Government and Human Resources

Grand Rapids' city manager is retiring

August 15, 2017
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Greg Sundstrom
Greg Sundstrom.

Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom has announced his retirement after more than 35 years of government service.

In a letter to Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Sundstrom said he does not intend to seek renewal of his contract, which expires at the end of the year. Sundstrom was first appointed city manager in 2009.

“On July 29, 2009, I pledged my endless loyalty, professional management of this organization and dedication to the improvement of the lives of our citizens,” Sundstrom wrote. “I promised that I would work tirelessly, inspire the best from our employees and listen to our citizens. I insisted that we use common sense to bust bureaucracy, that we work transparently with our residents to make inclusive and equitable decisions and that we innovate, be willing to take risks, be held accountable and that we do this all quickly with great customer service.

“I would like to report, that to the best of my ability, I have fulfilled my pledge and promise.”

Sundstrom’s letter effectively serves as his contractually obligated 45-day notice of intent, but he indicated that he is willing to continue his service to the city to ease the transition process.

Bliss said she and the city commission will discuss issuing an RFP for a search firm to help with finding Sundstrom’s replacement, as well as forming a review committee with community members to ensure community input will be included in the process.

Sundstrom began his career with the city in 1981 as a seasonal employee and was hired as an entry-level permanent employee in 1986. In addition to city manager, he has served as deputy city manager, chief services officer and assistant manager.

“Greg has dedicated his life to public service and I am grateful for his leadership,” Bliss said. “It has been a joy to work with him over the years, and I appreciate all he has done for the organization and our community. I wish him well as he transitions to a new phase in his life.”

In his eight years as city manager, Sundstrom oversaw the turnaround of the city’s $33 million deficit in its general operating fund, grew reserve funds to 25 percent of the fund’s budget, developed a five-year Transformation Plan and created the Transformation Fund.

“Grand Rapids has made a remarkable turnaround,” Sundstrom said. “We transformed from an organization in a weak financial position on the verge of bankruptcy to a financially healthy organization ready to weather the next economic downturn and focus on improving residents’ quality of life.”

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