State, University and city leaders met yesterday morning to discuss the future of Ann Arbor without Pfizer.
The group announced the creation of the Pfizer Strategic Working Action Teams to brainstorm and implement ideas for the development of the 177-acre Pfizer complex that borders the University’s North Campus. Seven different committees will each study a different aspect of the economic and personnel issues that surfaced after the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer announced it would leave the state, eliminating 2,100 jobs in Ann Arbor.
After only a week of preparation, the committee announced its plan in a press conference at the Michigan Informational Technology Center yesterday.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, University President Mary Sue Coleman, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Michael Finney presented the agenda.
Pfizer liaison David Canter represented the corporation at both the meeting and press conference.
“I’m enormously proud of what our group has put together,” Coleman said.
Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization that helps establish a healthy business community in the city, spearheads Strategic Working Action Teams.
It is in charge of providing updates on Strategic Working Action Teams projects by providing regular updates in town hall meetings and by posting on their blog at www.annarborspark.org.
The organization will also field calls and inquiries about the Pfizer property and future of the complex.
All ideas will be directed to the company, which already received more than 100 in the past week.
Strategic Working Action Teams consists of five objectives embodied by seven committees. Each committee is chaired or co-chaired by a community figure or University employee.
The Talent Team, which is concerned with keeping Pfizer employees in Ann Arbor, is co-chaired by Kenneth Nisbet, the University’s executive director of technology transfer.
Granholm, Coleman, Hieftje and Finney said they agreed the main focus is to find ways to keep current employees in the city.
The group announced that the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth has made a $1 million commitment to assist dislocated workers.
“We will not stop until we’ve kept these workers,” Granholm said.
Two sub-teams, working together as the Community Team, will focus on municipal impact and quality of life in the city. City Council member Joan Lowenstein (D-Ward 2) and Jim Kosteva, the University’s director of community relations, will each head one group.
The Business Attraction Team, headed by Eastern Michigan University’s Business Dean David Mielke, will identify uses for excess equipment, form a plan to make the complex attractive to prospective lessees and offer support for start-up companies and business accelerator services.
The team will collaborate with the Business Development Team, headed by the University’s Vice President of Research Stephen Forrest and Rich Sheridan of Menlo Innovations, an Ann Arbor software firm.
The Policy and Funding team will address legislative issues surrounding potential business developments. It will be co-chaired by Rick Snyder, Ann Arbor SPARK chairman, and Phil Power, a former University Regent.
The Policy Team will also establish a network for sharing information between community leaders, businesses and employees.
The final group is the Site Team, headed by Ann Arbor City Administrator Roger Fraser. The team will tackle the development possibilities for Pfizer’s vacated property on Plymouth Road.
Finney said he has received a lot of interest in the Pfizer property, including from alternative energy companies, pharmaceutical corporations, and biotech companies. Although the group doesn’t have a preferred solution, Finney said he would prefer an innovative technology company.