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Rapid Growth

Grand Rapids, located in the western section of Michigan, is doing better than cities in the eastern part of the state. The second largest city in the state, Grand Rapids' economy had been fueled by the automobile and office furniture industries. In recent years it has shifted to a service-oriented economy. The Greater Grand Rapids area includes seven counties that encompass a population of 1.3 million.

It is also emerging as a health-care and biotechnology center, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. In 2008, Michigan State University's Medical School will move to Grand Rapids from East Lansing, Mich., adding hundreds of new residents to the area.

The regions' hospital system, Spectrum Health, is undergoing a more than $100 million expansion that includes the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. The 14-story facility will include west Michigan's first dedicated pediatric emergency department, radiology and pediatric operating rooms.

The Van Andel Research Institute, a world-class medical facility, specializing in molecular oncology, is headquartered in Grand Rapids. The presence of the institute, along with several pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Welch Laboratories, and Zeeland Chemicals ranks Grand Rapids among the Top 10 biopharmaceuticals centers in the nation.

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