Blog / Data & Data Tools

Economic Inclusion in Grand Rapids, Mich.

by Melyssa Tsai O’Brien
Economic Inclusion in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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Inclusive growth means that all communities have the opportunity to thrive. Disaggregated data helps us understand how history, policy, and investment affect the conditions in our communities that construct those opportunities.

A new report from our Community Data and Research Lab, underwritten by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, offers demographic and economic data on several Grand Rapids neighborhoods to help inform ongoing work to promote inclusive growth and racial equity in our city.

In the wake of COVID-19, the trends and disparities identified in this report will likely be exacerbated. It is, therefore, more important than ever to understand the disparities that exist so we can assess local impact and develop targeted, responsive support in our communities.

The Economic Inclusion in Grand Rapids Data Update looks at changes in economic inclusion indicators in 17 census tracts across the west and southeast portions of the city. The area of focus stretches from approximately John Ball Park on the city’s west side, to Eastown and neighborhoods to the south of Wealthy Street.

The report focuses on trends in homeownership, housing, poverty, unemployment, and the workforce, primarily comparing data from 2014 to 2018.

Key findings include:

  • Homeownership in these neighborhoods decreased, but the overall number of homes for sale increased — and the median sale price more than doubled.
  • While poverty rates in these neighborhoods decreased, the individuals, families, and children living there were still more likely to experience poverty than the city overall.
  • While unemployment rates in these neighborhoods decreased, Black or African American community members were more than twice as likely as their white neighbors to be unemployed.

Explore the report



Resources to Support Inclusive Growth:

Inclusive Growth Strategies: A Resource Collection
Nonprofits and funders can be a substantial driver for prosperity in communities by supporting strategies for economic inclusion and access. Learn more about how nationwide communities are interpreting and implementing plans for inclusive growth.

Explore the collection

Research on Latinx Communities in Kent County, Mich.
The Johnson Center’s Latinx Data Report specifically details Latinx responses to the 2017 VoiceKent and 2016 VoiceGR surveys, and how those responses vary from other major racial groups. The purpose of the report is to understand the perceptions and experiences of Greater Grand Rapids’ Latinx residents on a variety of topics, including housing, education, health, and food accessibility.

Read the report

Business Case for Racial Equity: A Strategy for Growth
This report from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation seeks to expand the narrative associated with advancing racial equity by adding a compelling economic argument to the social justice goal. Beyond an increase in economic output, advancing racial equity can translate into meaningful increases in consumer spending and federal, state, and local tax revenues, and decreases in social services spending and health-related costs.

Read the report

This report was produced by the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University with sponsorship from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.