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Posted on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Mike Finney ready to present recommendations for Michigan's economic future to Rick Snyder on Friday

By Paula Gardner

The most obvious move in Michigan business circles happened on Monday, when Gov.-elect Rick Snyder named Michael Finney as the next CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The move was a natural for Finney, who for 5 years led Ann Arbor SPARK from a startup to a statewide job-creation force amid the worst economic downturn in generations.

Finney’s strengths are his strategic vision and his ability to forge collaboration in a competitive arena, his colleagues at SPARK say.

But another Finney trait already is evident in Lansing: Getting the job done.

Finney, appointed by Snyder to his transition team, already has spent 6 weeks digging into the MEDC, the communities in Michigan where its work is either most evident - or needs to be - and forming his own action plan for what needs to be done to revive this state’s business climate. The timing is crucial: In less than a year, the state will be preparing a 2012 budget estimated to have a $1.6 billion shortfall.

Monday’s move made official what many in Michigan expected from Snyder. The MEDC board will make finalize the step in January, after it convenes under the new administration.

Yet Finney came out of Monday’s meeting to announce his new position with one pressing goal: Presenting his list of 20-30 recommendations that the MEDC needs to accomplish.

“I’ve talked to hundreds of people from every corner of the state,” Finney said late Monday afternoon, as he was leaving Lansing.

That includes MEDC staff, whom he calls some of the highly educated, knowlegable people he’s met.

The result is an impression of what MEDC does well and what it doesn’t, and what he’ll need to do to change the balance when he takes over his new role.

Because he’s presenting it to Snyder and the rest of the transition team on Friday, he wouldn’t go into detail on Monday.

But he spoke of being ready to present it - and then to act.

And at the top of his list was increasing the transparency and communication in the office.

“I need to be sure that economic developers around the state are participating in the process so they have ownership (of the results),” he said. “That hasn’t always been the case.”

And he says he needs to “build a can-do culture in the organization.”

“The good things we’ve done, we’re going to build on,” Finney said. “The not so good, we’re going to replace.”

In addition, those smart people in the MEDC office will receive clear vision from Finney and Snyder for what needs to be accomplished. And then they’ll be turned loose to deliver it.

Snyder speaks frequently of the need to remake Michigan’s culture so that we believe we can win at economic development after years of suffering the worst of the downturn.

That focus on letting smart people create their way to delivering the vision of leadership is one that’s worked for both Snyder as an entrepreneur and Finney as an economic developer who broadened his role at Ann Arbor SPARK to see the possibilities for all of Michigan.

At the same time, he spoke Monday of focusing on the needs of his customers, too. And that means the businesses of Michigan, the ones that already exist here and have a stake in improving the state’s economies via their individual success.

He also spoke of talent, one of the key words heard from him over recent years at SPARK, as he elevated the role that people - the right people with the right educations for tomorrow’s economy - will play in our rebirth.

What he didn’t talk about - and what he hasn’t, as the job was offered to him - is the pay or benefits he’ll receive in the new role. While he’s earned $259,000 per year at SPARK, the MEDC job paid $200,000 last year, and Snyder is talking about cutting public payroll.

It’s the vision for what he’ll create at the MEDC driving his attention right now, Finney said, not the personal benefits. Those will be resolved eventually, he said. “I’m not concerned about it.”

He’s aiming for Friday, when his direction will be endorsed by Snyder and his team.

And he’s using his experience in Ann Arbor as a foundation for what he’ll build for Michigan moving forward.

“I’m excited,” he said Monday. “I’m appreciative of all of the positive experiences I had in Ann Arbor.

“I think the Ann Arbor region has served as a tremendous pilot of what we can do and accomplish at the state level.”

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

@braggslaw. Snyder just gave Finney a $50,000 raise to head the MEDC. I call that a pretty generous handout. Why not pay him a percentage for each job he "creates"? By your way of thinking that would be his incentive. Pay him for substantiated results!


Mon, Dec 20, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

God bless every one!


Mon, Dec 20, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

Enjoy! A wise cynic was asked - "How long do you hope to live?" He responded - "Long enough to be a burden on someone else!" Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Afternoon!


Mon, Dec 20, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

You've convinced me... 2 and half years being on the dole looks pretty good. I am going to get fired and let other people take care of me. I have been looking forward to fishing every day.


Mon, Dec 20, 2010 : 12:07 a.m.

Well, it is unfortunate that most of the rest of the world is so imperfect, and that all these imperfect people make such imperfect decisions - but that's life. Don't give up on Social Security just yet - a lot of folks who thought they were making all the right decisions prior to the stock market crash will be glad it's still around when they start retiring in a few years. Aside from that, no one gets out of this life alive, no matter how perfect their decisions, so in the end we all the same, pushing the same daisies. Hope you get to have some fun sometime... life is too short to take so seriously.


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 11:11 p.m.

Wow! the toxic stench of entitlement rears its ugly head. The red herring of military spending is again brought up... The bottom line is that you want to take money that other people earned for yourself. The bottom line for me is that I want to keep more of the money I earn. (I have zero hope of ever getting back what I paid into social security and medicare) You can decide on the morality of taking money from people who worked for it to give to people who did not work for it. Nobody ever gave me anything. To reiterate from a previous post: "EARN" means: "Earn" means going too school for 11 years. "Earn" means busting my butt, working while going to school. "Earn" means never taking a dime of public assistance or unemployment. "Earn" means making good choices (personally and financially) "Earn" means NOT looking at somebody else's wealth and believing I should be be entitled to a portion of their wealth. "Earn" means waiting until my wife and I were financially stable to have children so she could stay home and take care of the kids (in our thirties) without taking a dime of public assistance. "Earn" means paying for my own insurance. "Earn" means planning for my retirement (without the benefit of social security) and socking away 20% of my income even though it reduces my present living standard. "Earn" means living within my means and not taking a subrate mortage on a house I cannot afford. "Earn" means having a nest egg so I can make it through a recession.


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 10:44 p.m.

I have always thought of taxes as the price of admission to the good, old, USA. The debate over how to spend them (or not) is one of the oldest ones around. I would rather spend SOME on things like job retraining, than ALOT on a very expensive war in Iraq, for example - a war that most believe was ill-advised if not completely unnecessary. Or ALOT on the banksters, brokesters, and other financial criminals infesting Wall Street. Doubtless, they would have a good laugh at the suggestion they actually EARNED all that money by engaging in financial slights-of-hand euphemistically known as "trading". But, lo and behold, because they are "too big to fail", we can socialize their losses, at the same time their profits remain privatized. There are tons of "unearned income" out there that is never taxed. Just ask the drug cartels!


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

The MONEY the govt has is taken from people who EARNED it See above for the definition of earn


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

Why do people always look to the govt. to give them "MONEY" "'Cause that's where the money is", as Willy Sutton said. It also helps that they own the printing press. "Why can't people earn their own "MONEY"" They were laid-off by their previous employers, which is why they need to "retrain" in the first place. "So if the issue is "MONEY" there is always an avenue but then again there is always an excuse." For some, money is never an issue. For most of us it always will be, one way or another.


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

"MONEY"? Why do people always look to the govt. to give them "MONEY" Why can't people earn their own "MONEY" With reference to student loans, a sibling of mine went back to school and loans were available. Not Stafford loans that were subsidized but student loans none the less. Community college is about as cheap as you get. So if the issue is "MONEY" there is always an avenue but then again there is always an excuse.


Sat, Dec 18, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

I have no problem with jobs and personal responsibility - and for some, the jobs you noted might provide a solution, if they have the ability, aptitude, interest, AND the MONEY. Government has role to play there, just as they do with students - grants, loans, and so on. Kind of like Michigan's "No Worker Left Behind" program, which was a start, but not enough. Employers should help provide job retraining, as well - although many seem to be more interested in laying-off older workers, than in retraining them. "Compassionless people trying to be rich" sounds like a new form of trickle-down economics, although it does sometimes happen coincidentally. At any rate, without employers and government providing some retraining assistance, many of those jobs you referenced, will remain vacant.


Sat, Dec 18, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

I have seen more people saved by compassionless people trying to become rich than clueless do-gooders. Jobs, personal responsiblity etc. always trump handouts.


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 11:36 p.m.

Reality is what it is. Many are suffering in this economy, and compassion is a virtue - I hope you find some, sometime. Social Darwinism will not solve these problems, merely exacerbate them.


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

I suppose if you are looking for reasons to fail you will always find them Excuses are.........excuses


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 6:44 p.m.

No doubt there is a mismatch of skill sets with the "hot" jobs of today - but even as we speak there are thousands of people training to fill them. There are two year waits at some community colleges for some of the more popular certificate programs. Over time, what's "hot" changes dramatically - for example, in the early 90s, being a teacher was the equivalent of being a nurse today - lots of jobs, a mini-baby boom, job mobility. Then, along came the tech boom, and lots of computer-related jobs. So, why not just retrain every 10-20 years or so?! Some have, probably, but for many who have lost jobs, survival is a priority, and if you are an older worker, say 55 or more, you may not be desirable regardless of training, not to mention that you will be even older, by the time you finish retraining... and waiting for retraining etc. See the NY Times article, reprinted on CNBC a couple months ago - the title says it all - "Unemployed and Over 50 - Fears of Never Working Again,"


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

From MSN: With the U.S. unemployment rate now above 10 percent, millions of Americans are searching for new careers. A strange paradox currently exists, however. There are also many empty jobs that remain unfilled. So what's the problem? According to economists and hiring managers, the main problem is finding candidates with the right career training for jobs in emerging fields like energy, health care, and engineering. Some of these careers require only one to two years of training, while others call for a four-year degree, but one fact remains clear: These new industries are here to stay. Investing in continuing education or career training might be a small price to pay to stay in the game for years to come. Below are some of the hottest careers in need of qualified professionals. Environmental Science Technician As scientific procedures have become more complex, the role of science technicians has steadily increased. Technicians not only solve problems in research and development, but also are specially trained in operating and maintaining laboratory equipment. Environmental science technicians perform their work with the goal of determining, alleviating, or controlling environmentally harmful substances. Job growth for environmental science technicians is expected to be much faster than average from 2006 to 2016. The most common job requirement is a two-year associate's degree in science-related technology. Average Annual Salary: $43,180. Electrical Engineer Electrical equipment of all kinds is developed, designed, and tested by electrical engineers. From lighting to electric motors to the wiring of buildings, electrical engineers shine new light on the way we live and work. Most electrical engineers specialize in an area like power systems engineering or electrical equipment manufacturing. A bachelor's degree in engineering, with a specialty in electrical engineering, is usually a requirement for entry-level jobs. Average Annual Salary: $85,350. Internal Auditor Following a rash of corporate scandals coupled with the current financial crisis, companies are cracking down on waste, fraud, and mismanagement. Internal auditors evaluate an organization's financial and information systems while keeping an eye on efficiency and productivity. They also evaluate organizational compliance with corporate and government regulations. A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is a good idea for auditors. Some colleges offer programs specifically geared towards internal auditing. Certification as a certified internal auditor (CIA) also boosts credibility and hiring potential. Average Annual Salary: $65,840. Management Accountant For many accountants, there has been a professional shift away from merely preparing tax documents. Management accountants work for businesses, recording, and analyzing their financial information. They also prepare budgets, financial reports, and cost management strategies. Management accountants often work as part of an executive team and communicate with company heads, stockholders, creditors, and regulatory agencies on a regular basis. Employment of accountants is expected to grow by 18 percent over the next seven years. A bachelor's degree in accounting or finance is usually required, and those who have certification as a certified public accountant (CPA) or other professional certifications should have the best opportunities. Average Annual Salary: $65,840. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer As sonography grows in popularity, and in some cases becomes preferable to radiologic procedures, there is a growing demand for sonographers. Diagnostic sonography helps in diagnosing ailments of all kinds, using high frequency sound waves to assess a particular part of the body. Sonographers are specially trained to use this equipment and evaluate the results. They also interact with patients, keep detailed records, and maintain sonography equipment. Most employers prefer to hire registered sonographers who have trained for the position by earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in X-ray technology or a closely-related field. In some cases, those already working in the health care field can earn a one-year certificate that may suffice for entry-level sonography positions. Average Annual Salary: $62,660. Cardiovascular Technologist These technologists assist physicians in diagnosing heart and blood vessel ailments. Their day-to-day duties often include scheduling appointments, explaining procedures to patients, and maintaining equipment. Cardiovascular technologists generally specialize in one of three areas: invasive cardiology, echocardiography, or vascular technology. This career is expected to see much faster than average job growth in coming years, with 26 percent growth expected. Most cardiovascular technologists have an associate's degree in x-ray or cardiovascular technology. Certification is also available, but is not always required. Average Annual Salary: $48,640. Like it or not, it seems unlikely that outmoded industries will be making a comeback anytime soon. Rather than hitting your head against a career wall, consider training for a new career in an emerging field. The time spent may be rewarded in a fulfilling new career and an end to your lay-off worries.


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 7:08 a.m.

Let me rephrase: In the USA privileged elite = smart hard working people who attained MARKETABLE skills in areas that others did not. There are 6 million open jobs in the U.S. that cannot be filled because there are no qualified people.


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

There are plenty of smart, hard-working people who are struggling to get by these days, many of them unemployed or worse, so I'm not sure I agree with your definition of "privileged elite". The folks I had in mind are more like the spoiled, clueless, trust-fund offspring of some of those smart, hard-working people - an abundant species here on the UM campus, and elsewhere in Ann Arbor, for that matter.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 6:34 p.m.

In the USA privileged elite = smart hard working people who attained skills in areas that others did not. Of all the countries in the world, the USA has the most opportunity for those who come from nothing and work their way up.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 5:15 p.m.

... Hah! And we all know how "Let them eat cake..." turned out for the privileged elites. I do believe most talented geeks prefer more temperate climes than what we have here... brrrrrrrrrrr!


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 4:51 p.m.

"... That focus on letting smart people create their way... worked for both Snyder as an entrepreneur and Finney as an economic developer who broadened his role... to see the possibilities for all of Michigan...." Do Snyder and Finney plan to leverage the powers of state government to provide subsidies, big tax breaks, and other special, state-financed benefits for "their" people, who run high-tech industries and startups? Will the rest of this state's large population have to wait long years to see whether or not any drops of such trickle-down economics happen to fall their way? Before then, will the state slash programs that don't directly aid high-tech elites? In relation to this, expect the promotion of a caste system in which a limited subset of talented geeks with specialized skills — and access to venture capital — are placed high up on pedestals for singular acclaim and public admiration. Horatio Alger mythology will be reinvented for a digital era. "... Is it society's duty to provide jobs to those who have no skills?..." No! ... Let them eat cake.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

Doesn't Finney pull down more around $200k annually? Finney has done pretty well at the public trough, but we hear more complaints about overpaid local public employees than we do about how many tax dollars go to top earners in positions of dubious necessity. And how many jobs, net number jobs, and facts please, has SPARK produced during its existence and how much public money has it spent to "produce" each job? The MEDC is little more than SPARK at the state level and will probably produce as many real jobs as SPARK. At least the privately employed administrators of our public dollars will do pretty good under the Nerd, but the lower paid, hourly workers with few if any benefits will gain anything from SPARK or the MEDC. It's just another giveaway of public money to the already fat private sector.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 2:37 p.m.

Is it society's duty to provide jobs to those who have no skills? Or is it a citizen's duty to attain skills that society requires?


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 12:20 p.m.

I am sure that the 640,000 plus unemployed citizens of Michigan wish Mr. Finney success in his endeavor to improve Michigan's economy. Hopefully, Mr. Finney will recognize that most of those who are jobless are not engineers nor possess other highly technical skills required to fill positions in the fledgling "cutting edge" entrepreneurial cottage industries projected to reinvigorate employment in Michigan. BTW, Mr. Finney's salary differential is unlikely to leave his as a pauper.

Tim Darton

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Finney has done a fine job for Ann Arbor and though the city will miss him it is easy to understand why the new Governor wants him at MEDC. Starting Spark was another smart move by the city/county/UM.