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The Right Place CEO prepares for retirement, says education is key to Grand Rapids' future

The head of the Grand Rapids area’s economic development firm is retiring in 2021, after more than 30 years.

As the leader of The Right Place, Birgit Klohs helped spur more than $5 billion of new investment in the Grand Rapids area, according to the firm.

She say her top concern for the region’s economy going forward is education.

“When you look at our talent needs and how our companies are changing, and the needs that they have – from what they did 10 years ago to today, and you move into the internet of things, and 4.0 and whatever it is - How do we educate our children to be those talented people to work for our companies?” she says.

Klohs’ retirement takes effect at the end of January. The next CEO, Randy Thelen takes over in March. Thelen, who is originally from Michigan, most recently worked on economic development for the city of Denver.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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