Metro Cruise ready to rev up its economic engine

12th annual event could draw millions in spending to 28th Street corridor.

Michigan has always been the car industry state, and perhaps no West Michigan event shows that off better than the annual 28th Street Metro Cruise.

The cruise, hosted by the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce, is prepping for its 12th year as a citywide event Aug. 26-27. Free to attend, it brings thousands of car professionals and enthusiasts together on 28th Street in Wyoming to bask in the beauty of thousands of colorful hot rods, low riders, muscle cars, performance cars, classics, antiques, even motorcycles.

And according to a survey the city did on the event, it’s economically profitable for the area, said Bob O’Callaghan, president and CEO of the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce,

“About $3.3 million was spent on the 28th Street corridor that weekend three years ago. I’m assuming, like everything else, it’s gone up. We’re going to do another survey next year,” he said.

“It did shock me (that the number of dollars) was so high, and that’s awesome. But we have to look at the fact that there’s 15 miles of 28thStreet, and the corridor runs from Grandville to Cascade. That’s a lot of money, and that’s why the event was started: to bring awareness to 28thStreet.”

The survey, in which Grand Valley State University students interviewed about 1,000 people, also revealed that the event has grown from about 85,000 attendees in its first year to more than 250,000 on average in recent years, O’Callaghan said. Between 15,000 and 16,000 vehicles participate each year, he said.

O’Callaghan said about 90 percent of attendees come from within about a 25-minute drive, although some come from the east side of the state and even out of state.

Leading up to the event, a preliminary Pin Up Girl Contest and car show took place July 9 at the American Legion in Wyoming, attended by about 500 people. The final contest will be held 1-3 p.m. Aug. 27 at Rogers Plaza, 972 28th St. SW, Wyoming.

The area chamber started the Metro Cruise to help bring business to 28th Street after M-6 opened on the south end of Grand Rapids and the RiverTown Crossings Mall opened in Grandville.

But now, the city of Wyoming is on the rebound.

“I see it a lot like what Kentwood is experiencing right now. Kentwood has a lot of industrial. I see that in Wyoming,” O’Callaghan said. “If we get a couple of those things to fall (in place), I think in five years it’s going to be a great place to live and work. With things falling to our favor, Wyoming is right where it was before.”

Those couple of things O’Callaghan wants to see fall into place are the selling of the former Klingman’s Department Store space in Rogers Plaza and the development of the massive former General Motors facility at 300 36th St. SW, Wyoming.

“Klingman’s has a bid on it right now; they’re going through options right now. That should go another three, four months if it’s going to happen. If not, they have to start from square one,” he said. “The General Motors one might take longer. When that went down, that was a huge blow to the Wyoming area. The Classic Chevrolet dealer, Studio 28 and General Motors all closed within three months of each other in 2009.”

“The attitude then was ‘We’re doomed.’ The city of Wyoming has done a great job of keeping everybody’s attitude (lifted.) If those two things fall (in place) in Wyoming, it’ll be good for the tax base but also for interest in the area.”