Measuring DGRI's Performance

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. is committed to measuring organizational performance against critical success factors, such as strategic and meaningful investment of public dollars, catalyzing private investment, growing a more welcoming Downtown, improving economic strength and enhancing quality of life in the urban core.

This section presents a series of priority performance results we believe are key to evaluating the success of DGRI and, by extension, Downtown. In pursuit of the most relevant and insightful performance measures possible, we continually aspire to build and improve our process for analyzing and reporting results. The measures below were approved by the DGRI Board in November 2015.

Diversity of DGRI Leadership Network

Why it Matters

DGRI is led by 3 City Commission-appointed Boards, 3 citizen Alliances and a Board of Advisors that, taken together, engage 110+ people who direct our city building mission. Ensuring these bodies bring together a plurality of people from different walks of life is essential to effectively solve problems, identify and seize opportunities and support the day-to-day work of improving Downtown Grand Rapids.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2016 received 93 applications from citizens aspiring to serve on one of the organization’s Alliances. The resulting 30 appointments continued to diversify our leadership network in a way that better reflects the community’s rich diversity of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, expertise and geographic residence.

Sidewalk Cleanliness

Why it Matters

A clean and beautiful Downtown not only makes a great first impression, it also reinforces feelings of safety and vibrancy, enhances quality of life and strengthens civic identity. Maintaining a green and attractive Downtown GR requires a dedicated team of dynamic and responsive professionals. DGRI’s specially-trained Ambassadors are on the job 12 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2016 merged the “Clean” and “Ambassador” programs into a combined team of cross-trained specialists responsible for cleaning activities, horticulture and hospitality. DGRI also fitted the unified Ambassador team with an all-terrain litter vacuum, a utility vehicle and other specialized equipment. Taken together, these moves helped achieve greater program efficiency and increased delivery of place management services.

Percentage of Tree Canopy

Why it Matters

Trees deliver tremendous bang for the buck. They produce oxygen, encourage walking, filter out air pollution, slow down traffic, absorb rainwater and noise, improve property value and reduce people’s stress levels. A healthy urban forest is a remarkably valuable asset for the city and the Downtown neighborhood.

Key Insight

The Downtown tree canopy – the proportion of land area covered by trees as viewed with satellite imagery – is 5% or approximately 2,800 trees. The goal is to double the number of trees in Downtown by 2025 and achieve 10% canopy. DGRI and partners planted 100 trees in Fiscal Year 2016, moving Downtown 3.5% towards its goal.

Services Delivered to DID Rate Payers

Why it Matters

The Downtown Improvement District (DID) is a tool DGRI administers to keep Downtown clean, attractive and eventful. The DID’s sole revenue source is a special assessment on real property voluntarily approved by businesses and property owners within the DID. As the steward of the DID’s financial resources, DGRI works achieve efficient place management and maximize the value of the contribution property owners make to Downtown’s success.

Key Insight

DGRI’s administration of the DID yielded an 88% return of DID revenues into direct services and improvements benefitting Downtown.

Return on Investments from DGRI-Produced Events

Why it Matters

DGRI produces public events to achieve three key outcomes: 1) happy, healthy people 2) dynamic public spaces and 3 more economic activity.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2016 produced seven major events, all free to the public. Every net DGRI-managed $1 invested in these events returned $38 to Downtown businesses.

Public Resources Leveraged

Why it Matters

DGRI aligns its investment in public facilities to advance implementation of the community-defined priorities presented in GR Forward. Where other funding sources are available, DGRI works to pursue and leverage outside contributions to deliver the best project possible for the Downtown community and maximize the value of every DGRI-managed dollar invested.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2016 participated in 10 capital improvement projects that ranged from undergrounding utilities to improving streetscapes to repairing ornamental bridge lighting. In total, DGRI leveraged nearly $17.5 million of additional public funding to support these projects, achieving a return of more than $6 for every DGRI-managed dollar invested in public facilities.

Number & Affordability of Households

Why it Matters

Grand Rapids lags comparison and competitor cities in the number of people living Downtown and in the median incomes of Downtown residents. The density and diversity of people living Downtown is directly related to the neighborhood’s ability to attract and support the mix of retail stores, restaurants and other services and amenities required to continue growing a strong urban core at the heart of the West Michigan region.

Key Insight

Developers added 183 units to Downtown in 2015. They also put 1,437 units in the development pipeline. This will bring the total number of Downtown households to 5,201. The goal is to reach 10,000 households – maintaining 30% of total supply for lower-wage earners – and achieve a “critical mass” of residents by 2025.

Development Investment Leveraged

Why it Matters

Investment capital flows to places where risk is low and the potential for returns are favorable. DGRI works to position the Downtown Grand Rapids market in a way that attracts investment. This includes spearheading initiatives that ensure Downtown is clean, safe, beautiful, accessible, eventful and vibrant. It also includes gap finance tools to catalyze real property investments that otherwise would not happen. In other words, the amount of development investment leveraged is a leading indicator of DGRI’s progress towards fulfilling its mission.

Key Insight

DGRI leveraged more than $19 in development investment for every DGRI-managed tax increment dollar invested. DGRI invested $4.5 million in real estate projects that amount to a total investment of approximately $88 million in Downtown.

Tax Increment Value Creation

Why it Matters

Tax increment is a market-driven financing mechanism used to clean up blighted property, support private investment and development, catalyze urban revitalization and elevate quality of life. Tax increment is the primary funding instrument of two tools managed by DGRI: the GR Downtown Development Authority and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority. Tax increment is produced when the tax value of properties within the GRDDA and MNTIFA districts increase through new investment and community improvement.

Key Insight

Combined revenue projections from the GRDDA and MNTIFA tax increment capture have increased nearly 20 percent – from $4.9 million to $5.9 million – in the past five years.

Active Social Media Presence

Why it Matters

A robust online communications platform enables DGRI to affordably reach a diverse audience with relevant information, enhance organizational transparency and maintain a high level of customer service and community engagement.

Key Insight

DGRI’s rebooted website, launched in July 2015, served more than 63,000 visitors in Fiscal Year 2016. 80% were first time users of the site.