Ned Staebler, Wayne State University's vice president for economic development, has been appointed president and CEO of TechTown Detroit, the Detroit business accelerator and incubator founded in partnership with the university in 2000. The TechTown board of directors approved the appointment following a March 2 vote. Staebler will continue to serve in his current role at the university after officially starting his new position at TechTown on March 9. He will succeed outgoing president and CEO Leslie Smith, who has been named president of the new Entrepreneurship-Powered Innovation Center in Memphis.
"My expanded role provides an opportunity to more closely align the innovation efforts of Wayne State University and TechTown," said Staebler, whose office oversees several small business support programs, including the Blackstone LaunchPad student entrepreneurship center, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and The Front Door for Business Engagement. "In addition to the university's existing entrepreneurship programs, we will soon be launching the Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute in our College of Engineering. This is the perfect time to build on the already close relationship between the university and the city's business innovation hub."
TechTown supports both technology-based and traditional businesses through programs such as SWOT City, Retail Boot Camps and the Detroit Technology Exchange. It has been especially important to the city's economic revitalization in the years following the nationwide financial crisis. Between 2007 and 2014, the organization has served 1,026 companies, which raised over $107.26 million in startup capital and contributed 1,190 jobs to the local economy.
"TechTown is an incredibly effective conduit for transferring the economic power and innovative energy of a public research university directly to the people in our community," said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. "Ned's leadership at TechTown will strengthen the connection Wayne State has to our community as an economic driver."
"Ned has worked closely with TechTown for years and has a clear understanding of the unique role it has in the revitalization of Detroit," said Chris Rizik, chair of the TechTown Executive Committee. "He is really the ideal person to lead TechTown going forward, and I'm looking forward to working with him in his new role."
Prior to joining Wayne State in 2011, Staebler served as the vice president for capital access and business acceleration at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state's lead advocate for business development and economic growth. There, he oversaw the Michigan Strategic Fund Board and the 21st Century Jobs Fund, a $2 billion, 10-year initiative to transform Michigan's economy. As part of these efforts, Staebler led the investment and management of $600 million in state funds into entrepreneurial companies, venture capital and private equity funds, and strategic service providers.
Staebler earned a B.A. from Harvard University with a concentration in government and an M.S. in comparative politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. While in London, he was an associate director at Bear Stearns International Limited, managing the firm's electronic market making group.
Staebler, who grew up in Detroit and graduated from the University of Detroit High School, lives in Ann Arbor, where he is vice chair of the Local Development Finance Authority. He also serves on numerous other boards, including Midtown Detroit Inc., NextEnergy, MichBio and the Detroit Historical Society.