Every summer, economic developers in Michigan gather for three days to share knowledge and strengthen their toolbox at a conference hosted by the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA), a group with nearly 500 members in the economic development profession statewide. The location of the conference varies by year, a good way to expose economic development professionals to diverse communities throughout Michigan. This year’s conference was in Frankenmuth and was the organization’s largest attended annual event.
Macomb County is at the forefront of key issues impacting economic development in the state and was represented strongly in the agenda for the conference, presenting on topics that are at the core of economic and community planning issues.
The county’s Planning and Economic Development Director John Paul Rea joined Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley, to discuss Industry 4.0 and how government and industry organizations are working collaboratively to equip companies for the latest industrial revolution. Using Macomb County as an example, the pair presented on equipping local production facilities with the tools and skillsets needed to compete in a global environment – something that will be essential to our region’s ability to compete moving forward.
John Abraham, of the Macomb County Department of Roads, presented alongside Kirk Steudle, director for the Michigan Department of Transportation, on traffic and public safety with connected and autonomous vehicles. Macomb County was chosen as a local partner to present alongside the state’s top transportation official because of our county’s strong mobility infrastructure. Together they covered how Macomb County and Michigan are working to position the state as the country’s leader in mobility; a place that is safe and attractive for new companies looking to test their equipment and run their business.
Autonomous vehicles was also the topic for a panel moderated by Nick Posavetz, economic development specialist for the county. The discussion featured several leaders in the mobility industry, including Craig Hoff, dean for the College of Engineering at Kettering University, Michele Mueller, sr. project manager for connected and automated vehicles at the Michigan Department of Transportation and Trevor Pawl, group vice president for PlanetM at Pure Michigan Business Connect and MEDC International Trade team. The panel shared how the state is working to ensure that Michigan remains a leader in the automotive industry as vehicle and transportation technologies continue to change. They also discussed how local communities can get involved.
In all, the conference spanned three days and offered nearly 30 sessions, panels and events – each with opportunities to learn from subject matter experts in their field. Our county’s participation and the knowledge we gained will certainly benefit our region in the future.
Nick Posavetz is an economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.