RPI Insider | Q2 2020

Quarter 2 - 2020


COVIDWM.org launched to help West Michigan businesses through COVID-19 Crisis


Identifying your key capabilities and resources can be an important first step to creating new growth opportunities for manufacturers. In this webinar, we’ll discuss processes for assessing your core strengths and share proven strategies for leveraging your key advantages to develop new products, new applications and new markets for your company. This 50-minute webinar will provide actionable, real-world information for owners, executives, engineers, and facilities managers in the manufacturing sector. Core Competencies & Growth May 12, 2020

The Center-West and MiBiz are teaming up to present an industrial-strength quarterly webinar series focused on best practices for small and mid-sized manufacturers. Each webinar in the 2020 series — Back to Manufacturing Basics — will feature experts on the topic at hand as well as Michigan manufacturers sharing their stories. The 50-minute webinars will provide actionable, real-world information to help manufacturers improve their efficiency, enhance quality and drive profitability.

To register, visit mibiz.com/backtobasics



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CEO Update

Help Wanted Finding work & talent during the COVID-19 pandemic

Talent Intern Connect Virtual Conference




Projects Laser Access, LLC

Investor Spotlight Gentex Corporation

Dataconomy Why completing the 2020 Census is critical for our economy




Best Practices for Manufacturers During COVID-19

Healthcare Connections Keystone Solutions Group Hexarmor

Feature Article: COVIDWM.org launched to help West Michigan businesses through COVID-19 Crisis



CEO Update

To our Investors and Partners, The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges and uncertainty to our West Michigan business community. The Right Place is open for business, but we are working remotely. As you navigate the new realities of your business, the team at The Right Place remains your trusted partner and will provide the necessary resources to assist you through the coming months. Our organization was built to guideWest Michigan businesses through difficult times. We have refocused our economic development efforts to support you through this cri- sis, and these efforts are detailed below. Here are a few highlights from the numerous connections our team has made these past weeks: • We identified a local manufacturer toproduceCOVID-19 test kits. Read the full storyhere. • We connected Kent County first responderswithover 4,500 critically needed safety glasses. • We worked with Total Plastics, Primera Plastics, and Keystone Solutions to produce face-shields for the local health systems. On top of these crucial healthcare connections, we are also continuing our critical business retention work, with the goal of maintaining quality, high-paying jobs in our • Business Connections: We’remaking connections between our healthcare systems and local manufacturers for critical supply chain needs. If your company is interested in supplying medical supplies, contact Eric Icard at: icarde@rightplace.org or (616) 350-3982 . •  Health/Business Collaborations: We are co-facilitating, along with NormBeauchamp and Michigan State University, a coalition of healthcare and business leaders to provide products, services, and support our healthcare system needs during this rapidly unfolding crisis. WEST MICHIGAN BUSINESS SUPPORT •  Local Business Focus: Our staff have all been redirected to focus exclusively on supporting and retaining West Michigan businesses. A full list of our team, with their contact information, can be found here. • COVID-19 News Updates: As the stream of resources, information, and news flow from federal, state, and local channels, we have created a dedicated business resource stream on our website. • Small Business Relief Grants: We were awarded $1,000,000 to provide grants up to $10,000 to support qualifying small, main street businesses in the region that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have received over 2,100 applications, which unfortunately is significantly more than this funding can support. community. Here are the immediate actions we have taken: SUPPORTING HEALTHCARE IN WEST MICHIGAN •  Federal, State, and Local Coordination: Our team is coordinating with resources at all levels of government to review policies, executive orders, and other legislative actions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have specific questions, please reach out to Brad Comment at: commentb@rightplace.org or (616) 240-7211 .



•  Financial Support and Connections: We are coordinating with local banks to identify emergency contact resources for businesses experiencing financial challenges. Reach out to Therese Thill for more information at: thillt@rightplace.org or (616) 238-3196 . •  Local Partner Collaboration: We are collaborating with other area economic development partners tocoordinateefforts.Wedeveloped and launched acommunity-wide website to bring you the latest information and resources on COVID-19: covidwm.org • Talent Support: Our team is providing talent resources and strategies for employers. Contact Cindy Brown for more information at: brownc@rightplace.org or (616) 818-9080 . ENSURING CONTINUED OPERATIONS •  Remote Operations: We are currently operating under a “Virtual Office Policy” and have closed our physical office to staff and the public. Although our physical offices are closed, please know our full team is working remotely and ready to assist you. •  Cost-Saving Measures: Like many of you, we have already started to take cost-savings measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization. We are making every effort provide the highest level of service, while also preparing for what may be an uncertain mid-term future. We thank you for your continued investment and partnership. It is your commitment to our organization that allows us to continue providing critical services during periods of crisis. It also allows us to continue our important business retention and expansion work, which creates quality jobs in our community. These jobs have a multiplier effect, as each job created in turn creates 2.1 additional jobs. These kinds of jobs will be crucial as we look towards recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the next few months are uncertain, we know this crisis will pass. We are already looking to the future, and we will be ready to take advantage of the recovery when it arrives. The priorities set by our recently launched strategic plan remain unchanged and will continue to guide us. These challenging times prove the importance of strategic planning, and this preparationwill allow us to respond quickly to the business community’s fast changing needs. We are grateful for your continued support of our economic development work.

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




Laser Access, LLC announces acquisition and $1.6M investment

General Manager. Laser Access had been represented for sale through local mergers and acquisitions firm, Calder Capital, LLC. The Right Place’s Senior Business Development Manager, Eric Icard, connected Assy Okanin to the opportunities available through Calder Capital, which resulted retaining Laser Access inWalker, Michigan. “We are looking forward to continuing the growth of Laser Access in the Walker community, by adding new technologies and by merging the design, engineering andmanufacturing capabilities of the new ownership companies into the outstanding team, culture and experience of Laser Access” said Assy Okanin, President of Laser Access, LLC. “We sincerely appreciate the assistance and connections provided by the teams at The Right Place and Calder Capital throughout this process, which made this acquisition possible. Without this support, we could not do that!” “Many local companies are facing leadership transitions,” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of The Right Place, Inc. “These transitions can potentially put a company’s future growth in the region into question. We are pleased to have been able to connect Laser Access with new ownership committed to investing in the Greater Grand Rapids Region, and we look forward to helping them grow in Walker.” To learn more about Laser Access, visit laseraccess.com .

The Right Place, Inc. and Calder Capital recently announced the new ownership and subsequent expansion of Laser Access, LLC. The company will be expanding at their Walker, Mich. facility and investing $1.6M into the location. Laser Access, LLC is a privately held company which provides 5-axis lasers cutting, flat laser cutting, forming, assembly and welding services to sheet metal fabrication companies and OEMs. They supply the aerospace and automotive industries and are competing for new opportunities in the defense market. The company, which currently employs 28 people, is now officially under the new joint venture ownership of Blitzblow USA LLC – 3rd generation Tier one fabricator serving the defense industry, and U.S Advanced Systems LLC which is located in Twinsburg Ohio and engaged in design, development and manufacturing in two areas: advanced ground support equipment for aircrafts and advanced military platforms and products for ground forces. ThenewjointventureisledbyAssyOkanin, who is Co-owner and the president of the firm and Andrew Picard, partner and the


Limit/Ban Travel and In-person Meetings Companies are utilizing teleconferencing inplaceof inpersonmeetings, with resources such a GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout. They are also restricting vendor and visitormeetings to their facilities. Travel is being curbed to only critical needs. Temperature Monitoring In facilities where employees must be present physically, employers have begun mandatory fever testing and sending anyone home who presents with a fever.

Best practices small tomid-sized manufacturers are implementing to mitigate the effects of COVID-19

Revise Sick Leave Policies to Reflect Coronavirus

Manufacturers are revising sick policies to deal with the realities of unexpected sickness and childcare needs, particularly due to mass school and daycare closings. Manufacturers are considering shift changes such as adding weekend and 3rd shifts to allow operations to continue running smoothly. Consider utilizing temporary help services. Sanitization Measures Manufacturers are implementing aggressive sanitization measures to protect the health and safety of their workers throughout the facility. Stay Informed of Available Resources There are many resources available to assist your business and workers during this time, and new assistance is becoming available. Currently, The Small Business Administration has included Coronavirus as a qualifying disaster for receiving Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Manufacturers needing liquidity may want to utilize this option. Additionally, unemployment benefits have been expanded by the Governor of Michigan to cover Coronavirus-related issues. Information on these resources and more can be found on The Right Place’s site here. We will update as new resources become available. We have also launched a collaborative regional platform, COVIDWM.org , which hosts a wealth of information, including business resources from many of our community partners.

Implement Emergency Response Plans If your company has an emergency response plan designed to deal with a pandemic, now is the time to begin implementing the action steps. Alternatively, if you do not have a response plan, it is not too late to craft one and begin implementation. To guide your development of the plan an example of aWest Michigan manufacturer’s Pandemic Response Plan can be found at this link. Maximize Remote Work Options Many factories and offices have moved to remote work whenever possible. Companies are also utilizing a rotating cohort of key staff to maintain critical business functions at facilities. In operations where remote work is not possible, social distancing measures are being implemented.

As our region’s economy begins to grapple with the effects and uncertainty presented by COVID-19, many small to mid-sized manufacturers are sharing the best practices they have begun to implement to deal with this unprecedented situation. The following is a list of options and steps your business can consider as we work collaboratively to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. Each business is unique and not all options may fit your needs, but it is a starting point. As always, the team at The Right Place is available to assist you with specific questions and connect you to the resources needed to weather this storm. Please reach out to individual team members or contact us via our contact form. Our services are completely confidential.



If you are a business with immediate hiring needs, theWMW Business Solutions staff are working closely with employers who need workers to meet the increased demand created by restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak. They have temporarily removed some of the criteria for promoting openings on the weekly email that goes out to thousands of job seekers. Hundreds of retail and temporary job openings have been added to the Weekly Hot Jobs. The state’s laborexchange site, PureMichigan Talent Connect, is making changes to the site to highlight jobs that are needed now and launching a virtual job fair platform that we will begin taking advantage of soon. The WMW site also houses toolkits, UIA fact sheets and other resources on their website related to unemployment and COVID-19. Employers are encouraged to contact theWMW Business Solutions team if they any questions or need assistance. To keep their staff and customers safe, WMW will be delivering services by phone, online and through other virtual channels only. Additional information can be found at westmiworks.org .

At the start of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis, the buzzword was “uncertainty.” A lot of employers issued short-term furloughs or temporary leave. Now, the one thing that does seem certain is that this situation caused by COVID-19 is going to last a while. If you find yourself unemployed, the silver lining is that COVID-19 has not affected all businesses equally—many companies are hiring right now, and it’s more than just doctors and nurses that are needed. As essential businesses continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to fill critical, immediate vacancies. There are high volumes of both temporary and full-time open positions as a result. Two of West Michigan's largest employers, SpartanNash ( careers.spartannash.com ) andMeijer ( jobs.meijer.com ) are hiring for hundreds of positions throughout the region. In addition to those options, there are hundreds of other jobs available, especially as previously non-essential companies retool their lines and transition to producing personal protectionequipment (PPE) to qualify as “essential” during these unprecedented times. But for job seekers, there is now the unique challenge of trying to tell the difference between positions open now, and open positions that are posted, but may not begin until things are back to “normal." West Michigan Works! (WMW), part of the statewide Michigan Works! system and theworkforce development agency inWest Michigan, offers a solution. It's where you can find positions of all kinds and resources to assist you throughout your job search. On the WMW site, you can f ind the following information curated specifically for job seekers: Weekly Hot Jobs page: jobs.westmiworks.org • Lists temporary and full-time opportunities, categorized by county At-Home Resources: • Workshop Videos • Job Search Resources • Tips and Resources WMW offers resources to both employers and job seekers.






O n Apr i l 1 , 2020 , the Uni ted States Census Bureau mailed out invitations to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire to households throughout the U.S. The 2020 Census is part of a longstanding decennial effort that began in 1790, mandated by the Constitution of the United States and conducted by the United States Census Bureau. Its intent is to count every person living in the United States and its five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Chiefly, the results of the census determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Consequently, the census also underlies troves of publicly available data that informs lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many other decisionmakers in the community. Those determinations result in daily services, products and support for both individuals and their communities as a whole. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other community resources based on census data. Over 130

federal programs use census data to allocate more than $675 billion each year to households, towns, cities and states throughout the nation. As a result, an inaccurate count could severely impact the resources and funding made available to our regional and state economies. Our team at The Right Place is no exception when it comes to reliance on the data collected by the census. Often, our business development team members turn to our workforce development partners and their federally funded programs to address businesses’ talent issues. When looking to attract businesses to the region, our business intelligence team turns to census data in order to craft a business case for a businesses’ relocation toWest Michigan. Similarly, we utilize the same information when a local company is looking to expand. When it comes to information on the economy, community demographics, or the region’s infrastructure, the business intelligence team leans on census data to support the community’s business decisions.

The Right Place’s business intelligence team also uses census data for the West Michigan Regional Dashboard. The West Michigan Regional Dashboard is an online tool that establishes a common set of shared indicators that will track the region’s progress on critical economic, environmental, and social outcomes. Nearly every one of the 36 indicators on the dashboard comes from census related data. You can find it at wmdashboard.org . The importance of an accurate census is far reaching and underpins more than what the eye meets. The business intelligence team at The Right Place is acutely aware of this reality. Whether it’s a multimillion- dollar project with hundreds of new jobs created or an interesting analysis in one of our West Michigan Dataconomy blogs,

we count on the census’ count. Complete the 2020 Census today at 2020census.gov .



COVIDWM.org launched to help West Michigan businesses through COVID-19 Crisis



T he Right Place, Inc. has joined together with the Grand Rapids Chamber and Experience Grand Rapids to convene the West Michigan COVID-19 Business Coalition in the wake of the global health crisis. Coalition members include the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC), City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. , Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW),

We back West Michigan business. It’s the lifeblood of our local economy and, in part, what makes West Michigan such a great place to live. We know that a strong, vibrant business community will be key to our recovery when our region begins to emerge from this global crisis. We want you to be part of that recovery. Take some time to explore COVIDWM.org, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions along the way.

Grand Rapids Urban League, Kent County, Local First, National Business League, Inc., West Michigan Hispanic Chamber and West Michigan Works!. In March, the Coalition launched COVIDWM.org , a website where you and your employees can get accurate, timely and relevant information and connect to vital resources to help you weather the COVID-19 crisis.


Business Continuity

Find lists of both State and Federal legislation pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic

A compilation of resources for West Michigan businesses to tap into in order to maintain business continuity

Organizations That Can Help

Employee Resources

Resources for individuals whose jobs have been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resources for businesses to utilize for employees

A list of the organizations participating in the West Michigan COVID-19 Business Coalition and brief summaries of the services they offer

Health Updates

Best Practices

Real-time updates on the spread of COVID-19 locally, nationally and globally

Best practices for businesses and individuals as they pertain to COVID-19



Now in its 7th year, West Michigan Intern Connect, hosted by Hello West Michigan, is a professional development event focused on enhancing the skills young professionals need in theworkplace, regardless of what industry they’re in. Not your typical professional development conference, Intern Connect 2020 will be a virtual event that continues the practice of bringing regional interns together and engaging the future workforce. This summer program is open to all interns in the West Michigan region. West Michigan Intern Connect Virtual Conference Thursday June 18, 2020 The virtual conference will cover many topics not necessarily taught in the classroom, including positive communication in the workplace, how to make working from home work for you, and life advice every young professional needs outside of the office so they can thrive at work. Although many West Michigan companies host summer interns, some may be too small to host professional development opportunities specifically for them. This virtual experience provides the opportunity for interns in West Michigan to come together and connect through learning. The goal of this program is to attract and retain talented young graduates inWest Michigan. For many companies in the region, interns are a critical part of their talent pipelines. That means opportunities to invest in training interns are equally as important. Last year, Intern Connect brought in 600 attendees from companies around West Michigan. Learn more at hellowestmichigan.com/internconnect , or reach out to Hello West Michigan’s Program Manger, Jessica Kuster, at kusterj@hellowestmichigan.com .

Gentex flourishes from synergistic balance between business and quality of life in West Michigan

lakeshore, strong Midwest work ethic, growing and vibrant downtown areas, world-class entertainment opportunities, and a cost of living that makes it all affordable. We’re proud to play a role in West Michigan’s success, and thankful for the ways it has allowed us to flourish.”

West Michigan has the resources and values that help a technology company like Gentex be successful. It’s a community known for its philanthropy but also includes a very unique culture of cooperation between the public and private sector. It’s home to colleges and universities that fuel research and medical advancements while producing a constant stream of new talent. It boasts a diverse economic base – from health care to automotive to aerospace to tourism. And to top it all off – a gorgeous

“At Gentex, we believe that everyone benefits – employees, shareholders, the local community – whenwe operate our business to the best of our abilities. But the reverse is also true… a strong West Michigan helps Gentex and other businesses thrive. That’s why were passionate about the work of the right place as one of the area’s leading economic development organizations. Every business, at some point in its journey, needs to be pointed in the right direction. It needs help making the right contacts, connecting to the right resources, and knowing where to go for sound business advice. The Right Place has been pointing businesses in the right direction for over 35 years and we believe that supporting the Right Place in helping businesses thrive is part of our obligation to the community.

Steve Downing President & CEO Gentex Corporation



HEALTHCARE CONNECTIONS The Right Place identifies local supply chain for development of COVID-19 testing kits

The Right Place team learned the local healthcare system was experiencing a major shortage of nasal swabs for COVID-19 test kits. We immediately identified one of our MiDevice member companies that might have the capabilities to fulfill the request: Keystone Solutions Group. We reached out to the owner of Keystone, Jim Medsker, on a Saturday and he quickly answered the call to begin development of the swabs. He had specifications by the end of the day. Keystone Solutions Group has nearly completed the entire supply chain needed to manufacture the kits, and weexpect to see them in production for West Michigan health care systems soon.



The Right Place connects Kent County to 4,500 urgently needed safety glasses for first responders

The Right Place received a call from Kent County urgently seeking 4,500 safety glasses for road patrol officers. They had not been able to find any inventory that met their specifications. The Right Place team was able to look at the requirements and identify a local manufacturer thatmight be able to helpwith the request.We reached out to HexArmor, who manufacturers industrial personal protection equipment such as puncture resistant gloves and safety eyewear. Our team has worked with HexArmor for many years, including assisting them with a recent expansion in 2018. Given this relationship, we were able to connect HexArmor to Kent County. HexArmor had enough of the required safety glasses in stock to truck over to Kent County the very same business day.



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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