SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority


The SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) supports high-technology entrepreneurs and businesses. The SmartZone captures increased property tax dollars and reinvests that money back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Grand Rapids. 

Annual Activity Synopsis

Through the SmartZone we partner with Spartan Innovation and Start Garden to provide incubator spaces at The Bridge and 40 Pearl, accelerator programs funding opportunities and connections to support high-tech, high-growth startups located in Grand Rapids. The Michigan Strategic Fund supports our Business Incubator Grant and we continue to use Michigan State University as our subcontractor for those services. More information about our activities is available under “Contracts” below. A full list of investments is available in the FY2021 Preliminary Financial Statements as of June 30, 2021.

The SmartZone LDFA does not have tax increment revenues which have not been expended within 5 years of their receipt. More information about tax increment financing is available in the FY2023 PA 57 Annual Report(PDF, 201KB).


You can find information on the SmartZone’s meeting schedule, current board members, minutes, and past agendas at their meeting portal page.

Current Board Members

  • Jerry Kooiman, Secretary (Term Ends: 12/31/2025)
  • Al Vanderberg, Treasurer (Term Ends: 12/31/2025)
  • Keith Brophy (Term Ends: 12/31/2025)
  • Jerry Callahan (Term Ends: 12/31/2027)
  • Lisa Freiburger (Term Ends: 12/31/2027)
  • Randy Thelen (Term Ends: 12/31/2025)
  • Mark Washington (Term Ends: 12/31/2025)
  • Greg Sanial (Term Ends: 12/31/2025)


Documents and Links


Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The MEDC gives us the authority to operate the Grand Rapids SmartZone LDFA. See the full text of this contract here.

Incubation Services with Spartan Innovations and Start Garden, Inc.

We partner with Start Garden and Spartan Innovations to provide a variety of services to high-tech entrepreneurs and businesses, including incubation, ecosystem development, 5x5 Night, and The 100.  

Holland SmartZone LDFA - Satellite District

We partner with the Holland SmartZone LDFA and Lakeshore Advantage on regional initiatives. 

Conquer Accelerator

We partner with the MSU Foundation to support the Conquer Accelerator.

Spartan Innovations

We partner with Spartan Innovations to provide gateway services, including the Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) program, under a grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Michigan House Creative

We partner with Michigan House to help market the Grand Rapids entrepreneurial ecosystem at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference.

The Right Place

We partner with The Right Place to support Tech Week Grand Rapids, an annual event that celebrates and facilitates conversations surrounding the tech industry in Grand Rapids.



Jordan Turner