WMGI in the News


"Dutch in Michigan"

     Michigan has always attracted more Dutch than any other state. Most Dutch immigrants in the 19th century headed for Michigan. By 1900 Michigan counted one-third of the Dutch-born in the USA. Most Dutch lived in five counties—Allegan,KentKalamazooMuskegon, and Ottawa. Southwestern Michigan was truly the Dutch center, centered in Grand Rapids. One-third of the Dutch in Michigan in 1900 lived in that city, where they totaled 40 percent of the population.

In 1990, nearly 300,000 residents of Dutch ancestry lived in the five-county region, making it the largest Dutch settlement area in the United States. The breakdown was 35 percent in OttawaCounty, 22 percent in Allegan County, 19 percent in Kent County, 12 percent in KalamazooCounty, and 10 percent in Muskegon County.  In brief, the Dutch like West Michigan.

The Dutchness of Michigan raises a number of questions. First, why was West Michigan the favored Dutch destination for more than one hundred years? Second, what accounts for the Dutch clustering in this region? And third, what are the implications of this "Dutchness" for the region?




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West Michigan Global Initiative brought a Medical Delegation by Syktron to learn about their role in Healthcare and West Michigan.



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Contemporary view of New Amsterdam about twenty-five years after the Dutch settled Manhattan Island


Commercial enterprises constituted the first organized wave of immigration from the Netherlands to North America during the early seventeenth century and led to the founding of Fort Nassau, which was only the second permanent European settlement in North America. Continuing Dutch immigration waves have produced both complete assimilation of the immigrants fromthe Netherlands into North American culture, and also continuing pockets of a persistent hyphenated “Dutch-American” culture.


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Paul Heule, the honorary consul for The Netherlands in West Michigan, says he hopes a 25-person delegation from Dutch agricultural and medical device companies, gained an appreciation for West Michigan during its three-day visit this week.

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The bridge between West Michigan and its Dutch roots is continuing to grow as a delegation of business leaders from the Netherlands again visited the region to explore West Michigan food processing and agricultural needs.

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The West Michigan Global Initiative (WMGI) hosted a private, wind-down “Afterglow” reception May 7, 2014, with Dutch Ambassador to the U.S. Rudolf Bekink and General Consul Klaas van der Tempel. The reception was held at New Holland Brewing in downtown Holland, and featured many leaders from throughout West Michigan.

Photos from the event:

(Left to Right) Mayor Kurt Dykstra, City of Holland, MI. Klaas van der Tempel, Consul General of the Netherlands, Chicago. Jeb Burns, WMGI Co-Founder and President. Rudolf Bekink, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

(Left to Right) Rudolf Bekink, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Jeb Burns, WMGI Co-Founder and President.


The Executive Committee of the West Michigan Global Initiative (WMGI) today announced the appointment of Holland, Mich., Mayor Kurt Dykstra to the WMGI Executive Committee and Advisory Board.

Mayor Dykstra, who also is an attorney at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP in Holland, and his wife, Leah, were instrumental members of a WMGI-led delegation which traveled to the Kingdom of the Netherlands on an investment mission in 2013.

“Our 2013 mission was a tremendous success, creating new business relationships and friendships between leaders in West Michigan and the Netherlands,” Dykstra said.  “I am gratified to join the WMGI Executive Board and Advisory Committee as we continue our work to strengthen our historical ties and create new economic opportunities in our communities.”

The WMGI facilitates significant and long-term business, civic and cultural relationships between the West Michigan region and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, building on the longstanding cultural ties between the two communities.

In April of 2013, the West Michigan Global Initiative helped lead the state’s first formal investment mission to The Netherlands.  The WMGI also was instrumental in leading the effort to retain of The Netherlands Consulate General in Chicago.

During the fall of 2014 WMGI will host key Dutch business, cultural and government officials for an investment and cultural trade mission in West Michigan. 


The One Fund's mission to support those most impacted by the attacks is
continuing as part of a collaborative effort to coordinate services to
help the survivors and victims' families.

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Founding Sponsors


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