Economic Development, Government, and Nonprofits

The Right Place renews county partnership

February 9, 2015
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The Right Place renews county partnership
Chris Thelen of the Ionia County Economic Alliance, left, and Birgit Klohs of The Right Place sign a partnership agreement. Photo via

Based on the success of their partnership over the last several years driving roughly $69 million in new investment to Ionia County, The Right Place and Ionia County Economic Alliance have renewed their agreement for another three years.

The Right Place, a regional economic development nonprofit in Grand Rapids, and Ionia County Economic Alliance, or ICEA, said last month that the ICEA board renewed the three-year service contract with The Right Place, which will extend through 2017.

The goal of the strategic partnership is to drive long-term sustainable economic growth in Ionia County by supporting existing businesses and attracting new companies to the area.

New work

Under the new contract, The Right Place and ICEA will continue to provide comprehensive economic development services supporting the business community in Ionia County: business retention, expansion, attraction and regional marketing support by The Right Place.

Chris Thelen, chair and area manager of ICEA, said with the signing of the contract, the two organizations are embarking on the next chapter of economic growth in Ionia County.

“We have developed a new strategic economic growth plan and are excited to partner with The Right Place in bringing that plan to reality,” Thelen said.

ICEA is also launching a $170,000 annual fundraising campaign to support the organization’s work to provide expanded support service to businesses in the county after singing the contract.

Past successes

In the last three years, The Right Place and ICEA helped facilitate economic growth throughout the county by completing six development projects, which resulted in new jobs and capital investment.

With the projects, roughly $69 million in capital investment, 289 jobs and $9 million in payroll were created in Ionia County.

Approximately 2,180 existing jobs were retained and $100,000 for new worker training was secured as a result.

Birgit Klohs, CEO and president of The Right Place, said by working together, more new jobs and investment are stimulated than could ever be accomplished individually.

“We are very pleased and proud of the results that this partnership has achieved so far,” Klohs said. “This is why regional collaboration is so critical to the economic success of the West Michigan region.”

Robert Kjolhede, past chair of ICEA and superintendent of Ionia County Intermediate Schools, said the ICEA team has made real progress over the past three years that resulted in long-term economic growth.

“When we began this collaborative journey with The Right Place and ICEA, we couldn’t have imagined the level of success this partnership has achieved,” Kjolhede said.

The two economic development organizations began formally collaborating in 2011 and established the original three-year service contract in 2012.

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