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Chris Stark

Chris Stark

Community & Economic Development Agent, University of Wisconsin-Extension

Chris grew up in Youngstown, OH and received a Bachelor’s Degree cum laude with a dual major in Geography and History in 1979 from Youngstown State University. While at Youngstown State, he was part of a six-man team who paddled three canoes from Youngstown, OH to New Orleans, LA – down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers - during the summer of 1976. Later, he would add to that adventurous and informal education by traveling and backpacking around Europe during the summer of 1980.

Chris’s formal education includes two Master’s degrees – one in Geography with an Urban Planning concentration form Western Michigan University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

Chris actually began his post-college career working as a Planner for a private consulting and engineering company in Kalamazoo, MI in 1980. His work as a consultant led to being hired as an Economic Development Specialist for the Northeast Michigan Consortium in 1984 and later as Economic Development Director of Marshall, MI from 1987-1989. In 1989, he was hired as a Site Location Consultant by the Austin Company in Cleveland, OH where he did site and cost analyses for businesses large and small, including the Federal Reserve Bank, Holiday Inns International, Alaska Airlines, A.O. Smith, etc. In 1993, with the consulting staff having been laid off, Chris decided to turn the time into opportunity and fulfilled a dream by living and working in Europe, specifically the Czech Republic. He learned the language and worked for two municipal governments from 1993-1996 as the country was emerging into a democracy. Returning to the United States, Chris was hired (1998) as a Foreign Investment Representative for the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development. While there, he led the effort that successfully captured German biopharmaceutical giant Qiagen despite heavy competition from other states. In 2000 Chris was hired by the NASA Center for Aerospace Information in Hanover, MD., where he worked until 2006. After leaving the NASA world, Chris worked briefly in Jamaica and then as Vice President of Economic Development for the Heart of Wisconsin from 2007-2008. He left that position to tend to an ailing mother in Bloomington, IN from 2008-2012. In 2012, he took a position as Community and Economic Development Agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension and remains in that position today.

Chris and his wife Nicolet Michiel live adjacent to the golf course in Eagle River, WI. He has become an active cross-country skier and bicycle enthusiast.