LANSING – Jeff Mason is back at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., but this time as the state’s chief executive officer. His appointment was approved Wednesday by the MEDC executive committee. He assumed the post, vacated in January by Steve Arwood, immediately.
Mason, 58, has extensive experience in economic development, including serving as senior vice president for business development during his ten-year tenure at MEDC, from 1999-2009. He also directed the MEDC public relations staff.
He arrives at his new role at MEDC from an eight-year stint as executive director at the University Research Corridor (URC), an alliance of the state’s three leading research institutions – University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, where 94 percent of the state’s higher education research-and-development takes place.
Unanimous approval comes two weeks after Gov. Rick Snyder recommended Mason to oversee the MEDC, which is the state’s marketing and business attraction arm, performing due diligence on the administration of grants and other incentives approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board with the explicit goal of encouraging businesses to locate and expand in Michigan.
“Jeff has a breadth of experience and knowledge about the driving forces and innovation reshaping Michigan’s economy,” Snyder said. “He is a proven leader distinguished by an inclusive, collaborative approach. On many levels, Jeff is a natural choice as MEDC CEO because of his grasp of public-sector policies, private-sector realities and first-hand work with the state’s leading research institutions.”
Snyder also named Mason president and chairman of the Michigan Strategic Fund, effective immediately. The next MSF board meeting is July 25.
“Michigan has taken great strides to create a business-friendly climate built on a strong foundation of low taxes, reduced regulation, fiscal stability and timely incentives,” said Mason in a press release. He was not available for an interview. “Key to our continued growth is ongoing support for communities of all sizes around the state, and the ongoing development of the talent pipeline.”
The Michigan economy has made a historic comeback from the depths of the Great Recession of 2007-09. Low unemployment (4.2 percent in May, which is one-tenth below U.S. rate), resurgence of the auto industry, emergence as a global leader in autonomous vehicle research and testing, along with the ongoing development of the state’s agribusiness and tourism industries are among the striking signs of a fundamentally sound, expanding state economy.
“Jeff has all the qualities you’d want in a President and CEO of the MEDC – integrity, a deep understanding of how economic development works and great leadership skills,” said MEDC Executive Committee Chair Doug Rothwell. “The Executive Committee has great confidence in this appointment.”