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Snyder, Granholm Set MEDC Transition; Finney New CEO

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As had been long rumored, Ann Arbor Spark president and CEO Michael Finney was named Monday by Gov.-elect Rick Snyder as the new CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Snyder and outgoing Gov. Jennifer Granolm Monday announced that the MEDC would be goverened in 2011 by a new leadership team that includes appointees of both the incoming and outgoing governors. They called it “an unprecedented sign of cooperation between incoming and outgoing administrations.”

“Over the past eight years we have laid the foundation for a new Michigan economy,” Granholm said. “We put in place the most aggressive economic development program to diversify Michigan’s economy that has resulted in more than $57 billion in private investment, nearly 4,000 economic development projects and the creation or retention of 653,000 jobs. And while our work is far from finished, it’s time to pass the torch to Governor-elect Snyder who shares my commitment to diversifying Michigan’s economy and creating jobs.”

Snyder — who was the first person to chair the MEDC Executive Committee when the group was formed in 1999 under then-Gov. John Engler — said economic development is his passion and Finney is the right person to lead the MEDC going forward.

“Economic development and job creation are top priorities of my administration,” Snyder said.  “The hard truth is we need to take a different approach when it comes to economic development and I have spent my career creating jobs and environments where businesses can flourish. I have said before we can’t simply ‘fix’ Michigan, we need to ‘reinvent’ Michigan. Mike Finney understands this urgency and will effectively lead the new team at the MEDC so we can take Michigan into an era of innovation.”

Said Finney: “I look forward to working with Governor-elect Snyder, the business community, the MEDC Executive Committee, our academic institutions and our regional economic development partners to tell the Michigan story to the companies and talent that we will work to attract and retain in Michigan.”

Prior to joining Ann Arbor Spark, Finney served as president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise in Rochester, N.Y. Prior to that, he was vice president for emerging business sectors at the MEDC.

Finney serves on the board of directors for the State Science & Technology Institute and is a past board member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. He is a member of the Life Sciences Institute and Technology Transfer National Advisory councils at the University of Michigan. Additionally, he is a trustee for the Washtenaw Community College Foundation and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. 

Finney has a bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Saginaw Valley State University.

In addition to tapping Finney to lead the MEDC, Snyder along with Granholm announced appointments to a new executive committee that will oversee the agency beginning in January. The current executive committee members have tendered their resignations effective Dec. 31.

Snyder’s appointments include:
* Christopher Rizik, CEO and fund manager of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
* Lizabeth Ardisana, CEO of ASG Renaissance
* Greg Northrup, president of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance
* John Rakolta Jr., chairman and CEO of Walbridge
* Kirk Lewis, group executive for corporate and civic affairs for the city of Detroit
* Stephen R. D’Arcy, chairman of Detroit Medical Center and Partner Quantum Group LLC
* Stephen Forrest, vice president for research at the University of Michigan
* Robert Collier, president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations
* David Armstrong, president and CEO of Greenstone Farm Credit Services
* Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders of Michigan 

Snyder announced that the new Executive Committee will designate Rothwell, a former CEO of the MEDC, as chair of the MEDC Executive Committee.

Granholm’s appointments to the MEDC board, which will be filed later this month and be effective Jan. 1, 2011, include:

* Mary Lou Benecke, vice president of public affairs and corporate communications for Dow Corning
* D. Jeffrey Noel, vice president of communications and public affairs for Whirlpool Corp. 
* Marilyn Schlack, president of Kalamazoo Valley Community College
* Chris MacInnes, COO of Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa
* Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3 (reappointment)
* Jeff Metts, president of Dowding Industries (reappointment)
* Thomas F. Lewand, partner at Bodman LLP (reappointment)
* John W. Brown, chairman emeritus, Stryker Corporation (reappointment)
* Haifa Fakhouri, president and CEO of the Arab American and Chaldean Council (reappointment)
* Dayne Walling, mayor of Flint (reappointment)

Snyder will be sworn in as Michigan’s 49th governor at noon on Jan. 1.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All Rights Reserved.

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