Brick by Brick: Strengthening companies, creating jobs, building a region one step at a time

October 2nd, 2012

Site Selectors Visit Grand Rapids

Posted by The Right Place | Posted in Business Development

Last week, The Right Place business development team hosted eight site selection consultants, from around the country, for a three-day familiarization tour of the Grand Rapids metro area.

For those unfamiliar with the profession, site selectors represent expanding and relocating companies, providing site location and business assistance services. They represent 40-60% of all corporate expansions and relocations in the nation.

During their tour, the group was introduced to some of the many assets Grand Rapids and West Michigan have to offer, including: Grand Rapids’ growing life science community (Medical Mile), business-to-business cross collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship, education and talent availability, and some of the many available properties in the region.

However, it was their comments at the conclusion of their time that was the most telling. During a community stakeholder event hosted at the GRAM on the final day of the tour, the group unanimously agreed that Grand Rapids and West Michigan “fights above our weight class.” The group was amazed at the insane level of open collaboration among area businesses, siteselectorsinnovative approaches to manufacturing growth, the over $2 billion in life sciences investment along Medical Mile, and our incredible quality of life in the region. In many ways, Grand Rapids’ business assets and advantages rival those of many tier one cities around the U.S.

So, with feedback like that, why isn’t Grand Rapids the leading global destination for business, talent, and innovation? According to this group of visitors, much of it comes down to branding … or, more accurately, a lack thereof. It’s not that Grand Rapids and West Michigan’s brand perception is bad; it’s that there is no perception at all. In many ways, our region is still perceived as fly-over area between Chicago and Detroit.

That, in a nutshell, was the strongest recommendation of this group. The philosophy of “if you build it, they will come,” does not work in today’s noise-filled global business conversation. Grand Rapids must start to speak louder, more frequently, and with greater swagger. We have a tremendous amount of business strength in our community. Now we must do what does not come natural for many of us; we must begin to confidently tell our own story. We must share the stories of growth, success, and opportunity in West Michigan. That is how we build Grand Rapids’ brand perception. Not through changing logos, but through changing perceptions.

We also want to take this opportunity to again thank the 22 area business sponsors that helped make this event possible. Without their support, this event would not have happened. With their support, eight leading site selection consultants now have a very different perception of Grand Rapids.


June 11th, 2012

Tech Startup Spotlight: Ideomed

Posted by The Right Place | Posted in Uncategorized

Recently, The Right Place had the opportunity to meet with one of Grand Rapids’ newest tech start ups, Ideomed. Ideomed is an innovative tech company that provides personalized managed health solutions. Both the company and individual technologies were created with the idea of combining web technology and mobile technology to personally manage chronic conditions.

Ideomed’s first product to hit the market is Abriiz. Abriiz, a comprehensive asthma management system, consists of both a web based application and mobile application, and focuses specifically on pediatric asthma.

The mobile app reminds patients to take their medication and measure their peak flow (both common processes that individuals with asthma experience on a daily basis). The app then captures the recorded information and sends it to the second part of the technology, the web based application. The mobile app tool is currently compatible with Apple products, but Ideomed does plan to make the app compatible with Android systems as soon as possible.

The buttons used to record medication intake on the mobile app.

The buttons used to record medication intake on the mobile app.

The web based application is used to store all of the records transmitted from the mobile app. It’s primarily used by the parents of patients, but parents do have the ability to give permission to doctors, caregivers and other medical or insurance professionals who need to monitor the patient’s use of specific medications and other asthma related medications. Regularly produced reports show trends and provide insights into how the patient is controlling their asthma.

Color coded buttons used on the mobile app to record data

Color coded buttons used on the mobile app to record data

The latest edition to Abriiz has been the development of an interactive game that acts as an incentive for young, pediatric patients who properly record their medication intake. Each day that an individual records their medication, they advance in the game. Also involved in the game are “Abriizlings,” which are small avatar type figures that are able to grow as the individual nurtures them. In the sense of the game, nurturing an “Abriizling” is equivalent to properly and consistently recording medication intake.

Ideomed offers the chance to participate in a trial of Abriiz by filling out a web form found here. Ideomed is targeting self-insured employers and insurance companies to use Abriiz as a benefit in their health care plan.

Ideomed is another success story of the Grand Rapids SmartZone. Grand Rapids’ SmartZone was established in 2002, defining a geographic area in downtown Grand Rapids dedicated to the development of new high tech ventures, including biotech, information technology and advanced manufacturing. These areas create opportunities for open collaboration between private business, universities, and research institutes to spur new growth in West Michigan’s high-tech/bio-tech cluster. More information on Grand Rapids SmartZone can be found here.

More information on Ideomed and Abriiz can be found at and


March 28th, 2012

The Right Place Supports Company’s Local Growth of 120 New Jobs

Posted by The Right Place | Posted in Advanced Manufacturing

The Right Place, in collaboration with The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Cascade Charter Township, announced today the approval of a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) that will enable one of West Michigan’s most well-known family-owned companies to move forward on a $31.9 million expansion that could generate 120 new jobs for the area.

Lack Enterprises Logo

Lacks Enterprises – $350,000 incentive from the MEDC for $31.9m expansion; 120 new jobs projected

The incentive will allow Lacks Enterprises to proceed with the development of a new manufacturing plant in Cascade Charter Township. The plan will be used to manufacture and warehouse trim systems, wheel trim systems and plastic plating for the automotive industry.

Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia.

“Lacks is a vitally important player in our automotive supply chain with more than 2,200 employees here and their decision to expand in Michigan says much about our improved business climate,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “Our flexible incentive program, Michigan’s simplified business tax structure and our new efforts to connect employers with talented workers, are propelling us to one of the best business climates in the country.”

“The Lacks family is pleased to be able to provide additional premium employment opportunities for West Michigan residents and to continue to grow in West Michigan, as they have since 1961,” said Jim Green, Executive Director of Human Resources for Lacks Enterprises. “We were actively pursued by other states and based on the quality and caliber of the available work force in West Michigan, the business climate and cooperation from all of our business partners from the State of Michigan and The Right Place it was an easy decision to continue to grow in our own backyard.”

“When most new jobs in West Michigan are created by existing businesses, it’s that much more important to have a strong retention strategy. This announcement demonstrates the success of our business retention strategy, keeping companies like Lacks Enterprises growing in the region,” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO, The Right Place, Inc.

Cascade Charter Township is supportive of this project and plans to approve tax abatements for Lacks.

“We commend Lacks for choosing to expand in West Michigan instead of other states that were pursuing this opportunity. The Right Place is committed to ensuring that our region’s companies continue to thrive, and through collaboration with our state and local partners like the MEDC and Cascade Charter Township, we are making it happen,” Klohs added.

Signed into law by Snyder in December, the Michigan Business Development Program provides grants, loans and other economic assistance to qualified businesses that make investments or create jobs in Michigan, with preference given to businesses that need additional assistance for deal-closing and for second stage gap financing.

The MSF will consider a number of factors in making these awards, including: out-of-state competition, private investment in the project, business diversification opportunities, near-term job creation, wage and benefit levels of the new jobs, and net-positive return to the state. Business retention and retail projects are not eligible for consideration of these incentives.

The Michigan Business Development Program replaces the state’s previous MEGA program that was a feature of the Michigan Business Tax that was eliminated under business tax restructuring legislation approved and signed into law by Snyder in May 2011.


March 19th, 2012

Michigan’s trade mission team meets to discuss state’s growth, investment potential in Turin

Posted by The Right Place | Posted in Advanced Manufacturing

(left to right) Mike Finney, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), Aurora Battaglia, Comerica; Maria Gabriella Zignone, Banca Sella Spa; Giuseppe Gradi, Intesa San Paolo S.p.a.; Governor Rick Snyder; Massimiliano Iguera, J.P. Morgan; Birgit Klohs, The Right Place; Mark Kinsler and Maureen Krauss, MEDC promote Michigan during a mission trip to Italy and Germany.

(left to right) Mike Finney, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), Aurora Battaglia, Comerica; Maria Gabriella Zignone, Banca Sella Spa; Giuseppe Gradi, Intesa San Paolo S.p.a.; Governor Rick Snyder; Massimiliano Iguera, J.P. Morgan; Birgit Klohs, The Right Place; Mark Kinsler and Maureen Krauss, MEDC promote Michigan during a mission trip to Italy and Germany.

During its first day of a six-day mission trip, Governor Snyder and the economic development leaders comprising the trade mission team met with the Turin Chamber of Commerce, as well as meetings with area companies. During lunch, it joined local corporate and economic representatives for a U.S. Commercial Services / Consul General Briefing with the American Consul General, Kyle Scott. The briefing covered Italy’s political and economic status, as well as the new Monti government.  A more detailed discussion of the country’s northern region and economic opportunities available there were also discussed.

The lunch was followed by a bank roundtable discussion of the changes to Michigan tax law, economic opportunities for investment, and the potential for Michigan exports to Italy.  The day concluded with afternoon meetings with area companies and a reception.


March 16th, 2012

The Right Place Joins Governor as Co-lead of Delegation to Italy and Germany

Posted by The Right Place | Posted in Business Development

Trade missions to other countries have been a successful marketing strategy for The Right Place for over 25 years, and we were pleased to use that experience and contacts when asked to lead the planning and execution of  the trade mission to Germany and Italy announced earlier today.

On the behalf of Governor Snyder and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,  The Right Place (RPI) arranged a reception for the Michigan team in Stuttgart, and secured meetings for Snyder with top-level German executives.

RPI also provided significant support in planning and securing speakers for a forum between the Michigan delegation and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology. The event includes discussion of advanced electrification technologies and how they are transforming the auto industry. Michigan’s presentation will focus on advanced electric storage due to Michigan’s industry leadership position in North America. Private industry leaders recruited by RPI to speak during the forum include Ulrich Alkemade, Corporate Research, Robert Bosch GmbH as well as Jack Hall, Vice President & General Manager, Power Solutions EMEA, part of Johnson Controls Advanced Power Solutions.

Right Place President Birgit Klohs and Vice President, Business Development Therese Thill will be traveling with the Governor and other economic development organizations during the trade mission. While there, they will attend and host mission events as well as represent West Michigan exclusively during separate calls on Italian and German prospect companies.