Cornerstone Part of New Group Driving Long-Term Growth for Michigan

Recognizing that Michigan has fewer tools than many other states that typically compete for business attraction and relocation, Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland was more than ready to join a new organization called Economic Development Leaders of Michigan in order to make the collective voice of the state heard more profoundly.

Cleveland says the new group started, “Because our communities, and the economic development industry, really needed a stronger voice in Lansing. The vitality and opportunities in many of our communities, especially those in rural areas like Benton Harbor and Saint Joseph, are due in part to the funding and strength of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.”

Addressing the state’s incentive toolbox, Cleveland notes, “Additionally, the State of Michigan has very few economic development tools, as compared to many of the states that we compete against on a regular basis. Tools like tax increment finance (TIF) as well as business development and community revitalization funding, are programs that are under constant scrutiny by fringe elements of both parties.”

As a result, economic developers like Rob Cleveland from all across the state, recently partnered to form Economic Development Leaders for Michigan (EDLM) to protect and advance economic development initiatives through direct legislative advocacy as the state forges ahead in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The priority of the group is to drive long-term economic growth and keep Michigan competitive in terms of state and local incentives for business retention, expansion, attraction, startup creation, and support for early stage companies.

The 12-member coalition is led by CEOs with over 350 years of economic development experience. Representing 84-percent of Michigan’s population and 89-percent of the state gross domestic product (GDP), the CEOs and organizations include:

  • Paul Krutko, President & CEO, Ann Arbor Spark
  • Rob Cleveland, President & CEO, Cornerstone Alliance
  • Kevin Johnson, President & CEO, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
  • Maureen Donohue Krauss, President & CEO, Detroit Regional Partnership
  • Marty Fittante, CEO, InvestUP
  • Amy Clickner, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership
  • Jennifer Owens, President, Lakeshore Advantage
  • Bob Trezise, President & CEO, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
  • James McBryde, President & CEO, Middle Michigan Economic Corporation
  • JoAnn Crary, President, Saginaw Future
  • Ron Kitchens, Senior Partner & CEO, Southwest Michigan First
  • Birgit Klohs, President & CEO The Right Place, Inc

The group jointly issued the following statement:

“Our state economy faces unprecedented challenges and uncertainty in the aftermath of a global pandemic. As we chart a path forward, 12 of the state’s leading economic development organizations are collaborating to strengthen critical economic development initiatives and make our voices heard. In order to secure Michigan’s economic future and protect the gains of the past decade, we must seize opportunities for growth and remain committed to our statewide economic development strategy. Economic Development Leaders for Michigan will accelerate Michigan’s economy and keep Michigan on the map during this critical time.”

Cornerstone’s Cleveland says, “The goal of EDLM is to educate and influence leaders, stakeholders and the public on the importance of these tools, and local control and access to tools and issues that impact our economy,” and concludes, “Being a part of a group with the leadership and experience of EDLM will bring great benefit to the businesses and municipalities in Berrien County.”

Along with others, members of the new economic development group recently partnered with the Michigan legislature and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to administer $100 million in restart grants to help small businesses keep their doors open and their employees on payroll. As Michigan moves from a short-term restart strategy to a long-term economic outlook, they are committed to retaining and growing businesses across Michigan’s wide variety of geographies and fostering a resilient economic environment.

The group was actually formed in June of 2020, and now stands ready to advance solutions as Michigan navigates new challenges and opportunities. You can learn more about them by visiting this link:

Source: Moody on the Market
Full story at:

Scroll to Top