Welcome to Holland Michigan with Mayor Nathan Bocks
Episode 1037th April 2023 • Total Michigan • Cliff Duvernois
00:00:00 00:29:48

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Holland, Michigan is one of the top destinations along Michigan's West Coast. And there's no one to better represent them than Mayor Nathan Bocks. In this episode, we talk about what makes Holland great, the supportive community around this city, and what you can expect when you visit this great city.

Links:

City of Holland, Michigan Website

Mayor Bocks Facebook Page

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Transcripts

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we know that if a community's gonna continue

Mayor Nate Bocks:

to move forward, it continue.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It needs to continue to grow and to change.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We can't just sit and go, you know what?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're fine exactly the way that we.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We never want to change from where we are.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Because if you're not moving forward, you're dying.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And this community tends to recognize that.

Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone.

Cliff Duvernois:

Welcome back to Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm your host, Cliff DuVernois.

Cliff Duvernois:

Today I'm kicking off a four-part series on the beautiful city of Holland.

Cliff Duvernois:

And we're lucky enough to get a slice of time with the Mayor of Holland,

Cliff Duvernois:

and that would be Mayor Nathan Bocks.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mr.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mayor, how are you?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm wonderful.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Thanks for having me today, Cliff.

Cliff Duvernois:

Thanks for having us in here.

Cliff Duvernois:

So why don't you tell us a little bit about where you're

Cliff Duvernois:

from and where you grew up?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Absolutely.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I actually didn't grow up in Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I grew up in the center of the state in Mount Pleasant.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Bounced around a little bit, but that's where I graduated from high school.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Uh, and then came to Hope College here in Holland, Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Met a local girl, got married, and settled down and have been

Mayor Nate Bocks:

here since the mid 1980's.

Cliff Duvernois:

This with all stories, sometimes they just start with there was a

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that's right.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

She captured my heart.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we've been married now, 31 years.

Cliff Duvernois:

So now you've actually built up, you've

Cliff Duvernois:

got a lawyer practice here.

Cliff Duvernois:

That's an area.

Cliff Duvernois:

And you've At some point in time you decided to throw your

Cliff Duvernois:

hat into the political ring.

Cliff Duvernois:

Why did you decide to that?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I did.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I was always involved in the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I started out as a community volunteer at, our local Lake Shore.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, was on, over the course of the last 20

Mayor Nate Bocks:

years on 15 different boards, committees, and commissions, from the library

Mayor Nate Bocks:

to hospice, to the Tulip Time board.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I was actually the chair of the Tulip Time Festival for the 85th Tulip Time.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And really for a long time thought about the idea of being the mayor of Holland,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

but really wasn't ready to do it.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Both in terms of, I had a law practice and a young family.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But a few years ago I realized our youngest daughter was gonna

Mayor Nate Bocks:

be headed to Michigan State.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

She's a senior at Michigan State this year.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And my wife is a school teacher, 33 years teaching.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

She's gonna be retiring this spring.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And my wife looked at me and said, if you wanna do this mayor thing,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

you got a window of time to do it.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So as a new empty nester and somebody who I knew my wife was gonna be

Mayor Nate Bocks:

retiring in a few years, I decided to throw my hat into the ring and I won.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so I've been the mayor of Holland now for three years.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm in the middle of my second two year term.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm up for reelection again in November and running for that third term.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And absolutely love the job.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

In my mind, this is the greatest job of in the world.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It's, there's no better job than being the mayor of the greatest city in the world.

Cliff Duvernois:

Ooh.

Cliff Duvernois:

Okay.

Cliff Duvernois:

we'll explore that claim in just a second.

Cliff Duvernois:

What I wanna do is circle back, cuz you were talking about how

Cliff Duvernois:

you've been on all of these boards.

Cliff Duvernois:

Obviously, community involvement is something you are passionate about.

Cliff Duvernois:

Where does that come?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm not sure.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

My, my folks were teachers, educators.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

My dad was involved in some board kinds of things.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But even as a student in high school, I was the student body president

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and involved in youth in government.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And for me, that's always just been a passion to give back to the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The mayor of Holland, that job is a part-time job.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

As you've mentioned, I'm a full-time attorney.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And it actually costs me money to be the mayor of Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I do get paid, to be the mayor.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But I get paid $13,000 a year to be the mayor of this great city.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But the amount of time that I spend for that, $13,000.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I could be making a whole lot more money as an attorney.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But I think it's really important for all of us to give the, what we have, our gifts

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and our talents back to our community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm a government geek.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I really like the government aspect.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I've been a tour guide for this, for the Tulip Time Festival for 30 years.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So I really like to promote the community as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And those are two things that are really important when you're

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the mayor of a small town.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

You need to understand how government works and how the system works so

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that you can move projects forward.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But you also need to be the promoter in chief of your community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And I really relish that role in Holland.

Cliff Duvernois:

So now you step in your role as mayor.

Cliff Duvernois:

What were some of the challenges that you came that maybe that you had

Cliff Duvernois:

inherited from previous administrations or something along those lines?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm blessed to be standing on the shoulders of giants.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We have had great leadership in this community for many years.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But I was elected, first elected in November of 2019.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

was just understanding the job, getting my feet under the ground.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

You drink from a fire hose for those first few months.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then in February of 2020, just three months after I was elected, COVID hit.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yes, and the whole world turned upside down.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so all of those things that we knew and all of those systems that were in

Mayor Nate Bocks:

place just got thrown out the window.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so what we did as a small community is, is looked at what our situation was.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we said, you know what?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Every single day we're gonna make the best decisions that we can,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

based on the best information that we have available at the moment.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we don't have a health department here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We don't have health experts here in Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So we relied on the state and the federal government and the county to

Mayor Nate Bocks:

provide us with that health information.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we worked very hard to be good leaders within the community

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and to provide a sense of calm.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We started right out almost the, at the very beginning, let the, in mid-March

Mayor Nate Bocks:

when the whole world shut down, we started doing a series of mayor messages

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that were referred to as fireside chats.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Where I would do a, a video every Tuesday and every Friday letting the community

Mayor Nate Bocks:

know what was happening, what changes were in place, what they could expect.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we actually received several awards and a lot of accolades for the way that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

we handled the pande, the pandemic here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And our philosophy at the time was, calm, confident, competence.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we just hammered that throughout the entire pandemic.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And Holland did really well compared to other communities.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We didn't lose a lot of businesses.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We really kept our heads about us.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we came through, matter of fact, the summer of 2020 and the summer of

Mayor Nate Bocks:

2021, were some of the best summers our local businesses and restaurants

Mayor Nate Bocks:

saw in their entire history.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Because we as a community rallied together to be able to support

Mayor Nate Bocks:

each other through that pandemic.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So that was the biggest challenge, that I've had to deal with as mayor.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Now, coming out of that, we're dealing now with kind of the regular

Mayor Nate Bocks:

operations of government, but have a, an awful lot of transformational

Mayor Nate Bocks:

projects going on in the city as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

Cool.

Cliff Duvernois:

Cool And I wanna make sure that we dedicate some time

Cliff Duvernois:

to talk about those as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

So when you're talking about Holland faired very well, you and I were talking

Cliff Duvernois:

before I hit the record button about how there's the tourism side of Holland.

Cliff Duvernois:

There's also a manufacturing side of Holland.

Cliff Duvernois:

There's economic development.

Cliff Duvernois:

Let's talk briefly about the tourism side of Holland.

Cliff Duvernois:

So talk to us a little bit about that.

Cliff Duvernois:

Where do you see that going?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yeah.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland has always been considered a a big tourists community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

One, because we're on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We also have a wonderful inland lake here as well, Lake Macatawa.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we're known for the Tulip Festival.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

You know that in May every single year, the tulips bloom in Holland, Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We have four and a half million tulips in the ground just

Mayor Nate Bocks:

starting to sprout out now.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So I encourage people to come and visit us.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Those first couple of weeks of May.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We'll have all kinds of gorgeous tulips and and activities going on.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that is a real economic driver for the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

In 2015, we did an economic, impact survey in terms of what money does

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Tulip Time bring into the city?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And it was determined in 2015 that, Tulip Time over the course

Mayor Nate Bocks:

of a 10 day festival, brings 48 million of new economic activity.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That's awesome.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That's a lot of money for a, a city of 33,500 people.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that those are dollars that would not be spent in this community otherwise.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So that's a real driver for that, just beginning of the summer.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we have folks then that, that come to our beaches that enjoy our

Mayor Nate Bocks:

great town, our great downtown, and our great activities that happen.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Spring, summer and fall.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we'll talk in a little bit about some great things that we've got coming

Mayor Nate Bocks:

now for the winter season as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But Holland has always been known as that tourist community, especially

Mayor Nate Bocks:

because of the Tulip Time Festival.

Cliff Duvernois:

Festival now for the money that's coming in

Cliff Duvernois:

during that particular time.

Cliff Duvernois:

and I'm asking this question because I know that there are some

Cliff Duvernois:

communities out there that seem to hang their hat on one festival a year.

Cliff Duvernois:

And it seems like that's where 80% of the revenue comes from.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's from a two week period.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mm-hmm.

Cliff Duvernois:

,,Talk to us a little bit more about other events that are going on throughout

Cliff Duvernois:

the year to help keep the economy going.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yeah, we've got an incredible downtown group and I

Mayor Nate Bocks:

know that you're gonna be talking in some of the other series.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

One with Tulip Time.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And Tulip Time works closely with our visitors bureau.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then we also have what's called our principal shopping district.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

which is our downtown merchants have an association that works together

Mayor Nate Bocks:

to do projects throughout the year, in activities throughout the year.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we try every month or so to have something going on in the

Mayor Nate Bocks:

community to bring people in.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Whether it's Girlfriends Weekend in the spring, whether it's ice sculptures

Mayor Nate Bocks:

in the wintertime, whether it's Fall Fest, to try to drive people into the

Mayor Nate Bocks:

community to get those heads in beds.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we have a major attraction here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that's the Lake Michigan Beach, and that's the Lake Macatawa waterfront.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so people come with their boats, they want to stay at cottages in the area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

They want to stay, in the hotels in the area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

To enjoy what West Michigan has to offer in the summertime.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that makes it very easy for people to come in.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And what it does then is it drives people into our shops, into our restaurants.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And if you haven't been downtown, we have one of the best downtowns

Mayor Nate Bocks:

anywhere in the country.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And as you drive through, the biggest complaint that people

Mayor Nate Bocks:

have is it's hard to find parking.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we have free parking everywhere in the downtown Holland area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So you never have to pay to park.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we have a couple of great, parking structures just about

Mayor Nate Bocks:

a block off from downtown.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And one of the biggest challenges we have is trying to train

Mayor Nate Bocks:

people to go, you know what?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

You can walk one block to get to downtown Holland from that parking structure.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So there's always parking available.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It just might not be right in front of the exact place that you were headed.

Cliff Duvernois:

Now we covered a little bit about the tourism side.

Cliff Duvernois:

What I'd like to do is start poking around the manufacturing side.

Cliff Duvernois:

of Holland as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

Cuz I have to say I kind of like this like multi segment approach.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's not like Holland is purely driven by a tourism industry, but you

Cliff Duvernois:

have these other industries as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

So talk to us about the manufacturing

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We absolutely do.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We, and we've always been a manuf, manufac manufacturing community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're, I like to say we're a community that makes things.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Historically we've been known for boat building.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The Chris Craft Corporation was located here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The old mahogany runabouts were made here in Holland, Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're also a center of office furniture manufacturing with

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the Hayworth Corporation.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Herman Miller is located here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And, Steelcase in the Grand Rapids area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So we've got a lot of office furniture manufacturing.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Also, Baker Furniture was located here, so find Home Furnishings.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The Howard Miller Clock Company located Yes, located right here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So beautiful grandfather clocks as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we have, for years been a, tier two and tier three

Mayor Nate Bocks:

automotive manufacturing company.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We make the sun visors here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We make your headliners.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We make your armrest.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We make your trip computers.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We make the mirrors for your automobiles here in glass for your automobiles.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And, in the last 10 years or so, we've started to make

Mayor Nate Bocks:

batteries for electric vehicles.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the LG Energy Solution Company has been located here, in Holland for

Mayor Nate Bocks:

about a decade making batteries.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And just in the last year or so, they have decided to quintuple

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the size of their facility here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that's a fivefold increase, a 1.9 billion investment, in the city of Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

1 million square feet, 1200 new jobs, 10 million in a revolving fund for housing.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Cuz housing is a challenge for us, like it is for many places.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in the state of Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland is the biggest city in Ottawa County.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so we see a lot of that growth here as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So we are destined to be, an a center of automotive manufacturing.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Because in electric car, the heaviest component, the most expensive

Mayor Nate Bocks:

component in that car is the battery.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so now that the batteries are being made here, we're starting to

Mayor Nate Bocks:

see more tier two and tier three manufacturers for electric vehicles

Mayor Nate Bocks:

locating here because they want to be close to where that battery is made.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We also make ice cream.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Your listeners are probably familiar with Hudsonville ice cream.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Hudsonville Ice creams made right here in Holland, Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

They have the largest walk-in freezer in North America here in Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We also make more lasagna here with request foods, frozen lasagna.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We make more frozen lasagna than anywhere else in the world

Mayor Nate Bocks:

right here in Holland, Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

During the pandemic, and as I said, we fared very well when other communities

Mayor Nate Bocks:

were seeing a drop in development, we had 500,000 square feet of new

Mayor Nate Bocks:

commercial construction start in Holland, Michigan during the pandemic.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Last year in 2022, we had 2.7 billion of new investment in Holland, Michigan.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We are a city on the move.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And remember, we're only 33,500 people.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So we do have surrounding townships that are absorbing some of that as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we're seeing the vast majority of that is done right here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Another great example, Tommy Car washes.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

If you've ever seen the automated car washes made here, designed

Mayor Nate Bocks:

here, shipped all over the world from little Holland, Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

That's awesome.

Cliff Duvernois:

We're gonna explore some of these, some of these things when we come back

Cliff Duvernois:

from our break to thank our sponsors.

Cliff Duvernois:

We'll see you in a few minutes.

Cliff Duvernois:

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Cliff Duvernois:

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Okay.

Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone.

Cliff Duvernois:

Welcome back to Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm talking today with Mayor Bocks out of the city of Holland in Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mayor, before the break you were talking about really all this

Cliff Duvernois:

wonderful industry that is coming here.

Cliff Duvernois:

What I'd like to do is take a step back and explore a

Cliff Duvernois:

little bit about the history.

Cliff Duvernois:

Now, has Holland always been a city of tourism and manufacturing, or did it start

Cliff Duvernois:

out as tourism and then manufacturing joined it or how did did that work?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

work Originally it was manufacturing.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the tourism piece of it started.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

we had been around the turn of the century 125 years ago, a place where

Mayor Nate Bocks:

people would come from Chicago and St.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Louis and Detroit and spend the summer.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then in the late 1920s is when the tour, when the

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Tulip Time Festival started.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that drove a lot of the tourism through the thirties, forties, fifties,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

sixties, seventies and eighties.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And now we're seeing a lot of that beach tourism that's happening as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We've got some projects that are happening in the city of Holland

Mayor Nate Bocks:

to make Holland rather than just a three season destination,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

but a four season destination.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

As a city, we are very forward thinking and I'm talking about both the people

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that live here, but also as a government.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're really very forward thinking.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Our philosophy is that public investment can then create and become a driver for

Mayor Nate Bocks:

private investment in the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we've got some great projects that we've been working on.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Some that have already passed and are on the drawing board and

Mayor Nate Bocks:

are in the implementation phase.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And a couple of others that we're still waiting for some approvals

Mayor Nate Bocks:

along the line and hoping that they're gonna come to fruition.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But just in an example, one of the great tourism based ones that we're doing, is

Mayor Nate Bocks:

we are going to be building a world class ice skating park here in the downtown area

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that we're gonna be breaking ground for in May, just after the Tulip Time Festival.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And the impetus of it, that's a great story.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The impetus of this project was a retired school teacher.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

There's a retired school teacher in town, and he's in his mid eighties.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He realized a few years ago that he had more money than he thought that he needed.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He never married, never had kids, and he sat down with his banker.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And I can share this story cuz he's shared it many times.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Gentleman's name is Frank Cry.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

His banker said, Frank, you're a millionaire.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Frank goes, I can't be a millionaire.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm a retired school teacher.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And he goes, no, you are.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And he goes, I don't need a million dollars.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so he came to the city.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yeah.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And he said he came to the city and he said, if you get going on an outdoor

Mayor Nate Bocks:

ice skating rink, before I pass away, I will give you the first million dollars.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So a retired school teacher donated a million dollars to the city to, for

Mayor Nate Bocks:

this new ice skating rink project.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It's gonna be not just a pond device, but there's also gonna be a ribbon

Mayor Nate Bocks:

ice that goes out into the park.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Frank said he wanted curling.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

There's gonna be curling.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Frank said there wanted to be Hi.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He wanted there to be hot chocolate.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

There's gonna be hot chocolate.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

There's gonna be skate rental.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It is going to be for a city of this size, again, the best skating facility

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that you've seen with chilled ice.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So be able to skate four to five, months out of the year.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

As you may know, we have heated streets and sidewalks in the downtown area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yes, we do.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So the area around the rink will be heated as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

There'll be heated benches and fireplaces.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that'll be done, ready to skate for the winter of 24 25.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I really pushed hard to get it for the next winter season.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

, But I'm sure as everybody who's listening knows there are issues with

Mayor Nate Bocks:

supply chain and there issues with getting the workers and all of those

Mayor Nate Bocks:

things that we had to push it back.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we're gonna start construction right away this summer.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then we'll be ready to go for that, that, in a year and a

Mayor Nate Bocks:

half, for the ice skating there.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And what that's going to do is not only be a great amenity for the people that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

live here, but what it's gonna do is it's gonna extend the stays for people

Mayor Nate Bocks:

who come here who may have come for an overnight and go, you know what?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I can stay and I can skate and I can do not only the things I was gonna do.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But these additional things as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So that's one of the things that we've got going that we know is absolutely

Mayor Nate Bocks:

gonna be a real driver for tourism.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

One of the great economic development projects that we have going that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

passed just this past year is our city.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Not only do we provide electricity, we have our own board of public

Mayor Nate Bocks:

works where we provide electricity.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We provide water.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We take care of wastewater.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we've been doing broadband internet on a limited basis in the downtown area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We just passed a millage to provide a gigabit speed fiber

Mayor Nate Bocks:

broadband internet system.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That'll run past every single address in the city.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Just Board of Public Works.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Just voted yesterday to purchase the first materials.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're looking at construction starting on that in the fall.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And within about a year and a half, every single person in the city of

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland would be able to sign up for a gigabit speeding internet up and

Mayor Nate Bocks:

down for about 50 to $60 a month.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

All in.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that is gonna be a project that's gonna be an incredible

Mayor Nate Bocks:

driver, not only for business, but for education, and for tourism.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

What we've looked at during the pandemic is we want to be a city of

Mayor Nate Bocks:

choice or a community of choice for people who say, I no longer have to

Mayor Nate Bocks:

live in Los Angeles or in Chicago.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

They get to live here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The mayor loves that phrase, and I get to live here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That's part of that driver of, we love this town.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We have a great pride in our community and we want others to know that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

as well, and we wanna create that.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So there's two things that are going on.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Third one that we have that's actually up for a vote in coming up

Mayor Nate Bocks:

in May, we are a lakefront community, but our downtown is not connected

Mayor Nate Bocks:

directly to the lakefront like a lot of our neighboring communities are.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Grand haven's right on the water.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Saugutuk right on the water.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Muskegon's right on the water.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

South Haven's right on the water.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland has always been a little disconnected from the water, partly

Mayor Nate Bocks:

because we are an industrial community and we've got great industrial uses there.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we've been involved in a five year pro process asking the community

Mayor Nate Bocks:

what they would like to do with some waterfront property that became available.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

we, as I said, we generate our own electricity.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Four years ago, five years ago now.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We, put our own, put a brand new, dual stage gas fired electric generating plant

Mayor Nate Bocks:

in and decommissioned our old coal-fired plant that sat on the waterfront.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That space is now available.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

In going through this process, we are going to be creating, a new,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

if this, if it passes and the mil and the vote's gotta pass to allow

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the city to sell the property.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

A marina restaurant, condominiums, ice, ice cream shop, all right on

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the waterfront, connected right to downtown, including a cruise ship dock.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So we are looking at having more opportunities to connect downtown

Mayor Nate Bocks:

to the waterfront and the waterfront to downtown here in holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So lots of things going on.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That's just three

Cliff Duvernois:

Sweet moses

Cliff Duvernois:

So let's talk a little bit, cuz you made this comment before and I wanna

Cliff Duvernois:

make sure that we really exposed, you made a comment about how there's

Cliff Duvernois:

some things that are in place to make Holland a true four season destination.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Absolutely.

Cliff Duvernois:

Is the ice skating rink part of that?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It is.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It is.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Okay.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It is.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So we have the largest.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Already have the largest snow melt system in North America.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We've got five miles of sidewalks that are heated with

Mayor Nate Bocks:

wastewater from our power plant.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We've got about a mile of streets that are heated.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yes, we heat them enough so that it melts the snow in the downtown area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We are gonna, that's on our eighth street, which is our main street.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

This coming year we're gonna be expanding that system into onto

Mayor Nate Bocks:

sixth Street, which is where the new ice skating rink is gonna be.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So two blocks off from town connecting through, and putting.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

As I said, we have public investment that we hope then drives private investment.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We are investing as a city, 9 million in new infrastructure projects

Mayor Nate Bocks:

in the downtown area this summer.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're already starting to see, and that's that's in addition to what it's

Mayor Nate Bocks:

gonna, the, about nine or 10 million it's gonna cost to build the skating rink.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we're looking at getting donations for the skating rink

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and that's going really well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're a community that gives and supports.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And I am very hopeful as mayor that the public's gonna come out and

Mayor Nate Bocks:

say, we are going to donate the money that's necessary to build this

Mayor Nate Bocks:

world class skating facility city.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

You do the infrastructure for the roads and the sidewalks and

Mayor Nate Bocks:

expand our downtown to the north.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then all of the properties in that area that used to be industrial properties

Mayor Nate Bocks:

or properties that were underused are starting to see additional investment,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

which is gonna allow for that great growth that we need in Holland, Michigan as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

needed.

Cliff Duvernois:

Man,

Cliff Duvernois:

that's

Cliff Duvernois:

absolutely

Cliff Duvernois:

credible.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yeah, it's, we have a lot of very smart people in this community

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that are really dedicated to making Holland the best place that it can be.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And as I said, I've got the greatest job in the world.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I get to work with all of these amazing folks, some of which you'll

Mayor Nate Bocks:

be meeting in these other episodes.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

As I said off, off mic, we are, we're all friends with one another.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're a big enough community that we can do really big things.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we're a small enough community that we all know each other.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we like each other.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we work well with one another.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we realize that there's an incredible value in us getting along

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and all rowing in the same direction.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And this has been a, a great time in the last 10, 12 years in the city of

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland where we have been doing that.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And it's shown incredible benefits.

Cliff Duvernois:

In speaking of community, cuz this is something

Cliff Duvernois:

that I have experienced.

Cliff Duvernois:

It seems you got communities like yours that are just, embracing the change.

Cliff Duvernois:

Let's embrace the future.

Cliff Duvernois:

New jobs coming in.

Cliff Duvernois:

People want to po like you said, it was, they want to what?

Cliff Duvernois:

Quintuple.

Cliff Duvernois:

Quintupling.

Cliff Duvernois:

The size of the battery plant.

Cliff Duvernois:

There you go.

Cliff Duvernois:

The battery plant.

Cliff Duvernois:

And I know that there are other communities out there that if

Cliff Duvernois:

somebody comes in and wants to open up a plant, bring jobs to the

Cliff Duvernois:

area, the community poo-poos it.

Cliff Duvernois:

They're like, you're not coming in here.

Cliff Duvernois:

What is it that makes that you feel anyways, that the community

Cliff Duvernois:

here just embraces this?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yeah, we recognize that there, there are additional ripple effects

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and value that comes from those things.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It's not only the additional jobs, it's the additional tax

Mayor Nate Bocks:

revenue that comes in as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we know that if a community's gonna continue to move forward, it continue.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

It needs to continue to grow and to change.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We can't just sit and go, you know what?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're fine exactly the way that we.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We never want to change from where we are.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Because if you're not moving forward, you're dying.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And this community tends to recognize that.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Now not everybody loves the idea of change.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're like any other community where there's some folks that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

said, Hey, how are we going to possibly absorbed 1200 new jobs.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We all, our manufacturers and employers are already looking

Mayor Nate Bocks:

for employees to come in.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

How are we gonna be able to provide the housing for these folks?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we look at each one of these projects from a holistic approach.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

One of the reasons why we're putting a skating rink in downtown, one of

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the reasons why we're doing broadband, one of the reasons why we're looking

Mayor Nate Bocks:

at additional waterfront development is that we know those things

Mayor Nate Bocks:

make a community more attractive for people to want to live here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so that makes it easier for our employers to find those

Mayor Nate Bocks:

additional employees that they need.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We also work hand in hand with the development community in giving them

Mayor Nate Bocks:

incentives to try to build the kind of housing that holland wants and needs

Mayor Nate Bocks:

City of Holland sees itself as a partner in that economic development.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so we work closely with Lakeshore Advantage, which is our local economic

Mayor Nate Bocks:

development corporation, with both private developers, but also places

Mayor Nate Bocks:

like Habitat for Humanity is a very important partner in the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We have another housing, a non-profit housing organization

Mayor Nate Bocks:

called Jubilee Ministries, which is, which we work hand in hand with.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Dwelling Place outta Grand Rapids we work with.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Because we know that by working together, we're gonna be able to create

Mayor Nate Bocks:

all facets that are needed in order to be able to maintain that economic

Cliff Duvernois:

that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

equity.

Cliff Duvernois:

And it's not just bringing in new

Cliff Duvernois:

employees to cover the plants.

Cliff Duvernois:

I was reading a couple articles online about some incentive programs.

Cliff Duvernois:

You got to get more teachers to come area the area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We do.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And that's a, and our education system is phenomenal as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Holland as a city is landlocked.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The Holland Public schools are landlocked.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We don't have extra land to grow.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And Holland, the public schools recently I've had a difficult time attracting

Mayor Nate Bocks:

teachers to come into the area.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And this is, again, part of that great, giving community that we have an anonymous

Mayor Nate Bocks:

donor donated about three quarters of a million dollars to the local schools.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I know who does that?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Who does that?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

three mil, three quarters of a million dollars to provide.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Scholarships are actually grants to teachers who choose to purchase a home

Mayor Nate Bocks:

within five miles of the school district.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So they get a $25,000 additional down payment toward their home if they purchase

Mayor Nate Bocks:

a home within five miles of the district.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

A.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then stay there with for another five years.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And I talked to the superintendent of schools again, mayor

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and the superintendent of schools know each other well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We all know each other well in Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I said, you know what about what happens after five years?

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He goes, once, once they're here for five years, they're hooked.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

They're not leaving.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He goes, so we're not, we got a nice skating rink.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we had, we got all these things going on.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So they're not worried about that aspect of it at all.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And it has become a game changer for the Holland Public Schools in attracting and

Mayor Nate Bocks:

retaining great talent to teach our kids.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we know that's an incredibly important piece here as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

People want to live here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But they need to be able to afford to live here.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so we've gotta find great ways to be able to do that.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And as I.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

You know that $750,000 gift to the schools, the million dollar gift from

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Frank Cry for the ice skating rink, which was immediately followed by another

Mayor Nate Bocks:

million dollar gift from the jury's family toward the ice skating rink.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We're at about four and a half million dollars in fundraising for

Mayor Nate Bocks:

the ice skating rink right now.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We also received a million and a half dollar gift for our nature

Mayor Nate Bocks:

center in the city of Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We also received a

Mayor Nate Bocks:

5 million gift that's gonna go toward building a new rec center in the next

Mayor Nate Bocks:

five to 10 years, and I'm gonna get myself It's, It's it's amazing to me and it,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and with people having a, an inherent distrust and dislike of government,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that for the city of Holland, people come and without us asking in a lot of

Mayor Nate Bocks:

cases, go, Hey, here's a large amount of money I would like to have the city

Mayor Nate Bocks:

of holland use to make the city better.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

People trust this city because we do things so well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Great.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Another great story I'll share you with you.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We had a gentleman, again, an anonymous donor was at the local Ford dealer.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And he was getting, he was buying an A Ford F-150 Lightning a hundred

Mayor Nate Bocks:

thousand dollars pickup truck.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And he was right at the end signing the paperwork.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then somebody said to him something about the towing capacity of the truck.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And he goes, oh, that doesn't quite meet my needs for the towing capacity.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I guess I'm gonna have to shift over to the internal combustion engine one.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And the salesman said, okay, well, I'll tear up this agreement

Mayor Nate Bocks:

that we got for the electric one and we'll get you the other one.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He goes, no.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He tossed the keys to the salesman.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

He goes, give the truck to the city of Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and I'll buy the electric one for myself.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That's

Mayor Nate Bocks:

cool.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Just completely out of the blue.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so now our police department is using that as part of their fleet.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And part of the promotion that they do, they go to summer events with an

Mayor Nate Bocks:

ice cream trailer, to give ice cream to kids to be able to create that

Mayor Nate Bocks:

kind of great relationship between the police department and the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And again, it's one of those things where every single week at a city council

Mayor Nate Bocks:

meeting, we have a list of gifts that we've received from the community.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And it is amazing to me as a mayor that people say, we'd like to

Mayor Nate Bocks:

give you money to be able to make this community a better place.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That's just what Holland is about.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mr.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mayor, I could sit here all afternoon and just being trans by this.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I've, I'm really enjoying these stories.

Cliff Duvernois:

If somebody wants to, connect with you and follow what it is

Cliff Duvernois:

you're doing, either online, the website, what would be the best

Cliff Duvernois:

place for

Cliff Duvernois:

um,

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The mayor loves his social media.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

The, I have my own, I'm, at Mayor Bocks.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And then, but the city of Holland has an incredible

Mayor Nate Bocks:

social media department as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So if you go to, just look up City of Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

We've got great stuff that's out there.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

City of holland.com.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

and then you'll be talking with, there's tulip time.com and there's holland.org.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

All kinds of great places.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

One little story I'll tell you.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm not much of a TikTok guy.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I'm in my mid fifties.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I don't understand it.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But we had a couple of college interns working for the city last year who were

Mayor Nate Bocks:

dedicated, who they were tasked with beefing up the city's TikTok account.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And they convinced the mayor to paint his face up like a minion

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And recorded it.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Yeah.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

That and, I never would've believed it.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Four and a half million views on TikTok for the City of Holland.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And I said, I don't understand why it's funny.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

I don't get it.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

But what we did is we leveraged these college students to

Mayor Nate Bocks:

beef up that TikTok account.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And what it did is it drove people then to all of the informational

Mayor Nate Bocks:

stuff that we have out there as well.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Sure.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And so we're using all of these tools that we have available.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

So check us out on social media.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Our TikTok account is great.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

Our Instagram, our Facebook, our twitter accounts are great.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

As I said, I'm Mayor Bocks or look for city of holland.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mr.

Cliff Duvernois:

Mayor, it's been great just chatting with you today.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm gonna have to come back because I wanna follow up on all these

Cliff Duvernois:

great programs that are going on.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

we'd love to have you come, definitely come

Mayor Nate Bocks:

back in, winter of 2024, so you can check out the ice skating rink.

Mayor Nate Bocks:

And we'll see you at Waterfront Holland and you can enjoy the

Mayor Nate Bocks:

great broadband as as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

And for our audience, for all the links that Mayor Bocks talked

Cliff Duvernois:

about today, you can see them by going to total michigan.com, clicking on this

Cliff Duvernois:

profile and finding all the links there.

Cliff Duvernois:

While you're there, don't forget to put in your email address

Cliff Duvernois:

and join our weekly newsletter.

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