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Your Partner in Growing Your Community

Meet Michigan's Economic Developers

Sean KammerMeet 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.  

Meet Michigan's Economic Developers

Clickner AmyMeet Amy Clickner, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP)

How long have you worked in economic development?

21 years; I was the first employee when the LSCP was created as a public-private partnership after the closing of our Air Force base. Have been here ever since as the organization changed and grew. Was the first CEO and currently manage a staff of 10 working in three counties.

Tell us a little bit about your work history.

Prior to my 21 years at the LSCP I was in the telecommunications field (Superior Telecom) beginning out of college when the Michigan Bell breakup allowed for alternative long distance providers to enter the market. I held a variety of positions there but many in operations and marketing. Following that I worked as a consultant and assisted in the start up of another telecommunications company focusing on call center activity (Superior Spectrum). 

It was then that I started engaging in community service and eventually found my way to the Chamber of Commerce. During my time as Chamber President, discussions on the formation of an economic development entity started to take shape with the leadership in the county. That was when I started working through my consulting company with the new organization, the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Was eventually hired and have not left.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishments in the field.

In the last 21 years we have had two years with a billion dollars of investment in our county. Being able to be a part of those efforts and helping the community celebrate that success was a big deal for me. Keep in mind we are a county of 70,000 people in the rural Upper Peninsula, so this is no small feat.

Give us a snapshot of your workweek.

Jack of all trades, master of none? A generalist? As with most economic developers in smaller organizations, your workweek can take on a life of its own. From working with business clients, fundraising, relationship building to handling the media, my investors and staff … there is never a dull moment. Of course there is the pesky paperwork and forms that are needed to run a smooth operation that also take time. To me, if I am sitting at my desk I am not working to my fullest potential. Being in the community, talking with businesses and colleagues, and developing that next program or service is really what motivates me.

What did you study in college?

Management and Marketing. I am also a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and a Certified Fundraising Manager through Indiana University’s Center for Philanthropy.

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?

More accounting and finance. Maybe paid better attention in economics too :)

How has MEDA helped in your economic development career?

The ability to build relationships with my colleagues across the state has been very valuable. Add to that the professional development opportunities and MEDA has been a go to for my organization. I was honored to have served as President of the organization in 2017 and have served on the board of directors for several terms which only enhanced my ability to engage.

Meet Michigan's Economic Developers

Smedley RonMeet Ron Smedley, Federal Brownfield Program Specialist, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

How long have you worked in economic development?

21 years. Two years in Indiana for the Indiana Community Action Association and 19 years with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which recently transitioned to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Tell us a little bit about your work history.

I have been assisting community economic development and planning agencies and private developers with identifying brownfield incentives for investigation and remediation at contaminated sites for 19 years, starting as an Analyst in the DEQ’s Storage Tank Division. My specialization is in assisting local brownfield redevelopment authorities implement tax increment financing plans, managing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfield grants. My background is in environmental planning, water and wastewater infrastructure development, real estate marketing and finance, and natural resource management. I have been a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) for eight years.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishments in the field.

Started a redevelopment program in the DEQ’s Storage Tank Division. Managed several millions in U.S. EPA funding to help clean up contaminated properties. Helped redevelop a property into new housing in Kalamazoo with Habitat for Humanity. Worked with community officials all over Michigan to help them achieve their redevelopment goals. Uptown at Bay City is one big project for which I managed a grant and loan. Managing grants to assess and cleanup dozens of former gas stations all around the state.

Give us a snapshot of your workweek.

Writing technical documents and reports (almost every day). Reviewing contractor invoices, scopes of work, and technical reports and work plans from environmental consultants. Talking to clients about current and proposed redevelopment projects. Conducting research about environmental conditions at properties. Coordinating with other DEQ staff to ensure comprehensive responses to customers.

What did you study in college?

I attended Eckerd College, studying social sciences, and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and specialization in Urban Planning. I have a Master of Public Administration degree from Indiana University-Bloomington specializing in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Planning.

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?

More urban development courses and business courses. Possibly a bit more in the biologic sciences.

How has MEDA helped in your economic development career?

Without it, I would probably be doing something else entirely. Being able to build connections, both personal and professional with some of the most interesting and intelligent people I know is one of the best things about MEDA. From an education standpoint, there is no equal to the training that MEDA provides to its members. 

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Meet Michigan's Economic Developers

Vicky RadMeet Vicky Rad, Director, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development

How long have you worked in economic development?

Over 10 years. My start in economic development was working for the Macomb Regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in 2008. My role was helping companies diversify into the defense industry during the turmoil of the automotive recession.

Tell us a little bit about your work history.

I am a believer that you fall into economic development and then you fall in love with it. I started my professional career out of high school as an IT recruiter, which led to my degree in computer information systems. I worked for the auto industry coding assembly line software, which gave me my first view at the world of automation. I made the leap from automotive to defense during the first signs of the recession. It was painful to see our economy and the livelihood of our community reliant on one major industry. This was a turning point for me, and I joined the public sector with a mission to help businesses grow and flourish. I worked at the PTAC for almost four years and then joined the Detroit Regional Chamber under a grant-funded program called Connection Point, now a widely successful program at the state called Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC). In 2013, I accepted a role in business attraction working for Macomb County and have been able to expand into leadership responsibilities as the deputy director and now the director.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishments in the field.

Every day we are moving the needle. Our most recent accomplishment was a job fair we hosted in partnership with the Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works. In 2018, a major automotive employer rolled out a “right-sizing” strategy and laid off many individuals in the professional service sector. We heard the call from other employers in our county that wanted access to the engineers, designers, and IT professionals. We had over 30 employers and 270 job seekers at the event. Our businesses are different today than 10 years ago. With our help, they have diversified their industry portfolios in automotive, defense, aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors.

Give us a snapshot of your workweek.

I call it spinning plates. There is no typical week, which is why I love what I do. It is being highly adaptable. A typical week includes meeting with partners, forging relationships with businesses, talking with developers and land owners, many conversations with the state, and supporting our 27 local municipalities and communities. I am fortunate to have a team of 25 experienced professionals who are breaking the mold in what is traditional planning and economic development and making a difference in who Macomb County is for those who live, work and play here.

What did you study in college?

Bachelors of Computer Information Systems and a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in leadership.

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?

I feel that my college years all served as a stepping stone to the strategy I bring to planning and economic development. We are a technology-driven economy. The jobs in Macomb County are changing and evolving with the advancements in robotics, automation and IT. The workforce has to adapt to this ‘new collar’ skill set by blending traditional manufacturing with professional services.  We are building a technology cluster in advanced mobility and cybersecurity that did not exist before. Our approach is long term, called Fueling the Talent Pipeline, and it is integrating business within the K-12 schools and programming. Our businesses want to have access to our future workforce and we are making that happen.

How has MEDA helped in your economic development career?

MEDA has helped my career in so many facets. The training, networking, and access to other economic development professionals are a few of the benefits of membership. We have to be creative on how we package and deliver deals and I have learned so much from other leaders in economic development. On a personal note, I really enjoy attending the MEDA events because I can drop the imaginary boundaries and regions that divide us and become one unified voice for the state. MEDA makes an impact and I am proud to be a part of this 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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