Prima Civitas Reports on Achievements & Accomplishments
Prima Civitas is focused on returning Michigan to economic prosperity through talent, innovation, region building and international connectivity. In 2013, the organization’s programs linked Michigan employers with job-seekers and developed entrepreneurs; built problem-solving capacity within communities; and connected Michigan’s industries with international opportunities. Here are highlights:
- Digital Trails
Working with partners from Northern Michigan, including our lead partner NEMCOG (Northeast Michigan Council of Governments), and across the state, we are leveraging technology, including mobile applications and broadband connectivity, to digitize and market Northeast Michigan’s trail assets. This “digital trails” pilot will increase tourism, spur economic development, provide experiential education opportunities and increase economic activity in trail towns throughout the state. This project is designed to catalyze further development projects that highlight the great resources of this region, led by local champions from throughout Northern Michigan. Plans are underway to replicate this project elsewhere.
- SWOT Analysis/Facilitation
In partnership with a set of confidential partners, Prima Civitas provided significant and sophisticated SWOT analysis and facilitation services for an economic development project in Genesee County. The project brought together key stakeholders from throughout the county to analyze the development of a new market opportunity. PC staff, interns, and fellows/scholars contributed to a successful event that will help catalyze additional work in the near term.
- I-69 International Trade Corridor/Next Michigan Development Corporation
Prima Civitas continued to support the partners of the I-69 International Trade Corridor through the Next Michigan Development Corporation (NMDC). In addition to signing an historic memorandum of understanding with all five NMDCs throughout Michigan, Prima Civitas was recognized for its work in establishing marketing material and criteria for eleven different Renaissance Zone marketing areas. The work of PC and lead program officer Jim Smiertka was even recognized in a March 21, 2013, Forbes.com article, highlighting the work and promise of NMDC for the region and state.
- Flint Business Code Revision
Prima Civitas provided significant and sweeping revisions to business code regulations on behalf of the City of Flint. These revisions not only align local ordinances with updated state and federal law, but also provide a blueprint for how the City can successfully attract and engage with entrepreneurs and businesses. The revisions ensure fiscal responsibility on the part of the City while maintaining an attractive business environment. Of particular note, MSU College of Law externs provided significant capacity, under the direction of lead program officer Jim Smiertka, in making these revisions possible.
- Exporter of the Year Award
In support of the I-69 International Trade Corridor, Prima Civitas facilitated the first ever Exporter of the Year award. The award recognized local businesses that have seen significant growth in product exports, a key goal of the trade corridor. Program staff developed and implemented the award infrastructure on behalf of the trade corridor partners, sought nominations, provided due diligence, and made recommendations where appropriate.
- Gigabit Ready
In an effort to spur the deployment of ultra high speed internet in market-ready regions, Prima Civitas has partnered with both public and private sector entities to enable a fast track approach for gigabit-speed connectivity in Michigan. With initial demonstrations in the Greater Lansing area and the City of Flint, Prima Civitas is cutting through bureaucratic barriers so that the market itself can demand, and receive, access to this infrastructure in a fast and cost effective manner. Our work has been recognized by national partners as cutting edge and will see significant development throughout 2014.
- i6/IP Law Clinic
In support of the federal i6 Green Proof of Concept Center, Prima Civitas continued to provide resources and connectivity for green startups and small businesses throughout 2013. As part of this work, and in partnership with the MSU College of Law, PC facilitated the first ever Intellectual Property (IP) Law Clinic, a feature available to any budding entrepreneur in need of legal services for their IP. The first clinic supported entrepreneurs from the Holland/Grand Rapids area, Flint/Genesee County area, and the greater Lansing area. The clinic was successful enough that a second clinic was established for 2014.
- Design Michigan
Prima Civitas continued to provide key connectivity, strategic development, and administrative support for the creation of Design Michigan, a statewide “association of associations”, supporting the broad and expansive design industry. With anchor partners in Grand Rapids, greater Lansing, and Detroit, Design Michigan provides a platform for leadership for one of Michigan’s least recognized, but most impactful, industries. With the support of Prima Civitas, partners have raised dollars to launch the first ever comprehensive economic impact study of the industry, to be released in the second half of 2014.
- Innovation Ideation
As an example of organic program development, Prima Civitas launched Innovation Ideation in 2013 as a means to support innovation-based strategies at the K-12 level, specifically targeted at underserved and vulnerable student populations. With the goal of creating a more innovative student learning environment, PC partnered with the Grand Rapids Public Schools to explore strategies that would support innovation in and outside of the classroom, with direct impact on the student. In 2014, this programmatic work will expand to other districts across the state, as appropriate.
- Bioeconomy Institute Project/Dreyfus Foundation
In partnership with MSU, Prima Civitas is facilitating the development of a newly funded project by the Dreyfus Foundation of New York, aimed at providing underserved and vulnerable student populations with access to chemistry-based experiential learning activities. Using the MSU Bioeconomy Institute as a field site in Holland, PC is working with school districts around the state to develop a competition-based curriculum where students will produce biodiesel fuel both in the classroom and at the Bioeconomy Institute. The project is a demonstration, with the intent to expand its reach broadly across Michigan with additional funders in the near term.
In support of student innovation, Prima Civitas partnered with the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge, a nationally recognized STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education provider, to engage at least 10 high schools from underserved areas to participate in a national U.S. Army grant experiential learning project. The project, with lead program officer Alyssa Tracey, provides a curriculum and resources in order for students to participate in a yearlong competition that utilizes automotive and green technologies while developing teamwork and entrepreneurial skills. Prima Civitas engaged a dozen schools for this project and developed significant partnerships that will inform future program design as a result. In total, nearly 300 students were exposed to this innovative programming (in one fashion or another) and resources will be made available for a second year of activity as well.
- Young Innovators Competition
In 2013, Prima Civitas awarded nearly $11,000 in cash prizes as part of the 4th Annual Young Innovators Competition. With 110 student teams and nearly 225 students participating from around the state, the 2013 competition was the most successful to date. Eleven teams were awarded prizes, with a grand prize totaling $2,500. In addition to a cash prize, each team was guaranteed technical support for one year to help make their ideas become real; eight of the teams utilized our technical support and our efforts helped secure additional grant dollars and resources. The grand prize winner, a group of students from Williamston High School, traveled to the White House with their idea and met President Obama as part of the annual White House Science Fair. The second place winner received a national award from the Siemens “We Can Change The World” competition, with a $10,000 prize.
A longstanding resource designed to promote and attract foreign direct investment in the United States that has never been successfully used in Michigan, Prima Civitas is partnering with agencies statewide, including the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and the newly formed Michigan Community Development Corporation (MCDC), to manage resources that will enable EB-5 (employment-based immigration, fifth preference) investment in Michigan. Not only is this investment an additional resource for capital projects in both the private and public sector, the EB-5 mechanism also helps attract global talent and new income in a fashion unparalleled. Other states have seen significant success, and PC’s partnership with MSHDA will establish the necessary infrastructure to bring the EB-5 resource to Michigan.
- Center for Global Initiatives
Prima Civitas partnered with the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) in 2013 for the creation of the Center for Global Initiatives (CGI). CGI will support the state’s 28 community colleges as they begin or expand their respective global initiatives. These initiatives range from on-campus activities that support international students to vocational training programs for global projects, both on- and off-campus. In the near term, PC will continue to connect interested community colleges with projects that come about, using this center as a mechanism to gather interested parties and to match the global demand for education and training with the abundant supply offered by Michigan’s community colleges.
- Higher Education Initiatives
Throughout 2013, Prima Civitas was invited to participate in various globally oriented projects in order to deliver Michigan-sourced products, services, and/or education solutions. As a result of significant exposure from work in the Republics of Turkey and Iraq, lead program officers Patrick McRae and Steven Webster continued to expand the reach of Michigan’s exportable “goods” in new areas, including Saudi Arabia and Libya. As these projects continue to develop, PC is uniquely positioned to serve as an intermediary within these projects.
- Turkish Resource Center of North America
In 2013, the Turkish Resource Center of North America (TRCNA) at Prima Civitas continued to serve as a key intermediary between the Republic of Turkey, and its private sector industries, and Michigan. Throughout the year, lead program officers Nurten Ural and Steven Webster, led delegations to Turkey, organized a successful summit, and engaged key partners in Turkey for partnership in Michigan. For example, the Creative Economies Summit brought together counterparts from both countries to explore mutual areas of growth within creative economy industries. Further, TRCNA has connected faculty and researchers from MSU with Turkey’s equivalent of the National Science Foundation, TUBITAK, which paves the way for R&D collaboration and commercialization of new technologies.
- High School Internship Inititiave
With significant program design in 2013, Prima Civitas created a scalable and replicable program for local implementation that provides a framework for high school internships. With a growing demand by school districts to provide students with experiential learning opportunities, lead program officer Amanda Dumond designed innovative programming that addresses the challenges of matching employers with students. In 2014, Prima Civitas will work to fund this work for at least one demonstration.
- Michigan Internship Initiative
Prima Civitas continued to serve as the premiere training provider for internship programs for Michigan’s employers in 2013. With support and partnership from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, lead program officer Amanda Dumond provided training sessions to hundreds of employers through the Employer Internship Training Sessions (EITS). In total, more than 2,200 employers have been trained through this program and have access to the Employer Internship Toolkit, an online resource that provides a legal overview of internships, administrative tips, and helpful templates that will make any internship successful.
- Michigan Center for Career Pathways
In partnership with higher education institutions and key thought leaders from around the state, Prima Civitas and lead program officer Steven Bennett helped lead the creation of the Michigan Center for Career Pathways (MiCCP) in 2013. This partner-based center is designed to support “R&D” in the career pathway arena. Based on a growing number of significant partnerships, MiCCP will support local projects that can test and, ultimately, scale strategies that will help ensure Michigan’s workforce is job-ready using career pathways. The center will help source and cultivate resources, financial and otherwise, that can make possible these R&D demonstrations.
- Partnership with Global Talent Retention Initiative
Prima Civitas partnered with the team at the Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI) at the end of 2013 in order to leverage programmatic opportunities at both organizations. GTRI’s efforts and strategies are closely aligned with PC. The organization focuses on the retention of talented international students who come to Michigan for an education at our top universities. These talented individuals too often go back to their home country after their education, and GTRI strives to create opportunities where Michigan can become their permanent home. The partnership between the two organizations aligns both PC’s international and talent portfolios with the far-reaching work of GTRI.
Administrative & Team Successes
- Fiscal Responsibility
In 2013, Prima Civitas staff continued to improve processes, streamline operations, and reduce expenses for the organization. Under the lead of chief operating officer Dan Thompson, the organization received its cleanest financial audit in history, with no significant weaknesses or material findings. The organization implemented important budget tracking and revenue assumption tools in order to manage cash flow projections, among other key elements. The organization also successfully planned against cash flow gaps for 2014, making available one month of projected revenue based on expense reductions in 2013.
- Team Prima Civitas
Prima Civitas shrunk in 2013 as key team members moved on to great opportunities, but the team added significant capacity nonetheless with new team members. First, the organization successfully recruited Sheri Greenhoe as the new Director of Communications. In this role, Sheri will take the communication and marketing efforts of the organization to the next level, helping the entire team position the organization as a key change agent in Michigan. Second, the organization continued to attract world-class interns/externs to augment our programmatic work. In partnership with MEDC, PC hosted seasoned professionals as interns as part of the Shifting Gears program. These individuals contributed significantly to our internal communications and marketing efforts. In partnership with MSU, PC hosted interns/externs from the MSU College of Law, College of Education, James Madison College, and other areas.
Click here to listen to a March 6 radio interview with Arnold Weinfeld.