Birgit Klohs

Former President & CEO of The Right Place, Inc.

Birgit Klohs is the recently retired President & CEO of The Right Place, Inc., a position she held since 1987.   The Right Place, Inc. is the regional economic development organization for Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan.  

Under her 33 years of leadership, The Right Place created over 50,000 new and retained jobs and spurred over $5 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.

Building on over 40 years of economic development experience and a deep desire to continue to impact her community positively post retirement, Birgit became the Co- Founder of the New Community Transformation Fund. NCTF is a venture capital fund expressly created for diverse entrepreneurs.   She was instrumental in raising over $10 million for the Fund. She also serves as the Fund's Executive Chair. 

A native of Germany, and a leading authority in international business and economic development, Klohs also lead the Right Place’s international business development strategy.  She conducted 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 was a frequent speaker on national and international economic development issues, having addressed audiences in France, England, Germany, Sweden, China, Australia and Israel. 

She continues to be 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 Gordie Howe Bridge.  

Klohs’ economic development career spans over 40 years and began as an industrial consultant with the Berrien County Economic Development Corporation of Berrien County, Michigan

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

  • Businessperson 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

  • Lifetime 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 Greg Northrup.  They reside in Grand Rapids with their cats Max and Moritz.    She enjoys gourmet cooking, gardening, historical reading and traveling and sometimes golf.    

Professional and Volunteer Activities


  • New Community Transformation Fund, Founder & Executive Chair

  • International Crossing Authority

  • Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority, Chair, Finance Committee

  • Kent County’/Grand Rapids Convention Arena Authority, Vice Chair

  • ADAC Automotive Board of Directors

  • Priority Health Board of Directory, Chair, Governance Committee

  • Macatawa Bank Board of Directors, Member Audit Committee

  • Gentex Corporation, DEI Board 


  • Spectrum Health Systems 

  • Local Development Finance Authority (SmartZone), Past Chair

  • Western Michigan University Board of Trustees, Past Chair

  • Michigan Economic Development Corporation 

  • Grand Rapids Symphony 

  • Economic Club of Grand Rapids – Past Chair

  • Van Andel Public Museum

  • Heart of West Michigan United Way – Past Campaign Chair

  • Opera Grand Rapids 


  • Economic Club of Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Rotary

  • International Economic Development Council MI Economic Developers Association

  •  World Affairs Council of Grand Rapids 

Birgit Klohs