The city of Grand Rapids has been awarded a $103,963 research and planning grant from a foundation for its Jobs Initiative.
The initiative backed by the Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation will examine labor demand and how municipal policies and programs could provide opportunities for low-income residents to fill a significant number of jobs tied to future city infrastructure projects.
“This is a research and planning grant to explore opportunities for policy change and program development,” said Connie Bohatch, Grand Rapids’ managing director of community services.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation will hire a labor economist to complete a workforce demand study, while the city’s grant funds will support a project manager to analyze existing city employment and contracting practices, programs and policies.
As part of the process, the project manager will engage community partners in researching and reviewing best practices, including organizing site visits and bringing professionals to Grand Rapids.
Development of recommendations and an implementation plan are expected by next June, prior to each being considered and formalized by the Grand Rapids City Commission.
“The Grand Rapids community and particularly our minority communities need more and better jobs to increase economic security,” Bohatch said.
For nearly 14 years, the city's unemployment rate exceeded the national rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Census Bureau numbers show minority groups bore the brunt of that burden.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930, is an independent, private foundation started by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, and is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the U.S.