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Michael Finney Mike Finney told Crain’s this morning that his new position in Gov. Rick Snyder’s office as senior adviser for economic growth is the best possible outcome for his search for what to do after stepping down as president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Finney said he had decided months ago to leave the MEDC after Snyder’s first term ends at the end of December, and had been looking for jobs that would allow him to have a social impact. He will assume his new post after the first of the year and said it combines his passion for economic development with a desire to focus on something that would have a social impact. Finney talked to Crain’s after the governor’s news conference in Lansing this morning to announce his executive order creating a new department, the Department of Talent and Economic Development, as well as the Michigan Talent Investment Agency, both of which are scheduled to start operations in March. The new department will oversee the MEDC, the Michigan Strategic Fund and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Snyder said the moves will help achieve a top priority in his second term: developing a workforce trained to do the kinds of skilled jobs employers are now having trouble filling. Snyder appointed Steve Arwood, the current executive vice president and COO of the MEDC and former director of the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, to head the new department. Arwood will also be president and CEO of the MEDC, pending approval in January by the MEDC’s board, which is a formality, said Finney. Finney said he is eager to take on his first assignment. “My kickoff project, one I’m very passionate about, will be expanding the Community Ventures program we started at the MEDC two years ago,” he said. That program was targeted to help the chronically unemployed in Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw and Detroit find jobs. It had a budget of $10 million and a goal of finding jobs for 1,000 in those communities. Finney said it landed jobs for 2,300, instead. “My goal, now hermes replica wallet , is the find other sources to partner with to grow this on a statewide basis. I absolutely will be going after foundations for their support. It’s a program that works, it’s an opportunity to break the cycle of unemployment, and it’s scalable,” he said. One of the keys to the program’s success, said Finney, was using the MEDC’s knowledge of new projects that had applied for tax breaks and wanted to hire. If some of the jobs were for low-skilled workers, Community Ventures would provide companies with $5,000 for on-the-job training for each of its workers hired. “We’ve had a 70 percent retention rate for those jobs, which pay just a few cents less on average than $12 an hour,” said Finney. Finney denied emphatically that his new position as economic adviser might be a convenient short-term place to land while he continues to look for something more permanent. “This is not intended to be a transitory opportunity, and I’m not looking to get any more phone calls about where I’m going for the foreseeable future,” he said. “You’ve been hearing rumors for many months about my leaving the MEDC, and I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve gotten from reporters. My plan was to move on, to go somewhere where I could have a social impact. This gives me a chance to do just that, as well as be directly involved in a lot of other projects where the governor’s involvement is needed, too.” When asked about speculation that he had been looking for another job in recent months because he and Snyder no longer saw eye to eye — it was Snyder who recruited Finney from Rochester, N.Y., to head Ann Arbor Spark when it was founded in 2005 – Finney said emphatically: “That couldn’t be more nonsense. He and I have worked so closely together. He understands economic development better than any elected politician in the state. We have an exceptionally smooth relationship. We’re in lockstep, and there’s no friction, whatsoever. “I’m so pleased that instead of leaving, he had a position for me that I can be passionate about.” When asked what he’s most proud of during his four-year tenure at the MEDC, Finney said Community Ventures topped the list. He also named the Pure Michigan Business Connect program, which he credited with sparking more than $2 billion in business-to-business activity in the state; creating an export strategy that has led to $250 million in export activity by state companies; the recruitment of companies here from abroad, including Mexico, Italy, China and Germany , and reducing the reliance on tax credits to lure business here. Snyder hinted at the new agency in a recent meeting with Crain’s. “We told everyone to get a university degree and that was dumb,” Snyder said. “We never want to discourage anyone from getting a degree (but) we used to have a good career tech ed(ucation) track in this country. We diminished the perceived value of that. You hear everyday that people are struggling to find the right skills. “The way I perceive this is we can put tens of thousands of Michiganders to work in well-paying jobs; great careers that aren’t going away by us solving this problem. It would give us a competitive advantage.” Tom Henderson: (313) 446-0337, [email protected]. Twitter: @tomhenderson2

MEDC CEO Finney: New job as Snyder adviser 'not a transitory opportunity’

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