Economic Development and Small Business & Startups

City ranks among best for economic development

June 28, 2016
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downtown grand rapids
Downtown Grand Rapids is really growing.

For the second straight year, Grand Rapids has been named one of the top three metropolitan areas in the nation for economic development.

Area Development Magazine ranked the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metropolitan statistical area as the No. 3 place to start and develop growing businesses. San Francisco and Napa, California, were the only two metro areas to finish ahead of Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids

Area Development cited Grand Rapids’ growing biotech and health care industries, numerous economic development initiatives and a diverse manufacturing base as some of the strengths that led to the high ranking. It also listed Grand Rapids’ population growth exceeding expectations and investment into life sciences as upsides for the city.

It is the second consecutive year Grand Rapids has been ranked third in the country, after ranking No. 127 in 2013 and No. 42 in 2014.

“This ranking turned a lot of heads when we jumped 39 spots last year, and now we’re getting a lot of looks by maintaining a top three position,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of local economic development agency The Right Place. “These third-party, data-driven studies really validate the growth we are experiencing throughout the region and increases the overall perception of West Michigan as a global destination for business success.”


Area Development Magazine ranked 394 MSAs using objective data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census American Community Survey and Moody’s Analytics. That data was used to rank cities across four categories: prime workforce, economic strength, year-over-year growth and five-year growth.

In the individual rankings, Grand Rapids ranked No. 24 in prime workforce, No. 2 in economic strength, No. 4 in five-year growth and No. 26 in year-over-year growth.

MSAs also were categorized by size using data from the 2010 Census — big cities (population greater than 600,000), mid-size cities (population between 160,000 and 600,000) and small cities (population less than 160,000). Grand Rapids was ranked as a big city (population 998,938) for the second year.

Top Ten MSAs

1. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco (California)

2. Napa (California)

3. Grand Rapids-Wyoming (Michigan)

4. Columbus (Indiana)

5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (California)

6. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro (Oregon and Washington)

7. Bend-Redmond (Oregon)

8. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (Colorado)

9. Reno (Nevada)

10. Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine (California)

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