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Job is a 'homecoming' for Right Place new president and CEO

The Right Place

Local economic development organization The Right Place, announced that it has hired a new president & CEO. According to the Right Place, “after a national search that produced an extraordinarily talented pool of candidates,” to lead West Michigan’s premier economic development organization, Right Place Board of Directors announced that Randy Thelen, stood out and won the job. Thelen, who has 25 years of experience in the industry, will take over after serving as senior vice president of economic development at the Downtown Denver Partnership, before previously working on economic development in Omaha, Nebraska.

But the new gig at The Right Place is both a dream come true and a homecoming for Thelen, who grew up in a small town in between Grand Rapids and Lansing.

“And so to be able to do the incredible work of economic development in a region that I consider home is a powerful combination for any economic developer, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity.”

Thelen replaces retiring CEO Birgit Khlos, considered by many to be one of the great champions of Grand Rapids’ recent resurgence and revitalization. Thelen says, it will be tough shoes to fill.

“Frankly if there were a Mount Rushmore of economic developers not only in Michigan but across the country, Birgit would be on it,” Thelen said. “So I don’t take this responsibility lightly; at the same time, I am fired up, the whole team at the Right Place is fired up to try and build on that legacy build on that foundation she built and run fast and forward again.”

Under Klohs’s leadership, The Right Place helped to create or retain 47,000 jobs and spur over $5.1 billion in new regional investment. Thelen takes over the reins in March.