RPI Insider Q1 2020

Quarter 1 - 2020


The Right Place 2020 Economic Outlook for West Michigan

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.

Design for Manufacturing & Assembly – February 11, 2020

Learn how small- and mid-sized manufacturers use Design for Manufacturing & Assembly as a core tenet of their product development efforts. We’ll highlight best practices for research, analysis, cross-functional teams and development processes that can help you rapidly create and validate designs that require the least time, material and capital resources.

Core Competencies & Growth – May 12, 2020

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.

Building Your Culture – August 11, 2020

Establishing an intentional approach to company culture is helping some Michigan manufacturers attract the right workers and prepare for their next phase of growth. This webinar discussion will examine best practices for building culture and amplifying your values to assemble a high-functioning team that’s ready to take on the challenges and changes ahead.

For additional information on the 2020 Back to Manufacturing Basics webinars to register, visit MiBiz.com/BackToBasics

Investing in Leadership – November 10, 2020

Promoting operations staff to manufacturing management positions can often be a recipe for failure. The reason: Employees who are good at their job often lack natural leadership skills to step into those new roles. An investment in leadership training can help. Join us for a panel-style webinar on best practices for training team leaders, plant managers and other middle-management workers.


3 2



CEO Update

Dataconomy Understanding Commuting Patterns

Talent Hello West Michigan Celebrates 10 Years ReThink West Michigan Recap



Economic Development Progress Update

Feature Article: 2020 Economic Outlook for West Michigan

Calendar of Events

2019 Projects & 3-Year Progress




Projects Aquest Machining & Assembly

Inside RPI Learn what's new at The Right Place

Manufacturing Success DME Milacron



Investor Breakfast Series Building the Workforce of the Future

Investor Spotlight Consumers Energy



CEO Update

To our Investors and Partners,

2020 has arrived. It is hard to believe we have stepped into another decade, yet here we are. While our team looks ahead to what the new year has in store, I’d like to take a moment to revisit the accomplishments of 2019. The Right Place 2017-2019 Strategic Plan officially came to a close, and with it, we found ourselves exceeding the aggressive goals for new capital investment, new and retained jobs, and new and retained payroll that we set out to achieve three years prior:

CAPITAL INVESTMENT Goal: $500 million Actual: $832.5 million


NEW AND RETAINEDPAYROLL Goal: $150 million Actual: $309.9 million

Goal: 4,200 Actual: 5,198

The 2017-2019 Strategic Plan finished on a high note, with the completion of 21 business development projects in 2019 that totaled over $272 million in new capital investment, 1,597 new and retained jobs, and over $145 million in new and retained payroll. These results have far surpassed our expectations, and we could not be more pleased with the levels of growth the Greater Grand Rapids Region has experienced. We have already begun executing on our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan. We look forward to sharing the details with you at our next Investor Breakfast on February 5th. We encourage you to bring other members of your team to this event. Registration details are on page 19. We are thankful for your continued partnership as we enter this new decade. It is only with the support of our investors and community partners that we are able to create such a sizeable impact on our region.

Wishing you a successful 2020,

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





New Jobs

Retained Jobs




Allegiant Air




Stone Fox Ventures




Andronaco Industries




Unist Inc








Design Manufacturing LLC




Feyen-Zylstra Companies




Riveridge Cinder LLC








G-M Wood Products Inc








Clarion Technologies - Greenville



Roskam Baking Co.




HarbisonWalker International













Michigan Software Labs




Aquest Machining & Assembly




Media Technologies








General Truck Parts & Equipment





330 1267 $145,312,602 $272,091,812

ALL 2019 AND 3-YEAR GOALS REACHED For a more detailed look at our 2019 and 3-year goals, see pages 11 & 12.




Fabrication and machining company expands Greenville operations

The Right Place worked in collaboration with Aquest Machining and the MEDC to ensure the company continued its growth in the region. The Right Placealsoconnected the company to workforce development resources at West Michigan Works! and Montcalm Community College to assist with workforce recruitment and training. The MEDC is supporting the expansion effort with the approval of a $60,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. “With a reputation of excellence and the considerable growth it’s seen in recent years, Aquest Machining’s decision to continue expanding in the region instead of pursuing opportunities elsewhere speaks volumes to the quality of our business environment here in Montcalm County,” saidKathyJoVanderLaan,MontcalmCounty business development coordinator for The Right Place and project lead. George Bosanic, city manager for the City of Greenville, looks forward to thecompany’s continued growth in the region, “Formore than two decades, Aquest Machining has played a significant role inour community. We are excited to support them as they expand into new markets and create additional opportunities for our residents.” For more information, visit aquestmachining.com

Aquest Machining & Assembly, a Division of FabX Industries, recently announced the expansion of its Greenville operations. This will result in the creation of 12 jobs and a capital investment of $1.3 million. In 1996, AquestMachiningwas founded in the City of Greenville, where it primarily operated in the cutting and machining of aluminum extrusions. Over time, the company diversified its offerings and customer-base to serve a larger share of the market. The company was acquired by FabX Industries, Inc. in 2018, and now operates under the leadership of President and CEO, Gopi Ganta. With continued growth and new product offering opportunities, Aquest Machining found itself in need of additional manufacturing space. The company plans to establish sheet metal fabrication operations involving laser cutting and forming at its Greenville facility, which will be made possible by the 7,500 square foot expansion of its current building. “Aquest Machining has grown and evolved significantly over the years to better serve our clients, largely due in part to the high- caliber, dedicated team we’ve developed here in West Michigan,” said Gopi Ganta, president and CEO, FabX Industries, “We’re thankful for the hands-on, dedicated assistance of The Right Place, MEA, and MEDC as we brought this expansion to fruition, and we look forward to continuing our growth locally with their support.”



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 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 assist at rightplace.org .

info@rightplace.org \ 616-771-0325



“Partnerships are key to reaching diverse and minority candidates during the recruitment process,” said Williams, “The networks and marketing capabilities of external organizations gives Stiles Machinery access to qualified veteran candidates, as the technical skills required for many of our positions are often found among men and women with a military background.” Talent is a community-wide issue, which means tangible solutions will likely have to be born out of collaboration in order for them to succeed long-term. HIRING FOR THE PERSON Something that is frequently seen among human resource professionals is the tendency to hire for the position, not the person. Companies lose quality candidates with the potential to be top-tier cultural and organizational fits due to a hyper- focus on the specifics of a position. Attitude, work ethic, and cultural compatibility are far more important to Williams than most other criteria. The rest, she says, is teachable. That’s why Stiles Machinery has implemented two apprenticeship programs to meet quality candidates where they are in their technical capabilities. These programs allow for apprentices to work closely with a mentor and develop their skills in order to move into a more permanent position within the company later on. To combat the needless loss of quality candidates based on technicalities, Mercy Health has significantly transformed its hiring process to adopt a system that provides scientific data to support whether or not candidates are a fit for the organization. Candidates are thoroughly evaluated to determine if they are a good match for Mercy Health as a whole, not just for the jobs they have applied for. Once this piece has been confirmed, even if the candidate is not selected for their originally intended position, the HR team at Mercy Health does everything it can to find another place for them to fit. MORE THAN JUST DIVERSITY Diversity is undeniablepartof the solution for the future of our workforce, but simply diversifying is not enough. Creating a more inclusive work environment, and ingraining inclusion into company culture, is equally important.

“Inclusion doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. We can hire diverse candidates, but if we can’t retain them, that’s a far bigger issue,” said Lewis-Welch. Williams urged audience members to ultimately consider what people want: a sense of belonging. To belong somewhere and to feel as though you are making a difference greatly impacts how you experience your work. “It is the responsibility of every manager to look at the whole person when it comes to their employees. The things that are unique about each individual will help determine how they can feel like they belong with the organization and in their department,” said Williams. WHAT’S NEXT? Employers can’t tackle all of the talent issues on their own. Everyone in the community has a role to play, and the panelists emphasized this in their closing remarks. “We would like to see more collaboration among higher education institutions to eliminate some of the barriers that are preventing students, especially non- traditional ones, from applying prior experiences and credits towards degrees that would allow them to advance in their careers,” said Heethuis. Stiles Machinery has also taken a stance in support of ‘banning the box,’ and has begun working with a local non-profit, 70x7 Life Recovery, which works with individuals that have a criminal background to prepare them to re-enter the workforce. 70x7 decides if, and when, these individuals are ready to be hired by one of their partners, helping to curb the amount of talent that is being written off before they even make it through the application process. While there is no one solution that will prepare West Michigan for the workforce challenges to come, there are many ways our region can curtail the impact of shrinking talent pools. The time to come together and work as one, collective community is already upon us.

The Right Place’s last Investor Breakfast of the year zeroed in on one of the hottest topics for businesses around the world: talent. A panel of experts joined the Vice President of Talent Initiatives for The Right Place, Cindy Brown, as she moderated a discussion where each panelist shared how they were preparing their company and workforce for the future. PANELISTS •  Shana Lewis-Welch , Executive Director, Talent Acquisition, Mercy Health •  Steve Heethuis , Training Director, NN, Inc. | Mobile Solutions Group •  Elizabeth Williams , Corporate HR Manager, Stiles Machinery President and CEO for The Right Place, Birgit Klohs, opened the discussion with some somber statistics, painting a picture of the talent issues we will face in the decades to come. The 2018 birth rate in Michigan was the lowest since 1941, and that trend was reflected across the country as well. In the U.S., the number of children a woman is expected to have in her child- bearing years dropped to 1.76, while the “replacement” rate, or the optimal rate to renew the population, sits at 2.1. Put plainly, the data indicates that in 18+ years there will simply not be enough people to sustain the current workforce. “We need toengage everyone, to be inclusive in our efforts and make certain that no one is getting left behind as we develop solutions to tackle the challenges posed in the years to come,” said Klohs. PARTNERSHIPS ARE KEY Partnerships were a reoccurring theme among the panelists. Workforce development, Lewis-Welch said, is a collaborative effort. There are many community organizations in the region that can act as resources in the talent recruitment and development process. Mercy Health, for example, has an ongoing partnership with West Michigan Works! to develop and diversify its workforce and build a stronger talent pipeline. The six entry-level job families within Mercy Health make up over 70% of its workforce. The organization needed solutions to upskill and develop more than 450,000 people to prepare for the future, and those solutions came from a community partnership.




A commute is something that affects both workers and businesses alike. People consider commutes when they determine where to live, where to work, and how they choose to travel. Similarly, commuting patterns, or commuting flows, are a critical piece of intelligence that The Right Place often uses often to inform our economic development work. Commuting flows help us better understand the interconnectedness between communities in the region.

•  91% of Kent County workers drove alone to and from work, which is about 5% lower than the national average. • Just over 2% of workers commuted to work via public transportation, less than ½ the percentage for the national average, which sits at 5% • For those who drove to work, nearly 78% have a commute less than 30 minutes, while nationally, only 69% of people reported the same With this information in mind we can now take a closer look at where workers are driving from. This gives us a greater understanding of how individual commuting patterns affect the Greater Grand Rapids region as a whole.

Our research and data team rely on insights from several resources produced by the U.S. Government to analyze the state of commuting in our region. These resources are all part of the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics data products from the U.S. Census Bureau. So how do people employed in Kent County get to work? Here’s what we learned from the most recent data: •  90% of workers 16+ in Kent County commute by car, truck or van, which is slightly higher than the national and Midwest average for workers. KENT COUNTY WORKER COMMUTE ANALYSIS



DATA ACCESSIBILITY Access to this information is only possible because of the responses collected from residents by the U.S. Census Bureau. Next year marks 10 years since the last census, which means it will once again be time for the constitutionally mandated decennial census. We will all have the unique opportunity to provide input about how we live our lives so that insights like these can begained, andmore importantly, soour representation in federal, state, and local government can be accurately determined. In an effort to support the 2020 Census, the West Michigan Research Network, with funding from the West Michigan Prosperity Initiative, has built a data tool and website to provide municipal leaders with a one- stop-shop to get critical information and resources to ensure our residents are counted once and in the right place. Learn more at www.becountedwestMI.org .

WHY IT MATTERS While on an individual basis, most people don’t have a need to consider commutes outside of their own, understanding the commuting trends of the county is just as important. As the volume and direction of commuting patterns fluctuate, it will affect every commuter, regardless of where they work. Commuting patterns also serve as a critical piece of information for transportation planning. Municipalities have to evaluate how the commuting trends are changing for their regions and determine the best way to accommodate these changes as they develop over time. This information is also important for businesses, especially if they are considering relocating or expanding their operations elsewhere in the region. Understanding the commute that current and potential future employees would be faced with is something that ultimately plays into the decision-making process.


As of 2017, approximately 45% of workers employed in Kent County lived outside of the county, while roughly 55% of workers lived and worked in the county. This data is represented in Figure 1 . As for the residents of Kent County, roughly 27% of themworked at an employer located outside of the county, and 73% both lived and worked within the county. So where are those 27% of individuals working outside of the county going every day? The top 10 cities and counties that these Kent County residents commute to are as follows: Cities 1. Holland, MI 2. Allendale, MI

3. Lansing, MI 4. Zeeland, MI 5. Jenison, MI 6. Kalamazoo, MI 7. Detroit, MI 8. Southfield, MI 9. Greenville, MI 10. Muskegon, MI Counties 1. Ottawa County 2. Oakland County 3. Wayne County 4. Allegan County 5. Ingham County 6. Kalamazoo County 7. Muskegon County 8. Montcalm County 9. Macomb County 10. Ionia County


184,283 – Employed in Selection Area, Live Outside 81,742 – Live in Selection Area, Employed Outside 224,441 – Employed and Live in Selection Area



The Right Place 2020 Economic Outlook for West Michigan



I n December, more than 450 business and community leaders joined The Right Place for its 23rd Annual Economic Outlook for West Michigan. The 2020 Economic Outlook provided insights on regional, state, and national economic trends and projections, as well as current economic development conditions and activities. The 2020 Economic Outlook projected stable but slowing growth over the next two years, pinpointed areas that provide both challenges and opportunities for theWest Michigan community and emphasized the importance of certainty in creating a strong economic environment for businesses. Similar to the forecast provided at the 2019 Economic Outlook, economists expect the economy to remain relatively strong overall through 2020, with no recession on the horizon at this time.

THE RIGHT PLACE REPORT President and CEO of The Right Place, Birgit Klohs, shared updates on the West Michigan region’s current economic development conditions and activities. In 2019 The Right Place team completed 20 economic development projects. These projects resulted in 1,591 new and retained jobs, $144 million in new and retained payroll, and more than $239 million in capital investment for the region. Only four of these projects were a result of the team’s business attraction efforts, while the other 80%of projects involved the retention and expansionof WestMichigancompanies. Advanced manufacturing had another strong year in terms of growth, accounting for 60% of completed projects in 2019. However, other significant projects like the newAllegiant Air base at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) and the establishment of Acrisure’s downtown headquarters were a large portion of the region’seconomicgrowth throughout theyear.



2019 Project Breakdown

















Food Processing



the potential to be equally crippling to economic advancement potential. Lack of broadband access, specifically in West Michigan’s rural communities, puts both the businesses and residents in those areas at a disadvantage. There is a direct link between an area’s connectivity and its economic growth, with broadband now being as vital as any utility, especially in

2017-19 STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE December also marks the end of The Right Place’s three-year strategic plan, which began back in 2017. The team accomplished and significantly surpassed its metric goals for the plan period. The capital investment goal of $500 million was exceeded by $332.5 million; the payroll goal of $150 million was exceeded by $159.9 million; the goal of 4,200 new and retained jobs was exceeded by 998 jobs. OnWednesday, February 5, 2020, The Right Place will introduce its new three-year strategic plan at its first Investor Breakfast of the year, which will detail new metric goals and areas of focus for the team.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES While there are numerous global, national, state and local trends that affect the West Michigan economy, The Right Place has identified five in particular that it believes will have both short-term and long-term impacts on economic growth Without strong infrastructure, companies cannot grow and compete as effectively as they could otherwise. While the conditions of roads and bridges in the state are critical, other matters, such as wastewater processing constrictions or lack of broadband internet access, have in West Michigan. Infrastructure

the age of Industry 4.0. Trade and Tariffs

Trade and tariff issues continue to affect West Michigan businesses, with the full impact of recent policies yet to be seen. Agriculture and automotive are two industries being affected the most in the region.

2017-2019 Strategic Plan Results














MILLION New and Retained Payroll $309.9

MILLION Capital Investment $832.5

New and Retained Jobs



As it pertained toWestMichigan’s strongest industries, such as advanced manufacturing and agribusiness, Robeyechoed Klohs’ earlier statements regarding the impact of trade and uncertainty on West Michigan’s economy, addressing the United States–Mexico– Canada Agreement (USMCA) in particular. “It is essential for Michigan's economy that USMCA is passed,” said Robey, “Exports account for roughly $58 billion of Michigan’s economy. Canada and Mexico are our largest trading partners, making up roughly two-thirds of our trade activity.” THE BIG PICTURE 2019 proved to be another excellent year forWest Michigan’s economy. Increases in job growth and capital investment continued to drive economic progress in the region, exceeding our team’s goals here at The Right Place. As we look to the next year and the roll-out of our 2020-22 Strategic Plan, we are excited to present our new goals and areas of focus, whichwe hope will ensure thatWest Michigan remains a globally competitive economy into 2020 and beyond. As always, we will face unique challenges and opportunities along the way, but we are confident that the business and community leaders here inWest Michigan will be able to guide our region in a positive direction. As Klohs said in her closing remarks, “I have no doubt that if we identify a problem in this community, we will figure out how to tackle it, because that is what we do.” We look forward to continuing our work in West Michigan and wish all of our area businessescontinued success in theNewYear.

With the future of work undergoing a seismic shift, the ever-present skills gap is something businesses, individuals, and community stakeholders alike will need to come together to tackle in order to fill newand changing positionswithqualified candidates. They will also need to ask of themselves, ‘Howcanourregionensurewe are a destination where talented people of all backgrounds want to live and work?’. There is no community in the country that can afford the consequences of leaving people behind any longer. THE NATIONAL ECONOMY Director of Regional Economic Planning Services for the W.E. Upjohn Institute, Jim Robey, tackled the broader picture of what 2019 had in store for the national economy, and what could be expected in 2020. TheU.S. is in its longest period of expansion since World War II, spanning 125 months. The likelihood of a recession in the next 6 months is still relatively low, with Moody Analytics’ prediction at a 9% chance. Supporting this statement, Robey reported that GDP is forecasted to hover around a 1.7% growth rate for the next two years, while the rate of employment growth will continue slowing into 2020-21. Additionally, national unemployment rates are expected to remain low for 2020/2021 at around 3.5% and 3.4%, respectively. This means hiring challenges will persist for businesses nationwide WEST MICHIGAN’S ECONOMY By and large, Michigan has continued to outperform expectations. TheGrandRapidsMetropolitanStatistical Area (MSA), which includes Kent, Montcalm, Ottawa, and Barry Counties, has an unemployment rate of 3.0%. Unemployment rates in West Michigan’s 13 counties fall between 2.3-4.7%, and the rate of unemployment for the state is at 4.1%. Grand Rapids has also continued tooutpace the state and the nation in post-recession recovery and employment growth, though rates for both are beginning to slow. Employment rates for Grand Rapids are forecasted to grow by 0.7% in 2020, a 0.3% decrease from growth rates seen in 2019.

It is estimated that more than 50,000 jobs in West Michigan depend heavily on international trade and export activity. With more than 530 regional manufacturing and engineering firms supplying the automotive industry, 55,000 jobs have the potential to be affected at any given time by pressures or changes felt by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). That uncertainty, Klohs said, is bad for businesses across the board. Erosion of Local Ownership Uncertainty is also swirling among local business ownerswho find themselves unsure of who will take over their companies as they begin nearing retirement age. Family-owned and operated businesses have always been a unique, key asset to West Michigan’s economy, with 65% of jobs and an estimated $25.8 billion in the region coming from this sector. Private equity firm acquisitions change the makeup of the community and the conversations had surrounding business retention and expansion, while also affecting the longevity of these companies in the region. It has become exceedingly important to find ways to preserve local ownership in West Michigan, as family- owned businesses are also more likely to be actively involved in their communities and be more philanthropic. Industry 4.0 Theworld is in themiddleof a transformation regarding the way it produces products due to Industry 4.0. This newera of technology, powered by data and machine learning, will enhance production with smart and autonomous systems. In order for West Michigan to remain competitive as a region, it is essential that business leaders are staying ahead of the curvewhen it comes to these advancements. The adoption of Industry 4.0 will be essential to the continued growth of the Just like the rest of the country, talent has been one of West Michigan’s leading issues for the past several years. Employers are clamoring to retain the talent they have, while also trying to fill much-needed open positions. Ultimately, population growth stimulates economic growth, and as it stands, the U.S. birth rate is now at 1.77, while the rate of replacement is at 2.1. West Michigan economy. Talent and Inclusion



Making company-wide changes with lean tools training

Part of the Milacron Group, DME Milacron has been manufacturing mold bases and mold baseassemblies formore than 75 years. Acquired in 1998, DME Milacron’s plant in Greenville, Mich., has become a global leader in mold technology, employing 72. DME Milacron has many other locations around the world, including in Canada, China, Czech Republic and India. THE CHALLENGE To improve process flow, customer satisfaction and communication throughout the organization, DME Milacron sought training in a variety of lean tools that would create a more cohesive work environment throughout all levels of the company. To stay competitive, they wanted to be able to accomplish tasks more rapidly using the abilities of their employees. Through connections at The Right Place, DME Milacron was introduced to the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – West (The Center-West). DME Milacron worked with The Center-West, The Right Place and West Michigan Works! to secure training grants to accomplish these strategic goals.

RESULTS •  On-Time Delivery: Improved from 62% to 98% • Efficiency: Improved from 26% (prior to the training) to 75% •  Culture Change: In addition to

THE SOLUTION DME Milacron team members engaged in multiple training sessions around lean. All employees attended fundamental lean training to understand the importance of having defined work instructions, standardized operating processes and a clean, organized work environment. After this initial training, each group of employees was trained in additional lean tools including 5S, Standard Work and Root Cause Analysis tools such as the 5 Whys and a Cause and Effect Matrix. This enabled employees at all levels of the organization to make process improvements, enhance efficiencies and flow and get their voice heard.

monetary gains, the company culture has improved over the last year as well. The turnover rate has reduced from just over 10% to under 1%.

“Without this lean training, we would not be this far along in our continuous improvement efforts. Retention has improved as a result of giving employees the power to have their voices heard, which in turn has led to improvements in each department. These improvements were made possible because of our relationship with The Right Place, The Center-West and West Michigan Works. By working together for the good of the community – and the business – we are all winners.”

– Lorraine Marshall, Global Director of Human Resources



Economic development plays key role in Consumers’ triple bottom line approach to business

We’re fortunate to call Michigan home. This state has several unique characteristics and incredible communities – West Michigan being key among those – that make it a great place to do business. We have energy-ready sites for new businesses, vibrant and innovative cities like Grand Rapids, and a growing talent pool. What’s not to love?” Garrick Rochow Senior Vice President – Operations Consumers Energy

“Consumers Energy has been powering Michigan’s growth and success for over 130 years, and we know our success is dependent on a healthyMichigan economy. In fact, fostering Michigan’s prosperity is built into our triple bottom line approach to running the business. For Michigan to truly “win” – we must look at economic development as a team sport – which is why we’re proud to invest in The Right Place. This organization is a perfect example of bringing together the right players – comprised of both business leaders and community leaders – to successfully attract jobs, talent and businesses to our home state of Michigan.



Cindy Brown

Rachel Bartels

2008 2009 2010 2011





Back in 2010, Hello West Michigan was the only organization of its kind in the country: employer driven and governed by employers. Today, it has become a model organization for others in Maine, South Carolina, Ohio and Lansing. Hello West Michigan has also been recognized as a thought leading organization by Forbes, Crain’s BusinessDetroitand the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). 2020 marks 10 years of HelloWest Michigan’s community impact on the region. A decade of educating, attracting, and connecting people to West Michigan. HelloWestMichigan’s 2020 Annual Meeting will take place on February 27, 2020. Local business leaderswill explainwhytheychoose to invest in regional talent attraction efforts, and individuals who have transplanted to West Michigan will share their experiences. Keep an eye on hellowestmichigan.com and Hello West Michigan’s social media pages throughout 2020 to learn more about how they’re celebrating 10 years of community impact.

• If questionswereasked about acommunity, resources were scattered and incomplete • Minimal emphasis was placed on the employment needs of a trailing significant other or family • If a candidate relocated for a position, there was a good chance they would leave in the first 12 – 18 months. The Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC), a peer roundtable group convened out of The Right Place, recognized these issues and the need for a regional solution. Together with a group of community partners, these forward-thinking employers created the organization now known as Hello West Michigan. In January of 2010, hellowestmichigan.com was launched. Today, the website is known as a regional hub of information for people exploring relocation, containing more than 1,000 linked resources and receiving 40,000 visitors a year, on average.

The year is 2010, and this is what’s going on in the world: • The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) releases its report confirming that the U.S. recession officially ended in June 2009 • The Deepwater Horizon oil spill leaks more than 130 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of threemonths • “Snowmageddon” blankets the east coast with 40 inches of snow in less than a week • The first-generation Apple iPad is released • A catastrophic 7.0 Mw earthquake strikes Haiti 15 miles southwest of the country’s capital Things are a bit different today than they were 10 years ago. Talent attraction was vastly different then, too: • Recruiters sold candidates on jobs and companies, but paid little attention to community

2014 2015

2016 2017

2018 2019 2020


This year, ReThink West Michigan was awarded Best In Show by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) at the Council’s 2019 conference. The IEDC received over 400 submissions from 12 countries for the 2019 awards, and ReThink West Michigan was selected as the top entry overall, making it a globally recognized best practice in economic development. ReThink also received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award in the TalentDevelopmentand Retentioncategory. The ReThink West Michigan model has been adopted by other regions around the state. AnnArbor, Lansing, Detroit, Traverse City and Houghton all host similar events to attract potential candidates back to their hometowns.

On November 27, 2019, The Right Place and HelloWest Michigan hosted their 8th annual ReThink West Michigan event. ReThink has become a Thanksgiving Eve tradition in West Michigan, attracting more than 1,166 attendees and resulting in over 77 hires in the last 8 years. ReThink is a professional, casual networking event targeted towards formerMichiganders who still have ties to the community and are traveling back home for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s an opportunity for them to explore the idea of relocating back to West Michigan and discover current career opportunities. Conversely, the event gives employers the chance to engage with job seekers they don’t typically have access to. The 2019 event was hosted in six counties throughout the region including Barry, Kent, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana. Across the six event locations there were 43 participating companies and more than 155 attendees. Of those attendees, 32% traveled to an event from outside of West Michigan.



CALENDAR OF EVENTS S M T W T F S FEBRUARY 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 S M T W T F S APRIL 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 31 S M T W T F S MARCH


Thursday, February 5 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. JW Marriott Learn more and register at: rightplace.org/events


3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. GVSU Seidman Center

HELLO WEST MICHIGAN ANNUAL MEETING Thursday, February 27 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Embassy Suites Learn more and register at: hellowestmichigan.com/events


Wednesday, March 25 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. GVSU Eberhard Center

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

Brent Case joins The Right Place as Vice President of Business Attraction Brent Case has joined The Right Place as Vice President of Business Attraction. In his role, he actively recruits new business investment and jobs to the West Michigan region. To support these efforts, Brent works to build awareness among key site selection decision-makers regarding the strengths and assets of the region. Brent is a seasoned economic development professional and has accumulated over 40 project wins throughout his career. He comes to The Right Place from his role at Intersect Illinois where he worked as Senior Vice President of Business Development. The Right Place welcomes Olivia Lanctot to Business Development team Olivia Lanctot has joined the Business Development team at The Right Place as its newest Business Development Coordinator for Kent County. In her role, Olivia will provide retention and expansion services to businesses in the County. Olivia comes to The Right Place from Automated Logistics Systems, where she assisted mid-sized companies in refining their supply chain and logistics strategies. She has worked in the Greater Grand Rapids area since 2010, and also has experience in sales, marketing and education.

Brent Case

Olivia Lanctot



Jane Tierney joins accounting team at The Right Place The Right Place has hired a part-time Controller to assist with accounting operations within the organization. Jane Tierney comes to The Right Place from her most recent role as Manager of Financial Reporting & Analysis for one of West Michigan’s leading healthcare insurance providers. Jane will provide accurate and timely financial information to The Right Place’s leadership team while ensuring effective internal controls and financial safeguards. She will also work to streamline the accounting and finance procedures to aid in the organization’s continued growth. Travis Alden to oversee rural county business development at The Right Place The Right Place has recently welcomed Travis Alden to the Business Development team as its new Business Development Director. In his role, Travis will assist The Right Place with its rural economic development efforts by overseeing business development team members in Newaygo, Montcalm, Lake and Oceana counties. He will also be responsible for coordinating business development activities in Ionia County. Travis brings with him more than ten years of economic development experience to the team. Prior to joining The Right Place, he served as President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance, where he launched and guided several successful projects for the community.

Jane Tierney

Travis Alden



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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