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Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - October 2013 Newsletter: Q&A with Velocity Collaboration Center Staff: "Barry Hicks, Economic Development Manager, City of Sterling Heights"

Mac-OU INC is pleased to welcome Barry Hicks, the new economic development manager for the City of Sterling Heights, to Velocity! Barry is responsible for business retention/recruitment and assists the City Manager’s Office with marketing to prospective industries and prospects. In addition, he is responsible for maintaining relationships with other government & non-profit industries and the business community/stakeholders to assure agencies are working cooperatively to create the best and most business friendly environment possible in the City.

For the past seven years, Barry has been part of a City Administrative team specializing in Planning & Economic Development, most recently as Planning Director/Economic Development Manager for the City of Jackson, MI, following his position as Planning Director for the City of Albion. He has also served roles such as Interim Department Head for various City Departments as well as Interim City Manager.

“One of the reasons it was so attractive to accept this position with the City of Sterling Heights was because of how uniquely positioned the City has made itself. Through the efforts of previous Economic Developers and the current City Administration and Council, the City now can utilize various resources and partnerships. One of those partnerships in particular is with Macomb County and Oakland University in which, through the Smart Zone legislation provided by the State of Michigan, the Velocity Center was born,” Barry says.

“It is wonderful to see the interest and passion from so many people to support a collaborative effort to provide high-tech business start-up resources. This type of partnership will help foster the business leaders of tomorrow right here in Sterling Heights.”

Favorite Pastime: "I have played the guitar for about 16 years. Before moving to Sterling Heights, I was in a cover band for eight years that played all over Michigan. I am no longer in a band since moving here, but I still play the guitar for fun. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be in another band!"

Favorite Food: "I have an almost crippling weakness for good pizza. I think my affinity for cheese is genetic."

Last Book Read: "'Small Talk Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success!' by Diane Windingland. The reason I read this book is the same reason I read most the things I do. I like reading books/articles that present some type of understanding of the science behind the psychology of human interactions and behavior. What can I say – the way people get into their own heads is fascinating to me!"

Best Memory in Economic Development:
"In 2010, when I was working in Jackson, Michigan, I was on a retention visit with a medium-sized tool & die company when the President/CEO informed me that they had successfully procured a government contract with the DoD as a result of the assistance they received through the local PTAC. Not only had they won the contract, but also he informed me that they would be investing millions in their local facilities, creating 25 new jobs in their company, and would likely create 35 spin-off jobs as a result of using local suppliers. He then gave me the bad news – the bank would only lend them enough money to get them within $100,000 of the capital they needed to invest in new equipment to fulfill the contract. Thinking quickly, I was able to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use the City's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to create a short-term (six month) loan to fill the gap in financing for the company. While there were plenty of skeptics who thought the loan would never get repaid, the company not only repaid the loan in full, but in only three months (half the time) and created the jobs they promised. It was a win for the City and for the company, which now has a standing relationship with the DoD and has since won several other contracts."