Nonprofit group pledges to bring jobs, affordable housing to Grand Rapids neighborhood

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A local nonprofit organization announced plans to bring jobs and more affordable housing to Grand Rapids, but it's how to plan on doing it that has some people scratching their heads.

Jon Ippel, executive director at Amplify GR admitted on Thursday that they don't have a plan just yet on how they're going to do this, but instead they want to work side by side with the community to do it.

The group is centered on the city's southeast area and hopes to bring together residents and business owners. Their new initiative focuses on bring new jobs, affordable housing, education and wellness opportunities to the area. As far as housing goes, Rockford Construction is the lead development partner. They've already purchased 32 properties on nearly 35 acres for the project.

Doug DeVos, co-founder of the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation is a partner of Amplify GR and says he wants to be a part of the project to make sure everyone has an opportunity to help shape their neighborhood.

"Really it all comes down to opportunity," said DeVos. "When we look at Grand Rapids or West Michigan we see a lot of great things happening, but we won't be great truly until everybody has the same opportunities and until everybody has real opportunities because we believe in the potential of everybody in our community. This is a great community."

Executive director Jon Ippel says the group wants to work on four pillars of growth over the next few years: jobs, housing, education and community well-being, but didn't say exactly how they're going to do that.

"We do not have a plan," said Ippel. "We want to plan with this community to ensure that this is done in a way that everybody has a voice and we incorporate a voice of the community in which we serve."

While adding affordable housing is important to them, Ippel says there needs to be a mix.

"We're utilizing a model called purpose-based communities," said Ippel. "Part of that model is that affordability is a key and critical component to this work, but it's also got to be inclusive and a mixed-income nature."

Thursday's meeting was for community members to gt involved in the planning process. Representatives with Amplify GR say this is still new and they want to get residents and business owners in these neighborhoods to get involved as much as possible.

To share your input, visit their website.

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