City Commission adopts four-year strategic plan

Published on April 09, 2019

Grand Rapids' Strategic Plan Framework image

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City Commission this morning voted unanimously to adopt a four-year strategic plan for the City of Grand Rapids. The strategic plan – a first for the City – covers Fiscal Years 2020 to 2023 and includes the organization’s values, vision and mission. The approval, which came during the Commission’s Committee of the Whole meeting, is expected to be finalized at today’s 7 p.m. meeting.

The strategic plan outlines outcomes, objectives, strategies and metrics in six priority areas: governmental excellence, economic prosperity and affordability, engaged and connected community, health and environment, mobility and safe community. The plan also includes an equity statement that affirms the City’s commitment to embed equity into all of its decisions, policies and procedures.

“It’s exciting to have a plan that brings together the needs of our community with City operations,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “This is an important tool to advance equitable opportunities for everyone in our community.”

Each strategic priority has several objectives. They include:

  • Governmental excellence – Embed equity throughout government operations
  • Economic Prosperity and Affordability – Support a resilient business environment by optimizing processes and regulations for property development and business-related permitting and approval processes and regulations
  • Engaged and connected community – Enhance communication with the public
  • Health and environment – Reduce carbon emissions and increase climate resiliency
  • Mobility – Create an accessible multi-modal transportation experience and reduce single-occupant vehicle travel
  • Safe community – Develop knowledge and skills across City departments to better prepare for emergencies with a particular focus on our ability to deliver safety services to vulnerable and historically marginalized populations

City Manager Mark Washington is using the strategic plan to prioritize budget and funding decisions in the FY2020 Preliminary Fiscal Plan. The City’s fiscal year begins July 1.

In the new plan, the City’s values are:

  • Accountability – Always acting with integrity and transparency and being responsible for what we do and say
  • Collaboration – Working together in partnership with others; teamwork
  • Customer Service – Professionally serving those who live in, work in or visit the city. Providing respectful, excellent, high-quality service and assistance before, during and after the person’s interactions with the City.
  • Equity – Leveraging City influence to intentionally remove and prevent barriers created by systemic and institutional injustice
  • Innovation – Challenging how things have been done before. Fulfilling community needs by offering new ways to serve our customers and enhance operations. Being nimble, self-aware and open to feedback.
  • Sustainability – The ability to be maintained; making decisions with an understanding of how those decisions will impact the environment, people and communities, and finances both today and in the future.


The City’s vision is: Grand Rapids will be nationally recognized as an equitable, welcoming, innovative and collaborative city with a robust economy, safe and healthy community, and the opportunity for a high quality of life for all. Its mission is to elevate quality of life through excellent City services.

Washington initiated the plan in November. He then worked with City staff and the City Commission over the next five months to determine the elements of the plan, which will serve as the organization’s operational roadmap. It also will align with the City’s future master plan and drive budget and fiscal planning.  

“Through our planning process, we worked to determine who we are, where we want to go, how we reach our goals and, most importantly, how we measure our success over time,” Washington said.  “This plan is the community playbook for aligning initiatives, resources, goals, department operations, projects and investments with a transparent and trackable timeline. 

“It’s important that we continue to collaborate with the community and that it holds us accountable. With the community’s help, we can achieve the outcomes laid out in this plan.”

The strategic plan is available in English HERE. A Spanish version of the plan will be available on the City’s website soon. For more on the City’s strategic planning process, CLICK HERE.

“While the City has engaged in many planning efforts in the past, this plan aligns the vision with strategic priorities, operational goals and metrics,” Washington said. “It will have direct influence on the annual budget and funding considerations.

“I intend to use the plan as more than literary reference. It will serve as guidance for operational decisions on strategy, funding, resources and personnel. This organization is not just a municipal government but a municipal corporation. As CEO of the organization, I intend to operate it very business-like with a very deliberate but transparent organizational strategy."

With the Commission’s approval of the plan, City staff will turn its focus to creating an implementation process that includes:

  • Creating a robust information and data tracking system that supports detailed analysis of performance
  • Establishing a cadence of report-outs on progress, which will include internal staff reporting and an annual report to the Commission and public
  • Publishing performance information and data publicly on the City’s website and through other communication methods
  • Integrating strategic plan performance measures into employee evaluations


Washington called the strategic plan “a living, breathing document” that would require updates. He said he was committed to being transparent about the updates.

“Together, our collective planning and implementation efforts will advance our community journey in becoming one of the best cities in the country,” Washington said.

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