With a legacy that spans more than 50 years, Cummings Research Park may be “over the hill,” but it certainly isn’t fading – at least not with Erin Koshut at the helm.
Koshut was named the new director of Cummings Research Park by the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County June 8. Her first day will be July 6.
“I am excited to join the Chamber and look forward to leading Cummings Research Park into the future,” Koshut said. “CRP is renowned throughout the world as a top-tier high-tech research park that has experienced phenomenal growth because of our strong, reputable and successful companies and organizations. The master planning process presents a great opportunity to leverage CRP’s strengths and our stakeholder’s successes for greater growth and development.”
No stranger to the Huntsville/Madison County community, Koshut has served as a member of the Huntsville Committee of 100 and the Chamber of Commerce’s National Government Committee. The opportunity to “reinvigorate Cummings Research Park” is what drew her to her new role.
“Coming in at such a crucial time made this very attractive for me,” Koshut said. “I’ve worked with the Chamber and with the mayor and with the County Commission and others throughout the Madison County community for 15 years now, and so this is a unique way to take those relationships and to take my skills and apply them in this new way.”
Prior to joining the Chamber of Commerce, Koshut was the vice president for client services and special events with Crisp Communications in Huntsville.
“The city has had the privilege of collaborating with Erin through the years on a variety of projects, and her extensive business and marketing experience will prove invaluable as our research park undergoes a master planning and visioning process,” Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle said in a release. “This is truly a transformational time for CRP that requires the ability to plan and implement. Erin possesses the diplomacy, business smarts and marketing savvy to guide CRP into the future. We are delighted she is joining our business team.”
The park’s 50-plus year legacy is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean CRP isn’t in need of some reinvigoration and growth, particularly when it comes to newer industries, such as commercial IT, biotechnology and cybersecurity.
“It very much is still an attractive economic development recruitment location,” Koshut said. “That has stood the test of time from when it was created, thanks to the Arsenal and the growth there. It’s also in a place where it needs a little bit of freshening up to make it attractive yet again to a broader group of industries. We’ve got our heritage industries – aerospace and defense – we always will, they do fabulous work and we’re really proud of the work they do to support the Arsenal and the entities on the Arsenal, but we’ve also got these newer industries.
“It’s really going to be a balance of what makes the park a great place right now, with what are some things that we can do to make it an even more attractive place for companies to locate.”
With knowledge of the park’s history and heritage, Koshut will spend her early days on the job “doing a lot of listening” and getting to know the new faces that have come into the park and the innovative things their companies are doing. While she has yet to define any clear goals, growing CRP while ensuring current companies located there “continue to feel proud about where they chose to locate and to want to grow in Research Park” remains a priority.
The very thing that drew her to her new job – reinvigorating CRP – will also be her biggest challenge.
“I try not to look at challenges as challenges – truly they are opportunities,” Koshut said. “That in and of itself, at least to me, is the biggest challenge, is what does that look like, and how do we do it with a very careful and balanced approach with respect to the integrity of the existing park. Everybody has a different vision for what they want to see the park at, how do we all come together and coalesce around a vision that makes everybody happy and is the right one to work towards?”