Economic Development


Whether you’re a sole proprietor, 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 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. 

Our Current State of Economic Development 2018:

City of Grand Rapids Economic Development Current State

The City’s return on investment on projects using tax abatements over the past two years has been 74%.

Survey Results

 Project Projections

Business Benefits 

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



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

  • 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


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.  


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 use a 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. 


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
  • St. Mary'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. 

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 


View our interactive maps to learn about zones and districts.

There are a number of financing and incentive options to help you grow your business. Here's a list of incentives you could qualify for.

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 website.

Industrial and High Tech Tax Abatements

This gives incentives for businesses to invest in industrial or high tech projects.

Obsolete Property Tax Abatement

This gives an abatement on residential and 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)

These loans can be made for manufacturing projects, not-for-profit corporation projects and solid or hazardous waste disposal facilities. 

Tax Revenue Bonds
These bonds provide companies with potentially longer-term financing (10-20 years), at a fixed rate and 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.

  • To learn more, call or email us using the information in the Contact Us section of this page

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. 

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.

Check out our permits and applications below. Make sure to take a look at our application fee structure here

Urban Garden Permit

Want to plant an urban garden in the city? Apply online.

Temporary Occupancy Permit

Do you need to temporarily use City-owned property? Apply online.

These sites are eligible for Brownfield Redevelopment, Obsolete Property Rehabilitation, Neighborhood Enterprise Zones, Industrial Facilities Abatement, and Personal Property Abatement. Eligibility is determined based on site and proposed project. 

Walker View Industrial Development (230 acres)

Learn more


Grand Rapids Commerce Center

Learn more