Acton Institute Powerblog

Stepping Up

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Grand Rapids seems to be establishing a precedent for private corporations and individuals stepping up to the plate in the face of budget cuts and financial difficulty. The most recent example is the announcement that all six city pools will be open this summer, rather than just three. That means that the Director of Parks and Recreation is now looking to fill 160 new jobs (including lifeguards and water safety instructors) to man the parks. Why, when Michigan is facing a severe budget crisis, are we opening all the swimming pools in the city? Because Roosevelt Tillman, a local business man, remembered the days when he used to spend all day at the pool during the summer wanted today’s children to experience the same thing.

This is not the first time that the local population has stepped in to save the day in the midst of a budget crisis. This winter La Salle Bank and Centennial Wireless in cooperation with the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation provided the necessary funds to keep the Rosa Park Skating Rink open to the public.

There are several advantages to both individuals and corporations that fund these parks. A person invests in something because they think its worth it – there is good chance of a positive return. A company may invest in order to increase awareness and costumer loyalty. There’s a good chance that I’ll be more likely to bank with LaSalle or get a cell phone plan with Centennial because I drive by people skating in the rink every evening on my way home from work.

A big thank you to the people and corporations who invest in Grand Rapids. Your contributions to this community will not be forgotten.

[UPDATE] Here is the story about the pools from the Grand Rapids Press.

Jonathan Spalink


  • Maybe those things the city can’t afford to run itself should be privatized or turned over to be run by a non-profit group.

    Is Tillman paying the salaries of the 160 city employees? If so, presumably he could do the same thing under the auspices of a community foundation.

  • I believe that Tillman has formed a non-profit, or has affiliated with them, and they have raised $250,000 with a commitment for another $50,000. They also seek to raise another $900,000 to keep the pools open for the next several years.