Learn, Celebrate, and Engage!

We invite you to engage with regional leaders and economic forecasters

With each new year comes new growth to our region and Southwest Michigan First’s event offering is no different. We anticipate transformational economic development growth in 2024 and we want to ensure YOU are part of the story. That is why we are introducing our first annual State of Economic Development event for Southwest Michigan.

This event is dedicated to bringing together key private and public stakeholders to gain insight into economic investments being made now that will foster a prosperous community for us all for years to come.

The program will continue to host insightful discussions on current and future economic development trends among business leaders, as well as other engaging guest speakers. And, of course, the program is not complete without guests being the first to receive a copy of Southwest Michigan First’s Annual Report and 2024 Community Map.


12:00 – Registration, Lunch, and Networking

12:30 – Welcome

12:40 – Segment One: Economic Update and Forecast with Dr. Gabriel Ehrlich and Dr. Michael Horrigan

1:15 – Segment Two: Powering Michigan Forward Keynote from Quentin Messer, Jr.

1:40 – Segment Three: Growing Southwest Michigan Together Panel featuring Dr. Edward Montgomery, Carlos Rangel, Matt Briden, and Carla Sones

2:30 – Networking and Dessert

2:50 – Segment Four: Growing Southwest Michigan Together Keynote with Jonas Peterson

3:10 – Segment Five: Game Changing Projects Panel featuring Bill Johnston, Kelly Trice, Tom Zahrt, and Greg Dobson

3:45 – Closing Feature with Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s Jessica Mallow Gulley

3:55 – Closing Remarks

4:00 – Reception

Learn about the key social, economic, and business trends impacting our communities.
Celebrate major projects, accomplishments, and regional advancement.
Engage with community and business leaders to advance our regional economy.


2024 Sponsors

Blue Cross Blue Shield of MichiganIPUSA & GLC

Questions about our first annual State of Economic Development event?
Contact Nick Riashi via email or call 248.766.4342