Serial Entrepreneur, Experienced Tech Start-Up CEO named as Innovation Marquette’s SmartZone CEO

Marquette, MI. October 1, 2015 -- Marquette’s SmartZone, the Innovation Marquette Enterprise Corporation (IMEC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ray Johnson as their CEO who will lead the development and execution of its strategy to support economic growth, accelerate technological innovation and further develop a growing base of entrepreneurs.


With over 20 years of high-tech industry experience, Ray Johnson is recognized as an experienced public company technology executive, successful serial entrepreneur, fund raiser and start-up CEO with a proven track-record of building, financing, leading and scaling start-up companies from the early proof-of-concept stage to successful global ramp and profitable exit. Ray’s business experience includes creating and vetting new start-up ideas and businesses, commercializing technology from university research efforts, raising equity financing for start-ups and mentoring entrepreneurs in a variety of industries and development stages.


IMEC Chairman of the Board, Fred Taccolini stated "This is great news for Marquette. We conducted an exhaustive, national search, with the assistance of Stang Decision Systems, to find the ideal candidate for this important role as the first CEO of our Innovation Marquette SmartZone. We received over 60 qualified applicants and feel we made an outstanding selection in Ray Johnson to lead our organization. Ray brings considerable tech start-up knowledge and entrepreneurship skills in both on-the-job experiences and in academia. We welcome him to our community."


Rosemary Smith, Chair of the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), emphasized that “Our critical first steps have been completed such as establishing a budget based on the SmartZone Tax Increment Financing plan approved by the State of Michigan, hiring Ray as our CEO and securing temporary office space on the campus of Northern Michigan University (NMU). Now, we can focus on assisting Ray in his relocation from Colorado to Marquette and on the initial development and implementation of his strategic plan.”


Ray responded saying “I am excited to be in Marquette and extremely positive about the opportunity to help build-out a world-class entrepreneurial eco-system in support of existing businesses and new start- up ideas in this area. I have been “on the ground” for only a week and have found every member of the community I’ve met to be enthusiastically supportive of the Innovation Marquette SmartZone’s mission. I look forward to jumping in with both feet to help lead the way.”


Mr. Johnson earned his business degree from the University of Notre Dame and has been the recipient of industry awards that have recognized his leadership skills and entrepreneurial business acumen that includes being named as Colorado’s Cleantech Entrepreneur of the Year and a gubernatorial appointment to the Colorado Governor’s Venture Capital Investment Advisory Committee.


Please see the attached bio for more details on Mr. Johnson’s experience and accomplishments.



Ray Johnson CEO Innovation Marquette SmartZone