KEDA names new director

HANCOCK – The Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance has a new executive director.

Jeff Ratcliffe was announced as the new director at KEDA’s monthly meeting this morning. Ratcliffe comes from Gaylord, Mich., where he has been executive director of the Otsego County Economic Alliance since 2001.

Ratcliffe has also held other economic development leadership positions in Michigan, including chairperson of the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance and president of the Michigan Economic Development Association.

Highlights in Otsego County included helping to obtain a $12 million federal earmark for a new interstate crossing and future interchange, developing an industrial park and aiding in an airport development plan that resulted in a new terminal building and extended runway.

Superior National Bank vice president Steve Palosaari, a member of the selection committee for KEDA, said Ratcliffe’s experience and contacts in Lansing and economic development impressed the members.

“We feel he has those connections, and that’s going to help us run,” he said. “Especially when we’re looking at regionalizing with the six counties coming together, it helps to have those good contacts.”

A less crucial plus is that Ratcliffe also loves snow, being an avid skier, Palosaari said.

Ratcliffe will succeed Phil Musser, longtime KEDA executive director, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Musser is familiar with him from the six years Ratcliffe spent as executive director of Luce County Economic Development Corp.

Musser noted two other points of overlap at today’s meeting: They both went to graduate school in Washington, D.C., and they both worked in Honduras.

“He’s a good guy,” Musser said. “He’ll do a great job for us.”

Ratcliffe will take over full time as executive director in late March. Before then, he will spend a week in the Keweenaw during each of January, February and March to build relationships with local entities.