LEADERSHIP

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LEADERS FOR MICHIGAN

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Rob Cleveland

Rob Cleveland is the President of the Cornerstone Alliance. Located in Michigan's Great Southwest, Cornerstone Alliance is Berrien County's premiere economic development organization. He is a Certified Economic Development Professional (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). At Cornerstone, Cleveland leads a team of a dozen individuals devoted to the enrichment of economic vitality, improved employment opportunities, expansion of the tax base and the creation of wealth in Berrien County.

 

In five years under Cleveland’s leadership, Cornerstone Alliance has helped Berrien County companies add nearly 900 new jobs, while investing more than $155 million in Michigan’s Great Southwest.  He is the architect of talent attraction initiatives like Move to Michigan, which garnered national recognition for receiving over 2,500 applications for those seeking to relocate to Berrien County.  Cleveland also proposed the Homegrown Undergrad and Graduate Education (HUGE) incentive that would phase-in income tax for recent graduates of Michigan colleges and universities.

 

Previously, Cleveland was the Director of Economic Development and Community Affairs at Indiana Michigan Power (AEP), where he led the company's business attraction, retention and expansion activities. Prior to joining I&M, Cleveland was the Executive Director of the Blackford County EDC. While in Blackford County, Cleveland assisted more than a dozen companies in new investment of more than $53 million - representing more than 10% of the entire net Assessed Value of Blackford County.

 

Prior to joining the BCEDC, Cleveland served as a Public Relations Specialist with Andretti Green Racing, where he worked with Indianapolis 500 winners Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti. Cleveland began his professional career as a Video Coordinator and Scout with the Indiana Pacers (NBA) and Indiana Fever (WNBA). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Administration from Ball State University. Cleveland and his wife, Susan, reside in Berrien County (Mich.) with their three children.

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JoAnn
Crary

JoAnn Crary is the President of Saginaw Future, a non-profit economic development organization. She has held that position since 1993. Crary has a Bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University and a graduate degree from Central Michigan University. She is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional. In 2015, Crary received the Fellow Member and Honorary Life Member designations by the International Economic Development Council.

 

Crary was the 2015 Board Chair of the 5000-member International Economic Development Council and in that role, she focused on Inclusive Economic Development. It was a top priority of the IEDC Board, the Economic Development Research Partners and work of an Equity Committee, which identified policy issues, solutions and tools around economic opportunity. Widening the circle for economic inclusiveness continues to play an important role in IEDC’s strategic plan today. JoAnn remains involved in IEDC as is a member of the 2021 Nominating Committee, the Economic Development Research Partners and Co-chair of the Succession Planning Committee.

 

JoAnn is a member of the Economic Development Leaders for Michigan and the MEDC’s Collaborative Development Council, an advisory group to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation leadership. In 2016, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder appointed JoAnn to serve on the 21 st Century Economy Commission to help recommend a vision for Michigan’s economic future and in 2017, the Governor appointed Crary to serve on the Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control. Ms. Crary also serves on the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, CMU Medical Education Board, Huntington Bank Market Area Board, City of Saginaw Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Mobile Medical Response Board of Directors, City of Saginaw Hospital Bond Development Authority, Saginaw County Career & Technical Education Consortium Committee and the Great Lakes Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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Maureen
Donohue Krauss

Maureen Donohue Krauss serves as the President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Partnership (DRP), a leading regional economic development nonprofit serving the Detroit 11-county region.

 

Krauss is an accomplished Economic Development Officer with a demonstrated history of leadership in economic development, non-profit and government; in addition to extensive experience in guiding international companies to successful location decisions and growth in the United States.

 

Prior to her role at the Detroit Regional Partnership, Krauss was elected as the first Chief Economic Development Officer at the Indy Chamber, where she managed Accelerate Indy, a regional economic development plan announced by the Indianapolis Chamber.

 

While working at the Indianapolis Chamber, Krauss was responsible for providing leadership on programs and initiatives encouraging innovation and helping enhance business growth and acceleration. She focused on a nine-county region, with 2.3 million people, and 83 governments and municipalities as well as led the Amazon HQ2 bid for Indianapolis, resulting in the region becoming a finalist in the national competition.

 

Her journey as an economic development leader didn’t start in Indy. Before joining the Indy Chamber, Krauss served as Vice President of Economic Development and Business Attraction at the Detroit Regional Chamber. She was responsible for strategy, operations and projects of the Chamber's Business Attraction program, a key part of the Chamber's economic development program portfolio.

 

She also worked for Oakland County Department of Economic Development and Community Affairs, an award-winning county agency for 13 years, where she led a team of over 100 staff -- often traveling overseas on business attraction missions. She also participated in more than 60 trade missions in the past 18 years and continues to advance within the economic development space by serving on numerous boards and committees.

Board and Membership Timeline

  • Krauss served as the President of the Michigan Economic Developers Association, along with  serving three terms on the MEDA board.
     

  • She is an active member of the German American and French American Chamber of Commerce  and is on the Board of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce of Detroit, the Italian  American Business and Technology Council, and the British American Business Council.
     

Awards and Recognitions 

  • Past recipient of the Arizona Economic Developer of the Year Award 

  • Received the Mike Conboy Professional Development Award from the Michigan Economic Developer’s Association 

  • Coordinated the development of platforms for marketing the region and led the region’s Top 20 Amazon HQ2 proposal.

  • Has more than 30 years’ experience in economic development. 


​Education

  • Krauss earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Albion College and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. She is also a graduate of Leadership Detroit Class 30.

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Marty
Fittante

Marty Fittante began to lead InvestUP, the regions’ private sector-led regional economic organization, on January 1, 2019, where he has grown the investment base of the organization by over 75%. As CEO, he has engaged in business development and retention work in all 15 Upper Peninsula counties, and has advanced a data-driven focus for the organization’s strategic planning.

 

Before joining InvestUP, Fittante served on staff in the legislature for 14 years with stints as Chief of Staff to the 38th Senate District, which spans most of the Upper Peninsula, and as Policy Advisor to the Michigan House of Representatives. During his service to the legislature he managed three statewide task forces that addressed job creation, education, and agriculture, and helped manage passage of over 100 bills into law. He also worked on legislation that led to the Healthy Michigan Forestry Package, a partnership between the forest products industry and the environmental community to provide sustainable, responsible forest harvesting practices

 

In 2014, Fittante was named as the inaugural recipient of the Jon Farley Michigan Legislative Staff Award, which is given to the legislative staffer who provides extraordinary service and is motivated by a dedication to service and a desire to foster a legislative environment based on merit and results. 

 

Fittante is a graduate of Bay College, Ferris State University, and Wayne State University Law School. Following graduation from WSU, he spent thirteen years practicing law in the Upper Peninsula, with a focus on criminal defense and domestic relations. That work brought Fittante before Michigan’s trial courts in a number of jurisdictions, Michigan’s Appellate Courts, and once before the Michigan Supreme Court.

 

An Escanaba native, Fittante and his wife Lisa, live in Iron Mountain, where they own an accounting firm that serves small and medium sized businesses across the Upper Peninsula.
 

A lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers, Fittante’s other passions include captaining a pontoon boat, stand-up comedy, the latest electronic wizardry, and loving on “Mickey,” a four-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel.  His utopian vision includes one where he can outplay his wife on the golf course, where speed limits are advisory, and where his grandson didn’t affectionately nickname him “Sneaky G.”

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Kevin
Johnson

Kevin D. Johnson is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the city’s leading inclusive economic development driver. He has served as president and CEO since June 2018. 

 

Under Johnson’s leadership, the organization focuses on job creation, capital investment and small business growth for the City of Detroit. Access, inclusion and financial growth for all Detroiters form the foundation of all DEGC work.    

  

As president and CEO, Johnson spearheads DEGC’s economic development initiatives, including business attraction and retention, neighborhood small-business growth and international investment. In this role, Johnson builds upon 40-plus years of positive impact the DEGC has had on Detroit. Most recently, Johnson was integral in bringing Fiat Chrysler’s/ Stellantis $4.5 billion investment to Detroit, and with it thousands of Stellantis and supplier jobs.

   

A veteran of the industry, Johnson has served in both public and private economic-development positions throughout the U.S., including roles in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. In his most previous role at Invest Atlanta, Johnson led the economic development program for the city, helping to create jobs and generating billions of dollars in new capital investment. 

 

Johnson began his career nearly 30 years ago as the assistant county manager and Director of Economic Development for Caswell County (NC) Municipal Government. Throughout his career he has held a variety of leadership positions including president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, vice president of business development for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and vice president of business development for Research Triangle Foundation in North Carolina. 

 

Johnson received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Pre-Law from South Carolina State University. He received his Certified Economic Developer designation from the International Economic Development Council and has received numerous professional and community awards. Johnson was named one of the Top 50 Economic Developers of 2019 by Consultant Connect, a consulting agency designed to bridge the gap between economic developers and site consultants. He also serves as a member of the International Economic Development Council.

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Paul
Krutko

Paul Krutko has been Ann Arbor SPARK’s president and CEO since 2011. Ann Arbor SPARK is a public-private partnership of business, government and academic institutions working to create economic prosperity in the Ann Arbor area of innovation. In his role as CEO, he leads the organization’s efforts to expand the regional economy through initiatives to support entrepreneurs and early-stage companies accelerating their growth to full potential. SPARK curates and implements a strategic framework designed to maintain and to enhance the region's global competitiveness.

 

Paul has more than four decades of economic and community expertise. He led San Jose, California's economic development efforts in Silicon Valley where he served as chief development officer. He also had similar leadership roles in Cleveland Ohio and Jacksonville Florida. Paul founded Peloton Development, a consultancy devoted to advising businesses and municipal, regional, state and national governments on economic development and climate prosperity strategies and on creating high performing economic development leaders and teams.

 

In addition to his responsibilities as SPARK CEO, Paul Krutko was honored to serve as chair of the preeminent professional economic development organization in the world, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). Paul was founding chair of the Economic Development Research Partnership. He was designated a Honorary Life Member of IEDC in 2013. Paul is Chair of the Board of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) and will serve in that capacity in 2019- 2021. He is also Treasurer of the American Center for Mobility.

 

He earned a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Design degree from the University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture and Art in 1979.

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Sarah
Lucas

Sarah Lucas, AICP, has a 20-year career in community and economic development in small communities and rural areas in Michigan, leading a variety of cross-sector initiatives and planning efforts that have resulted in long-lasting coalitions, local and state policy change, and enhanced regional capacity for growth and investment. Currently, she serves as the CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership, Marquette County’s leading resource and advocate for economic development.

Prior to her work with Lake Superior Community Partnership, Sarah served as the Community Development Director for Networks Northwest, a 10-county regional planning agency in Northwest Lower Michigan; led the development of Housing North, a regional organization devoted to policy and communications solutions to housing needs in Northwest Lower Michigan; and, after relocating to Marquette in 2020, worked with the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) to develop a regional economic development plan for “building back stronger” in the region’s post-pandemic economy.

 

Sarah serves on a number of regional and statewide boards, including the Community and Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Economic Development Leaders of Michigan, and the Michigan Association of Planning, where she currently serves as Board President. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. 

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Jim
McBryde

As the President and CEO of the Middle Michigan Development Corporation (MMDC), Jim McBryde is responsible for developing the strategic vision and coordinating the economic development efforts in Isabella and Clare counties.

 

Prior to joining the MMDC, McBryde served for twelve years as Vice President, Governmental Affairs for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. While at MEDC, he achieved the successful passage of all of MEDC’s top legislative priorities along with twelve fully funded annual budgets for the MEDC. Before joining the MEDC, McBryde also served as the Interim Chair for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and as a Special Assistant for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

 

Prior to this, McBryde served for eight years in the Michigan House of Representatives, 99th District, having been first elected in 1990 and retiring at the end of 1998 due to term limits. He served on the House Appropriations Committee as Chair of the State Police and Military Affairs Subcommittee and Vice Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee.

 

McBryde received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Central Michigan University. Jim and his wife Kim have been married since 1987. They live in Mount Pleasant and have four wonderful daughters.

McBryde has received the following honors:

 

  • CMU Centennial Award in 1992 as one of Central Michigan University’s most distinguished alumni.

  • Legislator of the Year in 1994 by the Michigan Sheriffs Association.

  • Merit Service Award in 1995 by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

  • Distinguished Service Award in 2008 by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

  • Economic Developer of the Year Medalist Award in 2020 by the Michigan Economic Developers Association.

Fun Facts: Jim McBryde appeared as an extra in Star Wars Episode II (Diner Scene) and in Star Wars Episode III (Galaxy Opera House Scene).

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Jennifer
Owens

Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens delivers direct business attraction, expansion and retention services while providing overall leadership to the organization. Since joining the organization in 2013, she has helped various major business expansion and attraction projects. She has more than 15 years of leadership experience in business retention, expansion and attraction working at various state and local economic development positions throughout Michigan.

 

Prior to joining the Lakeshore Advantage team, Jennifer held the positions of vice president at Southwest Michigan First and principal of Consultant Connect, an organization that cultivates relationships between economic developers and location consultants. At Southwest Michigan First, Jennifer led the firm's new business attractionefforts. In addition, Jennifer held key positions at Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

 

Her accomplishments also led her to various awards and recognition, such as being named an Athena Award Finalist (2017), Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year Finalist (2015 & 2016), Corp Magazine Most Valuable Professional (2017) and Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan (2018). In her free time, Jennifer and her husband Mike enjoy spending time with their three action-packed and athletic sons.

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Jonas
Peterson

Jonas Peterson currently serves as CEO of Southwest Michigan First. In that role, he leads a talented team focused on strengthening the regional economy and positioning Southwest Michigan First as a national leader in economic and community development.

 

Prior to joining Southwest Michigan First, Peterson served as President and CEO of Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA). During his tenure, LVGEA quickly become one of the largest and most influential nonprofit business associations in Nevada. His team helped over 250 companies create more than 26,000 high-wage jobs and deliver $30 billion in economic impact throughout Southern Nevada. Some of the more notable projects include Virgin Hyperloop One, Barclays, Amazon, Tesla/Solar City, Boring Co., Switch, Google, and many others

 

Jonas received a M.P.S. in Community and Economic Development from Pennsylvania State University and a M.B.A. from North Dakota State University. He is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma (OUEDI), and a Certified Business Retention and Expansion Consultant. Additionally, he has completed Stanford University’s Executive Program, Oxford’s Executive Leadership Programme at the Saïd Business School, and the Nonprofit Leadership Series at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

 

Peterson currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the International Economic Development Council and has been recognized as an innovative economic development leader with expertise in talent management, policy, and advanced economic development systems. In 2019, he was recognized as Nevada’s Economic Developer of the Year. In 2013, he was named among an international group of “40 under 40” by Development Counsellors International, a New-York-based firm recognizing rising talent in economic development. In 2010, the Arizona Association for Economic Development recognized him as Economic Developer of the Year. And, in 2010, Peterson was recognized as the New Economic Development Practitioner of the Year by the International Economic Development Council.

 

Peterson resides in Richland, MI with his wife, Leah, and sons, Ethan and Lincoln.

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Randy
Thelen

As President & CEO of The Right Place, Inc., Randy leads economic development strategy through collaboration with local, State, and national organizations and stakeholders. His role is central to the organization’s core work of business retention, expansion, and attraction within the community, while aligning with The Right Place’s mission of driving sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity for all in the Greater Grand Rapids Region.

Randy joined The Right Place team in 2021 after serving as Senior Vice President of economic development at the Downtown Denver Partnership. There he led efforts to attract investment, recruit and retain business, and advocate for housing, retail, and public policy initiatives. He supported downtown projects totaling more than $1 billion in investments.
 

Prior to his role at the Downtown Denver Partnership, he led the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, a two-state, eight-county regional economic development effort. Randy executed a $24 million Prosper Omaha strategy which brought $3.9 billion in new capital investment and 13,000 new jobs to the area.

Randy’s career began at economic development organizations in Evart and Monroe, Michigan before he moved to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). From there, he was hired as the first President of Lakeshore Advantage, where he led attraction of $1.2 billion in investments and 8,000 jobs during his 10-year tenure.

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Bob
Trezise

Bob Trezise has been President and CEO of the regional non-profit economic agency called the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) for 10 years. During that time, over $3.1 billion in new direct investment has occurred with LEAP regional projects, ranging from high rise mixed use buildings in downtowns Lansing, East Lansing and Michigan Avenue, scores of high tech startup companies, major manufacturing plants and corporate headquarters landed from around the world, and over 175 new business creations.

At LEAP, Bob enhanced the region’s programming with Michigan State University (MSU), created a Place Making program, Poet Laureate program, an Entrepreneurial and Innovation Team, Dept of Equitable Economic Planning, an Attraction Team, the One&All entrepreneurial program focusing on individuals living below the working poverty line, a Youth Entrepreneur annual event, a state leading Business Accelerator Fund (BAF), an Insurtech private equity investment fund and created contracts for full services with the City of Lansing, Ingham County and the Regional SmartZone to manage and staff those economic development departments. Over this period, nearly 7000 direct jobs were created.

Recently, LEAP was named by Site Selection Magazine as one of the nation’s Top 20 producing economic development agencies.

 

Before LEAP, Bob was President and CEO of the city of Lansing’s Lansing Economic Development Corporation, Brownfield Authority and TIFA for six years. The city experienced historic levels of economic development, during that period, including the nationally recognized redevelopment of the downtown Ottawa Power Station plant into an international headquarters for Accident Fund. Bob also spent five years at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), where he helped create and lead the Michigan Main Street program and the Community Assistance Team (CAT Team).

Bob also worked as VP for Capital Choice at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and was the Coordinator and Founder of Delta Township’s economic development program. During those times, Bob played a significant role in the Retain GM effort and in creating a unique auto supplier system related to Retain GM effort.

Bob has been named by the Michigan Economic Developer’s Association (MEDA) as the Economic Development Medalist of the Year for Michigan and the President’s Award, a Top 50 Economic Developer in North America by Consultant Connect and has received numerous Gold and Silver awards for projects from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the National Brownfield Association. It is possible that Bob and his teams, over 25 years, are responsible for over $10 billion in economic development throughout his career in the Lansing market.

 

Bob is married to Kerri, has four kids and is a published poet.