top of page


Arrow Down

Letter from the Chair & CEO 

As we reflect on the past year here at The Right Place, our team, investors, and partners have many successes to celebrate. Most notably, we hit a major organizational milestone: The creation of over 50,000 jobs in our region since our founding in 1985. This equates to one in ten jobs across the region being directly connected to our work and represents tens of thousands of families whose quality of life has been improved. As we continue working to create more opportunities for all in the region, our team remains focused on three key pillars: People, Place, and Prosperity.

This year our People team worked with hundreds of companies across the region to discuss recruitment and retention strategies, company culture, and other common talent issues. Through our Talent Pathways Program, local manufacturing and tech employees advanced their careers through skill development and earned 348 credentials. Collaborating with Vibrant Futures on a local childcare initiative, we addressed common barriers to childcare, working to find a solution to enable more individuals to participate in the workforce. Our strategic talent partner, Hello West Michigan, also hosted several successful events designed to retain talent in the region, including Intern Connect and the Rapid Roots program.


Our Place initiatives also made significant strides in 2023. We were awarded more than $6 million in regional placemaking grants that will support 17 projects across 9 counties. Our 2nd annual Developer Day event attracted developers from across the state and beyond, showcasing available sites in our region. And Factory Yards secured a Transformational Brownfield – a historic achievement for the West side of the state, marking progress in revitalizing a long-idled building in the Godfrey neighborhood.

Our Prosperity team also had a historic year, meeting with a record 600+ area companies and offering them customized business support and connections. Our marquee event, Tech Week Grand Rapids, more than quadrupled in size to welcome 13,000+ visitors in its second year. Its growth is a testament to our community’s commitment to achieving the goals set forth in the 10-year tech strategy. Additionally, our team won 26 business retention, expansion, and attraction projects across the region that will bring 1,393 jobs and $453M investment to our community.

These highlights represent just a few key achievements from each pillar of People, Place, and Prosperity. Our work in 2023 was vast and multifaceted, impacting our region in numerous positive ways. Thank you for your partnership and support as we continue to drive sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity in our region.

Tina Freese Decker

2023 Chair, The Right Place, Inc. 

President & CEO

Corewell Health

Randy Thelen

President & CEO

The Right Place, Inc. 

2023 Results


New Capital Investment


New and

Retained Jobs


Average Wages


Community Development Investment



MiTalent 360

Our talent team partnered with TalentFirst, Lakeshore Advantage, Greater Muskegon Economic Development, and MEDC to launch the pilot of our new tool, MiTalent360. This assessment is designed to help employers evaluate their employer brand, recruitment, and retention efforts. In 2023, we launched the pilot with 26 companies spanning more than six industries across five counties.

Image (11).jpg
Code, Culture, & Coffee

In 2023, the talent team partnered with West Michigan Tech Talent to host their first Code, Culture, and Coffee event during Tech Week Grand Rapids. The event brought together a diverse collection of some of our best and brightest tech leaders for them to share details about their journeys into tech and the amazing things they do at their organizations

diverse business directory.png
Talent Pathways Program

This year we secured $540,000 in grant funding to launch the Talent Pathways Program. This pilot program was designed to help local manufacturing and tech employees gain the skills and industry credentials needed to advance their careers. Ultimately, 348 credentials were earned by local talent this year via the program.

Intern Connect

Hello West Michigan hosted the 10th annual West Michigan Intern Connect event with record-breaking numbers! Over 700 interns filled a professional development conference covering topics like creating your own unique career path, personal finances & budgeting, and real talk on adulting. The 700+ interns represented over 55 area employers and over 100 colleges and universities around the country.

Rachel Gray Say Hello.jpg
Say Hello Initiative

Hello West Michigan introduced the Say Hello Initiative, which has had a transformative impact throughout 2023. The initiative has resulted in increased outreach, engagement, and talent acquisition. Notably, in July, there was a 3x surge in the number of candidates included in the Weekly Resume Pack, compared to the earlier part of the year, and in September, this increase jumped to 5x. These successes are expected to drive higher attendance at future events.


Developer Day

This year’s event hosted over 200 developers, construction professionals, architects, engineers, finance professionals, and many others involved in the development cycle. Attendees participated in tours of six communities throughout Kent County, including the City of Grand Rapids, the City of Walker, Cascade Township, Plainfield Township, Cedar Springs, and Sparta. Each community highlighted specific development sites, providing insights on 20+ development opportunities. The goal is to bring developers and communities together to highlight project opportunities.

Canal Park Plan_Page_4 (1).jpg
Revitalization & Placemaking

The Right Place was awarded a $6.17M regional placemaking grant that will fund several public place initiatives throughout the region. The investment in public placemaking projects, which brings new vibrancy to a community, is the most visible of economic development tools. The grant will support 17 projects across 9 counties, ranging from an ice-skating rink in Holland to the restoration of Sullivan Field in Grand Rapids. 

Place Matters Summit.jpg
Place Matters Summit

From the valuable insights conveyed by our panelists to the unique venue at Cedar Springs Brewing Company, our inaugural Place Matters Summit brought together 100+ community dreamers, doers and leaders from over 15 counties to discuss and learn about Placemaking and the importance to our prosperity.

Factory Yards.png
Factory Yards

The Right Place, Inc. announced our partnership with Factory Yards on the approval of a Transformational Brownfield Plan. This series of redevelopment and new construction projects will bring an influx of new residents and commercial activity to the Godfrey Corridor in Grand Rapids. The Factory Yards project will bring a $146M investment in southwest Grand Rapids, revitalizing more than 15 acres and creating up to 467 residential units.

Image by Tom Rumble
Statewide Housing Plan

The Right Place, in partnership with Housing Next and the Urban League of West Michigan, is co-leading West Michigan's 13-county regional collaborative that is drafting a regional implementation approach for the State of Michigan's first Statewide Housing Plan. Our regional collaborative has engaged with nearly 300 stakeholders across the region, forming workgroups to refine what priorities, goals, and strategies will be the most impactful in adding new housing options across the region.



Tech Week Grand Rapids

Tech Week returned for its second year in 2023, ft. headline speaker Malcolm Gladwell. This weeklong “Unconference” is designed as a collection of events across the region, all created with the goal of highlighting our vibrant tech and innovation community. This year we welcomed over 13,000 attendees throughout the week to 30+ events. Special thanks to the nearly 50 community and business partners who came together to make this week a success! Mark your calendar for its return the week of Sept. 16th.


The Right Place supported Gentex with their expansion into downtown Grand Rapids last year. The Zeeland-based company opened a technology hub downtown that is designed to help the company support, attract, and retain top engineering talent throughout West Michigan.


In 2023 the MMTC-West team completed 251 projects with 164 companies.

Industry 4.0

Our MMTC-West team awarded 26 companies the Industry 4.0 implementation grant for a total of $592,775.

Falk Panel.jpg
Falk Panel

Panel production company Falk Panel expanded its facility at 1782 Northridge Drive in Walker. They are anticipating $35 million in new investments and the creation of an additional 45 new jobs as they continue their growth in the region.


TiiCKER, the world's first shareholder loyalty and engagement platform, is expanded in Grand Rapids. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $4.8 million and create 73 high-wage jobs over a three-year period. The company chose Michigan for the project over competing sites in Florida, Missouri, and New York.

Jireh Metals

The Right Place assisted Jireh Metal Products with an expansion that will vertically integrate metal fabrication and assembly operations, giving the company greater ability to serve customer needs from prototype to finished parts. The company’s Walker facility will generate capital investment of over $1.5 million and create 50 jobs.


The Right Place's Business Intelligence team is dedicated to providing valuable insights into the economic landscape of the Greater Grand Rapids region. Annually, our team researches and authors comprehensive reports covering a variety of key industries.

Strategic Plan Progress


2023 marked the beginning of our 3-year strategic plan.
You can view our new 2023-2025 Strategic Plan here. 

New & Retained Jobs

2023: 1,393
GOAL: 4,000

New Capital Investment

2023: $453M
GOAL: $500M

Average Wage

2023: $25.02
GOAL: $26.50

Community Development

2023: $112.9M
GOAL: $100M


The Right Place is staffed by a skilled team of economic development and business professionals.

View a list of our team here.

2023 Team Retreat Photo.jpg




Tina Freese Decker*

President & CEO,

Corewell Health



Bill Pink, PhD*


Ferris State University



Steve Downing*

President & CEO,

Gentex Corporation

Stephen M. Abbott – JPMorgan Chase

Sara Armbruster – Steelcase, Inc.

Rick Baker – Grand Rapids Chamber

Norman J. Beauchamp Jr.*, MD MHS – Michigan State University

Matt Biersack, MD – Trinity Health

Luke Cherveny – PwC

Jeffrey L. Connolly – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Shawn Crowley – Atomic Object

Michael Davenport – Jireh Metal Products, Inc.

Lauren Davis – Huntington

Ronald G. DeWaard – Varnum LLP

Jim Dillard – Perrigo Company plc

Katie Ferris – BDO

Joi Harris – DTE Energy

Nick Hrnyak – Lacks Enterprises

Joshua Hulst – Michigan Software Labs

John Kennedy – Autocam Medical

Blake W. Krueger* – Wolverine Worldwide

Charles Lepper – Grand Rapids Community College

Charles Lott – Wells Fargo

Dr. Philomena Mantella* – Grand Valley State University

Megan Norris – Miller Canfield

Andi Owen – MillerKnoll

Milind Pant – Amway Corporation

Richard J. Pappas Ed.D – Davenport University

Julie Rietberg – Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors

Garrick J. Rochow* – Consumers Energy Company

Tony Sarsam – SpartanNash

Rich Sorota – Miller Johnson

Tom Stritzinger – Comerica Bank

Julius Suchy – Ada Township

Renee C. Tabben* – Bank of America

Jim Teets* – ADAC Automotive

Randy Thelen* – The Right Place, Inc.

David Van Andel* – Van Andel Institute

Al Vanderberg – Kent County

Mike VanGessel – Rockford Construction

Sozon Vatikiotis – Acrisure

Mark Washington – City of Grand Rapids

Mark J. Wassink – Warner, Norcross & Judd LLP

Thomas G. Welch, Jr. – Fifth Third Bank

Sean P. Welsh* – PNC Bank

*Executive Committee Member



We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our new and renewing investors of 2023.

Through your investment, we have been able to accomplish many things in the last year. With your unwavering support we are able to continue our work to create a sustainable and thriving economy for all in the Greater Grand Rapids region.


1 Bold Step

42 North Partners


Acrisure, LLC.

Ada Township

ADAC Automotive

ADHD Online, LLC.

Advantage Benefits Group

Advantage Commercial Real Estate


Alpine Township



Andy J Egan Company, Inc.

Aon Risk Solutions

Applied Innovation

Aquinas College

Array of Engineers

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

Atomic Object, LLC


Autocam Medical

Auxo Investment Partners

AvaSure Inc.


Baker Holtz P.C.

Bank of America

Barnes & Thornburg LLP


Behler-Young Company

Ben M. Muller Realty Co.

Beverlin Manufacturing Corp.

Biotech Restorations LLC



Blackford Capital Associates Inc.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Bluewater Hayes Inc.

Bradford White Corporation



Buist Electric Inc.

Burgess Concrete Construction

Byrne Electrical Specialists, Inc.


Caledonia Charter Township

Calvin University


Cascade Charter Township

Cascade Die Casting

Cascade Partners

CD Barnes Construction


ChoiceOne Bank

City Innovations

City of Cedar Springs

City of East Grand Rapids

City of Grand Rapids

City of Grandville

City of Kentwood

City of Rockford

City of Walker

City of Wyoming

Clark Communications

Classic Transportation & Warehousing

Coldwell Banker Commercial - Schmidt Realtors

Comerica Bank

Comfort Research

Commercial Alliance of REALTORS

Common Sail Investment Group

Construction Simplified, Inc.

Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Energy Foundation

Corewell Health

Crowe LLP

Crystal Flash

CS Erickson



D + M Metal Products

Dan Vos Construction Company

Davenport University


DeWys Metal Solutions

Digital Industry Group



DornerWorks Ltd

DP Fox Ventures, LLC

Driesenga & Associates, Inc.

DTE Energy Foundation


Echelbarger, Himebaugh, Tamm and Co., PC

Eenhoorn LLC

EG Workforce Solutions

Mike Ellis

Elzinga & Volkers, Inc.

Erhardt Construction

Ernst & Young LLP

Express Employment Professionals


Ferris State University

Feyen Zylstra

Fifth Third Bank, West Michigan

First Merchants Bank

First National Bank of Michigan


Fleetwood Group, Inc.

Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering, Inc.



Foresight Management

Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC

Four Square Ventures

Franklin Partners LLC



Gaines Charter Township

General Motors Company

Gentex Corporation

Gerald R. Ford International Airport



Gordon Food Service Inc

Grand Rapids Charter Township

Grand Rapids Community College

Grand Rapids Controls Co LLC

Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing

Grand River Bank

Grand Valley State University

Granger Construction

Great Lakes Commercial Finance

Greater Regional Alliance of REALTORS

GTF Technologies


H & S Companies, PC

Horizon Bank

HR Collaborative

Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors




Independent Bank


Irwin Seating Company

ITC Holdings Corp.


Jireh Metal Products Inc

Jones Lang LaSalle, IP, Inc. - GR

JP Morgan Chase & Co.


Kaiser IT Group

Kent Companies Inc

Kent County


Keystone Solutions Group


Lacks Enterprises Inc

LaFleur Marketing

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lakewood Construction

Lee Contracting

Leggett & Platt, Inc.

Lighthouse Insurance Group, Inc.

Lowell Charter Township

Lumbermen's, Inc.


Macatawa Bank Corporation

Materials Testing Consultants, Inc.

Mattson Financial Services, LLC

McAlvey, Merchant & Associates

Medbio, Inc.

Meijer, Inc.

Meritage Hospitality Group Inc

Michigan Software Labs

Michigan State University

Midwest Capital Advisors

Mighty in the Midwest

Miller Johnson

Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.



Mitchell Intellectual Property Law

MLive Media Group, LLC

Moore & Bruggink, Inc.

Morant Law


Mutually Human


NAI Wisinski of West Michigan

Nexus Software Solutions

Nicolai North America

Ninth Brain

NN Mobile Solutions

Northgate Holdings LLC


NuWave Technology Partners


Orka Automation


Packaging Compliance Labs


Payload CMS



Pioneer Construction

Plainfield Charter Township

Plante Moran

Pleune Service Company

PNC Bank

Pondera Advisors

Praeco Skills, LLC

Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP

Progressive Companies

Pure Architects


Quality Air


Rainstar Capital Group

RDV Corporation

Rehmann Group


Rockford Construction Company, Inc.

RoMan Manufacturing Inc.

ROWE Professional Services Company


S. A. Morman & Co.

Schneider Electric SA

SecurAlarm Systems, Inc.

Signature Associates


Spartan Innovations


SpinDance, Inc.

Steelcase, Inc.

Stewart Ponitz Group

Surus Transport



Symplicity Communications, Inc.


TACK Electronics, Inc.

Tech Defenders

Tesa Tape Inc

The Christman Company

The Huntington National Bank

Think Chromatic

Third Coast Development


Trailhead Technology Partners


Triangle Associates, Inc.

Trinity Health Grand Rapids




Unist Inc

United Bank of Michigan


Van Andel Institute

Van Haren Electric

Varnum LLP

Veneklasen Construction

Village of Sparta


Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

Waséyabek Development Company LLC

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

West Michigan Community Bank

West Michigan Plumbers, Fitters and Services Trades - Local Union 174

Western Michigan University

Westwater Group

White Knight Labs

Whitecaps Community Foundation

Williams Distributing Co.


Wolverine Building Group

Wolverine Coil Spring Co

Wolverine Worldwide, Inc.



bottom of page