Barry Matherly: Become an Ambassador for the Region

At the 2019 Detroit Policy Conference, Detroit Regional Partnership President and CEO Barry Matherly took to the Sound Board stage to promote the Detroit region and the power of collaboration. Citing the region’s 5.4 million people and 275 municipalities, Matherly focused on helping the region compete globally, not just within the United States. For the region to succeed on a global scale, Matherly provided some key takeaways:

  • Neighborhoods must grow in conjunction with larger cities; it is imperative that regional growth is inclusive.
  • The region is not devoid of issues. We should not hide them, but instead learn from them.
  • People should become ambassadors of their hometown and entire region.

This session was sponsored by DTE Energy Foundation.

New regional economic development nonprofit gets a name, starts meeting with leaders in 11-county area

January 10, 2019

By: Sherri Welch

Crain’s Detroit Business

The economic development nonprofit created by the “no-name” regional CEO group has a new name and has launched a monthlong “listening tour.”

Counties covered by Detroit Regional Partnership

Genesee County
Lapeer County
Lenawee County
Livingston County
Macomb County
Monroe County
Oakland County
Shiawassee County
St. Clair County
Washtenaw County
Wayne County

Led by CEO Barry Matherly, the newly named Detroit Regional Partnership is meeting with stakeholders across 11 counties in Southeast Michigan to learn more about economic-development programs and priorities in each.

Matherly has started out talking with community leaders in Washtenaw, Monroe and Lenawee counties and plans to meet over the next few weeks with their peers in eight other Southeast Michigan counties that mirror the Detroit Regional Chamber’s territory

Among them is Oakland County, which is set to meet with Matherly and the Detroit Regional Partnership in two weeks.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson will not participate in any initial meetings, said Bill Mullan, spokesman for the Oakland County executive.

But other county representatives will, including Deputy County Executive/Chief Information Officer Phil Bertolini, Chief Deputy County Executive Gerald Poisson, Deputy County Executive Tim Meyer and the county’s new director of economic development and community affairs, Michael McCread.

Patterson in August publicly criticized the no-name CEO group that formed the Detroit Regional Partnership, saying he’d “rather join the Klan” than pay dues to the business attraction group.

Within hours, he apologized for his “poor choice of words” but not for his statements that downtown leaders are trying to “poach” suburban businesses.

Patterson had lashed out after business leaders began trying to raise $4 million to $6 million from chamber members to stand up the new business attraction nonprofit.

Patterson told Crain’s at the time that his ire with the no-name CEO group began when it came out in support of mass transit last April, just as Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel were resisting a push from Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to put a transit millage on the November ballot.

The county’s willingness to meet with the Detroit Regional Partnership doesn’t indicate a shift in opinion, Mullan said.

“We’re going to examine if this group adds value to what we do in economic development for the county,” he said. “We’ll see what comes out of this meeting.”

Matherly, who led similar business attraction efforts in Virginia before coming to Southeast Michigan, is focused on the region’s potential rather than its political tensions.

“This region has so much potential, and I’m excited to build on progress to date and help take it to the next level,” he said in a release.

The Detroit Regional Partnership organization will build upon the people and assets of the business attraction group that was formerly part of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Operating autonomously from rented space in the chamber’s offices, it will focus on marketing the region to out-of-state and international companies to attract investment and jobs, with a team of eight employees, including five who came from the chamber.

The new nonprofit’s name is similar to the chamber’s former business attraction effort called Detroit Regional Economic Partnership, which evolved into Destination Detroit. That entity’s team is now folding into the new partnership, Carly Weedgetz, chief of staff, corporate communications for DTE Energy Co., said in an email, speaking on behalf of the partnership.

“Under Barry Matherly’s leadership of the Detroit Regional Partnership, the award-winning chamber program, Destination Detroit, will be taken to a new level of results with even more resources and a laser focus on growing jobs and investment that will enhance the economic outlook for all of Southeast Michigan,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, in an emailed statement.

Baruah will be among the new partnership’s board members, a spokesman for the chamber said.

Barry Matherly

The board will not mirror the “no-name” CEO group, Weedgetz said, noting board members will be announced when fully seated.

For its part, the Detroit Regional Chamber will continue work on other facets of economic development including MICHauto, an initiative to help promote, retain and grow the automotive industry in the region, and a talent initiative, in collaboration with the partnership, she said.

“Having an organization dedicated to marketing our region and attracting investment is such an important step forward in our region’s momentum and recovery,” Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy Chairman and CEO and chair of the Detroit Regional Partnership, said in the release.

“This group is exactly what its new name reinforces: a partnership — by the region and for the region — to attract investment and jobs that will add vitality to our communities.”

Anderson was named among Crain’s 2018 Newsmakers, in part for his role in leading the no-name CEO group that launched the Detroit Regional Partnership.

At his invitation, a group of roughly 20 corporate and foundation leaders began meeting quarterly late in the fall of 2016 to discuss regional issues. The group worked quietly for a year and a half on issues including youth employment, career and technical education offerings in Detroit, workforce development and benchmarking of other regional, economic development efforts before making its presence known last April when it came out in support of putting a regional transit initiative on the November ballot.

Its plans to create an economic-development nonprofit came to light in June during the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Shortly after, the group began looking at the state of Detroit’s parks, trails and other public spaces — what exists and what’s planned and the resources needed and available to maintain them and the best practices around the country for doing so.

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Virginia economic development guru to head new Southeast Michigan business attraction group

November 1, 2018

Crain’s Detroit

By: Annalise Frank

The still-nameless nonprofit formed by a group of CEOs that’s looking to attract business to Southeast Michigan named its leader, and he’s coming from Virginia.

The regional CEO group led by among others DTE Energy Co. and its top executive, Gerry Anderson, has been planning to launch an economic development organization. The group made news for its regional transit push in the spring and its assertions that Southeast Michigan is lagging behind other regions that have concerted, united attraction efforts in place.

To run the new organization, Barry Matherly comes from a job as president and CEO of the economic development organization for the Richmond, Va., region. The 53-year-old starts in January and leaves his current job Dec. 31.

“… We wanted to get someone with deep proven experience in a peer organization elsewhere in the country with a strong track record of success,” said Anderson, who is also chair of the new nonprofit’s board. “We wanted someone who understands deeply and believes in regionalism.”

The economic development professional with 24 years experience will lead an effort to create a single point of entry for those looking to invest in Southeast Michigan. The CEO group wants to be able to respond more efficiently and cohesively to requests for regional data.

“One of the big things is to … ramp up the marketing of this region and get a bigger pipeline of potential deals and companies coming in, said Matherly, who was born in Connecticut and grew up in Virginia.

Anderson declined to disclose Matherly’s salary.

A selection committee chose the CEO after a national search for someone who knows this model and can quickly implement it in Southeast Michigan. The region is catching up to those in other states that have been at it for a decade or more, Anderson said.

Among those on the committee were Anderson; Ray Telang, Detroit Regional Chamber board chair; Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah; and Matt Cullen, chair of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

In essence, the new nonprofit will spin off from the Detroit Regional Chamber, Baruah said. The five employees staffing the chamber’s business attraction unit, Destination Detroit, will move to work under Matherly. He expects to have a staff of 20-21 when at full strength.

The group is expected to need $5 million-$6 million per year once it is up and running, Anderson said. He declined to disclose specific donors or contributors.

The threads of the nonprofit are still coming together. It is waiting for official approval for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) nonprofit status.

It formed its board this summer, Baruah said, and within the last month added new members: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. Phil Bertolini, Oakland County’s deputy executive and CIO, is signed on in an advisory role.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has been invited, Baruah said. Anderson said he’s confident Oakland County will be eager to contribute when it sees “good work being done.”

Patterson incensed many in the community in August when he said he’d “rather join the Klan” than pay dues to the new business attraction group. For him, the organization appears to represent a threat to county autonomy and its ability to lure companies. But economists argue a united regional strategy is more efficient, Crain’s has reported.

Patterson hasn’t said yes or no to joining the board, Bertolini told Crain’s. “Mr. Patterson is going to keep an eye on it … and see where it goes,” he said. “We want to see how the organization gets formed, where it goes, its mission and how it operates before he becomes part of the board.”

The county leadership was concerned about the group advocating for Detroit over other communities, Bertolini said. It is supportive of the group acting as “neutral broker for the region,” though, he said.

As a united front and marketer of the region’s potential, the entity needs a catchy name.

A “public partner council” made up of leaders of economic development organizations has started that process, Baruah said. Matherly will also weigh in.

Matherly earned a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech University, according to the Richmond-area development group, the Greater Richmond Partnership. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. Now teaches regional economic development there, is on the institute’s board and is head of its curriculum.

He was also chair of the International Economic Development Council, and aims to implement his global experience while traveling often for the new role.

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Nameless regional economic group launches, selects CEO

November 1, 2018 

The Detroit News

By: Breana Noble

A group of 15 CEOs from Southeast Michigan and the Detroit Regional Chamber have launched an unnamed regional economic entity dedicated to spurring job growth.

Barry Matherly, who heads a similar organization in Richmond, Virginia, will serve as the nonprofit’s CEO starting Jan. 3, working to attract out-of-state and international companies to the 11-county region. The organization will fill a need to attract new businesses to the region and create a single point of entry to connect businesses interested in opening up shop with the right resources.

“Site consultants have been pretty clear that you need to get a group like this to make your region much easier for businesses to enter,” said Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy Co. CEO who leads the CEO group. “It’s really a place that is going to help bring new investment and make it much easier to enter. That’s our job.”

The nonprofit will spin off from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Destination Detroit business attraction program that operates off $750,000 per year. Five people currently work in the program and the plan is to expand that up to 20 employees.

“The intent or the goal is to increase our capacity to attract new business investment and jobs into the 11-county Detroit region,” said Sandy Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber CEO. “We’re doing that now. We want to do more of it.”

The informal group of CEOs, known as the Regional CEO Group, consists of leaders from the largest companies in the region including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., Quicken affiliate Rock Ventures, Ilitch Holdings Inc., health-care systems and major foundations. They meet quarterly at DTE headquarters in Detroit to identify areas they can affect with funding and leadership: transit, job training, public place-making and economic development across Southeast Michigan.

Anderson said private corporations and foundations initially will fund the nonprofit, though he said he expects the public sector eventually will contribute, as well. Based on similarly sized regional economic development organizations, he said the target investment for the nonprofit is about $6 million.

Following a nationwide search, Matherly comes from the Greater Richmond Partnership, which covers the city of Richmond and three surrounding counties. During its 2017–2018 fiscal year, the partnership helped to create 20 economic development projects and 1,623 new jobs.

A certified economic developer, Matherly has more than 24 years of leadership experience and previously served as the chair of the International Economic Development Council, the largest economic development association in the world.

“The chance to build a region is just intoxicating to me,” he said. “That was one of the big drivers to be able to work in Southeast Michigan with a lot of people who want to have a very successful regional economic group.”

Matherly said his first steps will be to conduct a month-long “listen and learn tour” as he familiarizes himself with the Southeast Michigan business community. Anderson said he hopes the preliminary structure of the group will take shape by the end of the first quarter. Matherly said efforts will include increased marketing to raise the region’s profile and growing a pipeline of companies.

“Thank goodness Detroit has an excellent hub there with connections across the country and world,” he said.

In the meantime, market research efforts and collaboration are taking place to select a name for the nonprofit. Matherly said one will be chosen over the next three months.

Anderson will lead the nonprofit’s board that will grow overtime. So far it includes Baruah and Mayor Mike Duggan as well as Charles “Chip” McClure, the managing partner at Michigan Capital Advisors, and Ray Telang, greater Michigan managing partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Detroit Regional Chamber chair. Macomb and Wayne County executives Mark Hackel and Warren Evans are also on it. Phil Bertolini, Oakland County deputy executive, will serve in an advisory role.

Bertolini said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is open to joining the board, though he is waiting to see how the group is formed and how it performs.

“We are very involved in the group,” Bertolini, however, said. “We are using the resources, and we are working with them.”

The CEO group made headlines in August when Patterson told reporters that he would sooner “join the Klan” than join the effort. He later apologized and changed course in September, telling The Detroit News that he was sending representatives from the county to a meeting for the group.

The tipping point, Bertolini said, was a meeting earlier this month between Anderson and Patterson.

“Early on, we were concerned it was being formed to strictly focus on the city of Detroit,” Bertolini said. “They’ve assured us that’s not the case, that they’ll be a neutral broker to all of the region. It’s important for us to be there to ensure that’s actually happening.”

Bertolini said Oakland County’s own economic development efforts have brought in nearly $5 billion in investment since 2004. He said the county would like the group to be transparent and provide new leads for economic growth.

“What success is going to look like is increased development opportunities,” Bertolini said, “and more jobs brought to the region.”

The 11 counties the nonprofit will serve are Genesee, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Claire, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Anderson said he expects representatives from all the counties will hold a board position or serve on a board committee.

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