Government

City adopts four-year strategic plan

Covering fiscal years 2020 to 2023, vision includes ‘the opportunity for a high quality of life for all.’

April 12, 2019
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The Grand Rapids City Commission last week voted unanimously to adopt a four-year strategic plan for the city. The plan covers fiscal years 2020 to 2023 and includes the organization’s values, vision and mission.

According to the strategic plan, Grand Rapids’ overall vision is “to be nationally recognized as an equitable, welcoming, innovative and collaborative city with a robust economy, safe and healthy community, and the opportunity for a high quality of life for all.”

City Manager Mark Washington initiated the plan in November 2018. Within five months, Washington and city staff created an eight-person executive strategy team, appointed a strategic plan project manager, engaged over 1,000 city employees with in-person discussions about the plan, hosted four strategic planning workshops with the city commission and partnered with Mayor Rosalynn Bliss on the city’s first digital town hall, which focused on the strategic planning process.

“We had this lofty goal of getting it done before the (FY2020) budget,” Bliss said. “I think some of us were a little concerned, but we were able to make it happen, and we know a lot of work went into bringing us to where we are today.”

The strategic plan will align with the city’s long-term master plan and will drive budget and fiscal planning. Washington currently is using the strategic plan to prioritize budget and funding decisions in the FY2020 Preliminary Fiscal Plan. The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.

The strategic plan, which can be found on grandrapidsmi.gov, outlines outcomes, objectives, strategies and metrics in six priority areas: governmental excellence, economic prosperity and affordability, engaged and connected community, health and environment, mobility and safe community. The plan also includes an equity statement that affirms the city’s commitment to embed racial equity into all of its decisions, policies and procedures.

The plan pointed to several negative rankings on racial equity that marred Grand Rapids’ otherwise positive attributes. Despite holding such rankings as the No. 1 Place for Millennials (Business Insider, 2017), Beer City, USA (Examiner.com, 2013) and No. 6 Best Place to Retire (U.S. News and World Report, 2018), Grand Rapids still suffers from being ranked 122nd in the U.S. for Hispanic Entrepreneurs (2018, WalletHub), second worst for African Americans Economically (2015, Forbes) and 39th for Residential Segregation (2018, Apartment List).

The city’s values, as outlined in the plan, are accountability, collaboration, customer service, equity, innovation and sustainability.

Washington called the strategic plan “a living, breathing document” that would require updates, and said he was committed to being transparent about those updates.

“I intend to use the plan as more than literary reference,” Washington said. “It will serve as guidance for operational decisions on strategy, funding, resources and personnel. This organization is not just a municipal government but a municipal corporation. As CEO of the organization, I intend to operate it very business-like with a very deliberate but transparent organizational strategy."

With the city commission’s approval of the plan, city staff will create an implementation process that includes creating an information and data tracking system that supports detailed analysis of performance; establishing a cadence of report-outs on progress, which will include internal staff reporting and an annual report to the city commission and public; publishing performance information and data publicly on the city’s website and through other communication methods; and integrating strategic plan performance measures into employee evaluations.

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