Letter from the CEO & Chair
2022 was an exceptional year for The Right Place, and in turn our region, as we worked towards our vision of becoming a leading growth metro in the Midwest. We far surpassed the goals set within our three-year strategic plan for jobs, payroll, and capital investment. The team met with nearly 600 companies to deliver customized business assistance and supported $195M in new capital investment and the creation of 1,143 jobs in our region.
While exceeding our metrics, The Right Place also launched several new initiatives to increase prosperity and accelerate our regional economy. Notably, we collaborated with over 250 regional stakeholders to develop a 10 year-tech strategy. This strategy is designed to grow our region into a top tech hub in the Midwest with 20,000 new tech sector jobs in the next ten years. As part of this strategy, we launched the region’s first annual Tech Week event, which attracted 3,500+ attendees.
As we pursue these aggressive goals, we know achieving them will take an intentional effort to create communities where people want to build their lives. Given the importance of place in economic growth, we’ve doubled down on our placemaking efforts and secured $3.9M in grant funding for nine projects. Once completed, these projects will spur $10 million in investment across the region. We also hosted 140 people for Developer Day, a brand new event designed to give an inside look at emerging and transformative development-ready sites throughout growing communities in Kent County.
In addition to strengthening the region’s sense of place, our team also focused on the people who call our region home. Our goal is to create a community where everyone can reach their highest potential, and this year we built towards this vision via the launch of our Talent Pathways Program, which awarded $265,000 to 16 local manufacturing and tech companies. These grant dollars went to help their team members upskill and earn industry credentials. The team also began hosting a new workshop series, Talent Learning Labs, which provide actionable tactics to address the talent issues currently facing our region’s businesses.
These are just a few of the highlights from an outstanding year. The results detailed in this report would not be possible without your support, and we are grateful for your continued partnership and collaboration. As we close this chapter, our team is looking forward to continuing the momentum we’ve built into 2023 and beyond.
Tina Freese Decker
2022 Chair, The Right Place, Inc.
President & CEO
President & CEO
The Right Place, Inc.
New Capital Investment
New and Retained Payroll
Jobseeker and Talent Assists
Talent Learning Labs
The Talent team at The Right Place hosted two sold-out Talent Learning Labs, which are hands-on workshops to give companies actionable strategies for recruiting diverse talent. In 2023, they will be hosting several more on various topics that aim to support local HR teams.
Talent Equipment Grants
We awarded $272,040 in grant awards to seven local training partners. These funds went to helping partners with talent enhancement, increasing talent productivity, and more.
Hello West Michigan launched Rapid Roots, a program designed for newly transplanted executives to build ties to the community. The guided cohort explored history, culture and the people of West Michigan.
This year's intern connect attracted nearly 400 interns from over 50 local companies. Throughout the summer Hello West Michigan hosted four virtual connection events designed for interns to grow their networks..
ReThink West MI
The Right Place and Hello West Michigan hosted our 11th annual ReThink West Michigan event. This casual networking event attracts hundreds of candidates who are interested in moving back to West Michigan.
Talent Pathways Program
We were awarded $265,000 in funding to distribute to 13 advanced manufacturing and tech companies. These funds are designed to help lower-wage employees earn career building industry certificates and training.
Our Community Development Team launched its first ever Developer Day, a half-day event that brought together more than 140 attendees. Of the attendees, 20% were from outside the region and three were national real estate developers. The group toured 15 sites across the area, including Grandville, Plainfield, Gaines Township, Wyoming, and the City of Grand Rapids.
We assisted in funding nine placemaking projects, totaling $10 million in investment across the region, by securing a $3.6 million grant through the Revitalization and Placemaking Program. This program is tied to the American Rescue Plan.
Industrial Site Readiness
With an extremely low industrial vacancy in the region, our team embarked on identifying as many potential development sites as possible. We narrowed down those 130 sites to 10 Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites across eight counties that total more than 1,400 acres.
Marketing the Riverfront
We're collaborating with the City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., and Grand Action 2.0 on marketing this transformational redevelopment opportunity to national development firms. In 2022, we hosted several visits and tours from developers.
Tech Week Grand Rapids
The Right Place partnered with organizations across the community to host the inaugural Tech Week Grand Rapids. The multi-day event showcased Greater Grand Rapids' vibrant tech community and thriving innovation scene. With 12 community partners, 11 events and more than 3.500 attendees, the week was a tremendous success.
Tech Strategy Launch
We launched a 10-year tech strategy to bring tech jobs up to 10% of regional employment. Early action items include the launch of Tech Week, the East Kentwood Innovation Center, Tech showcases, a cyber co-op program with Davenport University, and beginning scouting trips in Silicon Valley.
We assisted HOLO with moving their HQ from Portland OR to Grand Rapids, creating 61 jobs and generating $1.6M in capital investment.
Twisthink expanded into the MSU Innovation Park in downtown Grand Rapids. This move will create $2.2 million in capital investment and 37 new jobs.
West Contract Manufacturing
West Contract Manufacturing will be expanding its current location in Walker. The Right Place assisted with the project, which will create 200 jobs and generate $38.7 million in new capital investment.
Greece-based snack food manufacturer, SnackCraft, will build its first North American facility in Kentwood. This project will create 185 new jobs and $41.75M in new capital investment.
Cascade Township will be the new location for the North American headquarters of Tecnoform USA, a subsidiary of an Italy-based family-owned manufacturer of upscale furnishings for recreational vehicles. The attraction project will result in 130 new jobs and $7.3M in new capital investment.
Industry 4.0 Grants
We received $588,235 in funding to support Industry 4.0 preparedness and implementation in our region's advanced manufacturers.
Strategic Plan Results
2022 marked the end of our 3-year strategic plan.
You can view our new 2023-2025 Strategic Plan here.
New and Retained Jobs
New and Retained Payroll
New Capital Investment
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Tina Freese Decker*
President & CEO,
Bill Pink, PhD*
Ferris State University
President & CEO,
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
Michael Davenport – Jireh Metal Products, Inc.
Ronald G. DeWaard – Varnum LLP
Jim Dillard – Perrigo Company plc
Katie Ferris – BDO
Krista Flynn – PNC Bank
Patrick Greene – Cascade Die Cast Group Inc.
Joi Harris – DTE Energy
Nick Hrnyak – Lacks Enterprises
Joshua Hulst – Michigan Software Labs
John Kennedy – Autocam Medical
Blake W. Krueger* – Wolverine Worldwide
Charles Lott – Wells Fargo
Dr. Philomena Mantella* – Grand Valley State University
Michael P. McGee – Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone PLC
Hank Meijer – Meijer, Inc.
Andi Owen – MillerKnoll
Milind Pant – Amway Corporation
Richard J. Pappas Ed.D – Davenport University
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
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
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
Bob Wolford – Miller Johnson
*Executive Committee Member
We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our new and renewing investors of 2022.
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.