New data highlights business opportunities, worker trends in metro Grand Rapids

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Researchers at Grand Valley's Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy have developed a tool that identifies trends in business patterns and neighborhood demographics with the intent to help metro Grand Rapids business development organizations optimize their efforts. 

The new tool, called MetroEdge, tracks a wide variety of information including retail trends, commuter patterns, infrastructure, worker education levels and demographics, housing trends, income levels and more. The data has identified some surprising facts so far, including:

-Of the 125,000 jobs in the City of Grand Rapids, 77 percent are held by people who live outside of the city.

-61 percent of city residents commute to locations outside the city for work.

-The number of vacant homes in the city of Grand Rapids has increased by 81 percent from 1990-2010.

MetroEdge breaks the Grand Rapids area up into more than a dozen different commercial areas that were developed with assistance from area business leaders. The aim of the project is to provide easily accessible information about the business potential of each of the city’s distinct commercial areas.

“We are working to provide a clearinghouse of information about investment opportunities in the city, including areas outside of downtown,” said Jeremy Pyne, Johnson Center GIS manager. “We hope that this data will help area leaders with business development, employee recruitment and overall retention.”

The data is compiled from a variety of different sources, and the site can be used to create custom reports for specific geographic areas. The site can visually represent the data users are looking for, or can provide it in the form of a report. The MetroEdge tool is built on the same platform that Grand Valley’s Johnson Center used to showcase detailed demographic data as part of its Community Profiles 2.0 project. 

The MetroEdge project is supported by a grant from the Dyer-Ives Foundation, and can be accessed online at www.cridata.org/communityprofiles.