Michigan Economic Developers Association

Your Partner in Growing Your Community

Why Economic Development

Economic developers are often tasked with answering the question of exactly what it is that they do. The answer is not always simple because they use a variety of methods to meet their goals. This page provides a simple explanation to the purpose of this great profession.

buildingsWhat is Economic Development?

Economic development is attracting and growing businesses, creating and retaining jobs, and making our communities a better place to live.

Why is Economic Development Important?

Attracting and growing businesses strengthens our economy providing locally-produced goods and services. Strong businesses pay taxes that go for vital services such as schools, roads, fire, and police. Businesses also provide good jobs that put money in people’s pockets and allow for a higher quality of life.

What is the impact of economic development?

Economic development has a lasting impact on a community. Job providers purchase goods and services they need to operate, and their workers purchase goods and services they need to live. Money changes hands many times as it flows through the local economy and creates overall prosperity enjoyed by all citizens.

What are other benefits of economic development?

  • Economic development has a major impact on the places where we live, work and play. Putting vacant or abandoned buildings and land back into productive use is a major function of economic development. This helps keep businesses located in urban areas where sewer, water, and other services are already present.
  • Economic development retains and attracts talented people. Communities that provide quality jobs and great places to live and work are a magnet for folks of all ages. As a result, these places have a strong future.
  • Economic development also fosters the entrepreneurial spirit that resides in our creative and ambitious citizens. By providing access to ideas, investment and expert advice new companies can be created to help assure Michigan’s economy stays innovative and diverse.

What is an Economic Developer?

What is an Economic DeveloperEconomic developers are professionals within a community that use various tools to stimulate economic growth while maximizing the best interests of the entire community and finding mutually beneficial solutions for all parties concerned.

How do Economic Developers attract and grow businesses to strengthen our economies?

Economic developers work jointly with businesses, developers and government to promote economic growth. They are well versed in business assistance, marketing and knowledgeable regarding federal, state and local programs.

How does an Economic Developer make a difference in my Community?

Businesses are always faced with decisions of where and how to invest their limited funds to be more successful. These funds are often borrowed from banks and investors who expect a return on their investment. Communities benefit from economic development and are quite often willing to help lower a business’s initial investment costs or taxes. Economic developers understand how these private investment decisions are made and work to make sure the decision is good for both the business and the community.

What tools do Economic Developers use to create Economic Development?

There are many factors that come into play when private investment decisions are made. Economic developers use tools such as incentives to reduce business costs which results in more investment in the community and creates benefits for both the private and public sectors.  

How do Economic Developers ensure the use of incentives is in the public’s best interest and businesses are held accountable for the promises they make?

The public sector makes the decision to approve the type and use of incentives. These decisions are based upon the desire to benefit the public. Economic development incentives are a valuable tool that can provide the state and local communities with a positive return on their investment. Economic developers are experts in the use of incentives and forging agreements to between businesses and government to ensure the results are mutually beneficial to all.  

How can I find one to help me and/or my community?

The staff of the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) is happy to help connect you with an economic developer to help with your economic growth project. Also see the Michigan Economic Development Directory, full of MEDA members and partners that are ready to help you succeed in Michigan!

Additional Resources

Read the What is Economic Development, Exactly? blog by Karl Dorshimer, CEcD, EDFP, Director, Economic Development, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

View the Promoting Economic Development and Economic Developers in Michigan PowerPoint, created by MEDA's Advocacy Committee.

Any Questions?

Further inquiries on the subject can be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling our main line: 517-241-0011.

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MEDA and Economic Development News


CEcD Exam Prep Course in Ohio in February - 6 Seats Left!

Statewide Economic Developers Association Hosts Michigan Gubernatorial Candidates at Capitol Day Event


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New Report Shows How Communities Gain from Brownfield Area-Wide Planning

Ten Achievable New Year’s Resolutions for Economic Developers


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Oakland County Breaks Single Year Record, Brings in Over $1 Billion in New Investments


Amazon HQ2 Bid Revealed: Tax Breaks, $120 Million Talent Program, Transit Vision

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Lansing Economic Area Partnership Takes Over Economic Development for Ingham County


Michigan’s Automotive Industry Includes 2,200+ Facilities

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86 Oakland County Businesses to Share More Than $2 Million in State Skilled Trades Training Funds

Detroit Development Fund to Make $1 Million in Loans for Healthy Food Businesses

Detroit Micro Lending Program a Blueprint for Cities Across the Nation

Mopar Opens $10M Center in Romulus, Expected to Create 100 Jobs


Ludington Business Announces Multi-Million Dollar Expansion

Why Michigan Needs Newcomers. Told in 5 Data Maps.

Universities Ramp up Research, Pump Out Inventions


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Cascade Township Earns 5-star Ranking for Economic Development

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Gilbert’s Bedrock Seeks Council OK for Major Tax Breaks

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Transportation Grants Help Create 880 Jobs In Metro Detroit


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Report: Michigan’s Wine Industry Adds $5.4B to State Economy

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Labor Unions Break Ground on Training Center for Construction Workers

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Report: Refugees Contribute $295M to Southeast Michigan Economy Annually


Great American Main Street Competition Names Howell, Saline Semi-Finalists

Ionia County Economic Alliance & The Right Place Partner with Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch to Enable Major Expansion

Seattle Leaders Look to Push ‘Refresh’ Button with Amazon


Enrollment Climbing in Michigan's CTE Programs, but Completion Rates Remain Low

Lapeer Becomes Home to Michigan's Largest Solar Park

Macomb Community College Leads Coalition to Address Manufacturing Skills Gap

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Bill Allowing 80,000 Self-driving Cars on the Road Passes Senate Panel

Detroit Plan Will Invest $125 Million in Business Districts, Reclaim $2.6 Billion in Retail Spendin

Stabenow, Peters Introduce Small Business Legislation

USDOT Opens $500M TIGER Program Funding Opportunity for FY 2017


Continental Tests Autonomous Cars in U.P.

Kalamazoo Unveils Economic Development, Affordable Housing Strategies

Michigan Communities get $23.2 Million for Infrastructure Projects

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Two MEDA Members – Clarinda Barnett-Harrison and John Paul Rea – Make Crain’s 40 Under 40 List


Fort Custer Chosen for Department of Defense Energy Project

Networks Northwest CEO honored

Nothing Is Too Strange for Cities Wooing Amazon to Build There


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Merrill Technologies Group to invest $3.75 million in Alma, Saginaw

Saline Adds Big-Town Developments While Maintaining Small-Town Spirit

Two 500-Megawatt Electric Generating Plants Proposed for Marshall's Industrial Park


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Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Cars to be Tested in the US

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Michigan Dept. of Ag to spur investment with $4.7M in new incentives

New R&D center unites the art and science of baking for $2B Michigan company


Dart Container Corporation Plans Technical and Innovation Center in Mason, Michigan

Flint & Genesee Chamber Announces Leadership Realignment

The Michigan-China Trade Relationship is Growing


Advisory Group Releases Workforce Information Agenda

Ex-MEDC CEO Steve Arwood to Lead Public-Private Partnerships at Law Firm

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New "Creative Chamber" Created in Traverse City to Attract, Keep Creative Talent

New MEDC Chief Offers Blueprint for Michigan's Economy

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Agriculture Forum: Efforts are Connecting Farmers Through New Linking Program

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Groups Launch STEM Careers Video Showcase


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Cole Says Auto Industry Future to be Marked by Change, Uncertainty


Report: Autonomous Vehicles Could Shrink Auto Insurance Sector By 71 Percent

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Right Place CEO named 2017 'Business Person of the Year'

Gov. Snyder recommends Jeff Mason to lead Michigan's economic development

SBAM Collaborates to Help Small Business Owners

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Amazon seeks $5M tax break for new $140M distribution center in Michigan


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Trade Group Announces Grants to Improve Gathering Spaces


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Creative Chambers Initiative Seeks to Attract Creative Industries to Michigan


Steve Arwood Stepping Down as Head of State Economic Development Agency

U.P. Economic Development group named

U.S. Department of Agriculture gives priority to project funding through four programs in a new round of grants


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St. Clair County's First Business Incubator Buzzing With Fresh Ideas

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House Panel OKs Tax Incentives for Developers

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Michigan Main Street First to Pilot State-Wide Implementation of Refreshed Main Street Approach

To Keep on Trucking, States Streamline Food Truck Licensing


Michigan Economic Development Corp. to Grant $1M in Funding to Research Universities

Beacon Council Names Former Michigan Official Mike Finney President and CEO

Come and Hear Mike Speak at the Spring Toolbox   

NMU Representatives Explain UP Broadband Expansion Plans

Indiana Should Modernize Economic Development Approach, Study Says


Governor Snyder Calls on Southeast Michigan to Jumpstart Infrastructure Pilot Program

MSU Study Finds Potential for "Deconstruction Economy" in Michigan


'Good Jobs' Package Approved by State Senate Makes Michigan Competitive, Backers Say

Potatoes, Pop, and JIFFY Corn Muffins: Michigan's Agri-businesses Thrive and Reinvest


MEDC, NEI Launch $4.2M Fund for Tech Startups

Bay City and Saginaw Metro Area Ranked in Top 10 for Investment

Deadline Approaching for Michigan Communities to Apply for Public Infrastructure Assistance


States Not Waiting on Trump's Infrastructure Plan

MEDA Member Mandi Chasey Named in National Rural Assembly's List of Amazing Rural Women

Michigan Outpaces Other States on Tacentivx Breaks, Ines for Businesses

Lapeer Among Three Communities to Join Michigan Main Street Program


Michigan's Newest Hub for Entrepreneurs Features Hip Vibe, Waterfront Views

MEDA Member Rob Cleveland Named to North America's Top 50 Economic Developers - Download the Consultant Connect E-Book


Senate Approves Tax Incentive for Blight Redevelopment

Michigan's Aerospace Programs are Taking Off!

Tecumseh Approves Adrian-Tecumseh SmartZone


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Microsoft's Southfield office moving downtown

Fed report shows Michigan leading Great Lakes area economic growth


Snyder, Michigan businesses heading to Israel on investment mission

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American Center for Mobility named federal driverless car proving ground

Hillsdale County welcomes a fabulous new specialty shop, M & M Smokehouse Meats


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Proposed Amazon distribution center to bring 1,000-plus jobs to Metro Detroit

GM to start production of self-driving cars in Michigan by early 2017


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Gilbert-backed incentive plan dies in Michigan House

Palisades nuclear power plant to close in 2018


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Big brownfield tax capture, economic development bills clear Senate

Detroit to become highest density sports city in the nation


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Commercial real estate execs optimistic for West Michigan, but remain vigilant


Ex-MIS president Roger Curtis to helm state job agency

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Chinese electric vehicle company to create R&D center near Ann Arbor


Gordie Howe International Bridge project spans new horizons

Lawmakers send autonomous car bills to Snyder

$9 million Old Irish Mill could become Michigan's next Frankenmuth


The Right Place wins International Awards

SPLT Takes $500,000 Top Prize at Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

Michigan Tries to Make it Easier for Companies to Break into Defense Industry


Three Tech Startups Move to Downtown Pontiac

Geological mapping could spur economic development, protect water quality

Economic Development Partnership hosts annual dinner


Five States Account for Half of U.S. Business R&D

Stabenow Announces Funding for Michigan Agriculture

New Paper Examines State Economic Development Indicators


Paying Less at Pump Primes State Economy

Alliance to Tackle Flint Projects in 60 Days

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College Grads Can Expect Good Job Prospects

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Michigan Grants FCA $4.56M for Sterling Heights Investment

New Rules for Raising Venture Capital

Stabenow Plans to Introduce Urban Ag Legislation


China to Promote Development by Opening Economy 'even wider': Li

Iden Loan Promotion Bill Signed Into Law

Department of Commerce is Giving Businesses a Voice in Shaping Training Programs


Entrepreneurial Fair Aims to Target Laid-off Dow Workers Seeking New Opportunities

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Rivers of Vibrancy: Cities Embrace Waterways as Economic Development Strategy - MEDA Annual Meeting in the News!

Jefferson-Chalmers Neighborhood Named Michigan's First National Treasure


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Farm Preservation Program Kicks off With Celebration

Dow Chemical/Dupont Merger Could be Delayed to 2017

Development Plan for Michigan State Fairgrounds Unveiled

Group Wants to Put Apple Orchard, Cider Mill on Detroit's East Side


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Winner Chosen in $50,000 Detroit Business Startup Competition


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Packard Plant redevelopment could actually happen soon

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Dollars and Sense? Municipalities wrestle with disconnect between state revenue sharing and the economy


Eco-friendly Tesla supplier to locate in Flint, create 380 jobs

State commits $20M to Willow Run autonomous car testing

LawnGuru hints at where Michigan economy's headed


With $5M to lend, West Michigan's first microloan program gets a slow start

Howes: Gilbert backing talks for new development tools

Report: Michigan must continue to diversify economy, grow entrepreneurship


Ann Arbor home to Michigan's new economy

Denso investing $37 million in Michigan, adding 125 jobs

Detroit’s riverfront turns bend for the better


Bay City OKs $1.8 million in tax breaks for downtown Crapo Building project

Michigan-China Innovation Center to open in Detroit

Brexit adds uncertainty for West Michigan manufacturers


Big changes ahead for downtown west Dearborn

Northern Michigan's big labor shortage – a case of supply vs. demand

Vibrant downtowns are perfect fits for technology firms


Small Business Lending Platform to Commit $5M to Fund Entrepreneurs in Michigan

Downtown planners explore new ideas for Calder Plaza

250 new jobs pledged with Michigan firm's $5.6M expansion


Ontario giving FCA $85.8M to assist Windsor investments

Ambitious Brush Park development in Downtown Detroit already getting acclaim

Flat and happy? Forecast for West Michigan manufacturing eases as economic cycle matures


Tax breaks for Switch data center will hold local communities 'harmless'

Nearly $1 billion generated in Detroit by Michigan's research universities

State of Michigan Business: Economic Outlook


Two MEDA Members – Fey Beydoun and Birgit Klohs – on 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan List

Timeline rolled out for Detroit-to-Ann Arbor rail, other transit plans

The Sharing Economy Can Transform Economic Development

Michigan launches 'Planet M' to position state as mobility leader


JPMorgan Chase's $4M grant to give Detroiters jobs

How is Michigan faring? It depends on who you ask

Howes: Converging autos, tech challenge Mich. economy


Venice Biennale focuses on Detroit of the imagination

Pardon me: Grey Poupon's move to Mich. will add jobs

RTA wants Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail service


People need jobs. Factories need workers. Busing, a love story.

From enemies to partners: Automakers and Silicon Valley

Michigan hot dog, sausage maker will hire 140 new workers, invest $35M


New developer interested in downtown Bay City Chemical Bank building

Report: Detroit’s Industrial Market Continues to Improve in 2016

5 things to know about the 44,153 jobs coming to Oakland County by 2018


Michigan prisoners get new job training option

Ford, Fiat Chrysler plant investments get state tax breaks

$53M apartment project gets state approval for big tax break

Michigan historic districts overhaul legislation shelved by committee


Michigan to receive $188M for blight removal efforts

Berrien joins the economic A-Team

National parks in Michigan pump $290M into economy


Flint's Decline, Grand Rapids' Success Predicted in 70-year-old Study

Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance to promote business in 8-county region

Michigan Tourism Conference to Encourage Industry to Innovate, Thrive


Start-up cash loves Michigan

Bay Future raises more than $800k for $1.2 million jobs plan

Jackson City officials hope to have OpenCounter economic development tool up by end of month


New Report Reinforces Critical Role of Creative Industries in Michigan Economy

Site Selector/IEDC Board Members Gives Advice on Turning Company Leads into Wins

FlintNOW Foundation, Huntington Bank Announce $25 Million Economic Development Program For Flint


Michigan's Joblessness Rate Dips Below National Average

Start-up Failures Provide Lessons in Michigan

Bob Young, CEO Podcast: Conversations on Economic Opportunity


Henry Ford College to Partner with State to Prepare Students for Energy Jobs

Transportation Leader: Equitable Urban Revitalization Comes from Breaking Silos

VIDEO: Learn about the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption Law


Learn About the Melissa Nebelsick, CEcD, scholarship for Women in Economic Development - Apps Due 5/6

MEDA Members in the News:
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About MEDA

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

Through education, legislative updates, public relations and networking, MEDA makes it possible for economic development professionals statewide to accomplish their goals more efficiently and effectively.

Our Vision

Leading Michigan's economic development through education, networking and advocacy on economic development.

Our Mission

To undertake education, networking and advocacy on economic development for an in support of our members, partners and stakeholders.

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Sponsor MEDA

Sponsor for WebpageSponsoring MEDA will provide maximum exposure to the local economic development community for your organization and its services, thereby creating new customers and building new relationships that will enhance your business growth.

If you do business with any of the following, please consider MEDA Sponsorship:

Brownfield Redevelopment - Business Finance - Chambers of Commerce - Community Development - Consulting - Downtown Development - Environmental Consulting - Higher Education - Municipalities - Planning - Private and Public Economic Development Organizations - Real Estate Development - State Agencies - Utilities and infrastructure - Workforce Development - Others interested in economic development

How to Sponsor

If you and your company have decided that you would like to sponsor, please call MEDA at 517-241-0011 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank You Sponsors

Thank You 2017 Sponsors

Thank You 2016 Sponsors

Sponsorship Opportunities

Corporate Sponsorship

Corporate packages support the Association’s goals throughout the year and provide exclusive benefits.


Recognition and Benefits

  • Logo on Each Page of MEDA Website
  • Logo on Event Handouts for All Events
  • Sponsorship Sign at All Events as Corporate Sponsor
  • Sponsorship of Annual Meeting
    • Annual Meeting Website
    • Electronic Mailing List of Attendees
    • Exhibit Table
    • Event Emails
    • Main Brochure
    • Onsite Brochure
    • Social Media Promotion
    • Sponsorship Sign

SELECT ($6,000)

Additional Benefits

  • 3 Individual Memberships

ELITE ($13,000)

Additional Benefits

  • 5 Individual Memberships
  • 5 Complimentary Registrations to All Educational Programs*
  • 2 Economic Development Basic Course Scholarships

Additional Recognition

  • Listing on all MEDA Membership Newsletters
  • Listing on all Job Postings
  • Listing on all Help A MEDA Member Requests

Additional Annual Meeting Sponsor Benefits

  • Opportunity to Address Audience

*Excludes MEDA-hosted courses for nationally-recognized certification, such as IEDC and NDC certification courses.

Annual Meeting Sponsorship

Enjoy the opportunity to meet, greet, and generate new business, by sponsoring our premier event, which brings our members together for 3 days to learn, brainstorm, and network. A variety of economic development topics are covered, and nationally recognized experts are featured to give participants the latest information.

*If you would like to sponsor specific portion - such as a session or reception - please contact us.



  • Annual Meeting Website
  • Event Emails
  • Main Brochure
  • Onsite Brochure
  • Social Media Promotion
  • Sponsorship Sign

ENHANCED LEVELS ***Includes Basic Level and Additional Recognition and Benefits***

TOUR ($800)

Additional Recognition

  • Opportunity to Address Tour Audience

SILVER ($1,600)

Additional Benefits

  • 1 Complimentary Registration

Additional Recognition

  • Electronic Mailing List of Attendees
  • Exhibit Table

GOLD ($3,000)

Additional Benefits

  • 1 Complimentary Registration
  • 1 Complimentary Membership

Additional Recognition

  • Opportunity to Address Audience
  • Opportunity to Distribute Materials*
  • Electronic Mailing List of Attendees
  • Exhibit Table

*Distributed materials and their placement must be approved by MEDA staff prior to the conference.

Membership Program Sponsorship*

MEDA has three, day-long programs that attract economic developers from around the state. Sponsoring these events provides meaningful engagement opportunities throughout the day.

CAPITOL DAY ($1,500)

Capitol Day is MEDA’s annual legislative conference, which includes sessions on the latest legislative issues related to economic development as well as State and Federal agency updates on economic development initiatives and laws.



These events host sessions on a variety of components for economic development success: new tools and programs, updates to existing tools and programs, best practices, marketing, unique ideas, skill-building, and leadership. The agendas are unique to each program.

Benefits and Recognition

  • 1 Complimentary Registration
  • Opportunity to Address Audience
  • Electronic Mailing List of Attendees
  • Exhibit Table
  • Event Emails
  • Main Brochure
  • Event Handouts
  • Program Webpage
  • Social Media Promotion
  • Sponsorship Sign

*Limited to 4 sponsors per event.

Emerging Leaders Spring Program Sponsorship

The Michigan Economic Developers Association Emerging Leaders Network is a member-driven organization that supports early-career economic developers and helps them to excel in their field by providing them with the tools and opportunities to be successful through training, mentoring, and networking and outreach.

Recognizing the need for a conduit to connect young professionals in economic development, the MEDA Young Professionals (MEDAYP) program was established in 2013. Over time, the group began to show a stronger presence of early-career professionals rather than those fitting within a specific age range. It was also recognized that the economic development community seemed to form relationships despite age. Therefore, MEDAYP morphed into Emerging Leaders in order to meet the needs of the MEDA membership ...

... and it’s been growing ever since!

Get in touch with tomorrow’s leading economic developers by supporting the Emerging Leaders Spring Program.


Recognition and Benefits

  • Opportunity to Address Audience
  • Event Emails
  • Main Brochure
  • Event Handouts
  • Program Webpage
  • Social Media Promotion
  • Sponsorship Sign

MEDA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit.

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The Michigan Economic Developers Association exists to increase members' knowledge and understanding of economic development.

Since 1960, MEDA has provided services and programs that enable our members to be more effective in attracting and retaining business that provide quality employment for communities around the state. MEDA primarily focuses on giving members opportunities to learn, advocate, and network for the benefit of Michigan's economic growth. Our efforts help economic developers make Michigan a better place to work, live and play.

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Corporate Sponsors

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Web Sponsors


Contact Us

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