The Midwestern Legislative Conference Economic Development Committee provides a forum for Midwestern legislators to examine issues affecting the economic conditions of individual states within the Midwest and the region as a whole. It includes legislators from the 11 member states of the MLC and four Canadian provinces. Michigan Rep. Eileen Kowall and Nebraska Sen. Heath Mello serve as co-chairs of the committee.

MLC Economic Development Committee roster »

Since its creation in 1996, the committee has studied a number of issues impacting the economic health of the Midwestern states, including tax and financial incentives, technology-led economic development, venture capital, workforce development and regional growth strategies.


Committee will meet July 13 in Omaha

The committee will next meet on July 13 in conjunction with the MLC Annual Meeting in Omaha, Neb. The preliminary agenda can be found below; if you have questions about the upcoming meeting, please contact Laura Tomaka, CSG Midwest staff liaison to the committee.
PDF of agenda »


Committee Agenda ~ Noon-4:30 p.m. ~ July 13 ~ Hilton Omaha

noon–12:30 p.m.
Lunch, Welcome and Introductions
12:30-1:45 p.m.
Economic Gardening: “Grow Your Own” Development and
Growth Strategies
Economic gardening — pioneered over 20 years ago in Littleton, Colorado — is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that focuses on creating an environment that supports and nurtures existing businesses rather than on policies that encourage business relocations. This session will explore the economic gardening approach to supporting second-stage growth companies and discuss the tools needed to implement this “grow from within” strategy. 
  • Ms. Susan Holben, Economic Gardening Program Administrator, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • Ms. Lara Huskey, Deputy Director, Nebraska Department of Economic Development
  • Mr. Joe Fox, Business Innovation Manager, Nebraska Department of Economic Development
1:45-2:30 p.m. 
A Case Study in Cross-State Economic Development Strategies: The Omaha-Council Bluffs Economic Development Partnership
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announced in January that the Advance Southwest Iowa Corp. and the Greater Omaha Development Partnership would enter into a partnership to build and market the cross-state region to potential businesses. Attendees will learn about this unique cross-state partnership and discuss the implementation of a five-year plan to grow and attract businesses, market the region and develop the workforce.
  • Mr. Mike Dellinger, Executive Director, Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation
  • Ms. Paula Hazlewood, Senior Director of Business Assistance, Retention and Expansion, Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership
  • Mr. Sean Johnson, Executive Director, Gateway Development Corporation
2:30-3:15 p.m. 
U.S. Cluster Mapping Project: Benchmarking and Economic Performance of Clusters and Regions
Lee Munnich, senior fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, will present data on competitive clusters in the Midwest region using the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s U.S. Cluster Mapping Project. He will highlight examples of competitive clusters throughout the Midwest and demonstrate how the tool can be used for future regional economic development efforts. Munnich will also show how policymakers in Minnesota are using cluster mapping to guide economic development and transportation policy in that state.
3:15-4:15 p.m. 
Reinventing University Roles in a Knowledge Economy
Universities have come to play a vital development role in many local economies and are now considered key partners in technology-led economic development.  In this session, the committee will explore the emergence of the economic development role of universities and, using the 12 universities highlighted in Innovation U 2.0, will discuss best practices for policies and programs related to technological innovation, industry and community engagement, and the commercialization of inventions.
  • Dr. James Linder, Interim President, University of Nebraska
  • Dr. Louis Tornatzky, Partner, Brown Dog Partners
4:15-4:30 p.m.
Other Committee Business



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MLC Committees

The bipartisan MLC committees are made up of state and provincial legislators from across the Midwest. They foster the regional exchange of information and ideas on key policy issues impacting the region and its states. They also facilitate interstate cooperation.