LANSING, Mich., March. 20, 2023 — State Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) headed an urban economic development roundtable today to address and design policies and programs that specifically target growing Michigan’s urban core areas, with the goal of improving the quality of life for residents who live and work in those communities. A press conference followed the roundtable discussions. Those in attendance included House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit), Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), other legislators, and economic development partners and stakeholders, including Linc Up, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, Communities First and Start Garden.
“In order to best grow and serve our urban core areas in Michigan, it’s essential we start to rethink how economic development is done in our communities,” Grant said. “I organized this event to put legislators and stakeholders in the same room, so we could discuss how to better bolster our local economies by ensuring residents in urban areas have equitable and affordable housing opportunities, by investing in our small businesses and workforce, and by building up our communities. This really matters to the very people who make those unique neighborhoods so special. We had an intentional emphasis on policy today because I believe true long-lasting change happens through policy that supports intentional programming. A lot of positive, innovative thinking and ideas resulted from the conversations. I look forward to keeping the ball rolling, so we can advance and cultivate our urban communities in new and productive ways.”
“I am always grateful for the opportunity to join fellow lawmakers and stakeholders from across the state to discuss what urban economic development looks like and how best to accomplish our shared goals,” Tate said. “It is essential that we make robust investments in every corner of Michigan — that most certainly includes creating smart, strategic economic and social policies to uplift and grow urban communities. Our cities and their outlying areas make the fabric of our state stronger and brighter. I’ve no doubt we will continue to cultivate ways to preserve and grow those areas, so residents and businesses have the opportunities they need to thrive. I look forward to implementing meaningful improvements for Michigan’s urban cores.”
“A major element of the seismic shift in Michigan’s politics is that many of our urban cores — which are more often than not represented by Democrats — are now represented by members in the majority,” Brinks said. “As our majority for the people crafts legislation to grow and support our state’s economy, we’re excited to work with partners who are committed to equity, the environment, and creating high-quality jobs. Events like the one Rep. Grant organized today are important opportunities to keep that important conversation going, and I’m glad to see so many people who are invested in Michigan’s economic future right here in Grand Rapids!”
The Discussions Centered Around Three pillars:
- Housing — A focus on increasing homeownership opportunities and rental opportunities, including tactics that can increase pathways to ownership, affordable rental opportunities and investment in existing housing stock.
- Workforce Development & Small Business — Discussions on how to attract mid-size companies as employers for urban core communities, while also investing in small local businesses, creating thriving business corridors for them, and resources to help them scale up. Also, looking at partnerships and programming for youth entering the workforce.
- Community Building & Placemaking — Discussions centering around the overall physical development of the urban cores, so that they better serve the current residents rather than displacing them. This includes removing blight and vacancy to provide community space, art and respect for the current culture. Also, addressing policy and programming around violence reduction and environmental issues.