• Jim Edmonson
    President / CEO
    Office: 231-722-3751

    Jim is a business consultant with 40 years of experience in economic and community development and was involved in projects valued over $2 billion and 6,000 new jobs.

    As a business consultant, Jim has managed loan portfolios in excess of $25 million in value. He has written hundreds of business plans; is a former business counselor for the South Louisiana Economic Council Technical Assistance Network Program (Thibodaux, LA) and, Grand Valley State University (Grand Rapids, MI) where he helped commercialize 22 products. He is a SCORE Certified business mentor. In addition, Jim has operated 4 business incubators.

    Jim is also an entrepreneur having founded a transportation company, a retail store, a manufacturing company, and his consulting firm.

    Jim has a BS from Northern Michigan University; and a MA from Western Illinois University. Jim has served as President and CEO of 6 private non-profits development organizations, served on dozens of community planning and zoning boards, and was a local elected official while living in Sackets Harbor, NY.

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  • Morgan Carroll
    Director of Business Development
    Office: 231-722-3751

    Morgan joined Muskegon Area First in June 2018 as the Director of Business Development. In her role she assists businesses to expand and relocate to Muskegon County, serves as staff liaison for the Muskegon Heights Business Association and the Business Resource Team, and is closely connected to the manufacturing community. 

    Morgan is a Muskegon County native. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics at Grand Valley State University. Morgan currently serves on the board of directors of the Muskegon, Ottawa, and Kent County Foreign Trade Zone, is a Loaned Executive for United Way, and serves on the City of Norton Shores Planning Commission.

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  • Cathy Brubaker-Clarke
    Community Development Specialist
    Office: 231-724-3172

    Cathy graduated from Traverse City High school and went to Albion College for her undergraduate degree. She then went to the University of Michigan and obtained a Masters Degree in Urban Planning, with a concentration in economic development. Her first professional position was as Main Street Project Manager, through the National Main Street Organization in Saline, Michigan. She coordinated economic development, design and promotional activities in the downtown, including implementation of a successful streetscape plan in downtown Saline. After working four years as Project Manager, she took a position in March 1988, as Assistant Planner with the City of Muskegon. Primary responsibilities included establishing the Downtown Development Authority; working on property consolidation of the downtown mall and surrounding property. In 1994, Cathy became the Director of Planning for the City. She directed and implemented the Weed & Seed site in the City of Muskegon, and was responsible for community and economic development projects (including obtaining an EDA grant for the creation of the Seaway Industrial Park and subsequent development), historic district oversight, zoning and master planning. In 1997, Cathy was promoted to Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Muskegon. She directed her division, which included economic development, Community & Neighborhood Services, Recreation and Planning. She worked closely with area businesses on various economic incentives for expansion and new development, both in manufacturing and commercial development; often coordinating with Greater Muskegon Economic Development. Cathy has written and obtained grants and worked on several community-wide projects, with many community partners. She retired from the City in March 2017 and started her own consulting business CBC Community Development Strategies, LLC.

    Cathy is Past President of the Muskegon Rotary Club, which has almost 240 members, all leaders in the Muskegon community. She is Vice-Chair of the Pound Buddies Board and volunteers at the Shelter. She is involved in her church, and is on the Downtown Dog Park Committee.

    Cathy is married to Doug Clarke, a Third Grade Teacher at Reeths-Puffer Elementary. They have three children and four grandchildren (and two dogs!)

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  • Marie Chabotte
    Finance Director
    Office: 231-722-3751

    Marie joined Muskegon Area First as the Finance Director in 2020. She is in a shared position with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of which she has been there for over 9 years. Marie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at Baker College in Muskegon and has 40 years of experience. 

    In her free time, Marie is a part of the Lake Michigan Clipper Cup Sail Race Committee. She enjoys boating, reading, and is an avid “foodie.” 

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  • Pamela Poort
    Director
    Office: 231-722-7700

    Pamela Poort has been the Director of Muskegon Area First’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) since 1989, counseling business owners in marketing their products and services to federal, state, local and international markets.  Ms. Poort has extensive experience in government contracting procedures and policies, government regulations, bid preparation, and pre- and post-award administration.

    Pamela attended Grand Valley State University, from which she received a B.B.A. majoring in Marketing with a Minor in Management.  She completed the International Marketing Program from the Thunderbird Management Center, American Graduate School of International Management, and has received her Associates and Master’s Certificate from the George Washington School of Business.  Her studies related to government contracting are ongoing through the Defense Acquisition University and Federal Publications.

    Pamela is a board member of the PTACs of Michigan, Inc., and is Chair of the By-Laws and Internal Policies Committees and also on the Finance Committee.  Poort is also a member of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), and has obtained the highest level of certification within APTAC, Certified Procurement Professional (CPP).  She is active with several Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations.

    The PTAC provides government contracting assistance to all business types in a 13-county service area that includes: Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa.

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  • Kelsey Rhoda
    PTAC Procurement Counselor
    Office: 231-724-3174

    Kelsey Rhoda has been a PTAC Procurement Counselor since October 2019. Kelsey’s passion for systems and working with others has lead her to thrive in highly-dynamic, team-based environments. Kelsey thrives under pressure and appreciates being able to utilize her expertise in systems, and organizing to conduct a successful team-oriented office environment. Kelsey’s experience and education with customer service, project management, and administration have lead her to the career path of being a PTAC Counselor, providing assistance to the business community interested in government contracting.

    Kelsey graduated from Davenport University with an Associates in Business and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Healthcare Administration. Kelsey has started course-work to fulfill the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC’s) highest level of certification, the Certified Procurement Professional (CPP). Kelsey is taking classes from the Defense Acquisition University and Govology.

    Kelsey is a member of APTAC, a national organization for members of PTACs nationwide, and the PTACs of MI, Inc., a Michigan member-driven organization for professional development. She is also a member of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).

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  • Eleanor Wilson
    PTAC Procurement Counselor
    Office: 231-724-3171

    Eleanor Wilson joined Muskegon Area First’s PTAC as a PTAC Procurement Counselor in February 2020. Eleanor’s experience with technical writing, and business trends drew her to the realm of government contracting.  Eleanor enjoys a challenge and excels in a team oriented environment. Eleanor’s passion for creative problem solving and experience in market analyses have guided her to the career path of being a PTAC Counselor, providing guidance to the business community.

    Eleanor graduated from The University of Michigan with a BA in English and proceeded to work in fast paced, productive environments. Eleanor is taking classes from the Defense Acquisition University and Govology. Eleanor has begun course-work to fulfill the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC’s) highest level of certification, the Certified Procurement Professional (CPP).

    Eleanor is a member of APTAC, a national organization of members of PTACs nationwide, and the PTACs of MI, Inc., a Michigan member-driven organization for professional development. She is also a member of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).

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  • Marty Gerencer
    Executive Director
    Office: 231-638-2981

    Based in Muskegon, Michigan, Morse Marketing Connections, LLC (MMC) is a business consulting firm for food companies and organizations, owned and operated by Marty Gerencer since 2002.  Prior to the launch of MMC, Marty spent over 20 years with Gerber Products Company and worked with cross-functional teams to implement collaborative approaches to business practices.  While at Gerber, Marty received the Chairman’s Award for her role in a collaborative baby and toddler marketing program that engaged multiple internal departments and several outside agencies and companies. 

    Ms. Gerencer partnered with Wallace Center at Winrock International, based in Washington DC, to launch and co-lead the National Good Food Network (NGFN).  The NGFN employs regional approaches to increase the supply of locally sourced food into communities through collaboration with regional teams around the country.  Marty partnered with Michigan State University – Center for Regional Food Systems, to launch and operationalize the Michigan Food Hub Network.  This statewide network brings together Michigan stakeholders interested in networking and learning to develop regional approaches that will increase the supply of locally produced foods in regions around Michigan.  

    In recent years, Ms. Gerencer partnered with the Community Foundation for Muskegon County (CFMC) and played an instrumental role in securing over  $3 million dollars in grant and private funding to launch and operationalize the HEALTHY Muskegon network, the Muskegon Food Hub and the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative. In 2019, Marty received broad based food industry support to formalize the Initiative into the West Michigan Food Processing Association and she was named Executive Director of the Association in 2020.  

    Ms. Gerencer was appointed by Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden to the United States Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers specifically to represent a voice for women and minority farmers.  Ms. Gerencer was a member of the National Women and Agriculture Network convened by USDA.  She has contributed to the development of this network through informal briefings and updates with USDA. Marty has served as a member of the Women, Food and Agriculture National Advisory Council.  Along with a team of local food experts, Ms. Gerencer was instrumental in getting “sustainable agriculture” included in the United States Green Jobs definition in 2009. She has been featured in the Washington Post and American Farm Bureau Federation News for her national work and has been featured in Mlive, Crain’s Detroit Business News and Michigan State University newsletters for her state and local work. 

    In Michigan, Marty was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Michigan Food Policy Council and has served as a member of the Michigan Good Food Fund Advisory Committee, Upper Midwest Regional School Food Working Group, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Rotary Club, Mission for Area People, AgeWell Services of Muskegon, Oceana, and Ottawa Counties, Muskegon Farm to School Advisory Committee, and Aquinas College Alumni Association.  Marty served on the planning committee for the Midwest Intertribal Food Conference – 2016 and planning committee for the Farmer Veteran Coalition National Stakeholders Conference – 2016, both held in Michigan. 

    Ms. Gerencer has contributed to the following publications; Sysco’s Journey from Supply Chain to Value Chain 2008-2009, Value Chains for Nutrition, International Food Policy Research Institute 2011, USDA Regional Food Hubs Resource Guide 2012, and the National Food Hub Financial Benchmarking Study Results 2014 and 2015.  Ms. Gerencer co-authored The Michigan Food Hub Network; A Case Study in Building Effective Networks for Food Systems Change publication, 2014, Muskegon Food Hub Operation Feasibility Study Final Report 2015 and Muskegon Food Hub Operation Business Plan 2016.

    Her education includes a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan and a Masters in Management from Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

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