Meet Michigan's Economic Developers
Meet Sean Kammer, Downtown Manager, Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority
How long have you worked in economic development?
I have worked in economic development for close to five years, beginning as a coordinator for the Main Street program in the City of Lathrup Village.
Tell us a little bit about your work history.
I started working in local government while I was in college as an administrative assistant for Oakland County Parks and Recreation. After graduating, I worked for the City of Lathrup Village, beginning as an administrative assistant, working my way up to DDA Director and Assistant City Administrator. I also served as the liaison to the Lathrup Village Planning Commission. I also worked in the Flint Mayor’s Office as the Assistant to the City Administrator. I currently serve as the Downtown Manager for the City of Royal Oak, where I work on economic development and promotions projects for the Royal Oak DDA.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishments in the field.
I am proud of several major accomplishments in my career. One is working with Flint City Officials to provide water filters in municipal buildings to distribute to residents after the outbreak of the water crisis. Although I took a job there after the water crisis broke out, I made it a major priority for the City to be engaged with the response and relief programs operating on the local, county, state, and federal levels.
In Lathrup Village, I contributed to the city’s mission to get Redevelopment Ready Certified by the State of Michigan. Lathrup Village was among some of the first communities in the state to achieve such a designation. I also worked hard to help put Lathrup Village on the economic development map by organizing property owners and rolling out new programs and events.
In Royal Oak, where I have worked for almost two years, I successfully brought Royal Oak into the National Main Street program and have created connections between the DDA and Main Street Oakland County. I have also endeavored to build a critical mass of social capital among commercial property owners and business owners to help them self-organize around community projects. I oversaw the initiation and development of a major advertising and marketing program for Downtown Royal Oak, which is set to begin in July 2019.
Give us a snapshot of your workweek.
The most interesting thing about my workweek is that no two weeks are ever the same. Some days I am meeting with property owners and walking them through our façade grant process, other days I am arguing with reporters about how they are portraying the quantity of parking in our downtown. Primarily, I am the first line of communication between the DDA and the downtown business community. I frequently work with downtown stakeholders, either one on one or in groups at our stakeholder meetings, in which we collectively try to generate solutions for issues that they are facing downtown. My job requires me to be very versatile.
What did you study in college?
I studied history and political science for my undergrad at the University of Detroit Mercy, where I earned a bachelor’s degree. I earned a Master of Public Administration degree with a focus on urban policy and a graduate certificate in economic development from Wayne State University. I am currently pursuing a PhD in political science from Wayne State.
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?
A firm grasp of urban planning concepts is essential to perform economic development for municipalities.
How has MEDA helped in your economic development career?
MEDA has introduced me to so many people who have on so many occasions conveyed priceless wisdom to me. This has made me so much sharper and better at my job.
The events and workshops provided by MEDA have been so helpful to prepare me for the next big project or the next major career milestone. I am very grateful that MEDA exists.