Southwest Michigan First Announces New CEO
By: Mike Stiles - Saturday, February 20, 2021

Lee Chatfield (photo courtesy of Southwest Michigan First)

(KALAMAZOO) – Southwest Michigan First has a new Chief Executive Officer.

The Regional economic development organization announced recently that former Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, Lee Chatfield is their new CEO.

Southwest Michigan First Chairman Aaron Zeigler says they are proud to welcome Chatfield to their team and are excited to work with him to improve the region and assist companies in creating jobs in Michigan. While the organization has had incredible leadership and success over the years, Zeigler says they are eager to see Chatfield grow the company and expand their impact and footprint even more.

Chatfield was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives for six years. He was chosen to serve as the Speaker Pro-Tem and as Speaker of the House. While serving as the House Speaker, Chatfield led the charge on several economic development initiatives, such as the Mithrive program, which was created to support transformational development projects

Before being elected to the Michigan House, Chatfield was an athletic director, teacher and coach at Northern Michigan Christian Academy in Burt Lake.

However, some organizations in the Kalamazoo area are now not wanting to be associated with Southwest Michigan First because of Chatfield's hiring. While in office Chatfield did receive criticism for some policy stances, including when he opposed legislation that would expand civil rights protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Kalamazoo City Commission pulled their support from Southwest Michigan First. The Kalamazoo Promise issued a media release saying they are separating from the organization as well.


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