Mayor Bliss in State of the City: ‘Our vision is to become a city of empowerment’

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss gave the annual State of the City address Thursday, laying out the city's biggest accomplishments from 2016 and covering things she'd like to make progress on this year.

Advancing the River Restoration Project, making transportation safer for bicyclists and putting $1 million into an affordable housing trust fund were just a few of the things Mayor Bliss said the city did last year.

Among the things she hopes to accomplish this year are more racial equity and helping local businesses and young entrepreneurs get on their feet.

"Our vision is to become a city of empowerment where all residents have equitable access to opportunity," Bliss said.

So how does Grand Rapids get there?  Bliss said that neighborhoods in 17 census tracks, home to roughly a third of the Grand Rapids population, has 48 percent of their residents living in poverty.

"So racial disparities have existed in our city for a long time.  There was a report done two years ago that actually provided significant data that shows Grand Rapids has deep racial disparities, and so last year even my first day at the city speech I talked about how racial equity is a top priority," Bliss aid.

This year, she's hoping to work to create the Grand Rapids Racial Equity Initiative.

"To reduce fragmentation and convene key stakeholders to create specific action steps to increase equitable employment and reduce racial disparities in our city," Bliss said.

They hope to strengthen relationships with, among other organizations, the NAACP, Urban League and Hispanic Chamber.  Mayor Bliss said that especially at a time of deep divides in the U.S., this can be what ties us together an promises success for the future.

She also wants Grand Rapids to be a welcoming city, launching OurCity Academy Program to help immigrants.

"It will be a comprehensive training program for immigrants that provides an overview in education about how local government and school systems work," Bliss said.

Bliss also discussed strengthening local businesses, calling them the heart of the city.  She challenged everyone with a task.

"This is an initiative that asks each of you to commit to visiting one locally owned business at least once a month," she said.

It's called the GR Local Challenge Campaign.

"This directly strengthens economic base of our community and has a profound economic impact."


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  • steve

    Specifically, I’d like to know the names of any businesses in Grand Rapids that are denying access to, or employment opportunities for minorities. I’m sure that the mayor’s office has such a list.

  • Old Bob

    I don’t know where Mayor Bliss is riding her bike. Bike riding where I ride hasn’t made any improvement in the last year. The people driving car still don’t watch out for bikes.

    How can she expect an employer to pay someone with job skills that don’t even justify minimum wage a higher wage?

    What happen to the tree canopy, has she forgot about that?

    The tax payers voted in a millage that was supposed to provide the city with money to repair the sidewalks, what’s happen there. Nothing.

    If the city spent as much time and money on our parks as it have on the Park Master Plan, which they redo 5 or 6 times a year our parks would be in great shape.

    I was happy when she was elected, now I am not so sure.

    Oh one last thing. That butt kissing Chief of Police has to go. We need a hard line no nonsense Chief of Police.

  • P

    This is what happens when you put an ultra liberal democratic in charge of anything. Transgenders for the city council and mayor.

  • Eric

    They just approved 100k to study bike sharing, for that money you can buy about 70 of the bikes turnkey with racks and sell them if it’s not working!