Tricia Ryan, executive director of the Newaygo County Economic Development Office for three and a half years, will join The Chamber of Commerce of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg on June 3 as its new vice president of economic development.
Ryan, a Grand Haven resident for seven years, was the only person interviewed for the position out of 20 applicants. She succeeds Karen Benson, who left last month after leading economic development activities for 16 years to join Grand Haven Bank as vice president of business development.
The close partnerships Ryan fostered with the state and local communities in Newaygo County, the formation of a business retention program and a creative marketing campaign she developed for the area helped to make her a strong candidate for the Grand Haven position, chamber President Joy Gaasch said.
“She has all the skills we’ve been looking for,” Gaasch said. “It’s like the planets were all aligned.”
In Newaygo County, Ryan helped to secure $77 million in new investment that created 408 new jobs and retained 812 that were previously in jeopardy, Gaasch said. She will handle similar duties in Grand Haven, working on business retention and growth, implementing economic development plans for five local communities and recruiting firms to the area.
Drawing the 29-year-old Ryan to the job was the opportunity to ply her profession in her hometown “and see the fruits of my labor.”
“What more could you ask for than to do what you do in your hometown?” Ryan said. “There’s a lot going on there.”
Prior to working in Newaygo County, Ryan spent a short stint in 1998 as a planner for Ottawa County, assisting local governments with land use policy. She previously worked for two years at the West Michigan Shoreline Development Commission, a regional planning agency, as an economic development planner, providing economic analyses and overseeing the financing, construction and marketing of several industrial parks.
A native of the Ann Arbor area, Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s from Michigan State University in urban planning with an emphasis on economic development.