Earlier this month the rest of Michigan found out what the staff of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation already knew - we have the best boss in town. On September 14, 2007 Automation Alley announced the winners of its Seventh Annual Awards Gala at the Rock Financial Showplace and George W. Jackson Jr. received the prestigious CEO of the year award. When I asked George how it felt to win such an impressive award he simply stated that he was “honored and flattered”. Humble words for someone that has done so much.
Prior to his current position as CEO of the DEGC, George was Director of Customer Marketing for DTE Energy, where he worked for 27 years. Under George’s leadership the DTE Energy Economic Development Department gained national recognition and was a recipient of the Site Selection Magazine Utility Economic Development Award. During his tenure at DTE George played an influential role in City of Detroit, Southeastern Michigan and State of Michigan economic development programs, projects, initiatives and organizations.
Plenty of people take credit for the businesses that have opened in Detroit, but George is the only person that has had a hand in every deal made in the city for the last five years. He negotiated the relocation of the cement silos that were on the riverfront. He completed the complicated financial package that allowed the renovation of the Book Cadillac to go forward. He also spearheaded the Lower Woodward Improvement Program that improved the streetscapes on Woodward, Washington Blvd. and Broadway, as well as offered grants to building owners to assist in improving their facades. Furthermore, George helped finance, plan and implement three multi million dollar housing developments along the Detroit River. After all that has been accomplished George remains committed to the sustained and focused efforts that have helped turn Detroit around.
George often mentions that he feels that the DEGC is about partnerships. In his words, “nothing we do is ours alone”. This spirit of partnership is clear when looking at the many boards that George serves. He is currently an active board member on twelve different boards in the southeastern Michigan area. In addition to serving these boards, he has teamed the DEGC with other organizations to form the Economic Development Coalition of Southeast Michigan. The DEGC’s participation in the coalition means that George and his staff are better able to access resources throughout the region.
George also encourages partnership and teamwork with his staff at the DEGC. Under George’s leadership the DEGC staff has experienced a true open door atmosphere. No matter your position within the organization, George is always willing to listen to suggestions for improvements, ideas for new programs or just chat with his employees. Not many employees can brag that they had a thirty-minute conversation with their CEO about a golf game, their new house or the grand kids. George’s approachability, sense of humor and demeanor make him more than just a CEO; he is a friend.
Congratulations George! We are proud of you and proud to be a part of your team!