Kimball to head Invest UP group


MARQUETTE — Invest U.P., the Upper Peninsula-wide economic development initiative, has a new leader, U.P. native Joan Kimball.

Kimball will head the group as its newly appointed executive director.

Invest U.P. is a privately funded economic development group focused on reinvigorating the U.P.’s economy through business attraction and business development, and talent development, recruitment and retention.

Kimball, a Laurium native and a graduate of both Marquette Senior High School and Northern Michigan University, recently was selected as the initiative’s first director. Kimball brings with her more than two decades of global business development experience in both the public and private sectors.

“From the very first, Invest U.P.’s founders set a goal of attracting world-class talent to lead the organization,” said Robert Mahaney, an Invest U.P. founding member. “The hiring of Joan fulfills that goal. We are delighted to have a proven professional of her caliber driving the organization’s future. Her wealth of talents, past successes and international relationships will play a large part in enabling the Upper Peninsula to achieve its full economic potential.”

Kimball graduated from NMU in 1988, earning a bachelor of arts in French and Spanish. While attending NMU, she helped pioneer the school’s study abroad program, studying in both France and Spain.

Following her NMU commencement, she parlayed her language skills into what would become a successful career in international business in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“No matter how far I have travelled in my career, I’ve always had an affinity to the U.P.,” Kimball said. “I am so pleased to be able to contribute my professional experience and knowledge to give back to a place that I credit for the success I’ve enjoyed in my career.”

Kimball anticipates it will take a full year of ground work before Invest U.P. will begin to make an impact. She will spend her first year creating a strategic plan in concert with Invest U.P.’s board of directors.

Much of her time will be spent meeting people and businesses and collaborating with other economic development corporations across the Upper Peninsula while moving the organization toward its goals of attracting business, employee retention and marketing a positive business image of the Upper Peninsula.