Snyder, Granholm cooperate on MEDC appointments

By Tim Martin

Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Republican Gov.-elect Rick Snyder and outgoing Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm used a tag-team effort Monday to help reshape the leadership of an agency tasked with business recruitment and economic development in Michigan.

The two leaders appeared together to announce appointments to the state's Michigan Economic Development Corp., an agency that uses tax incentives and other tools to promote business in the state.

The rebuilt MEDC board is expected to approve Snyder's selection of Michael Finney as the agency's next chief executive officer starting in 2011. Finney is currently president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, a public-private partnership focused on economic development in one of the state's healthier business regions.

Finney will replace Greg Main, who worked with the Granholm administration, as the agency's top executive.

Snyder also will ask that Doug Rothwell, the chairman of his gubernatorial transition team, become chairman of the MEDC's executive board. Rothwell, now president of Business Leaders for Michigan, was the MEDC's chief executive officer under former Republican Gov. John Engler.

Snyder was the first person to chair the MEDC executive committee when it was formed in 1999.

Michigan had the nation's second-highest unemployment rate at 12.8 percent in October, down from 14.4 percent a year ago. Both Granholm and Snyder pointed to some recent improvements in the state's economy but agreed much work still needs to be done.

"The governor's been very prudent about working on reducing unemployment," Snyder said. "And we have been making positive progress. But we really do need to pick up that pace in terms of looking towards the future."

Granholm and Snyder could have delayed or even fought over appointments, but they agreed to cooperate instead. Current members of the MEDC board were asked to resign effective Dec. 31 so the decks could be cleared for new appointments, including some reappointments from Granholm.

"It's very unusual that this would happen," Granholm said of the joint appearance and cooperation with Snyder. "We both feel very, very strongly about the future of Michigan in terms of economic development."

Snyder said it was a "good team effort" with Granholm to make Monday's announcement happen before he takes office Jan. 1.

Published: Wed, Dec 15, 2010