February 23rd, 2022

The Right Place debuts community development division

Right Place leader Tim Mroz tapped to lead economic development organization’s 4-point strategy on improving placemaking in Grand Rapids region

West Michigan

Regional economic development organization, The Right Place, Inc., continues to strengthen its vision for helping the Grand Rapids region become a world-class destination to live, invest, and prosper with the establishment of a new Community Development initiative. Leading the place-based strategy is Tim Mroz, senior vice president of community development, who has served within the organization’s leadership team since 2008.

Mroz, who has served as vice president of marketing and communications and senior vice president of strategic initiatives, was asked to lead the new endeavor due to his extensive network and personal passion to see the region prosper.

“Great communities don’t happen by accident. Great communities are proactive and intentional,” said Mroz. “I look forward to working together with other passionate people in our community to find ways to partner and make Grand Rapids a region of choice; a top-tier destination where people choose to live, visit, invest, engage, and prosper.”

In addition to Mroz, Travis Alden, who was recently promoted to senior director of community development, will take on the new Community Development initiative. Prior to joining The Right Place, Travis served as the President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance.

Together, they will focus on the following four primary areas, all aimed at helping the region to become a successful, attractive place for high caliber talent and innovative companies:

  1. Transformational Sites and Projects
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Smart Sustainable Communities
  4. Community Growth Aspirational Strategies

This is the first time in the nonprofit’s 36-year history that it will have a dedicated effort focusing on placemaking. This is all part of the organization’s focus on “People, Place and Prosperity,” which Randy Thelen, President and CEO of The Right Place, debuted shortly after his arrival in March 2021.

Although the initiative is just now being introduced externally, Mroz, Alden and The Right Place team have been working behind the scenes since August on several placemaking initiatives, including:

The Transformational 12

Working with a mix of community, tourism, and philanthropic leaders to identify 12 ‘game-changing’ development projects that Grand Rapids should consider for investment. The list has helped unify momentum and give support to key projects that will accelerate the next chapter in the region’s growth story.

Site Readiness Initiative

Working alongside various real estate partners, this winter the organization launched an initiative to identify the next generation of large job-creating development sites in the area.

Revitalization and Placemaking Grant Program

Collaborating with economic development and community leaders to maximize the region’s ability to secure MEDC’s Revitalization and Placemaking Program funding.

Pillars of the Place Strategy

Transformational Sites and Projects

Provide comprehensive development support for projects and sites that have potential to be a positive catalyst for the local community, including real estate development support, district and corridor development assistance, and public art and commercial/industrial design.


Support communities, businesses, and developers with innovative and collaborative project-based solutions related to water, sewer, broadband, roads, rail, air, mobility, and trails.

Smart Sustainable Communities

Convene efforts to take on smart city-based initiatives such as community based ai, sensors, green tech, and smart mobility, among others.

Community Growth Aspirational Strategies

Provide aspirational growth and assistance to communities such as community visioning/planning, commercial/industrial development, infrastructure planning, as well as leadership and capacity development.