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Published in Economic Development

MEDC selects New Orleans economic development leader as next CEO

BY Tuesday, May 18, 2021 11:42am

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has selected Quentin Messer Jr. from New Orleans as its next CEO.

The MEDC’s Executive Committee voted unanimously this morning to hire Messer, who will come to Michigan after serving as president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance since 2015. He’ll start at the MEDC by July 19.

Quentin Messer Jr. COURTESY PHOTO

“My goal is to build a championship Michigan economy for all Michiganders,” Messer said after the Executive Committee vote, which was held virtually. “Michigan’s best hours are ahead of us.”

Messer said in a separate statement issued by the MEDC that “America is at its best when Michigan is at its best, and I’m thrilled to join the proven MEDC team, the governor, the legislature and economic development stakeholders across this great state in driving an economy that creates upward mobility and opportunity for the broadest possible group of Michiganders.”

Messer’s appointment follows a national search for a successor to Mark Burton, who departed the MEDC in March to co-lead Detroit law firm Honigman LLP’s economic development incentives group.

Working with executive search firm Korn Ferry, an MEDC search committee identified more than 150 potential candidates from 26 states and Puerto Rico before selecting Messer.

“We have the very best candidate and, I think, the very best person,” said Jeff Noel, corporate vice president at Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. who served on the search committee and will continue as MEDC’s interim CEO. “Not only do we have a candidate, but I think we have a candidate who is coming in to do things in a way that is really going to help set Michigan forward and who’s going to do it in a way where everybody benefits in the state.”

In New Orleans, Messer led initiatives on business attraction, small business growth, talent development, branding and marketing, and equitable economic growth. An announcement from the MEDC issued after today’s vote also described Messer as building “robust partner relationships and leading efforts to secure significant private sector investment.”

Coming from Louisiana, Messer also understands the distinction between urban, suburban and rural areas “and the needs of each of those groups from an economic development perspective,” said Awenate Cobbina, chairman of the MEDC Executive Committee.

“Our state is similarly constituted,” said Cobbina, the CEO of Bedrock Group LP in Detroit. “He is a strategic thinker with a bold vision for Michigan and someone who believes in the power of economic development.”

Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Jeff Donofrio said the MEDC’s work in the coming years “will be critical to making sure Michigan recovers from economic downturn and wins jobs and investment in a post-COVID economy. We look forward to working with Quentin to help all businesses, people and communities in our state succeed,” he said in a statement.

“Quentin’s leadership in talent development and jobs growth is especially valuable at this juncture, as states across the country strategically invest their federal stimulus dollars, further challenging Michigan’s ability to become a Top Ten state.” 

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