As the Detroit Regional Chamber's economic development arm, the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership is funded almost completely by investors from the private sector, and a large part of Executive Director John Carroll's role is to identify and meet with potential investors.
Carroll meets with 30-40 potential investors each year. These meetings stem from contacts he and his economic development team have made at events or while traveling (the team travels the world with the goal of bringing new businesses to the Detroit Region) and also from other investors.
During a typical meeting with a potential Partnership investor, Carroll gives an overview of the Partnership's work and gets to know the scope of the company's work to evaluate if it is a good fit for both parties. Carroll carefully works to find ways to meet each individual investor's business goals; the Partnership frequently gives business referrals to new companies locating in the area, and the referrals are generally selected from the Partnership's pool of nearly 100 investors. In this way, investors are continually connected with new business opportunities and are the first to know about new companies locating to the area.
The meetings pay off: during the 2007-2008 program year, the Partnership raised $1.4 million from investors who support its work to strengthen the Detroit Region's economy. Operating on a budget of close to $1.7 million, the Partnership raises the additional revenue needed through foundations and grants. This year the Partnership received money through a U.S. Department of Labor grant, WIRED (see opposite page), for its Open Innovation Strategy, which works to match technological development in this region with technology needs globally, and vice versa.
The Partnership also maintains frequent contact with the county economic development offices, which make up the public sector investors, referring people and companies, discussing issues and developing relationships in order for the offices to continue to work together and add value the businesses locating to this region.