After nearly six years serving as The Right Place, Inc.’s Business Development Coordinator for Montcalm County, Kathy Jo VanderLaan has announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2020.

VanderLaan has represented The Right Place in collaborative economic development efforts with the Montcalm Economic Alliance (MEA) since joining the team in 2015. She has led several impactful economic development projects in the region, including the attraction of Foremost Farms, a project that brought $57.9 million in new capital investment and 33 new jobs to the county; the $5.1 million expansion of Parker Hannifin, including 46 new local jobs; and the $5 million expansion of Milacron, which retained 53 jobs and added 60 to the Greenville plant.

Prior to joining The Right Place team, VanderLaan worked as Business Services Manager for Central Area Michigan Works! Consortium. She also spent 14 years as Executive Director for the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It has been an absolute joy to work alongside Kathy Jo for the last six years,” said The Right Place President and CEO, Birgit Klohs, “She brings positive energy into every room, and she’s been a critical player in our organization’s rural economic development work. With her assistance, millions of investment dollars and hundreds of jobs have been created and retained in Montcalm County. Her work has been invaluable to the growth of our region, and she will be greatly missed by our entire team.”

In 2015 The Right Place and the Montcalm Economic Alliance (MEA) formed a strategic partnership to support economic growth in Montcalm County and encourage greater regional collaboration in West Michigan. Rob Spohr, Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs, Montcalm Community College, serves as MEA Board of Directors President. He has worked alongside VanderLaan for over 11 years.

"Kathy Jo has dedicated her career to helping everyone in Montcalm County. Montcalm County has had great success with our relationship with The Right Place and there is no doubt that Kathy Jo gets the credit for most of this success. Kathy Jo has built amazing relationships throughout the county with businesses and the organizations that support businesses. Kathy Jo used these relationships to help everyone involved and has never looked for the credit she deserves,” said Spohr.