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Your Partner in Growing Your Community

Submit a Session for a MEDA Event

Economic development resides on a big platform with unique activities that are going on in communities in Michigan and beyond.

MEDA welcomes the opportunity for you to submit session ideas for our education and training events.

All submitted sessions will be placed on a potential topic list that is used by all of MEDA's committees that are in charge of educational conent.

Session Submission Form

If your session idea is selected, a MEDA staff will contact you.

  • Submission does not guarantee selection in general.
  • Submission does not guarantee selection at a specific conference.
  • Session selection is made by MEDA's committees.

If you have any questions, please contact the MEDA staff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 517-241-0011.

Five Reasons a Mentor is Important to Your Economic Development Career

Seimer SamNo two career paths to economic development look identical. Having a trusted and seasoned colleague to guide you throughout your career path is important to prepare you for success. Whether you are still in school, or in the early stages of your career and seeking a better understanding of working in the industry, MEDA’s Emerging Leaders Network can help you find a mentorship that best fits your goals.

Aside from asking questions and getting advice, here are five unique ways that having a mentor is important to advancing your career in economic development:

1. Confidence Champion

Knowing that you have a credible mentor to turn to when faced with difficult situations and recognizing the good decisions you’ve helps build confidence and allow a mentee to view themselves as an experienced economic developer. When a mentee can see themselves as confident, they will be strong in their decisions and more successful in the field. Additionally, having a mentor means you have a personal champion – someone who will talk you up to others, be your advocate and have your back.

2. Building Relationships

Upon being a personal career champion, a mentor can put you in touch with the right people to help grow your network. The more people you meet, the greater opportunities, and the more people you can turn to for advice in the future. The relationships you make may be the most crucial asset an economic development project.

3. Fresh Perspective

A good mentor helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses from a different perspective. Having a mentor pushes you to improve upon your weaknesses, play into your strengths and accept feedback. Many times mentors open mentees eyes to addressing a situation from a different angle, or how to take a critical look the details of a project. 

4. Unspoken Truths

Culture and implicit rules of an organization can be intimidating when changing career tracts, or just starting off in the field. Think back to your first big networking event, or speaking engagement – nerve-wracking, right? Mentor can help guide you through proper protocol and etiquette for events and meetings which can be critical for success and maintaining your confidence.

5. Knowledge Transfer

This last point of discussion is important to the whole field of economic development. Nearly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day in the United States. As the Baby Boomer workforce retires, many take their strong institutional knowledge with them as they go. However, a strong mentorship program can help insulate economic developers from such a drastic shift in workforce dynamics and insure that knowledge is transferred for decades to come. 

If you are interested in finding a mentor, or becoming a mentor, please visit the Emerging Leaders page on MEDA’s website and click on MEDA Mentorship Connection to learn more.

Authored By: Samantha Seimer, Economic Development Director, City of Farmington Hills. Sam is a Co-Chair for MEDA's Emerging Leaders Committee. Meet Sam here.

About Capitol Day

Michigan CapitolCapitol Day is MEDA's annual legislative conference, which includes sessions on the latest legislative issues related to economic development at the local, state, and federal level.

Since the role of legislators is crucial to the strength of economic development in our state, legislators are welcome to attend complimentarily. One staff person can be sent in place of the legislator and staff receive MEDA member rate if they attend with the legislator.

In order to develop the conference around the most important legislative issues of the time, MEDA's Advocacy Committee, a volunteer group of MEDA members, plans the agenda.

Gretchen WhitmerMEDA is a 501(c)3 non-partisan association, so the Committee uses an approach that is balanced in topics and speakers in order to represent all sides of the aisle.

For example, in 2018, elections were taking place and MEDA invited all of the candidates to speak and were selected by very important candidates, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D). Candidates Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R), Senator Patrick Colbeck (R), and Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Former Health Commissioner for the City of Detroit (D), also participated.

Birgit Barry MartyRepresenting the entire state is very important as well, so sessions regularly address all regions of the state.

In 2019, a panel of economic developers from across the state shared what economic developers in their region need to succeed. Marty Fittante, CEO, InvestUP, Birgit M. Klohs, President & CEO, The Right Place, Inc., and Barry I. Matherly, CEcD, FM, HLM, CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber shared what they need from their legislators during the current legislative session in order to continue attracting business and jobs to their region.

If you would like to hear more about Capitol Day, please contact MEDA. Conference information typically becomes available in October and registration typically opens up in early January of each year.

For Legislators

The Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA), founded in 1960, exists to advance economic development throughout Michigan, and increase the individual member’s effectiveness in the economic development profession. The association’s goal is to provide a variety of services and programs that will enhance ability and skills in economic development.

Part of MEDA's mission is to engage local and state elected officials in economic development by providing any information that can help you to do your job more efficiently.  

To provide pertinent information to you, MEDA recently created this portal on our website that is geared specifically to our legislators. Additionally, a legislator-specific newsletter has been created that will go out bi-monthly to keep you updated on the happenings of the economic development community. 

If you should have any questions about MEDA, its members, or economic development as a whole, please do not hesitate to call the MEDA office at 517-241-0011 or email Madi Sholtz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meet Michigan's Economic Developers

Seimer SamMeet Samantha Seimer, Economic Development Director, City of Farmington Hills

How long have you worked in economic development?

Since 2014 – 5 years

Tell us a little bit about your work history.

I started in economic development as a Management Assistant Intern for the City of Auburn Hills. In this role, I had the opportunity to explore all facets of local government working alongside the City Manager. I learned a little bit about everything, from permits and approvals to demolish a building, to labor negotiations and starting a Downtown Development Authority. After my time as Management Assistant, I transitioned to the Director of Authorities for the City of Auburn Hills. In my role as Director, I oversaw three economic development boards: the Tax Increment Finance Authority, Downtown Development Authority, and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Now I am the Economic Development Director for the City of Farmington Hills. As Director, I oversee business attraction, retention and expansion in the community. I work with partners at the local and state level to help businesses grow and succeed in Farmington Hills.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishments in the field.

One of my largest accomplishments to date was a two year project to reinstate the Auburn Hills Downtown Development Authority. This Board had been established in the 80’s but never fully activated. The recession allowed the city opportunities to strategically purchase properties that had been foreclosed on, many of which were near the core downtown area. Starting a DDA with TIF capture would potentially allow the DDA large tax capture to reinvestment in the downtown as vacant properties developed. I worked on this project while completing my Master’s degree. Throughout reinstating the DDA I worked closely with the assessing and community development departments to determine potential tax capture estimates for a 15 year plan and negotiated an interlocal agreement with the County. In all honesty, each project feels like a big accomplishment just due to the time it takes for economic development projects. But, the DDA project will always be near and dear to my heart because it was the first “big” project that really tied together all of the pieces, people and departments necessary for a projects success. The first five years also saw an associated $90 million in redevelopment which doesn’t feel too bad either.

Give us a snapshot of your workweek.

That is one thing that really attracted me to economic development or even local government for that matter – no two days are ever the same. If I had to summarize an average week, I would say I usually spend Monday catching up on emails, checking in on projects and setting up retention visits for the next few weeks. Monday’s help me focus and set the stage for the rest of the week, which is really a toss-up. On my calendar there could be anything from ribbon cuttings, pre-development meetings, site visits, preparing for board meeting, or drafting marketing materials. The only real constant in any given week is follow up communications, lots of emails and lots of phone calls.  

What did you study in college? 

I received an undergraduate degree from Oakland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Wayne State University.

If you could turn back time to your college years, what skills and studies would you have focused on to improve your ability to practice economic development?

College focuses heavily on theory, rather than practice. Economic Development is the art of building trust and lasting relationships – soft, interpersonal skills unfortunately are not found in textbooks. A course in public speaking might prove itself very useful in this career; however I found most success by having economic developer mentors to help guide me through the field and lean on for career support. 

How has MEDA helped in your economic development career?

I became a MEDA member while I was still a student. Being involved in MEDA helped me to learn the vast variety of career tracts and opportunities involved in economic development. MEDA has been an influential resource for building my career network, helping to build my confidence as a new economic developer and get more involved in the organization.

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Contact Us

Michigan Economic
Developers Association
P.O. Box 15096
Lansing, MI 48901-5096
PH: 517-241-0011
meda@medaweb.org

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