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, 5 citizen Alliances and a Board of Advisors that, taken together, engage 130+ 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 2019 appointed 93 members to it's citizen-led Alliances. The resulting 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. Here's the breakdown:

Gender

  • 46% male (49% citywide)
  • 54% female (51% citywide)

Race

  • 70% white (68% citywide)
  • 14% black (20% citywide)
  • 8% Hispanic/Latino (15% citywide)
  • 4% Asian (2% citywide)
  • 4% mixed race (5% citywide)

Age

  • 10% 55+
  • 8% 45-54
  • 32% 35-44
  • 47% 25-34
  • 3% 20-24

Sexual Orientation

  • 90% Heterosexual (96% citywide)
  • 10% LGBTQ (3.8% citywide)

Geographic Residence

  • 17% live in Downtown Grand Rapids
  • 61% live in the City of Grand Rapids
  • 22% live outside the City of Grand Rapids

Other Attributes:

  • For profit interests: 37 privately owned companies represented 
  • Not-for-profit interests: 34 community not-for-profit organizations represented 
  • Government interests: 15 representatives of government represented, including 10 from the City of Grand Rapids 
  • Academic interests: 3 educational institutions represented 
  • Retirees: 2 retirees

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 7 days a week for an average of 16 1/2 hours per day.

Key Insight

Downtown Ambassadors in FY 2018 removed 390,400 pounds of trash, power washed 276 block faces and pulled more than 12,403 weeds. The Ambassadors also collected and recycled 523,078 cigarette butts – a 200% increase over FY 2017 resulting from an expansion of the cigarette butt recycling program. 

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

Tree canopy is defined as the proportion of land area covered by trees as viewed with satellite imagery. DGRI and partners in FY 2018 planted 201 trees and moved the Downtown tree canopy from 5.6% to 6.5%. Maintaining existing trees and planting ~2,000 more is necessary to achieve the community goal of 10% tree canopy Downtown. 

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 within the district. 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 in FY 2018 yielded an 89% return of DID revenues into direct services and improvements benefiting Downtown. The remaining 11% of the DID budget supported administration and overhead. This split is consistent with best practice in the national downtown management industry. 

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 FY 2018 invested more than $1.33 million in public space design, beautification and other infrastructure projects. DGRI’s investment leveraged more than $6.2 million of additional public funding to support these projects, achieving a return of $4.68 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 298 units to Downtown in FY 2018. They also have 622 units in the development pipeline. This will bring the total number of Downtown households to 4,739. 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

Every tax dollar DGRI invested in local development projects leveraged $26 in private investment. DGRI pledged $5.35 million in support for real estate projects that amount to a total investment of nearly $140 million.

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

The taxable value of Downtown property is up 33% since FY 2013 when the community established DGRI. For the DDA and MN TIFA combined, tax increment revenues were 1% higher in FY 2019 ($6,612,145) vs. FY 2018 ($6,543,477).

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 in FY 2018 grew its Twitter audience by 8%, Facebook audience 12% and Instagram audience by 36%.

Speed of Project Implementation

Why it Matters

GR Forward - developed through one of the most inclusive public engagement efforts in the city's history - clearly defines the community's priorities for the next generation of growth in Downtown. That means we're well positioned to act with speed to implement the community vision. What's more, organizations and cities capable of quickly advancing good ideas are figuratively one step ahead of the competition. Accelerated project delivery, particularly on public works projects, is also a proven way to keep costs down and make responsible use of taxpayer dollars. 

Key Insight

DGRI successfully completed, in close collaboration with a variety of partners, 12 of the organization’s 17 key objectives for FY 2018, while 4 of these initiatives remain in progress. These projects include: 

  • Cut the ribbon on a renovated Veteran’s Park.
  • Complete the bike share business plan.
  • Cut the ribbon on flood and public space improvements in Ah-Nab-Awen Park.
  • Plant 200 trees. (378 planted!)
  • Develop Grand River-front trail identity and design guidelines.
  • Complete audit of Downtown’s accessibility for people with different abilities.
  • Expand winter recreational programming in Downtown parks. (Piloted pop-up recreational ice rink)
  • Continue turning up the volume on public art.
  • Organize the Downtown Residents Network.
  • Pilot protected bicycle lane.
  • Support establishment of a fund for affordable housing. (In progress)
  • Support the delivery of 350+ new housing units. (The market delivered 298, with 42% income restricted)
  • Explore opportunities to beautify the public plaza at Van Andel Arena. (In progress)
  • Evaluate economic impact of improving and expanding the Grand Riverfront trail. (Near completion)
  • Design bike and pedestrian trail connecting Belknap Hill and Monroe North. (Shifted to 2019) 
  • Deploy bus shelters to provide a better experience for people who ride DASH. (In progress)
  • Recruit car share service provider. (Learning from failure)

Perception of Downtown as Welcoming & Inclusive

Why it Matters

The demography of Grand Rapids continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse. The Latino population in particular is projected to comprise 25 percent of the city's total population by 2040. As the community grows increasingly diverse, Downtown must evolve to appeal to and serve a variety of diverse interests to continue strengthening its economy and culture. 

Key Insight

DGRI partners with the Johnson Center at GVSU to poll public opinion and measure community perception on this important metric. The survey in 2017 revealed that 65% of local residents felt “very welcome” or “somewhat welcome” in Downtown Grand Rapids. This represents a decline of 6 percentage points in favorable responses when compared to the previous year’s data. This observed difference may be due to a change in sample population – the survey expanded from greater Grand Rapids to capture respondents across Kent County. However we also suspect the divisive state of affairs in American civic life also is an influencing factor.