April 24, 2014
9:33 am

Thirty Year History of Community Transformation

Jeff Noel may well have missed his calling.  He could have been a passionate preacher in the pulpit.  He could have been a presidential speech writer.  He could have been one of the world's leading motivational seminar speakers.  Fortunately for everyone in Michigan's Great Southwest, he came here more than twenty years ago and never left. 

For a very critical period in the evolution of our region, Mr. Noel was the leader of Cornerstone Alliance, the premiere Economic Development agency in the region, and often tabbed as one of the best in the state.  In fact, former Governor Jennifer Granholm was tantalizingly close to getting him to head up the Michigan Economic Development Corporation before Whirlpool Corporation snapped him up and made a strong pitch to retain him here on the homefront.  Congressman Fred Upton publicly applauded that move this week as one of the smartest strategies ever produced by the appliance giant.

I used to work for Jeff.  In fact he was the man who hired me as the Executive Director of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce nearly 20 years ago.  I have always had the utmost respect for his capabilities and his collaborative style.  I have long admired his tour de force in the world of communications, and have told him so on multiple occasions.

I tell you all of this to set the stage for what I think is likely the best speech Jeff has ever delivered.  He did it with no notes, no teleprompter, and virtually without missing a beat for a solid 15-minutes.  It was his capsule compilation of the thirty year history of community transformation against all odds that have brought us to the current day successes evident all around us.

I am deeply grateful that my colleague, WSJM Newsman Michael Arney, captured every word in a digital recording so that thousands of people well beyond the immediate audience on hand that day can hear his message loud and clear.  I have borrowed Mr. Arney's recording at WSJM and share it with you now.  Prepare to be amazed!