Eric de Groot can be called many things, a humanitarian, visionary, even dreamer. Today, all of those attributes seem to fit as one of his dreams moves closer to coming true.
He has plans for a miniature educational theme park called Mini America that would be located at the new LakePoint Sporting Community & Town Center in Bartow County.
See below: de Groot is on the Sandy Springs Economic Advisory Committee helping to elevate the city’s profile internationally.
The LakePoint project has been dubbed the “biggest thing Bartow has ever seen.” The venue would host 17 sports through Perfect Game USA, North Atlanta Soccer Association and LB3 Lacrosse. LakePoint Development partners include Atlanta Braves former manager Bobby Cox and current manager Fredi González and Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost.
de Groot, 54, is a longtime Sandy Springs resident and native of Amsterdam, Holland. He is also a member of the Sandy Springs Economic Advisory Committee, and former president of the Riverwood International Charter School Foundation.
His Mini America was inspired by a miniature theme park in the Netherlands called Madurodam, a little walkable city of Holland history.
"If America didn't exist the world would be totally different," he said.
The Mini America concept was officially commended by the Georgia General Assembly, which called it a “park with a purpose.” A part of the Resolution said it features “famous United States tourist destinations, attractions, and landmarks all in miniature, where you can walk from New York City to Los Angeles or Atlanta to Seattle and see all of America in miniature at a scale of 1:24…”
“I had the idea 10 years ago and I have been working on it ever since,” de Groot said. “I’m trying to build an educational amusement park and the core is to help people; inspire, and motivate them about their own country, and know what resources and opportunities are available to them.”
In October, de Groot was guest speaker at a naturalization ceremony for more than 150 new citizens.
His work in international business appears to have fed into his dream. He is founder of the Holland America Chamber, a for-profit venture focused on economic development between Holland and the United States. For many years, he worked as a consultant for businesses importing products into the U.S., helping them navigate their new marketplace.
On the Sandy Springs Economic Advisory Committee, de Groot is working with members to elevate the city’s profile internationally. “UPS is a major global player, if there could be another UPS in Sandy Springs, that would be good. I’ve suggested to the Mayor [Eva Galambos] that we go on a trade mission.”
de Groot moved to the U.S. in 1982 and became a citizen in 2006. Last month, he was guest speaker at a naturalization ceremony for more than 150 new citizens at the United States Courthouse in downtown Atlanta. The shared commonality among people from everywhere from Brazil to India to Liberia was palpable and appeared to fit with de Groot’s desire to educate people on America.
“Everything I do has the human being in mind. That sounds corny but that is just how I am,” de Groot told Patch. “How can America be a great nation if people don’t know where the Declaration of Independence was signed or how many people signed it.”
Inspired by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani teenager and activist, who is recovering from gunshot wounds by the Taliban, de Groot told the new citizens that they have a responsibility to be conscious-minded. “Freedom of speech is not free…We do have a soul. We do care. Make your voice heard when there is injustice here in America and around the world," he said.
For more on LakePoint click on the attached video.