Birgit Klohs is President & CEO of The Right Place, Inc., a position she has held since 1987. The Right Place, Inc. is the regional economic development organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Under her 33 years of leadership, The Right Place has created over 47,000 new and retained jobs and spurred over $4.7 billion in new investment. She is a leading economic development strategist, collaborating with local, State and national organizations on critical issues related to economic development.
A native of Germany, and a leading authority in international business and economic development, Klohs also leads the Right Place’s international business development strategy. She conducts numerous foreign direct investment missions to Europe, Asia and the Middle East each year, both independently and in collaboration with the State of Michigan and the Governor’s office. She is a frequent speaker on national and international economic development issues, having addressed audiences in France, England, Germany, Sweden, China, Australia and Israel.
She is involved in many local and state-wide boards because she is a strong believer that a community’s quality of life is as important as its quality of commerce. In 2014 she was appointed by Governor Snyder to serve on the International Crossing Authority, a joint authority between the State of Michigan and the Country of Canada for the construction of the North American International Trade Crossing (Gordie Howe Bridge).
Klohs’ economic development career began as an industrial consultant with the Berrien County Economic Development Corporation of Berrien County, Michigan. She later served with the Michigan Department of Commerce and then Grand Valley State University, where she was Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Development. Prior to her position with GVSU, she was affiliated with Prince Corporation.
She is a graduate of Western Michigan University, as well as a graduate of the Economic Development Institute; and completed the economic development finance program through the National Development Council. She also attended Harvard executive management programs, and has received an honorary doctorate of business from Davenport University.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, including
Business Person of the Year – Economic Club of Grand Rapids
E&Y Finalist – Entrepreneur of the Year
50 Most Successful Non Profit Executives
Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award from Davenport University
Jeffrey A Finkle Award for Organizational Excellence – IEDC
Crain’s 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan
Life Time Achievement Award for Best Managed Non-Profit
50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan
The Athena Award – Grand Rapids Chamber
Leadership Grand Rapids Distinguished Community Trustee
Junior Achievement West Michigan Hall of Fame
Newsmaker of the Year
She is married to her husband Greg Northrup and they reside in Grand Rapids with their cats Max and Moritz. She enjoys gourmet cooking, gardening, historical reading and traveling.
Professional and Volunteer Activities
International Crossing Authority Kent County/Grand Rapids Convention
Gerald R. Ford Airport Authority Board Arena Authority
Macatawa Bank Board of Directors Michigan-Israel Business Accelerator
ADAC Automotive Board of Directors Michigan Workforce Development Board
Priority Health Board of Directors Grand Rapids Chamber Board of Directors
New Community Transformation Fund
Past Board Memberships
Spectrum Health Systems
Local Development Finance Authority (SmartZone), Past Chair
Western Michigan University Board of Trustees, Past Chair
Michigan Economic Development Corporation