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Merit Network Announces Northwest Michigan Member Relations Manager

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. announces today the transition to a new regional Member Relations model. The new model increases staff and expands Merit’s presence throughout Michigan, placing Member Relations Managers in six different geographic regions across the state. “I am excited to announce the new regional Member Relations structure,” says Elwood Downing, vice president of Member Relations, Communications and Services. “The geographic focus will bring Merit’s engagement and outreach closer to Merit Members and their communities everywhere in Michigan.”

Whereas Member Relations Managers previously focused their attention on Merit’s Membership by segment (K12, Library, Public University, Private College, Community College, Health Care, Non-profit, Government and Research), under the new model, Regional Member Relations Managers will act as point of contact and facilitator for all Member types located in geographic regions.
Eric Grandstaff
“I believe will provide us with a very strong opportunity to grow our community. By having staff based within every region of Michigan, they will be more closely involved with the community and the relationships, partnerships, and concerns of organizations in a geographic area. By having staff closer to their organization’s location, we can build a stronger relationship with them. Also, by having staff responsible for a region rather than a market segment, Member Relations Managers can build synergies between various types of organizations in a community more effectively,” stated Jason Russell, Director of Member Relations for Merit.

The new Member Relations Regions are: Upper Peninsula, Northwest Lower Peninsula, Northeast Lower Peninsula, Central Lower Peninsula, Southern Lower Peninsula, Southeast Lower Peninsula, and Governing Members (Public Universities) and National Members.

The Northwest Michigan member Relations Manager is Eric Grandstaff. Eric will be responsible for Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, Ostego and Wexford Counties.

Grandstaff has lived in Northern Michigan for 35 years and understands the unique challenges and concerns faced by residents in addressing distance, resource sharing, and economic development for the region. He has a diverse background in information technology as a former community college dean, a K-12 and elementary education teacher, reading clinician, public broadcasting producer and an on-air host. Grandstaff also developed the first statewide interactive video network for education and government in Michigan in the 1990s.

“In many, many ways what Merit brings to northern Michigan residents is even more vital,” he said. “High speed networking will bring many cohesive economic outcomes for our region. It will bring much-needed opportunities for our young people who often have to move away after high school and college.”

Grandstaff works from his office in Petoskey and is always willing to talk regarding an organization’s needs and challenges.

About Merit Network

Merit Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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