Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why is the west side of Michigan doing so much better than the east side?

In January, Stephen Moore wrote an article for the Wall St. Journal entitled, “Why the Rest of Michigan Isn’t Singing the Motown Blues.” In it he discussed the discrepancy in unemployment between Grand Rapids (then at 5.9%, 5.6% in April, 2014) and Detroit (then at 15.1%, 14.5% in April, 2014).

Moore credited West Michigan’s current robust economy as being the result of good government policy (via Gov. Rick Snyder), a diversified economy, a union-lite business environment, a strong regional work ethic, and cheap energy,provided by shale. These are all important factors, and it is difficult to pinpoint what manufactures success at a particular point in time (after all, Detroit considerably overshadowed Grand Rapids as a producer of jobs and wealth for much of the 20th century). Moore did not touch on one aspect that is inescapable to those who live in West Michigan: that is, who settled the area. And that was the Dutch.