Economic Development Director - City of Grand Rapids

Are you looking for an economic development role that has everything, including initiatives around inclusive economic development & high technology, and a great team already in place? 

Do you want to be a part of the action in one of the top regions of growth in the country?

Look no further!

About the Position

This is advanced professional work coordinating and leading the work of the Economic Development Department and related authorities. This position is responsible for leading economic development by managing complex real estate development relationships, engaging in critical external local, regional and state-wide relationships, leading implementation of the City's equitable economic development plan, and participating in teams that are responsible for place-making in business districts.

Work involves coordinating the efforts of diverse groups from within and outside of City Government. Work is performed with considerable latitude for independent decision making under the managerial direction of the Deputy City Manager. The role of this position is to create new investment and attract residents to the community by planning, organizing, coordinating and directing the operational effectiveness and staff assignments of the Economic Development Department, including servingas Executive Director of associated Boards and Authorities and facilitating public/private partnership development finance investments.  

Key aspects include:

  • Collaborates in the development of proposed economic development transactions and evaluates those transactions to determine value to the City.
  • Represents the department to investors in public forums and intergovernmental activities.
  • Collaborates with interdepartmental teams and leads teams as necessary and assigned.
  • Plans, organizes, prioritizes and directs the work of the Economic Development Corporation, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority, Neighborhood Business Corridor Improvement Authorities and Business Improvement District
  • Establishes and implements operational policies, goals and objectives for the department; assures operations and programs are carried out according to federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations
  • Develops long and short range planning and needs assessment for the improvement of programs and services
  • Supervises the work of assigned personnel; participates in hiring, training and disciplinary actions; delegates work assignments; conducts performance evaluations
  • Oversees preparation of, and presents the annual department budget; determines resource needs and financing requests; oversees budgetary administration
  • Plans and participates in technical and administrative studies and reviews reports of program needs and accomplishments; writes grant applications; drafts and reviews contracts
  • Prepares reports on a variety of subjects
  • Negotiates complex real estate and financing transactions between private/public sector entities and the City
  • Manages, oversees and evaluates the work of outside consultants, including legal counsel
  • Represents the City on economic development legislative, program and policy matters presenting the City's position on economic development issues; provides information on City economic development programs
  • Collaborates with and manages relationships with local businesses and stakeholders, including neighborhood leaders, business district representatives, private businesses and the general public

About You

  • Bachelor's degree in business, public administration, or a related field; Master's degree is preferred.
  • Deep experience in a field related to economic development, community development, planning, or related management experience, including considerable supervisory experience.
  • Extensive knowledge of the principles and practices of economic development.
  • Thorough knowledge of economics, municipal finances, and sociology.
  • Understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion principles.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with civic leaders, other City officials and the general public.
  • Ability to express ideas effectively orally and in writing. 

About the Community

Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan, and the largest city in West Michigan.

The City is located on the Grand River about 30 miles east of Lake Michigan, and three hours from Chicago. The City's population is 198,829 and covers an area of 45 square miles. The combined statistical area of Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland is 1.3 million.

The City recently received numerous recognitions ranging from the Best U.S. City to Invest in Housing and the Fastest Growing Economy in the U.S. (Forbes); the #1 City to Raise a Family; the #1 Hottest Real Estate Market to Watch (, and #28 Most Hipster City in the world. The Art Prize Festival was ranked one of the Top Five Festivals Worldwide (Time). Fifteen craft breweries are located within Grand Rapids making it locally known as Michigan's "Beer City."

Grand Rapids provides a full range of services to a multicultural group of residents, students and visitors. The Grand Rapids metropolitan area hosts fifteen institutions of higher learning. Grand Rapids has 67 parks with sports and recreation activities year-round. Salmon weighing up to 35 pounds are caught during the annual upstream migration of the Grand River.

In 2019 the City completed a comprehensive Strategic Plan with a new Mission Statement:

  • To elevate quality of life through excellent City services.

To Apply

Interested candidates may email resumes to Amy Cell at - thanks!