2018 Annual Meeting Speakers
Speakers are listed in the order that they appear on the agenda.
Special Guest at Opening Reception
Judy Zehnder Keller, President, Bavarian Inn Lodge, Frankenmuth Motel, Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, and Frankenmuth Gift Shops
Prospective Economic Development
Michael Lee Sherwood, Director, Department of Information Technologies, City of Las Vegas – Smart Cities
Mr. Sherwood has more than 20 years of management experience, specifically in the field of technology, process improvement and innovation with the majority of that experience being in municipal government operations. Most recently he served as the deputy director of public safety, business services and city technology for the city of Irvine, CA since December 2013. In that capacity he was responsible for budgets of both public safety at $70 million and technology at $8 million. He was responsible for more than 100 professional, technical employees and contractors. In that role he developed and implemented key technology strategies that reduced the annual technology operating costs by more than $1 million. He also provided key leadership in bringing Google Fiber to the city. Prior to that position, Sherwood served as the manager of business services for the City of Irvine, CA from 2012-2013, the chief information officer for City of Oceanside, CA, from 2001-2012 and the information technologies manager for the City of Oceanside, CA from 1997-2000. Before 1997, he served in the private sector. Michael received his B.S. in Management from Pepperdine University followed by a M.S. in Executive Management from the University of Southern California. Michael Sherwood is an experienced technology and innovation leader with a demonstrated history of working in government and private sector industries. He is also accomplished at applying technology to improve efficiencies, customer experiences and productivity. Michael graduated from University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business.
Preparing Your Community for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
Kevin Bopp, Vice President of Parking and Mobility, Bedrock Detroit
Bedrock Detroit is a full-service real estate firm specializing in acquiring, leasing, financing, developing and managing commercial and residential space. In this role, Kevin leads Bedrock’s parking team which is responsible for managing more than 22,000 parking spaces across 32 structures and surface lots in Detroit and Cleveland. In addition, his team provides daily shuttle services for more than 4,500 people, including service call assistance. As Detroit’s population continues to grow, Kevin’s focus is shifting toward the implantation of mobility programs that improve transportation throughout the city. Prior to joining Bedrock, Kevin spent 20 years in real estate development and marketing. A Michigan native, Kevin studied American Public Affairs and Business Management at Michigan State University.
Valerie Sathe Brugeman, Senior Project Manager, Transportation Systems Analysis Group and Industry, Labor, & Economics Group, Center for Automotive Research
Valerie joined the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in 2007, and her work primarily revolves around the interactions between the automotive industry, communities, and advanced mobility. In this position, she examines the role of the industry in economic development, land use, and workforce, as well as the role of connected vehicle technology in improving safety, mobility, and the environment. She plays an integral role in the Automotive Communities Partnership, a program within CAR that helps auto communities adapt and respond to auto industry challenges and opportunities. Prior to joining CAR, Valerie was employed at the Arbor Strategy Group (now GfK Group), a marketing and management consulting firm. Subsequently, she worked at ForeSee, a website customer satisfaction market research company. In these organizations, Valerie obtained valuable experience in both qualitative and quantitative market research techniques. Valerie received her Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Spanish, also from the University of Michigan.
The Growing Possibilities in the Agriculture Industry
Peter C. Anastor, Director, Agriculture Development, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
In this position, Peter is responsible for leading activities focused on food and agriculture development, export growth, grant management and the Grape and Wine Industry in order to support the growth of the agriculture industry in Michigan. Prior to his current focus, Peter served as a Managing Director at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) where he focused on the development and implementation of a logistics and supply strategy for the State of Michigan. Prior to that, he served as the Senior Policy Director for the MEDC where he developed broad policy initiatives that encouraged economic development. He has served as Manager of Community and Urban Development and as Program Manager for Brownfield Redevelopment at the MEDC. Prior to joining the MEDC, Peter served as a Budget Analyst in Michigan’s Office of the State Budget. Peter earned a Bachelor’s degree from James Madison College at Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
In-Store Shopping: Not Dead - Just Changing
Scott Aikens, Ph.D., Vice Chairman, Director of Leasing, Robert B. Aikens & Associates, LLC
Scott Aiken’s business and educational background has revolved around the intersections of place-making, social media, real estate, and retail and entertainment. Since 2005, Mr. Aikens has been working in retail real estate at Robert B. Aikens & Associates, LLC, which owns and manages a number of retail and commercial properties. His primary focus is on the Village of Rochester Hills, a main-street lifestyle center in metropolitan Detroit. He is also increasingly engaged in finding new projects through acquisition, development and / or services contracts. From 1998 to 2002, Mr. Aikens worked on local digital content strategy at NPR/PBS affiliate KQED in Northern California. Among other achievements, he initiated a multi-platform project (TV, Radio, and Interactive) at KQED that evolved into Quest, an on-going multi-million dollar program that explores science and nature in the bay Area. From 1997 through 1998, Mr. Aikens worked as a researcher at the University of Cambridge under a grant from the UK Economic and Social Research Council. This followed four years at the university in which he pursued and earned his Ph.D. thesis, which focused on the impact of the Internet on local democracy. Archives from online debates he ran in the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races in Minnesota in 1994 and 1996 provided the data for his Ph.D. Mr. Aikens also earned a B.A., with Distinction, in History from the University of Michigan, and an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University in New York City.
Traffic and Public Safety with Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
John Abraham, Ph.D., PE, PTOE, Director of Traffic and Operations, Macomb County Department of Roads
With the objective of safe and efficient mobility for all Macomb County motorists, John and his team constantly look for the best ideas to achieve their objective. As OEMs and suppliers advance with connected vehicle technologies for the vehicle, Macomb County has been steadily preparing for connected vehicles for the past 10 years. By planning and implementing a centralized traffic and communications center (COMTEC), collocated with 911 emergency dispatch and information technology services for the entire county, Macomb has created an environment poised to maximize V2I technology. Motivated by the goal of increased safety, the team is working on an aggressive Connected Vehicle program to significantly reduce annual number of vehicle crashes in Macomb County. Prior to his current position, John was Deputy City Engineer/ Traffic Engineer at the City of Troy, MI, and Transportation Manager at the City of Anaheim, CA.
Kirk T. Steudle, P.E., Director, Michigan Department of Transportation
Kirk has been the Director of MDOT since 2006. He oversees MDOT’s over four billion dollar budget, and is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and operation of nearly 10,000 miles of state highways and more than 4,000 state highway bridges at a department with 2,500 employees. He also oversees administration of a variety of multi-modal transportation programs and projects. Steudle is a national leader in the development of Connected and Automated Vehicle Technologies, and was the 2014-2015 Chair for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) Board of Directors. He also is a member of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Steudle is a Past President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and Chairs the Standing Committee on Highways. He was a 2014 member of the National Research Council for the National Academy of Science and the 2014 Chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee. He also chaired the second Strategic Highway Research Program Oversight Committee (SHRP 2) for TRB. As well as a member of numerous NCHRP panels and committees on asset and performance management. Mr. Steudle is a graduate of Lawrence Technological University, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Engineering, serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2012.
How High Will We Go?
Jeff Mayes, Director, Economic Development, Consumers Energy
Mayes has overall responsibility for business attraction and retention in the company’s service territory. Mayes joined Consumers Energy in 2011 as an area manager, serving as company liaison and conducting community outreach among customers in Bay, Gladwin, Arenac, Clare, Isabella, Mecosta and Osceola counties. Prior to joining Consumers Energy, Mayes served three terms as Michigan’s 96th District State Representative. During his tenure, Mayes chaired the House Energy and Technology and House Agriculture committees, and co-authored Michigan’s first renewable energy standard in 2008. Mayes previously served as Bangor Township Supervisor and legislative assistant to state representatives Howard Wetters and Joseph Rivet. Mayes earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from the University of Michigan as an Evans Scholar.
Jennifer Rigterink, Legislative Associate, Michigan Municipal League
At MML, Jennifer advocates on behalf of communities with a concentration on municipal services, economic development and land use issues. She 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.
New Age, New Experiences
Sheila Stamiris, Executive Director, City of Frankenmuth Downtown Development Authority and Economic Development Corporation
Sheila Stamiris recognized her love of cities, growing up in neighborhood-rich Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Today, Stamiris serves as the Executive Director of the Frankenmuth DDA and Economic Development Corporation. In Frankenmuth since 2000, Stamiris began her career in downtown development in Bay City in 1987. During her tenure in Bay City, Downtown Bay City was honored as A Great American Main Street Award by the National Main Street Center. In Frankenmuth, Stamiris has overseen nearly $15 million in streetscape improvements and managed over $10 million in grant funded improvements allowing the City to build a pedestrian bridge, a heritage fountain, a gateway arch, a new street, a constructed river rapids, utility expansions and more – all creating opportunity for new investments in industry, commerce and housing. Stamiris understands downtown development as managed chaos, requiring a balancing act of people, places and passion. And, she believes the best management is unseen – it just is. Always complimented when communities tell her they want to be just like Frankenmuth, she’s heard to say, “No, you don’t. You want to be the best “you” you can be.”
Jamie Furbush, President/CEO, Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau
Jamie has served this business and marketing organization in the thriving community of Frankenmuth for 16 years in a number of roles. Her Chamber work builds connections and collaboration in the community while the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s focus is in aggressively marketing the destination and serving its visitors. She has served many statewide associations in the tourism industry, including being a past President of the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (MACVB) and Michigan Meeting Professionals International (MMPI) and is the Immediate Past President of TICOM (Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan). She has won numerous accolades including a 2011 RUBY award winner for the best and brightest professionals under 40 in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Jamie is proud to represent the beautiful city of Frankenmuth and share the local secrets of success.
Jonathan Jarosz, Executive Director, Heart of the Lakes
Heart of the Lakes is the state association of Michigan's land conservancies and their friends. Prior to joining Heart of the Lakes, he served as the Director for University Outreach at the University of Michigan – Flint. Jonathan has worked as a conservation and outdoor recreation planner throughout Michigan, and the Great Lakes Region for the past twenty years. Jonathan's current focus is on advancing on-the-ground solutions that leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains. His work aims at unifying allies that will influence conservation and outdoor recreation policies at the state level, increasing success in the protection of our lands and waters. He likes to have fun, too.
Susan Pollay, Executive Director, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority
As chief executive of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, Susan Pollay has led the organization since 1996. Signature projects have included successfully running the public parking system with a demand management approach that includes support for a variety of transportation programs such as provision of a free downtown employee bus pass. Current transformational projects include historic street repairs and upgrades adjacent to the downtown Farmers Market, planning improvements for a MDOT right of way, restoration of two-way traffic on the western edge of downtown, and expansion of a 1980’s parking garage. Prior to joining the DDA, Susan served as the first Director for the State Street Area Association, a downtown merchant organization, and Director for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Susan received a MA from the University of Michigan and a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Susan is very proud of the A2DDA’s many contributions to strengthen our ever-evolving downtown, including strategic investments in sidewalks, lighting, trees, transportation, planning, parking, and more.
How the State of Michigan is Driving the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Industry
Dr. Craig J. Hoff, Ph.D., P.E., Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Kettering University
He has over 35 years in higher education. As Dean, he is responsible for the ongoing efforts to enhance the engineering curriculum, facilities, and applied research programs at Kettering. As Professor, he teaches courses in the areas of energy systems and automotive engineering. His research focus is on sustainable mobility technologies including vehicle electrification and autonomous driving. He has conducted research and provided consulting services to many companies and government agencies, including Ford Motor Company, Ricardo, Toyota, ArvinMeritor, Firestone, the U.S. Army TARDEC, and the U.S. Department of Energy. He is an active member of SAE International, ASME, IEEE and ASEE.
Food Industry Trends in Your Community
Jim Byrum, President, Michigan Agri-Business
The Michigan Agri-Business is a trade organization of over 400 members who represent virtually every segment of the agriculture industry including: feed and agronomy suppliers and grain handlers, renewable fuel producers, transportation companies and other suppliers and companies involved in agriculture. Byrum is a strong advocate for Michigan agriculture, and has extensive experience in the public policy arena, working closely with state and federal leaders on a variety of issues. He also has considerable experience working to expand markets both domestically and internationally.
Mike Fassezke, President, Flour Milling Division, Star of the West Milling Company
Mike is a lifelong resident of Frankenmuth. He attended Frankenmuth High School, graduated from Alma College and the University of Michigan. Mike has been with Star of the West Milling Company for nearly 38 years and is currently president with primary responsibility for the flour milling division. Mike has also been involved with a variety of business and civic organizations including North American Millers’ Association, Michigan State Millers Association, Frankenmuth Credit Union, Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce, Frankenmuth Parks and Recreation Committee and currently is serving on the Frankenmuth Economic Development Corporation and Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.
Mark Flegenheimer, President and CEO, Michigan Sugar Company
Mark Flegenheimer began his career in New York City, trading sugar and coffee, with Amerop Sugar Corporation. He was Amerop’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President. In 1994, Mark joined Michigan Sugar Company as Vice President of Administration. In 1996, he was named Chief Operating Officer and promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer in 1998. In 2002, Mark was involved in a grower-led, leveraged buyout, converting Michigan Sugar Company into a grower-owned cooperative. In 2004, he led the merger of Monitor Sugar Company into Michigan Sugar Company.
The Moving World of Distribution and Logistics
Jeff Nagel, Airport Manager, MBS International Airport
Jeff Nagel has been the Manager of MBS Airport since 2004. Prior to that, from 2002 to 2004, he served as Assistant Manager. Before coming to MBS, Mr. Nagel worked at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City for 13 years. He has a degree in Aviation Management from Florida Tech as well as airline experience.
The Future of the Economic Development Profession and Economic Development Around the Country
Jeff Finkle, CEcD, President, International Economic Development Council
As President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Jeff Finkle is a recognized leader and authority on economic development. With the formation of IEDC in 2001 following the merger of the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) - where he was president for 15 years - and the American Economic Development Council (AEDC), Jeff set the course for a more effective and influential organization. Today IEDC is the world's largest economic development membership organization and is a $5 million annual operation that is renowned for its leadership in professionalizing and diversifying the field of economic development. Jeff previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has received numerous awards over the years for his commitment to making sustainable economic development a priority in communities of all sizes. Significantly, in 2011 he was lauded by the U.S. Department of Commerce for his 25 years of stewardship over CUED and IEDC. Moreover, as a longtime leader in community service and philanthropy, in 2005 Jeff organized 250 economic development volunteers to work in Gulf Coast communities endeavoring to recover from Hurricane Katrina. In 1989 he also founded the Bollinger Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to children who have lost a parent who worked in the field of economic development. A frequent lecturer and author of numerous articles, Jeff has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Fox television and the Journal Report on PBS. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications in 1976 from Ohio University in Athens and pursued graduate studies in business administration at Ohio State University. He maintains a strong connection with Ohio University’s Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs.
Economic Development Around the Country
Jeffrey A. Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Prince William County Department of Economic Development
Jeff joined the Prince William County Department of Economic Development as Executive Director in April 2012 and leads the Department’s team in fulfilling its mission to create a robust, diverse Prince William County economy by attracting new companies; facilitating the retention and expansion of existing companies; and encouraging the emergence of new enterprises from within the county. In the last six years, the Department has assisted in projects totaling more than $4.3 billion in private capital investment and the creation of over 3,000 jobs. Additionally, the Department has been instrumental in the establishment of two technology entrepreneurship initiatives – the Prince William Science Accelerator and the Virginia Serious Game Institute. Established in 2014, the Prince William Science Accelerator is the only commercially available public-private wet lab facility in Northern Virginia and supports the growth of early-stage and small life science companies. The 9,000 sq. ft. facility houses nine fully built-out wet laboratory spaces suited for each tenant's specific needs. The Virginia Serious Games Institute (VSGI) is an incubator facility for computer game design companies. Also established in 2014, it has doubled in size and is currently home to 8 start-ups and applied research projects with more in the works. The VSGI has collectively created over 140 jobs, multiple patents, copyrights, and worked on innovation simulation and game solutions for corporate, government, education, health and entrepreneurial projects. Jeff has over 30 years of experience in Economic Development having led a variety of agencies and departments in economic development activities. Prior to joining Prince William County, Jeff was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation (KCEDC) in Missouri. During his six-year tenure, KCEDC was significantly involved in over 100 business projects that resulted in $1.6 billion in private investment and the creation and retention of over 11,000 jobs. Additionally, KCEDC provided substantial assistance to more than 30 development/ redevelopment projects, resulting in more than $2 billion in private investment. Prior to this, Jeff served as Senior Vice President, Business Services & Community Development for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) where he was responsible for MEDC’s local community assistance, infrastructure financing,small business assistance, economic development job training and export promotion programs. Before his MEDC position, Jeff had a long career with Oakland County, Michigan, which culminated in his position as Director of Community & Economic Development. Jeff earned a B.S. in urban planning from Michigan State University and did his graduate work at Wayne State University. He serves on a variety of professional boards and organizations, and since coming to Prince William County, has completed the FBI Citizens Academy and Leadership Greater Washington programs. Jeff is also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
Margaret O'Riley, Business Recruitment Manager, Duke Energy
Margaret O’Riley is a Business Recruiter at Duke Energy, and is based in Detroit. Her target industries include automotive, chemicals, plastics and battery markets and she recruits and helps locate these company investments within the Duke Energy territory (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky). She is part of the Duke’s Business Recruitment and Economic Development team. O’Riley joined Duke Energy in April 2016, after serving 12+ years in various roles at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation including Senior Vice President of External Relations, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Michigan Business Ombudsman, and Michigan Film Commissioner. In these roles, Margaret held responsibility for passage of major business incentive legislation, served as the key business and local community liaison, member of the Michigan Strategic Fund for five years, President of the Michigan Economic Development Foundation, Secretary to the MEDC Board, and management of the a $50M film production fund, including landing productions such as Transformers 4, Batman vs. Superman, and 42+ productions. For 10 years, Margaret founded and ran O’Riley Consulting, which provided tax incentive consulting, marketing, and government relations counsel to companies. Her clients included Johnson Controls, Bosch, El Paso Energy, amongst others, including over 120+ tool and die companies statewide. She graduated from Michigan State University, and resides in Fenton, Michigan. Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.4 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million people. Its Commercial Portfolio and International business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Site Preparedness as an Economic Development Strategy
Courtney Dunbar, Industrial Program and Economic Development Leader, Olsson Associates
Olsson Associates is a civil engineering firm that was ranked number 106 on the Engineering News-Record list of Top 500 Design Firms in 2017, and employs more than 1,000 staff members. Olsson Associates’ staff consists of highly trained professional and technical personnel with broad experience in all phases of engineering design and construction phase services.Courtney has 19 years of combined career experiences in economic development, site selection, community planning, and project funding. In her current role as Industrial Program and Economic Development Leader, she leads the industrial client program strategy and is actively engaged in industrial site planning, site selection, site certification, economic analysis, and community planning. She has written many community plans focused on developing vital, innovative communities that entice economic growth and redevelopment as well as addressing funding strategies. She serves as a contributing writer for both Site Selection and Area Development magazines with articles centered on site preparedness for economic development opportunities. She is a faculty instructor on topics of real estate and infrastructure development at both the Heartland Basic Economic Development Institute and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. During her tenure as the eastern field representative for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, she served as the statewide manager for industrial site evaluations and as the advisor to agency management on siting and funding speculative industrial park projects. She evaluated and recommended placement of over $5 Million in CDBG and Workforce Training Funding. Courtney received her Masters of Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and is a certified community and economic developer, certified economic development professional, and holds an American Institute of Certified Planners certification. She is actively involved in the Omaha, Nebraska, volunteer community and was recognized as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Omahans” in 2007.
Industry 4.0: How the Next Industrial Revolution is Reshaping Industry and Workforce
Tom Kelly, Executive Director and CEO, Automation Alley
As executive director and CEO of Automation Alley, Michigan’s leading technology and manufacturing business association, Tom Kelly oversees strategic planning and all ongoing activities for the organization on behalf of its 800 members across Southeast Michigan, including programs and services designed to help businesses succeed in the era of Industry 4.0. Kelly joined Automation Alley in 2014 as director of entrepreneurship. In this role, he launched the Automation Alley 7Cs™ program, which was created to help advanced manufacturing entrepreneurs accelerate the commercialization of their products, services and technologies. In May 2015, Kelly was promoted to chief operating officer of Automation Alley. As COO, Kelly was responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations and chaired Automation Alley’s venture capital investment fund. In 2016, Kelly was named Automation Alley’s new executive director and CEO. Kelly came to Automation Alley after seven years as a technology business consultant for the state of Michigan’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), where he actively coached more than 300 technology startups in industries such as advanced automotive, life sciences, homeland security and alternative energy. His support helped client companies through all facets of their early life, including visioning, strategic planning, sales and marketing and operational execution. Kelly’s professional successes also include launching three separate startup companies for angel, VC, and corporate investors in the fields of software, manufacturing technology and distribution. He has created and executed marketing campaigns for both low-volume, high-dollar and high-volume, low-dollar software titles at three separate companies, resulting in rapid growth and five major software awards, including the 2003 National Manufacturing Design and Engineering Award and the 2005 Start Magazine Technology and Business Innovation of the Year Award. Kelly serves on the governing board of Advance Michigan. Kelly has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Clarkson University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan.
John Paul Rea, AICP, Director, Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development
John Paul Rea is highly involved with comprehensive community and economic development initiatives throughout Macomb County. He is an instrumental part of a dynamic team of professional planners and economic developers who are facilitating a wide range of municipal and business assistance services. During his years of service in Macomb County, Rea has been actively engaged in community planning services, cultivating comprehensive master plans and strategic investment strategies for many of Macomb’s local communities; Macomb County’s quality of life initiatives including parks and recreation planning, downtown development programs and incorporating placemaking; capital improvement projects targeting infrastructure, transportation networks, non-motorized trails and regional transit; economic development services by supporting the county’s business retention, expansion and attraction efforts; strategic communications and marketing, helping to promote Make Macomb Your Home and many of the county’s other promotional campaigns; environmental stewardship and natural resource management, supporting the county’s Blue Economy Initiative and agricultural operations. Rea holds a Bachelor of Science in political science with a minor in public administration and a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in urban and regional policy and planning from Grand Valley State University. Rea is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, represents Macomb County on the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit board of directors, sits on the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority board of commissioners and is involved in many committees with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. He was recognized as a Hometown Hero by the Romeo-Washington Chamber of Commerce and made DBusiness' "30 in Their Thirties" and Crain's Detroit Business' "40 Under 40" lists in 2017. He is a big supporter of the Macomb Orchard Trail, thoroughly enjoys making homemade pizza, runs an occasional 5K and loves the fact that he has the good fortune of helping to shape the future of such an amazing county.
Winning the Digital Race: New Technologies for Economic Development
Alissa Sklar, Ph.D., Vice President of Marketing, GIS Planning Inc.
Dr. Sklar is a recognized expert in economic development communication, marketing, and social media. As the vice president of marketing for GIS Planning, she works directly with clients to develop and fine-tune marketing campaigns to promote their use of online GIS data tools. Using the customized, collaborative approach that has always distinguished GIS Planning’s relationship with its clients, Dr. Sklar works to expand and fine-tune the reach of location brands in the highly competitive field of economic development. With a Ph.D. and M.A. in Communication and Cultural Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Sklar has worked extensively in both private and academic sectors, serving as a social media consultant for economic development agencies, full time faculty member at Concordia University’s Department of Communication Studies, research faculty at McGill University, blogger, and multiple award-winning journalist. The focus of Dr. Sklar’s research and writing has been on information and communication technologies and community cultures. She believes that using these technologies thoughtfully and effectively requires a skillful combination of knowledge, critique and creativity. Dr. Sklar has provided strategic teaching, consultation and training in educational, cultural and business settings for a variety of audiences across North America, synthesizing and presenting complex information in accessible and practical ways.
Keeping Up With Workforce Needs
Angie Barksdale, Chief Operating Officer, West Michigan Works!
Angie Barksdale is currently Chief Operating Officer for West Michigan Works! where she oversees the development and implementation of workforce programs for a seven-county region. Previously she served as Deputy Director for the Ottawa County Michigan Works!. Angie played an active role in the merger of Ottawa and three other Michigan Works! agencies to create the current workforce agency. In addition to her experience in the public sector, Angie is well-acquainted with world of non-profits and community service. Angie previously held posts at Ottawa County United Way as Director of Development, the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District as part of Grant Development, and with Allendale Township as its Youth Coordinator. Angie earned a B.A. in Psychology from Grand Valley State University and a Master’s in Family and Consumer Science from Western Michigan University.
Roger Curtis, Director, Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development
Appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in November 2016, Roger Curtis oversees efforts to ensure that Michigan can efficiently and effectively develop, administer and coordinate Michigan’s economic, housing and talent development programs. As a long-time business operator and a member of Gov. Snyder’s 21st Century Michigan Education Commission and his local school board, Curtis understands how developing talent requires coordination and cooperation between employers and educators. And, he recognizes how building talent is a key factor in Michigan’s efforts strengthen its economy and communities. Curtis works with state Superintendent Brian Whiston to lead the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance, which is focused on ensuring students have improved access to career exploration and training and schools getting more support. He sits on the board of the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the Michigan Land Bank. Curtis formerly served on the Michigan Tourism Commission. Before being appointed as the director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, Curtis was president of Michigan International Speedway for 10 years, driving an estimated $414 million in economic activity to the state and expanding the speedway into a year-round attraction. Curtis also has served as vice president of sales and marketing at California Speedway, senior director of marketing and sales at Richmond International Raceway and director of marketing and sales at Watkins Glen International.
Kristen Wenzel, Chief Operations Officer, Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works!
Kristen Wenzel is the Chief Operations Officer for Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! Her responsibilities include business development, marketing, branding, government and community relations, strategic planning, and program development and performance management of workforce programs throughout Saginaw, Bay, Midland, Gratiot and Isabella counties. Kristen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and French from Saginaw Valley State University. She is a graduate of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Leadership Institute and 1000 Leaders programs, is a certified Business Solution Professional through MSU, and holds a Best Practices for Non-Profits Certificate through SVSU. Kristen is active throughout the region where she currently serves on a variety of boards including the Bay Future Board of Directors, the United Way of Bay County Board, and the Midland Chamber Government Issues Committee. She is a Past Chair of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Group, and a Past President of the SVSU Alumni Board of Directors.
Speculative Building – Is it an Option?
Karl Dehn, Director, Strategic Projects, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Karl came to the MEDC in 2014 after 23 years of successful economic development at the local level in Michigan. Karl previously spent 18 years with Battle Creek Unlimited – the economic development arm for the City of Battle Creek – including six years as its President & CEO. Under Karl’s leadership, Battle Creek ranked in the top ten nationally for corporate investment projects four consecutive years. Karl started his economic development career in 1992 when he launched and managed a new economic development program in the City of South Haven – his hometown. During his career, Karl has successfully led economic development efforts supporting more than 300 major corporate and manufacturing expansion and attraction projects, totaling more than $5.5 billion in private investment. He has extensive experience in national and international business retention, expansion and attraction activities, infrastructure development, land assembly and tax increment finance management. Karl holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration – Management and Finance from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he also lettered four years in baseball. He is certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council.
Clarence Rivette, President, The Wirt-Rivette Group
Clarence is the President of The Wirt-Rivette Group (WRG). The company provides integrated financing and consulting solutions for various clients and companies and invests their capital in selected business segments. Examples include portable hospitals and clinics, commercial and residential developments, and senior care and housing. Clarence’s insight, proven leadership, business achievements and global experience assists the company, accounts, and clients in achieving their strategic goals, he is adept at identifying growth innovations, creating strength-based organizations, and developing leaders at all levels of an organization. He established innovative international new product design, development, and marketing teams (Compass Teams). He has designed global strategies, foreign market entry and growth plans, as well as participated in various international development joint venture programs to include being one of the first Americans to assist business people in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia in their transition from a planned economy to a market-based system. He was selected to instruct senior Chinese business people in international business and global strategy development. He has also conducted consulting and strategy development for organizations in Vietnam and Myanmar. Further, he was responsible for the strategic integration of five global subsidiaries following a successful M&A/management buyout. Clarence’s global leadership and perspective are supported with his past roles in as a Naval Intelligence Officer, service in Asia and at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was an intelligence briefer for the Joint Chief of Staff and Secretary Defense as a Naval Lieutenant. He has held President and CEO positions in U.S. and international companies with operations in Korea, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. His professional experience and military career have taken him to over 40 nations. He has been featured in national publications such as Nations Business, World Trade, and Business Wisdom Delivered and shares his experience and insight in various volunteer assignments, board positions and teaching. Clarence is an Adjunct Professor in Marketing, Strategy and International Business and is a requested speaker at various conferences, programs, and symposiums. Educational Background: MA Russian and East European Studies, University of Michigan. 1983. Various military intelligence training and professional development courses: United Naval Officer: 1983-1990. Board Positions: Director: Cignys Manufacturing; Advisory Board: Escon Group; Director: Saginaw Art Museum; and Chair: Pulse3 Foundation.
Steve Scott, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Northern Commercial Real Estate
Steve has 20 years of experience with a commercial construction firm in Michigan, specializing in Design Build project development with pre-engineered metal building systems. His property portfolio includes refurbished and new construction commercial and industrial buildings throughout Central Michigan. Steve is a 1990 Graduate of Alma College.