Grand Rapids

United States


Rosalynn Bliss


196,455 (2016)

Lead Innovation Officer

Becky Jo Glover

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Improve internal government operations

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Support from outside city administration

Spotlight on innovation in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is the first city to sponsor their own Civic User Testing group within all levels of service delivery, digital forms development and affordable housing scenario building. The city has extended its learnings from the Mayors Challenge prototyping to all areas with economic development and customer service.

Note: The City Innovation Snapshot (PDF version) was produced in 2019 and some aggregate findings have been updated with the latest survey results below.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Grand Rapids does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Grand Rapids approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Grand Rapids is focused on

Economic Development
Digital governance
Policy areas by number of cities

Grand Rapids utilizes 7 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Communication officer
Community engagement staff
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the City Manager’s office, Grand Rapids’ dedicated team for innovation is led by the Director for Customer Service.

Terms Grand Rapids most associates with innovation

Data analytics
Big picture re-thinking

Grand Rapids' most common innovation activities

Engaging residents in new ways
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
Human-centered design
e.g. prioritizing the end-user at each stage of the design process
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 19% of cities surveyed, Grand Rapids does not have dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Grand Rapids has no reported sources of funding.

Activities being funded

Grand Rapids does not fund any specific activities.

47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

How is innovation measured?

Grand Rapids has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, academia, think tanks, and philanthropy to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Policing and law enforcement


Waste and sewage

Environment and climate change


Social inclusion and equity

Digital governance

Insufficient data

Housing and built environment



No Response


Labour market and skills

Public works