Grand Rapids Strategic Plan

Outcomes and Conclusions

One of the largest impacts of the strategic plan was the identification of the City’s core values. These serve as the foundation for a cultural change in the way the City government is run. All new budget requests must be aligned with at least one of the six strategic priorities. It is important to note that not everything will be accomplished in the first year. Each year, the City will determine which parts it can focus on to achieve the desired outcomes by Fiscal Year 2023. By aligning the budget to the strategic priorities and outcomes, the City is set up for long-term change.

The City uses sustainability as a decision-making framework and tool. It requires all departments to think about how any action or request may impact the environment and the people in the community in addition to the action’s fiscal impacts. This framework continues City leadership’s expectation that sustainability is considered in all decisions, ensuring the city becomes a more resilient, healthier and better place to live.

The health and environment section includes an objective to reduce carbon emissions and increase climate resiliency in Grand Rapids. This will be accomplished by creating carbon reduction goals in the future and integrating those into the appropriate City plans. The City will look at reducing its carbon footprint, assessing the feasibility of going 100% renewable, creating a climate action and adaptation plan, and working to achieve a 40% tree canopy.

The newly created Office of Performance Management, which is housed in the City’s Executive Office, is charged with managing the successful implementation of the strategic plan. The office will create a framework for accountability, ensuring staff measure, track, accomplish and report on the progress of strategies and metrics. The data collected will be reported publicly and will serve as an indicator of the staff’s performance. The City has committed to incorporating performance measures from the strategic plan into all employee evaluations, including the City Manager’s.

The strategic plan was designed to be a living breathing document that will be updated when necessary. In summer 2020, the City expects to update the plan to address items that were missing or unclear. City staff intend for the document to continuously improve, become more concise, advance goals and value achievements.


One challenge was the short amount of time allowed for completing the initial plan. The five-month timeline enabled Grand Rapids to use the plan in its upcoming budget cycle but made the project challenging. Because of the time constraint, the City was not able to conduct community engagement. The City will be conducting community engagement for other planning activities that will be incorporated into the strategic plan as it evolves.

Another difficulty the teams encountered while developing the metrics for the plan was that each department had its own system for keeping and tracking data. Going forward, the Performance Management Officer will work closely with the Chief Customer Service and Innovation Officer to improve data collection processes to support meaningful analysis across departments.

Lessons Learned

Alison Sutter, the Sustainability and Performance Management Officer Manager, said

“I am extremely grateful for our City Manager’s vision for a strategic plan to guide our operations as well as his commitment to aligning our fiscal plan to the strategic plan. We are creating a values-led culture laser-focused on accomplishing outcomes from the strategic plan.” 

Project Resources

To learn more about this project contact:

Alison Sutter 
Sustainability and Performance Management Officer, City of Grand Rapids