The Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA)
The Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA)
Capitol Day is MEDA's annual legislative conference, which includes sessions on the latest legislative issues related to economic development at the local, state, and federal level.
In order to develop the conference around the most important legislative issues of the time, MEDA's Advocacy Committee, a volunteer group of MEDA members, plans the agenda.
Capitol Day attendees are encouraged to invite their legislators to talk about the topics presented during the day or to talk about issues specific to their community. Legislators are welcome to attend complimentarily.
Since the role of legislators is crucial to the strength of economci development in our state, legislators are welcome to attend complimentarily. One staff person can be sent in place of the legislator and staff receive MEDA member rate if they attend with the legislator.
Aside from providing the latest educational content for Michigan's economic development community, the Annual Meeting will provide several opportunities for networking as well as for learning while enjoying an experience outside of the typical meeting room setting.
This year, the Early Arrivals Reception will be held during an MEDC-hosted Familiarization (FAM) Tour, and the MEDC is happy to bring the site consultants that will be on the tour to you. We would love to see you there so you can have the opportunity to introduce yourself and tell them about your community. Join MEDA’s Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, and Staff for this light-hearted networking reception in a 90-year-old, newly-revamped boutique hotel that you just have to see to believe.
The Early Arrivals Reception is included for registered attendees. You can bring a guest (spouse, friend, colleague) for $35.
If you are looking for a truly enjoyable golf experience on a course that is surrounded by unforgettable scenery, as well as a chance to have a great time with your economic development partners, this meetup is for you.
Even the most basic of our natural resources, trees, need the best of talent and logistics to be produced and distributed to meet customer demand. PotlatchDeltic not only uses technology in manufacturing, but also works to sustain the valuable timberlands that are under their care in seven states. During the Gwinn Lumber Mill tour, you will learn about their history, their talent, and see their highly technical scanning, sorting, and sawing processes.
Visit the only operating iron ore mine in the Upper Peninsula. Learn about the historical process of extracting these natural resources, which are shipped on the Great Lakes, turned into steel, and put into Ford trucks; all done right in Michigan! Hear the history, view the plant, and overlook the open pit mine for a truly unique experience.
The above tours are $15 per person for attendees or guests.
Located in the heart of downtown Marquette is the Ore Dock Brewing Company, a “Superior Sourced” craft beer maker, whose building still displays Marquette’s historical architecture. In addition, the location serves as a community meeting space and gives artists a chance to share their work. Connect with old friends, make new ones, and get excited about the conference at our Opening Reception.
The Opening Reception is included for registered attendees. You can bring a guest (spouse, friend, colleague) for $50.
Take your education outside and learn about the intriguing history of Downtown Marquette. Join the DDA Director for an informational and historic tour of Marquette’s vibrant downtown, including renovations, staple businesses, and new projects that add to this already boosting atmosphere.
This is a FREE tour in which you self-transport to a designated location to start the tour at 2:45. Instructions will be given closer to the event.
This night is for recognizing economic developers that have a rich history of contribution to the profession and a proven track record of success.
The History Museum, formally known as the Marquette Regional History Center, will be the perfect setting for our awards ceremony. The awards presented include MEDA Medalist of the Year, Mike Conboy Professional Development, Robert Sieghart, and President's Award. See this page for details on how to nominate a deserving individual.
The Awards Reception is included for registered attendees. You can bring a guest (spouse, friend, colleague) for $50.
How long have you worked in economic development?
Since 2014 – 5 years
Tell us a little bit about your work history.
I started in economic development as a Management Assistant Intern for the City of Auburn Hills. In this role, I had the opportunity to explore all facets of local government working alongside the City Manager. I learned a little bit about everything, from permits and approvals to demolish a building, to labor negotiations and starting a Downtown Development Authority. After my time as Management Assistant, I transitioned to the Director of Authorities for the City of Auburn Hills. In my role as Director, I oversaw three economic development boards: the Tax Increment Finance Authority, Downtown Development Authority, and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Now I am the Economic Development Director for the City of Farmington Hills. As Director, I oversee business attraction, retention and expansion in the community. I work with partners at the local and state level to help businesses grow and succeed in Farmington Hills.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishments in the field.
One of my largest accomplishments to date was a two year project to reinstate the Auburn Hills Downtown Development Authority. This Board had been established in the 80’s but never fully activated. The recession allowed the city opportunities to strategically purchase properties that had been foreclosed on, many of which were near the core downtown area. Starting a DDA with TIF capture would potentially allow the DDA large tax capture to reinvestment in the downtown as vacant properties developed. I worked on this project while completing my Master’s degree. Throughout reinstating the DDA I worked closely with the assessing and community development departments to determine potential tax capture estimates for a 15 year plan and negotiated an interlocal agreement with the County. In all honesty, each project feels like a big accomplishment just due to the time it takes for economic development projects. But, the DDA project will always be near and dear to my heart because it was the first “big” project that really tied together all of the pieces, people and departments necessary for a projects success. The first five years also saw an associated $90 million in redevelopment which doesn’t feel too bad either.
Give us a snapshot of your workweek.
That is one thing that really attracted me to economic development or even local government for that matter – no two days are ever the same. If I had to summarize an average week, I would say I usually spend Monday catching up on emails, checking in on projects and setting up retention visits for the next few weeks. Monday’s help me focus and set the stage for the rest of the week, which is really a toss-up. On my calendar there could be anything from ribbon cuttings, pre-development meetings, site visits, preparing for board meeting, or drafting marketing materials. The only real constant in any given week is follow up communications, lots of emails and lots of phone calls.
What did you study in college?
I received an undergraduate degree from Oakland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Wayne State University.
If you could turn back time to your college years, what skills and studies would you have focused on to improve your ability to practice economic development?
College focuses heavily on theory, rather than practice. Economic Development is the art of building trust and lasting relationships – soft, interpersonal skills unfortunately are not found in textbooks. A course in public speaking might prove itself very useful in this career; however I found most success by having economic developer mentors to help guide me through the field and lean on for career support.
How has MEDA helped in your economic development career?
I became a MEDA member while I was still a student. Being involved in MEDA helped me to learn the vast variety of career tracts and opportunities involved in economic development. MEDA has been an influential resource for building my career network, helping to build my confidence as a new economic developer and get more involved in the organization.
Economic Developers in Michigan have an exciting new tool: Opportunity Zones (OZ’s). This federal program provides opportunities for investors with capital gains to reinvest in federally designated areas. There are OZ’s in every county in Michigan. Visit MSHDA’s website or click here for a map. The investments occur through a new vehicle known as Opportunity Zone Funds. There are three targets for investment: real estate; businesses located in OZ’s; or venture-funds for startups.
This is a complicated program and it is advised that economic developers take advantage of the resources that exist to learn the rules and work with their local communities in designated OZ’s to capture as much benefit as possible. This article focuses on the role of the economic developer.
There are three broad areas where professionals can create impact:
The key to the program is to identify market-ready projects that need capital. Projects should already be identified with a clear understanding of the financial model. Once a fund is established, it has 31 months to deploy its resources. Building rehabilitation is an example of a good project, but rules require that the proposed investment must equal or exceed the basis (value) invested in the real estate minus land. In other words, if an investor buys a building for $500,000, he must invest at least the same amount for it to be an eligible project. Greenfield projects also are attractive if the market is well-established for the proposed development.
The most effective method of marketing OZ projects thus far is to create a prospectus that describes the opportunity, demographics, zoning and community for which the project is proposed. Here are two examples of online prospectus’ that exist today:
Erie, Pennsylvania: www.flagshipopportunityzone.com
Louisville, Kentucky: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward/opportunity-zones-louisville
Once projects are identified, look for portals to list your opportunities. At the moment, there are more funds to invest than development-ready projects. Here’s one location where you can list your projects: www.theopportunityexchange.com.
Businesses and real estate owners need to be educated about this new program to understand how it may benefit them. Consider partnering with an attorney to hold an educational program. Here’s a partial list of attorneys who are assisting communities and businesses with matchmaking or creation of funds: Howard & Howard – Gina Stoudacher or William Burdett; Plante Moran – Gordon Goldie; or Dykema Gossett PLLC – Scott R. Kocienski.
A web presence with a description of the program and the benefits to investors is a good way to start your marketing campaign. Ann Arbor SPARK and Lansing LEAP are two EDO’s that have launched new sections on their websites. Other EDO’s will soon join the parade, so don’t miss this OPPORTUNITY to attract capital to development-ready projects or businesses in your area.
Authored By: Dan Casey, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. Dan is MEDA's 2019 Board Treasurer.
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