Economic Development

Overview 

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or CEO of a corporation, Grand Rapids is a great place to do business. We'll help you grow your business by working alongside with you to get what you need. 

We help to improve the City's business environment. This helps to create employment opportunities and encourage sustainable business development. We also work to ensure economic prosperity.

We've assisted 568 projects over the past 15 years. Explore the project reports below. 

The City’s Economic Development Department administers many programs and initiatives. These are all described int the sections below. We track and report on the outcomes of these programs and initiatives each year. You can see the most recent results below, and can click on the links for reports from previous years.

Our report from 2017 shows that the City is getting a 74% return on investment from its investment in Economic Development programs. That means that for every $1 the City invests, it receives $1.74 in financial benefit.

Survey Results

 Project Projections

Since 2003, we’ve supported 568 projects which have resulted in $3.5 billion of private investment. This resulted in nearly 20,000 new jobs. These projects are estimated to generate more than $13 million of taxes for the City each year.

Investment and Job Creation

Business Benefits 

Grand Rapids is set for an explosion of growth. The City features:
  • Industrial parks
  • Technology centers
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Public transportation
  • Arts, Culture and Entertainment venues 
These, and so much more, make Grand Rapids a great place to work and play.


Utilities 
Here's an overview of the utilities the City has to offer: 

  • Fresh Water supplies from Lake Michigan
  • High-speed telecommunications services 

  • Natural gas services from Detroit-based company, DTE Energy

  • Electricity services from Michigan's largest utility, Consumers Energy  

  • Green Power is now available to Michigan businesses and residents through Consumers Energy's Renewable Energy Programs

Transportation 
By Bus

The Rapid bus system provides bus routes all over the city, parking lot shuttles, and dial-a-ride services. The Silverline system offers free transportation to eight downtown locations.

By Car 

Major highways connect Grand Rapids to cities like Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis and Cleveland. 

By Plane 

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport includes eight airlines, 120 daily commercial flights between domestic and international markets, and daily non-stop travel to 15 U.S. airports. 

By Bus 

The Rapid bus system provides bus routes all over the city, parking lot shuttles, and dial-a-ride services. The Silverline system offers free transportation to eight downtown locations.  

By Train 

The Amtrak passenger service links Grand Rapids with several major cities, including Chicago. Commercial lines by CSX, Grand Rapids Eastern Railroad, Norfolk Southern, Mid-Michigan offer freight transportation.  

Location 
Grand Rapids is located in southwest Michigan in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. The City is less than 30 minutes from Lake Michigan and less than three hours from Detroit and Chicago. 

Our Government 
We operate under Commission-Manager form of government. This includes six elected Commissioners who serve four-year terms and appoint the Manager. A Mayor is also elected every four years. Learn more about our government here. 

Police and Fire 
Grand Rapids has over 500 full-time police and fire employees.  

Water and Wastewater 
Grand Rapids' fresh water supply comes from Lake Michigan. The city's Wastewater Treatment system commits to energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. View the brochure to learn more. 

Hospitals 
Eight local hospitals make Grand Rapids is the center for medical services in West Michigan:

  • Spectrum Health
  • Helen DeVos Children's Hospital
  • Metropolitan Hospital
  • Mary Free Bed Hospital and Rehabilitation Services
  • Kent Community Hospital
  • Mercy's Hospital
  • Forest View Hospital
  • Pine Rest Mental Health Services

Higher Education 
Grand Rapids is home to over 12 public and private colleges and universities.

Some of these include:

  • Calvin College
  • Cornerstone University
  • Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Grand Rapids Community College
  • Grand Valley State University

Culture and Entertainment 
Grand Rapids offers a wide range of cultural and entertainment activities including the Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Gerald R. Ford Museum, and more. 

The City is supportive of private investment in Grand Rapids. We have several programs that can support your investment in real estate. These programs provide property tax benefits for investment in vacant, underutilized, contaminated or obsolete property.

Brownfield Redevelopment Program
The City has a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA). BRA works with private companies to redevelop contaminated or obsolete properties. Since 1998, more than 135 projects have been supported by the BRA. We use tax increment financing to help pay for the costs of redevelopment. We also work with state and federal partners. These partners include the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Through these organizations, we receive grant dollars to support important community projects.

Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA)
OPRA gives an abatement on commercial properties qualified as obsolete. The project costs are estimated to be at least $30 per square foot. A project can receive up to 12 years of reduced taxes if approved by the City Commission.

Neighborhood Enterprise Zone (NEZ)

NEZs allow communities to offer property tax exemptions on housing development and rehab. If a property owner wants to invest in their property, and that property is in a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone, they can apply for an NEZ tax exemption. A project can receive up to 15 years of reduced taxes if approved by the City Commission. There are five (5) NEZ districts in the City.

  • North Baxter
  • Belknap Lookout
  • Turner Gateway
  • Heritage Square
  • Wealthy Heughts
A rental apartment project can also qualify for an NEZ exemption under the following conditions:
  • Retail on the ground floor
  • At least five rental apartments
  • Located in an area that is zoned and primarily used for business
If approved by the City Commission, a rental apartment project can also qualify for up to 15 years of reduced taxes.

 
Other Resources
Here are other organizations and programs that can be used to help with a real estate development project.

The SBA 504 loan puts financing within reach for small businesses. They offer low down payments and long-term, low, fixed interest rates. It also reduces the risk to lenders through a shared financing structure.

Historic Preservation Tax Credits
The National Parks Service offers 10% and 20% tax credits on historic building rehab projects.

The SmartZoneSM

We have a SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (aka the "SmartZone LDFA"). The SmartZone LDFA provides support to high-tech entrepreneurs and businesses. Click here to learn more about the SmartZone LDFA's programs and initiatives.

The City has created 5 Corridor Improvement Districts CIDs and 1 BID.  You can learn more about them by visiting their pages below:

 

View our interactive maps to learn about zones the programs and initiatives we work on.  Each map has information about the different projects that have been completed in a specific program.  You can click on a property to learn more about each project.

The City of Grand Rapids is open for business.  Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to start a business, a small business looking to grow, or a company considering Grand Rapids for an expansion or as your new home, we are here to help.

There are a number of financing and incentive options to help you grow your business. Here's a list of programs that the City offers to qualifying businesses located in Grand Rapids.

Industrial and High Tech Tax Abatements- PA 198 of 1974

This program provides tax incentives for businesses to invest in buildings and equipment. The program is for industrial/ manufacturing companies and high-technology companies.

Obsolete Property Tax Abatement- PA 146 of 200
This program provides tax incentives for investment in commercial properties qualified as obsolete.

Personal Property Tax Abatement
We can abate all new personal property taxes on new businesses that create at least 25 jobs for up to 12 years. The City Commission determines abatement duration.

Tax-Exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds (IDRBs) PA 62 of 1963
These loans can be made for manufacturing projects, not-for-profit corporation projects and solid or hazardous waste disposal facilities. 

Taxable Revenue Bonds
These bonds provide companies with potentially longer-term financing (10-20 years), at a fixed rate and may be at a lower cost than conventional financing. They can be used as working capital, to finance projects of more than $10 million, or to finance commercial, pollution control, agricultural, and recreational projects.

Processes Flow Charts 

The following flow charts were created to help give you a glimpse of how each each exemption/ abatement process works. Use the information in the "Contact Us" section of this page if you have any questions regarding these processes.

To learn more about any of these programs, or to see how you can apply, visit our Economic Development Corporations page.

Here's a list of other programs that are offered by partners. These may be helpful if you're interested in Economic Development in the City of Grand Rapids.

Small Business Association (SBA) 504 Loans
The SBA 504 loan puts financing within reach for small businesses through low down payments and long-term, low, fixed interest rates. It also reduces the risk to lenders through a shared financing structure. 

Historic Preservation Tax Credits
The National Parks Service offers 10 % and 20% tax credits on historic building rehab projects. To see if your project qualifies, visit the National Parks Service

Downtown Development Authority 
The Downtown Development Authority helps eliminates causes for deterioration in Downtown's buildings.


The Right Place, Inc.
The Right Place provide business growth assistance to local and international companies.


West Michigan Works!
West Michigan Works! works in partnership with employers, educators, economic developers and community organizations. They work to create a qualified workforce that meets our region's current and future talent needs.


Michigan Economic Development Corporation
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation offers business assistance services and capital programs for business attraction and acceleration.

Development at these sites may be eligible for financing and/or abatements. Eligibility will be determined based on the selected site and proposed project.

Walker View Industrial Development (230 acres)

Walker View.jpg

Learn more

Grand Rapids Commerce Center

Grand Rapids Commerce Center.jpg

Learn more

Neighborhood Enterprise Zones (NEZs)

NEZs allow communities to offer property tax exemptions on housing development and rehab. We have 5 NEZs in Grand Rapids:

  • North Baxter
  • Belknap Lookout
  • Turner Gateway
  • Heritage Square
  • Wealthy Heights

Click here to view them in an interactive map (NEZs are highlighted in yellow).

Want to learn more about the Neighborhood Enterprise Zones application process? 

About NEZ Tax Exemption Application Process

Are you a Neighborhood Association or developer interested in establishing an NEZ?

Apply online for an NEZ Certificate 

 

A Corridor Improvement Authority allows the use of tax increment financing to make capital improvements within an established commercial district. It allows communities that already have Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) to extend similar benefits to aging commercial corridors outside the DDA district or that extend through more than one municipality.

A CID is designed to assist economic development and redevelopment in established commercial districts. It allows communities to combine tax dollars from a variety of sources to leverage economic development dollars. For more information read the CID Fact Sheet published by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 

Michigan Street Corridor Improvement Authority

Here's a quick look at the Michigan Street Corridor Improvement District Authority:

  • Prepares economic growth analyses for Michigan Street
  • Studies impact of metropolitan growth
  • Proposes construction, renovation, repair plans for the Corridor

About Michigan Street Corridor Improvement District Authority

Board Rules(PDF, 3MB)

TIF Development Plan(PDF, 2MB)

Michigan Street Corridor Improvement Map(PDF, 625KB)

(PDF, 625KB)North Quarter Corridor Improvement District Authority

Here's a quick look at the North Quarter Corridor Improvement District:

  • Propose developmental plans for the economic growth of the North Quarter
  • Study the impact of metropolitan growth in the area

 About North Quarter Corridor Improvement District

Board Rules(PDF, 506KB)

TIF Development Plan(PDF, 3MB)

North Quarter Corridor Improvement District Map(PDF, 718KB)

Website

Southtown Corridor Improvement District Authority

Here's a quick look at the Southtown Corridor Improvement District Authority:

  • Prepare an analysis of economic changes
  • Propose plans for economic growth for Southtown Corridor
  • Study the impact of metropolitan growth

About Southtown Corridor Improvement District Authority

Board Rules(PDF, 323KB)

TIF Development Plan(PDF, 3MB)

Southtown Corridor Improvement District Map(JPG, 172KB)

Westside Corridor Improvement District Authority

Here's a quick look Westside Improvement District Authority:

  • Proposes development plan for the economic growth of the WestSide Corridor
  • Studies the impact of metropolitan growth in the area

About Westside Improvement District Authority

Board Rules(PDF, 533KB)

TIF Development Plan(PDF, 1MB)

Website

Uptown Corridor Improvement District Authority

Here's a look at the Uptown Corridor Improvement District Authority:

  • Propose plans to the City for marketing and developing the Uptown Business District
  • Expand services in this district, including streetscape maintenance, marketing, branding, and event promotions

About Uptown Corridor Improvement District Authority

Board Rules(PDF, 302KB)

TIF Development Plan(PDF, 3MB)

Uptown Map(PDF, 310KB)

Website

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a special assessment district which operates under the authority of a board of stakeholders appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Commission. 

The purpose of a BID is to promote and encourage community and economic vitality and growth of a neighborhood business district through marketing, development and the provision of enhanced services to the district.  The City currently has one Business Improvement District.

Uptown Business Improvement Districts

Here's a look at the Uptown Business Improvement District Authority:

  • Propose plans to the City for marketing and developing the Uptown Business District
  • Expand services in the district, including streetscape maintenance, marketing, branding, and event promotions

About Uptown Business Improvement District Authority

Board Rules(PDF, 302KB)

Marketing and Development Plan(PDF, 5MB)

Website