Our story

The Office of Economic Development emerged out of the Great Recession, when WSU President Irvin D. Reid (1997-2008) envisioned a greater role for the university as an anchor institution and economic driver, as engaged and invested in our neighborhood and city as with our core educational mission. President Reid initiated several key projects to help strengthen Midtown as the neighborhood and city began its economic recovery, including expanding on-campus housing and leading the university's first off-campus real estate development. The Studio One housing and retail project opened in 2008, when real estate development was at a standstill elsewhere in the city. It was the first major residential market-rate project of its kind in the city in 30 years.
In 2011, President Allan Gilmour established the Office of Economic Development (OED), naming Ned Staebler vice president for economic development and making Wayne State one of the first universities in the U.S. to create a cabinet-level office to lead economic development strategy. From an initial staff of two, OED has grown to a team of 15, overseeing numerous programs and initiatives designed to meet the needs of our community and our city in a given moment. With a focus on place, business and talent, we collaborate with an array of community partners, including numerous philanthropic and corporate donors who share our vision of a university deeply engaged in and with its community. Our major supporters include the Ford Foundation, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation.

In addition to leading programs and initiatives, OED serves as a convener and connector, ensuring the university's investments and efforts maximize impact. We are proud that Wayne State's role as an economic driver has been recognized by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, which has named us an Innovation and Economic Prosperity university—a designation honoring higher education institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to economic engagement.

Today, as we emerge from another economic crisis, the greatest of our time, we're working in close partnership with WSU president M. Roy Wilson, along with our many partners across the university and throughout our community, to create a sustained, equitable recovery. Our mission and vision remain as relevant as ever: To strengthen the Detroit region's neighborhoods, businesses and leaders, creating lasting prosperity and opportunity for all.