Elwood Downing is Vice President for Business Development & Community Networks for Merit Network, Inc. — Michigan’s high-speed research and education network. He is responsible for new member acquisition, membership growth and helping communities build networks to collaborate, share resources, and promote their economic development.
Since joining Merit in 1995, he has provided strategic leadership, technical consulting, and service engagement to Merit’s 475 (and growing) member organizations, which include public universities, private colleges, community colleges, K12 organizations, research organizations, government, health care, and nonprofit organizations.
Previously he lead Merit’s Member Relations, Sales, Marketing and Communications, Product and Software Development, and Professional Development departments, ensuring Merit’s membership always receives superior service through technology, outreach, and educational initiatives. He, along with his staff, assisted current and potential members in the educational and research sector with network strategy and service implementation.
Elwood has project managed and provided leadership with fiber-optic network builds as well; most recent geographical fiber projects included Alpena, Hillsdale, and Escanaba. He and his team led the communication and outreach efforts for the ARRA NTIA/BTOP funded REACH-3MC project, which encompassed over 2,300 miles of fiber-optic network infrastructure in 52 counties in Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
He has also served as Merit’s liaison to the Merit Advisory Council, and is a member of the Internet2 U.S. UCAN Advisory Committee and the SHLB (Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition).
Joining Merit in 1995 as a Computer Systems Consultant on the Merit/CoNDUIT project team, Elwood was responsible for providing Internet connectivity training for the project’s small business partners and served on the small business advisory board. He came to Merit from the business industry with over 15 years of IT management and customer relations’ experience. Elwood holds a B.A. degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Business Information Systems from Eastern Michigan University.