Business Leaders for Michigan president announces retirement

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Doug Rothwell Courtesy PRNewswire

The president and CEO of the state’s business roundtable is set to retire at the end of the year.

Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) said Thursday that its leader Doug Rothwell will retire Dec. 31.

A national search will be conducted to fill his position with a successor expected to be announced in November.

Rothwell has led BLM and its predecessor organization, Detroit Renaissance, for 15 years.

“Doug has been one of the state’s most influential leaders for over a quarter-century,” said Gerry Anderson, executive chair of DTE Energy and BLM board chair. “He’s respected by leaders in business, government and community service across the state and founded two highly consequential organizations (the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Business Leaders for Michigan).

“He was always about putting Michigan first rather than a particular region, interest or party. He leaves a big imprint on many programs, policies and places in our state that have helped grow the economy.”

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rothwell worked as a senior executive for four governors in two states and two Fortune 50 companies.

“When Sharon and I were recruited to Michigan 27 years ago by Gov. John Engler, we came because of the people and the beauty of the state,” Rothwell said.  “We will always be grateful for the opportunities this great state has provided us — not only professionally but also through many treasured friendships.”

In the public sector, Rothwell was chief of staff to the governor of Delaware and chief executive of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in addition to chairing incoming and outgoing gubernatorial transition teams.

In the business world, he managed General Motors’ 400 million-square-foot global real estate portfolio and was the chief analytics officer at Bank of America’s credit card subsidiary and part of the initial public offering team.

In the nonprofit sphere, Rothwell transitioned Detroit Renaissance from a Detroit-centric organization to the statewide BLM, bringing all regions and industries to a common table to solve Michigan’s toughest challenges.

He also is credited with pairing business, education and philanthropy to create a sustained effort aimed at improving Michigan’s K-12 education system — Launch Michigan.

Rothwell holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also is a graduate of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government program for senior executives in state and local government.

Rothwell and his wife Sharon will relocate to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, upon his retirement.

Business Leaders for Michigan

Business Leaders for Michigan is comprised of the executive leaders of Michigan’s largest companies and universities.

Its members drive nearly 40% of the state’s economy, generate over $1 trillion in annual revenue and educate nearly half of all Michigan public university students.

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