Michigan auto czar resigning

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Michigan’s auto czar is resigning 14 months after being appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to retain and grow the state’s automotive business.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. on Friday announced Nigel Francis, senior automotive adviser and Automotive Industry Office senior vice president, is leaving office to take “a senior executive position with an auto company in the state.”

Francis will be replaced by Kevin T. Kerrigan, who has served with Francis as vice president of the state automotive office, effective Nov. 17.

“I was asked to come in and create a focus for the automotive industry in the state of Michigan, which I think I’ve done,” Francis, who said he could not comment on his new job, told The Detroit News during a phone interview. “It was always recognized I would go back to industry at some stage.”

Snyder created the office and appointed Francis in September 2013 with a mission to strengthen the relationship between the state and its largest economic driver.

During his tenure, Francis, an industry veteran of 20-plus years, launched the office, implemented a long-term growth plan and went on numerous trade missions to Asia and Europe to promote the state. In total, the office held nearly 200 meetings with high-level executives about investing in Michigan.

“Nigel brought a number of achievements in creating the automotive office and developing an automotive sector strategic plan,” Snyder said in a statement. “Kevin has been a key player in the auto office’s successes. The state is well-positioned to sustain Michigan’s global automotive leadership far into the future.”

MEDC President and CEO Mike Finney said Francis will be missed, but Kerrigan “is ably suited to step in” to keep momentum of the office going.

Kerrigan led his own automotive design and engineering company for 20 years and worked at an executive level for Tier 1 suppliers prior to joining the state auto office.

The announcement comes three days after Snyder was elected to his second-term as governor.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

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