KALAMAZOO — Southwest Michigan’s economic development agency, Southwest Michigan First (SMF), has named Ronald Kitchens as its new CEO.
Kitchens is the former president and CEO of Corpus Christi (Texas) Regional Economic Development Corp.
SMF began its national search for the top position in January when former SMF CEO Barry Broome left Kalamazoo to serve as president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Board President Craig DeNooyer, president of Treystar Holdings LLC, has led the organization in the interim.
Kitchens became the first president and CEO of the Corpus Christi organization in 2000. From 1995 to 2000, he was the president of Moberly/Randolph Economic Development Corp. in Moberly, Mo.
He served as city administrator and director of economic development for Warsaw, Mo., and field director for U.S. Senator John Danforth. At the age of 21, he was elected to the city council of his hometown, Ozark, Mo.
SMF was seeking a candidate with a proven track record and the ability to move the region to a new level of economic excellence.
“Ron has proven track record in attracting investment dollars and growing jobs that’s been nationally recognized,” stated DeNooyer.
Kitchens will finalize contract negotiations with the board today and will move to Kalamazoo by mid July.