Economic Development, Lakeshore, and Nonprofits

Lakeshore Advantage names president

April 10, 2014
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Lakeshore Advantage names president
Jennifer Owens. Courtesy Lakeshore Advantage

The nonprofit promoting economic development in Ottawa County has named a new president.

Lakeshore Advantage said today that it has appointed Jennifer Owens to the role.

Owens will begin working at the Zeeland-based nonprofit on May 5.

Owens will oversee the nonprofit’s work to stimulate the retention and expansion of businesses in the region, as well as attract new corporate investment.

Economic development background

Owens has served as vice president at Southwest Michigan First, an economic development nonprofit in Kalamazoo, and as principal at Consultant Connect, a firm bridging the gap between developers and location consultants.

Previously, Owens held positions at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state’s marketing arm, and Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development nonprofit.

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Elizabeth Rolinski, with Johnson Controls and board chair of Lakeshore Advantage, said Owen’s extensive economic development network in Michigan and across the nation will serve the region’s business community well.

“After an extensive search and interview process, we have found a leader in Jennifer with a proven track record both as an economic developer and entrepreneur,” Rolinski said.

Owens said she's looking forward to working with the companies in Ottawa County that form a solid economic engine and are benchmarked across the state.

“I’m honored to become part of a collaborative community that supports and fosters business growth,” Owens said. “And look forward to working with area leaders to help maximize this positive momentum.”

Owens will replace former president Randy Thelen, who worked at the organization for 10 years.

Thelen was named senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce in February.

Lakeshore Advantage

Lakeshore Advantage operates three divisions: the business services group, new venture group and innovation group.

The nonprofit has worked with several companies in the region, such as Perrigo, a global drug maker, Sybesma’s Electronics, a service provider in Holland, and ITB Packaging, a packaging maker in Holland.

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