Municipal League honors local economic development director, city manager

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Left to right, East Grand Rapids City Manager Brian Donovan, Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino, Northville City Manager Patrick Sullivan, and Grand Rapids Economic Development Director Kara Wood.

The Michigan Municipal League honored Grand Rapids Economic Development Director Kara Wood during the League's annual Capital Conference held April 9-10 in Lansing.

Wood received the League's Outstanding Service Award on Wednesday. The honor is given to recognize those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in supporting the League's legislative efforts in Lansing on behalf of Michigan communities.

In her role as Grand Rapids Economic Development Director, Kara Wood is a major voice in the League’s Land Use and Economic Development committee. Her knowledge and insight in many areas surrounding the economic development arena make her a strong advocate for the revitalization of not only Grand Rapids but Michigan as a whole. Wood has partaken in stakeholder workgroups at the state level, most recently a workgroup on a bill to make changes to the Brownfield program that was passed into law last year. Her expertise has been utilized to help many communities across Michigan by her participation in panel discussions on various economic development issues during concurrent sessions at both past and present League Capital Conferences. Wood’s assistance at the committee level and at an advocacy level is invaluable.

East Grand Rapids City Manager Brian Donovan also received an Outstanding Service Award. In his role as East Grand Rapids City Manager, Brian Donovan has been instrumental in working on legislation to give communities additional pension flexibility. In the last session, Donovan worked with the League on a package of legislation designed to maximize resources and allow communities to make more cost-effective pension decisions. Last fall the governor signed a bill that allows communities with an AA bond rating to bond for the cost of switching from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. The League continues to work on legislation allowing communities to switch from DB to DC more easily, as well as remove barriers to more cost-effective pensions. Donovan has come to Lansing to testify on multiple occasions as well as worked regularly with the League reviewing legislative language and talking to legislators. Donovan has been instrumental in working on this legislation, and the League is grateful for his invaluable counsel.

Northville City Manager Pat Sullivan and Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino were also honored with the Outstanding Service Award this year.