July 20th, 2021

Grand Rapids regional business leaders report strong confidence in local economy; plans for expansions

As pandemic restrictions ease and businesses begin the transition to a post-pandemic mode of operation, The Right Place team met with leaders from 118 area companies in the month of June. These meetings were designed to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing our regional companies, while offering insight into the region’s overall economic health.

Information TechnologyHealth SciencesAdvanced ManufacturingFood Processing & AgribusinessGreater Grand RapidsBusiness Development ProjectsWest Michigan Dataconomy

As pandemic restrictions ease and businesses begin the transition to a post-pandemic mode of operation, The Right Place team met with leaders from 118 area companies in the month of June. These meetings were designed to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing our regional companies, while offering insight into the region’s overall economic health. Overall, area businesses are reporting strong confidence in the health of their companies and the economy at large, as indicated by increasing sales and plans for expansion.

These 118 meetings represent the highest number of monthly visits with area business leaders recorded in the history of The Right Place. The organization routinely meets with nearly 400 area companies annually, or approximately 30 companies per month. During these meetings Right Place team members talk with companies about their plans and any barriers to growth they may be facing. While the details of individual meetings are confidential, The Right Place gathers qualitative data in aggregate form to provide a snapshot of regional business sentiment.

Key insights from the data gathered in June include:

  • • Increasing sales: Consumers and businesses are beginning to spend again, as indicated by 80% of companies reporting increasing sales. The remaining companies reported stable sales, with only one company reporting a decrease in sales.
  • • The talent challenges persist: Keeping in line with national trends, recruiting talent to open positions remains a persistent challenge in a highly competitive market. 53% of companies surveyed reported they were experiencing recruitment challenges, and 47% reported they had no recruitment problems. In response, 35% of companies are increasing their investment in employee training programs.
  • • Companies are projecting growth: 60% of companies reported they have plans to expand. This growth typically includes increased headcounts and capital expenditures, while being an indication that area business leaders are feeling confident in the future.


“Our team has been eager to head out and re-engage face-to-face with our customers, which drove us to set the aggressive goal of meeting with over 100 area businesses in June,” said Randy Thelen, President and CEO, The Right Place, Inc. “Through these meetings with regional business leaders, we’ve found an optimistic business community that is expecting strong growth in the second half of 2021.”

Of the businesses surveyed:

  • 71% employ under 100
  • 19% employ between 100-500
  • 10% employ over 1000

The revenue ranges of businesses surveyed included:

  • 31% of companies reported sales between $1 million and $9 million
  • 36% between $10 million and $99 million
  • 10% over $100 million
  • 4% over $1 billion


The businesses surveyed represent a global workforce of 754,433 people.

The Right Place’s coverage area includes Kent, Ionia, Montcalm, Newaygo, Lake, and Oceana counties. The organization primarily serves businesses in the advanced manufacturing, technology, health sciences, and food processing industries.

View the Survey Data

Expanding your business? Get in touch with our business development team

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Brent Case

Vice President, Business Attraction

Brent works to recruit new business investment and jobs to the region. He also assists West Michigan companies during the decision-making portion of the expansion process to outline the benefits of growing locally as opposed to out-of-state.

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Eric Icard

Senior Director of Business Development

Eric provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients. He provides site location assistance to national and international life sciences firms. He also serves as the facilitator for the MiDevice group.


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Jennifer Wangler

Senior Business Development Manager

Jennifer provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients in Kent County and site location assistance to national and international IT and tech companies. She also serves as the director for the Technology Council of West Michigan.

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Olivia Lanctot

Business Development Coordinator

Olivia Lanctot is a Business Development Coordinator at The Right Place. She provides retention and expansion services to companies in Kent County.

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Julie Burrell

Business Development Manager - Newaygo County

Julie serves as Newaygo County’s Business Development Manager. In this role, she provides business support services to companies in Newaygo County.

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Jodi Nichols

Business Development Coordinator - Lake & Oceana

Jodi serves as Business Development Coordinator for Lake and Oceana Counties. In this role, she provides business support services to prospective and existing companies. She works to improve the overall economic state of Lake and Oceana Counties through business retention, expansion, and attraction.

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