The revitalization of Lyon Square will transform and activate a small area of downtown Grand Rapids on the Grand River that is currently underutilized and in need of repairs. This project will give Lyon Square the ability to serve in its current capacity and be a four-season public event space, as well as a connector to regional river and bike trail systems.
The intentionality of the Lyon Square project is to connect Micro Local Business Enterprises (MLBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) with construction and other opportunities while simultaneously training potential laborers through a partnership with the Grand Rapids Community College M-Tec facility. By training and building this local talent, we hope to create a workforce pipeline for Grand River revitalization in the coming years.
Intentional community engagement is an important starting point when involving multiple stakeholders. In comparison to other future river projects, this site is a small piece of the puzzle, but it is a cornerstone of community engagement and collaborative efforts. Maintaining an active presence at current community events to speak on equity and training is critical, and we’re also creating new events and opportunities to engage MLBE and WBE businesses and connect them to varying levels of construction on this project.
As part of our plan to implement equitable economic opportunity, we’ve partnered with Grand Rapids Community College M-Tec to recruit and train laborers to be prepared and take advantage of the jobs and economic opportunities that will be created in the coming years.
The intentionality of connecting MLBE/WBE companies to projects is of the utmost importance. This includes engaging and building relationships with those contracting businesses so they are prepared for opportunities on future projects. Part of that work involves helping these businesses build their capacity by connecting them to resources and community organizations, like Construction Allies in Action, that can assist with the growth and scalability of their business model.
Essentially, we are creating economic opportunities for families and businesses throughout the many communities of Grand Rapids that historically may have been let out of these catalytic projects.
So what’s next? We remain patient for our final obstacles to clear, and we will continue engaging businesses and individuals to connect them to various economic opportunities associated with the Lyon Square project. We’re focused on creating a model with this project that can be replicated throughout the Grand River Greenway corridor in the years to come.
James Peacock III
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
James Peacock III is a Grand Rapids, MI native who is passionate about his community. In September 2021, James began his work with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., as the Economic Opportunity Organizer. In this role, James is essential in leading the workforce development strategies for the Lyon Square project. He is a champion for diversity of people and thoughts.
Outside of his day job, James is the Founder of Grand Rapids Community Work, a local nonprofit committed to making sure men in the community have resources and everyday opportunities. James also enjoys spending time with his kids, puppy, and beautiful wife, Janielle.