Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Planning Manager Tim Kelly emails a weekly GR Forward update to the project Steering Committee. Here's this week's communication:

Good Afternoon Everyone:

Hope you are finishing up a wonderful week.


Three quick updates this week.

First, next week the Downtown Steering Committee will have its third meeting. The agenda will include an update on the data collection and analysis, as well as an overview of the public engagement plan that we have been developing in partnership with the consultant team. We are looking forward to getting the Committee back together to continue progress on GR Forward.

Second, tonight we will have representatives from the project team circulating at Movies in the Park (Dream Girls) to get moviegoers input on the future of the River. We will be posting all the photos on our Facebook page, so if you are not able to join us at the movie, be sure to follow us online.

Last, I want to point you to a new feature on the website. The “In the News” section features local articles related to development in the City. We think this is another way to drive traffic to the site, and to make a one stop site for all things related to planning for Downtown and the River.


I founds this article from the Brookings Institute on the rise of innovation districts really interesting:

Brookings Institute defines innovations districts as “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institution and companies cluster to connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. They are also physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail”.

In light of their compactness, and their ability to foster “creative collisions”, the article states that innovation districts are poised to spur inclusive and sustainable economic development over the next decade.

“At a time of sluggish growth, they (innovation districts) can provide a strong foundation for the creation and expansion of firms and the development of jobs by helping companies, entrepreneurs, universities, researchers and investors – across sectors and disciplines –co-invent and co-produce new discoveries for the market. At a time of rising social inequality, innovation districts offer the prospect of expanding employment and educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations given that many districts are close to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. And, at a time of inefficient land use, extensive sprawl and continued environmental degradation, they present the potential for denser residential and employment patterns, the leveraging of mass transit, and the repopulation of urban cores.”

As the article submits, proximity is everything, and the closer firms and people are to each other, the more ideas they can share, and the more likely they are to create and produce new and innovative products and technologies.

If you are interested in learning more about innovation districts, I encourage you to read the full report here:

As always, if you have any questions please let me know. Otherwise, have great weekend!