Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

business assistance programs

It is the goal of the downtown organizations and the city of Grand Rapids to foster existing and new investment in Downtown Grand Rapids. Funds, tax incentives and training programs are provided to support businesses and initiatives that will help to grow downtown development. The following programs highlight advantages that are worth exploring.

Building Reuse Incentives Program

Program Guidelines
Program Application

The Purpose of the Building Reuse Incentives Program is to reduce incidence of vacancy in storefronts and older buildings downtown by providing financial assistance to property owners or business owners contemplating the rehabilitation of an older building. Several studies have documented the high rate of vacancy, as well as numerous others barriers preventing the full utilization of these structures. The Building Reuse Incentives Program is established to assist property owners and business owners in overcoming these barriers by improving the general appearance and marketability of these structures.

The Grand Rapids Parklet Program

Parklets are intended as aesthetic enhancements to the streetscape, providing an economical solution to the need for increased public open space. They provide amenities like seating, planting, bike parking, and art. The Grand Rapids Parklet Program provides an overview of the process for an applicant to install a parklet in the public spaces within the DDA and the Monroe North TIFA boundaries. Included in this manual is the Parklet Application for those interested in pursuing an installation. 

The Streetscapes Incentives Program

The DDA offers a grant to eligible property owners to cover a portion of the cost of streetscape improvements adjacent to the property. The program is designed to improve the appearance and usability of sidewalks and pedestrian ways, and to improve the safety of downtown by improving walking surfaces that have deteriorated.

Areaway Fill Incentives Program

During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was common practice to extend the basement of a building under the public sidewalks. These extensions are commonly known as vaults, or areaways. It is city policy to eliminate areaways wherever possible and to eliminate the uncertainty involved in future repair of these facilities, to improve the safety of downtown and to provide improved walking surfaces. The DDA offers a grant to eligible property owners to cover a portion of the cost of an areaway fill project.

Small Business Administration Loans

A loan program that matches qualifying businesses with the financial resources of the SBA and private sector lenders.

Historic Preservation Tax Credits

Tax credit information for homeowners, commercial property owners, and businesses that rehabilitate historic commercial and residential property.

Brownfield Redevelopment

A specific tax increment financing option to help developers pay for the cleanup of a "brownfield", an idle, or under utilized or vacant industrial or commercial property.

Renaissance Zones

Specific areas in Downtown Grand Rapids on Monroe Center are designated as Renaissance Zones. "Ren-zones" are virtually tax free for businesses or residents who are presently in, or are moving into these zones, because Michigan's Single Business Tax, 6 mil education tax, Michigan Personal and Real Property Taxes, and City Income Taxes are waived.

Training and Mentoring Programs

A listing of resources to help businesses develop and grow.