Normally when you speak with college students about their hometowns, the last thing they say about it is that “it is magical.” Typically the plans for a soon-to-be graduate consist of hopping in the car to the big city just named “Hottest Town for Singles,” or “Top 10 Cities to Find a Job,” sometimes without a job lined up.

Not so for Monty Krukowski, a 2013 Central Michigan University grad and West Michigan native. “I’ve been to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles,” said Monty. “It’s not the same. Grand Rapids is just like a big city, but with a small town feel. The whole time I was in school I knew I wanted to be here.”

When Monty started as a freshman at CMU and told classmates he was from Grand Rapids, their reaction was usually ho hum. “Now people come and visit me. Some of my old classmates were here for ArtPrize and loved it.”

Everyone knows Grand Rapids was rated one of the “Best Places to Raise a Family” by Forbes, and just recently named a top retirement destination by AARP. But Monty believes the area has a lot to offer the pre-30s crowd. “It is great here for a young person—ArtPrize, the Downtown Market, so many bars. The craft beer has gotten really big and development is crazy too,” said Monty.

Although Monty knew he wanted to return to Grand Rapids after college, for a little while he wasn’t sure if it was going to work out. “I spent the whole summer looking for jobs and feeling a little lost to tell you the truth,” said Monty. A Geology and Environmental Science major, Monty wanted to work in the energy field, but wasn’t interested in working for any of the refineries in Michigan; or “selling out to oil,” as the geology student put it.

After hearing about Hello West Michigan from a family friend, Monty had his resume sent out to hundreds of recruiters in West Michigan. “I got a call the next day from Amway. That was a great feeling,” said Monty. Now working as a technician in a chemistry lab, Monty says he enjoys working on a team and learning about the West Michigan business environment. “Amway is a great company and so involved in the community. It is a perfect starting point for me.” Eventually he would like to attend law school at the University of Michigan and work in environmental policy.

Above all, Monty’s MiReason for choosing to stay in West Michigan is the community attitude of its citizens. “I’ve lived in Kentwood, Greenville, and Jenison. Everywhere I’ve lived, they stick up for the community,” said Monty. “When I met kids from other schools, it wasn’t like that. Everything we have, it really is magical here.”

Monty’s Favorites:
West Michigan Spot: Oval Beach in Saugatuck
Restaurant: XO Sushi
Weekend Activity: Going downtown.
Road Trip: anywhere up north
Festival/Event: ArtPrize