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The Right Place

Photo of Birgit Klohs

Birgit Klohs

President & CEO

616-771-0324 klohsb@rightplace.org

Birgit Klohs is President & CEO of The Right Place, Inc., a position she has held since 1987. The Right Place, Inc. is the regional economic development organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Under her 33 year leadership, The Right Place has created over 47,000 new and retained jobs and spurred over $5.1 billion in new investment. She is a leading economic development strategist, collaborating with local, State and national organizations on critical issues related to economic development.

A native of Germany, and leading authority in international business and economic development, Klohs also leads the Right Place’s international business development strategy. She conducts numerous foreign direct investment missions to Europe, Asia and the Middle East each year, both independently and in collaboration with the State of Michigan and the Governor’s office. She is a frequent speaker on national and international economic development issues, having addressed audiences in France, England, Germany, Sweden, China, Australia and Israel.

She is involved in many local and state-wide boards because she is a strong believer that a community’s quality of life is as important as its quality of commerce. In 2014 she was appointed by Governor Snyder to serve on the International Crossing Authority. A joint authority between the State of Michigan and the Country of Canada for the construction of the North American International Trade Crossing (Gordie Howe Bridge).

Klohs’ economic development career began as an industrial consultant with the Berrien County Economic Development Corporation of Berrien County, Michigan. She later served with the Michigan Department of Commerce and then Grand Valley State University, where she was Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Development. Prior to her position with GVSU, she was affiliated with Prince Corporation.

She is a graduate of Western Michigan University, as well as a graduate of the Economic Development Institute; and completed the economic development finance program through the National Development Council. She also attended Harvard executive management programs.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including

  • Hillman-Orr Award – World Affairs Council of Western Michigan
  • Honorary Doctorate of Business – Davenport University
  • Businessperson of the Year – Economic Club of Grand Rapids
  • E&Y Finalist – Entrepreneur of the Year
  • 50 Most Successful Non-Profit Executives
  • Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
  • Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award - Davenport University
  • Jeffrey A Finkle Award for Organizational Excellence – IEDC
  • Crain’s 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan
  • Life Time Achievement Award for Best Managed Non-Profit
  • 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan
  • The Athena Award – Grand Rapids Chamber
  • Leadership Grand Rapids Distinguished Community Trustee
  • Junior Achievement West Michigan Hall of Fame
  • Newsmaker of the Year

She is married to her husband Greg Northrup and they reside in Grand Rapids with their cats Max and Moritz. She enjoys gourmet cooking, gardening, historical reading and traveling.

Professional and Volunteer Activities


  • International Crossing Authority
  • Gerald R. Ford Airport Authority Board
  • Macatawa Bank Board of Directors
  • ADAC Automotive Board of Directors
  • Priority Health
  • New Community Transformation Fund
  • Kent County/Grand Rapids Convention Arena Authority
  • Michigan-Israel Business Accelerator
  • Michigan Workforce Development Board
  • Grand Rapids Chamber Board of Directors

Past Board Memberships

  • Spectrum Health Systems
  • Local Development Finance Authority (SmartZone), Past Chair
  • Western Michigan University Board of Trustees, Past Chair
  • Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • Grand Rapids Symphony
  • Economic Club of Grand Rapids – Past Chair
  • Van Andel Public Museum
  • Heart of West Michigan United Way – Past Campaign Chair
  • Opera Grand Rapids


  • Economic Club of Grand Rapids
  • Grand Rapids Rotary
  • International Economic Development Council
  • CoreNet Global
  • Michigan Economic Developers Association
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