Speakers & Panelists

The State of Economic Development 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. We want to unveil and introduce our speakers and panelists as we move closer to January 25, 2024.

Gabriel Ehrlich

Dr. Gabriel Ehrlich

Economic Forecaster, University of Michigan
Director of Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics

Dr. Gabriel M. Ehrlich is an economic forecaster at the University of Michigan, where he is the Director of the University’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE). He has published widely in academic journals, and his research has been discussed in the Economist, the Financial Times, and the Washington Post. Gabe oversees RSQE’s forecasts of the U.S. and Michigan economies, and he presents regularly to the Michigan Legislature and Governor about Michigan’s economic and fiscal prospects. He also gives frequent interviews on the economic outlook both in print and on the air. He is a coauthor of The U.S. Economic Outlook for 2023–2024 and The Michigan Economic Outlook for 2023–2024.

Michael Horrigan

Dr. Michael Horrigan

President, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Michael Horrigan, President of Upjohn Institute since 2019, oversees the study of policy-related work to understand and alleviate the problems of unemployment, the changing nature of employment relationships and the quality of jobs, and place-based policies to improve community prosperity. The Institute also runs innovative workforce programs in four area counties to directly assist individuals to overcome the barriers they face in finding and keeping good-paying, in-demand jobs. In his role at the Institute, he gives dozens of speeches each year on national, state, and regional macroeconomic and labor trends.

Quentin Messer, Jr.

Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEcD

CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
President and Chair, Michigan Strategic Fund

As CEO and Chief Economic Competitiveness Officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and President and Chair of the Michigan Strategic Fund, Quentin implements and executes MEDC’s core mission of business development and attraction, community development, providing access to capital and enhancing Michigan’s brand with a focus on building a strong, equitable economy for all Michiganders. He manages the administration of all programs, funds, personnel, contracts, and other administrative functions of MEDC.

Dr. Edward Montgomery

Dr. Edward Montgomery

President, Western Michigan University

Dr. Edward Montgomery is the ninth president of Western Michigan University. A nationally recognized labor economist, educator and administrator who played major roles in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, President Montgomery today spearheads initiatives at Western that help students ignite their purpose, explore their well-being and prosper in an ever-changing world. In a nationally historic boost to these efforts overseen by Dr. Montgomery, the University received the largest gift ever made for a public university.

Jonas Peterson

Jonas Peterson

CEO, Southwest Michigan First

Jonas currently serves as CEO of Southwest Michigan First. In that role, he leads a talented team focused on strengthening the regional economy and positioning SMF as a national leader in economic and community development. Prior to joining SMF, Peterson served as President and CEO of Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA). During his tenure, LVGEA quickly become one of the largest and most influential nonprofit business associations in Nevada.