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MEDC chief steps down, Snyder picks replacement

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan economic development chief Steve Arwood is resigning after more than two years directing a financially flush semi-private state entity that doles out economic incentives for private projects.

Arwood has been chief executive of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation since January 2015 and is resigning June 30 to spend more time with his family “and enjoy a pure Michigan summer,” according to a press release from Gov. Rick Snyder’s office.

Snyder is recommending the MEDC appoint Jennifer Nelson as interim director, who has worked for the MEDC for 11 years. She was previously the executive vice president of business development for the same public-private entity.

Arwood’s wife, Cheri, also recently retired as extradition coordinator in Snyder’s office, the Snyder administration said.

“Steve has served the people of Michigan tirelessly in so many ways and I am thankful for his willingness to step in and step up wherever he was needed,” Snyder said in a statement Wednesday. “I wish him and Cheri well as they step away from public service. I hope they both appreciate how much their hard work has meant to helping with the reinvention of Michigan and providing a bright future for generations of Michiganders.”

The 54-year-old Arwood expressed his gratitude in a statement Wednesday “for the opportunity to have served in Gov. Snyder’s administration in multiple roles. Coming out of the lost decade, we’ve made significant improvements to Michigan's business climate and the momentum continues to grow.”

Before being hired by the Snyder administration, Arwood worked at Windlab Development US, and as deputy director at the Michigan Jobs Commission under Republican former Gov. John Engler. He was also director for the Michigan House of Representatives Programs and Policy and the National Federation of Independent Business in Michigan.

Snyder praised the incoming interim director.

“Jennifer is a natural choice to help us with this transition at the department,” the governor said. “She knows the department inside and out, and is a key leader in all major business projects and marketing initiatives that are helping to grow Michigan.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com