by John R. Cassleman III
Cassleman’s logbook for 1937 reflects the beginnings of the positive long-term impact on the region that the GM plant no doubt inspired. In 1937, employment in Grand Rapids proper increased by 11% over 1936 despite a very recessive 4th quarter that year. He also reported that during that year 27 new industrial buildings and expansions totaling 350,000 sq. feet were constructed. Thirteen existing buildings were occupied by new industries and others relocated to larger facilities to handle increased production demands.
The Depression’s grip on this area seemed to finally loosen a bit that year for the first time since 1930. It would slacken even further in 1938. When Cassleman celebrated his 25th anniversary with the Chamber of Commerce in 1954 he was credited with “inducing” 100 new businesses to relocate to Grand Rapids during his career. He remained active with the Chamber until he was 79 and at age 83 was a member of an urban renewal subcommittee tasked with establishing an industrial park along Front Street.