WELCOME TO SPARTA
Paralleling West Michigan's Fruit Ridge, the Sparta Area boasts an atmosphere of tranquility and small town charm. Conveniently located 20 minutes north of Grand Rapids, Sparta offers a diverse labor market,, employment opportunities, quality schools and abundant housing potential. Perhaps, most notably, are the apple trees covering thousands of acres of rolling farmland all dedicated to the third largest apple industry in the country. Surrounding Sparta is some of the most scenic and peaceful countryside in Kent County. We are proud to welcome you to Sparta, a great place to grow and itself, an ever changing and growing community!!
THE FRUIT RIDGE
The Ridge, a Great Place to Grow Apples!
The Apple on Sparta's water tower reminds natives and informs tourists that Sparta is indeed Michigan's Apple Town. Averaging 800 feet above sea level and enjoying 163 frost free days with 28 inches of rain the Ridge is an environment unique for fruit production. In addition, the Ridge has the largest concentration of farm fruit storage in the world. The first air cooled, the first refrigerated and the first Controlled Atmosphere storage are all located within five miles of Sparta. Total storage consists of 4400 rooms with a capacity of 12,000,000 bushels. It has been estimated the farm gate value of the Ridge production to be between 13 and 18 million dollars contributing 30-40 million in related community activity. The mother tree of the Paula Red variety, a fall apple planted in all areas of the world, stands proudly on a Sparta township farm. There is no better place to view the natural beauty of Michigan's State Flower, the Apple Blossom, than along the roads around Sparta during the spring days in May.
BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
Located in the heart of Western Michigan, Sparta is centered in an area rich in the diversity of its manufacturing and distribution. Within 30 miles of Sparta are the world's leading office furniture manufacturers. The leading industrial market in Western Michigan continues to be automotive. Many of the components and supplies supporting the auto industry come from this side of the state.
Other well-known major employers within a 30 mile radius of Sparta include:
- Amway Corporation
- Bissell Corporation
- Brunswick Corporation
- General Motors
- Herman Miller
- Teledyne Corp.
- Wolverine World Wide
The diversity of Sparta's own manufacturers too, is extensive. The companies are mostly small, employing 3-150, while collectively employing over 1,000 people. These companies are:
- AE Goetze - one of the world's leading piston ring manufacturers
- AppliDyne - Eng & manufacturing of automated assembly equipment
- Continental ID - Screen printer of decals and posters
- General Formulation - Adhesive coating and lamination of films
- Handy Wacks - Deli sheets food wrap wax paper
- Harvest Corp. - Cabinet door manufacturers
- Markson Tool - Metal stamping
- Pak Sak - Plastic bag extruders, printers, and converters
- Cascade Die Casting - Aluminum injection molder
- Ridgeview Stamping - Metal stamping
- Sparta Foundry - Speciality sand castings iron foundry
- Spartan Distributors - Toro distribution for MI/Turf and Irrigation equipment
- Spartan Graphics - Process print bulletins, presentation folders, etc.
- Spec Tool - Precision tools
- Tech Lab Clothes - Speciality protective clothing
- Tesa Tape, Inc. - Adhesive tape manufacturer
Manufacturers located in Sparta have the advantage of tapping into a workforce known for its strong work ethic. And our proximity to the major metropolitan area of Grand Rapids means that employers and employees have numerous options as to where they live and work. Sparta's retail offerings run the gamut - from banks to beauty salons, taxidermists, to tire dealers. We're a full service community with over 350 businesses and an active Chamber of Commerce. We're a community where retailers work together-decorating the downtown at Christmas, promoting our summer "Town & Country" festival, where shopping and service is done on a first-name basis. Business and Industry. Small town advantages. Big town access. Sparta offers both to all who embrace the community.
Sparta's schools offer the best of both worlds. Reflecting the values of the community, Sparta schools provide students with a safe and orderly environment where the emphasis is on mastering the basics. Complimenting the clearly defined expectations for students in reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies is the latest in technology. Computer laboratories offer students real-world technology experiences. A technology committee oversees the delivery of software that compliments the curriculum, instructing staff and students alike in the finer points of the computer arts.
Sparta's teachers pride themselves on meeting the individual student's needs. The district is an organization that recognizes that each student can flourish in a setting where caring adults set high expectations and take time for the individual student. Complimenting the school staff is the noteworthy commitment of the school volunteer community. Parents are present in Sparta Schools - as classroom helpers, hosts to student who are job shadowing, as chaperones, and as sports, academic and music boosters.
The Sparta School System is a great place for a kid to be a kid. Without much of the peer pressure facing students in more urban schools, Sparta's students can focus on the job of learning, and on developing their potential. In addition, we are a district big enough to offer a variety of course work or curricular options but small enough to provide abundant opportunity for students to participate in music, athletics, and drama. Offering a quality educational experience and a smorgasbord of extracurricular opportunities, Sparta Schools truly do offer students and parents the best of both worlds.
White Early Childhood Center (Tuition Pre-School)
1655 12 Mile Rd, Sparta
Ridgeview Elementary (K-2)
560 W. Spartan Dr., Sparta
Appleview Elementary (3-5)
240 E. Spartan Drive, Sparta
Sparta Middle School (6-8)
235 E. Spartan Dr., Sparta
Sparta High School (9-12)
475 W. Spartan Dr., Sparta
Adult Education Office at Sparta High School
475 W. Spartan Dr., Sparta
Special Education Office at Appleview
240 E. Spartan Drive, Sparta
465 S. Union St., Sparta
District Mission Statement
Cultivating a dynamic, compassionate community that empowers all learners to lead successful lives.
District Vision Statement
Creating valuatble relationships and innovative learning experiences within our schools and community that empowers all learners to thrive and excel.
The first settlers arrived in the Sparta area in 1844. The Township of Sparta was formally organized in 1846, the year we have honored as our birth date in centennial, quasquicentennial and sesquicentennial celebrations.
Jonathan Nash came to the area in 1846 and was the first settler in what was to become the Village of Sparta. He first called the settlement Nashville, and built a sawmill on Lick Creek, whose name was changed to Nash Creek. As there already was a Nashville in Michigan, the state legislature suggested the name Sparta. Mr. Nash was the first postmaster and the first village president. He had the village platted in 1867. Sparta was finally incorporated as a village in 1883.
The first railroad to reach Sparta was the north-south Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore Railroad in 1872. Farmers brought cattle and hogs to stockyards along this track to be shipped to Chicago slaughterhouses. The first east-west railroad, the Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon, came through in 1888. Its station is now our Railroad Museum, the only Sparta structure on the State Register of Historical Sites. The railroads contributed a great deal to the progress and prosperity of the Village of Sparta and to Sparta Township.
The fertile land in the area attracted more and more settlers, most of whom were farmers. In 1873 the principle products were wheat, corn and other grains, potatoes, hay, wool and maple sugar, with fruit and vegetables playing a minor role in area farming. Dairy farming became, and still is, a major agricultural activity in the area.
By the turn of the last century, many German and Swedish immigrants were farming in the area. They turned to growing fruit, mainly apples and peaches. In the early part of the century, fruit was hauled by horse and wagon to Grand Rapids markets. Eventually, apple storage facilities were built and technological improvements such as Controlled Atmosphere storages were made. Now there are several important packing houses and other fruit related businesses in the area. Much of Sparta's present identity is centered on the apple.
Sparta's first major industry was the Welch Folding Bed Company, begun in 1884. One long-lasting industry, and in many ways the most important industry in Sparta's history, is the Sparta (piston ring) foundry. Begun in 1921, the foundry remains the industrial backbone of the Sparta area.
The Handy Wacks (wax paper) Company came to Sparta in 1936, and is still a major industry in the community. Post WWII companies include Spartan Graphics, Spartan Distributors, General Formulations, Continental Identification Products, Pak Sak, and more recently, Hart Industries. These and other companies sustain and nourish Sparta's prosperity and growth.
In addition to local employers, many area residents commuting to the Grand Rapids area contribute to the local economy and to the quality of life in this community. The population of the Village of Sparta is now approaching 4000, and of Sparta Township, about 8,000.
Today, of course, along with the agricultural and industrial base, the Sparta community has developed excellent services in banking, merchandising, insurance, construction and publishing, in pharmacies, hardware, groceries and restaurants, in parks and in its own airport. Excellent schools, a variety of churches, and several service organizations and museums are important parts of our community. Offering easy access to a major metropolitan area and the finer aspects of small town life, Sparta truly is a great place to grow.