Speaker Presentations

Presentations (.pdf document)

Rural Technology Economic Development


Lake Superior State University Product Development Center 

Lake Superior State University

  • Eric Becks, Director, Intellectual Property and Economic Development, ebecks@lssu.edu 
  • Dennis West, President, Northern Initiatives

The LSSU Product Development Center has logged nearly 11,000 student hours working with faculty on more than 150 engineering projects for entrepreneurs and businesses in collaboration with SmartZoneSM partners and economic development agencies. 
  • Assembly automation enabled a UP manufacturer to pursue larger orders and add employees. 
  • 3D CAD design, strength, acoustic and flame testing along with chemical testing by the LSSU Environmental Analysis Lab has assisted Innovative Composites Inc. to introduce products made of advanced materials. 
  • Engineering design and assistance in selecting mold makers and plastic fabricators in Michigan has allowed Skate Fenders (Gaylord) to evolve from an idea to production.


  • Dave Maki, Chief Technology Officer
  • Dennis West, President, Northern Initiatives

The NMU WiMAX network enhances learning opportunities for the 7,000 off-campus students, as well as the faculty's ability to have students do research and other scholarly activities in areas throughout Marquette County. It diminishes challenges for students who live and learn in a rural community, especially for those place-bound due to disabilities or family obligations. All of this is what makes NMU's WiMAX network extremely exciting from an educational standpoint. However, what makes it unique beyond compare is the partnership created between the university and the neighboring cities and townships. In exchange for access to municipal structures suitable for the location of WiMAX transmission equipment, city governments are allowed use of the WiMAX network to support fire, police, utility, and community services.

Contact: Gavin Leach, Vice President for Finance and Administration, gleach@nmu.edu

Technology Business Development 
  • Jim Baker, Executive Director, Innovation and Industry Engagement, jrbaker@mtu.edu
  • Dennis West, President, Northern Initiatives

This poster summarizes activities and key partnerships that directly support the establishment, growth, and sustainability of technology companies in the western Upper Peninsula and throughout the state of Michigan. These activities include technology commercialization assistance, startup business development, and business counseling. Support to companies is provided directly by University personnel and through strategic local and regional partners including the MTEC Smartzone, Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and others. 

  • Timothy Davis, Director, iLabs, College of Business, University of Michigan-Dearborn,  

eCities is an annual research study that examines local municipal-level factors that foster entrepreneurship and encourage economic development. The focus is on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of regional economies and small businesses’ impact on job creation. The primary purpose of eCities is to help communities benchmark their efforts and gather best practices from other communities. eCities has grown over the past five years from 14 participating communities to over 130 participants. As these communities continue to participate in our annual survey, the eCities team can track progress and offer a more comprehensive report of the community’s performance.

  • Allison Guilliom, Director of Marketing and Communications, TechTown
  • Francine Wunder, Director of Corporate and Public Affairs, TechTown, and Director of Corporate and Public Affairs, Office of Marketing and Communications, Wayne State University, fwunder@wayne.edu

TechTown is a 43-acre research and technology park in Midtown Detroit.  TechTown seeks to become the world’s foremost business incubator, leading to an economic renaissance in Detroit, the state of Michigan and the region. TechTown is reigniting Detroit’s entrepreneurial culture. It embraces core values of creativity, consistency, collaboration, commitment, community and accountabilty.  Among TechTown’s stakeholders and partners are General Motors Corporation, Henry Ford Health Systems, NextEnergy, the Kauffman Foundation, the New Economy Initiative, and Wayne State University. http://techtownwsu.org/

The University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center facilitates access for companies to a full range of university resources. Companies from a broad spectrum of industries, ranging from start-ups to multinational corporations, have forged relationships with U-M. With affiliated offices in the College of Engineering, the Medical School and at the Dearborn and Flint campuses, the BEC creates and facilitates partnerships with companies by linking business needs with University expertise and resources in research, technology, education, and student talent. Relationships can range from individual research projects to broader engagements, depending on the need. The Business Engagement Center maintains relationships with more than 600 Michigan companies, and is contacted by nearly 200 new companies each year. To learn more: bec.umich.edu, um-bec@umich.edu

  • Carl Johnson, Faculty, Psychology
  • Sharon B. Johnson, Faculty, Psychology, johns1sb@cmich.edu

Central Assessment Lending Library (CALL), staffed by CMU faculty and doctoral students, provides consultation, assessment and intervention materials for children with low-incidence disabilities to all public schools in Michigan. Low-incidence disabilities include visual impairment, hearing impairment, autism spectrum disorder, motor impairment, severe cognitive impairment, and multiple impairments. Services for these children are improved and costs related to these services are reduced for schools through the efforts of CALL. Start-up funds were provided by the Michigan legislature; the project is sustained now through CMU funds and individual donations. Michigan public schools are the lead community partners.

Pamela J. Kellett, Assistant Vice President, OU – Macomb
  • Julianne Leigh, Director, Outreach Budget and Planning, leigh@oakland.edu 
  • Cheryl Rhodey, Director, OU – Macomb University Center Operations

Oakland University has partnered with area community colleges to create the first concurrent enrollment programs in the state of Michigan: M2O with Macomb Community College; Mott2O with Mott Community College; O2O with Oakland Community College; and SC2O with St. Clair County Community College. The goals of the programs are to create clear pathways in K-20 education. Students are jointly admitted and eligible to enroll in classes concurrently at OU and their local community college; they maximize financial assistance by combining coursework at both institutions. Improved student retention results in higher attainment levels for associate and bachelor degrees.

Talent 2025
Allying Across the Sectors: Building Michigan’s Talent Infrastructure 
  • Kevin Stotts, President/CEO, Talent 2025
GVSU is collaborating with more than 50 West Michigan area leaders—drawn from business, media, education, non-profits, and government—to explore the challenge of ensuring an ongoing supply of world-class talent in the region by 2025. As part of this work, special attention is given to early childhood development, K-12 and higher education, issues in the adult workforce, and talent attraction and retention. GVSU plays a central role in this effort, having developed an infrastructure to collect, analyze and effectively disseminate relevant community indicator data. This information allows for the deconstruction of complex social dynamics to demonstrate where resources might best be directed to promote progressive social transformation. http://www.wm-alliance.org/index.php?initiative_id=23

William Crawley, Associate Dean, College of Community and Public Service (CCPS), crawleyw@gvsu.edu
John Risley, Senior Researcher, Community Research Institute, risleyj@gvsu.edu

Partnering to Develop Michigan's Future Talent 
Western Michigan University is partnering with businesses and educators in the region to support the development of Michigan’s future workforce. These partnerships include working closely with K-12 educators to enhance STEM education as well as helping schools to develop and implement improvement plans. WMU also provides outreach support to business communities through research partnerships that facilitate internships and entrepreneurial skill development. As part of Talent 2025, WMU is working closely with GVSU, FSU, and community colleges to directly support the workforce needs of regional businesses and corporations. 

Contact: Alex Enyedi, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, alex.enyedi@wmich.edu

Paving the Way for Talent 2025 in Michigan
  • Fritz J. Erickson, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ferris State University

The Talent 2025 initiative continues to gain momentum in West Michigan, ensuring our economic success with an ongoing supply of world-class talent. This venture succeeds only when all people are provided opportunity to participate.  Ferris State University is partnering with several organizations to provide this opportunity, including the West Michigan Hispanic Center to increase Latino participation in higher education, partnerships with 18 Michigan community colleges to serve place-bound students in the completion of bachelor's degrees, and partnering with a multitude of high schools in the pursuit of middle college and college credit opportunities in the fields of business, engineering and healthcare.

Contact: Donald J. Green, Vice President, Extended and International Operations, DonaldGreen@ferris.edu

Regional Economic Development

Empowering the Next Generation: Emerging Technologies and Entrepreneurship 

  • George Puia, Associate Dean, College of Business, and Management/Dow Chemical Company Centennial Chair in Global Business

Empowering the next generation of regional industrial and business innovators in emerging technologies such as wind, solar, and bioenergy, is at the heart of SVSU's continuing commitment to transforming Mid- and Eastern Michigan's industrial and business future. Through efforts combining the resources of workforce and economic development partners in several surrounding counties, and information summits and training initiatives offering established businesses and entrepreneurs access to cutting-edge research that makes their companies globally competitive, SVSU's faculty, staff and students have fostered the entrepreneurship critical to Michigan's future.

Jules Gehrke, Assistant Professor, History, and Special Assistant to the Provost, jgehrke@svsu.edu
Harry Leaver, Executive Director, Center for Business and Economic Development, hlleaver@svsu.edu 
George Puia, puia@svsu.edu 

Moving Waters: Protecting, Promoting, and Restoring Michigan’s Rivers

  • Chris Bunch, Executive Director, Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy
  • Keith Edwards, Earth and Resource Science, University of Michigan – Flint
  • Doug Koop, Executive Director, Little Forks Conservancy
  • Sara McDonnell, Project Coordinator, University of Michigan – Flint
  • Bill Zhender, Cass River Greenway Committee

Water. Michigan is defined both literally and figuratively by the beauty of its water. Managing this precious resource is an imperative for local economies as well as the environmental resilience of our state. The University of Michigan – Flint partners with organizations in communities such as Frankenmuth, Midland, Mount Pleasant, and Rochester. We believe that our water is at the heart of our quality of life. Our rivers and streams are sources of drinking water and food, recreation and beauty, and also provide a sense of place that roots us and helps shape who we are. Through the development of watershed management and recreation plans, natural lands inventories, and tourism marketing resources, the University is supporting water resource protection and local economies. 

Contact: Jonathan Jarosz, Director, University Outreach, jaroszjo@umflint.edu 

University/Community Partnerships: Working Together for a Stronger Michigan Economy 
  • Kristen Claus, Executive Director, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation 
  • Rex LaMore, Director, Center for Community and Economic Development

The MSU Center for Community and Economic Development creates, applies, and disseminates valued knowledge through responsive engagement, strategic partnerships, and collaborative learning. With support from federal, regional and local partners the CCED is undertaking two innovative partnerships that promise to yield high-growth entrepreneurship, job creation and economic innovation. The Center for Regional Economic Innovation is leveraging higher education assets and supporting the co-creation, co-application, and dissemination of innovative economic development strategies. The CCED initiative to identify innovative regional export strategies is developing opportunities to increase exporting to Canada and other foreign markets for small and medium size enterprises. 

Contact: Rex LaMore, lamore@msu.edu