Jen Nelson, a 1999 speech communication graduate of Northern Michigan University, has been appointed chief operating officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She returns to MEDC after serving four years as vice president of public policy and economic development for Business Leaders for Michigan.
In her COO capacity, Nelson will lead MEDC organizational operations, including development and implementation of its strategic plan, as well as continuous improvement and organizational performance initiatives.
“Jen brings an incredible wealth of experiences in economic development and the state's business community to this role, in addition to her knowledge and insights into MEDC as an organization,” said Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of the MEDC, in a press release. “We are thrilled to welcome Jen back to MEDC to help Team Michigan advance our collective mission to accelerate upward economic mobility across the state and make Michigan the top four-season economy in North America.”
Nelson's previous role with Business Leaders for Michigan focused on issues related to K-12 education, workforce development and economic development throughout the state. Most notably, she helped to establish Launch Michigan, an unprecedented partnership of business, education, labor, philanthropy, civic leaders and parents. The goal of the initiative was to create a high-quality, PreK-12 student-centered system, one that helps every student succeed in school, their careers and life.
“I could not be more excited to return to the MEDC and utilize all that I've learned during my time at Business Leaders for Michigan to continue to advance Michigan's statewide economic development strategy,” Nelson said in the release. “A key part of this mission is collaboration, and I am committed to working diligently with anyone who wants to be part of growing prosperity in Michigan, while empowering the MEDC team to become the best organization of its kind in the nation.”
In addition to leading MEDC's strategic plan initiatives, Nelson will spearhead organizational strategy and execution as well as key outreach initiatives. She will work directly with the MEDC Executive Committee, the Michigan Strategic Fund Board, the Collaborative Development Council, the Michigan Economic Development Foundation, Business Leaders for Michigan, and other stakeholders statewide.
“Jen's in-depth understanding of the business, economic and talent-focused issues faced by Michigan has greatly enhanced our work to make us a more competitive state,” said Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “We are excited for Jen to join the leadership team at MEDC and the work we'll continue to do together to create a stronger state with widely shared prosperity.”
Nelson's return to MEDC will build on 12 years of previous experience within the organization. She served in several leadership roles, including executive vice president and chief business development officer, chief operating officer and legal counsel. Earlier in her career, Nelson practiced as an attorney in Dykema Gossett's public finance corporate group.
In addition to her bachelor's degree from NMU, Nelson holds a law degree from Michigan State University College of Law.