Board of Directors
Executive Director — Anne Ottaway has served as the Director of the Mackinac Economic Alliance since its founding in November 2012. As the sole economic development organization in Mackinac, County MEA operates as a public-private partnership to spur economic development. Anne provides strategic direction for Mackinac Economic Alliance.
Anne worked with USAID as an international economic development consultant for over 10 years. During that time she created marketing strategies and implemented capacity building programs in a number of developing countries. Working closely with government agencies and the private sector, she was effective in crafting projects to advance sustainable trade. Anne draws insight and knowledge from years of experience as the owner of a successful small business she launched and operated in Lansing. Now focusing on the challenges facing our regional UP economy, she works with businesses, organizations, and municipalities across Mackinac County to encourage entrepreneurship, support economic growth and improve prosperity.
Director — Chris Byrnes joins Mackinac Economic Alliance as its new director, replacing former director Alex Iseri. Mr. Byrnes has been an economic developer, business owner, and professional grant writer, and brings a lot of valuable skills to his new role. His first day on the job was Monday, March 16.
He began his career as an economic developer in Sanilac County, the same county where he grew up. From there, he moved on to be an economic developer in Three Rivers, Niles, and then Holland. When he first started, he said a lot of the economic development in Michigan involved creating industrial parks, filling them with manufacturers, and bringing in employees to work in them.
Around the turn of the century, the digital age was taking off and Mr. Byrnes said he felt economic development needed to shift away from being so heavily focused on manufacturing.
“The idea to me was that economic development needed to change,” he said. “I was proposing that we needed to switch it up and be doing some different things.”
Chairman — Mr. Reid worked 30 years with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and he currently works with D & S Forestry Services. He previously served on the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning & Development Commission, and currently serves on the Mackinac County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the American Legion, and several timber products-related associations.
Vice-Chairman — Ms. Schlehuber owns Mackinac Properties Real Estate, which she started in 1998, and she recently acquired Northern Michigan Vacation Rentals. She previously managed the St. Ignace Golf Course, Clearwater Resort Hotel in Brevort, and worked at First National Bank of St. Ignace. She moved here from Detroit in 1969. She serves on the Water Wonderland Board of Realtors, and the boards of the Fort de Buade Museum and Great Waters Center for Lifelong Learning.
Secretary — Ms. Polk moved to Mackinac County from the metro Detroit area in 1997 and worked 11 years as a writer for The St. Ignace News and Les Cheneaux Islands Weekly Wave. She worked another 9 years as the Les Cheneaux Commerce & Tourism Coordinator in Cedarville where she developed the marketing and social media campaigns for the community, grew membership in both organizations, planned and executed community events with volunteers, and provided business assistance leads and guidance. In 2017, she left that position to launch her own business in Les Cheneaux: Applecore General Store, a shop offering Michigan made products. She serves on the Les Cheneaux Artisan Cooperative Board, Clark Township Recreation Committee, Eastern UP Regional Economic Development Advisory Collaborative, and was recently appointed to the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation Board. She previously served on the Les Cheneaux Historical Association Board, Les Cheneaux Economic Forum task forces, and Great Waters Steering Committee.
Treasurer — Mr. Paquin is a rising star in his hometown of St. Ignace. After the Straits Breeze Hotel sat vacant for over two years, he and his father bought the property and began extensive renovations. He opened the doors to his family-owned business, The Cedar Hill Lodge, in the summer of 2013, and the Lodge has continued to thrive as an attractive addition to the St. Ignace business community. In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Mr. Paquin is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce Events Committee, the Board of Directors for the Visitors Bureau and the Kiwanis Club of St. Ignace, and was newly elected to the St. Ignace City Council in November 2015.
Mr. Clapperton has owned and operated several businesses in the county, served on the St. Ignace City Council. Having resided in Mackinac County for over twenty-seven years, he currently serves as Mackinac County Coordinator for Michigan Works!
Mr. Sterk owned and operated R & R Steel in Ft Lauderdale Florida 1980 to 2010 and then returned to St. Ignace where he was born and raised. He began work on the Mackinac Bridge in 1954 until 1957 as an ironworker. He also co-founded St. Ignace Sewn Products.
A lifelong resident of the Upper Peninsula, Mr. Gustafson has lived in Naubinway since 1996 and worked 25 years as a conservation officer and 11 years as a Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtor. He has been involved with the Top of the Lake Communities Association since 2004, serving as president since 2008. He chairs the Naubinway Christian Fellowship Church and was a former President of the Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club.
Ms. Sorrels has served as Director of the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and Marquette Mission Park in St. Ignace, Mi for 14 years. She has served on many boards, including Legacy House, St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce, the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Foundation. She obtained funding to start a Traditional Arts Entrepreneurship program for Tribal youth in our community and implemented an intergenerational project to link tribal youth with elders. She has also been nominated for the Northern Ontario’s Most Influential Women Award.
Mike Soder is the owner Sunset Pointe Resort on Manistique Lake, in Curtis, and the President of Soder’s Inc., which includes the Fish and Hunt Shop, also in Curtis. The Fish and Hunt Shop sells and rents outdoor equipment, and it has been in Mike’s family for 65 years.
Nikki is the Executive Director of Operations. Nikki’s role at GLBBS is to ensure the efficiency of business operations as well as develop strategic organizational goals for the future. Joining GLBBS in 2015, Nikki brought over 10+ years of administrative experience to GLBBS.
Nikki holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Lake Superior State University. Nikki serves on the Mackinac Economic Alliance Board (https://www.mackinaceconomicalliance.org/) and Les Cheneaux Community Foundation Board (http://www.lescheneauxcommunityfoundation.org/). In her free time, you will find Nikki enjoying the waters of the Les Cheneaux Islands with her family.