Why We Do What We Do

By: Maureen Donohue Krauss


A few months ago, I stood at a press conference podium in downtown Detroit as we announced that a global tech firm had selected the city for its next expansion.

Speaker after speaker touted the 500 jobs and upcoming job fairs. They recanted how the company had worked with our organization and partners to select Detroit out of 50 locations around the country. They explained how the company could have located anywhere, but chose our region due to the talent, business climate, and opportunity to make a difference in a city that matters.

By the time my turn came, there wasn’t a lot to say from my prepared notes that hadn’t already been addressed. The journalists were starting to draft their stories waiting for the Q & A to ask a few follow-ups inevitably needed satisfy their editors.

So, when I stepped the podium, I simply spoke from the heart.

This was the kind of day that we live for in economic development. After nearly a year of calls, meetings, dinners, number-crunching of workforce numbers – the company had made its site selection decision. We had landed the project.

The company was bringing with it 500 opportunities for Detroiters to start a career with a global tech firm with 70,000 employees in 35 countries. It was offering pathway jobs that don’t require a college degree but come with benefits packages and offer the training and skills needed to advance to higher paying jobs. It was offering the chance to get in on the ground floor of a new office structured to promote from within and change personal and professional lives.

We all have those stories because that’s what we do as economic developers. We help bring jobs and investment and opportunity to our communities because we want prosperity for all.

Reflecting on the past year, I think back to a technician with autism who had unsuccessfully applied for 800 jobs despite his college degree and impeccable credentials. It reminded me of how our team worked with the Autism Alliance of Michigan to help him apply and land a good job with a global automotive firm retooling its plant. Working with partners we helped the company hire for more than 675 jobs in one of our cities after accessing often overlooked talent pools.

As economic developers, this is why we do what we do.

We believe that every single job matters to the person who has it and nothing feels as rewarding as helping bring that job to someone.

We believe in creating jobs and new opportunities for our talented residents, which helps create stronger families and more resilient communities.

As we celebrate Economic Development Week, it’s a good time to step back from acronyms, jargon, and statistics, and simply explain, why we do what we do.

Maureen Donohue Krauss is president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Partnership, a nonprofit organization that offers confidential, no-cost assistance to domestic and international companies interested in investing in the 11-county Detroit Region.