City reports $187M in new private investment


Graphic courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids’ Economic Development Department on Feb. 12 reported to the city’s Economic Development Project Team on the commitments from businesses that received approval for various city incentive programs during calendar year 2018.

The commitments included $187.5 million in new private investment across 15 projects, 217 new jobs with an average wage of $19.17 per hour, 317 new housing units and an expected annual increase of $364,000 in city tax revenue generated.

Comparatively, the Economic Development Department reported in 2017 commitments of $173 million in new private investment across 12 projects, 835 jobs created with an average wage of $24.12 per hour, 189 new housing units and an annual increase of $839,000 in city tax revenue generated.

Since 2003, the Economic Development Department has supported 583 projects, which have resulted in over $3.7 billion of private investment and nearly 20,000 new jobs. These projects are estimated to generate more than $14 million of taxes for the city each year.

The Economic Development Department also released an annual survey report that assesses private investment and job creation for projects approved between 2010 and 2017 that require ongoing reporting.

Businesses that utilized city incentive programs reported more than $236 million of recent investment and 992 new jobs with an overall average wage of $34.81 per hour. 

The programs were enabled by state legislation and include obsolete property rehabilitation exemptions, industrial facilities tax exemption, neighborhood enterprise zones and new personal property exemption.

The overall return on investment to the city is 162 percent, which is calculated as the percentage of new property and income taxes paid ($1,087,882) compared to property taxes abated ($672,574). Additionally, with the support of these programs, 119 new or rehabilitated housing units have been created or are under construction.

Kara Wood, the city’s managing director of economic development services, said the report showcases the strength of business and real estate investment in Grand Rapids.

“Many of the projects that began construction in 2018 are slated to open by the end of 2019, and numerous other projects are set to begin this year,” Wood said. “These new projects will bring jobs, entertainment, lodging, housing and retail space into the city.” 

One such project promising all of these is Studio Park, which broke ground in early 2018. The mixed-use development spearheaded by Jackson Entertainment LLC includes a nine-screen Studio C! movie theater, multiple restaurants, a four-star Canopy by Hilton hotel, class A office space, 106 residential units, retail spaces, a 942-space parking ramp and a large piazza, which will be programmed year-round and serve as a central gathering spot.

The majority of the development is expected to be complete in fall 2019.

“I continue to be grateful to our partners in the business community for their strong commitment to growth in our city,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “We continue to walk alongside our business owners and investors, and we expect 2019 to be another excellent year of business development, growth and investment in Grand Rapids. All of this creates opportunities for our residents.” 

The results in the annual survey report do not reflect the accomplishments of the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment program or the accomplishments of economic development projects approved prior to 2015 that were included in previous reports.

Since 1998, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has supported more than 135 projects. The city uses tax increment financing to help pay for the cost of brownfield eligible activities associated with a given project.

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