The manager of operations of GVSU’s Pew Campus and regional centers is returning to his hometown to lead the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.
Grand Valley State University said last week that it has named Kevin Ricco to the director role at the center in Muskegon, effective Sept. 22.
Ricco succeeds T. Arnold Boezaart, who’s retiring at the end of October after serving as director since 2009.
The center, known as MAREC, opened in 2003 to drive economic development in the area through the advancement of alternative and renewable resources.
The business incubator and educational center is a collaboration by several organizations: GVSU, city of Muskegon, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Public Service Commission, Muskegon Area First, Muskegon Community College and Community Foundation for Muskegon County.
“I think it is a wonderful opportunity,” Ricco said. “It is an exciting area to work, an exciting program here at Grand Valley and Muskegon is my hometown. I am looking forward to the challenge, and I think West Michigan is really on the cusp of some really big things, particularly in Muskegon.”
As director of MAREC, Ricco said he will oversee the growth of the business incubator program, provide tenants with resources and support, focus on tenant recruitment, cultivate research and development, provide programs and hosted events and manage staff.
“Community relations is a very big important area as well,” Ricco said. “We have a number of stakeholders in the MAREC facility, in the community of Muskegon, so it is working to provide an open facility. There are really a lot of different hats that come with this position.”
Ricco has several goals he’d like to accomplish: prioritize critical focus areas, develop goals and objectives from the visioning document, identify consistent channels for recruitment, work to tie in with GVSU’s academic mission, leverage employee strengths to create synergy and encourage future research and development at MAREC.
“Arn Boezaart has done a marvelous job of getting the facility to where it is at, and I would like to build on a lot of the things he has done,” Ricco said. “He has built a very solid community relations piece there in the West Michigan area, and I would like to build on that. Ultimately, I would like to see our facility as the preeminent of its type, not just a West Michigan region facility, but maybe statewide, Midwest and perhaps even beyond.”
Brian Copeland, associate vice president of business and finance at GVSU, said Ricco’s “collaborative leadership style will enable MAREC to enhance its mission as a catalyst for economic development, as well as a research and development center.”
Prior to his position as manager of campus operations at GVSU, Ricco served as Allegan County’s director of county development, where he oversaw economic development, Brownfield redevelopment, parks and recreation management and tourism.
With experience building an economic development program from the ground up and understanding facility operations, Ricco said drawing on his background will benefit him in his new role.
“I am familiar with what it means to start with literally nothing and build it using very different pieces and groups,” Ricco said. “I think it is a valuable piece that I can bring to the table. I understand the value of networking — not just community networking, but industry networking.”
Ricco has also served on the board of various organizations: the Southeast Michigan Association for Recreation Trails, Allegan County Wellness Council, West Michigan Cultural Trails and West Michigan Tourism Association.
Ricco holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.