City’s micro-local business program improves equity in river restoration

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Grand River Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

Since the city of Grand Rapids launched its Micro-Local Business Enterprise (MLBE) registration program in July 2020, the program has proven successful in creating a more equitable pool of businesses seeking Grand River (Owashtanong) restoration contracts.

The MLBE program currently has 77 total companies across 34 industries including construction, landscaping and tourism. The newly registered businesses account for a 57% increase since July. Many of the businesses are minority- and woman-owned.

The program’s primary goals include:

  • Ensuring future restoration of the Grand River embeds racial and economic equity principles in the water and along the riverbanks
  • Decreasing systemic barriers and registering minority- or women-owned firms on the city’s MLBE list
  • Encouraging local jobs and wealth creation
  • Creating opportunities for capacity building within city partner agencies Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) and West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (WMHCC)

“It has been exciting to see this important program grow over the last nine months,” said Alvin Hills IV, the city’s business developer. “Not only will these businesses have access to bid on river restoration projects, they can also view and bid on city-led projects across Grand Rapids.”

The MLBE registration program aligns with the city’s strategic priority of economic prosperity and affordability and its commitment to equity.

“By creating a program that is intentionally designed to decrease systemic barriers for minority- and women-owned businesses, we are allowing more voices to be brought to the table when it comes to growing and improving our city,” said Ciarra Adkins, the city’s equity analyst. “Our vision for a River for All starts with these restoration projects and extends into the future recreation programming, educational resources, and ecological and cultural preservation in and along the Grand River.”

Businesses may register as a vendor or supplier with the city at grandrapidsmi.gov. Before registration, call the city’s purchasing department at (616) 456-3173.

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