DHR International Places Grand Rapids White Water Inc. President, CEO

August 1, 2017

"Led River Project in Georgia"

Global executive search firm DHR International is pleased to announce the placement of Richard Bishop as the inaugural President & CEO for Grand Rapids Whitewater Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. GRWW is a public-private partnership with the mission to re-introduce the rapids to the Grand River. From a historical perspective, the rapids gave birth to the city’s name. The $35 million white water restoration project will be located downtown where the rapids historically existed, and will serve as a catalytic project to enhance future downtown economic growth.

By removing the dams along the river the city’s downtown and restoring the rocks and shoals to the riverbed, Grand Rapids White Water estimates that the expanded recreational use of the river and riverfront will stimulate net new economic impact of $15.9 million to $19.1 million per year.

“Richard’s river restoration experience, along with his career history serving both the public and private sectors make him an ideal candidate to lead the historic transformation of the Grand River,” said Chris Muller, co-founder of the Grand Rapids Whitewater. “"The Chattahoochee river restoration project has several similarities to the Grand River Project and they are seeing the significant environmental, economic, and social benefits of a restored urban waterway," said Muller, who has served as a volunteer co-chair for the local group since 2009. "Hiring a full-time president/CEO will increase our capacity to manage the complexities of this project and ensure we deliver the project on time and on budget. This is the next step towards project implementation and construction."  

“I’m really looking forward to this,” Bishop said.  “Grand Rapids is in the process of restoring the Grand River to its preeminent historical role and the city’s namesake.  This project really has a lot of similarities to what we did in Columbus, Georgia with the Chattahoochee River. We removed several dams in downtown to create a 2.5-mile white water run through downtown Columbus.  Since it officially opened in 2013, the river has attracted thousands of rafters and kayakers.”

“Restoring the rapids to the Grand River in downtown will have a transformational impact on future development,” according to Smith. “Grand Rapids has a storied history of corporate and community leaders taking the lead in providing vision, commitment, and action.  The success of downtown’s growth has been, in part, the result of several catalytic projects that were envisioned by community leaders.  Today, many refer to Grand Rapids as the ‘Austin’ of the Midwest.”

DHR International’s search engagement team was led by Dave Smith, Partner and Economic Development Practice Leader, and Steven Oberhoffer, Partner.  The DHR engagement team includes Partner Martita Mestey and Partner Tina Winner

About Grand Rapids White Water (GRWW) - The organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and the board is comprised of individuals, rowing and paddling clubs, anglers and businesses dedicated to revitalizing the Grand River and putting the namesake rapids back in the Grand River for everyone’s enjoyment. The board consists of seven (7) members, and currently employs a full-time staff of one. The mission of the corporation is to promote the creation and operation of a public park along and within the Grand River, including creation of a whitewater course to provide recreational and fitness opportunities to the general public, and to promote an environmentally sound design for such a public park to enhance the sustainability of the wildlife and natural resources within the park and the Grand River.

About DHR International - DHR International is the only major search firm with a dedicated Economic Development practice group whose forte is identifying top performing leaders for public-private partnerships that foster economic prosperity.  David Smith is the lead partner of DHR International’s Economic Development Team.

In collaboration with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), DHR International and Somerville Partners recently completed a behavioral leadership study of "Top Performing Economic Development Executives.”  This proprietary tool provides a highly validated benchmark that is useful in evaluating both seasoned economic developers, as well as, new entrants in to the economic development field..