RPI Newsletter_Q4_2017_Web

Quarter 4 - 2017



Running a growing business is dicult enough. And as you grow, knowing what resources are available, where to find them, and when to reach out can be another challenge entirely.

Fortunately, we’re here to help make those challenges easier. The Right Place is your single source for business success in West Michigan, providing you with the tools and support you need to continue doing what you do best—running your business.

Find guidance, resources, and a team ready to help at rightplace.org .

info@rightplace.org \ 616-771-0325





FEATURE ARTICLE: 2018 Economic Outlook

CEO Update New Year, New Opportunities

Talent Talent Battle in West Michigan




Economic Development Progress Update 2017 Projects and 3-Year Progress

Calendar of Events

Meet the Team The Right Place Business Development Team




Etc. New Hire & Intern Spotlight

Investor Spotlight ADAC Automotive

Projects Service Express Litehouse, Inc. Herbruck's Poultry Ranch Ceres Solutions Co-Op ITS Partners Advantage Solutions



CEO Update

NEW YEAR, NEW OPPORTUNITIES 2018 has arrived, bringing with it new opportunities for the future. Our region is well-positioned to build on the strong economic growth we experienced in 2017. Most of West Michigan’s industry sectors performed well last year, and are expected to see continued growth and investment. Our region continues to work together, engaging in the issues that will impact and define West Michigan for years to come. This strong commitment to collaboration is one of the reasons West Michigan continues to grow and expand. Working together as a larger community has enabled our region to leverage complementary assets from different counties, allowing West Michigan to compete globally. As the regional leader in economic development, we’re committed to capitalizing further on this opportunity to spur economic growth. While the future is bright, there are some headwinds that could impact economic growth in our region. The way in which we respond to and address these challenges now will have both short-term and long-term effects on West Michigan. One of the top issues for West Michigan the past few years has been the lack of qualified talent, but our region is certainly not alone. Workforce issues are a national problem, affecting communities of all sizes. The regions that solve this issue will find themselves with a distinct advantage. To that end, we are working with our partners at Hello West Michigan on work-ready talent initiatives. Although the solution to this issue will not appear overnight, West Michigan is working together to move our region in the right direction. 2018 may also bring a larger challenge at the national level. A possible renegotiation of NAFTA. We are the number one state most impacted by NAFTA. Michigan’s manufacturing and agriculture sectors are heavily reliant on global trade and export markets, and West Michigan alone exports $5 billion under NAFTA. Working together, we must communicate the importance of a free and open cross-border trade policy. There is also uncertainty remaining within the automotive sector. Many automakers are hinting new vehicle production may slip below 17 million this year, to better match supply to consumer demand. Several trends are driving this change, such as rising interest rates and the increasing average lifespan of cars and trucks. Although we face some challenges in 2018, we are optimistic that this year will bring continued growth for West Michigan’s economy. Researchers at the W.E. Upjohn Institute agree; with all indicators pointing towards another successful year. We look forward to our continued work together as we embrace both opportunities and challenges of the future.

Birgit M. Klohs President & CEO The Right Place, Inc.




Retained Jobs

New Jobs





NVINT Services LLC




Poultry Management Systems, Inc.





Zimmer Biomet RespondWell




California Closets






$2,971,800 $19,700,000

B & O Saws









Attwood Marine




Hearthside Food Solutions




C2 Machining




Wynalda Litho Inc


$936,000 $8,000,000

MOVE Systems, Inc.





J-Star Motion Corporation








Auto Owners Insurance




Herbruck's Poultry Ranch, Inc.


$832,520 $16,300,000

Ceres Solutions




Service Express Inc




Litehouse, Inc.




ITS Partners




Paragon D&E




Advantage Solutions





Potato Services of Michigan







987 $70,883,894 $120,645,357




CURRENT - $70,883,894 ANNUAL GOAL - $50,000,000 3-YEAR GOAL - $150,000,000

CURRENT - $120,645,357 ANNUAL GOAL - $167,000,000 3-YEAR GOAL - $500,000,000

CURRENT - 1,446 ANNUAL GOAL - 1,400




Service Express expands footprint in West Michigan

expanding training facilities. They expect to fill 75 positions over the next three years, adding to their current workforce of 175 people locally and 400+ worldwide. “We are excited to add 75 new positions to our Grand Rapids headquarters,” said Service Express president and chief executive officer Ron Alvesteffer. “The key to our success is truly hiring the right people. With the right Michigan tech talent, we can count on that support for the continued growth and success of our customers, our employees and our company.” Founded in 1993, Service Express maintains multi-platform data center equipment for hospitals, manufacturing plants, universities, banks, Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, government agencies, and other medium to large companies nationwide. The MEDC is supporting the IT company’s expansion with the approval of a $450,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The Right Place worked with the company in collaboration with theMEDC to assist the company’s local growth versus possibilities out of state. “Service Express has 40 locations in 20 states, but it is committed to expanding its operations here in the Grand Rapids area,” said Jennifer Wangler, senior business development manager, The Right Place. “The company has indicated that they need to invest heavily in recruiting and retaining tech talent and the greater Grand Rapids workforce provides Service Express with access to those talented tech professionals. Learn more about Service Express and explore their open positions at www.serviceexpress.com/careers .

Aggressive forecasted growth is driving Service Express to expand itsWest Michigan presence. The company will be investing $3.1 million to make enhancements at its current location and establish a second location in Grand Rapids. The company is investing $3.1 million to build out a new 40,000-square-foot headquarters on Sparks Drive. Service Express will also update its current 75,000-square-foot Broadmoor Avenue location, which includes



The Right Place assists Litehouse, Inc. with expansion

Corporation (MEDC) is supporting this expansion effort with the approval of a $462,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. “West Michigan’s food processing industry employs thousands in West Michigan, and continues to grow, thanks to Litehouse Foods,” said Thad Rieder, senior business development manager and project lead. “Bringing the right growth resources at the right time will ensure that Litehouse continues to grow and prosper in Lowell.” “Litehouse is pleased to be working with the Right Place on our expansion plans,” said Kelly Prior, Executive vice President and CFO, Litehouse. “Over the past year, we have increased the number of employee owners in Michigan from 254 to 341 and with this project we will increase another 77 employee owners by the end of the year. We are excited to help drive the successful business growth in West Michigan.” Learn more about the open positions at Litehouse by visiting www.litehousefoods.com/careers .

If you’ve been food shopping lately, there’s a good chance you’ve seen – and possibly bought – a product made by Litehouse, Inc. There’s also a good chance it came from Lowell, Michigan, where the company plans to expand. Litehouse announced the news after receiving assistance from The Right Place and state and local partners. As part of the expansion, the company will be investing $12.1 million and adding 77 new jobs. “Litehouse is excited to expand our production facilities and workforce in Lowell,” Jim Frank, President and CEO, Litehouse. “The company is experiencing strong growth, especially in our Eastern US and Canadian markets making our Michigan plant essential to our current and future growth. We are grateful to The Right Place for the opportunity to continue to grow our Michigan business.”

The Idaho-based company recently completed a 25,000-square-foot expansion at its location in the City of Lowell. Having more space, the company will now invest $12.1 million to add new production capabilities. The company has been experiencing increased growth and demand across all its business channels, necessitating the need for this expansion. The Right Place worked with the MEDC to assist the company’s local growth versus possibilities at the company’s other manufacturing locations in Idaho and Utah. The Michigan Economic Development




Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch to complete major expansion in Ionia County

and Dean for Industrial Education and WorkforceTraining, MontcalmCommunity College. “As well, this project may not have happened if there wasn’t adequate support for the necessary roadway improvement.” This latest expansion builds on a previous announcement in 2015 when Herbruck’s released plans for a $43 million expansion, including the investment of $1.5 million in a new, public main sewer line tied directly to the Lakewood system. Infrastructure plays a critical role in our region’s ability to continue growing, expanding, and creating jobs in Ionia County. The Right Place advocated for Herbruck’s growth plans and helped build critical support for the project.

family farm, Herbruck’s is proud to call Ionia County home and we’re thankful for the assistance provided by the Ionia County Economic Alliance, The Right Place, MEDC, and many other partners to help us expand and create additional jobs.” The MEDC is supporting the expansion through a $523,280 Michigan Development Block Grant. These funds will support road infrastructure enhancements, including upgrading toHaynor Road and Rector Road to Class A (all-season) access, enabling increased truck traffic. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) and Easton Township are also supporting the project with grants. The expected cost of the road enhancement phase is just over $1 million with $898,000 in grants. Herbruck’s will invest an estimated $150,000 for the road project. “The Ionia County Economic Alliance and The Right Place have maintained a longstanding relationship with Herbruck’s and understand the complexities of bringing together multiple local and state agencies to support growing businesses,” said Susan Hatto, current ICEA Chair,

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch recently announced the construction of three new cage-free pullet-rearing facilities in Ionia. As a result, they’ll be investing $16.3 million and creating 33 new jobs. The Ionia County Economic Alliance (ICEA), The Right Place, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and other state and local partners worked in partnership to convince Herbruck that Ionia County was the place to invest. The expansion will take about three years to complete, and calls for significant investments in equipment and construction. Once finished, Herbruck’s will be able to raise 2.5 million young hens annually. The feed used to raise the hens will be locally sourced, potentially creating $3 million in local contracts each year. “Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch truly appreciates the strong partnerships of our local and regional economic development organizations, local officials and state government agencies that enable critical infrastructure improvements, helping us to create new jobs while benefiting everyone in Ionia County,” said Herb Herbruck, executive vice president of Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch. “As a fourth-generation




Newaygo County Economic Development Office assists new Ceres Solutions Co-op with latest expansion

project would have taken much longer and would have slowed our growth in the state.” NCEDOand Ceres Solutions (NorthCentral Co-op at the time) first announced the company’s major expansion in White Cloud in 2016, which included a $10 million investment and the creation of three new jobs.

loans may cover up to 50 percent of the cost of the rail infrastructure and are limited to the rail infrastructure itself. “NCEDO and MDOT have provided us with all the tools and support we need to succeed in West Michigan,” said Martin Hall, Michigan Region Manager, Ceres Solutions. “Without their support, this

The next phase of its expansion for Ceres Solutions Co-op (formerly North Central Co-op) is underway in White Cloud, Michigan. The $350,000 project will increase logistics capacity at the site, including a new rail siding, existing track improvements, and the installation of ingredient-receiving pits. Mark Guzniczak, Business Development Coordinator for NCEDO, assisted the company with its application for a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Freight Economic Development Program loan. The loan program will provide necessary funding for the project’s rail improvements. “This latest project is yet another example of the important role NCEDO plays in spurring economic growth in our community,” said Todd Blake, City Manager/Finance Director, City of Fremont, and current NCEDO Chair. “NCEDO exists to provide business support services like this to growing companies in Newaygo County.” Through its Freight Economic Development Program (FEDP), MDOT's Office of Rail provides low-interest loans to businesses locating or expanding in Michigan that require rail service, or to entities interested in assisting these businesses. These specific




The Right Place assists ITS Partners with local expansion

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is supporting the expansion effort with the approval of a $476,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. ITS Partners is excited about the possibilities the new headquarters will bring. "Finding and attracting top tech talent requires highly functional workspaces that support collaboration and productivity,” said Jeremy Frost, chief financial officer, ITS Partners. “Accessing Michigan tech talent, with the support of The Right Place, is key to our success serving customers nationally while keeping the local company culture that has made ITS a great place to work for over 30 years." "We are excited to support our continued growth through focused hiring in Michigan

A 30-year-old IT consulting firm has announced they will be expanding West Michigan. ITS Partners will be investing $2.5 million toward a new headquarters and 68 full-time, high-tech jobs. The firm has been experiencing increasing sales, which led to the need for additional space and talent. While the official headquarters location hasn’t been determined, ITS Partners is looking for 12,000 square feet in Kent County. Currently, the company employs 56 people locally and expects to add another 68 full-time jobs over the next three years. Countless organizations are facing an explosion of devices, apps, and security threats, making the job of IT and security much more complex. That’s why ITS Partners’ services are in such high demand.

and a new corporate office in Kent County," said Fritz Byam, ITS Partners’ president and chief executive officer. The project may not have been possible without The Right Place, working in collaboration with the MEDC to assist the company’s local growth. “ITS is another example of West Michigan’s growing IT industry,” said project lead Jen Wangler, business development manager, The Right Place. “Keeping ITS in our region, and helping them to add 68 new high-tech jobs, further validates our region’s commitment to growing this sector.” Learn more about the jobs available at ITS Partners at www.itsdelivers.com .




City of Wyoming and former Klingman’s Building gain an advantage

Bringing several hundred employees to the City of Wyoming, with the potential for 100 more in the future, is great news for the city and its ongoing efforts to revitalize that stretch of 28th Street. “Exciting things are happening in the 28th Street corridor and the reuse of the former Klingman’s building is integral to our success,” said Mayor Jack Poll, City of Wyoming. “We’re thrilled to welcome Advantage Solutions to our community andwe look forward toworking with them.” Learn more about Advantage Solutions by visiting www.advantagesolutions.net .

the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to find a location, they decided to choose Michigan. As a result, the company will be investing $4.3 million and creating 100 jobs in West Michigan. The MEDC will be supporting this project with a $550,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. “We consider this a double win for the region,” said Eric Icard, The Right Place’s senior business development manager. “Not only were we able to retain hundreds of jobs inWest Michigan, we will also gain over 100 new jobs as a result.”

The former Klingman’s Building on 28th Street in Wyoming will have a new tenant this year. Advantage Solutions has announced it will expand its sales and marketing operations and consolidate four locations into the one building. Advantage Solutions is a leading North American business solution to consumer goods manufacturers and retailers. The company had been deliberating whether to remain in Grand Rapids or centralize in Wisconsin, where they had an office. After working with The Right Place and



B y all accounts, 2017 was another record year of economic growth for West Michigan. And already, “2018 is shaping up to be another strong year,” according to Jim Robey, Director, Regional Economic Planning Services, W.E Upjohn Institute. Robey’s message was delivered on December 14 at The Right Place’s 2018 Economic Outlook event, which attracted nearly 400 attendees for an in-depth review of 2017 and a look ahead to 2018. 2017 RESULTS AND INSIGHTS Birgit Klohs, President and CEO, The Right Place, kicked off the event with a review of the organization’s work in 2017. Klohs provided a “feet-on-the-street” look at 2017 and what might be ahead for 2018. The first year of The Right Place’s three-year strategic plan (2017–2019) ended with a record 22 economic development projects. Those projects are estimated to create or retain 1,442 jobs, $70.4 million in payroll, and generate $119 million in capital investments over the next three years. Interestingly, out of the 22 projects completed, only four were business attraction projects (California Closet, J-Star Motion, Siliconature USA, and Zimmer Biomet/RespondWell). This aligns with our goal of dedicating at least 80 percent of our efforts to companies already located in the region. Further analysis of these projects reveal several interesting trends and insights into what areas of West Michigan’s economy continue to grow and expand. When breaking down projects based on industry, jobs, and investment, manufacturing continues to be the bigwinner in the region. Half of all projects completed in 2017 were in the manufacturing sector, resulting in 545 new jobs and nearly $70 million in capital investment. Food processing and agribusiness also had a strong year. In 2017, The Right Place completed five food-related projects, resulting in 165 new jobs and $38 million in investment. On the jobs sideof theequation, professional services had a very strong year. Although professional services only accounted for two projects at The Right Place, those projects will result in the creation of 538 new or retained jobs over the next three years.

Graphic 1



may not be as high as previous years. The future of NAFTA and international trade arealreadybeginningtoimpactcommodity prices. And the challenges associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) continue to create uncertainty in food processing.

LOOKING AHEAD While setting the stage for 2018, Klohs framed her remarks through the focus areas of The Right Place’s three-year strategy ( see Graphic 1 ) .

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING Coming off a strong 2017, manufacturing

LIFE SCIENCES AND MEDICAL DEVICES All indications point to another banner year for

is expected to continue growing in 2018, albeit with some possible headwinds. At present time, there remains some uncertainty around vehicle production estimates for 2018. Many industry experts are warning of a decrease in production— into the mid-16 million range or below. Although West Michigan manufactures a wide variety of goods, automotive manufacturing still represents a significant percentage of the total sector. FOOD PROCESSING AND AGRIBUSINESS The food processing and agribusiness sectors are expected to continue growing in 2018. However, the rate of growth

West Michigan’s medical device industry. The industry already employs more than 2,500 in the region and is growing at an annual rate of five percent. The Right Place intends to support that anticipated growth through MiDevice—a collaborative group of medical device manufacturers in West Michigan.


communications industry continues its rapid growth. The region’s industry is one



of the fastest growing in the nation, growing at rate of 18.5 percent—6.5 percent higher than the national average. At this point, the industry’s biggest limiting factor is availability of talent. The region’s talent pipeline is fueled by a network of 17 regional colleges and universities, but the supply of tech talent isn’t meeting the demand.

INFRASTRUCTURE Without a world- class infrastructure, economic growth comes

to a screeching halt, impacting all the sectors mentioned here. That’s why West Michigan must make new investments in water and wastewater capacity to support the food processing and agribusiness industry. The same goes for rural broadband solutions. A solid infrastructure is the foundation on which all industry is built, and it is a critical component in West Michigan’s economic vitality.

WORK-READY TALENT The Right Place’s strategic partners at Hello West Michigan are making tremendous progress in

attracting and retaining work-ready talent for the region. The organization’s ReThink West Michigan event, now in its 6th year, has become a region-wide affair, with simultaneous events in Grand Rapids, Hastings,Holland,Muskegon,andLudington. In 2017, the event attracted nearly 260 attendees and is expected to grow in 2018. Learn more at hellowestmichigan.com .

QUALITY OF LIFE West Michigan’s quality of life has an immense impact on

attracting businesses and talent to the region. Over the past decade, quality of life has climbed the list of relocation factors, and today, it’s in the top five. Many local organizations are doing incredible work to increaseWest Michigan’s quality of life. The Right Place was actively engaged with over 77 of those organizations in 2017 and will continue serving and supporting them in 2018.


Overall, the picture for 2018 seems bright. All indicators point to continued growth and investment. Talent pipelines at area colleges and universities remain strong.



Also, West Michigan has gained national attention as one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. Even so, there are a few challenges ahead. TALENT For the fourth consecutive year, talent remains the top concern for businesses and economic development organizations. With an unemployment rate hovering in the mid-three percent range, the region’s labor market is extremely tight. At theEconomicOutlookevent, Robeystated that, today, there are only an estimated 21,000 work-ready adults available for employment in the Grand Rapids MSA (Barry, Kent, Ottawa, and Montcalm Counties), which is causing increased employee turnover and “job hopping.” Given the challenge of finding talent, several West Michigan organizations have implemented initiatives to propel our region in the right direction. Just as this problem did not develop overnight, the solutions will take time to resolve. REGIONAL COLLABORATION As West Michigan continues growing and expanding, we must remain committed to regional collaboration. It’s the only way to compete on a global scale. That is why The Right Place is dedicated to building regional partnership throughout the 13-county region. Currently, we areworking on projects with partners inMuskegon, Oceana, Lake, Barry, Newaygo, Montcalm, and Ionia Counties. As these counties grow and prosper, so will West Michigan. Many of these counties have assets that complement those in Kent County.


Thefinal issuepresentedbyKlohswasa larger challenge at a national level—the North American FreeTradeAgreement (NAFTA). In 2018, fewother national issues will have more of a direct impact onWest Michigan business than a potential renegotiation of NAFTA. And while there is always room for improvements and revisions, a full renegotiation – or the rhetoric surrounding a complete pullout of the agreement – could be disastrous to Michigan’s economy. Canada is Michigan’s largest trading partner. Michigan exports $23.5 billion in goods every year. There are few products and industries that wouldn’t be affected by a NAFTA breakdown. Agricultural commodities, office furniture, medical devices—name a product or industry and the chances are it is impacted by NAFTA. In fact, Michigan would be the number one most impacted state in the country by NAFTA. It is estimated that over 50,000 jobs in West Michigan are supported by international export business. WHAT CAN BE DONE? When it comes to NAFTA, it’s up to all of us here in the region to raise our concerns. At The Right Place, we’re doing our part through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), our industry association, and strategic partnerships. However, you can also make a difference. By educating our elected officials on the importance of international trade and NAFTA, we can work to ensure Michigan’s international trade for the future. 2017 was a strong year for West Michigan’s economy. Companies showed growth, invested broadly, and created jobs in our community. We’re planning for the same – and more – in 2018. Like always, there are challenges and opportunities in front of us, but the difference is how we react and address them. That’s what will define the future for West Michigan. We look forward to working with you and supporting your individual company growth in 2018, and we wish you continued success in the year ahead.



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The Right Place Business Development Team

Over the next several issues in 2018, we want to introduce (or reintroduce) you to our Right Place team. These are the professionals that make our organization happen. This quarter is dedicated to our business development team that manages our business retention, expansion, and attraction work. Every day this team meets with current and prospective companies connecting them to the resources they need to grow in West Michigan.



Therese Thill Vice President Business Development ABOUT THERESE THILL As the Vice President of Business Development at The Right Place, Therese supervises the business development team, manages the business retention and expansion program as well as the business attraction program, and develops and implements site selection strategy. Through these roles, she markets West Michigan and connects companies to the resources they need to grow. PAST EXPERIENCE Previous positions that Therese has held include Director of Business Attraction at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Vice President of International Economic Development at Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and Senior Businesses Development Manager at Oakland County Economic Development.

Rick Chapla Vice President Strategic Initiatives ABOUT RICK CHAPLA Rick Chapla is theVice President of Strategic Initiatives forThe Right Place. In his current roleasVice Presidentof Strategic Initiatives, his responsibilities include assisting local unitsof governmentandprivatedevelopment interests with economic development policies and programs throughout the 13-county West Michigan region. PAST EXPERIENCE Rick has been involved in community and economic development planning for 35 years. Rick joined The Right Place in 1996, and his previous work experience includes 16 years with the City of Muskegon. He also worked for EARTH TECH, a multi-disciplinary consulting company, where he specialized in land-use planning, grant writing, environmental studies and lay planner training. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • AccessKent Advisory Board of Directors • West Michigan Prosperity Alliance Board of Directors and Executive Committee • GVSU Seidman School of Business Economics Department Advisory Committee and Mentor • Land Conservancy of West Michigan FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Rick’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is the ability to pick a variety of fruits and vegetables, either right in his own backyard, or from one of the many blueberry, cherry, or apple farms nearby.

NOTABLE PROJECTS • Citic Dicastal (300 New Jobs, $140M Capital Investment) • MOVE Systems (27 New Jobs, $14.8M Capital Investment)

FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Therese’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is her proximity to Lake Michigan where she enjoys sailing.



Eric Icard Senior Business Development Manager

Thad Rieder Senior Business Development Manager ABOUT THAD RIEDER Thad is a Senior Business Development Manager at The Right Place. In this role, he provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients, primarily focusing on the furniture, agribusiness, and innovation. PAST EXPERIENCE Prior to joining The Right Place, Thad invested 10 years as the Business Development Manager at Cornerstone Alliance in Benton Harbor. Additionally, he has worked at Lake Michigan College, Lindberg/MPH, and General Motors. CERTIFICATIONS • International Economic Development Council Certified Economic Developer COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Andy Lubbers be nice. Memorial Fund Advisory Board • Michigan Food Processors Association • Michigan Agribusiness Association • West Michigan Innovation Cooperative NOTABLE PROJECTS • Kay Manufacturing (80 Jobs, $12M Capital Investment) • J-Star (122 Jobs, $5M Capital Investment) • California Closets (61 Jobs, $5.7M Capital Investment) FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Thad’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is the change of seasons. He enjoys golf, sailing, trains, and vintage cars.

Jennifer Wangler Business Development Manager ABOUT JENNIFER WANGLER JenniferWangler is a Business Development Manager at The Right Place. She provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients in Kent County and site location assistance to national and international IT and tech companies. PAST EXPERIENCE Prior to joining The Right Place, Jennifer provided private business consulting to local companies. She has also worked for 10 years at the Grand Rapids Community College School of Workforce Development, where she served as the Business Services Representative writing and administering economicdevelopment job training grants. CERTIFICATIONS AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Certified Business Services Professional, Michigan State University • West Michigan Women in Technology • ISO 9000 Steering Committee NOTABLE PROJECTS • Axis (50 Jobs, $4M Capital Investment) • CUP Acquisition, LLC (54 Jobs, $2M Capital Investment) • Herbrucks (55 Jobs, $17M Capital Investment) FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Jennifer’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is that within 20 minutes you can be at the lake or in the city.

ABOUT ERIC ICARD Eric currently serves as a Senior Business Development Manager focusing primarily on the defense, aerospace, medical device, and life sciences industries. He also provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients. PAST EXPERIENCE Prior to joining The Right Place, Eric’s seventeen year economic development career included positions in Mobile, Alabama, and North Dakota. AWARDS, CERTIFICATIONS, AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Certified Economic Development Finance Professional • Facilitator of MiDevice • Chairman of the Board for the Northland Aerospace Foundation • 2013 40 under 40 recipient in Prairie Business Magazine NOTABLE PROJECTS • ADM Biodiesel in North Dakota (25 New Jobs, $100M Capital Investment) • Avasure in Belmont, MI (110 New Jobs, $4.1 M Capital Investment) • O’Riley Auto Parts Distribution Center, Saraland, AL (400 Jobs, $5M Capital Investment) FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Eric’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is the never ending list of things todoor places tovisit during all four seasons.



Kathy Jo Vanderlaan Business Development Coordinator Montcalm County ABOUT KATHY JO VANDERLAAN Kathy Jo works to keep and growMontcalm manufacturers by bringing them local, state, and federal resources. She is also involved with workforce development partners such as MMTC-West, Montcalm Community College, and the K-12 system. PAST EXPERIENCE Prior toThe Right Place, Kathy Joworked for Central AreaMichiganWorks! Consortium, covering four counties. She also has 14 years of experience as the Executive Director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce (GACC). AWARDS AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Greenville BPWWoman of the Year • GACCMarian Kemp Outstanding Citizen • Danish Festival Grand Marshal • Chair of Have Mercy NOTABLE PROJECTS • Byrne Electrical Specialists Expansion (32 Jobs, $1M Capital Investment) • Milacron Retention & Expansion in Greenville (60 New Jobs, 53 Retained Jobs, $5M Capital Investment) FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Kathy Jo’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is the ability to be involved at the local community level as well as the access togreat entertainment, arts, and restaurants.

Mark Guzniczak Business Development Coordinator Newaygo County ABOUT MARK GUZNICZAK Mark acts as a liaison between local organizations, businesses, industry, individuals, and all levels of government, to secure opportunities for the Newaygo County Area. He is also responsible for identifying and securing funding for economic development programs, providing regional representation and connections to businesses. PAST EXPERIENCE Mark previously served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development for 13 years in the financial services sector, including life insurance, annuities, and trust bank services. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Member of the Newaygo County Promise Zone Authority Board • President and Founder of the Muskegon River Fishery and Sporting Alliance NOTABLE PROJECTS • North Central Co-op relocation to White Cloud, MI • Creation of Manufacturers Council in Newaygo County FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Mark’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is being able to enjoy a rural lifestyle, the abundant natural resources, and be part of the thrivingWestMichigan region.

Morgan Carroll Business Development Coordinator Ionia County ABOUT MORGAN CARROLL Morgan Carroll serves as Ionia County’s Business Development Coordinator. In this role she provides business support services tocompanies in both Ioniaand Kent County. PAST EXPERIENCE Before she was a business development coordinator, Morgan was a research intern at The Right Place. In this role, she assisted with business intelligence research for the West Michigan region. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • West Michigan Regional Planning Commission Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee • United Way Montcalm-Ionia Counties Board of Directors • Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors • MEDA Education Committee • EDC/TIFA/Brownfield Board of Directors for the City of Norton Shores FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Morgan’s favorite part about living in West Michigan are the sunsets at Lake Michigan.



Ellie Montanino Business Development Executive Assistant

Dave Riley Director of Business Intelligence and Research ABOUT DAVE RILEY Dave Riley serves as theDirectorof Business Intelligence and Research at The Right Place. In his role, he supports The Right Place’s labor market information, data, and internal data analytics needs. Dave also works closely with The Right Place’s marketing team to develop authoritative, compelling, and informative data for all of their marketing materials and online data center. The data and information Dave builds and manages at The Right Place, including customized research requests, is used frequently by local businesses and other regional organizations. Dave’s motto is: “Data for the people”. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Alliance Member • K-Connect Data & Capacity Workgroup • West Michigan Research Network Dave’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is the plethora of parks, trails, and rivers to explore, all located close to the urban core of Grand Rapids. Additionally, he loves that Lake Michigan is less than an hour away and that he can walk to local stores and restaurants within minutes of his home. FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN

Derek Post Business Research Analyst

ABOUT DEREK POST Derek Post is a Business Research Analyst at The Right Place. In this role, he works directly with the Director of Business Intelligence and Research and business development team, supporting the organization’s research and data needs. Derek locates and understands regional economic trends and presents data findings to tell a compelling narrative. PAST EXPERIENCE Prior to joining The Right Place, Derek was a Research Associate at The Judson Group. He has also held the position of Editorial Assistant at the Michigan Sociological Review and has been a Research Assistant at University Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Grand Valley State University. FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Derek’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is the community push towards inclusiveness and the experience of all seasons.

ABOUT ELLIE MONTANINO In her role at as Business Development Executive Assistant at The Right Place, Ellie assists the Business Development teamwith a variety of tasks, including scheduling, meeting support, and data management. PAST EXPERIENCE Prior to her role at The Right Place, Ellie worked for 13 years as an Executive Assistant to executive level leadership. FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN WEST MICHIGAN Ellie’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is that it has something for everyone; you can enjoy the pace and activity of the city and within 30 minutes be relaxing by the water and enjoying the stillness of nature.



The Right Place continues to demonstrate their passion and leadership for economic development in the area. Each year The Right Place communicates their priorities and resource plans to all investors. Moreover, they hold themselves accountable for results by measuring their progress and performance. It is one thing to talk about your accomplishments, it's another thing to prove it. There is an incredible amount of positive energy in the community and we share the fundamental values of working hard, tackling challenges, and supporting the lives of others. West Michigan has transformed itself into a great place to start a professional career, raise a family, and continue with lifelong learning. I'm continually amazed by the growing success of local businesses, cutting edge universities, and service of the philanthropic organizations. drives ADAC Automotive's investment in The Right Place Track record of success

Peter Hungerford Vice President ADAC Automotive



Report evaluates talent battle in West Michigan, Nation

Credit: Grand Rapids Business Journal “Report looks at tools in talent battle” September 22, 2017 Rachel Watson, Reporter www.grbj.com/articles/88952-report- looks-at-tools-in-talent-battle Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. recently released its new 2017 Benefits Strategy and Benchmarking Survey, with data collected from 4,226 U.S. companies, including 144 fromMichiganand 28 fromWestMichigan. The survey revealed new insights intoWest Michigan’s talent attraction and retention efforts by local CEOs. In reviewing the data provided by regional employers, BryanHirn, Michigan area president for Gallagher’s benefits and HE consulting division stated, “One of the takeaways from this report is that if you’re in the C-suite trying to figure out how do we attract, motivate and retain people, you really need to take a look at benefits and compensation: traditional benefits, paid time off, communication, activity involvement and wellness. You need to make those decisions based on data, not on guesses.” The survey respondents include Gallagher clients as well as other employers across the country. InWest Michigan, about half (13) of respondents were in the education

sector, and the rest were manufacturing, public entity, business services, construction, technology, and restaurant and hospitality organizations. The survey found that, although West Michigan companies acknowledged that competitive benefits and compensation were key to attracting and retaining talent, most could not pinpoint why employees either stayed or left. “What is interesting about West Michigan is more than half of the respondents have not done a survey to determine what their employees want to be engaged, stay motivated and stay with the employer,” Hirn said. The survey also revealed that successful retention rates might include effective employee engagement initiatives such as company picnics, softball teams, and celebrating employees’ milestones, such as birthdays, marriages and the birth of children. “In West Michigan, 33 percent of the respondents offer volunteer opportunities



Neumaier said no matter how confident an employer is in the quality of its offerings, communication of those strategies factors heavily into employee satisfaction. “It’s not only communication, it’s how you communicate,” he said. “It’s developing a yearlong communication strategy tomake sure employees are engaged and understand what the employer is offering.”

and 51 percent are expecting significant headcount increases over the next two years,” he said. Seventy-nine percent of Michigan respondents said they are confident they are offering competitive benefits and compensation, which is higher than the national rate of 71 percent. InWestMichigan, 68 percent of respondents said they are confident their benefits are competitive.

to people, and the same 33 percent offer community engagement opportunities,” Hirn said. Community engagement events might include 5K fundraisers, food drives or charity auctions. Noting a nationwide movement to control health costs, Hirn said 35 percent of West Michigan employers now offer telemedicine, and 14 percent offer cost-transparency resources and other health care decision tools for employees. But, one-third ormore of employers nationwide use telemedicine, cost-transparency tools and health care decision support for employees. The majority of Michigan employers (68 percent) said they use benchmarking information when planning benefits, and 67 percent use it in planning for compensation, whereas inWestMichigan, 44 percent used benchmarking data in planning for benefits, and 56 percent used it in planning compensation. West Michigan employers reported a weakness in the area of employee training programs — especially for entry-level workers. “Fifty-eight percent said they don’t think they offer enough training and development for employees,” Hirn said. “This gets to the presence of millennials, who place a high valueon training, benefits and a career path.” John Neumaier, Great Lakes regional president for Gallagher’s benefits and HR consulting division, said as employers nationwide continue to project revenue growth, the need for talent increases, making retention strategies continually relevant. “Sixty-five percent of employers nationally expect an increase in revenue next year,

Survey Highlights Survey sample size: West Michigan: 28 , Michigan: 144 , U.S.: 4,226 Employers who think benefits/compensation are important differentiators: West Michigan: 71% ; Michigan: 54% ; U.S.: 50% Annual employee turnover rates of 15% or more: West Michigan: 8% ; Michigan: 18% ; U.S.: 33% Employers with volunteer/community engagement offerings: West Michigan: 33% ; U.S.: 27% * Employers with social well-being strategies: West Michigan: 17% ; U.S.: 18% * Employers that offer wellness program through health plan vendor: West Michigan: 17% ; U.S. 16% * Employers that offer wellness program through outsourced vendor: West Michigan, none ; U.S., 14% * Employers that offer in-house wellness plan: West Michigan: 83% , U.S.: no data included * Employers that offer telemedicine/ other health care decision support: West Michigan: 35%/14% ; U.S.: 33% altogether * Employers who use benchmarking data in planning benefits/compensation: West Michigan: 44%/56% ; Michigan: 68%/67% ; U.S.: 59% combined Respondents who are confident in benefits/compensation offerings: West Michigan: 68% ; Michigan: 79% ; U.S.: 71% *Michigan data not available Source: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.



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INVESTOR BREAKFAST Tuesday, February 20 8:00 - 9:30 a.m. Frederick Meijer Gardens rsvp@rightplace.org Featured speaker: Kirk Steudle Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation

NAFTA UPDATE LUNCHEON Monday, February 26 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. GVSU Eberhard Center

Learn more and register at www.rightplace.org/events


Wednesday, March 21 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. GVSU Eberhard Center Learn more and register at www.rightplace.org/events

MiFOOD SUMMIT Thursday, April 19 SAVE THE DATE Registration opens February 22

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

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