Highlighting Economic Development Week with The Michigan Opportunity Podcast

Garrett Anderson

Monday, May 8, 2023

Economic Development Week, recognized during the second week in May, promotes efforts to support economic well-being, vibrant communities and quality of life for all.

But effective, inclusive and long-lasting economic development isn’t one-size-fits-all. It takes partners at every level: community members, businesses, elected officials, the state government and the economic development organizations that connect them.


Through The Michigan Opportunity podcast, host Ed Clemente and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation aim to extend the voices of these collaborators so they can share their missions and inspire others. Read on to learn more about some of the economic developers who are changing Michigan for the better.

Making Michigan a Place of Pure Opportunity
QLM_podium_750x500.jpgThe MEDC offers business assistance, builds strong communities and markets Michigan as a place of economic opportunity. CEO Quentin L. Messer Jr. leads the MEDC in its constant pursuit of making Michigan the perfect place to live, work and play.

“At the end of the day, what matters – not ribbon cuttings, announcements – it's how economic development is impacting people's lives,” said Messer. “And we do that by reaching people where they live, where they recreate, where they socialize, and we're always endeavoring to do more of that.”

Hear Messer and Clemente discuss successes for the podcast, the MEDC and Michigan, and what might be on the horizon.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 51


Keeping Michigan on the International Stage
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce, with executive director Fay Beydoun, serves as a dynamic international organization. The Chamber has become the largest American-Arab business organization in the United States, building economic and cultural bridges around the world.

“What makes us as the American Arab Chamber of Commerce a little bit more unique is a lot of our international work that we do,” said Fay. “We want to make sure that Michigan takes advantage of everything that it can to become more global and more competitive in this environment.”

Listen to Beydoun explain how the Chamber operates with 1,500 members worldwide. The group regularly participates in international delegations, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, and has board representation from companies like AT&T and Chase Bank.

Listen to Season 1, Episode 3


Sovereign Tribes Strengthening the Economy
The Waséyabek Development Company, LLC (WDC) is an entirely tribal-owned economic development entity of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. Deidra Mitchell, the president and chief executive officer of WDC, works closely with Tom Durkee, MEDC’s project manager for Tribal Business Development. Together, the pair help build tribal participation in growing industries, promote entrepreneurship and develop strategic partnerships.


“We buy and develop companies on behalf of the Nottawaseppi tribe, not having to do with gaming,” said Mitchell. “Because tribes are sovereign, and they're kind of their own nation unto themselves, the proceeds from our business operations go towards nation building and we want to also provide career development opportunities for tribal members.”

Join Mitchell and Durkee to get an inside view of what types of businesses exist within the 12 tribes of Michigan, the MEDC Tribal Business Development Program and the variety of projects that they’ve been involved with.

Listen to Season 1, Episode 4


Collaborating for a Resilient and Equitable Economy in Michigan
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC) are helping communities face workforce disruption in a changing world. Naheed Huq, the manager of economic and community vitality at SEMCOG and vice president of MAC, collaborates on solutions to help build a more resilient, diverse and equitable economy.

“I think as we look at communities, in Michigan and across the nation, that revitalization of communities is possible. But it does require a lot of partnerships between all sectors to be able to make it happen,” said Huq. “There's investment by the government, there's businesses really focused on investing in these areas. At the same time, the education and workforce development systems need to be there in order to create the jobs and train the future workforce.”

Listen to Huq discuss how local governments are handling economic development challenges such as talent training, retention and attraction in the state’s seven-county southeast region.

Listen to Season 1, Episode 29

Unifying a Peninsula Toward Prosperity
InvestUP, headed by CEO Martin “Marty” Fittante, is the lead regional economic development organization for Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The organization drives prosperity by working with local partners to improve internet access, increase higher education access, leverage natural resources, promote tourism and much more.


“Local economic development organizations all across the Upper Peninsula really are integral to any success that we would have as an organization,” said Fittante. “They're the local experts. They know their communities. And so, when you have a territory as big as the Upper Peninsula is – and it's bigger than nine states – the only way we're going to have success regionally is in partnership with our local partners.”

Listen to Fittante discuss all the unique opportunities InvestUP makes possible with its partners across the region for diverse industries such as agriculture, defense, electronics, medical devices and life sciences.

Listen to Season 1, Episode 13

Supporting the Economy by Preserving What Makes Us Michigan
The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) evaluates, protects and promotes Michigan’s historic environment. Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Martha MacFarlane-Faes oversees SHPO’s community and economic development programs, such as local historic districts and historic preservation tax credits, to align preservation with community economic development plans.


“Building a sense of place and creating a sense of authenticity is a critical feature of what historic preservation aims to do. Also, it's a key factor in economic development throughout the state,” said MacFarlane-Faes. “And finally, I think from a more philosophical standpoint, that cultural resources are places of memory for us and for the way we have lived and what is important to us as a people.”

Join MacFarlane-Faes as she discusses the complicated but rewarding mission of preservation and how it is a valuable tool to attract and retain businesses and talent.

Listen to Season 2, Episode 12


Hear More from the Organizations That Make Michigan the Place to Do Business
Visit The Michigan Opportunity podcast page to learn more about the organizations across Michigan helping with economic development, such as: Saginaw Future, where President JoAnn Crary works to connect and create opportunities across the urban, suburban and rural areas of Saginaw County; The Right Place, Inc., which helped make West Michigan a global powerhouse in biological sciences while helmed by Birgit Klohs, former president and CEO; and Mexicantown Community Development Corporation, where Executive Director Ray Lozano helps preserve, promote and enrich the quality of life for a community that’s transforming into a high-tech hub.


Contact Us

To contact a business development specialist, click here or call 1.888.522.0103.