Muskegon County’s economic development organization has named Marla Schneider as its new president and CEO following a three-year restructuring the organization took on to attract new corporate funders and revamp strategic planning.
Schneider is taking over for Jim Edmonson, who was hired in 2019 to help implement Greater Muskegon Economic Development’s (GMED) three-year transition plan. Schneider will begin her new role on June 1.
“I am impressed not only by the natural amenities in the area, but also the rigorous efforts to redevelop downtown as an active, modern destination,” Schneider said in a statement. “Muskegon County has an abundance of community assets that are critical in our ability to attract and retain workforce talent. I am extremely excited about partnering with leaders, stakeholders and residents to make Muskegon County an even more desirable location for economic development projects.”
The transition plan that Edmonson helped oversee included a rebranding in late 2020 from Muskegon Area First to Greater Muskegon Economic Development as well as restructuring the board of directors to include more private-sector members.
Edmonson told MiBiz in January that the organization secured more than $1 million in fundraising over the last three years, which doubled the organization’s budget from roughly $500,000 before the restructuring.
GMED Board Chair Tom Zant said the search committee was impressed with Schneider’s marketing skills and background in community engagement.
Schneider spent a decade working as the vice president of marketing and communications for Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the economic development organization for the Fort Wayne/Allen County region in Indiana. She also served as the president of Three Rivers Distilling Co. in Fort Wayne.
“We could see right away that Marla has a vision for expanding GMED’s visibility in the community,” Zant said in a statement. “That’s an important next step for us after focusing on reorganization the last couple of years. We’re also confident in her ability to develop a long-term strategic plan for the continued success and expansion of Muskegon County’s businesses.”
Originally formed in 1999, GMED more recently started a food processing incubator as well as a strategic community plan for Muskegon Heights to help launch the city’s downtown development authority.