Equitable Economic Development & Mobility Strategic Plan

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Equitable Economic Development & Mobility Strategic Plan

The Equitable Economic Development & Mobility Strategic Plan (the Plan) serves as a guide for the departments of Economic Development and Mobile GR. It provides recommendations on policies, programs and investments. The strategies in the Plan focus on outcomes and operations over the next five years.

UPDATE: On August 11, 2020 the Economic Development Department gave an update on implementation of the Plan to the Economic Development Project Team. You can see the update here(PDF, 655KB).

The purpose of the Plan is to

  • Identify and rank public investment related to economic development and mobility
  • Increase access to opportunity with an emphasis on the Neighborhoods of Focus
  • Guide greater efforts in transparency, communications and investments

Focus areas for the Plan are

  • Business development
  • Real estate development
  • Neighborhood business districts
  • Transportation demand management
  • Vision Zero
  • Parking

In recent years, Grand Rapids has experienced a significant increase in economic growth. The impacts of this growth have been disproportionate across geographies of the city. We plan to sustain economic growth and ensure low income, high unemployment areas profit from it. The Plan will be used to increase access to opportunities for residents of Grand Rapids.

Stakeholder Meetings

In May and July 2019,  the consultants met with individual stakeholders to get an in-depth perspective of current efforts. Stakeholders included:

  • Internal City Team
  • Mobility Team
  • West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses
  • West Michigan Asian American Association
  • Economic Development team
  • Community Development
  • Mobile GR Commission
  • Corridor Improvement Authorities
  • Traffic Safety Team
  • City Manager
  • The Rapid
  • Engagement Sub-Committee

Focus Groups

In September, Economic Development and Mobile GR hosted 20 focus groups. We invited over 250 people to take part and 150 people participated in the meetings. The topics covered during these focus groups were:

  • Construction Trades
  • Small Business Development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Institutions/Access to Capital
  • Mobility
  • Parking
  • Business Environment
  • Real Estate Development
  • Workforce Development
  • Neighborhood Development
  • Economic Development Ecosystem

Previous Economic Development and Mobility Engagement

We leveraged past community engagement efforts to help guide the Plan priorities. We used and built upon recommendations from the following plans:

Master Plan

City Strategic Plan

Area Specific Plans within the last five years, with a focus on:

  • South Division ASP
  • Southtown BASP
  • Grandville Avenue ASP

GR Forward (incl. GR Parking & Mobility Study)

Corridor Improvement Authority Tax Increment Finance & Development plans

FY19 & FY20 Fiscal Plans 

Vital Streets Plan

Great Housing Strategies Plan

Fall 2018 – Forming the Steering Committee and Request for Proposal

We formed the Steering Committee with members representing community and stakeholders in economic development, mobility and equity. We released the request for proposal (RFP) for the Plan.

Winter 2019 – Consultant Interviews and Selection

Staff and committee members reviewed proposals and interviewed consultants. Together, we selected:

Spring 2019 – Data Analysis and Stakeholder Interviews

The consultants spent the spring gathering data and performing stakeholder interviews. This helps them understand our current state. During committee meetings, members reviewed strategies and ranked priorities.

Summer 2019 – Existing Conditions Reports and SCOAR Analysis

Using the data and stakeholder engagement responses, the consultants created:

Fall 2019 – Focus Groups and Draft Plan Review

Consultants facilitated 20 focus group meetings for feedback on the Plan’s draft strategies and objectives. The Steering Committee reviewed the draft plan.

Winter 2020 – Plan Adoption Process

Staff presented the plan for discussion and consideration of adoption to the Mobile GR Commission and City Commission. 

We formed the Steering Committee before seeking consultants. This allowed the committee to make recommendations on what we should consider. Members represent community and stakeholders in economic development, mobility and equity. They reviewed consultants who responded to the request for proposal (RFP).

The Plan Kick Off Presentation(PDF, 4MB)

Roles of the Steering Committee

During the planning process, the roles of the Steering Committee were:

  • Attend monthly Steering Committee meetings and working stations
  • Ensure an equity lens
  • Review and make recommendations on the consultants
  • Provide general feedback regarding the planning process and its scope
  • Provide guidance regarding effective engagement of business owners, residents and other stakeholders in the process
  • Provide guidance to the consultants regarding the scope of work for the project
  • Review and recommend approval or modifications to mid-point and final work product of the Plan
  • Cultivate and inspire widespread participation and support of the project
  • Advocate for the process and plan

The Steering Committee will be kept up-to-date on our progress as we implement the plan.


Co-chairs are Beca Velazquez Vazquez, Aaron Jonker, and Carlos Sanchez.

  • Max Benedict, Third Coast Developments/Michigan Street Corridor Improvement District
  • Dave Bulkowski, Disability Advocates of Kent County
  • Julio Cano, Spectrum Health
  • Guillermo Cisneros, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Kathrine Czarnecki, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • Jennifer Feuerstein, AARP
  • Eric Foster, Banks & Company/ Cannabis Practice Group
  • Lisa Freiburger, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Kristian Grant, Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Directors
  • Nadeem Hamid, West Michigan Asian American Association
  • AJ Hills, City of Grand Rapids
  • Andrew Johnson, The Rapid
  • Aaron Jonker, Wolverine Building Group
  • Synia Jordan, Grandville/South Division Corridor Improvement District
  • Tim Kelly, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
  • Birgit Klohs, The Right Place
  • Kyama Kitavi, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
  • Paul Lee, Uptown Corridor Improvement District
  • Josh Lunger, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Mobile GR Commission
  • Joe Marogil, Green Cane Properties
  • Brad Mathis, Rockford Construction
  • Fungai Mboko, Notions Marketing
  • Ken Miguel-Cipriano, City of Grand Rapids
  • Amanda Moore, City of Grand Rapids
  • Javier Olvera, Supermercado Mexico
  • Rachel Posthumus, North Quarter Corridor Improvement District
  • Kelsey Purdue, Grand Circus
  • Wende Randall, Kent County Essential Needs Taskforce
  • Jamiel Robinson, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses
  • Andrea Ryswick, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Carlos Sanchez, Ferris State University
  • Hanna Schulze, Local First of West Michigan
  • Andrew Sims, Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council
  • Brian Smits, FTC&H
  • Beca Velazquez-Publes, Urban Core Collective
  • Dante Villarreal, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
  • James White, Cinnaire
  • Daniel Williams, West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology
  • Milinda Ysasi, The Source