Charles Ballard, Ph.D. Charles Ballard has been on the Economics faculty at Michigan State University since 1983, when he received his Ph.D. from Stanford University. In 2007, he became Director of the State of the State Survey, in MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. Also in 2007, he won the Outstanding Teacher Award in MSU’s College of Social Science. He has served as a consultant with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health & Human Services, and Treasury, and with research institutes in Australia, Denmark, and Finland. His books include Michigan at the Millennium and Michigan’s Economic Future.
Michael A. Finney was recently appointed to serve Michigan Governor Rick Snyder as Senior Advisor for Economic Growth after leading the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) from January 1, 2011 through the end of 2014 as its President and CEO.
MEDC is a public-private partnership serving as the state's lead agency for business and job growth, talent enhancement, tourism marketing, arts and cultural grants, and overall economic growth. His responsibilities at MEDC also included serving as Governor Rick Snyder’s Economic Growth Group Executive and as President and Chairman of the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Under Finney’s leadership, the MEDC moved to the forefront of U.S. economic development organizations with innovative new initiatives, including Pure Michigan Business Connect, Community Ventures, and the revitalized Michigan Export programs:
Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC), widely recognized as an economic development best practice, provides comprehensive business development, capital access, talent enhancement and marketing assistance to Michigan based companies. Since its formation in 2011, PMBC has facilitated over $2 billion in new contracts for Michigan businesses. Whirlpool, Meijer, General Motors, Chrysler, Whole Foods, Ford and Boeing have joined the program along with kick off partners Consumers Energy and DTE Energy.
Launched in October 2012, Community Ventures connects structurally unemployed residents with career opportunities at Michigan companies in the target communities (Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw). The program supports both individuals and the participating companies to provide long-term sustainable employment in full time positions. To date, Community Ventures has connected over 2,600 structurally unemployed persons to employment with over 100 companies. The average wage is over $11 hour.
Michigan Export Program
Under Finney’s leadership, the revitalized program provides resources to tap into foreign markets and has helped Michigan businesses to generate more than $300 million in new export sales. Nearly 800 Michigan companies have participated in the program that provides direct reimbursements for eligible international marketing-related activities through the State Trade and Export Program. Michigan companies can also access resources at foreign trade offices in Canada, Brazil, China, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
Prior to taking the helm at MEDC, Finney served as President and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK (SPARK), a public-private partnership whose mission is to advance innovation-based economic development in the greater Ann Arbor, Michigan region.
He also served as President and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, Rochester, New York; Vice President, Emerging Business Sectors, MEDC; Senior Vice President and General Manager, Thomson Saginaw; and Assistant City Manager, Saginaw, Michigan.
Finney currently serves on the board of directors for the State Science and Technology Institute. He previously served on the Michigan Strategic Fund board and Governor Snyder’s Talent Investment Board. His volunteer service has included Washtenaw Community College Foundation and University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, Office of Technology Transfer and Center for Entrepreneurship, National Advisory Councils.
He has received numerous awards and recognition including the 2014 Michigan Venture Capital Association Lifetime Achievement Award; 2008 Saginaw Valley State University Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Business and Management; named by Crain's Detroit Business as one of the 2007 Newsmakers of the Year; and the 2005 Minett Distinguished Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Finney holds a master of arts in human resources from Central Michigan University and bachelor of business administration from Saginaw Valley State University.