The University Research Corridor, a collaboration of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University that aims to strengthen the state’s economy by pooling resources, took another step forward today when it announced the hiring of its first executive director.

Jeff Mason, currently the senior vice president and chief business development officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will take the position July 6.

According to a University press release, Mason has led MEDC’s efforts to attract national and international businesses to the state, expand local businesses and focus on job retention. MEDC assisted more than 205 companies to make over $60 billion in private investments — creating and retaining more than 100,000 jobs in 2008.

Mason wrote in the press release that he was thrilled to take the position with the URC in order to continue his work in strengthening the state’s economy.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be part of the URC and the chance to help drive economic development involving these three powerful research universities,” Mason wrote.

As the executive director of the URC, Mason will have the responsibility of working with the URC presidents and will be based in Lansing, near the state capitol. His proximity to the state and regional economic agencies builds on Mason’s prior experience of working with these groups as well as with University and political leaders.

University President Mary Sue Coleman wrote in a press release that Mason’s selection will allow for advancements in Michigan.

“Our three universities are working to really collaborate on a deeper level than we ever have in the past, and Jeff’s presence will enhance our drive to advance technology, innovation and creativity in our state,” Coleman wrote.

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