GV names new MAREC director

GVL / Courtesy - GV Now

GVL / Courtesy – GV Now

Grand Valley State University has selected Kevin Ricco as the new director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, a GVSU SmartZone located in Muskegon.

T. Arnold Boezaart is the current director of MAREC. Boezaart is retiring at the end of October, after directing the center since April 2009. Boezaart said he has worked with Ricco in the past because of Ricco’s current position with GVSU’s Pew campus operations.

“I am pleased that (Ricco) has been chosen because that will allow us to ensure a smooth transition,” Boezaart said.

Ricco’s first day at MAREC is Sept. 22, allowing him and Boezaart about a month to work together before he leaves the facility. Boezaart said he will review their ongoing projects and activities to “gradually get him up to speed” before Ricco officially takes over.

Ricco said this also gives him time to wrap up any remaining facilities projects on the Grand Rapids and satellite campuses, which he has managed since November 2012.

Prior to that, Ricco worked as the Allegan County department head for 12 and a half years. For five of those years, he directed county development. This included economic development, brownfield development, tourism and parks and recreation.

His major accomplishment in this role was creating a county-wide economic program where one had not previously existed. He said this work will be valuable for his position as director of MAREC.

“I draw upon all of my previous work experiences,” Ricco said. “The most important element is the ability to work with different people who you can use as resource-building networks.”

The position was posted early last March. Ricco expressed his interest when he submitted his resume and credentials to an interview committee, which reviewed each candidate. Ricco said it was a long process that included two major parts: the interview and the presentation.

The presentation the candidates gave was on their vision for the future of MAREC. Ricco presented his to a group of MAREC advisers, committee members and other staff in July.

One of his short-term goals is to hire someone to fill the empty associate director position, which he said will be a “critical hire for us.” He said this position is necessary because they have a small staff at MAREC, and everyone’s job is important to the center as a whole.

Another short-term goal involves the vision report that MAREC published in 2009.

“I would like to take that document and apply that a few steps further,” Ricco said.

His long-term goals for the next two to five years include “finding a way to develop and identify consistent channels” of companies that MAREC can work with. Ricco explained that MAREC is an incubator facility that helps energy-related businesses and entrepreneurs in the area get started.

He added that he wants to put more jobs on the market, focus on the academic missions of GVSU and foster more resources for more people, such as students looking for internships or community members looking to get involved.

“It’s about taking the foundations the current director has built and really get that name recognition out there,” Ricco said. “I’d like to see it become a preeminent facility of its type and have a greater sphere of influence.”

Making the switch to a new workplace may have some challenges, but Ricco said he is ready to get back to the place of his birth, Muskegon.

“I am excited at the opportunity to be a part of something really positive that I can do in the community where I live,” he said.