Mayor Bliss proclaims May 7-12 National Economic Development Week

Published on May 08, 2018

Photo of a National Economic Development Week proclamation

Grand Rapids and The Right Place, Inc. join cities nationwide in celebrating impact 
of economic development programs on local economy

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss has proclaimed May 7-12 National Economic Development Week in Grand Rapids, joining the City of Grand Rapids, The Right Place Inc. and other cities nationwide in celebrating the impact of economic development programs on the local economy. This is the City’s first year participating in National Economic Development Week – created in 2016 and coordinated by the International Economic Development Council, or IEDC, the largest professional membership organization for economic developers.

Economic development is the strategy and process of improving the economic well-being and quality of life in a community. At its heart, economic development is about building prosperous regional economies that drive long-term growth opportunities for all members of the community. Typically, economic development can be described in terms of objectives. The most common objectives include the creation of jobs and wealth and the improvement of quality of life. IEDC specifically defines economic development as programs and policies that aid in the creation, retention and expansion of jobs, the development of a stable tax base and the enhancement of wealth.

“We are pleased to participate in this important effort and celebrate the outcomes of our economic development work,” Mayor Bliss said. “This year’s outcomes are better than ever.”

Since 2003, the City’s economic development efforts have supported 568 projects that have resulted in $3.5 billion of private investment. This has resulted in nearly 20,000 new jobs and more than $13 million of taxes for the City each year. Additional outcomes of the work of the City’s Economic Development Corporation and economic development programs are available on the City’s website by selecting What We Do.

For any community to prosper, its citizens must have employment opportunities and its government must be able to generate revenue to provide services. This is accomplished by economic development organizations working with both existing businesses on growth plans and attracting new businesses to the area. The result of this work is the retention and creation of jobs, increase in local investment, diversification of the local economy and increase of the local tax base to support the community.

“Today, more than ever, economic development plays a strategic role in shaping the economic future of the city,” said Kara Wood, the City’s managing director of economic development services. “It is through the linking and leveraging of partnerships that our community’s economic outcomes are growing.”

The Right Place has been one of the City’s key partners in this work.

“Since our start in 1985, The Right Place has developed and implemented comprehensive strategies to drive long-term economic growth, job creation and prosperity in West Michigan,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc. “The City of Grand Rapids continues to be a strategic partner in supporting local business growth and job creation. I often say that economic development is a team sport, and the city is a key player on that team.”

Economic development is critical in ways that include:

  • Business retention: Businesses feel engaged and connected to the community and, in turn, are more likely to stay and invest in the local economy.
  • Business attraction: Economic development ensures that growing businesses around the world discover Grand Rapids as a growth location for their companies.
  • Job creation: It is through the creation of new jobs in existing companies and the attraction of new job creators to the city that increases opportunity for Grand Rapids residents.
  • Economic diversification: A diversified economic base expands the local economy and reduces a city's vulnerability to fluctuations of a single business sector.
  • Competitiveness: Economic developers work to keep their communities and regions globally competitive by bringing new resources and opportunities to local businesses.
  • Increased tax base: The additional revenue provided by economic development supports, maintains and improves local infrastructure such as roads, parks, libraries and emergency medical services.
  • Self-sufficiency: A stronger economic base means public services are less dependent on state and federal resources, which can vary with each election cycle.
  • Quality of life: More local tax dollars and jobs raise the economic tide for the entire community, including the overall standard of living of residents.


Participation in National Economic Development Week has grown over the past three years. More than 75 communities participated in the 2016 campaign. Last year, 170 communities and 188 organizations across North America participated in the initiative.