Michigan economic developer takes reins at GPEC

December 20, 2004

By hammersmith

The board of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council unanimously approved Barry Broome as its next CEO and president, effective Feb. 1. Broome’s five years as chief executive of Southwest Michigan First in the Kalamazoo area involved considerable work with bioscience firms.

Broome will succeed Rick Weddle, who left in July to lead the Research Triangle Foundation, which owns Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, N.C.

In his new position, Broome will oversee the economic council’s efforts to attract high-paying jobs and build a “knowledge-based” economy in the Phoenix area, a hefty goal whose attainment rests, in part, on the luring of biosciences and biotech start-up companies to downtown Phoenix.

“Phoenix has this great growth model,” Broome told the Arizona Republic. “It’s tremendous what’s taking place. But how do you sustain that? How do you make the economic model more than just people moving there?”

In his tenure at Southwest Michigan First, Broome helped ease the economic damage done by a pharmaceutical merger that took jobs from the Kalamazoo area by persuading officials at Pfizer to let some operations stay put. The move also triggered a flurry of biotech start-ups by Pfizer employees in the area. He also helped start a research park in cooperation with Western Michigan University.

After tackling tough biosciences challenges in Kalamazoo, Broome will face a new set of unique challenges at GPEC, including the Valley’s notoriously scrappy venture capital record and competition with stronger regional knowledge economies including San Diego and Silicon Valley.

Broome will become the third president of GPEC, which has 22 employees and an operating budget of $3.8 million. Broome’s last economic-development agency had roughly half the resources at its disposal.

GPEC membership includes 14 municipalities and more than 130 business partners. Broome has signed a $225,000 annual contract for five years, the Republic reported.

For more information:

Michigan official hired by GPEC as president,” Arizona Republic, 12/17/2004

GPEC picks Michigan economic developer as CEO,” Business Journal, 12/16/2004

GPEC taps Mich. official,” Arizona Republic, 12/16/2004