Grand Rapids ranked fourth smartest city

GVL/ Archive.

GVL/ Archive.

gabriella patti

In a recent study, Forbes magazine named Grand Rapids, Mich. the fourth smartest city in the United States.

Cities that have a high concentration of colleges dominated the list. Grand Rapids is host to many universities including Cornerstone University, Davenport University and Aquinas College. Grand Valley State University is one of the many universities that are part of the educational growth of the city.

As of 2013, 30.6 percent of Grand Rapid’s population is college-educated with an increase in share of 7.9 percent since 2000, as well as a 92.7 percent increase in the college-educated population since 2000.

Matt McLogan, GVSU vice president of University Relations, said he believes Michigan’s most prosperous cities are those that host college campuses. He added that one of the Grand Rapid’s area’s largest employers is health care providers, which nearly always require a college degree.

“The synergy is helpful to both city and school,” McLogan said.

Bart Merkle, GVSU dean of students, said an atmosphere full of opportunities encourages residents to pursue a higher education.

“People who are living and working in Grand Rapids see those opportunities and are aware of institutions, and because of that, there is a subtle encouragement to pursue higher education,” Merkle said.

Ratings like this can be beneficial to the school, McLogan said. He added that in the past, U.S. News & World Report have named GVSU one of the top public universities in the Midwest. He also stated that GVSU has been named one of “America’s 100 Best College Buys” for 19 years in a row.

“Positive recognition of Grand Rapids and West Michigan can be useful in recruiting students, faculty and staff to Grand Valley,” McLogan said. “Our second largest campus is in Grand Rapids, and we value our partnership with the city. Creating, attracting and retaining talent is high on our agenda and the city’s.”

McLogan said GVSU’s graduation rate is 70 percent, the third highest out of Michigan’s public universities, and 86 percent of these graduates are employed in Michigan.

“The Grand Rapids area is one of the Midwest’s most vibrant higher education marketplaces with public and private colleges and universities providing services to the state’s second largest metropolitan area,” McLogan said.

Forbes based its list of cities on three different criteria: 25 percent of the final score was the growth rate in the number of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree from 2000 through 2013, 50 percent of the final score was the percentage points increase in the share of the population that is college-educated over that same time span, and the final 25 percent was determined by the number of educated people in the population as of 2013.

Grand Rapids ranked lower than San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. and higher than the Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Va. area.