Graig Donnelly has been named assistant vice president for economic development at Wayne State University and chief strategy officer at TechTown Detroit. In his new role, Donnelly will guide the Office of Economic Development’s (OED) civic leadership and placemaking initiatives, lead TechTown’s efforts to leverage its Midtown headquarters as a catalyst for entrepreneurial and neighborhood development, and develop strategies to further integrate the work of OED and TechTown.
TechTown, a nonprofit business accelerator and incubator, was founded by Wayne State, Henry Ford Health System and General Motors in 2000. The organization works in close partnership with Wayne State’s Office of Economic Development, the university’s hub for catalyzing business activity in Midtown and across the Detroit region. Ned Staebler, Wayne State’s vice president for economic development, was concurrently named president and CEO of TechTown last year.
“The Office of Economic Development and TechTown have been working closely together for the last year to align our entrepreneurship and small business support programs and deepen our impact,” said Staebler. “Graig’s appointment affords us an opportunity to think even more critically about this partnership and the best ways to build on our complementary resources and shared vision to drive economic development in Detroit.”
For the last three years, Donnelly served as director of Wayne State’s Detroit Revitalization Fellows (DRF). Under his leadership, the program has become a national model for civic leadership. In addition to DRF, programs within the Office of Economic Development include Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Blackstone LaunchPad student entrepreneurship center and the Front Door for Business Engagement. TechTown’s programs include the TechTown Business Incubation Center, the DTX Launch Detroit summer accelerator for college students, Retail Boot Camp and SWOT City, which provides one-on-one business coaching for small businesses in Detroit’s neighborhoods.
“Wayne State and TechTown are two of Detroit’s most important economic drivers. Wayne State has a $2.5 billion annual economic impact, while TechTown has helped create more than 1,200 jobs in the last eight years,” said Donnelly. “I look forward to playing a larger role within both organizations to build a more collaborative, creative and inclusive future for the Detroit region.”
Donnelly holds a master’s in architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy and has 15 years of community development and nonprofit leadership experience in Detroit and New York City. He is co-founder and board president of Young Nation in Southwest Detroit, and serves on the boards of Jefferson East, Inc. and Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation. He is a founding member and serves on the executive committee of the Grosse Pointes chapter of the NAACP. Donnelly’s appointment took effect April 11, 2016.
The Office of Economic Development leads Wayne State University’s efforts to catalyze business activity and promote a vibrant Midtown Detroit. The office works across the university to leverage Wayne State’s assets — talent, research and technology, facilities and services, and real estate — to stimulate growth and strengthen Midtown and neighborhoods across the city.
TechTown is Detroit’s business innovation hub. As the city’s most established business accelerator and incubator, TechTown provides a powerful connection to a broad network of resources, catalyzing entire communities of entrepreneurs best poised to energize the local economy.