2021
ANNUAL REPORT

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Letter from the CEO & Chair 

The Right Place is an organization that drives economic prosperity for all in the Greater Grand Rapids region, aspiring to be a place where everyone can achieve their highest potential. As we close the chapter on another year, it’s clear our region’s collaborative spirit and determination are driving us closer to our goal and propelling the community ahead. 

The recession in 2020 deeply impacted many companies, setting them behind in their objectives. Yet in 2021, business leaders answered with bold decisions that are propelling our economy forward. By working hand in hand with these growing companies, The Right Place is now ahead of pace on our strategic plan metrics for jobs, payroll, and investment. With 1,541 new and retained jobs, $84 million in payroll, and $286 million in capital investment in 2021, we’re on target to close out our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan strong.

The Right Place also took bold steps of its own in 2021, including welcoming a new CEO in March. We reframed our organization’s strategy around three key pillars: People, Place, and Prosperity. This led to many new initiatives, including the launch of our community development department, a diverse supplier directory, collaborating to create a “transformational 12” project list for stimulus investment, the creation of a senior level talent & diversity position in our organization to tackle our region’s highest priority. We gathered 100+ business and community leaders to begin crafting a technology strategy for our region. Much like our region’s health sciences strategy 20 years ago, this strategy is designed to position Greater Grand Rapids as the leading technology cluster in the Midwest.

We also redoubled our business assistance efforts, meeting one-on-one with 400+ companies in 2021. From those conversations, we’ve learned the business community is confident in our region’s future. The overwhelming majority believe our business climate is competitive, and over half are planning to expand soon. Headwinds do remain, such as supply chain disruptions, inflation, and workforce challenges, yet overall our community is optimistic about our future.

 

We must keep building on the momentum our region has seen this past year. This is done by engaging our entire community to create the best and boldest outcomes.  We look forward to working together with you as we position our region for future growth and success in the years to come.

Randy Thelen

President & CEO

The Right Place, Inc. 

Sean P. Welsh

2021 Chair, The Right Place, Inc. 

Regional President, Western MI

PNC Bank

2021 Results

$286M

New Capital Investment

1,541

New and

Retained Jobs

$84M

New and Retained Payroll

912

Jobseeker and Talent Assists

$26.72

Average Wages

 

Strategic Plan Progress
2020-2022

NEW AND RETAINED JOBS
GOAL: 3,400
2020: 953
2021: 1,541
2,494 (73%)
NEW AND RETAINED PAYROLL
GOAL: $184M
2020: $43M
2021: $84M
$127M (69%)
NEW CAPITAL INVESTMENT
GOAL: $500M
2020: $111M
2021: $286M
$397M (79%)
JOB SEEKER AND TALENT ASSISTS
GOAL: 2,900
2020: 986
2021: 912
1,898 (65%)
AVERAGE WAGES (Hourly Rate)
GOAL: $26.35
2021: $26.72
2020: $21.64
2YR AVERAGE:
$24.50
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PEOPLE

We aspire to be a region where everyone can achieve their highest potential. 

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TaRita Johnson hired to lead talent & DEI 

We welcomed TaRita Johnson to The Right Place team as our SVP of Talent & Diversity. With talent being the overwhelming hot topic among our stakeholders in 2021, TaRita will supercharge efforts to better serve the needs of our companies and community in 2022 and beyond. Learn  about TaRita here.

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Intern Connect

This past June our Hello West Michigan team hosted their 8th Annual Intern Connect program, where they offered over 700 West Michigan interns the chance to virtually connect with one another, learn about area companies and engage in professional development sessions.

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Talent Pathways Program launched

We led a collaborative grant application to support the training and up-skilling of local talent, which will lead to increased retention of the workforce. The program’s operating model will amplify the region’s existing infrastructure for engaging employers. We’ll be working closely with our community college partners and local chambers as we deploy the grant in 2022.

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10th Annual ReThink West Michigan 

We held our 10th annual ReThink West Michigan event with Hello West Michigan, a virtual networking event designed to attract talent to West Michigan. With 130 registrants and 20+ participating companies, there were a wide variety of positions available for attendees to explore. Read Hello West Michigan’s blog post on the event here.

 
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PLACE

We aspire to be a region of choice, where people choose to visit, locate, and stay. 

Launch of Community Development Team 

We launched a new team focused on community development pillars throughout the Greater Grand Rapids region such as smart growth planning, infrastructure & transportation, community leadership & engagement, placemaking, transformational site redevelopment and more.

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Site Readiness

With a less than 2% industrial vacancy in the region, site-readiness is one of the top priorities for our region. We’re working closely with our partners at Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, along with a newly assembled site development regional taskforce to identify sites that can welcome future job growth for our community. 

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Diverse Business Directory Launch

We launched a comprehensive Diverse Business Directory in 2021. This filterable database houses an extensive list of local women, veteran, and minority-owned companies. With over 1,300 small businesses in the database, you are certain to find opportunities to diversify and extend your vendor relationships. View the Diverse Business Directory here.

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American Rescue Plan Support

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) pumped $1.9 trillion of stimulus into the U.S. economy. Here in West Michigan, we received $600M across the 13-county region. Our Community Development team helped to inform and advise many of our public partners to develop innovative, long-term initiatives to further our region’s economic growth and prosperity.

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PROSPERITY

We aspire to be a vibrant economy that provides good careers and opportunities for all. 

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Technology Taskforce Launch

On November 16, 2021, we officially kicked-off our Technology Taskforce. Nearly 100 area leaders gathered to begin crafting a tech sector strategy for Greater Grand Rapids. Co-chaired by two Right Place Board Members—Steve Downing, President and CEO of Gentex, and Dr. Richard Pappas, President of Davenport University—this strategy aims to position the Greater Grand Rapids Region as the leading tech cluster in the Midwest. The Technology Taskforce is meeting regularly to develop a plan. Our goal is to share this plan with everyone in Spring of 2022.
Read more.

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BAMF establishes new HQ on Medical Mile

Global theranostics and radiopharmacy innovator Bold Advanced Medical Future Health (BAMF) has established its new HQ. The company expects to add over 200 life science jobs and invest $30 million in its new facility, which is expected to contain the world’s most advanced cyclotron-equipped radiopharmacy, molecular imaging clinic and theranostics clinic. Read more.

Gen3 Expands in Kent County

Gen3 Aerospace and Defense, an electronics and robotics vehicle solution provider, will be expanding its operations. The company is seeking to expand into a much larger facility in Kent County, which will result in the hire of 269 additional employees. They also plan on making a capital investment of $8.69M. Read more.

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Speedrack 

Pallet racking and storage company, Speedrack Products Group, Ltd., will be expanding its Michigan operations to a new facility at 3060 South Industrial Drive NW in the City of Walker. In addition to a capital investment of nearly $65 million, the expansion will bring more than 160 new jobs to the area. Read more.

Autocam Medical Expands

Autocam Medical, a global contract manufacturer of precision, surgical and medical components and devices, is investing $60M through 2024 to expand its manufacturing footprint and capability in West Michigan. This new facility will continue to serve its customers by making products that improve people’s health and is expected to create an additional 250 jobs.

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New Regional Collaborative Launched

In late 2021, we launched a new and improved regional partnership model, and welcomed Mason and Mecosta counties into our regional economic development collaborative. This new format will amplify our efforts by bringing on board the expertise of a local Executive Director in each county, while increasing the entire region’s competitive advantage. Read more about our new partnership model here.

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TEAM

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

View a list of our team here.

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

*Executive Committee Member
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CHAIR

Sean P. Welsh*

Regional President,

Western Michigan PNC Bank

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VICE CHAIR

Tina Freese Decker*

President & CEO,

BHSH System

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TREASURER

Bill Pink, PhD*

President,

Grand Rapids Community College

Stephen M. Abbott – JPMorgan Chase

Rick Baker – Grand Rapids Chamber

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

Matthew K. Becker* – BDO USA, LLP

Wayman P. Britt – Kent County

Luke Cherveny – PwC

Jeffrey L. Connolly – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Ronald G. DeWaard – Varnum LLP

Steve Downing* – Gentex Corporation

Douglas A. Dozeman – Warner, Norcross + Judd LLP

Krista Flynn – Chemical Bank

Patrick Greene – Cascade Die Cast Group Inc.

John Irwin – Huntington National Bank

Jim Keane – Steelcase Inc.

John Kennedy – Autocam Medical

Hyung Kim, MD, MBA – Mercy Health St. Mary's

Blake W. Krueger* – Wolverine Worldwide

Michael P. McGee – Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone PLC

Dr. Philomena Mantella* – Grand Valley State University 

Hank Meijer – Meijer, Inc.

Andi Owen – Herman Miller, Inc.

Richard J. Pappas Ed.D – Davenport University

Matt Paul – DTE Gas

William R. Payne* – BP Ventures

John C. Porterfield – Comerica Bank

Julie Rietberg – Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors

Garrick J. Rochow* – Consumers Energy Company

Tony Sarsam – SpartanNash

Darrel Schmalzel – City of Walker

Richard Sorota – Perrigo

Renee C. Tabben* – Bank of America

Randy Thelen – The Right Place, Inc.

Jim Teets – ADAC Automotive

David Van Andel* – Van Andel Institute

Mike VanGessel – Rockford Construction

Mark Washington – City of Grand Rapids

Thomas G. Welch, Jr. – Fifth Third Bank

Bob Wolford – Miller Johnson

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INVESTORS

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our new and renewing investors of 2021.

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.

 

To view our investors, visit rightplace.org/directory.