MSAA General Membership Meeting, Thursday, April 2, 2015, 8am, Conor O’Neill’s

Introduction to SPARK – Donna Doleman, Senior Vice President, Operations and Communications

Certified Tourism Ambassador Program – Amanda Redies, Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

April 2nd, 2015

Those present: Tom Murray and Caroline Kaganov, Conor O’Neill’s; Amy Cameron, Ithaka; Susan Pollay, Downtown Development Authority; Lynda Cole, WSG Gallery; Chris Baker, Ann Arbor State Bank; Nancy Shore, getDowntown/AAATA; Mark Passerini, Om of Medicine; Antoinette Vega, Shinola; Judy Comstock and Andrea Klein, Republic Parking; Nick Yribar, Vault of Midnight; Pippa Creffield and Natalie Zolg, Abracadabra Jewelry; Sarah Miller and Amanda Redies, AAACVB; Donna Doleman, SPARK; Neil Van Houten, Pangborn Collection; Sarah Newland, Crazy Wisdom; Elmo Morales, Elmo’s Main Street T-Shirts; Megan Winkel and Nathan Rice, Ann Arbor Art Center; Frank Wilson, iT…The Boutique; Pem Sherpa, Himalayan Bazaar; Ron Stevens, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center

Tom Murray, President of MSAA
Greetings and Introductions

Donna Doleman, Senior Vice President of Operations and Communications; Ann Arbor SPARK:
Introduction to SPARK
Ann Arbor SPARK is a non-profit economic development organization whose mission is to advance the economy of the Ann Arbor region by establishing the area as a desired place for business expansion and location. They work to attract businesses and entrepreneurs through promoting the region and creating awareness of opportunities, as well as providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.

SPARK accomplishes their goals by focusing on three core areas:
1. Business development – collaborating with local companies in site location, finding incentives, and working with state and local government
2. Entrepreneurial services – offering office space and professional counsel
3. Marketing the region to world class talent – 65% of people choose where to work before who to work for. Ann Arbor is a vibrant center of arts, culture, innovation and education that also boasts proximity to an international airport

SPARK’s Business Development Department partners with growing companies to secure venture capital. They have worked with 14 deals that have created investment in our area and economy, with companies such as Llamasoft, Barracuda, Toyota and Nutshell.

The expansion of industries such as these supports local businesses. SPARK also offers online support to any company or business through their Virtual Business Advisor. For more information on this as well as events and workshops, visit their website at

Amanda Redies, Bureau Services Manager & CTA Program Director, and Sarah Miller, Vice President, Finance and Administration; Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau:
Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Program
The CTA Program is a nationally recognized certification program with the objective of increasing regional tourism by inspiring employees to turn every visitor experience into a positive one. Everyone, including those in the hospitality industry, is part of the total visitor experience. Through this program employees can sign up for a class where they will learn about the area, how to exceed customer expectations, and how to be a salesperson for Washtenaw County. Those who complete the class receive a CTA designation that can be added to their credentials to facilitate networking, as well as access to the CTA website which offers freebies, discounts, and opportunities for ongoing learning.

The class is four hours long and costs $25. Yearly renewal is achieved through a point system and renewal fee – points can be earned by visiting local sites and staying connected with the community.

The next membership meeting will be Thursday, May 7th. Mayor Christopher Taylor will be speaking, as well as Community Engagement Officers Doug Martell and Tom Kooy.

Fool Moon is April 10 and Festifools is April 12, with street closures for both events.

Vault of Midnight will be hosting their Free Comic Book Day on May 2nd.

Abracadabra will be having a Gallery Trunk Show May 1st and 2nd.

May is Commuter Challenge Month. Find more info and register at

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