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Lessons From Grand Rapids

December 05, 2011 at 2:25 PM

A group of over 30 City2City Greater Springfield representatives returned from the November 29 - December 1, 2011 visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, considered a “resurgent city.”  City2City participants met with Grand Rapids representatives in the areas of economic development, philanthropy, education, racial inclusion and urban revitalization. 

The following three links provide a good summary of information about the trip. The first is a news story that appeared in the Republican/MassLive written by Jim Kinney: 

http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2011/12/springfield_boosters_inspired_by_trip_to.html

The second link is a reflection on the trip to Grand Rapids by Paul Robbins: 

http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2011/12/commentary_in_grand_rapids_city-2-city_g.html

Here is an additional link to a WWLP-22News story about visit to Grand Rapids: 
http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/local/hampden/spfld-leaders-look-to-improve-the-city 

 

Preparing for Grand Rapids

A group of over 30 Greater Springfield representatives head to Grand Rapids this week to learn more about how that city has overcome some of the same challenges faced by Springfield.

I will be offering reports from Grand Rapids on this blog and on MassLive and The Republican. My first reflection appears on MassLive: http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2011/11/city-2-city_on_the_way_to_grand_rapids_r.html


Planning Info

City2City Greater Springfield participants will travel to Grand Rapids on November 29 for a three-day visit to another urban area that has earned the “resurgent city” designation by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Those interested in more information about the trip, costs and arrangements for travel and lodging should contact Trevis Wray at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts: twray@communityfoundation.org. 

Planning Committee Report - Why Grand Rapids

In collaboration with the Community Development Unit of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, our group underwent an extensive investigative process consisting of literature reviews and interviews.  Based upon this qualitative and quantitative research, the City2City Greater Springfield Planning Committee selected Grand Rapids for the next site visit.  Grand Rapids was one of the “resurgent cities” from the Boston FRB study that included Springfield.

Grand Rapids is distinctive with specific lessons to be learned. Grand Rapids’ focus on political inclusion and collaborative leadership is robust and best exemplified through its 1992 “Voices & Visions” long-term planning process. This collaborative, regionally focused planning process coupled with consistent leadership and an influential philanthropic community has shaped Grand Rapids’ resurgence.  The use of the Arts and the leveraging of the City’s anchor institutions (Educational and Medical) have significantly impacted the City’s cultural and academic landscape.  There are many similarities to Springfield as well as some differences, but there’s much to be learned from how this city was revitalized. Another key organization attendees will learn about is Grand Action, a non-profit downtown redevelopment initiative: http://grandaction.org/.

Lessons from the August site visit and what you can expect to learn

In August, a site visit was conducted to further understand and explore various aspects of Grand Rapids’ resurgence and its applicability within the Springfield context. Over a two-day period, the parties convened 12 meetings. Interviews were conducted with Grand Rapids’ political leadership, non-profit executives, philanthropic organizations, arts organizations, etc. Through this series of meetings all parties identified ten consistent themes, listed below, representing “key learning opportunities” for the City to City participant:

1. The impact of long-term regional planning and collaborative leadership in Grand Rapids; 

2. The significance of “Private/Public” partnerships in Grand Rapids’ resurgence and their impact on collaboration across sectors;

3. The role of private philanthropy as a key driver in Grand Rapids’ resurgence;

4. The benefits of long-term stable leadership in Grand Rapids;

5. Grand Rapids and its focus on “Regionalism”;

6. The impact of medical & higher education institutions as anchors and major employers in the region;

7. The role of arts and culture in Grand Rapids’ development agenda;

8. The impact of the Renaissance Zone & the Brownfield Tax Credit Laws.


Tags: Grand Rapids Resurgent Cities Federal Reserve Bank Boston Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts Grand Action The Republican MassLive Voices & Visions
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Paul Robbins

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Paul Robbins of Paul Robbins Associates-Strategic Communications is managing the City2City Pioneer Valley blog. The intent is solely to provide information about the initiative and inform those interested about ongoing City2City initiatives. Paul is a member of the City2City Greater Springfield planning committee and participated in the first trip to Winston-Salem and Greensboro, North Carolina. He will post content generated by City2City participants, provide updates on related initiatives and publish input from those interested in the initiative. For those wishing to provide content, Paul can be reached at paul@paulrobbinsassociates.com.