Landing her dream job

Beth Kuiper, shown in downtown Owosso on Thursday, is the new executive director of the city’s Downtown Development Authority and Owosso Main Street.

OWOSSO — Beth Kuiper, as she notes, is new to her new position as executive director of Owosso Main Street/Downtown Development Authority (OMS), but she is no stranger to the city of Owosso.

Kuiper, 42, was born and raised in Owosso, and in 2008 helped the city set up OMS, serving on committees and heading up the Downtown Owosso Artwalk for the first three years of the event.

Most recently, the mother of three was employed by Lansing’s equivalent to OMS, Downtown Lansing, as the organization’s community outreach and programs manager.

But what Kuiper really wanted was to lead OMS, so when Josh Adams resigned the post last August, she acted quickly. Following an interview by an eight-person panel composed of city officials and OMS/DDA members, she landed her dream job.

“I’d like to say that the DDA/OMS board and I had a very difficult task in selecting the next director from the very qualified pool of candidates,” Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne said. “Beth stood out because of her experience, proven track record of getting results, and passion for Owosso. We are very happy she is part of the team and look forward to her ideas for the downtown coming to fruition.”

Jon Moore, co-owner of Foster Coffee and vice chairman of OMS, said: “Her qualifications — her experience, energy and passion left a great impression on the board. She’s exciting and excited, and we’re really excited to have on Owosso’s team.”

Kuiper’s first day inside her new office at Owosso City Hall was Nov. 8.

“I love it,” she said Thursday. “Every day there’s a little blessing — people just stepping up and offering to help. That’s what makes this the community it is, the people. They are the drivers who make all the difference.”

As the OMS executive director, Kuiper will coordinate activities and volunteers to promote downtown economic expansion. She is the public face of the OMS/DDA board and, when appropriate, will represent the community regionally and nationally.

She’s busy organizing the annual Glow Owosso, the city’s big Christmas parade and run/walk, set for Nov. 26; and “Let’s Glow Shopping,” the downtown Owosso version of Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 27.

Coming up is the annual Owosso New Year’s Eve Block Party celebration, followed by the Chocolate Walk and other city events.

No sweat for Kuiper, who knows how to juggle several things at once. As a single mom raising three children in East Lansing, for one grueling period Kuiper also worked full-time, volunteered and interned.

“I don’t know if I slept for three years,” she said with a laugh, adding her mother and others gave her the support she needed to survive and thrive.

Kuiper said she sees the same kind of generosity in the residents of her hometown, and that’s making her launch as executive director easier. She first came to know the Owosso business community in 2008-09, when she was working at Melco Interiors. Her boss encouraged her to join the DDA, saying it was a great way to get to know the community and network.

“That’s why I’m here now — the support of my boss,” she said.

Serving on DDA committees, Kuiper worked on streetscape and beautification, initiating installing custom bike racks throughout downtown, and spearheading the development of Woodard Place, a pocket park in an alley near Washington and Exchange streets.

Later, Kuiper performed design work for McDaniels Kitchen and Baths in East Lansing and then joined the company’s commercial sales team, where she got to know more about Owosso, since the city was part of her sales territory.

Another starred item on her resume is working as a spatial specialist at the Michigan Institute of Contemporary Arts in Lansing.

“I like to utilize space to the best of its ability, and trying to make it visiually interesting is extremely important. It’s a form/function thing,” Kuiper said. “I also like to listen to people to find out what they want so I can understand the vision of the whole group — and then I try to do it.”

She praised Adams, the OMS/DDA executive director for eight years, for preparing a solid foundation for her to shoot off of.

“Josh is amazing,” she said. “Owosso is the town to watch for over the next 10 years in Michigan. People are already watching. I’m excited.”

Kuiper, who holds an associate’s degree in applied science with a focus on interior design, plans to commute from her home in East Lansing given that her children, Elle, 19, Rockwell, 16, and Eva, 15, are still in school. They live with their rescued cocker spaniel Chunk-a-lunk Chewbarka (Chewy for short).

In her limited spare time, Kuiper enjoys traveling, mountain biking, creative arts programming and furthering her education.

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