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Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss Gives First State of City

Mariano Avila

Last night, for the first time in the history of Grand Rapids, a woman gave the state of the city address at the Harris Building on South Division. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss took the podium before 350 prominent members of Grand Rapids who welcomed her with a standing ovation.

“I have this framed photograph of a building that has a sign across the roof of it that reads ‘The people are the city.'”

Prioritizing sustainability, she said her goal is getting 100% of the city’s energy from renewables by 2025.

“The new solar panel field that we are going to put at the former Butterworth landfill site will help us meet this goal.”

Mayor Bliss highlighted plans to improve the Grand River corridor including by putting in and connecting 100 miles of urban bike trails.

“Grand Rapids has one of the highest bike-crash rates in the state. Our streets need to be safe for everyone.”

Beyond green goals, Mayor Bliss stressed the need to foster entrepreneurship at any scale.

“I want Grand Rapids to be the place, the best place for businesses, both small and large.”

Examples include streamlining Food Trucks licensing and the promotion of incubators and neighborhood businesses. But regarding neighborhoods, she outlined efforts to promote good relations with police. To that end, she said all officers will wear body cameras by the end of the month, also:

“Officer-involved shootings are being investigated by outside agencies.”

And speaking on disparity, she highlighting the fact that 42% of African Americans in Grand Rapids live in poverty.

“I will reach out to key stakeholders in our community and ask them to join me in creating a strategic action plan to eliminate racial disparities.” 

Credit Mariano Avila / WGVU
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss uses tree as analogy for Grand Rapids during her first State of The City address.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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