The History of Medical Mile
If you’re from West Michigan, you are very familiar with the Van Andel name. It’s on buildings and arenas all over the place. In 2000, the family opened the Van Andel Institute. This became the start of what would soon be known as the Medical Mile.
Normally, we host walkthroughs of our facilities and give away bags with information to all of our visitors. With COVID-19, though, that’s not as possible. So, instead, we figured we’d give you a little taste of what we love about medical device manufacturing, right here on our blog.
Before Medical Mile became the designated name of the Michigan Street corridor, it was often referred to as Health Hill or Pill Hill, among other names. Pill Hill just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
Before It was Medical Mile
In an effort to build Michigan as a health and technology destination, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) established the SmartZone program around 2001. There are over 11 regions in existence today.
SmartZones provide distinct geographical locations where technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers can be in close proximity to all of the community assets that assist in their endeavors. SmartZone technology clusters promote resource collaborations between universities, industry, research organizations, government and other community institutions to grow technology-based businesses and jobs. New and emerging businesses in SmartZone technology clusters are primarily focused on commercializing ideas, patents and other opportunities surrounding corporate, university or private research institute R&D efforts.
In 2002, the Grand Rapids SmartZone was founded and was soon renamed the West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative (WMSTI). The organization was established as part of a community collaborative, which involved several other established organizations. The idea was to put GR on the map as a medical device and technology hub.
In 2006, the economy started to take a dive and the automotive industry was significantly impacted. Grand Rapids has always been known for its manufacturing and furniture industries. These were the hardest hit. It soon became apparent that manufacturers were almost entirely reliant on the automotive industry and would need to diversify to survive
WMSTI rolled out the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium to help manufacturers expand their business to include other industries outside of automotive. Today, West Michigan hosts the highest concentration of medical device manufacturers in the state. It’s one of the fastest growing medical clusters in the Midwest, which is part of a growing life-sciences industry cluster that has exceeded growth of the U.S average with a 11% increase in employment (2014-18). The region now employs over 20% of Michigan’s medical device professionals.
Medical Mile has come a long way since it was only the Van Andel Institute. The corridor has been expanded to include multiple Universities, Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Meijer Heart Center, Spectrum Health and many more.
We love being part of West Michigan, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. Let’s work together to make the medical devices of the future today.
By WMrapids – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37948136
Grand Rapids Medical Mile is a designated area within the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It began with medical-related development in the Hillside District of Grand Rapids, Michigan, bordering both sides of Michigan Street. More than a decade later it encompasses an area five times larger, expanding east further down Michigan St.and north across Interstate 196. It has also been referred to as Grand Rapids Medical Corridor, Michigan Street Medical Corridor, Health Hill, Medical Hill, and Pill Hill, among other names.