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$30 million donation from Greg Williams for amphitheater
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$30 million donation from Greg Williams for amphitheater

Greg Williams founded Grand Rapids-based insurance brokerage and fintech Acrisure LLC has secured the naming rights to a riverfront amphitheater with a $30 million donation in support of the $184 million project.

The years-in-the-making riverfront venue, to be known as Acrisure Amphitheater, will be a 12,000-seat outdoor concert and event venue at 201 Market Ave. SW downtown.

Co-chairs of the fundraising and development leader on the project, Grand Action 2.0, announced the name of the future venue at a press conference this morning at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, alongside community leaders.

Greg Williams’ Acrisure’s $30 million donation to the $184 million project, along with other commitments, puts the project’s fundraising campaign past the halfway mark of its $70 million goal for private donations. Acrisure will secure the naming rights in perpetuity.

“As you look at the things the community has in terms of momentum and the projects and collaborative spirit in terms of economic development, this is an unusual place,” Acrisure Chairman and CEO Greg Williams stated.

“The economic development and tenacity and collaborative spirit that exists in this community is unique and different and special. From that standpoint, we wanted to take a lead and make a statement. Given our size and scale of the company, we’ve got a responsibility to give back.”

Grand Action 2.0 also aims to secure $114 million in public dollars to complete the project, which the group plans to do with the help of the state’s Transformational Brownfield Program.

Michigan’s Transformational Brownfield Plan program was amended in July to expand the tool in several ways, including making the funding more available to entertainment, housing and hospitality projects.

Grand Action 2.0 expects to submit its application for transformational brownfield credits within the next 90 days, said Grand Action 2.0 Executive Director Kara Wood.

“Today is a great day to celebrate our lead donor for this project and build the momentum to continue the fundraising effort that’s needed to complete the project,” Wood said.

Progressive AE is the amphitheater architect, and plans to have schematic designs for the venue finalized by the end of this month. Pioneer Construction and Barton Malow are leading construction of Acrisure Amphitheater, which is expected to break ground in 2024, and is slated for completion in 2026.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) would eventually take over ownership and operations for the new venue, and hopes to hold the first concert at Acrisure Amphitheater in May 2026. The CAA plans to host more than 54 ticketed performances in addition to community celebrations and events to attract 300,000 visitors to the venue each season.

“My hope is that all of that land is redeveloped, and I think the amphitheater acts as a catalyst for additional provide redevelopment along Market Ave.,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “To me, today is really exciting and solidifies the fact that this amphitheater is going to happen. This project has been talked about for years and years and what I’ve heard from so many people are questions on if it’s ever going to happen. Today we’re saying absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, the amphitheater is going to happen.”

The CAA has a $24.3 million option agreement with the city to purchase the amphitheater site, and both parties have agreed to allow construction work to start on the site before the property deed is officially transferred. The city is in the process of relocating several existing city functions on the site to an interim location by May 2024. City operations are expected to be fully off the property in November 2024.

“Employees take real pride in these kinds of projects,” Williams said. “Given that it’s our home, employees spreading the good will and good word helps keep them and attract others going forward, those two things go hand in hand.”

Acrisure is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing insurance brokerages, and solidified its presence in Grand Rapids when the company opened its new $33 million headquarters at 100 Ottawa Ave. SW in Studio Park in August 2021. The company employs 1,100 people in West Michigan, with the majority working from the Studio Park office.

The amphitheater is Acrisure’s latest naming rights deal for prominent event and sports venues. Acrisure’s name is on several stadiums and arenas across the country, following the company’s first naming rights deal it signed in January 2022, a 10-year deal to secure the name “Acrisure Arena” for a new sports and entertainment venue in Palm Springs, Calif. Another deal includes the naming rights for the former Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, which was secured last year under a 15-year contract that local media reported at the time was worth $150 million. The national brand awareness is part of the company’s aggressive M&A strategy.

Greg Williams is the Chairman & CEO of Acrisure, which he co-founded in 2005. With a compounded annual growth rate of 63% since 2013, the Company is approaching $4 billion in revenue and has averaged more than 100 M&A transactions per year since 2017. Already the 6th largest insurance broker in the world, and largest independent Real Estate Services Company in America, Acrisure is now on a path to become a global Fintech company.

Other significant Acrisure achievements under Greg’s leadership include a 2016 Management Buyout of the Company’s Private Equity investor in a $2.9 billion transaction, the $400 million transaction to purchase Artificial Intelligence pioneer Tulco, LLC’s insurance practice and the 2021 capital raise of $3.5 billion and a recent capital raise of $725 million valuing the Company at $23 billion.

Beyond the core business operations of the Company, Greg has extended Acrisure’s success into distinct social impact.

In 2020, Acrisure pledged $15 million to establish the Center for Innovation in Children’s Health at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, home to Acrisure’s global headquarters.

And, more recently, Greg spearheaded the creation of Evolution Advisors, a joint venture between Acrisure, NFL Quarterback and Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson and his wife, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, Ciara and NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook. This joint venture is focused on the insurance and financial service needs of minorities and diverse communities.

Prior to founding Acrisure, Greg was an investor and Board Advisor to a variety of companies and was a Vice President for Michigan National Corporation (MNC), a $19 billion bank holding company. As a senior executive at MNC, Greg managed the Commercial Sales and Services Group, was a member of the Corporate Marketing Committee and chaired the Corporate Operations Committee.

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