Pete Brand
Grand Rapids, MI

I am married to an incredible woman named Amanda and have five amazing children. I would consider myself an entrepreneur and absolutely love the challenge of building businesses. I also love the journey of personal development. I don't believe in drifting through life on auto-pilot. I believe we are presented each day with opportunities to improve and become better. I choose to embrace these opportunities and use the lessons I learn to become a better "me" and continuously strive to embrace each moment!

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Success in Business Uncategorized

Thoughts on Google Fiber for Grand Rapids

By on March 22, 2010

When Google made their announcement 41 days ago that they would be selecting one or more cities for their ultra high speed fiber network, I never would have guessed the significance that announcement would have on me, let alone the amazing city I call home.

First of all I think we all need to commend Google on yet another BRILLIANT marketing move.  The buzz they’ve created with this strategic announcement, and the incredible volume of data they’ve received from posting a simple video online is nothing short of pure genius!

I am quite sure Google has been following the results and the buzz just as closely as most people follow March Madness.  It’s had to be quite entertaining, from their perspective, to watch cities change their name to Google, watching people jump in ice cold water, or others swim with the sharks.  I know I’d be getting quite a kick out of it if I were in their shoes.  🙂

Grand Rapids Michigan is an amazing city which possesses an entrepreneurial spirit you just won’t find in most cities.  Along with this entrepreneurial spirit comes a deep passion and love for not only the city but the people who are a part of it.

Although Michigan has taken quite a few HUGE hits to our economy in the past few years, Grand Rapids has held it’s ground and continued to make forward progress in our transition from a manufacturing-centric economy, to an economy more focused on life sciences, technology, education, and sustainability.  When Google announced they were looking for a place to test their 1gig per second fiber connection, there were many of us proud Grand Rapidians who saw an incredible opportunity to accelerate this transition.

First Steering Committee Meeting

We made a decision to listen intently t0 what Google was telling us they were looking for, and not rely on some cute gimmick to gain their attention.  🙂

Google stated their main objective was to make sure they could achieve a quick and efficient implementation of their fiber network.  Although this is a fairly general statement, it’s pretty easy to read between the lines.

Google wants to make sure they choose a City where they won’t run into a bunch of red tape.

Knowing this was critical in their decision making process, we decided to draw upon our successful history of public / private partnerships and provide  evidence of the incredible level of support they will receive if they choose Grand Rapids.  Our steering committee, which had our first formal meeting on March 1st, 2010, set off to gather this evidence through letters of support, video testimonials, and most importantly … through a show of support from the local community.

We’ve gathered dozens of letters of support and an equal number of video testimonials from leaders in government, economic development organizations, the Chamber of Commerce,  leaders of educational institutions, and local business leaders.  We have a resolution which is being handed down from the state government, and we’ve even had our Governor visit Google in California to help assure Google they won’t run into any issues if they choose our amazing city.

We’ve also helped illustrate our community support by building the largest Google Fiber Facebook Fan page in the country, which has nearly 34,000 fans and is extremely active in discussions and comments.  This isn’t simply a cheer leading page where people simply say they are behind it.  Fans are constantly visiting the Google nomination page and filling out the form to nominate our incredible city and returning to the page to paste their confirmation number onto the Fan Page.

Press Conference

We held a press conference 9 days after forming our Steering Committee to announce our “Flash Mob” event where we video taped our community wide invitation to Google.  We knew we only had 10 days to spread the word, and many potential obstacles that could impede a good turn out to our event.  As the event drew nearer we were seeing that everything was aligning!  The weather report was awesome, and the buzz we were hearing throughout the community was motivating!

As Todd Ernst so appropriately put it following our press conference, “It is as though we are falling in love with Grand Rapids all over again.”

This initiative which began as an effort to help Grand Rapids accelerate our economic transition by gaining a competitive advantage over almost every other community in the country, had turned into a love affair with our incredible city!

This effort has helped bring together competing companies and helped them work together, side by side, for the good of the community.

It has allowed political leaders to get past partisan politics, and work side by side for the betterment of our community.

We’ve also seen people from very different walks of life come together to have conversations about what Grand Rapids will look like WHEN Google chooses our city.

The “Google Fiber for Grand Rapids Flash Mob” was a HUGE success and provided evidence of the way Grand Rapids has come together as a team, despite all our differences!

We are more sure than ever that Grand Rapids Michigan is the perfect city for Google Fiber, and we truly hope Google sees it the same way.

Crowd from the stage at the Flash Mob

Shot of Stage at Flash Mob

Throughout the last 21 days we’ve spent our time focusing on what Grand Rapids will gain by Google choosing our city.  This is important since Google has stated they are looking to choose a city where there will be significant benefits to it’s residents.  We also understand that this is a business decision and Google isn’t simply going to pick a city based solely on how it can help the residents.

We need to spend the final days building our case for Grand Rapids by letting them know what’s in it for them.  We have a strong Technology base, world class life sciences segment, a number of colleges and universities, and a number of other industries with extremely talented people who could help create many proofs-of-concept which Google could use elsewhere as they continue to build out their network.

Please help Grand Rapids effort by taking a few minutes to create a blog post or write an article letting Google know what’s in it for them!  Whether you are a technology company who has the capabilities of testing their bandwidth by creating a new application which was previously impossible, or if you are a company who has some solid ideas which could decrease the amount of time and energy required to implement their new fiber network.

We can get this done Grand Rapids, we simply need to continue working together as a community to show Google why our city would be an excellent partner!

If you have some benefits Google would receive by choosing our community, please leave a comment.  Let’s show them how smart we are and steer clear of comments like …. “Because we are cool.”  🙂

Also, if you haven’t done so already … please nominate our city by visiting this Google Fiber for Grand Rapids nomination link.

  1. Michael Yoder

    March 22, 2010

    Loved your post, Pete. It’s an excellent recap of all of the activity that has been going on the last several weeks related to the Google Fiber for Grand Rapids citizen led initiative.

  2. Suzanna LaCroix

    March 22, 2010

    Great post, Pete! Google really will get something back by choosing Grand Rapids. We have the base of fiber here and ready for them, we have innovative businesses in many sectors ready to test the system, a city government that is ready to help, not halt progress. See my article at :

  3. Andrew Rushmore

    March 22, 2010

    Good post!

    The sheer number of Fans we have showed us that people do care about our city.

    The turnout for the Rally was very low comparative to our fans, but it was 4PM on a Friday, and no money was spent to advertise and promote it.

    The city could have dumped money into that event and made a festival everyone would have gone too. Since you’re reading this Google, let me tell you: Grand Rapids is ALIVE when there’s a festival downtown. When the offices close the streets come to life with passionate people who care about their town. How rare is that? Check out Art Prize, and look at what we did there Google. I dare you. 🙂

    The one thing I wish – was that more people heard about things such as the Governor going to California! How amazing! The media didn’t give that the attention it deserved. Stories like that have so much more soul than fan pages.

    Google, still reading? Good. Check out all the YouTube videos – THEY have soul. They explain why you should take a look at this fair city 😀

  4. John Rumery

    March 22, 2010

    I think we also need to stress that Grand Rapids is a diverse community. Bing Goei spoke at the recent Rapid Growth speakers series and he made a great case for embracing and promoting diversity. In fact he mentioned the importance of making sure Google knew of what is going here in terms of “diversity”. West Michigan is changing; demographically and culturally. We have great, unique neighborhoods in the city that are being revitalized. We have music, art and food scenes that are developing. We certainly have room for improvement in this area, but it is happening and it will be a good thing that will be made even better by a relationship with Google.

  5. Grand Rapids Resident

    March 22, 2010

    ArtPrize was like hosting the Olympics, knowing you are going to host the Olympics every year from now on. Instead of sport, it was art, and we the people gave out the medals. Around every corner was an artist, a piece of art, and a feeling of discovery. The atmosphere was almost utopic as an entire community discovered its own city for two weeks. It was like having a key to every building downtown, and a friendly face inside welcoming you in. I’ve never had so many conversations with strangers. Most I talked to were from out of town, and every one of them mentioned something positive about Grand Rapids. The first ArtPrize was a huge success, and no one here expects the next ArtPrize to be anything but another giant step forward for our city.

    I’ve been attending Festival, Celebration, and Blues for years. You just can’t beat the atmosphere. ArtPrize is just one more thing to be proud of. Google, too, will be proud of their investment in this town. It will only take a taste and they will be hooked.

    I am 25 and I grew up in Wyoming, MI. Every member of my family has moved to another state in the past 15 years. I plan on staying here in Grand Rapids and raising a family, because I believe in this city. I believe in these people.

  6. Ken Fortier

    March 23, 2010

    Great Job Pete! I am focused on sharing the “Google Fiber” story for Grand Rapids and I have been spreading the word through my networks. I believe in Grand Rapids for business and I see a great future for our community. Thanks to people like you and your team we can all share in this excitement and momentum to achieve something amazing for Grand Rapids!!

  7. Amy LeFebre

    March 24, 2010

    Great profile on a collaborative, community-wide effort. Thanks to the dozens of community leaders who have already stepped forward to provide letters of support. If you’re head of a local business or corporation, educational institution, nonprofit organization, health care or research facility, or other community-based organization, it’s not too late to let your voice be heard. The City is accepting letters of support at: Address the letter to Mayor Heartwell and tell Google why you think Grand Rapids will be the right partner for this initiative.