Experts to delve into ways to improve Michigan’s economy


DETROIT — Economic development experts and business leaders from around the state will gather Oct. 16 at the Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Michigan Financing Roundtable, a daylong conference devoted to creating new models for funding development.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority headquarters, 130 E. Atwater St., Detroit.

The economic development finance experts will discuss new development finance tools, agencies and approaches on how to help Michigan’s economy go forward.

“Port Detroit has always been an economic engine for the region,” said John Kerr, economic development director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority. “Our port annually has a multimillion-dollar impact on the state in tax revenue, vendor services and trade.”

Michigan’s ports are an integral component of the state’s transportation infrastructure, providing access to the global marketplace via the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

“We continue to devise strategic plans that will enhance the state’s economy using the tools we have at the Port Authority,” said DWCPA Executive Director John Jamian. “We lure cruise ships to improve our tourism, and we market our dock as an import hub for commercial products.

“We also have unique methods of financing development, which we feel could continue to diversify our role in Southeast Michigan.”

R.J. King, editor of DBusiness, will serve as the master of ceremonies during luncheon activities.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Great Lakes Capital Fund will unveil two new development finance programs for the state at the conference.

Other key contributors will be Paul Brown, MEDC’s senior vice president; Michael Flanagan, manager of MEDC’s Equity Capital Programs; Eric Hanna of MEDC’s Capital Services Associate-Debt Programs; and Brian Holdwick, executive vice president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Jean Carter Ryan, president of the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority, and Thomas J. Winston, vice president-administration and chief financial officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, will discuss ways Ohio has financed development.

Besides Jamian and Kerr of DWCPA, speakers will include Toby Rittner, president and CEO of the Council of Development Finance Agencies; David Lick of Foster Swift Collins & Smith; Sally Talberg, manager of program design and implementation at Michigan Saves; and Kristi Z. Eberhardt, director of PNC Capital Markets;

Also speaking will be Craig Hammond of Dickinson Wright; Donald J. Hart, managing director of Stern Brothers & Co.; John Kamins, public finance chair of Foster Swift Collins & Smith; Skip SIMMs, vice president of entrepreneurial business development at Ann Arbor SPARK; Steve Klein, managing principal of First Infrastructure; Brian Cooper, director of Robert W. Baird & Co; and Kara Wood, Grand Rapids’ economic development,