Legislators & Community Partners from Across the State Visited SE Grand Rapids
I hosted a statewide roundtable yesterday in Southeast Grand Rapids. We brought together legislators and economic development partners from all across the state, and our goal was to start the conversation around framing a statewide urban economic development plan focused on creating thriving urban cores.
I was so proud to have Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, Speaker of the House Joe Tate, Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and so many others join me for the start of this critical conversation. In all, we had representation from Grand Rapids, Detroit, Saginaw, Flint, Lansing, Dearborn, Muskegon, Southfield, Kalamazoo, Hamtramck and more. It was an amazing convention of state leaders and experts for the sole purpose of discussing this urban economic development framework.
My proposal for the focus of urban economic development is divided into three main 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 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. It also includes addressing policy and programming around violence reduction and environmental issues.
During my presentation to colleagues, I wanted to make sure one thing was clear — poverty is written into policy. It also cannot be addressed without policies that are intentional about correcting these inequities and making sure everyone has access to the resources in our great state. Yesterday was not just about talk, it was about acting on the issues that are pertinent in Southeast Grand Rapids and other urban cores across the state. This event is only the first step in more work to come to address those issues.
This event also would not have been possible without some amazing community partners including LINC Up, Start Garden, Communities First, and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan. With their help, we were able to gather key data on each of the urban cores that were brought to the table. I want to also thank my family and my staff for helping to make this conversation happen.
Finally, I want to thank my constituents of the 82nd House District. It is because of you that I am in this office, and the work I do here will always be for you.
State Representative Kristian Grant
House District 82 (Grand Rapids)