Economic Development, Manufacturing, and Technology

Right Place ahead of schedule on 3-year goals

Economic development organization has completed 46 projects since 2017.

October 5, 2018
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The Right Place is seeing record economic growth that has nearly met many of the organization’s three-year goals for the end of 2019.

According to Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications for the Grand Rapids-based economic development organization, since the beginning of 2017, the organization has seen:

  • 46 economic development projects

  • 3,229new and retained jobs

  • Nearly $145 million in new and retained payroll

  • $423.14 million in new capital investment

The goals for the 2017-19 strategic plan are:

  • 50 economic development projects

  • 4,200 new and retained jobs

  • $150 million in new and retained payroll

  • $500 million in new capital investment

Mroz said the most notable piece to the updated stats is the 46 projects completed.

“I’ve been with the company for a full decade, and that is unheard of,” he said.

Mroz said there was a time when the organization would complete a dozen projects each year. That increased to 16 to 18 projects in recent years, and it’s even more now.

Mroz attributes this to a healthy economy and a change in the market.

Except for just a handful, most of these projects are expansions by companies already in the area, Mroz said.

At a private summit in August, he said economic developers from around the country reported a similar high level of activity in expansions over attraction and those organizations that were designed to solely attract businesses are not performing as well.

Those companies looking to expand their reach are typically making acquisition deals, he said.

While the number of local projects has increased, The Right Place has noticed the numbers of jobs they are creating decreased. While past projects often brought 100 to 200 jobs, he said, recent projects typically do not exceed 100 new jobs.

Some of the projects announced this year include:

  • Jedco, Grand Rapids — $9 million, 39 jobs

  • HexArmor, Grand Rapids — $8.7 million, 50 jobs

  • Medbio, Grand Rapids — $3.5 million, 43 jobs

  • Parker Hannifin, Lakeview — $5 million, 46 jobs

  • Tech Defenders, Grand Rapids — $2.7 million, 115 jobs

  • Ventra Ionia, Ionia — $4.85 million, 109 jobs

There is, however, the occasional large project, such as Amazon’s commitment to invest $150 million and bring 1,000 jobs to Gaines Township.

The area does have its main industries, such as manufacturing, but Mroz said there is significant growth in a wide variety of areas, also including call centers, IT and distribution warehouses.

This wide variety of industries is beneficial, he said, because it will provide a stronger foundation in preparation for the next recession.

“That down cycle won’t be as bad as it could be,” he said.

With less than 18 months to go to meet The Right Place’s final 2017-19 goals, Mroz said he is optimistic.

“I think we’re going to hit everything, by all metrics so far,” he said.

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