Team

Kevin Ricco, Director


Kevin Ricco Photo

(616) 331-6901 • riccok@gvsu.edu

Kevin drives the vision of the Hub and is responsible for the overall management of the organization. His team-first attitude and extensive background in economic development give him the unique understanding of what it takes to help businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in Michigan. Prior to joining Grand Valley State University, Kevin served as Allegan County’s Director of County Development where he managed economic development, brownfield redevelopment, parks and recreation, and tourism. Kevin is a horticulturist at heart with a passion for business, holding a bachelor's degree in natural resource management from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in business administration from Eastern Michigan University. A proud Muskegon native, Kevin sits on the Downtown Muskegon Now board of directors and is a member of Rotary. Outside of the Hub, you can find Kevin enjoying staycations with his family at the Lakeshore, conducting horticultural experiments in his yard, or raucously cheering on the Michigan Wolverines.

What is your vision for the Hub?

“My goal is to carry out the Hub's mission and empower our team to turn great ideas into successful business ventures. It’s much bigger than a single person’s vision for the Hub. It’s about impacting the region through our collective passion for entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Thomas Hopper, Associate Director for Business Development


Thomas Hopper Photo

(616) 331-6908 • hoppert@gvsu.edu

Thomas serves as the Associate Director for Business Development at the Hub, helping businesses turn bright ideas into marketable products and services. With a background in product development and a Six Sigma Black Belt, Thomas whips business visions into shape, bridging the technical side of development with big-picture business goals. He has served as the co-inventor on several patents, brought successful new products to market, and developed new business processes that saved millions of dollars. Prior to joining the Hub, Thomas directed product development at Exide Technologies in Germany and has been in the renewable energy sector for the majority of his career. Thomas holds his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Alma College and a master’s degree in product development from the University of Detroit Mercy. Outside of the Hub, you can find Thomas spending time with his family in Michigan’s great outdoors or reading up on the latest science discoveries and current events.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or startups?

“Focus on getting your product to market sooner rather than later. You generate income and deliver a better product only when customers are buying from you.”

Allison Wisneski, Business Incubator Manager


Allison Wisneski Photo

(616) 331-6916 • wisnesal@gvsu.edu

Allison serves as the business incubator manager at the Hub, helping entrepreneurs navigate the ocean of resources available to support their business goals. With a rich background in communication, public relations, and business development, Allison connects entrepreneurs to customized resources that help them develop or expand their market reach. In addition to supporting Hub clients, Allison also leads the event planning. Prior to joining the Hub, Allison worked in various member relations and communication roles that helped her understand the pulse of the business community. Some of her past positions include corporate communications at Shape Corporation, the member relations manager at the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, a project manager at Revel, and the marketing and communication manager at Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore. She holds a bachelor of arts in public relations from Central Michigan University. Outside of the Hub, you can find Allison volunteering, hiking with Koda, her rescue border collie, or renovating her new home.

What are your favorite things about Muskegon?

“I love hiking at Hoffmaster State Park, the local food and craft beer scene, and all the festivals. I think it’s safe to say that I will be a Muskegon lifer.”

Rose Bennett, Administrative Coordinator


Kevin Ricco Photo

(616) 331-6905 • bennrose@gvsu.edu 

As the administrative coordinator for the Muskegon Innovation Hub, Rose has a myriad of responsibilities, such as finance management, facility rental, event coordination, student employee supervision, and administrative support. A utility player, she is energized by finding solutions to inefficiencies and streamlining procedures—a skill set critical to ensuring all Hub operations are well conceived and executed. Prior to joining the Hub, Rose worked with several small businesses in varied capacities, including finance, operations, and human resources. While working for the City of Aspen, Colorado, Rose helped overhaul the financial and operational procedures of the Wheeler Opera House. Prior to that, Rose lived in Switzerland and founded an international relocation firm to support expatriates. Rose holds a bachelor’s in education from the University of Michigan. Outside of the Hub, you can find Rose exploring her community, walking on the shoreline, or diving into a new recipe. 

What is your favorite thing about working at the Hub?

“There is a great amount of momentum and activities at our facility. We work diligently every day to find new innovative ways to serve our clients. There truly is never a dull moment!”

 

Tom Hull, Maintenance and Operations


Tom Hull Photo

(616) 331-6900 • hullth@gvsu.edu

Tom manages maintenance and operations at the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Grand Rapids and Regional Centers. He is the go-to person for all things facility-related at the Hub. He coordinates the set-up and teardown process for all events and makes sure that the facility is in tip-top shape on a day-to-day basis. Before joining GVSU, Tom worked as a baker for 30 years. He also enjoys giving back to the community through his volunteer work at Muskegon Area People and a local cat shelter. Outside of work, you can find Tom playing music on the weekends with the Carl Webb Band or teaching electronics to guitar makers at the Galloup School of Lutherie in Big Rapids.

What are your favorite things about Muskegon?

“The Lakeshore is a great Muskegon asset. The weather is perfect in the summer — there is no reason to travel anywhere else.”

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW)


Karen Benson, Business Development Officer

Karen Benson Photo

(616) 780-6605 • kbenson@growbusiness.org

Karen serves as the business development officer at Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), and is based at the Hub. GROW is a nonprofit organization that empowers entrepreneurs (both men and women) to launch, advance, and sustain their businesses. Karen supports entrepreneurs in translating their ideas into marketable products and services. She enjoys advising trailblazing innovators on strategy while connecting them to resources that support their business goals. Karen gained extensive business development experience with Northwest Economic and Industrial Development Corporation; the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg; Grand Haven Bank; Muskegon Area First; The Right Place; and most recently, Olivet Nazarene University School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. She holds a bachelor of science degree in merchandising management/marketing from Michigan State University and a master of business administration degree from Cornerstone University. Outside of the Hub, you can find Karen creating masterpieces in her garden, power walking through the neighborhood and along the lakeshore, or planning her next travel adventure.

What is one piece of advice you would you give to a budding entrepreneur?

“Determine where your passion and true talents align, share your ideas with other entrepreneurs and mentors, then go make it happen. There is an abundance of resources to be accessed and people cheering you on to success. What are you waiting for?”


Student Employees


Natalee Vander Wood

Natalee is currently studying Accounting and Finance at GVSU. She likes to spend time with her puppy and hanging out with her family. She enjoys traveling the world, reading books, being out-of-doors and at the beach. She loves watching the sunrise in the morning at the Hub.

Joseph VanArendonk

Joseph is a student enrolled both in the Frederick Meijer Honors College and in the Seidman College of Business, studying Human Resources Management. He is heavily involved with GVSU’s Euphoria a Cappella and competes with them around the world. Besides singing, Joseph enjoys photography/videography, traveling the world with his family, and (naturally) spending time with his friends.

What is your favorite thing about Muskegon?

My favorite thing about Muskegon is being able to live literally 30 seconds from Lake Michigan!



Page last modified August 24, 2018