The economies of Michigan: Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids
By the numbers

$48 billion

Size of local economy, 2013


Percent economic growth, 2012-2013.


Rank, among 14 metropolitan
regions in Michigan, in terms
of one-year growth


Rank, among 382 metropolitan
regions in country, in terms of
one-year change in GDP


Rank, among 14 Michigan regions,
in overall economic size


Rank, among 382 metropolitan
regions in country, in terms of
one-year change in GDP


Rank nationally, in terms of economic size.
With just over 1 million people over Kent,
Ottawa, Barry and Montcalm counties, the region
is the 52nd largest MSA in population.

The Business Buzz

Pick a sector, any sector – nearly all gained GDP in 2013 compared to 2012. Of the major industries, only government was down, by 2.9 percent in 2013. Manufacturing, the region's largest sector, gained 6.2 percent. It's back up to 25 percent of the overall economy. Arts and entertainment was up by nearly 8 percent, real estate by nearly 8 percent and construction by nearly 7 percent. Real estate stands 17.8 percent above 2007 levels and the educational services sector – which gained 4.1 percent in 2013 – is more than 19 percent above 2007.

All this adds up to a 3.9 percent overall GDP rise, making it 11 percent of state GDP.

“We never gave up on manufacturing here,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place, a Grand Rapids-based regional economic organization. “Yes, there is a future in manufacturing and it is highly technological and advanced.”

She cited a need, however, to better prepare workers for that new future.

“You don't give an unskilled worker a $1 million piece of equipment. These are really good paying jobs but we don't have the labor force to match,” she said.

Top 10 industries: Region’s recovery broad based

The state’s second largest regional economy has seen steady growth across sectors, providing positive economic news in a state long beset with bad.

Sector2013 GDP
(in millions)
Percent of economyPeak yearChange (2013)
from peak
Change from 2007Change from 2012
Finance, insurance$7,91316.5%20130.0%10.9%6.3%
Prof. and business services$5,04810.5%20130.0%3.5%0.6%
Educational services, health care$4,89010.2%20130.0%16.2%4.1%
Wholesale trade$3,8828.1%2005-7.4%-7.7%1.0%
Retail trade$3,2696.8%2003-0.9%7.7%4.8%
Arts, entertainment, recreation,
accommodations, food service
Transportation and

Although it's not an "industry" by federal definition, government services were included in the list.

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Fri, 11/07/2014 - 6:53pm
Ya know, there are some other important regions in this state: Escanaba, Marquette, Sault St. Marie; even though they're Packer fans, the U.P. is actually part of Michigan. Traverse City is also part of Michigan; thought you might need a reminder.
Tue, 11/11/2014 - 9:48am
EB, I agree. How about Mt. Pleasant and north? Maybe just a limitation on the numbers available. But your point is well taken. It would appear that these numbers show that if you live in the major population center (s) of the State, 2013 was a good year. If your location is not part of the major population center (s) it wasn't. Is this a replication of the national numbers where the big cities on the coasts (east south and west) are growing faster than the rest of the country?