The Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) Board of Advisors today appointed 84 citizens to serve on its five different Alliances – each of which effectively function as community-driven steering committees helping to guide the organization’s overall body of work.

More specifically, the Alliances in 2017-2018 will steer DGRI’s effort on more than 40 individual projects intended to advance implementation of GR Forward, this includes but is not limited to exploring opportunities to beautify the public plaza at Van Andel Arena, planting 200 trees, piloting the city’s first protected bike lane and improving pedestrian safety at key river trail crossings.

“The forward movement and success of Downtown Grand Rapids depends significantly on citizens defining what’s important and taking an active role in shaping the future of the neighborhood,” said DGRI President/CEO Kristopher Larson. “Our network of citizen leaders embody the diversity, values and ideas to advance DGRI’s city building work in a way that’s aligned with the community’s vision for one of the fastest growing cities in America.”

DGRI is the organization responsible for place-making and place-management in the central business district of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The organization, established in 2013, serves as the singular management entity for the combined operations of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Downtown Improvement District (DID), and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority (MNTIFA).

In addition to the City Commission-appointed boards of directors overseeing the unique operations of the DDA, DID, and MNTIFA, the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. leadership network also includes the DGRI Board of Advisors and five separate Alliances comprised of citizen volunteers.

The Alliances, established in 2013, bring together people with different knowledge, perspectives, and backgrounds to solve problems, identify opportunities, and support the day-to-day work of improving Grand Rapids’ central city.

The Alliances aspire to include and make good use of greater Grand Rapids’ demographic diversity. To that end, the composition of each Alliance is intentionally designed to capture and represent a wide range of individual qualities, including but not limited to skills and industry experience, race, gender, age, educational attainment, sexual preference, place of residence, as well as personal interests and passion.

Alliance Structure

  • GR Forward Goal 1 Alliance – advises on programs and projects to reestablish the Grand River as the draw to the City and region. The DGRI Board appointed 16 members.
  • GR Forward Goal 2 Alliance – advises on programs and projects to develop a true Downtown neighborhood home to a diverse population. The DGRI Board appointed 18 members.
  • GR Forward Goal 3 Alliance – advises on programs and projects to implement a 21st century mobility strategy in Downtown. The DGRI Board appointed 14 members.
  • GR Forward Goal 4 Alliance – advises on initiatives to expand economic opportunities in Downtown. The DGRI Board appointed 17 members.
  • GR Forward Goal 5 Alliance – advises on public space program and projects that create an ever more welcoming and inclusive Downtown. The DGRI Board appointed 19 members.

Alliance Composition Facts

  •  42 percent private sector representation from small businesses such as Sanctuary Folk Art to large enterprises such as Meijer and AHC+ Hospitality.
  • 31 percent non-profit representation from organizations including but not limited to Grand Rapids Urban League, Dwelling Place, Experience Grand Rapids, ArtPrize and the YMCA.
  • 19 percent public sector representation from organizations including but not limited to Kent County, the City of Grand Rapids, the Rapid transit agency and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
  • 6 percent representation from educational institutions and the academic sector.
  • 2 percent representation from retired people.
  • Demographically, membership on the Alliances breaks down as follows:
    • Gender
      • 50% male (49% citywide)
      • 50% female (51% citywide)
    • Race
      • 4% Asian (2% citywide)
      • 16% African American (20% citywide)
      • 10% Hispanic or Latino (13% citywide)
      • 65% White (62% citywide)
      • 5% Mixed Race (3% citywide)
    • Age
      • 2% 20-24 (17% citywide)
      • 43% 25-34 (30% citywide)
      • 30% 35-44 (19% citywide)
      • 11% 45-54 (18% citywide)
      • 14% 55+ (16% citywide)
    • Sexual Orientation
      • 94% Heterosexual (96% citywide)
      • 6% Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (4% citywide)

As a whole, the DGRI leadership network now actively engages more than 120 unique individuals from the greater Grand Rapids community in the decision-making flow of the organization’s fiduciary boards and oversight alliances.