Local collaboration leads to local innovation

John Rumery

The City of Grand Rapids
and Local First recently announced their collaborative program, MyGRCity Points. The innovative and free program rewards customers who use the city's Single Stream Recycling Program and volunteer in the community. Points earned can be redeemed at local businesses for discounts on products and services.

"This is the first time Local First has partnered with the city of Grand Rapids," says Elissa Sangalli Hillary, executive director of Local First.   
While working on the details of this program behind the scenes for several months, national organization CEOs for Cities learned of the program and wanted to get involved.  CEOs for Cities is a non-profit organization that works with urban leaders to "catalyze the advancement of the next generation of great American cities." With CEOs for Cities' support, this program has the opportunity to be recognized on a national level.  This, in turn, then can elevate Grand Rapids' profile as an innovative leader in community engagement.

According to Sangalli Hillary, many of the Local First members are "excited by the support the city is showing to locally owned businesses." Besides the positive benefits of recycling and volunteerism, this program has the potential to increase visibility and foot traffic for locally-owned businesses in the various neighborhoods throughout the city.

Blending technology and incentives, the program is fairly simple to understand and administrate. Within the next few months, customers will be able to go online and register for a free MyGRCity Points account.  Once registered, participants can start earning points by participating in wide variety of activities such as using the single stream recycling program, helping to organize community events and volunteering for a wide variety of activities, which will be identified through the website. Individuals then can redeem points at participating local businesses for discounts on products and services. The entire program will be administered online.

The program is scheduled to roll out in three phases, beginning with the recycling program.   The goal is to be fully implemented by the end of 2011. For more information you can visit the website.

Source: Interview with Elissa Sangalli Hillary, City of Grand Rapids Media Release and CEOs for Cities website.

John Rumery is the Innovation and Jobs Editor for Rapid Growth Media. He is an educator, board member of AimWest, WYCE music programmer, entrepreneur, raconteur and competitive barbecuer living in Grand Rapids, MI.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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