Ann Arbor SPARK and CVBs Team Up with MEDC for National Marketing

Ann Arbor SPARK and the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Ypsilanti Area CVB, are leading a new $1 million Pure Michigan advertising campaign that promotes the region, nationally.  The unique pilot program will market Washtenaw County by leveraging key tourism and economic development assets.

The multimedia campaign is supported by $500,000 from MEDC’s Pure Michigan initiative and more than $400,000 from the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s marketing fund.  It will include national television advertising, articles on the Pure Michigan website, and a promotional video on the Ann Arbor SPARK website.  Ann Arbor SPARK and its partners will also organize a press tour of the region for journalists from around the country.

“The time is absolutely right to promote Ann Arbor: There’s growing buzz, nationally, and partnering with Pure Michigan opens up marketing opportunities that would be cost-prohibitive for the region on its own,” said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.  “National media is taking note of the qualities that make Ann Arbor a destination where people and businesses can thrive.  This collaborative marketing effort promotes one of the state’s shining economic stars.”

Through its economic development activities, Ann Arbor SPARK promotes the broader Washtenaw County area as a destination where people want to live and work, and where businesses want to relocate and expand.

This new effort follows three years of the Ann Arbor Area CVB and the Ypsilanti Area CVB successfully marketing the Ann Arbor area through the MEDC Pure Michigan campaign. “This pilot program gives us an opportunity to reach a much larger audience than we have previously with our regional campaigns. It’s exciting to showcase Washtenaw County on a national platform, extending to bigger markets such as Chicago and New York,” said Mary Kerr, president of the Ann Arbor Area CVB. “Ann Arbor has world-class cultural offerings, excellent dining and entertainment, combined with family-friendly recreational opportunities. It’s a great place to visit, a great place to live, and a great place to do business. This collaborative marketing effort helps us tell this important story to a broader audience and attract positive attention to the Ann Arbor area.”

“Like tourism marketing, economic development attracts attention to what Ann Arbor has to offer, and creates demand for Ann Arbor as a destination; both are about people: Tourists, visitors, students, families, business owners, job-seekers,” said Donna Doleman, Ann Arbor SPARK vice president, marketing and talent.  “Businesses want to locate in a desirable location where they can hire and attract workers, including those who would relocate for a job. This new marketing partnership allows us to scale and amplify our economic development and business attraction efforts.”

To support the campaign, MEDC will contribute $500,000 from its Pure Michigan funds, with a matching amount from the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Ann Arbor SPARK.


Liebherr-Aerospace expands facility, adds 20 jobs

Liebherr-Aerospace, located in Saline, is adding 33,000 sq ft to its existing 100,000 sq ft facility.  As part of the company’s expansion, it will also add 15-20 new jobs.  This expansion will help the company accommodate increased demand for its services.

“Liebherr-Aerospace is able to expand in the Ann Arbor region, in part, because of its access to highly skilled, technical talent,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO.  “The region’s talent base provides a distinct competitive advantage for manufacturers and service providers; Ann Arbor is rich with the ingredients that businesses of all sizes need to grow.  Ann Arbor SPARK is pleased to have worked with Liebherr and the City of Saline in securing economic incentives to support this expansion.”

According to its website, Liebherr is a supplier of technically innovative user-oriented products and services in numerous fields.

Liebherr will start its expansion soon, with completion scheduled for spring 2012. has a great article on the expansion, including additional details on hiring and the company’s operations.

Finding a Good Crop of Employees: NPR Offers Up Close Look at Michigan’s Agriculture Economy

A recent “Changing Gears” series on Michigan Radio explored Michigan’s agriculture economy.  In part five of the five part series, SPARK president and CEO Paul Krutko offers that “prospective workers want to take jobs in places where they know there are more jobs.”

With his insight, Krutko explains that agriculture talent — and the needs of this population — are no different that the needs of high tech workers or any other type of talent that a business would want to attract.  SPARK’s position is that talent is critical to a healthy economy and has dedicated programs to attract and retain workers in our community.

Listen to the entire story on Michigan’s Radio’s website.

Reflection on the IEDC Annual Conference: Day One

When I left Sunday morning at 8:00 am for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2010 Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio I didn’t realize how much I would really see and learn over the next 4 days.  Over the next four days, I’ll post reflections on my experience.

Day 1
My first experience at IEDC was attending the conference for the Rural/Agriculture Focus – Union County tour. Agriculture is such a strong industry in Washtenaw County and Michigan, and the tour showed several examples of how Michigan can benefit and further develop a strong industry from our natural resources.

With the temperature having dropped into the 60’s I was definitely ready to get inside and attend the Chairman’s “Tailgate” Reception. Now the IEDC encouraged everyone to wear their tailgate attire but I left my maize and blue at home knowing I was in buckeye country. I played it safe and wore maroon and gold for Central Michigan University. As I walked into a sea of red, grey, and buckeyes I knew it was going to be an interesting evening.

With our upcoming Austin, Texas trip, I quickly introduced myself to Steve Vierck of Angelou Economics, a global economic development and site consultant agency. They have been working on the Ford Wixom energy plant project which was a pleasant surprise. As we know, this deal will impact Ann Arbor.   Another great connection was with Rob White and Catherine Hagebusch with Livermore California Economic Development. Catherine was honorable mention New Economic Development Professional of the Year. They had some great insight into the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a desire to collaborate with the University of Michigan. The event concluded with The Ohio State alumni band performing and a cheer I would become very familiar with, “O-H” followed by “I-O”. For those that didn’t get enough networking at the tailgate, the night continued with a Young Professionals event at a local pub.

Come back tomorrow to read all about day 2 of my IEDC experience!

New Board of Directors Announced at Annual Meeting

New members to the Ann Arbor SPARK board of directors are Dr. Susan W. Martin, president, Eastern Michigan University, and John Hieftje, mayor, City of Ann Arbor.  New to the Ann Arbor SPARK executive committee are Elliot Forsyth, senior vice president, human resources and operations, ProQuest, Jan Garfinkle, managing director, Arboretum Ventures, Leigh R. Greden, executive director of government and community relations, Eastern Michigan University, Verna McDaniel, Washtenaw County administrator, Michael Staebler, attorney at law, Pepper Hamilton LLP, and Maria Thompson, local entrepreneur who was most recently president of A123’s Ann Arbor operations.

Ann Arbor SPARK also announced the 2010 officers at its annual meeting. Stephen Forrest, vice president for research, University of Michigan is board chairman.  Tim Marshall, president and CEO, Bank of Ann Arbor, is vice chairman. David Parsigian, partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP will serve as the board of directors’ secretary.  Laurel Champion, executive vice president, was selected as treasurer of the board of directors.

All new Board of Directors and Executive Committee members were announced at SPARK’s annual meeting on May 20th.  The annual meeting also marked SPARK’s 5th year of business.

Terumo’s Scio Township expansion reflects global potential of its medical device technology’s Nathan Bomey joins Governor Granholm and Ann Arbor SPARK’s Mike Finney at Terumo’s expansion celebration today.

Japanese medical device maker Terumo Medical Corp.’s campus in Scio Township is a sprawling illustration of a growth pathway for global life sciences companies in the Ann Arbor region.

Terumo’s global sales success forced the company to expand its 55-acre campus on Jackson Road – a $3.5 million move officials marked today with a grand opening celebration.

The firm’s Terumo Cardiovascular Systems division now employs 367 workers in Scio and its Terumo Heart division now employs 130. Overall, both subsidiaries, collectively among Washtenaw County’s top 25 employers, have added more than 60 new employees over the last 18 months.

“Terumo is kind of a secret in a way,” said Mark Sutter, CEO of Terumo CVS. “We’ve been here for many years and we don’t talk about ourselves a lot. We could not exist without the great, great support we have in this community and in the state.”

Michael Finney, CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, said Terumo’s growth could make the company the region’s biggest private sector employer within 10 years.

Terumo’s latest expansion, which began in 2008, paves the way for the company to offer its DuraHeart product to the U.S. market. The device, which assists the heart’s left ventricular chamber in open-heart surgeries, was approved for sale in Europe in 2007 and is under consideration for approval in the U.S.

Read the full article:

Ann Arbor SPARK Assists Applicants with Recovery Zone Bonds

Ann Arbor SPARK is assisting applicants with funding available through Recovery Zone Economic Development and Facility Bonds.  Appropriated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Recovery Zone Bonds provide reduced rate financing and stimulate economic growth in Recovery Zones.

In Washtenaw County, over $33 million is available through the Recovery Zone Facility Bonds program.  An additional $17 million is available in the City of Ann Arbor through the Recovery Zone Facility Bonds program.


New Eagle Receives First Eastern Washtenaw Microloan Fund

We are pleased to announce that New Eagle, a technology-enabled service provider, was recently awarded the first loan from the Eastern Washtenaw Microloan Fund. This is a funding opportunity for start-ups that’s part of the Michigan Microloan Fund Program.  Washtenaw County helped to fund the Michigan Microloan Fund Program to help companies like New Eagle, based in Ypsilanti, Mich., who will use the microloan to commercialize its MotoHawk® software.

Read more…

Four Michigan Companies Receive $125,000 from Ann Arbor SPARK’s Microloan Program

Four more companies have received funding from the Michigan Microloan Fund Program, administered by Ann Arbor SPARK. Allinnova, Procuit, Solarflex, and The Whole Brain Group will use the funding to commercialize their products. The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, the Ann Arbor Local Development Financing Authority and Washtenaw County support the Michigan Microloan Fund Program. Read more…