New director hired to lead SMEGA

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Barkley Garrett is now SMEGA’s new executive director — a position that came open when Joe Sobieralski left to pursue a job in Battle Creek in December.

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
Barkley Garrett is now SMEGA’s new executive director — a position that came open when Joe Sobieralski left to pursue a job in Battle Creek in December.

A veteran of economic development work in Indiana, Barkley Garrett has been tabbed to lead the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance in Niles.

Garrett is now SMEGA’s new executive director — a position that came open when Joe Sobieralski left to pursue a job in Battle Creek in December.

Last month, Garrett stepped down as economic development manager for the City of Elkhart in order to take the position at SMEGA, a non-profit organization that promotes business growth in southern Berrien County and all of Cass County.

“It felt like this was a great opportunity to spread my wings a little bit and do something in economic development that I had not done before,” Garrett said, explaining that while he has worked at the state and city level before, he has never worked for a non-profit.

Garrett, who lives in Mishawaka, Indiana, is originally from Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1989.

He spent several years doing economic development work for the State of Indiana in both Indianapolis and South Bend before becoming the director of economic development for the City of Elkhart in 2009.

He said he would be tasked with recruiting new companies to the area, working on business retention efforts and helping current businesses expand, among other things.

“We are the problem solvers, if you will,” he said. “If companies have an issue they need addressed we should be one of the first calls that they make.”

Garrett said he would spend the first 30 to 90 days of the job learning who the area’s major players are and developing a feel for whom SMEGA can rely on as partners in the future.

“Economic development is a team sport,” he said. “While I might be out there running point on a lot of these different projects there will be a lot of other partners that I bring to the table helping me address the issues that come up.”

A meet and greet with Garrett will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, in the rotunda of the Niles District Library.

“I just want to get out and meet the folks,” he said. “I want to find out what we have done well that we want to continue to do, what have we not done so well that we can improve upon and what is some low-hanging fruit we can take advantage of.”

News

Niles man, 13-year-old passenger killed in Sodus Township crash

Cass County

PHOTO STORY: Old Rugged Cross Church hosts church, museum dedication

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Elks hosting annual Guys and Dolls Golf Outing

News

New general surgeon seeing patients in Niles

Edwardsburg

Michigan Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall stops in Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg

PHOTO STORY: Edwardsburg Area Chamber of Commerce hosts fall festival

News

Niles man sentenced to probation for drunk driving

News

PHOTO STORY: Uptown Fright Fest a success

News

PHOTO STORY: Niles student crowned Miss Apple Festival 2021

News

Three injured in Howard Township crash

Dowagiac

Medical event causes car to crash into Dowagiac Burger King

Cass County

Cassopolis man sent to prison on drug charges

Dowagiac

SMC recognized for turning students into citizens

Dowagiac

ETS program awarded grant from Department of Education

Cass County

Dowagiac man who broke elementary school windows sentenced to probation

Dowagiac

Changes to retirement benefits cause for concern among Cass County employees

News

Niles first ward residents ask for an end to gun violence in their community

Buchanan

Buchanan Area Senior Center raising funds to convert porch into sunroom

Cass County

Man arrested on drug charges in Mason Township

Cass County

Cass County Commissioners approve grant for Dowagiac River restoration

Business

Lyons Industries donates 12 thermal imaging cameras to Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department

Cass County

Niles man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Sept. 13-14

Berrien County

Local emergency departments experiencing high volumes, wait times