Michigan Economic Development Corporation appoints new CEO

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Quentin Messer Jr. Courtesy MEDC

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation appointed Quentin Messer Jr. as its next CEO.

After a national search, the MEDC’s executive committee said Tuesday that it named Messer to the role. He replaces Mark Burton, who stepped down from the position in March.

Awenate Cobbina, MEDC executive committee chair, and Jeff Noel, vice chair, will continue to lead the organization until Messer starts July 19, with Noel serving as CEO making decisions concurrently with Cobbina.

“Throughout this national search process, we have remained committed to selecting a leader with the right experience and skills to carry out the ongoing and exceptional work by the MEDC to build a strong and vibrant economic recovery that helps our state’s businesses retain, grow and create more good-paying jobs for Michigan’s working families,” Cobbina said. “Quentin is immensely qualified to step into this role and brings tremendous energy, insight and experience to help sustain and increase our momentum around economic development in Michigan.”

As CEO, Messer will be charged with implementing and executing MEDC’s core mission of business development and attraction, community development, providing access to capital and enhancing Michigan’s image and brand. His responsibilities will include administering all programs, funds, personnel, contracts and all other administrative functions of the MEDC, which is a public-private partnership agency dedicated to job creation.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Messer is the right fit for the role.

“We work hard every day to bring good jobs to Michigan and support strong communities across our state through the critical work of the MEDC. Quentin brings a wealth of experience to this role and a clear passion for ensuring the benefits of economic development extend to everyone,” she said. “These attributes will serve Michigan well as we continue to foster economic opportunity statewide and get people back to work. We are excited to welcome Quentin to Michigan to join the MEDC team and get to work for our people, communities and businesses.”

Messer comes to the MEDC from the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) where he served as president and CEO since 2015. He led efforts around business attraction; small business growth; talent development; branding; and market-responsive, equitable economic growth while also cultivating partner relationships and leading efforts to secure private sector investment. Under Messer’s leadership, NOLABA became one of fewer than 90 economic development organizations globally to earn accreditation from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

“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 said. “Economic development is about connecting people to good jobs, connecting businesses to great people and financial capital, and supporting vibrant communities, and I look forward to doing this vital work at MEDC.”

Prior to his role at NOLABA, Messer served as the assistant secretary at Louisiana Economic Development, the lead agency for economic development for the state of Louisiana. In that role, he was designated president of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation, helping to provide financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses in partnership with the private sector and federal agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Messer brings to his new role private-sector experience at The Boston Consulting Group and O’Melveny & Myers, as well as work at a variety of startup ventures, including as a principal at Foster Chamberlain, LLC, a startup venture accelerator and corporate venturing consultancy.

Messer also served on the Louisiana Economic Recovery Taskforce in support of the Louisiana State Legislature’s COVID-19 relief efforts and was a member of the Reopening Task Force for New Orleans Public Schools. He has been named in Consultants Connect North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers (2020, 2019) and was named Biz New Orleans CEO of the Year (2020) and Businessperson of the Year (2019).

An IEDC-certified economic developer, Messer received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from Columbia University’s Law and Business Schools, respectively.

He serves on the board of directors of the IEDC, where he is a member of the Committee for Public Conduct and also is the incoming co-chair for the Racism in Economic Development Committee.

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