New leadership driving state’s economic development strategy

Otie McKinley

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jeff Mason approved by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation executive committee as the organization’s new CEO

Called a “natural choice” to assume the top post at the state’s chief economic development organization, Jeff Mason was approved July 11 by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation executive committee as the organization’s new CEO. He assumed the position immediately upon approval.

Unanimous approval came two weeks after Gov. Rick Snyder recommended Mason to oversee the MEDC, which is the state’s marketing and business attraction arm, performing due diligence on the administration of grants and other incentives approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board with the explicit goal of encouraging businesses to locate and expand in Michigan. 

Mason, 58, replaces Steve Arwood, who assumed the top MEDC post in January 2015. 

“Jeff has a breadth of experience and knowledge about the driving forces and innovation reshaping Michigan’s economy,” said Snyder. “He is a proven leader distinguished by an inclusive, collaborative approach. On many levels, Jeff is a natural choice as MEDC CEO because of his grasp of public-sector policies, private-sector realities and first-hand work with the state’s leading research institutions.”

Gov. Snyder also named Mason president and chairman of the Michigan Strategic Fund, effective immediately. 

Mason has extensive experience in economic development, including serving as senior vice president for business development during his 10-year tenure at MEDC, from 1999-2009.

“Michigan has taken great strides to create a business-friendly climate built on a strong foundation of low taxes, reduced regulation, fiscal stability and timely incentives,” said Mason. “Key to our continued growth is ongoing support for communities of all sizes around the state, and the ongoing development of the talent pipeline.”

Jeff Mason

He arrives at his new role at MEDC from an eight-year stint as executive director at the University Research Corridor (URC), an alliance of the state’s three leading research institutions – University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University – where 94 percent of the state’s higher education research-and-development takes place. 

"Jeff has all the qualities you'd want in a president and CEO of the MEDC – integrity, a deep understanding of how economic development works and great leadership skills,” said MEDC Executive Committee Chair Doug Rothwell. “The Executive Committee has great confidence in this appointment.”

The Michigan economy has made a historic comeback from the depths of the Great Recession of 2007-09. Low unemployment (4.2 percent in May, which is one-tenth below U.S. rate), resurgence of the auto industry, emergence as a global leader in autonomous vehicle research and testing, along with the ongoing development of the state’s agribusiness and tourism industries are among the striking signs of a fundamentally sound, expanding state economy. 

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