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Posted on Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Bank of Ann Arbor's Tim Marshall appointed chairman of Ann Arbor SPARK

By Lizzy Alfs

Bank of Ann Arbor CEO Tim Marshall is the new chairman of Ann Arbor SPARK’s board of directors, the economic development group announced at its annual meeting Monday.

Marshall has been serving as vice chairman for the past two years. He replaces Stephen Forrest, the University of Michigan’s vice president for research, as chairman.

Tim Marshall.jpg

Bank of Ann Arbor CEO Tim Marshall.

SPARK’s board of directors meets annually and provides broad direction for the organization. The group also has an executive committee, which meets every other month and provides regular guidance and oversight.

Other new board appointments: Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president of government relations for U-M, is vice chairwoman; David Parsigian, partner in Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, is secretary; Trevor Lauer, vice president of marketing for DTE Energy Co., is treasurer.

Marshall was also appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Community Depositary Institution Advisory Council in February.

SPARK, which was co-founded in 2005 by Gov. Rick Snyder, released its annual report Monday, saying its core operating budget is about $4.4 million. That figure comes from tax dollars via the Local Development Finance Authority, Washtenaw County, the city of Ann Arbor and other local municipalities, the University of Michigan, and financing from private businesses and nonprofit organizations.

(Editor's note: Executive Vice President Laurel Champion serves on Ann Arbor SPARK's Executive Committee.)

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Hello Folks -- hidden in 'reply' is this gem: "Patrick 10:09 PM on 5/22/2012 Actually I was the CPA who did their audit from 07 to 09 - the audit matches the 990 return as required by professional standards. The figures on the 990 are the same on the audit." OK, Patrick -- yes, but how about the detail? Sums don't work as well each line in a full accounting. Patrick -- any thoughts on why SPARK is so, so, so reluctant to share the audits? Please? I worked for lots of non-profits and most funders looked at your 990 before even talking to you, but demanded and required your audit before giving you a decent grant. Since us taxpayers (Washtenaw, A2) are the funders -- shouldn't we have the same full disclosure access? Look forward to your answer.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

Patrick - the 990s only tell you a few things (pretty minimal). A 990 is a skeleton compared to an audit. Take a look at a 990 and tell me if you would 'invest' in a company based on that kind of information. AND 990s are 'self reported' and subject to fudging. And if an organization lies? Well: ""Historically, prosecution has been very rare or nonexistent," said Washington, D.C., attorney Marcus Owens, who served 10 years as director of the IRS' Exempt Organizations Division." Read more: SPARK is only sometimes a 'non-profit' - ask for their audit and see how far you get. They will tell you they are 'private' (despite taking thousands from us taxpayers) and don't need to release anything to the people who fund them. But go ahead and ask and please tell us what they told you.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Actually I was the CPA who did their audit from 07 to 09 - the audit matches the 990 return as required by professional standards. The figures on the 990 are the same on the audit.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

Spark is a non profit - books are always open. Their 990 federal tax return can be found on the internet and has all the info you need to see how it operates.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

But why can't they give a hard number on how many jobs have been created, where those jobs are, what do they pay or offer employees in the way of benefits? The way I see it the operating budget of $4.4 million pays for some pretty good exec salaries. SPARK also sounds like an elite corporate exec merry go round where you get to make government contacts to further an individuals executive career. You kind of like Roger Fraser moving from Ann Arbor to Lansing to be Snyder's EFM manager.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

It would nice to think that some accountability and transparency might miraculously appear but it looks like more of the same old phony numbers, self congratulatory crony network stuff. No open books, same old lies and I'll be pulling my money out his bank; enough is enough and if that's the way his bank does business then I'll find an honest bank. And more fluff from - that's almost worse - having to read this stuff where no one takes even one hard look, asks one hard question. Like this one: If you have nothing to hide then open up the books and get an accounting of the jobs created from an independent outside source. But they obviously have a lot to hide (and to protect the Guv and MEDC boss, etc.).


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

SPARK is a one way siphon of public money into private bank accounts. SPARK provides no accounting of their spending but plenty of corporate-speak buzzwords.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

Guessing the books still won't be open for public inspection seeing as Ann Arbor and local tax dollars are going to fund it?