Right Place Taskforce Aims to Position Grand Rapids Region as Leading Tech Cluster in Midwest

GRAND RAPIDS — Regional economic development agency The Right Place, Inc. has assembled a Technology Taskforce to craft a strategy it believes will position Grand Rapids as the leading technology cluster in the Midwest.

The initiative officially launched Tuesday with the assembly of nearly 100 business, academic and community leaders to begin crafting the plan.

“By gathering input from a broad array of stakeholders, the taskforce will develop a detailed roadmap to further strengthen our tech cluster into a magnet for innovation and growth,” said Randy Thelen, President and CEO of The Right Place. “We believe this is our region’s next big economic opportunity, and we’re confident that with the expertise and determination we’re assembling our vision can become a reality.”

The Right Place has recruited Technology Taskforce co-chairs in Steve Downing, CEO of Gentex, and Rick Pappas, President of Davenport University, both of whom bring a blend of industry and academic expertise. 

The taskforce will now divide into three committees focused on talent, innovation ecosystem, and business growth. Each committee will have a cross section of stakeholders who are tasked with making recommendations to The Right Place Board of Directors for action. The goal is for the committee work to conclude in spring of 2022 with the development and launch of a 10-year strategic plan.

Prior to the formation of the taskforce, The Right Place conducted a survey of local businesses to assess the community’s technology-related needs and potential for future growth. Over 100 businesses of varied size and a variety of industries responded. Several key findings emerged which indicate the strategic importance of strengthening the region’s tech cluster:

  • 72% of respondents plan to increase tech hiring over the next 5 years.
  • Respondents plan to hire a total of 3,200 tech workers in the next 5 years.
  • 78% of respondents noted technology as “highly important” to their business strategy.
  • 69% indicated intent to increase tech training and recruitment budget over the next 5 years.
  • Cybersecurity, cloud-based computing, and artificial intelligence were the top 3 emerging technologies noted by respondents.


Talent Committee: Satisfy the demand for tech talent by accelerating training for current workers, developing a robust pipeline of new tech talent, and attracting the best and brightest tech workers.

Innovation Ecosystem Committee: Develop and maintain an ecosystem that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and tech sector growth.Business Growth Committee: Cultivate the region’s tech economy across industry clusters by identifying technologies, trends, and best practices that enable area companies to obtain and increase competitive advantage, expand market opportunities, and grow their business through technology.