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Economic Developers Find Collaborative Solutions for Regional Investment at MEDA Conference

This past August, 160 economic developers from across the state came together to discuss key issues impacting business development at the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) annual conference in Detroit. The conference was chaired by Maureen Krauss, senior advisor of economic development for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Discussions revolved around aging infrastructure, repurposing real estate, the auto industry, and community development.

It’s at the conference where relationships among economic developers are often built and cultivated.

“When you can get a wide range of people with diverse projects and communities in one room sharing what works and what doesn’t work for potential investors looking to expand in Michigan, that knowledge is invaluable. Everyone wins,” Krauss said.

The Conference also offered the opportunity to showcase Detroit and the auto industry’s comeback, with tours of the city and keynote speeches by Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Economic Growth Corp. President Rodrick Miller.

“Whether you are from Troy or Marquette or Holland, inevitably you are asked about what’s happening in Detroit from investors and site selectors,” Krauss said.

As a regional convener, the conference is only one part of the Chamber’s collaborative work with developers, private and public partners, and government leaders. With the competition for talent, jobs and investment showing no signs of slowing, Krauss said the Chamber is often called upon to be the “go to” source for everything from labor statistics and graduation rates to available office and retail space. A large component of that collaboration also takes place at the local, state and federal level when key legislation impacts business development.

An example of this, Krauss said, was a recent advocacy effort between the Chamber, Grand Rapids-based The Right Place and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) that eventually led to the passage of a series of bills in the state Legislature that exempt data centers from sales and use taxes. The legislation helped pave the way for more high-tech job creation. Most notably, it was a key catalyst for Switch, a Las Vegas-based company, that announced plans to expand its operations in Michigan, adding $5 billion in investment and 1,000 new jobs.

“You are always impactful when you act with one voice,” Krauss said, adding that the Chamber is currently working with partners to address proposed changes governing state tax increment financing (TIF) regulations and brownfields across the state.

Another positive example is the collaboration with the MEDC and Gov. Rick Snyder on investment missions overseas. Krauss said the Chamber often serves as a lead partner due to the depth of knowledge and diversity of opportunity in Southeast Michigan. Last year alone, the Chamber and its partners helped attract over $80 million and over 500 jobs to the region. Notable projects included YFS Automotive Systems investment of $26.9 million in Wayne County.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.