independent person. Four years ago she moved to Grand Rapids and immediately tested her ability to maintain her independence when she needed to venture out to a dentist. Typical to February, it was snowing. Her effort to manage the trek required her to cross busy 28th Street, but the inaccessible curbs and unplowed snow where sidewalks should be meant that she couldn’t stop traffic – so Rae had to risk her life to cross.

Fortunately, this one experience didn’t daunt Rae. After a little research on her part, she discovered GO!Bus. GO!Bus provides door-to-door paratransit service for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. on the same area and at the same days and times as The Rapid fixed-route bus.

Once she discovered Go!Bus, which provides door-to-door paratransit service for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, Rae knew it was for her.
Rae has taken what she has learned and worked passionately for others with disabilities. Her goal is to contribute towards the development of a community in such a way that we are leaving a legacy to our children/mapping out future for their needs in mind.

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Creating A New Cultural Mindset Towards Transit – Dr. Thomas Haas

Dr. Thomas Haas, President, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Thomas Haas, President, Grand Valley State University

The connection between Grand Valley State University’s Allendale and downtown Grand Rapids campuses was a natural thanks to partnership with The Rapid. It was a natural for creating convenience and affordability. Buses leave each campus every six minutes at peak times due to demand. Finding a parking space at both campuses is less of a burden. Costs are lower for students to ride The Rapid than if they commuted on their own.

Even more important to Haas, the partnership with The Rapid achieves a greater mission for GVSU – sustainability through an alternative mode of transportation. In fact, sustainability has been elevated to a value statement within the University’s mission statement.

“It’s natural. It’s a habit. It enhances the quality of life.”

Haas finds the role of The Rapid satisfying because they are creating a different cultural mindset for transit with next generation. That said, many faculty and staff, as well as the president and his wife choose to use The Rapid.

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Public Transportation Is For Everyone – Casey Dutmer

Casey Dutmer, Community Transit Activist

Casey Dutmer, Community Transit Activist

While Casey Dutmer has lived without sight since birth, his perspective on public transportation has never been about disabled community alone. In his opinion, it’s for everyone.

“Good public transportation means good economic growth and development.”

Casey has studied transportation systems all around the country. The consistency between all of them is a concentration of business and housing to create complete neighborhoods. Dutmer passionately believes we should have the best public transportation to attract opportunities like tourism, sporting events, and grow business.

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Public Transportation Enables People To Move Up The Economic Ladder – Win Irwin

Win Irwin, President, Irwin Seating Company

Win Irwin, President, Irwin Seating Company

The more public transportation options we can provide, the more we enable people to move up the economic ladder, and that’s good for all of us.

As a previous chairman of the Kent/Allegan County Workforce Development Board, a part of Michigan Works, Win Irwin has been given a up-close view of the challenges of getting – and keeping – people employed. Getting a job can be challenging enough. Getting to a job shouldn’t be. He’s learned that by connecting employees and employers using appropriate transportation solutions gives a lifeline to employment. Employees win. Employers win. Our local economy benefits. And that helps all of us.