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Google is Good for Grand Rapids & Grand Rapids is Good for Google

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The Carmichael family shows "My Grand Rapids is..."

The Carmichael family shows "My Grand Rapids is..." /Dave Johnson Photography

Young girls help distribute the balloons that represent the Google Fiber network.

Young girls help distribute the balloons that represent the Google Fiber network. /Dave Johnson Photography

The Google Fiber steering committee for Grand Rapids takes the stage as the crowd readies for the rally.

The Google Fiber steering committee for Grand Rapids takes the stage as the crowd readies for the rally. /Dave Johnson Photography

Families, business people, college students, politicians, unemployed workers, company owners, educators and high school students came out Friday, March 19 to Calder Plaza to support the nomination of Grand Rapids as a test city for Google Fiber. March 26 is the deadline for individuals and businesses to nominate Grand Rapids as the best test site for the fastest publicly available network in the United States. If Google chooses Grand Rapids, citizens know it will make a major impact on the city.

“I believe there’s too much for this city to offer to pass up the opportunity to promote the city (to Google Fiber),” said Grand Rapids Community College student Kimi Wolf on why she came down to be a part of the flash mob. Dancing to pop and club favorites spun by Super Dre, Wolf echoed what many who came out on the sunny March afternoon said, “I love and choose to live in Grand Rapids.”

With cities across the country building support for bringing Google to their community, Grand Rapids is unique in that corporate donations are not the backbone of the campaign to come here. Paul Jendrasiak, owner of and Google 616 steering committee member stated, “It’s people coming out making this happen and uniting. Grand Rapids has always had that kind of energy.”

Fellow committee member and internet marketer Mike Yoder of Mindscape concurred, “Different companies and segments (of the community) are leveraging their strengths and working together to motivate and mobilize a community around a cause.” He went on to explain one reason Grand Rapids should stand out from other cities is the miles of dark fiber already in the ground in the city, which is the extra conduit that Google can tap into to support its infrastructure for the system.

Zoe Carmichael, Aquinas communications professor and mother said that it was important for children and raising a family here. Natalie and Vivienne, her daughters, are in kindergarten and will benefit from this technology. Grant Carmichael accompanied his family downtown for the afternoon with thoughts of what it might bring in business prospects for his company, Think XD which focuses on digital user experience design.

As the event got under way, balloons linked to represent the network swirled through the crowd and local organizers took the stage. Pete Brand of Mindscape congratulated people for not “hiding behind their clicks” to come out and show Google what kind of fans it has in Grand Rapids. His call to action was, “we really need to let Google know what’s in it for them.”

The grass-roots effort is paying off. Steketee Greiner, a Grand Rapids marketing company, has tracked online activity of communities sending Google the message to come. Grand Rapids is showing up in the top three online buzz-generating cities. For conversations relating to the keywords involved with Google Fiber, Grand Rapids is tracking third after Duluth, MN and Topeka, KS. Facebook is key to Grand Rapids campaign with 29,883 comprising 15.5% of the population as fans as of March 17. Grand Rapids has one unified fan page (unlike other cities which may have more than one), which is helping consolidate its numbers, and give it the biggest single Facebook presence.

Community organizer Tommy Allen concluded the rally summing up what a great fit Grand Rapids is for Google, “I know it. You know it. Let’s let them know it.”

To nominate Grand Rapids at the Google site, visit this site

To become a fan on Facebook, visit Google Fiber for Grand Rapids 

For more information about how Grand Rapids is tracking in the race, visit this site.


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