RPI Newsletter - Q3 2019

Quarter 3 - 2019




T H E F U T U R E O F WO R K I N M I C H I G A N ’ S MA N U FA C T U R I N G S E C TO R How do you hire, train and motivate employees so they’ll thrive in the Industry 4.0 era? Join us on August 27 to learn what leading Michigan manufacturers are doing to prepare and transform their teams for the future. This free webinar will feature manufacturing executives sharing insights and methods that helped them prepare their people for the age of automation, AI and IIoT. This 50-minute webinar will provide actionable, real-world talent strategies information for owners, C-suite executives, engineers, HR professionals and operations managers in Michigan’s manufacturing sector. Register today at: mibiz.com/INDUSTRY40





Economic Development Progress Update

FEATURE ARTICLE: The State of the Region

Investor Spotlight Erhardt Construction

2019 Projects & 3-Year Progress




Calendar of Events

Dataconomy Agribusiness

Projects VDA Labs, LLC Feyen Zylstra G-M Wood Products

14 17


Inside RPI Learn what's new at The Right Place

Talent Intern Connect Recap

Investor Breakfast

The importance of supplier diversity





New Jobs

Retained Jobs




Allegiant Air




Stone Fox Ventures




Andronaco Industries




Unist, Inc.








Design Manufacturing LLC




Feyen Zylstra Companies




Riverridge Cider Co., LLC








G-M Wood Products Inc.








Clarion Technologies - Greenville





523 $32,258,450 $88,902,576

2019 TOTAL: 523



3-YEAR TOTAL: 4,124

3-YEAR GOAL: 4,200

2019 TOTAL: $32,258,450

ANNUAL GOAL: $50,000,000



3-YEAR TOTAL: $196,804,029

3-YEAR GOAL: $150,000,000

2019 TOTAL: $88,902,576

ANNUAL GOAL: $167,000,000



3-YEAR TOTAL: $649,288,322

3-YEAR GOAL: $500,000,000




Full-scope cyber security company Vulnerability Discovery & Analysis Labs, LLC (VDA Labs) has expanded to a new location on Plainfield Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. The expansion will create 25 jobs and a capital investment of $300,000. VDA Labs was founded in 2007 to make the world safer by providing world class cyber security services, products, and training. VDA helps customers throughout the state of Michigan, as well as national and international clients. In the past, VDA has worked on projects involving securing new tech in automobiles, conducting ethical hacking for companies to help them proactively fix bugs, monitoring alerts and conducting incident response in emergency situations, and even high-end security research for companies like Microsoft. VDA’s current employees will move into the existing 3,000 square foot location that will house lab and office space, as well as room for product design and security review. “We’re investing in the future of our people, processes, and technology,” said Dr. Jared DeMott, founder & CEO, VDA Labs. “We continue to expand our efforts to make our customers and the world safer. Cybercrime is quickly becoming the number one threat to businesses and people everywhere, and we’re proud to serve on the front lines of combating the threat.” The Right Place assists cyber security company with expansion

The MEDC is supporting the expansion effort with the approval of a $75,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. “We’re seeing West Michigan’s technology sector continue to grow as more companies choose to invest in our region,” said Jen Wangler, Senior Business Development Manager at The Right Place, Inc. and project lead on the VDA Labs project. “VDA Labs’ decision to establish its first campus in Plainfield Township speaks to the quality of our talent and ability to provide a strong foundation for growing tech companies.” “Plainfield Township is thrilled to welcome VDA Labs to our community,” said Cameron VanWyngarden, superintendent, Plainfield Charter Township. “In an ever- changing economy, we are excited to see growth in our local technology industry, especially from companies that are home- grown in West Michigan.” For more information, visit: vdalabs.com .




The Right Place assists Feyen Zylstra with local expansion

The MEDC is supporting the expansion effort with the approval of a $570,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The Right Place also connected Feyen Zylstra to workforce development resources at West Michigan Works! to assist with worker training. “IIoT and automation are the future, and these trends are already impacting many industries in West Michigan,” said Jen Wangler, Senior Business Development Manager and project lead, “Having a company like Feyen Zylstra choose the City of Walker for an expansion involving a considerable amount of high-tech jobs speaks volumes of our region’s ability to attract and retain highly skilled talent.” “Feyen Zylstra’s choice to build a second facility in the City of Walker is a testament to the strength of our city and workforce,” said Darrel Schmalzel, City Manager, City of Walker, “We are grateful they have chosen to continue their remarkable growth in our community, and we look forward to supporting them as they expand into their new location.” For more information, visit: feyenzylstra.com .

City of Walker, and three other offices in Kalamazoo, Traverse City and Auburn Hills. Additionally, the firm has two offices located in Nashville, Tenn. and Charleston, S.C. The company is purchasing and renovating a 20,000 square foot building in the City of Walker which will be used to house Feyen Zylstra’s industrial tech employees, including automation engineers, software developers, coders and programmers. “As the markets and industries we serve continue to grow and evolve, we intend to lead the market by offering the most innovative solutions,” said Nate Koetje, CEO, Feyen Zylstra “With manufacturers racing to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0, this expansion will enable us to provide specialized technical solutions and fanatical service to our rapidly expanding customer group. We are thankful for the support of The Right Place and their partners at the MEDC and City of Walker for assisting uswith this expansion process.”

Industrial technology and electrical services firm, Feyen Zylstra, recently announced the expansion of its West Michigan operations. The company will establish a second location in the City of Walker, leading to the creation of 100 high-tech jobs and a capital investment of $5.3 million. Founded locally in 1980, Feyen Zylstra now has nearly 700 employees around the United States. The electrical services and industrial technology company focuses on solving complex problems associated with the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical, low voltage, and automation systems. Feyen Zylstra currently has four Michigan locations, including its headquarters in the




The Right Place assists Newaygo manufacturer with plant expansion

“We are thrilled that G-M Wood Products has chosen to once again bring jobs and investment to our community and are proud to support their growth here in Newaygo.” said JonSchneider, CityManager, City of Newaygo. For more information, visit: gmcompanies.com .

“G-M Wood Products has been a part of the Newaygo community for over 30 years,” said Mark Micho, President, G-M Wood Products, “We’reexcited thatwe’ve beenable to continue growing and creating jobs here and are thankful The Right Place and the City of Newaygo have supported us along the way.” TheRight Placeworked incollaborationwith G-MWoodProductsand theCityof Newaygo to assist the company with its continued growth in the region. The expansion will be supported locally by a P.A. 198 tax abatement from the City of Newaygo. As a business that has operated out of Newaygo for more than three decades, G-M Wood Products plays an important role in this community. Their decision to continue growing locally points to the strength of our region’s manufacturing industry.

G-MWood Products, a wood components manufacturer, will be expanding its current facility at 460 Clay Street in Newaygo. This expansion will result in the creation of 20 new jobs and a capital investment of $6.5 million. G-M Wood Products manufactures and distributes frames and structural components for the door and window industries. Founded in 1987 in the City of Newaygo, the company has now established three plants in the area, as well as an additional facility in Toccoa, Georgia. The expansion will add 140,000 square feet to one of the company’s existing buildings and will house high-skill manufacturing processes. G-M Wood Products currently has 126 employees in Newaygo and will add 20 more positions as part of its expansion.



Skot Welch, Principal/Founder, Global Bridgebuilders

Derek Ludwig, Vice President of Global Procurement, Steelcase

The importance of supplier diversity Investor Breakfast

In 2015, Forbes named Grand Rapids as the second worst city in the nation for African Americans to prosper. This came as a stark contrast to the long list of accolades the region receives on an annual basis. Our community has been tackling this topic head-on, but there is still a lot more work to be done. That's why The Right Place recently hosted an Investor Breakfast at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) on the topic of Supplier Diversity. A panel of speakers provided insight on how and when companies should be diversifying not only their supply chain, but their business operations as a whole. The panel included the participants shown above and was moderated by Skot Welch, Principal/Founder, Global Bridgebuilders. Each of these panelists tackle the topic of diversity in different capacities within their organizations and brought unique perspectives to the morning’s discussion.

WHAT DOES SUCCESSFUL DIVERSIFICATION LOOK LIKE? For any supply chain to be successful, says Ludwig, it must be both competitive and sustainable. In that same vein, the individuals making up the supply chain must be able to approach problems in a way that drives an innovative solution. Welch points towards studies that have found heterogeneous groups to be smarter and more innovative than those that are not. Innovation is born out of diverse thinkers collaborating together to solve a common problem. The Hispanic community now accounts for nearly 17% of West Michigan’s population, according to Cisneros. His question for employers was whether or not their workforce reflects the true makeup of the community they’re in. This factor, Cisneros says, is a key indicator of successful diversification efforts.

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, WHO LEADS DIVERSIFICATION? The panelists agreed diversity initiatives come into existence at the hands of executive-level leadership. The decision makers of an organization are the ones with the ability to fuel, or stall, diversification efforts from the start. Stakeholder buy-in is a critical factor in the success of making diversity an effective and meaningful business strategy. However, middle-management and the rest of the workforce are also vital to the success of diversification. While those at the top may create these concepts for their organizations, the people responsible for breathing life into them are those who are working on the ground, day-in and day-out. This means the desire to diversify must come from all levels of the organization. If it doesn’t, implementation will fail as it gets lost in the mix of what’s both familiar and comfortable.



Brenda Marshall, EPrincipal, Global Diversity Solutions, Kelly Services

Joe Matthews, Vice President, Purchasing and Diversity Officer, Gentex

Guillermo Cisneros, Executive Director, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

This is about keeping our community competitive;

winning via a strategy of inclusion. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s about creating value, creating competitiveness, and driving community wealth and growth

DEVELOPING YOUR DIVERSE SUPPLY CHAIN Lack of diversity in supply chains is not a new problem, but even as conversations shift to diversification, many companies resist change because they feel minority suppliers do not have the capacity or skill to deliver what they’re accustomed to. This is part of the process, the panelists say. As West Michigan businesses more frequently turn tominority-owned suppliers for their supply chain, they will need to take steps to develop strong, meaningful relationships with them. Putting in the time and effort to guide these suppliers forward, Ludwig says, can lead to diverse suppliers bringing even greater value to the table than traditional ones.


in the diversity and talent development of our community?” Ludwig pointed out that this challenge cannot be solved all at once. Small steps in the right direction will ultimately result in a rich and effective process for diversity and inclusion within your company. “This is about keeping our community competitive; winning via a strategy of inclusion. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s about creating value, creating competitiveness, and driving community wealth and growth,” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of The Right Place, “Safe is the new risky. Take a risk, take those first steps to help develop these businesses into what they have the potential to be.”

In Marshall’s eyes, the ship has already sailed, and those who aren’t on board are going to be struggling to catch up, “If your company is not being inclusive or diverse, it’s not going to be able to effectively compete in theglobal marketplace,” she says. Cisneros believes it’s not a matter of if companies choose to diversify, but when. Demographics are rapidly changing, and soon, more people will demand to know why businesses are not becoming more diverse, even as the community is. Whoever starts this transformation early will have an advantage in the years to come. THE BIGGER PICTURE Rounding out the panel discussion, Cisneros asked attendees, “How are you investing


In short, the answer is now. The stars will not align to present you with the perfect time to make these changes, says Matthews. Companies should already be actively working to diversify their supply chains in a meaningful way.



T he West Michigan economy has experienced significant growth since the Great Recession. Many West Michigan businesses are thriving and the region’s job market numbers are outpacing the state and national figures in many instances. While the region has been growing at a rapid pace, we are beginning to see signs this pace is cooling slightly. Persistent challenges, such as a tight labor market and volatility in several industries, continue to affect business in the region. Those are the high-level insights our team has drawn based on both our organization’s economic development work last year and the quantitative labor market information available forWest Michigan. This report will detail some of the trends we are seeing in the data and observing as we meet with companies in the region. We meet with nearly 400 companies annually in the region to assist them with their business growth and any challenges they may be facing. Specifically, we serve businesses in Kent, Ionia, Montcalm, Newaygo, Lake, and Oceana counties. During these meetings, we talk with companies about their future plans and any barriers to growth they are experiencing. These conversations give us qualitative insights into the economic health of the industries we serve, which include advanced manufacturing, food processing and agribusiness, information technology and communications, and medical devices and life sciences. Our business research and intelligence team is then able to compare that information with quantitative labor market information from the Economic Modeling Specialists International platform (EMSI). This combination of qualitative and quantitative data provides a more complete picture of regional economic trends inWestMichigan, which are detailed in the following sections. WHAT AREAS OF WEST MICHIGAN ARE INCLUDED? For this article, we have included the six counties where The Right Place provides direct business development support services to local businesses: Kent, Ionia, Newaygo, Montcalm, Lake, and Oceana counties.

REGIONAL JOB GROWTH TRENDS Sources: • Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) • Bureau of Labor Statistics - Local Area Unemployment Statistics To begin, we will dive into Emsi’s quantitative data on regional job growth trends for West Michigan. Despite regional unemployment rates hovering between 3-4% the past two years, employers in the region added nearly 12,575 jobs between 2016 and 2018, and the overall job growth rate was 3% across all industries. While job growth was slightly stronger than the state and national rates of 2%, the region added half as many jobs between 2016-2018 as it did between 2015-2017. This is likely due to a combination of an extremely tight labor market and other global trends playing out in the region. JOB GROWTH BY INDUSTRY SECTOR Four industry sectors continued to lead West Michigan’s job growth between 2016 and 2018: agribusiness and food processing, advanced manufacturing, construction, and services. (See Figure 1) Although employers across all industries contributed to West Michigan’s notable job growth rate, these industries experienced some of the strongest growth.

ADVANCEDMANUFACTURING (+3% job growth, 2,000 new jobs) Manufacturing job growth inWest Michigan grew by 3%. That figure is slightly lower than Michigan’s 4% growth rate, however, both the region and state considerably exceeded the nation’s manufacturing growth rate of 1%. West Michigan continues to maintain its long-standing reputation of being a leader in this industry. Within the advanced manufacturing sector, three supply chain-related subsectors continued to experience notable job growth, indicating the strength of West Michigan’s manufacturing supply chain: Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing (+10%, 682 new jobs), Machinery Manufacturing (+5%, 470 new jobs), Transportation and Equipment Manufacturing (+2%,316 new jobs), and Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing (+9%, 165 new jobs). AGRIBUSINESS & FOOD PROCESSING (+3% job growth, 550 new jobs) Agribusiness and food processing job growth in West Michigan experienced a 3% job growth rate, on par with state growth and slightly faster than the national rate of 2%. Within that sector, food manufacturing jobs rose 11%.

Figure 1.


0% 1% 6% 5% 4% 3% 2%

Ag & Food Processing

Advanced Manufacturing



West Michigan


United States



Several projects The Right Place assisted with last year involved the creation of jobs in these fields. One example is our project with Virginia-based cyber security company, GRIMM. We worked with the company to ensure they selected Michigan as the location for their cybersecurity research lab. The project will create 27 high-tech jobs and a $621,000 capital investment in the Village of Sparta.

Another important area within this industry is the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services subsector, which experienced 2% job growth (232 new jobs) from 2016 to 2018 – down 2 percentage points from 2015-2017. This sector includes a wide variety of positions requiring a high degree of expertise and training such as IT, accounting, legal, architecture, engineering, design, and management.

Foremost Farms is an example of this growth. Last year, our team worked on an expansion project with the farmer-owned milk processing and marketing cooperative. With about 1,400 dairy farmer members and $1.5 billion in annual sales, The Right Place and Foremost Farms announced the company would invest $57.9 million in an expansion, adding 33 jobs to its Greenville facility. CONSTRUCTION (+8% job growth, 1,670 new jobs) Overall, construction jobs jumped by 8%, a faster pace than the state (6%) and nation (5%). West Michigan subcontractors and general contractors saw explosive job growth, but subcontractors in particular accounted for over half of the sector’s growth. These are businesses involved in building construction, but not responsible for the entire project, such as electricians, building material providers, safety and security suppliers, etc. SERVICES (+1% job growth, 915 new jobs) At a 1% job growth rate, the region’s services sector continues to grow, but at a slower pace than it did between 2015 and 2017. One sector heavily inf luencing in this industry’s growth is Administrative and Support Services, which grew a rapid 20% between 2015-2017. However, growth calmed in 2016-2018 to 0.4%. The Temporary Help Services subsector withinAdministrative and Support Services is the largest subsector in the services industries. While the jobs fall under this category, workers actually work at companies in manufacturing, call centers, warehousing, and other industries.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.

VISITS BY COMPANY ANNUAL SALES $0-10 Million – 46% $10-50 Million – 36% $50.1-200 Million – 11% $200 – 500 Million – 4% $500M+ – 3%


Advanced Manufacturing – 56% IT & Communications – 20% Other Industries – 12% Life Sciences & Medical Device – 3% Food Processing & Agribusiness – 9%

Figure 4.

Figure 5.

VISITS BY COMPANY EMPLOYMENT TRENDS Increasing Employment – 61% Companies that report... Stable Employment – 37% Decreasing Employment – 2%

VISITS BY COMPANY SALES TRENDS Increasing Sales – 79% Companies that report... Stable Sales – 20% Decreasing Sales – 1%



WEST MICHIGAN BUSINESSES WEIGH-IN Sources: • The Right Place Business Retention Meeting Data • Bureau of Labor Statistics - Local Area Unemployment Statistics The previously described quantitative data from EMSI is critical to understanding the current state of our region, but the aggregated qualitative insights our team receives frommeeting with local companies paints a more complete picture of the economic health of our region. Of the 400 companies our teammeets with annually, most are manufacturers and middle market companies with annual revenue between $1o million-$500 million. (See Figures 2 & 3) GROWTH ON THE HORIZON The majority (61%) of businesses our teammet with in 2018 reported increasing employment, which is down only two percentage points from the previous year’s 63%. 79% of businesses also reported increasing sales, down a slight four percentage points from 2017. (See Figures 4 & 5) Overall, this data shows that while growth did decline nominally, the majority of businesses have a positive outlook for the future. Many companies are reporting plans for upcoming expansions, with nearly 60% expecting toexpand in the next threeyears. These expansion plans, which would include adding to an employment base or investing in capital equipment or buildings, have the potential to continue driving the West Michigan economy forward. Our teamworks as trusted partners to connect these companies to resources, removing barriers to growth and assisting with their continued success in the region. TALENT TROUBLES PERSIST Challenges finding and retaining a talented and skilled workforce continue to plague employers around the region and nation. According to our meeting data, more than 60% of all companies, including 65% of manufacturers, are facing recruitment problems. WhileWest Michigan’s workforce growth rate (9.0%) is more than double that of the state (3.8%) and nation (4.3%), several years of record-low unemployment in conjunction with other factors continue creating barriers for employers looking to hire.


The talent crunch is a nationwide dilemma, with employers around the country experiencing similar workforce woes. Regions able to develop effective solutions will find themselves at an advantage when it comes to global competitiveness. With this in mind, The Right Place continues to work with local and statewide partners to ensure the West Michigan workforce possesses the skills companies need both now and in the future. What jobs and skills are West Michigan's manufacturers and other high-tech companies looking for? Check out the side bar on this page to learn more. Inclusion remains a challenge for many companies that are actively recruiting female and non-white employees. A low supply of candidates combined with an increasingly high demand for the diversification of West Michigan’s workforce presents companies with significant barriers to accomplishing this goal. MOVING FORWARD IN 2020 After combining our insights from West Michigan businesses and the EMSI labor market data our team has analyzed, we expect slightly slower growth as we move towards 2020. However, many of the region’s industries are still experiencing job growth rates that out-pace the state and nation as a whole, and companies plan to invest in their businesses to continue growing their operations. If you would like to meet with The Right Place to discuss your future business opportunities and challenges, please contact us at info@rightplace.org to set up a confidential meeting. A member of our team of experts will visit your company and assist you with accessing a wide variety of resources to keep you competitive locally, domestically, and globally. We look forward to working with you.

What jobs and skills are West Michigan's manufacturers and other high-tech companies looking for? We used EMSI’s job posting analytics tool to validate what we’ve heard from companies.

MANUFACTURING SECTOR IN-DEMAND JOBS: • Machine Operator • General Unskilled Labor

• Assembly • Machinist • Welder • Tool & Die Maker • Engineer – Mechanical

REQUIRED SOFT SKILLS FOR MANUFACTURING JOBS: • Management • Communications • Operations • Sales • Leadership REQUIRED HARD SKILLS FOR MANUFACTURING JOBS: • Continuous Improvement Process • Warehousing • Packaging and Labeling • Automation • Manufacturing Processes I.T. SECTOR IN-DEMAND JOBS: • Software Developer • Sales • UX Designer • Project Manager • Software Engineer • Information Security • Technician

TOP I.T. SKILLS: • IT Service Management

• SQL (Programming Language) • Agile Software Development • Java and JavaScript (Programming Language) • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Source: Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI)





If you asked what industry Michigan is known for, most people would likely say manufacturing. While it’s true that the state holds undeniable strength in a wide variety of manufacturing sectors, West Michigan holds domestic and global competitiveness in another area, too. Agriculture, or the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock, is an exceptionally strong and thriving sector in West Michigan. Regional agriculture firms and manufacturers that process the plant and livestock they produce make up what is referred toas the ‘agribusiness’ sector. Today’s West Michigan farmers – which include growers and producers of food and animal products, and processors, such as food and beverage manufacturers, work in partnership with the region’s industrial manufacturing base. Together, these two powerful industries have established themselves as global players in the agribusiness space and have a significant economic impact on the region.



2018 JOBS


Agribusiness (Agriculture + Food & Beverage Manufacuring)




Manufacturing (Food & Beverage Manufacuring)




Agriculture (Crop & Animal Production)






When evaluating the data below, it’s clear agribusiness in West Michigan is strong and actively growing. Since the beginning of 2018, 69% of the companies in this sector have reported an increase in sales, 36% reported an increase in employment base, and 42%have plans toexpandwithin the next three years. Since January of 2017, The Right Place has worked with 14 different companies within the Agribusiness cluster to expand or enter the West Michigan market. These projects have helped create or retain 413 jobs, $18.7M in payroll, and more than $150.6M in capital investment. The companies range from food and snack manufacturers, chicken egg producers, candy makers, dairy processors, salad dressing manufacturers, food processing equipment manufactures, and highly technical food safety related chemical manufacturers.

MANUFACTURING IN MICHIGAN Michigan’s manufacturing strength is a bit less dependent upon natural geographic factors, relying more on the ingenuity and innovative skills of Michigan residents. As a peninsula, Michigan isn’t necessarily a logical place to produce goods and export them outside the region; yet Michigan, and particularly West Michigan, remains one of the most competitive manufacturing hubs in the union. There are over 157,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector in West Michigan, which is 250% more concentrated than the national average. AGRIBUSINESS IN THE REGION To get a better sense of where these job numbers are coming from and what they're producing, it helps to see these sectors broken down into the sub-categories found below.

WHY AGRICULTURE THRIVES IN WEST MICHIGAN Both at a state and regional level, the agriculture industry touts a long and proud history. Much of Michigan’s strength in this sector is due to geographic influence. With over 9,600 miles of freshwater shorelineand thousands of inland lakes and rivers, growers and producers statewide have access to an astounding amount of clean and fresh water. Michigan also houses more than 56,500 square miles of land and slightly under 10 million residents, making it the 10th most populous state in the union. That land has a relatively even topography, allowing many residents to grow, farm and consume locally produced agricultural goods. Additionally, aside from the occasional winter blizzard, the climate is relatively mild and predictable. All of these factors, combined with a knowledgeable, high- performing farming community, attribute to Michigan’s diverse agriculture industry.

Data Source: Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI)


FRUIT & VEGETABLE PRESERVING/ SPECIALTY FOOD MANUFACTURING 2018 Jobs: 3,450 5-Year Job Growth: 9% Number of Businesses: 24 Regional Job Concentration: 410% > Natl. Avg. ANIMAL PRODUCTION & AQUACULTURE 2018 Jobs: 5,700 5-Year Job Growth: 8% Number of Businesses: 217 Regional Job Concentration: 270% > Natl. Avg.

GRAIN & OILSEED MILLING 2018 Jobs: 1,620

5-Year Job Growth: 1% Number of Businesses: 5 Regional Job Concentration: 540% > Natl. Avg.

CROP PRODUCTION 2018 Jobs: 9,900 5-Year Job Growth: -4% Number of Businesses: 418 Regional Job Concentration: 240% > Natl. Avg. BAKERIES & TORTILLA MANUFACTURING 2018 Jobs: 3,500 5-Year Job Growth: 26% Number of Businesses: 48 Regional Job Concentration: 220% > Natl. Avg.

DAIRY PRODUCTS 2018 Jobs: 2,100

5-Year Job Growth: 18% Number of Businesses: 25 Regional Job Concentration: 200% > Natl. Avg.



5-Year Job Growth: 55% Number of Businesses: 45 Regional Job Concentration: 140% > Natl. Avg.

5-Year Job Growth: 26% Number of Businesses: 46 Regional Job Concentration: = Natl. Avg.



HelloWest Michigan brings over 600 interns together at Intern Connect

employment opportunities. Interns are a critical part of the talent pipeline for companies, as 49% percent of internships evolve into full-time employment. Interested in getting involved with Intern Connect 2020? ContactHelloWestMichigan Program Manager, Jessica Kuster, to learn more: kusterj@hellowestmichigan.com

• Connecticut • Florida • Georgia • Illinois • Indiana • Kansas

• Montana • New York • North Carolina • Ohio • Pennsylvania • Texas

On June 19, 2019, Hello West Michigan hosted its 6th annual Intern Connect event in downtown Grand Rapids. For the first time, the event was held at 20 Monroe Live, and was organized to mirror a conference-style format instead of a purely networking-based one. The conference delivered an engaging day of professional development and real- world advice on life after graduation. From ‘adulting’ todressing for success, the content touchedmany items students aren’t likely to find in their classroom curriculum. The event proved to be a huge success, with the largest turnout of any Intern Connect in the organization’s history. More than 600 attendees registered, representing 85 companies and over 57 colleges. Additionally, 10% of the interns came from colleges outside of Michigan, representing universities in 12 states, including:

Intern connect is the largest gathering of interns in the region and is designed to educate interns about career opportunities and lifestyle inWest Michigan. Interns are able to networkwith participating employers at the event, with the hopes that many of them will choose to stay in the region at the end of their internships for full-time

Regional economic health tied to success for Erhardt Construction

ingredient to the health and growth of our community. I believe we are approaching a new era, and Erhardt is proud to be a part of what comes next. West Michigan is an ideal location to do business because it is a great place to live. We have a unique blend of talent, natural resources and a business climate that supports collaboration and growth."

"Erhardt Construction has been part of the Grand Rapids community since 1962 and has been blessed to be part of the growth story of Grand Rapids. The Right Place has undoubtedly been a driver of the economic growth for our entire region. Erhardt Construction invests in The Right Place because we believe the growth and health of our company is directly tied to the economic growth and development of our entire region. Our clients and our employees are here in West Michigan, and economic development is a critical

Ben Wickstrom, PE President and CEO Erhardt Construction




COMMODITY TRENDS 2020 OUTLOOK Wednesday, September 25 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. GVSU Eberhard Center Learn more and register at: www.rightplace.org/events INDUSTRY 4.0 WEBINAR: TALENT Tuesday, August 27 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Learn more and register at: www.mibiz.com/industry40

S M T W T F S OCTOBER 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 S M T W T F S NOVEMBER 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 S M T W T F S SEPTEMBER 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 S M T W T F S AUGUST 1 2 3

INVESTOR BREAKFAST Thursday, November 7 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.


For more information on upcoming events, visit: rightplace.org/events



The Right Place receives award for excellence in economic development

Birgit Klohs receives honorary doctorate of business In May, Birgit Klohs served as the 2019 commencement speaker for Davenport University. More than 900 students received their bachelor’s and graduate degrees during the ceremony, while Klohs received an honorary doctorate of business degree for her 30+ years of work in economic development.

The Right Place has been honored as a recipient of the 2019 Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development by Site Selection Magazine. The Mac Conway award is designed to recognize top local and regional economic development agencies throughout the U.S. for their work in developing prospering communities. In 2018, The Right Place completed 29 economic development projects in the West Michigan region, resulting in 2,155 new and retained jobs.

Hello West Michigan welcomes new intern Olivia Windorf, a current student at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in the public relations and advertising

West Michigan Life Instagram account receives marketing and PR award In May 2018, The Right Place marketing team launched the organization’s West Michigan Life Instagram account. The page features the people and places that make up the region, as well as testimonies from highlighted individuals about why they love living the #WestMILife. At the 2019 PRoof Awards, hosted by theWest Michigan Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA), the account received the silver award for best use of social media tactics. See the account at instagram.com/westmichiganlife .

program, has recently joined theHelloWestMichigan team as their new intern. Olivia assists Hello West Michigan with the creation of blog and social media content, event coordination, and candidate management. Olivia is currently the vice president of public relations for the Panhellenic Association at GVSU, and will be graduating with her Bachelor of Science in April 2020.

Olivia Windorf



The Right Place, Inc. 125 Ottawa Ave NW, Suite 450 Grand Rapids, MI 49503



To request a meeting with our team, visit www.rightplace.org or call 616.771.0325

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