2021 Annual Meeting Speakers
Speakers are listed below as they appear on the agenda.
Our Business Resilience Story
Birgit Klohs, CEO, The Right Place, Inc. (retired), Honorary Conference Chair
Birgit Klohs retired in January 2021 from her position as President & CEO of The Right Place, Inc., a position she has held since 1987. The Right Place, Inc. is the regional economic development organization for the retention, expansion, and attraction of businesses to the West Michigan Area. Ms. Klohs, a native of Germany, came to The Right Place, Inc. from Grand Valley State University (GVSU), where she served as Assistant Director of the Office for Economic Expansion. Prior to her association with GVSU, Ms. Klohs was affiliated with Prince Corporation in Holland, Michigan. Her economic development career began in 1977 as an Industrial Consultant with the Economic Development Corporation of Berrien County, Michigan. Following her experience in Berrien County, she joined the Michigan Department of Commerce as an Account Executive for the West Michigan region. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University, where she earned her B.A. degree in Corporate Finance. She is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma; and completed the professional economic development finance program through the National Development Council. She also attended Harvard University’s program on negotiation. Ms. Klohs is a frequent speaker at national and international economic development conferences and seminars. She has lectured in France, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, China, Australia, and Israel. She was awarded as the first female Lifetime member of the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) in February of 2021.
Ron Janish, Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Supply Chain, Perrigo
Ronald Janish was named Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Supply Chain in October of 2015. He served as Senior Vice President of International and RX Operations from 2012 until 2015 and as Managing Director of Perrigo’s Australian operations from 2010 to 2012. Previously he held Senior Vice President roles for Perrigo in International Market Development, China Business Development, and Global Procurement. Prior to joining Perrigo in 2003, Mr. Janish held multiple senior-level roles in global procurement for Nalco Chemicals and GE Plastics.
Rich Sorota, Executive Vice President and President, Consumer Self-Care Americas, Perrigo
Rich Sorota is Perrigo Company’s Executive Vice President & President, Consumer Self-Care Americas. He previously served as CEO and President of Ranir Global Holdings LLC, where he and his team advanced oral self-care while delivering hundreds of millions of affordable healthy smiles. Rich led the successful sale of Ranir to Perrigo in 2019. Over the course of his career, Rich has been responsible for more than 30 iconic brands, including Old Spice, Philips Sonicare, Scotts, Miracle-Gro, BISSELL, and Plackers. With a combination of left-brain critical thinking and right brain people skills, Rich has a passion for purpose, improving organizational performance, and serving as a transformational leader for dynamic companies with rich histories and entrepreneurial cultures. Rich has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Vermont. A father of three, Rich understands the importance of self-care and its link to overall health and is committed to Perrigo’s vision of making lives better by bringing Quality, Affordable Self-Care Products that consumers trust everywhere they are sold. He also serves on the Boards of Rug Doctor, The Right Place, Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes, and Broadway Grand Rapids.
The Right Infrastructure for the New Landscape
Jill Bland, CEcD, Managing Partner, Southwest Michigan First
With Jill Bland on the team, Southwest Michigan First’s ability to execute just got exponentially stronger. Spending much of her time while attending school and beyond playing both softball and tennis, Jill learned at an early age not only how to be a strong team player but also how to use her strengths to maximize contribution. A lifelong resident of Michigan and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jill has been part of the Southwest Michigan First team since its inception in 1999. As a Certified Economic Developer, Jill has been contributing to the region’s economic growth efforts for over 33 years in various local government and economic development roles. Executing projects with start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, announcing job creation ranging from 2 to 800 positions, and developing incubation space to 2 million square feet of manufacturing/logistics space, Jill’s versatile and collaborative approach complements her commitment to growing the Southwest Michigan economy well. In addition to accelerating the region’s existing company base, Jill is focused on creating governmental collaborations. Her excellent leadership at Southwest Michigan First and throughout the community was recognized in 2016 when she was named a Silver Stevie Winner in the category of Female Executive of the Year by the Stevie® Awards for Women in Business. As part of her responsibilities, Jill serves on the boards of the Michigan Economic Developers Association, International Economic Development Council Education and Certification Committee, BC/Cal/Kal Foreign Trade Zone, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Western Michigan University Community Outreach and Engaged Scholarship Advisory Council. In addition, she is a member of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport Air Service and Retention Committee.
Paul C. Ajegba, P.E., Director, Michigan Department of Transportation
Paul C. Ajegba has over 30 years of experience with the Michigan Department of Transportation, and was after 28 years with the department, he was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer as Director on Jan. 1, 2019. He previously served MDOT for three months as Metro Region Engineer, and before that as University Region Engineer. During his seven years in the University Region, Ajegba oversaw his team's involvement in the planning, design, and construction of several major projects, including the US-23 Flex Route - a project nominated for America's Transportation Award, landing among the top 12 national finalists. Other notable projects include the I-94 rehabilitation project in Ann Arbor/Jackson, the I-96/US-23 interchange, and the I-75 freeway project. Ajegba holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Prairie View A&M University and a Master’s Degree in construction engineering from the University of Michigan. He is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Michigan. Paul is a member of COMTO (Conference of Minority Transportation Officials) and serves on the following boards: AASHTO, ITS America, M-City, University of Michigan College of Engineering, the Engineering Society of Detroit, and the Mackinac Bridge Authority.
Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer, Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, State of Michigan
Trevor Pawl is the Chief Mobility Officer for the State of Michigan and leads Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. In this position, Pawl is responsible for working across state government, academia, and private industry to grow Michigan’s mobility ecosystem through strategic policy recommendations and new support services for companies focused on the future of transportation. Prior to this position, Pawl served as the Senior Vice President of Business Innovation at the MEDC, where he led the official state programs for mobility (PlanetM), supply chain assistance (Pure Michigan Business Connect), export assistance (Michigan International Trade program) and entrepreneurial assistance (Michigan Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program). Upon joining the MEDC, Pawl brought with him experience in supply chain matchmaking, having led the creation of the economic development program Connection Point at the Detroit Regional Chamber, which later became Pure Michigan Business Connect. Pawl has been named Crain’s Detroit Business’s “40 Under 40” and “50 Names to Know in Government”. He’s also been named Development Counsellors International’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars of Economic Development” and the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council’s “Government Advocate of the Year”. Pawl holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Marketing from Grand Valley State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Detroit Mercy.
Our New Talent Landscape
Ann Harten, Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources, Haworth
Ann M. Harten is Vice President of Global Human Resources at Haworth where she first joined in 2005 as Vice President of Global Information Services. She has served as an officer in both Public and Private companies and now spearheads all of Haworth’s Human Resources initiatives including the design and implementation of a multi-tiered, global leadership development program and a leading-edge Agile Work program. She is an active member of the executive team where she reports to the CEO. Harten’s combination of IT and HR expertise provides a solid foundation for her influence on for-profit and not-for-profit boards. Possessing great business acumen and an appreciation for detail, she is also able to engage in strategic conversations relating to the general workings of an organization. Results-driven and metrics-oriented, she is also savvy to the more subtle nuances existing in the corporation and has a keen eye for talent selection. Her extensive international travel brings a robust sense of global perspective to the table. When you combine this with a well-practiced public speaking talent, you have a person who has a great ability to educate, explain and influence. Before joining Haworth, Harten served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for SIRVA, Inc. in Illinois, where she supported system implementations, and transitions related to Sarbanes Oxley and IT Outsourcing initiatives. Prior to that, she held a series of management and director-level positions at Boise Cascade Office Products (OfficeMax/Office Depot) in both technical and business areas. Harten Chairs the Board of Directors for Feyen Zylstra; is a member of the board for Priority Health Insurance; the co-founder and Chair of Hello West Michigan, a regional talent attraction initiative; and an Advisory Board member to the International Bar Association, Global Employment Institute. She serves as a commission appointee for the SMARTZONE initiative in Holland, MI and is a member of NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors).
Deeper Dive into the State of Michigan's Broadband
Eric Frederick, Executive Director, Connected Nation Michigan
As a non-profit organization, Connected Nation Michigan works to facilitate the expansion of broadband to improve the quality of life for all Michiganders. Mr. Frederick has worked to address Michigan’s broadband challenges for more than a decade. Eric implemented Michigan’s State Broadband Initiative between 2010 and 2015. He also advised the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission in 2016 and drafted the 2018 Michigan Broadband Roadmap as part of his facilitation of the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks. Currently, Eric and his team work with DTMB to assist in the implementation of the Connecting Michigan Communities grant program and facilitate the Connecting Michigan Taskforce, an interagency working group to improve broadband coordination. Mr. Frederick holds a bachelor’s degree in planning and GIS from Northern Michigan University and a Masters's of Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University. Eric is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and LEED Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council and serves on the education committee of the American Planning Association.
Ron Houtman, MM, ED.S., Education Technology Consultant/REMC 8 Director, Kent ISD
Ron has been an employee of Kent ISD for 18 years! His primary responsibilities are developing and delivering professional development opportunities for educators and students around integrating technology into their day-to-day teaching and learning practices. He often spends time in the school district presenting technology-related topics so others make sense of how best to use their resources. His team supports Learning Management Systems such as Schoology, Canvas, Google Classroom, and Moodle, which allow educators to place a significant portion of their classroom content in a place that is accessible by their learners around the clock and on-demand.
Grand Rapids’ Revitalization Task Force
Joe Agostinelli, CEcD, Executive Director, Grand Rapids Area Revitalization Task Force
Michigan's Resilient Automotive Industry
Kurt Brauer, 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 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. Michigan's Resilient Automotive Industry.
Glenn Stevens Jr., Executive Director, MICHauto and 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 operational 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.
Move to MI
Rob Cleveland, CEcD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cornerstone Alliance
Rob Cleveland is the President of the Cornerstone Alliance. Located in Michigan's Great Southwest, the Cornerstone Alliance is Berrien County's premiere economic development organization. He is a Certified Economic Development Professional (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). At Cornerstone, Cleveland leads a team of a dozen individuals devoted to the enrichment of economic vitality, improved employment opportunities, expansion of the tax base, and the creation of wealth in Berrien County. In five years under Cleveland’s leadership, Cornerstone Alliance has helped Berrien County companies add nearly 900 new jobs while investing more than $155 million in Michigan’s Great Southwest. Cleveland led the development of a new, five-year strategic plan that was implemented in 2017 and included $100 million of new investment, creating 50 new small businesses, improving 20 new sites for development, and raising $11 million for economic development efforts in Berrien County. Cleveland has led the Alliance to new partnerships with the Berrien County Land Bank, and Michigan Works!, to redevelop Industrial Brownfield and residential sites. Cleveland is the architect of talent attraction initiatives like Move to Michigan, which garnered national recognition for receiving over 1,000 applications for those seeking to relocate to Berrien County. Cleveland also proposed the Homegrown Undergrad and Graduate Education (HUGE) incentive that would phase in income tax for recent graduates of Michigan colleges and universities. Previously, Cleveland was the Director of Economic Development and Community Affairs at Indiana Michigan Power (AEP), where he led the company's business attraction, retention, and expansion activities. Cleveland was responsible for I&M's efforts to certify sites with Food Processing and Data Center designations - the only such certified sites in the State of Indiana. He was also a member of I&M's Corporate Communications team. Prior to joining I&M, Cleveland was the Executive Director of the Blackford County EDC. While in Blackford County, Cleveland assisted more than a dozen companies in the new investment of more than $53 million - representing more than 10% of the entire net Assessed Value of Blackford County - and the creation of 175 new jobs. In 2011, Cleveland led all efforts to recruit Naturally Recycled Proteins (NRP) in locating in Montpelier. NRP had an initial investment of $14 million and 68 new jobs - the largest new-job announcement in Blackford County in 18 years. Prior to joining the BCEDC, Cleveland served as a Public Relations Specialist with Andretti Green Racing, where he worked with Indianapolis 500 winners Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti. Cleveland began his professional career as a Video Coordinator and Scout with the Indiana Pacers (NBA) and Indiana Fever (WNBA). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sports Administration from Ball State University. Cleveland and his wife, Susan, reside in Berrien County (Mich.) with their three children.
Christina Frank, Vice President, External Affairs, Cornerstone Alliance
Christina Frank joined Cornerstone Alliance in September 2016 as the Director, Investor Relations. In August of 2018, Christina moved into the Vice President of External Affairs role and began oversight of the Marketing and Communications efforts for Cornerstone Alliance. Christina drives the fundraising initiatives for Cornerstone Alliance through integrated and targeted marketing campaigns creating awareness of the Cornerstone Alliance mission and the benefits of supporting economic development outcomes. Christina brings a strong background in the non-profit sector as she was the Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass, Inc. for seven years. She received her B.A. from Siena Heights University and holds a certificate from the University of Notre Dame in non-profit leadership. Christina lives in St. Joseph with her son.
Keeping Michigan’s Carbon Footprint in Step
Kwafo Adarkwa, Director, Public Affairs, ITC Michigan
Kwafo Adarkwa is the Director of Public Affairs for ITC Michigan. In this role, he is responsible for building equity and trust with our stakeholders who determine policy outcomes affecting ITC Michigan and leads efforts to build a public policy environment conducive to the company’s business priorities. Kwafo Adarkwa is the Director of Public Affairs for ITC Michigan. In this role, he is responsible for building equity and trust with our stakeholders who determine policy outcomes affecting ITC Michigan and leads efforts to build a public policy environment conducive to the company’s business priorities. Prior to his work at ITC, Mr. Adarkwa was a Public Utilities Engineer for the Michigan Public Service Commission. He is a multiple-time graduate of Michigan State University holding both a BS in Electrical Engineering (’03) and a MBA in Integrative Management (’13). Mr. Adarkwa is on the Executive Committee of the East Lansing Educational Foundation. He is also a member of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) Board of Directors. Additionally, Mr. Adarkwa is a Commissioner on the Dr. Martin Luther King Commission of Mid-Michigan.
A Healthy Corporate Culture Workout
Cindy Brown, Vice President of Talent Initiatives, The Right Place, Inc.
Cindy serves as the Vice President of Talent Initiatives and collaborates with other talent-related organizations to address regional talent pipeline challenges. Cindy worked jointly as Executive Director for Hello West Michigan and Vice President of Talent Initiatives for The Right Place for many years before stepping into her role for The Right Place full time. Under Cindy’s leadership, Hello West Michigan's membership, programming, and regional awareness grew exponentially, helping establish West Michigan as a destination for top talent. In previous roles, Cindy served as Project Manager for the West Michigan Internship Initiative and had a lengthy career at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. She has over 20 years of leadership experience in, employee development, talent acquisition, training, and facilitation. She excels at attracting talent, generating awareness, and connecting individuals to resources. Community involvement and recognition include West Michigan Woman Brilliance Connector Award (2017), West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Vice Chair, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids Board of Directors, Past-President for the Michigan Career Educator & Employer Alliance, and Michigan College Educator and Employer Alliance Don Hunt Service Award (2011). Cindy received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Aquinas College. Cindy’s favorite part about living in West Michigan is Lake Michigan, the sunsets, beaches, and the lake effect snow. She also loves being less than two hours away from family.
Jim Medsker, Owner and President, Keystone Solutions Group
Jim Medsker is the owner and president of Keystone Solutions Group, a turn-key medical device development and contract manufacturing company located in Kalamazoo, MI. The Keystone journey began in 1998 and over the last 20+ years, the company has helped launch a wide range of Class I and Class II devices in wound care, imaging, diagnostics, and many other areas. Jim also serves as an advisor and board member for a number of companies and non-profit organizations and holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Western Michigan University.
The Medical Mile Goes Farther Than a Mile
Norman Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, Michigan State University
Norman J. Beauchamp Jr. is the executive vice president of health sciences at Michigan State University. Previous roles include serving as a professor of radiology, neurological surgery, and industrial and systems engineering at the University of Washington. His prior leadership roles include dean of the MSU College of Human Medicine, chair of the department of radiology at the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, vice chair and chair of the University of Washington faculty senate, president of the University of Washington clinical practice and founding medical director of the Seattle/King County Free Clinic. Dr. Beauchamp received his Bachelor of Science and medical degrees from Michigan State University and spent his third and fourth years of medical school and his internship in West Michigan. He completed a residency in radiology, and two fellowships, neuroradiology, and interventional neuroradiology, at Johns Hopkins. In addition, Dr. Beauchamp received his Master of Health Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Among his service leadership appointments, Dr. Beauchamp chaired the University of Washington Global Innovation Exchange, served on the board of directors for the Washington Biomedical and Biotechnology Association, and serves on the board of directors for The Right Place. Dr. Beauchamp is recognized internationally for his work in developing improved ways to prevent, predict, diagnose and treat patients suffering from stroke and dementia.
Jerry Callahan, PhD, MBA, Chief Strategic Officer, Van Andel Institute
Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., M.B.A., serves as Van Andel Institute’s Chief Strategic Officer. In this role, Dr. Callahan works to ensure broad cohesion for strategic planning and organizational alignment across the Institute. Over the course of his career, Dr. Callahan has been deeply involved in the development of life science innovation in West Michigan. He formed two private equity and venture capital investment firms focused on the life sciences, and launched several startup life science companies, serving in various leadership roles such as chairman, CEO, CIO, and COO. Dr. Callahan serves on the board of several life science and nonprofit entities, including the Grand Rapids SmartZone and Mary Free Bed YMCA. Dr. Callahan holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Business Administration, a master’s degree in Information Systems Management, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership.
Philomena V. Mantella, President, Grand Valley State University
President Philomena V. Mantella began her tenure at Grand Valley State University in 2019, and her entrepreneurial disposition and her drive to expand access to the university quickly became evident. Mantella is the fifth president of GVSU, and she brings more than three decades of higher education experience to her role. She not only leads where she is, but she also develops transformational collaborations with other institutions. She strategically designs these partnerships to improve pathways for diverse learners across their lifetimes and to provide enterprises with talent. Collaborations across unique sectors mark her leadership style and her vision for education and the role it plays in the health of communities. She is committed to ensuring institutional integrity and building consensus for the mission and the noble cause of education. Mantella has worked at public and private institutions in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Massachusetts. She has a Ph.D. in college and university administration from Michigan State University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University. Immediately prior to joining GVSU, she spent 18 years at Northeastern University as senior vice president of Enrollment and Student Life and the chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network.
Optimizing the New Site Selection Landscape
Brent Case, Vice President of Business Attraction, The Right Place, Inc.
In his role, Brent actively recruits new business investments and jobs to the West Michigan region. To support these efforts, Brent also works to build awareness among key site selection decision-makers regarding the strengths and assets of the region. Brent also aids area businesses seeking to expand as they decide between local or out-of-state sites.
Greg Burkart, Managing Director and Practice Leader, Site Selection and Incentive Advisory Services, Duff and Phelps
Greg Burkart is a managing director and city leader in the Detroit office and is the leader of the Site Selection and Incentives Advisory practice. Greg specializes in identifying and securing sites that meet the current and futures needs of clients, and structuring and negotiating government-sponsored economic development incentives packages. Over the past few years, Greg has managed projects with capital investment exceeding $10.1 billion for which he has obtained $3.2 billion of incentives for his clients. Greg received his B.S. in economics, with honors, from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and his J.D. from St. Louis University. He also has been a visiting adjunct professor at Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute in East Lansing, Michigan where he participated in the study, "Changing the Past or Investing in Our Future." In addition, Greg has advised four governors about their transition plans and economic development policies as well as testified in front of joint sessions of the Texas and Michigan Legislatures.
Brooklin Salemi, Credit and Incentives Manager, STS SALT, BDO
Brooklin is a manager in BDO’s Credits and Incentives Practice. She has over five years of experience providing major U.S. and international clients with location advisory and incentive services. Brooklin has served a variety of clients across all industries including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, healthcare, finance, distribution, telecommunications, and tech companies. Collectively, these projects have resulted in over $900 million investment, 6,000 jobs, and $260 million in total benefits for her clients. Prior to joining BDO, Brooklin worked at Hickey & Associates, a boutique site selection and corporate services firm –and previously as a consultant with Cushman & Wakefield’s Business Incentives Practice. Brooklin has been published in the Journal of Multistate Taxation and Incentives, and regularly participates in IPT and other industry events.
Economic Development Today
Jeff Finkle, CEcD, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Economic Development Council
As President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Jeff Finkle is a recognized leader in the field of 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 with over 5000 members and is a $6 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 and today IEDC is deploying volunteers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Hawaii and Texas after various hurricanes, floods, and volcano incidents. 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. It has given out over a million dollars in scholarships. He has served on the Arlington Virginia Economic Development Commission, the Alexandria Virginia Economic Development Corporation board, ACT’s advisory body for work-ready communities, and as the president of the Bollinger Foundation, among other engagements. Often, Jeff has been the voice on economic development issues. He has traveled extensively to speak on economic development both internationally and domestically and has been quoted in newspapers throughout North America. Jeff has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Fox Television, and the Journal Report on PBS when the Supreme Court deliberated on issues surrounding eminent domain. Jeff was most recently quoted several times in the Wall Street Journal on the Amazon HQ 2 decision. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications from Ohio University in Athens and continued his education at Ohio State in Business Administration (no degree). He maintains a strong connection with Ohio University’s Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs and has a fellowship relationship with the school.
Michael A. Finney, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Miami-Dade Beacon Council
The Miami‐Dade Beacon Council is the official economic development organization for Miami‐Dade County. Its mission is to increase jobs and investment through marketing Miami as a world-class business destination, help grow local companies, and shape Miami-Dade’s economic future. Since 1985, the non-profit public-private partnership has assisted more than 1,200 businesses to expand in or relocate to Miami-Dade, creating almost 74,000 direct jobs and driving more than $6.7 billion in new capital investments. As President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Finney champions the County’s efforts to market Miami-Dade as a world-class business destination. He collaborates with key stakeholders including Miami-Dade County and other local governments, CareerSource South Florida, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Miami-Dade Council of Chambers and key private sector leaders throughout the community. Prior to his current role, Mike served Michigan Governor Rick Snyder as Senior Advisor for Economic Growth and President & CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Under Mike’s leadership, the MEDC moved to the forefront of U.S. economic development organizations, with innovative new initiatives including Pure Michigan Business Connect, Community Ventures, and the revitalized “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign. Mike serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Saginaw Valley State University Foundation Board. He also serves as Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, and on Florida Memorial University’s Social Justice Institute Advisory Board. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the State Science and Technology Institute, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the Michigan Venture Capital Association, and as President and Chairman of the Michigan Strategic Fund. Mike has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, including 2020 Ultimate CEO Honoree, and 2019 and 2020 Power Leaders 250, both from the South Florida Business Journal; 2018, 2019 and 2020 Florida Trend 500 Most Influential Floridians; the 2018 Miami Today Book of Leaders; 2014 Michigan Venture Capital Association Lifetime Achievement Award; 2012 Michigan Chronicle Legacy in Motion Newsmakers; 2008 Saginaw Valley State University Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Business and Management; and the 2005 Minett Distinguished Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Crain’s Detroit Business also named Finney one of the Most Powerful People in Michigan in 2010, as well as one of 2007’s Newsmakers of the Year. Finney holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Saginaw Valley State University.
Peter Frosch, President and Chief Executive Officer, GREATER MSP
As Chief Executive Officer, Frosch is responsible for leading the global strategy for economic development and job creation for the greater Minneapolis—Saint Paul region, with 3.6 million residents and a Gross Metropolitan Product of more than $260 billion. GREATER MSP is a growing cross-sector partnership that includes over 200 businesses, universities, cities, counties, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. Over 1000 leaders from these organizations are working as part of GREATER MSP in the areas of business expansion, attraction and retention, talent, start-ups & innovation, global food & agriculture, economic intelligence, racial equity and inclusion, global air service, and more. Frosch previously served as Senior Vice President of Strategy & Partnerships and Chief of Staff at GREATER MSP where he helped create innovative regional solutions such as the MSP Indicators Dashboard and the talent initiative Make It. MSP., which are recognized as nationally-leading practices in economic development. Before joining GREATER MSP in January 2013, Frosch served as Legislative Director for Congresswoman Betty McCollum in Washington, D.C., and as Director of Environmental Policy at Environmental Initiative, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit. Frosch earned a bachelor’s degree in History and American Studies from Northwestern University where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned a master’s degree in International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, where he studied as a George Mitchell Scholar. He lives in Saint Paul with his wife Anne and their two young children.
Jon Roberts, Principal, TIP Strategies, Inc.
Jon has been a principal and managing partner at TIP since 2000. He helped transition the company from its Texas-based site selection practice to a national strategy firm. His portfolio includes planning work from New York to California, with significant regional projects in the Mississippi Delta, Seattle’s Puget Sound, and the Great Lakes area. Prior to joining TIP, Jon was the director of business development, first for the State of Washington and then under Governor Ann Richards, for the State of Texas. During the transition to Governor Bush’s tenure, he helped restructure the state’s economic development organization and then co-authored the new strategic plan for the State of Texas. Jon also has deep ties to the Pacific Northwest. He was vice-president of the Oregon Technology Fund and was the lead investor for the Hood River Brewing Company (Full Sail), which continues to hold a prominent place in the craft brewing industry. He also managed two start-up technology companies: Fiberlite Composites and LifePort Inc. (subsequently acquired by Sikorsky) and has served on the boards of start-up companies. Jon has served on various state task forces and gubernatorial committees. He has lectured in business at the University of Washington, the University of Texas, and was on the faculty at Marylhurst College in Portland, Oregon. Jon was also the founder of a mountain bike company in Portland, Oregon: the Fat Tire Farm, which now operates multiple retail outlets. Born and raised in Germany, he has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. He received his BA and MA degrees from the University of Hawaii and did post-graduate work at the University of Oregon. He resides in Austin but spends his summers in Bend, Oregon.