The West Michigan Sports Commission is bolstering its team in 2022, hiring Conner Hicks as its new national sales manager while promoting Melissa Brink from marketing specialist of its signature Meijer State Games of Michigan event to marketing manager of the West Michigan Sports Commission, overseeing all brands and promotional efforts.
“Conner brings a strong local sales background from his time at Aimbridge Hospitality and Crowne Plaza Hotel,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. “He has intimate knowledge of our work and proven ability to impact our local economy through sports tourism. We’re also thrilled to promote Melissa Brink, who has contributed her marketing and graphic design talents to our organization over the past six-plus years.”
Hicks spent the last three years as sales manager with Aimbridge Hospitality at the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Airport, where he oversaw all group sales initiatives. Prior to that, Hicks was events sales manager at the former Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids Airport & Conference Center, event supervisor at Applause Catering + Events, and event coordinator at CityFlatsHotel.
“I am thrilled to join an organization that has already made such a huge impact on the tourism industry in Grand Rapids,” said Hicks. “Working with the WMSC on the hotel side has given me a firsthand look at the passion and hard work this staff puts into expanding the sport tourism market. I am excited to contribute to that growth and the potential to improve an already fantastic team.”
A native of Hudsonville, Brink first joined the WMSC in summer 2015 as a marketing and event operations intern with the Meijer State Games of Michigan while attending Grand Valley State University. After graduating, she returned to the WMSC in September 2015 as an advertising and graphic design coordinator for the Meijer State Games. A year later, she was promoted to marketing specialist of the State Games, a position she held for five years.
In her new role, Brink reports to the WMSC president and provides day-to-day marketing support for the WMSC and its operating entities such as developing email marketing campaigns, overseeing marketing initiatives, designing graphics, and creating and managing online content.
“We have a great team at the West Michigan Sports Commission, and it is a wonderful feeling to be recognized for the contributions I’ve made and be supported by my colleagues,” said Brink. “I look forward to further promoting Grand Rapids as a sports destination through our many hosted events, the Meijer State Games of Michigan and the Meijer Sports Complex.”
The board of directors recently approved its slate of 2022 officers and directors at its board meeting for terms starting Jan. 1, 2022, re-electing Tim Gortsema of the Grand Rapids Griffins as vice chair. Other officers who will continue to serve their terms include Jim Horman as chair; Deb Kay as past chair; Bob Partridge as treasurer; and Emily Brieve as secretary.