The Michigan Opportunity

Through dynamic discussion, The Michigan Opportunity markets the state and promotes Michigan as a world-class business location. The podcast serves as a forward-thinking voice for Michigan as a conduit to global trends and applications in the new global economy.

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The Michigan Opportunity Podcast Now Airing on WJR’s The Great Voice

The Michigan Opportunity Podcast

Season - 1 Episode 15

Dr. Rebecca Cunningham, Vice President for Research, University of Michigan

VP Dr. Cunningham walks us through life sciences, mobility, Tech Transfer and much more at the nation’s largest public research university.

With a mission and responsibility as the nation's largest public research university, the University of Michigan Office of Research (UMOR) aims to catalyze, support and safeguard U-M research, with the bigger vision for research to serve the world. Join Dr. Cunningham as she walks us through the wide range of research that falls under her department ranging from animal care to Tech Transfer. She helps explain what Mcity and mobility research is doing for the future, as well the vast life sciences research. She also dispenses some real sound advice for future talent and how she and her department navigated Covid-19, for both operations and research.

Season - 1 Episode 14

Kevin Johnson, President and CEO, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation: Find out why Kevin Johnson is up to the challenge of advancing the economy for all residents.

Kevin Johnson is the President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. The mission of the DEGC is to design and implement innovative solutions that attract investment, create jobs and advance Detroit’s economy for all residents. Join Kevin and host Ed Clemente to learn about neighborhood small-business growth, the new Stellantis/Fiat Chrysler Detroit Assembly Complex, Buy Detroit, international economic strategies and Detroit Means Business. He will also get into what the International Economic Development Council is, and his definition of what economic development means to compete. Overall, a very substantial and visionary discussion on Detroit and more!

Season - 1 Episode 13

Marty Fittante, CEO, Invest UP

Invest UP has a big job bringing prosperity to the 15 counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Hear how they’re doing it from the iron range to the Soo Locks!

Martin (Marty) Fittante is the Chief Executive Officer for InvestUP. InvestUP is the lead regional economic development organization for Michigan's Upper Peninsula, with the mission of driving prosperity across the entire region through collaboration, proactively leveraging relationships, and thoughtful leadership aimed at producing results. Join host Ed Clemente for a conversation with Marty about all the unique opportunities involved by attracting, retaining, creating and expanding industries with intellectual property for talent infrastructure, defense, medical devices, electronics and pharma. With support from several Economic Development Organizations and partners, InvestUP is improving internet access, creating higher education, leveraging natural resources, promoting tourism and much more. Also, find out what is going on at the Soo Locks, and the other former military air bases. Either way, the UP has lot going on!

Season - 1 Episode 12

Michael Healander – President and CEO, Air Space Link

What is the future of drone highways, AirHubs and LAANC? How Air Space Link is mapping the future in over 23 states.

Co-Founder, President & CEO of AirSpacelink, Michael Healander, joins host Ed Clemente on this episode of The Michigan Opportunity. AirSpacelink is the first cloud-based drone platform focused extensively on the needs of state & local government working to expand drone innovation. Ed and Michael help us get a real bird’s eye view of what’s up with the future of drone highways and what exactly is an Air Hub? They also discuss what’s happening in the present and in the near future on how public sector leaders manage and engage their drone communities. Learn how the FAA is involved, the Aerotropolis and what LAAANC is for pilots.

Also, how is Michigan developing talent in this area? How will 5G and Edge Computing play a role in this field?

Season - 1 Episode 11

Jennifer Owens - President, Lakeshore Advantage

What is up on Lake Michigan? The Lakeshore Advantage. See how they are helping West Michigan businesses in Allegan and Ottawa Counties.

Jennifer Owens is the President of Lakeshore Advantage, a non-profit economic development organization that connects businesses to the resources they need to grow in Allegan and Ottawa Counties. With host Ed Clemente, they discuss the ecosystem of advanced energy her team has been cultivating, other manufacturing industries as well as Opportunity Zones, Gentex, workforce and entrepreneurship. Jennifer has a strong pedigree in economic development, as well as a well-rounded career, strong internal and leadership teams, and partners to help make Lakeshore Advantage a successful organization.

Season - 1 Episode 10

Dr. Britany Affolter-Caine, Executive Director of Community Affairs, University Research Corridor

What our three top research universities (MSU, UM & WSU) have in common: The University Research Corridor, one of the nation’s top university innovation clusters for research, talent, and innovation.

Dr. Britany Affolter-Caine is the Executive Director at the University Research Corridor (URC), an alliance of Michigan’s three leading research institutions: Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University. She discusses how the URC drives innovation for Michigan and the Great Lakes Region, increasing economic prosperity and connecting Michigan to the world. Some topic of our discussion include life sciences, infrastructure, mobility, talent, advanced manufacturing and more.

Season - 1 Episode 9

Eric Frederick, Vice President of Community Affairs, Connected Nation Michigan

What do global nomads, the digital divide, Starlink & health care have in common? Connected Nation Michigan ties them all together

Executive Director, Connected Nation Michigan Eric Fredrick takes us into the exciting new world economy of how we will be connected for many of our daily activities in the near future. He explains how in the last year this industry has accelerated, and how digital connections impact us all. He discusses the highlights of the growing glossary of connectivity and how we build this out to rural and urban settings alike. Learn a little bit about Digital Nomads, telemedicine, Starlink, broadband, business & workforce opportunities and many other interesting topics.

Season - 1 Episode 8

Maureen Donohue Krauss, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Partnership

How the Detroit Regional Partnership has taken 11 Southeast Michigan counties and is marketing them globally for economic prosperity.

Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Regional Partnership Maureen Donohue Krauss takes us on tour of what makes up the "Detroit advantage" of how marketing the region to out-of-state and international companies to attract investments and jobs. Find out how it was created, and the stakeholders involved and how it serves Southeast Michigan’s 11-county region. She provides a few anecdotal stories to show the unique process of economic development in action.

Season - 1 Episode 7

Birgit Klohs, Former President and CEO, The Right Place

A short history of how Grand Rapids & Western Michigan became an economic global powerhouse.

Former President and CEO Birgit Klohs worked at The Right Place, Inc. for over 33 years, with great success. During her conversation with us she discusses how she navigated the organization by collaborating with state and local leaders and business executives to create more than $5 billion in economic investment in the region and generate more than 50,000 jobs.

Under her tenure at the helm, she assisted the city of Grand Rapids become the beacon of business activity and high quality of life that it encompasses today. Her legacy impacted the creation of the bio-medical, scientific research, and growth of premier healthcare in the region and is coupled with a growth in higher education through out West Michigan.

Season - 1 Episode 6

Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer, State of Michigan and Senior Vice President, MEDC

Hop on for a fast-moving conversation about the future of mobility, electrification and connectivity.

Chief Mobility Officer for the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification Trevor Pawl, takes on a whirlwind path of how fast the world is changing especially in the areas of mobility, electrification and connectivity. Pay attention because a lot of ground is covered from 5G, drones, wearables, autonomous & electric vehicles, TEDX, propulsion, global competition and many other topics. What is the story behind this intricate title and the commission and its catch basin responsibility? Also, a little dip into smart infrastructure and workforce opportunities. Make sure you catch this “mobility” wave.

About the Host: Ed Clemente

Ed Clemente joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in 2020 as the Senior Advisor for Trends and Development.

From 2012-2020, Clemente served as a two-term governor appointed Hearing Commissioner for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). Executing over 7,000 judicial Orders/Decisions, over the tenure of service. Prior joining the MLCC, Clemente launched Michigan’s Energy Innovation Business Council (EIBC) establishing it as 501c3 and 501c6 entity and serving as its first President.

Ed Clemente was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2004 representing parts of southern Wayne County. During his three terms in the State House (2004-2010) he led task forces on electric vehicles, biosciences, film industry, Brownfield restoration, economic development, quality of life and advanced energy. Before his tenure as a public official, Clemente held several leadership roles at the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce, including President and Director Economic and Business Development. He also previously chaired the Economic Development Committee of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and was elected as a Trustee for Wayne County Community College District, serving four terms.

Clemente has earned degrees from Ferris State, Michigan State University and Sienna Heights Universities. Clemente was awarded with a prestigious fellowship to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and The National Judicial College for Administrative Law. He graduated from several political leadership development programs, including Leadership Detroit, Michigan Political Leadership Program, and Leadership 21. He is a previous small business owner and has taught at Northwood University. Additionally, he hosts a “Critical Conversations” podcast and is a member of the Workforce Advisors for Wayne County Community College. Ed serves on the Board of Directors for Global Ties Detroit and the Motor Cities National Heritage Area. An avid traveler, Ed has visited more than 80 countries and territories, 150+ UNESCO World Heritage sites, many to play rugby tournaments, others for professional exchange and some for just intellectual curiosity.


The Michigan Opportunity is brought to you by Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In collaboration with more than 100 economic development partners, MEDC markets Michigan as the place to do business, assists businesses in their growth strategies and fosters the growth of vibrant communities across the state.