City Commission approves budgets for economic development boards

Published on May 11, 2022

Economic Development Logo

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City Commission yesterday adopted 12 budgets for the 2023 fiscal year recommended by various downtown and neighborhood boards. Yesterday’s budget approval provides reinvestment of $37.7 million for community and economic development. This total includes more than $20 million in investment through ten boards/authorities, over $16 million dedicated to the Downtown Development Authority and $1.3 million dedicated to the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority.

Each works to support the City’s strategic plan(PDF, 5MB) and ensure that residents, employees and businesses have pathways to financial growth and security, with connections to other strategic priorities. The City’s Economic Development Department administers ten separate boards and authorities and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) administers the Downtown Development Authority and Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority.

Economic Development Director Jeremiah Gracia told the City Commission that his office supported eight major development projects over the past year. The success of those projects includes more than $181 million in leveraged private investment, the expected creation and retention of 2,425 jobs at an overall average wage of $27.54 per hour and 137 new housing units.

In addition, the Economic Development Office continues to implement the Equitable Economic Development and Mobility Strategic Plan(PDF, 13MB) in collaboration with the Mobile GR and Parking Services Department. The inclusion plan resulted in 100 percent participation by businesses seeking development support totaling $13.2 million in investments for Micro-Local Business Enterprises (MLBE).

In addition, the economic development team also:

  • Approved 24 façade grants through five corridor improvement authority (CIA) programs for $346,383 of matching grants.
  • Invested in $87,000 of public art in CIAs resulting in 20 murals.
  • Invested $275,375 in CIA and Business Improvement District (BID) streetscape enhancements. These improvements include street furnishings (bike racks, trash cans, etc.) and maintenance and beautification of rights of way, banners and décor.

“These investments continue to align our economic development team’s efforts with the City’s strategic plan,” Gracia said. “They align with the goal of advancing equitable access to enhance economic prosperity and affordability and reduce disparities in the community.”

The economic impact of the City’s annual investment is multiplied in the FY2023 budget by the recommended investment of $19.5 million in housing and community development services and another $96 million in all types of capital investment in water and sewer infrastructure, parks, vital streets and sidewalks, cemeteries and community facilities.

The City Commission approved the following FY2023 budgets:

  • Brownfield Redevelopment Authority – $15,507,194, which includes the authority’s operating fund and Local Brownfield Revolving Fund. The FY2023 budget reflects the continued growth of the program, with three new projects added in 2021. Since 2016, it has approved 34 projects, representing commitments of over $1 billion in private investment, more than 2,100 housing units and nearly 4,000 new jobs. Private investment has also been boosted with $188 million of tax increment financing, and more than $18 million of grants and loans from the State of Michigan and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Because each project results in a financial agreement between the BRA and the developer, the work on projects approved in 2021 will continue for many years to come. Staff currently administers 72 active projects, with an additional 10 projects approved and pending commencement or completion of construction. Staff also administers 11 development agreements between the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and various developers. The DDA directly funds this work.
  • Downtown Development Authority (DDA) – $16,240,851 to further implement the recommendations from recently completed planning initiatives. Those include the Grand River Governance process, the Disability Advocates of Kent County and Common Notice accessibility report, and the Downtown Streetspace Guidelines. There is also funding allocated to complete the design initiatives for the River and Hill Network Plan, and to initiate major capital improvements to Downtown public spaces such as Lyon Square and the Van Andel Arena alley. Finally, there is funding for event and activation to continue to support and produce events that draw people to Downtown. Carry-forward priorities from previous years include completing Grand River edge infrastructure improvements, implementation of pedestrian and bike infrastructure, continued funding to support retail business attraction, and building on the tremendous success of the World of Winter.
  • Grand Rapids Economic Development Corporation – $120,296 for ongoing operations (approx. $65,000) related to administration of various business and real estate development programs, as well as strategic plan implementation.
  • Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority – $2,374,546 to fund previously approved projects, future strategic priority initiatives, trade shows and marketing. The most significant expenditure is $1.5 million planned to support the SmartZone operator’s contract with Start Garden and Spartan Innovations.
  • Michigan Street Corridor Improvement Authority – $397,500 to continue projects related to Design with $310,000 accounting for 78 percent of its expenditures. The remaining 22% are anticipated to be projects related to Marketing ($62,000), Organization ($15,000), and Business Development ($10,000).
  • Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority – $1,390,901 to carry forward priorities that span multiple fiscal years. Among them is funding to further recommendations from the River Governance planning initiative, pedestrian and mobility infrastructure improvements, and further improvements to Canal Street Park to implement the River for All Guidelines.
  • North Quarter Corridor Improvement Authority – $106,467 to fund projects related to the organization, including corridor management and design. The North Quarter CIA anticipates that projects related to Design (approximately $52,000) will account for 49 percent of its expenditures and Organization will account for 23 percent. The majority of the remaining 30 percent of expenditures are allocated to Business Development, Sponsorships, and Marketing at roughly $10,000 each.
  • South Division-Grandville Corridor Improvement Authority – $218,000 to fund projects related to Organization ($105,000) will account for almost half, 48 percent of their expenditures. Followed by Design ($73,000), at 33 percent, and Business Development ($40,000) at 18 percent.
  • Southtown Corridor Improvement Authority – $647,858 for projects related to Design ($327,000) will account for 51 percent of its expenditures, and Prior Year Committed Funds ($216,000) will account for 33%.
  • Uptown Business Improvement District– $133,505 to continue projects related to Organization ($41,000) and Design ($65,000) will account for approximately 80 percent of its expenditures.
  • Uptown Corridor Improvement Authority – $457,700 for related to Organization ($185,000) to account for 41 percent of its expenditures, Design (approximately $129,000) to account for 28 percent, and Marketing ($66,000) to account for 15 percent.
  • West Side Corridor Improvement Authority – $290,000 for projects related to façade improvement program and public art–Design ($220,000) to account for 76 percent of its expenditures, Business Development, ($45,000) to account for 16 percent, Marketing ($15,000) to account for 5 percent, and Organization, ($10,000) for 3 percent of its expenditures.

To view the economic development budgets PowerPoint, CLICK HERE(PDF, 1MB).