Michael Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), was the guest speaker for the Peter F. Secchia Breakfast Lecture, sponsored by the Seidman College of Business.
It was standing room only for Finney’s presentation, “When Michigan Means Business,” held at the L. William Seidman Center, September 18.
Finney said his model for economic vitality for the state includes three things: talent, businesses and vibrant cities. He said Michigan is America’s “comeback state” because successful steps have been taken to bring jobs back.
“Lowering the business tax dramatically changed the business climate in the state,” said Finney. “We were 49th out of 50 states, second worst when it came to the business tax. Now, we are in the top six or seven.”
Finney said the Small Business Credit Initiative, a loan program, is the MEDC’s most effective tool for helping small businesses because, unlike grants and tax credits, funds are available right away. He also said the Pure Michigan branding campaign has been a huge success.
“We have created an incredible brand with the Pure Michigan campaign,” said Finney. “It has generated $1.1 billion in additional tourism dollars spent. The general public understands how exciting it is to visit and vacation in Michigan.”
The MEDC is a public-private partnership serving as the state’s lead agency for business and job growth, talent enhancement, tourism marketing, arts and cultural grants, and overall economic growth. Finney’s responsibilities at MEDC also include serving as Gov. Rick Snyder’s Economic Growth Group executive and as president and chairman of the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Prior to his position at MEDC, Finney served as president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, a public-private partnership whose mission is to advance innovation-based economic development in the greater Ann Arbor region. He also served as president and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise in Rochester, New York; vice president of Emerging Business Sectors, at MEDC; and senior vice president and general manager at Thomson Saginaw.