Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place, Inc., outlined four ways to keep the West Michigan economy strong for the future, during a Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business breakfast event, May 8, in Loosemore Auditorium.
During her speech, “Advancing West Michigan’s Economy — A Long-term Strategy for Growth,” Klohs said food processing and agriculture, life sciences, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship and innovation are the keys to a successful future.
“Farming alone contributes more than $2 billion to the local and regional economy,” said Klohs. “I say this in every speech; water is more critical than oil — water is life. The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. That is critical. It helps our farmers and food processors.”
Klohs said the life sciences on Medical Mile translate to 46,000 jobs for the region and attracting global talent is like a “secret sauce.” She said 16 years ago the Medical Mile strip consisted of Butterworth Hospital and a bunch of semi-old office buildings. She noted that Grand Valley was an early joiner with the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. She said the life sciences include education, research, health care and medical devices.
Klohs also said manufacturing creates wealth and the West Michigan region is built on entrepreneurship and innovation. She said the state needs to invest in education at all levels, even for children ages 1-5.
* Klohs said attention should be given to food processing and agriculture (audio).
* Klohs said the life sciences are crucial for the future economy (audio).
* Klohs said manufacturing generates wealth and having the area Manufacturer's Council has been beneficial (audio).
* Klohs said the region is built on entrepreneurship and innovation (audio).