The Right Place, Inc. (RPI) is an award-winning economic development organization serving the West Michigan region that includes Grand Rapids. The region is in an enviable economic position. The area has consistently led the state in population growth and the city of Grand Rapids was named one of the nation’s top 20 “superstar” cities of 2019 by Reuters in recognition of its strong employment growth. Despite West Michigan’s prosperity and the demonstrable successes of RPI, the region faced socioeconomic challenges, including persistent income disparities by race and ethnicity that had the potential to negatively impact future growth. RPI also had to reposition itself to better address local, national, and global disruptions affecting the region’s business ownership models, manufacturing processes, civic leadership structure, and the field of economic development itself.
As the organization neared the end of its 2017–2019 strategic plan cycle, they sought a consulting firm to help them assess their current strategy and ensure the organization’s continued resiliency. TIP Strategies was engaged by RPI to help develop its 2020–2023 organizational strategy. To understand how the organization is viewed in the region, TIP conducted a perception survey of internal and external stakeholders, completed 20 individual/small group interviews, and facilitated a series of 16 roundtable discussions with RPI leadership and regional partners. In all, over 100 individuals provided input for the plan. To position the region to capitalize on, and prepare for, technological advances and other disruptions, TIP also refined RPI’s four strategic growth areas: advanced manufacturing, information technology and communication, life sciences and medical devices, and food processing and agribusiness. In addition to specific organizational recommendations, the plan provided guidance across RPI’s eight program areas.