Grand River plan could dredge up $57M for economy

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The effort to open and expand a nearly 23-mile section of the Grand River west of downtown Grand Rapids is moving forward.

It involves dredging portions of the Grand River to allow more recreation on portions of the river, including power boats. This week, a study revealed what the economic impact on the area could be.

The Grand River Waterway project says a study funded by a Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant suggests dredging the river beyond downtown Grand Rapids could add $57 millionto the local economy over a decade.

Recreational boaters would generate a large portion of that spending.  

“People coming to this region to spend time on their boats that maybe wouldn't have before. Or they will stay here rather than go somewhere else,” said Shana Shroll, Grand River Waterways executive director.

The report also found residential property values along the section of the river between the Fulton Street Bridge in Grand Rapids and the Bass Lake inlet near Allendale could rise close to 17 percent with a more maneuverable river. 

Nearly 23 miles of the river is closed to just about everything except canoes and kayaks. However, a 50-feet-wide, 7-feet-deep dredge of the river would open it up.

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