ANN ARBOR— At its annual meeting, Ann Arbor SPARK reported on the organization’s 2011 activities and its plans for 2012. The organization also hosted Jeffrey Finkle, president and CEO of the International Economic Development Council, who offered insight on global economic development trends and best practices.
“Over the last year, Ann Arbor SPARK affirmed its commitment to understanding what drives economic opportunity in the region, and, based on that intelligence, found ways to strengthen those services that make a difference and introduced new services to fill any gaps,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “We met with business leaders and our collaborative partners, and we took inventory of the services that we offer.”
“The most important result of Ann Arbor SPARK’s efforts in the last year was recognition that it’s the region’s talent and quality of place that drive economic opportunity,” Krutko added. “These attributes attract companies and are how great companies start. Talent and quality of place are why companies choose to locate and expand here.”
Ann Arbor SPARK’s board meeting included the appointment of new officers and new working committees. New officers are: chair, Timothy Marshall, president and CEO, Bank of Ann Arbor; vice chair, Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president of government relations, University of Michigan; secretary, David Parsigian, Esq., partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP; and treasurer, Trevor Lauer, vice president, marketing, DTE Energy. New working committees are focused on business development, talent, entrepreneurial programs, investments and the public sector.
At the annual meeting, Krutko reported that throughout 2011 he had one-on-one meetings with more than 100 business leaders in Ann Arbor who shared their challenges and opportunities. These candid conversations informed SPARK’s strategic plan for moving forward. These conversations are also the basis for “Conversations on Economic Opportunity”, a new podcast series that makes the insight of regional business leaders available to all.
Efforts to market the region to prospective talent and employers were highlighted at the Ann Arbor SPARK annual meeting. These marketing efforts include collaborating with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau on a Pure Michigan campaign that markets the region both as a tourist and business destination. Ann Arbor SPARK also launched a series of videos that talk about the services it provides, to better inform and attract potential clients.
Krutko also discussed establishing a presence in Livingston County to broaden Ann Arbor SPARK’s efforts to help relocating and expanding businesses thrive in the region.
Attendees to the annual meeting were given a copy of Ann Arbor SPARK’s 2011 annual report, which details the organization’s activities and results. The annual report is available on Ann Arbor SPARK’s website.