Southwest Michigan First announced a collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that will expand its team.

Susan Novakoski will join Southwest Michigan First to serve as the business development manager for the MEDC covering Southwest Michigan First’s expanded region, which includes the counties of Kalamazoo, Van Buren, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch.

The MEDC is realigning territories across the state to reflect Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to regionalize economic development in Michigan. Towards this effort, Novakoski’s duties will center on strengthening Southwest Michigan First’s and the state’s relationship with regional primary employers in order to foster job creation and retention efforts.

“Southwest Michigan First and the MEDC realize that our state’s most valuable economic development asset is our resident companies,” said Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens. “This collaboration, which includes Susan’s time and talent, will undoubtedly help to better serve our companies for the overall economic benefit of the region and increase our ability to respond faster to their needs.”

Novakoski’s experience includes more than 10 years in economic development in communications and business development across all industries with the MEDC. Most recently, Novakoski focused on serving the state’s food processing companies and managed a portfolio of over 50 companies, including Kellogg, Gerber, Post and major fruit processors to grow the industry statewide. She is a graduate of Michigan State University.

“This arrangement will give the MEDC a physical presence in the region to galvanize our continuing collaborative relationship with Southwest Michigan First to make the best use of state and local resources,” said Novakoski.

More at or call (269) 553.9588.


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