Your Partner in Growing Your Community

The Fall Economic Development Toolbox

21 FT Postcard Cover OnlyThis yearly event will be held on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at Crowne Plaza Lansing West, Lansing.

This event has sessions on a variety of components for economic development success: new tools and programs, updates to existing tools and programs, best practices, marketing, unique ideas, skill-building, and leadership.

Both state and local professionals join together to take a fresh look at the components comprehensively, from both an informational and implementation aspect.

In order to develop the best conference, a volunteer committee of MEDA members meets regularly to plan The Fall Economic Development Toolbox and other MEDA membership programs. Click here to learn more about the Education Committee.

Thanking Our Sponsors

Localintel 2020Localintel Economic Development makes online economic development tools that hundreds of organizations have added to their website to promote their community’s advantages, assist local businesses and monitor trends. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to strengthen your web presence today!

Montrose Group LogoTogether the multi-disciplinary Montrose Group team delivers 65 collective years of economic development, lobbying, site development, and project financing experience. The Montrose Group illustrates that relationships matter as much as knowledge of corporate site location, economic development planning, and lobbying when transforming companies or communities. Contact Montrose Group.

Co-Promotional Parters

Thank you to MSU Extension/Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Octoberfest for your partnership with us!


The 2022 Fall Economic Development Toolbox conference will not only provide strategies to address the most current focus areas of economic development – housing, diversity and inclusion, and infrastructure – but also delve into topics surrounding MEDA’s Pilot Program report, “Recommended Strategies to Improve Perceptions of Economic Development.” Pilot sessions will focus on communication with the media and with stakeholders so you can continue to build strength in, and support for, your local economic development program.

8:30 a.m. Registration Opens

9:00 a.m. Economic Outlook 2022
Start the morning with an economic outlook from John Augustine, who has spent the last 20+ years as an investment manager, investment strategist, and economic strategist for various financial institutions. John’s highly valued viewpoints have been shared on recognized media outlets such as Fox News, CNBC, and Bloomberg, and we are bringing him to Lansing to share his perspective on the economy in 2022 with you.
John Augustine, Chief Investment Officer, Huntington National Bank

9:45 a.m. Networking Break

10:00 a.m. Concurrent Sessions 1                                                                                  

>> Certified Local Government through SHPO
The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) administers the Certified Local Government (CLG) program, a voluntary certification that provides participating communities with access to exclusive funding opportunities and technical assistance for historic preservation activities. Through the program, local communities engage in a partnership with SHPO to identify, plan for, and leverage historic properties as valuable community goods. This session will provide an overview of the CLG program, participation requirements, and benefits, as well as an overview of the process for joining the program.
S. Alan Higgins, Certified Local Government Coordinator, State Historic Preservation Office

>> Infrastructure Project Portal                                                                                        
The Michigan Infrastructure Council released a project portal to allow infrastructure owners across water, transportation, utilities, and communications to document future construction. This “dig once” project portal allows for coordination between infrastructure projects. Hear from the Michigan Infrastructure Council on their latest tool, how it will help increase collaboration, and more.
Erin Kuhn, Executive Director, West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission

>> How to Communicate Using the Media (Pilot Program)
Economic developers have the opportunity to change the conversation around economic development. Hear tips and tricks from a public relations specialist on how to embrace the media, while also what local economic development organizations are finding works the best when handling the press.
Craig Clark, Owner/Senior Counselor, Clark Communications

10:45 a.m. Networking Break

11:00 a.m. Concurrent Sessions 2

>> Restore the Rapids
The Grand River restoration project is proposing to bring natural, cultural, and commercial opportunities to the Grand River by restoring a 2.5 mile stretch of the river. This project will include an 18-foot drop with boulder, stone, and natural reefs in the river. Hear from the Grand Rapids WhiteWater group on their mission to revitalize the Grand River.
Steve Heacock, Chief Executive Officer, Grand Rapids White Water

>> Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
Changes will continue to take place at the local, state, federal levels to implement electric vehicle infrastructure. Learn the role of your community and what steps can be taken to assist in the efficiency of implementation.
Robert Jackson, Assistant Director, Materials Management Division, and Energy Ombudsman, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

>> Commercial Storefronts Best Practices for Towns and Cities
This timely seminar will illustrate practical storefront and visual merchandising best practices for small retailers, restaurants, and downtown shopping districts in the post-pandemic era. Current shopper trends and proven techniques for displays, signage, branding, lighting, fixturing, and window displays will be illustrated, with easy hands-on applications. 
Robert Gibbs, FASLA, AICP, President, Gibbs Planning Group, Inc.

11:45 p.m. Lunch and Membership Meeting                                                                                

12:45 p.m.  MEDC Legislative Update
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is constantly championing economic development initiatives with our State leaders. Hear the latest legislative priorities and actions being taken as well as how legislators are responding and plans for 2022.
Greg Bird, Managing Director, Legislative and External Affairs, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

1:15 p.m. Networking Break

1:30 p.m. Housing TIF “How-To Project”
Attainable housing for workers is an ongoing issue in many communities across the nation, especially Michigan, to a level that it has become an economic development priority due to the availability of dwellings being an attraction component for companies. Did you know that tax increment financing (TIF) is a tool for redevelopment and community housing solutions? A task force of MEDA members, developers, and their partners are creating a guidebook that covers the steps and stages for using TIF to develop housing.
Jenifer Acosta, Real Estate Development, Jenifer Acosta Development
Jeff Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, Envirologic Technologies, Inc.
Susan Wenzlick, Senior Brownfield Specialist, Fishbeck

2:30 p.m. Networking Break

2:45 p.m. TED Talk: Best Practices for Communicating with Your Stakeholders (Pilot Program)
One of the biggest components of having long-term success as an economic development organization is engaging stakeholders using various methods of communication so they understand your role and know their investment is having a positive impact. Four MEDA member EDO’s will share their best practices for communicating effectively with officials, investors, and their Board and provide feedback on which methods are the most beneficial.

Faris Alami, Chief Executive Officer, International Strategic Management, Inc.

Kati Mora, Vice President, Middle Michigan Development Corporation
Jessie Stickler, Director of Communications, Middle Michigan Development Corporation

Travis Alden, Senior Director, Community Development, The Right Place, Inc.
Julie Burrell, Business Development Manager – Newaygo, The Right Place, Inc.
Jodi Nichols, Business Development Coordinator – Oceana and Lake, The Right Place, Inc.

Tim Robinson, CEcD, EDFP, Director of Operations, Lenawee Now

3:45 p.m. Networking Break

4:00 p.m. Best Practices for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Communities
From nurturing small business development in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem to creating a new department to focusing on technology-based programs, economic development organizations around Michigan are putting creative programs into practice to improve the outcomes of minorities, low-income, LGBTQ+, and other populations that need support to rise above existing barriers. Hear how programs like, the Department of Equitable Economic Planning (DEEP), and Radical Inclusion in Tech are working to make a difference so that we can have a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive economy in the future.
Raina Baker, Tech Program Manager, TechTown Detroit
Christine Bowman, Economic Development Specialist, Albion Economic Development Corp.
Tony Willis, Chief Equity Development Officer, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

4:45 p.m. Adjourn


Early Rates - MEDA Members $115*/Non-Members $185**
Regular Rates - MEDA Members $130*/Non-Members $200** (Start 1 week before the conference.)
*If you joined MEDA in the last year, you may still have a New Member Coupon that you can apply toward this event. Email Cassandra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to check!
**If not a member of MEDA, you can get a $115 coupon if you join and pay for attendance before the conference. Email Cassandra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if interested. You can learn more about membership on our Join MEDA page

Recertification Credits

This program has been approved for (1) continuing education credit for Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) certification from the National Development Council (NDC). Use the form on this page to claim your credit.

We have applied to have this program approved for recertification recognition from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) so this event can be recognized as a professional development event that counts toward the recertification of Certified Economic Developers (CEcD).



Corporate Sponsors

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Contact Us

Michigan Economic
Developers Association
P.O. Box 15096
Lansing, MI 48901-5096
PH: 517-241-0011

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