Measuring DGRI's Performance

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. is committed to measuring organizational performance against critical success factors, such as strategic and meaningful investment of public dollars, catalyzing private investment, growing a more welcoming Downtown, improving economic strength and enhancing quality of life in the urban core.

This section presents a series of priority performance results we believe are key to evaluating the success of DGRI and, by extension, Downtown. In pursuit of the most relevant and insightful performance measures possible, we continually aspire to build and improve our process for analyzing and reporting results. The measures below were approved by the DGRI Board in November 2015.

Diversity of DGRI Leadership Network

Why it Matters

DGRI is led by 3 City Commission-appointed Boards, 5 citizen Alliances and a Board of Advisors that, taken together, engage 110+ people who direct our city building mission. Ensuring these bodies bring together a plurality of people from different walks of life is essential to effectively solve problems, identify and seize opportunities and support the day-to-day work of improving Downtown Grand Rapids.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2016 received 93 applications from citizens aspiring to serve on one of the organization’s Alliances. The resulting 30 appointments continued to diversify our leadership network in a way that better reflects the community’s rich diversity of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, expertise and geographic residence.

Sidewalk Cleanliness

Why it Matters

A clean and beautiful Downtown not only makes a great first impression, it also reinforces feelings of safety and vibrancy, enhances quality of life and strengthens civic identity. Maintaining a green and attractive Downtown GR requires a dedicated team of dynamic and responsive professionals. DGRI’s specially-trained Ambassadors are on the job 7 days a week for an average of 16 1/2 hours per day.

Key Insight

Downtown Ambassadors in Fiscal Year 2017 removed 312,575 pounds of trash, collected and recycled 173,000 cigarette butts, power washed 226 block faces and pulled more than 11,400 weeds. DGRI in Fiscal Year 2018 will develop a qualitative tool to observe and report a standardized measure of sidewalk cleanliness.

Percentage of Tree Canopy

Why it Matters

Trees deliver tremendous bang for the buck. They produce oxygen, encourage walking, filter out air pollution, slow down traffic, absorb rainwater and noise, improve property value and reduce people’s stress levels. A healthy urban forest is a remarkably valuable asset for the city and the Downtown neighborhood.

Key Insight

Tree canopy is defined as the proportion of land area covered by trees as viewed with satellite imagery. DGRI and partners in Fiscal Year 2017 planted 378 trees and moved the Downtown tree canopy from 5% to 5.6%. Maintaining existing trees and planting 2,422 more is necessary to achieve the community goal of 10% tree canopy Downtown. 

Services Delivered to DID Rate Payers

Why it Matters

The Downtown Improvement District (DID) is a tool DGRI administers to keep Downtown clean, attractive and eventful. The DID’s sole revenue source is a special assessment on real property voluntarily approved by businesses and property owners within the DID. As the steward of the DID’s financial resources, DGRI works achieve efficient place management and maximize the value of the contribution property owners make to Downtown’s success.

Key Insight

DGRI's administration of the DID in Fiscal Year 2017 yielded an 87% return of DID revenues into direct services and improvements benefitting Downtown. The remaining 13% of the DID budget supported administration and overhead. That's 50% less than the national average (27%) for administration and overhead in similar sized assessment districts.

Return on Investments from DGRI-Produced Events

Why it Matters

DGRI produces public events to achieve three key outcomes: 1) happy, healthy people 2) dynamic public spaces and 3 more economic activity.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2017 produced or supported more than 150 events in public places Downtown, including but not limited to the city's largest ever food truck rally, free fitness classes and a lunchtime concert series. DGRI's two signature events - Movies in the Park and Snow Days - generated an estimated $631,000 in economic return to Downtown businesses.

Public Resources Leveraged

Why it Matters

DGRI aligns its investment in public facilities to advance implementation of the community-defined priorities presented in GR Forward. Where other funding sources are available, DGRI works to pursue and leverage outside contributions to deliver the best project possible for the Downtown community and maximize the value of every DGRI-managed dollar invested.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2017 invested more than $1.3 million in public space design, beautification and other infrastructure projects. DGRI's investment leveraged more than $6.2 million of additional public funding to support these projects, achieving a return of $3.68 for every DGRI-managed dollar invested in public facilities. 

Number & Affordability of Households

Why it Matters

Grand Rapids lags comparison and competitor cities in the number of people living Downtown and in the median incomes of Downtown residents. The density and diversity of people living Downtown is directly related to the neighborhood’s ability to attract and support the mix of retail stores, restaurants and other services and amenities required to continue growing a strong urban core at the heart of the West Michigan region.

Key Insight

Developers added 457 units to Downtown in 2016. They also have 982 units in the development pipeline. This will bring the total number of Downtown households to 4,801. The goal is to reach 10,000 households - maintaining 30% of total supply for lower-wage earners - and achieve a "critical mass" of residents by 2025. 

Development Investment Leveraged

Why it Matters

Investment capital flows to places where risk is low and the potential for returns are favorable. DGRI works to position the Downtown Grand Rapids market in a way that attracts investment. This includes spearheading initiatives that ensure Downtown is clean, safe, beautiful, accessible, eventful and vibrant. It also includes gap finance tools to catalyze real property investments that otherwise would not happen. In other words, the amount of development investment leveraged is a leading indicator of DGRI’s progress towards fulfilling its mission.

Key Insight

DGRI leveraged more than $26 in development investment for every DGRI-managed tax increment dollar invested. In Fiscal Year 2017, DGRI pledged $5 million in support for real estate projects that amount to a total investment of nearly $138 million.

Tax Increment Value Creation

Why it Matters

Tax increment is a market-driven financing mechanism used to clean up blighted property, support private investment and development, catalyze urban revitalization and elevate quality of life. Tax increment is the primary funding instrument of two tools managed by DGRI: the GR Downtown Development Authority and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority. Tax increment is produced when the tax value of properties within the GRDDA and MNTIFA districts increase through new investment and community improvement.

Key Insight

The taxable value of Downtown property is up 32% since Fiscal Year 2013 when DGRI was established. For the GR DDA and MN TIFA combined, projected tax increment revenues were 10% higher in Fiscal Year 2018 ($6,543,477) vs. Fiscal Year 2017 ($5,927,709).

Active Social Media Presence

Why it Matters

A robust online communications platform enables DGRI to affordably reach a diverse audience with relevant information, enhance organizational transparency and maintain a high level of customer service and community engagement.

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2017 grew its Twitter audience (~10,000) by 24%, Facebook audience (~19,000) by 62% and Instagram audience (~4,300) by 97%.

Speed of Project Implementation

Why it Matters

GR Forward - developed through one of the most inclusive public engagement efforts in the city's history - clearly defines the community's priorities for the next generation of growth in Downtown. That means we're well positioned to act with speed to implement the community vision. What's more, organizations and cities capable of quickly advancing good ideas are figuratively one step ahead of the competition. Accelerated project delivery, particularly on public works projects, is also a proven way to keep costs down and make responsible use of taxpayer dollars. 

Key Insight

DGRI successfully completed, in close collaboration with a variety of partners, 6 of the organization's 7 key objectives for Fiscal Year 2017. These projects include:

  • Planting 200 trees.
  • Completing the Coldbrook Edge.
  • Redesigning Calder Plaza.
  • Enhancing the condition of 131 overpasses.
  • Rebooting the DASH system.
  • Establishing the Downtown Residents Network.
  • Completing a bike share system feasibility analysis and business plan. (in progress)

Vibrancy of People on the Sidewalks

Why it Matters

The presence of people walking, rolling, or otherwise moving on sidewalks is one of the strongest indicators of a street or neighborhood's vitality and sustainability. People on Downtown sidewalks drive more sales opportunities for Downtown merchants and reinforce community safety - real and perceived - in public areas. A good understanding of people patterns also helps Downtown leaders understand the way people more through and use the public realm and, importantly, how changes in the public realm - such as more trees and shade, a special event or a new sidewalk cafe - affect how citizens interact with the city and where improvements might be made. 

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2017 strategically placed people counters and began gathering - for the first time - quantitative data and insights on people movements Downtown. Peak days of ArtPrize 2016, for example, drove a 308% increase in sidewalk traffic on select Downtown streets compared to a similar fall day. During DGRI's Snow Days event the number of people on select streets Downtown increased 68% when compared to a typical February weekend. 

Perception of Downtown as Welcoming & Inclusive

Why it Matters

The demography of Grand Rapids continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse. The Latino population in particular is projected to comprise 25 percent of the city's total population by 2040. As the community grows increasingly diverse, Downtown must evolve to appeal to and serve a variety of diverse interests to continue strengthening its economy and culture. 

Key Insight

DGRI in Fiscal Year 2017 partnered with the Johnson Center's Community Research Institute to poll public opinion and establish a baseline measure on this matter. 71% of citizens citywide feel "very welcome" or "somewhat welcome" in Downtown Grand Rapids. 19% were "neutral." 5% feel "somewhat welcome" or "very unwelcome." 4% were "unsure." 1% of respondents had never been Downtown. The goal is 85% of Grand Rapidians regard Downtown as welcoming and inclusive by 2025.