2019 Annual Meeting Speakers
Speakers are listed in the order that they appear on the agenda.
Michigan is Still Going UP!
The Honorable Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan
Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a lifelong Michigander. She is a lawyer, an educator, former prosecutor, State Representative and Senator. She was the first woman to lead a Senate caucus. But the most important title she boasts is MOM. Inspired by her family, she’s devoted her life to building a stronger Michigan for everyone. Governor Whitmer was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2006 where she served as the Senate Democratic Leader. In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Governor Whitmer won all 83 counties in the primary and won the general election with 53 percent of the vote. Since taking her oath of office, she has put together the most diverse cabinet in our state’s history and has signed executive directives to clean up our drinking water, end discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation and gender identity, secure equal pay for equal work, and expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. Governor Whitmer is committed to solving the problems Michiganders face every day. That means ensuring every Michigander has a great public education and a path to a good-paying job, every community has clean, safe drinking water, and everyone can drive to work or drop their kids at school safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield. Governor Whitmer and her husband Marc Mallory live in Lansing with her two daughters, Sherry and Sydney. Her three stepsons, Alex, Mason, and Winston all live in Michigan as well. Governor Whitmer earned a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Michigan State University. Born and raised in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer is honored to serve as Governor of Michigan.
Authenticity is Key
Bob Jacquart, CEO, Jacquart Fabric Products - Home of Stormy Kromer
Bob Jacquart is the Chief Executive Officer of Jacquart Fabric Products, based in Ironwood, Michigan. Bob joined his dad’s company – Jacquart Manufacturing - at the age of 19. He’s been there ever since. Jacquart Manufacturing started as a canvas repair and small custom bag business. When Bob came on board as manager, there was one other employee. He enjoyed the work, and soon expanded a little, learning how to make custom boat covers and re-upholster furniture. In 1983 he bought the company and changed the name to Jacquart Fabric Products. In those days JFP had eight employees; today it has 150. With Bob at the helm, the company is now thriving, with an 80,000 square foot facility in Ironwood and a 63,000 sq. ft. facility in Mosinee, WI. JFP’s contract sewing business continues to explore new opportunities while the family enjoys further building its own brand, Stormy Kromer, purchased by JFP in 2001. Bob’s personal motto, “never stop growing,” is reflected in the work of his company. His ever-changing role as the CEO and mentor of JFP presents new challenges each day. Bob always seeks ways to feed his entrepreneurial spirit. Bob has served on a number of boards, including the local Wells Fargo Bank Board, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve's Business Advisory Board, and 10 years on the board of Northern Initiatives. He recently left a 10-year term as Board Chair of Gogebic Community College. Today Bob serves as a member of the Board of Trustees at Michigan Technological University and Copper Peak, Inc’s Board of Directors, serving as the Chair of their Organizing Committee.
Proposal 1 Passed, Now What?
Amy Clickner, CEcD, CFRM, Chief Executive Officer, Lake Superior Community Partnership
Amy Clickner is the Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP) where she has worked since the organization's inception in 1998, was the first full time employee and first CEO. The LSCP is a private-public partnership, serving as the region's leading economic development organization. Amy is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and a Certified Fundraising Manager (CFM) through the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She is a Past President of the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA), serves on the board of directors of the IEDC, Chair of the IEDC Planning and Business Development Committee, IEDC Governance Committee, Immediate Past Chair of Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP) and Immediate Past Chair of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance (NMCA). She is a graduate of Ferris State University and Northern Michigan University. Clickner has received several accolades for her efforts in economic development and within the community: Evergreen Award (formerly Athena), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Partner of the Year, R.A.R.E Everyday Hero and MEDA Medalist of the Year in 2014. In 2013, she was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Iron Industry Museum Board in Negaunee, Michigan and in 2015 appointed to the West End Health Foundation Board by Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Andrew Brisbo, Director, Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Andrew was recently appointed by Governor Whitmer to lead the newly-created Marijuana Regulatory Agency, the successor to the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR). BMR was created in 2017 to implement the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and Marihuana Tracking Act and oversee Michigan’s existing medical marihuana registry card program under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The agency is also responsible for implementing the regulatory program enacted under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. BMR’s mission is to establish Michigan as the national model for a regulatory program that stimulates business growth while preserving safe consumer access to marijuana. Andrew Brisbo is the director of BMR and has been in licensing and regulation with the State of Michigan since 2004, including experience with the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Department of State, and occupational and health professional licensing in LARA.
Laura Reilly, Attorney, Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Larsen, P.C.
Laura is a partner in the law firm of Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Larsen, P.C. of Marquette and Hancock. She counsels employers throughout the Upper Peninsula in labor and employment law, and also works on business, real estate, and estate planning matters. Ms. Reilly has practiced law more than 18 years, 15 of them at Kendricks Bordeau. A native of Marquette, she received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Ms. Reilly is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and State Bar of Wisconsin, and is a board member of the Shiras Institute, as well as a management board member of the U.P. Labor-Management Council. Ms. Reilly regularly speaks and publishes about labor and employment law.
Jennifer Rigterink, Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League
Jennifer is the legislative associate for the Michigan Municipal League where she advocates on behalf of communities with a concentration on municipal services, economic development and land use issues. Jennifer joined the League in April 2016. Prior to joining the League, Jennifer directed technical assistance for Community Development at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), including the Redevelopment Ready Communities® and Michigan Main Street programs. She also managed the Genesee Institute, now the Center for Community Progress, where she focused on building awareness of Michigan’s land bank authority model and vacant property initiatives. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University. In addition, Jennifer, a certified economic development finance professional, represents the League on the Michigan Main Street Advisory Committee. She lives in DeWitt with her husband Chris and two children. She’s also co-owner, along with her husband, of a small business called The Mattress Source in East Lansing, Michigan.
Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) and Economic Development
Kurt Brauer, Attorney/Partner, Warner, Norcross + Judd LLP
Kurt Brauer assists clients with environmental, economic development and real estate matters across a number of industries, including the agribusiness, automotive, industrial, resource-use, energy, mining and real estate development sectors. His expertise includes representing clients in all manner of environmental issues, including regulatory compliance, site investigation, cleanup and closure, solid and hazardous waste, due diligence, permitting, wetland and critical habitat protection, permitting and mitigation and adaptive reuse. He also has broad expertise in identifying, securing and monetizing federal, state and local economic development incentives to facilitate the use and adaptive reuse of properties, and has helped numerous clients secure brownfield redevelopment and business expansion incentive packages. Kurt is a “boots on the ground” attorney who represents farmers and food processors throughout the United States. As the chair of the firm's Agribusiness and Food Industry Group, he assembles interdisciplinary teams of experts to facilitate innovative projects and bring thought leadership to the agribusiness industry. In addition to serving clients in the agribusiness and automotive industries, he counsels municipalities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, developers, nonprofit environmental organizations, alternative energy producers and equipment manufacturers, transportation and logistics companies, retail centers, mining operations and clients in the food production, high-tech manufacturing and aerospace industries.
Michael Jolliffe, Principal, Client Development and Strategy – North America, GHD
Michael Jolliffe is responsible for Client Development and Strategy, North America at GHD. He has 23 years of experience in the engineering services sector holding senior executive roles at three international engineering firms responsible for strategy, client development, corporate development, business development, government relations and communications. Prior to his private sector career, Michael worked for Ontario’s Leader of the Official Opposition and two provincial cabinet ministers at Queen’s Park. Michael has worked in numerous market sectors including: water, transportation, energy, mining, environmental services as well as research and development. He is actively involved in the creation and cultivation of joint ventures and partnerships in the delivery of P3 and alternate delivery projects. This range of activity has provided experience on initiatives and projects in Canada, the United States, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. Michael has held numerous leadership roles in professional and industry associations including: Co-Chair of the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy; Member of the Board of Directors of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation; the Governing Council of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce; and the Board of ITER Canada; Vice-Chairman and Member of the Board of The Canada Tree; and Chair of the Working Group on Access to US Markets for the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada (ACEC). Michael was also a participant in the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.
Matt Johnson, External Affiars Manager, Eagle Mine
Matt Johnson builds innovative best practices for modern mining that provide value to companies and communities. He is the External Affairs Manager for Eagle Mine, owned by Toronto based Lundin Mining. Matt is proud to be part of the team that developed Eagle, an award-winning greenfield nickel mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eagle Mine started production in 2014, employs 450 people, and is used internationally, as an example of modern mining for environmental protection, community capacity building, transparency, and employee engagement. Matt is a respected leader with demonstrated skills in proactive risk mitigation, social responsibility, and strategic communication. He previously worked for the U.S. Congress and served in the Michigan Governor’s office where he focused on natural resource issues, mining policy, community agreements, and rural economic development. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master of Science focused in Biology and Public Administration from Northern Michigan University, completed the Operational Leadership Academy led by Duke University and the Stakeholder Engagement Academy led by Georgetown University. More recently, Matt completed Oxford University’s Managing Sustainability program. Matt travels internationally to mining communities to learn and teach best practice governance, communication, communities, and external affairs standards. Matt is a nationally certified mountain bike coach, United States Ski Association official referee, a long-time volunteer for the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter, raising money for large animal rescue, and formally served on the Board of Trustees for the American Exploration and Mining Association
Combatting the Skilled Trades Deficit
Mark Dombroski, Executive Director, Industrial Arts Institute
Mark has been in public education for the last 35 years and brings a well-known reputation for student advocacy and a fond appreciation for professional trades. During this time, he has held positions of classroom aide, classroom teacher, Assistant Junior High Principal, Junior High and Middle School Principal and most recently, the Superintendent of Cheboygan Area Schools. Mark received his Bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University, his Master’s degree and an Administrative Certification from Grand Valley State University. While a classroom teacher, Mark focused on students with learning disabilities. When he became a building level administrator, he concentrated on providing career opportunities for students. As Superintendent, his goal was to provide a broad spectrum of programing to meet the needs of all learners in the K-12 setting. These programs included college prep classes and career and technology education offerings. Mark understands the importance of offering a broad-spectrum approach, providing several opportunities for all learners. He realizes that the four-year university degree is not necessary, or affordable, for all learners. He believes that Career and Technology Education is as important as college prep classes for many students. Mark is excited to join the Industrial Art Institute Team! He brings his energy and knowledge to the table, to join forces with the dedicated and proven individuals currently at IAI. Together, everyone at IAI will provide educational, career and skill building opportunities to meet the immediate and continuously changing demands of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.
Growing the Local Food Economy
Alex Palzewicz, UP Local Food Coordinator, Taste the Local Difference
Alex grew up in the beautiful Upper Peninsula, raised around agriculture and community service. She has a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Northern Michigan University, where the program turned a lifetime FOH server into a food fanatic. She has over 10 years of restaurant and event experience, working every spectrum and position of the industry including line cook, server, farm hand, catering manager, beertender and restaurant manager. She is one of the founding members of the MQT Local Food Fest here in Marquette, an event that helps inject money into local vendors pockets while showing consumers the true value of having a connection to the food we eat. Her official title is the UP Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference, and most recently has been able to go full time local food by also working as the Local Food Project Coordinator and Central Region Market Manager for the UP Food Exchange.
Weathering the Tariff Changes
Patrick M. Bloom, Director of Government Relations, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
Mr. Bloom serves as the Director of Government Relations for Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. Mr. Bloom joined Cliffs in 2008 as a Government Relations Representative and served in roles of increasing responsibility before being appointed to his current position in April 2014. As Cliffs’ Director of Government Relations, he maintains oversight of Cliffs’ government relations function and has primary responsibility for matters relating to public policy, political affairs and maintaining Cliffs’ relationships with policymakers at the state and federal levels of government. Patrick also oversees administration of the Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation, which engages in Cleveland-Cliffs’ host communities by partnering with non-profit organizations in fields such as education, human services, health and the arts. Mr. Bloom holds a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and a M.A. in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. He is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Business Management from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Prior to joining Cliffs, Patrick gained experience through various local, state and federal campaign and public policy-oriented roles in his native state of Indiana. Patrick serves on the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Council of U.S. Producers, the SteelPAC Governing Committee and volunteers as a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland Bridge Board.
Glenn Stevens, Executive Director, MICHauto; Vice President, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives, Detroit Regional Chamber
Glenn Stevens is the executive director of MICHauto and serves as the Detroit Regional Chamber’s vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives. In this role, Stevens provides strategic direction and leadership to the MICHauto program in its efforts to promote, grow and retain Michigan’s automotive and next-generation mobility industries. MICHauto is a statewide industry association focused on developing the state’s automotive and mobility industry in the key areas of: talent and education, advocacy, industry awareness, mobility and the startup ecosystem.Stevens has more than 25 years of management, strategy and operation experience across the automotive, mobility, steel, specialty chemicals, and capital equipment industries. Prior to joining the Chamber, Stevens served as senior vice president of membership and sales with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, where he was responsible for membership growth and retention, strategic partnerships, and automotive industry development with states across the nation. Additionally, his previous experience includes leadership positions with Blue Water Automotive Systems, Kolene Corp., and National Steel Corp. Stevens serves on the Governor’s State of Michigan Mobility Leadership Steering Committee and leads the Detroit Mobility Solutions Coalition. Additionally, he currently serves on the board of Team 1 Plastics, the board of the Michigan State University Broad Executive Forum and serves on the Executive Planning Committee of the FIRST Robotics Championship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and an executive MBA from Michigan State University.
Attracting the Housing Investment Your Community Needs
Bob Filka, CEO, Home Builders Association of Michigan
A Muskegon native and Hope College graduate, Bob has served as CEO of the Home Builders Association of Michigan since 2006. Bob has successfully led the 5,000 member association through the home building industry’s worst ever recession and has spearheaded efforts to help community and policy leaders understand why Michigan faces an unprecedented housing crisis. Filka has more than 30 years of government and policy experience in both Washington, D.C. and Lansing. Early in his career, he was a legislative aide to the late Grand Rapids-area Congressman Paul Henry. Upon returning to Michigan, he served as a policy advisor to Governor John Engler. He was appointed by Engler as President of the Michigan Strategic Fund and became part of the original executive leadership group that created the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Prior to joining HBA Michigan, he served as Chief Operating Officer of the Michigan Broadband Development Authority. Bob is active in numerous organizations and has served stints as Chair of the Habitat for Humanity of Michigan Board of Directors and the Michigan Virtual University among others.
Erich Podjaske, Zoning/Economic Development Director, City of Grayling
LR Swadley, Community Developer, Swadley Development LLC
LR Swadley is a Community Developer from Marquette. He has been a Home Builder and Developer for well over 40 years in the central Upper Peninsula. He has built and developed many projects, subdivisions, custom homes, condominiums, commercial buildings, multi family, and senior housing. He has developed many neighborhoods, with strong emphasis on conservation areas, trails and creative land planning practices. He has served on many Municipal Commissions and Boards. He has been active in the local, State, and National Home Builder Associations for his entire professional career. He served as the President of the Home Builders Association of Michigan for 2017, the State’s largest professional group representing Housing and Community Development in all its forms.
Meeting the Need for High Speed
Cory Heigl, Vice President and General Manager, Packerland Broadband, CCI Systems Inc.
Since 2014, Cory Heigl has served as Vice President and General Manager of Packerland Broadband and Lighthouse.net, the Internet Service Provider subsidiaries of CCI Systems Inc. Packerland Broadband and Lighthouse.net provides residential and commercial internet, voice, video, and security products to nearly 10,000 rural customers across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The mission of the organization is to provide rural broadband access to improve healthcare, education, and economic opportunity; Packerland and Lighthouse.net strive to make life better for rural residents across the region. With a total of 20 years at CCI, Heigl has held strategic leadership positions in construction management and sales. Heigl has spearheaded several small acquisitions for the Packerland business unit and has grown the business considerably over the last 4 years. Under Cory’s leadership, Packerland has been awarded numerous grants and aligned several strategic partnerships, including one with Microsoft Corporation’s Airband initiative, which focuses on rural broadband deployments in Michigan in Wisconsin. Cory is actively involved in his community. He currently serves on Norway-Vulcan Area Schools Board of Education as President. Heigl also is an active member of a variety of local and regional committees and boards and is commonly invited to participate on industry discussion panels. Heigl holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Scientific and Technical Communications from Michigan Technological University.
Innovative Tools and Ideas for Talent Development
Jennifer Hackman, Account Executive, Emsi
As a Strategic Account Manager at Emsi, Jennifer is focused on helping communities apply economic, industry and labor market data to every day challenges and longer term opportunities. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Community Planning (MCP) program, she also holds a Certificate in Economic Development. She has worked in the field of economic development in various capacities for the Edgewater, Chicago neighborhood, the Village of Arlington Heights (Ill.) and the City of Tucson (Ariz.). She began her economic development career at the Cincinnati Regional Chamber more than a decade ago.
Ray Johnson, CEO, Innovate Marquette SmartZone and Executive Director, Invent@NMU
With over 20 years of start-up industry experience, Mr. Johnson is recognized as a successful public company technology executive, serial entrepreneur, fund raiser and start-up CEO with a proven track-record of successfully building, financing, leading and scaling companies from the early proof-of-concept stage to successful global ramp and profitable exit. Ray’s business experience includes large company executive and board level management positions for venture-backed start-ups and non-profits, raising equity financing from a variety of investor types and entities, crowdfunding, vetting new start-ups, mentoring and coaching entrepreneurs, strategic planning and partnering, new technology and product development, engineering management, manufacturing facility build-outs, IP licensing, product marketing, corporate and product branding, sales channel development, worldwide product rollouts and merger/acquisitions (M&A). In his career, Ray has raised over $90 million in venture capital, angel and private equity investment funding for his tech start-ups from accredited investors and the world’s top venture capital (VC) firms and private equity (PE) investment funds. His companies have generated close to 200 international patent and trademark filings. Mr. Johnson earned his business degree from the University of Notre Dame and is a named co-inventor on four patents in microelectronics and energy storage.
Bigger Than it Locks
Joanne M. Gray, Chief, Construction and Technical Support, Soo Area Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Joanne Gray currently serves at the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Soo Locks facility in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan as the Chief of Construction and Technical Support. She is responsible for the administration of construction contracts and the development and planning of major projects at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Soo Area Office located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, including the Soo Locks and Federal Hydropower Plants in Sault Ste. Marie. Prior to her current assignment, her previous experience included Chief of the Contract Administration Branch at the Detroit District and Assistant Resident Engineer at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan. She served as an Air Force Officer at K.I. Sawyer AFB, MI and Osan AB, Korea from 1984 to 1988. Ms. Gray earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan. She currently resides in Hessel, Michigan with her husband Jim. They have two adult daughters, Michelle and Melissa.
Kevin Sprague, Area Engineer, Soo Area Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Mr. Sprague currently serves at the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Soo Locks facility in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan as the Area Engineer. He is responsible for operation, maintenance and construction activities at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects located in the eastern upper peninsula of Michigan, including the Soo Locks and Federal Hydropower Plants in Sault Ste. Marie. He is the onsite representative for the International Joint Commission’s Lake Superior Board of Control. Prior to his current assignment, his previous experience included Lock and Dam Operations and Maintenance, Marine Construction and Channel Maintenance, Hydrographic Surveying, and Manufacturing. Mr. Sprague earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University in 1989 and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan. He currently resides in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan with his wife Penny and their two children Selina and Nicholas.
Michigan Mobility 2045 and the Future of Our Supply Chain
Tim Hoeffner, Director, Office of Rail, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)
Tim Hoeffner is director of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT’s) Office of Rail. The Office has overall responsibility for rail-related activities at MDOT, including the department's relationship with the rail industry, rail economic development, regulatory activities associated with grade crossings and rail clearances, funding for grade crossings, and railroad engineering, as well as passenger and freight operations. Mr. Hoeffner has more than 38 years of experience at MDOT, including manager, Freight Safety and Services Division; manager, Rail Passenger Services Division; and administrator, Intermodal Policy Division, where he served as policy advisor on critical transportation issues, and analyzed and monitored federal and state legislation. Mr. Hoeffner has also been Governors Jennifer Granholm and Rick Snyder's representative on the Midwest Intercity Passenger Rail Commission, where he served as vice-chair since September 2017 after serving four years as chair. He is a member the Michigan Technological University Rail Program Rail Advisory Board, and the Executive Advisory Board for NURail, a University Center of Excellent at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. In addition, he is a member of the ASHTO Council on Rail, and the Next Generation Equipment Executive Committee (NGEC) and the State Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee (SAIPC). Mr. Hoeffner is a licensed professional engineer, with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University.
Pasi Lautala, Ph.D., PE, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director, Rail Transportation Program, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, Michigan Technological University
Pasi Lautala is an associate professor at civil and environmental engineering department of Michigan Technological University where he also leads the Rail Transportation Program. His research concentrates on railway and multimodal transportation engineering and logistics. Dr. Lautala holds PhD in civil engineering (transportation). He is also one of the governor-appointed members of The State of Michigan Commission for Logistics and Supply Chain Collaboration.
Bradley Sharlow, Supervisor, Urban Travel Analysis Unit, MDOT
Brad Sharlow received a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University in 2003. Brad has been with MDOT for 15 years in a variety of positions. Brad is currently the supervisor of the Urban Travel Analysis Unit within the Statewide Transportation Planning Division. In addition, he is the project manager for the 2045 MDOT State Long-Range Transportation Plan update, and has served in the past as the project manager for the 2040 MDOT State Long-Range Plan reaffirmation, the Congestion Management Specialist, and the facilitator of the Statewide Congestion Management Group. He has developed and maintained travel demand models in the Jackson, Benton Harbor/St. Joseph and Niles MPO areas, has served on model coordination teams with the SEMCOG and Flint MPOs, and facilitated the Transportation Technical Committee. Brad also served in multiple capacities with the City of Perry, including the City Council, chairperson of the Planning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals. In his work here, he wrote two Master Plans, assisted in drafting a Parks and Recreation Plan, and served as the project manager for the re-writing of their Zoning Ordinance.
MEDC Town Hall
Michelle Parkkonen, AICP, Director, Technical Assistance Programs, Community Development, MEDC
Michelle Parkkonen, AICP is the Director of Technical Assistance Programs at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation where she is responsible for the strategic direction of the technical assistance teams, including the Redevelopment Ready Communities program, Redevelopment Services team and Michigan Main Street. In her current position, Ms. Parkkonen is working to lead the Technical Assistance team to support innovative planning initiatives, downtown revitalization and site redevelopment in Michigan. Prior to joining the MEDC, Ms. Parkkonen worked for the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development (CUPPAD) Regional Commission as a Planner, providing technical assistance to communities in Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee and Schoolcraft Counties. She is a graduate of Northern Michigan University with a degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.