MEDA Economic Development Leaders Blog

When Birgit Klohs’ retirement from The Right Place, Inc., was announced in August 2020, MEDA wanted to honor her long-time, highly respected commitment to economic development. MEDA’s Board of Directors selected a fellowship for women and minority aspiring economic developers, which was appropriately assigned to MEDA’s Emerging Leaders Committee.

Upon receiving the award, Birgit said, “Increasing opportunities for women and people of color is critical to the future of the economic development profession and our state’s prosperity, and I look forward to seeing the success of future fellowship awardees.”

This Fellowship is very appropriate for Birgit, who was one of MEDA’s first three female members when she joined the Association in 1977. Today, there are many female leaders in economic development with room to grow. She has undoubtedly worked her way up! Upon retirement in 2021, there was an outpouring of respect for the work done that has made, The Right Place, Inc., “an envy of communities nationally.”

In February of 2021, she became MEDA’s first female Lifetime Members. Lifetime members have a history of accomplishments in economic development and contributions to MEDA.

Klohs, and many partners of The Right Place, Inc., worked hard to create an equitable business climate for minorities, with a recent example being the New Community Transformation Fund, which has raised nearly $10 Million to boost businesses owned by people of color in West Michigan. The fund expects to be $25 Million and expects to make the first investments later this year.

There is no time like the present to start building your career in economic development if you have a passion for business development, community growth, creating fantastic downtowns, building the workforce, or any of the activities the create a better quality of life for residents of our state.

Learn More About the Fellowship and Apply Today


The goal of the fellowship will be to increase women and minority participation in economic development in a way that supports MEDA’s membership, its committees, and the organization as a whole, by increasing opportunities for the education needed to build each recipient’s skills and abilities in economic development.

The fellowship can be utilized for training and professional development including, but not limited to:

  • Education: MEDA Programs, IEDC Programs, NDC Programs, Regional EDO Programs, MEDC/RRC Programs, MML Programs
  • Community Projects: Planning, Board Development, Program Development, Communications, Policy, and Research
  • Networking: MEDA Programs, Regional EDO Programs, Expos related to economic development
  • The first awardee is expected to be announced at MEDA’s 2021 Annual Meeting, which is scheduled to be in Grand Rapids.


The appropriate candidate will be a woman or minority who is looking to actively participate in economic development and needs assistance with the monetary aspect. The highest consideration for candidates applying for the fellowship will be given to early-career economic development professionals as demonstrated through a review of the candidate's resume and professional letters of support.


The awardee will receive a monetary amount that the MEDA subcommittee deems fit in response to the awardee’s application not to exceed $2,000. The awardee will receive the monetary award via expense reimbursement once the event/training/etc. is purchased. The Fellowship subcommittee will require the awardee to send in receipts and any other documents they deem fit in order to reimburse the awardee.

Please apply today!

Authored by Stephanie Carroll, Economic Development Manager, City of Auburn Hills; Cassandra Jorae, Director of Marketing, Communications, and Administration, Michigan Economic Developers Association; and Samantha Seimer, MPA, EDFP, Vice President, Economic Development Services, AKT Peerless Environmental Sevices

To view previous MEDA blogs, visit our Blog Archive page.