GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of Democratic House members met in Grand Rapids on Monday to talk about urban economic development, a subject they say has been too long ignored.

The meeting was the beginning of what its organizer, Rep. Kristian Grant, D-Grand Rapids, hopes will turn into a statewide conversation.

Lawmakers from across the state met to talk about ways to improve the quality of life and create economic opportunities for people who live in what they say are now underserved inner cities and other areas.

“When we look at urban economic development, it’s really a conversation around how do you handle investment for core parts of the state who have been underinvested in for so long and how can we stop punishing those areas because they haven’t been invested in and instead come alongside them to address policies that have intentionally place barriers in their path and also while addressing that policy, create policies that will provide outcomes that will include opportunity in communities and paths to wealth creation,” she said.

The freshman representative said affordable housing will be one key to urban economic development and that she hopes a separate funding source dedicated to that end is something that could be developed.