On Thursday, May 23rd at The Crowne Plaza Lansing West Hotel, the Michigan Economic Development Association (MEDA) held their Annual Event to update members on economic development in Michigan, hear from keynote speakers and provided networking sessions for all attendees. The event proves to be an important meeting for the professional Michigan economic development community year after year.
State Economic Development Growth Substantial Over Last Year
Members heard from Bernard Swiecki, Director of Automotive Communities Partnership, Center for Automotive Research on the leadership position Michigan endeavors to carve out in the autonomous and next generation of vehicles business. Other speakers emphasized the importance of Michigan continuing to play this leadership world role as a driver for the state’s continuous economic health. Andy Draheim, Chief of Staff for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), updated the audience on the administrations’ focus on the overall health of our great lakes as the driver of the department. Much more emphasis is being given to the effects and our response to climate change, sustaining the health of our Great Lakes and being proactive in protecting our natural resources.
Steps Local Economic Development Community Must Take to Stay Competitive
Following lunch, Valerie Hoag, Managing Director of Global Business Operations for the MEDC, spoke of the critical importance for the economic development community to fully participate in the Michigan Site Readiness Program. Time was spent on how Michigan compares to neighboring states when it comes to attracting national and international business. Continuous efforts are being taken by MEDC to make our state more competitive, however, increased participation of the local economic development community is critical for these efforts to succeed on a more robust scale.
Doug Ross, Senior Advisor to the Whitmer administration for Economic Prosperity, spoke of the challenges that lay ahead in the New Economy with a state workforce still stuck in the old economy with too many lower paying jobs. One major goal is to grow the Middle Class, notwithstanding Michigans’ projection to be in the lower half of states for economic prosperity in the 2020s. After having listened to real estate developers, economic development professionals and community leaders over the past six months since taking this new administration position, Mr. Ross cited four strategic goals of the administration for the 2020’s: Increase access to STEM areas; Push for more high technology business start-ups in Michigan; Support existing industries as they redevelop and retool for the New Economy; and Expand “places” throughout the State where high-value talent endeavors to move and live (Downtown Detroit & Midtown success, Traverse City attractiveness, Grand Rapids downtown redevelopment, etc. )
Concurrent Sessions Provide a Wide Array of Subjects for Attendees to Add to Their Toolbox
Whether attendees were interested in learning how to Market to Growing Industries Using “Time and Money” Projections, How To Provide Succession Strategies to Organizations losing top talent, How to create “Smart Cities”, Local Investing or Assisting Companies Impacted by Imports, there were plenty of choices for attendees to learn how to better leverage their communities for economic development challenges that lay ahead.
One interesting session involved MEDC’s success in using Crowdfunding to help local developers achieve more “Place” locations in their communities, whether it be a sustainable alley, art gallery, and education center or other accessible space for community gathering. Katharine Czarnecki, MEDC Sr. VP for Community Development, shared the success stories of the program and attendees heard from those who have used the program to successfully fundraise for community spaces.
James Mills, Auditing and Accounting Manager, Community Engagement and Finance Division of the Department of Treasury, spent time discussing the Recodified Tax Increment Financing Act (TIF). Attendees learned of the many new rules and regulations governing TIF (non-brownfield) and how the new Act has severe new penalties for TIF governing bodies’ failure to properly report their activities on an annual basis. It was also interesting to hear from the Bank of Labor’s interest in continuing to play a role in the economic development of Michigan. While not the economic juggernaut it once was in the state, Labor still has substantial state membership and endeavors to play a significant role in our state’s economic development. The Bank of Labor attended with such a message in mind for attendees.
Once again MEDA successfully prepared a special event for those in attendance of the ever-growing economic development community in Michigan. The audience energy was palpable and signaled the usefulness of this event providing attendees the necessary information to succeed at the local level. Looking forward to more successful Michigan Economic Development Association (MEDA) events in the near future, particularly the Annual event at the Marquette Holiday Inn slated for August 13 – 16 later this Summer.
Robert Mattler, JD LLM LEED AP BD&C, is a sustainable financing specialist, consulting with developers, redevelopers and building owners on financing upgrades to all asset classes of non-residential real estate for resiliency and sustainability. A former Board Member of USGBC Detroit Chapter and current Ambassador for Detroit’s 2030 District, Robert employs Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and other financial structures allowing building owners to lower operating costs, increase building value without changing the owners’ goals of maximizing investment returns. Reach Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-762-4370 (cell).