Editorial

There’s proof of prosperity, but business leaders provide glimpse of what’s ‘next’

April 28, 2017
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Grand Rapids Business Journal reporting in several sectors of the local economy provides May Day examples of upward trends fueling the metro area’s continued growth. The measures are, for the most part, lagging indicators but bolstered by current signposts of continued growth with one big underscore: how to keep it going.

The Kent County Equalization report and market overviews by three commercial and industrial real estate companies provide the numbers giving proof to the “feel good” perceptions of the general community — and metro GR numbers are stimulating other areas, including Holland and Muskegon. It is of importance to note prosperity of growth has extended through Kent County programs like the Land Bank Authority to properties and projects that include rehabilitating blighted homes, toxic waste cleanup, foreclosure transformations and removals.

Kent County equalized property values (72 percent of which is residential property) “are at an all-time high,” according to county Equalization Director Matt Woolford, averaging an overall 7.4 percent increase from 2016, which marked three years of consecutive value increases. Byron Township showed one of the highest increases, averaging 9.36 percent; and Cedar Springs was a notch better at 9.37. The northwestern portion of Kent County has seen significant economic development during the past few years, and Switch Ltd. certainly has stimulated Byron Township activity.

The Business Journal also reports the county was presented an analysis by the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute noting the economic impact of the Kent County Land Bank, which has not always been favored for continuation by some county commission members. Home values within 500 feet of Land Bank projects experienced a $7,064 average increase, according to the analysis, helped generate $42.9 million in the county during the past four years and provided 266 jobs in the same period. There were 484 properties impacted in the four-year period.

Land Policy Institute Interim Director Mark Wyckoff told commissioners, “In addition to reducing blight and bringing dilapidated properties back to productive use, this study shows the land bank fills a critical gap in neighborhood restoration and economic development.”

Additional reporting on the West Michigan real estate market showed metro Grand Rapids to be the fastest-growing region in the state, adding about 6,000 residents from 2015-16.

As Woolford noted in presentation of the equalization report: “As long as we continue to enjoy a healthy economy, people coming here and job growth, the overall trend will remain positive the coming year.”

The county and others in bureaucracies can provide proofs of what has passed; business leaders provide proof of prospects.

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