Brenda Robbins is Senior Project Manager for Georgia Power. She is responsible for facilitating the location, expansion, or start-up of businesses wishing to invest in Georgia. Brenda assists companies in identifying potential communities, sites or buildings throughout the state; she also provides market evaluation, construction information, engineering assistance, and serves as a liaison between the businesses and governmental agencies involved in the site selection process. Brenda has a strong background in information systems and software, establishing data centers and talent recruitment.
She has extensive expertise and experience with headquarters locations, information technology, finance and insurance, business services, bio science, health IT and data centers. Brenda has worked with more than 150 companies that have established a presence in Georgia, collectively investing more than $7 billion and employing more than 34,000 Georgians.
Brenda is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Metro Atlanta Bioscience Leadership Council and the Alpharetta Technology Commission. She serves on the board of directors of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS® (ACBR) and was named the organization’s 2014 Affiliate of the Year. Brenda was recently honored as one of the 2015 ConsultantConnect Top 50 Economic Developers. Her interests include travel, whitewater rafting, and gardening.
Brenda graduated from Auburn University with a business administration degree in marketing. She completed her Masters in Business Administration at Georgia State University. Brenda is a volunteer with Atlanta Pet Rescue.

Matt McCollister joined the Columbus 2020 team in November 2010. As senior vice president, economic development, he oversees business development strategy and management. Previously, Matt served as vice president of economic development for the Columbus Chamber, business development manager for the Zanesville-Muskingum County Chamber of Commerce and worked as a licensed real estate professional. Matt graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of South Carolina and is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. Matt is engaged with the International Economic Development Council, the Ohio Economic Development Association, the Ohio Sales Partnership, NAIOP Central Ohio and the Central Ohio Commercial Information Exchange.

Jill Miles serves as the National Business Development Officer at the Oregon Economic & Community Development Department, Business Oregon. Jill has held this position for the past 20 years and is highly respected as an economic developer who knows the industry and how to close deals. Jill is an effective advocate of economic investment opportunities for the State of Oregon. Prior to assuming this role, Jill was the National Recruitment Officer for Business Oregon. Jill received a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Oregon University.

Michael Langley is the founding CEO of GREATER MSP, the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. GREATER MSP leads global promotion, regional strategy, and project management for economic growth and job creation in the Minneapolis Saint Paul region, with 3.5 million residents and a Gross Metropolitan Product of over $230 Billion. He brings years of experience to the role as a widely recognized  economic  development  strategist  who  has  also  led  successful  regional economic  development organizations in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Prior to becoming an economic development practitioner, Michael led a successful corporate career, spent primarily in the technology sector working in leadership positions for a number of Westinghouse/CBS  divisions, including  serving  as  President  and  CEO  of  Westinghouse  Audio  Intelligence Devices, Inc., a world leader in wireless surveillance technology.

Michael served as a Navy pilot with more than 5,000 hours of flight and crew time on surveillance and intelligence missions worldwide and as a technology analyst on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. Michael’s community service includes leadership on the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Metropolitan State University Foundation Board of Trustees, the Super Bowl LII Host Committee Executive Board, the NAIOP Board of Directors, and the Board of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mike earned a MS in information systems from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate in Humanities by American Intercontinental University for his work in community improvement.

Laura is the Director of Economic Development for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. Laura assists with prospects, research and business recruitment and retention.

Since joining the Metro Denver EDC, Laura has worked on a variety of office and industrial projects including Vestas, DaVita, Lockheed Martin, Fidelity, Ardent Mills and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company. Prior to joining the Metro Denver EDC, Laura was an Economic Development Specialist for the City of Lakewood for six years. While at Lakewood, Laura coordinated the creation of two urban renewal districts and the relocation of more than 50 businesses that were displaced by the $750 million Belmar redevelopment. Laura brings more than 30 years’ experience in economic development, community organization, and marketing to the Metro Denver EDC.

Laura received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville.

Christopher Chung joined the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) as chief executive officer. As a public-private partnership, the EDPNC performs a number of economic development functions on behalf of the State of North Carolina, including new business recruitment, existing business support, international trade and export assistance, small business start-up counseling, and tourism, sports, and film promotion. Chris has a staff of more than 60 professionals and an annual operating budget of $19 million and is focused on advancing the economic interests of North Carolina’s 100 counties and 10 million residents.

Prior to joining EDPNC, in 2007 Chris served the Missouri Partnership as the public-private, non-profit corporation’s first chief executive officer. In addition to leading the organization through its initial start-up phase, Chris directed the Partnership’s efforts to market Missouri for new business investment and recruit new corporate operations. During his tenure, the Missouri Partnership helped to recruit major facility investments by IBM, CertainTeed, Yanfeng Automotive Systems, Blue Buffalo Pet Foods, KWS Saat AG, and Aviation Technical Services. Chris also previously served as Manager of the State of Ohio’s Office of Business Development, managing an $80 million annual incentives budget and leading Ohio’s front-line sales force dedicated to attracting new business investment and job creation to the state. Prior to that, Chris held various positions in corporate site selection and special projects management, assisting companies considering Ohio for new facilities.

Chris was dubbed a “rising star” last year by Development Counsellors International, which named him among the industry’s “Top 40 Under 40.” In addition, Chris serves as a board of director for the International Economic Development Council and the North Carolina Economic Developers Association.

Chris holds a degree in economics and Japanese from The Ohio State University, where he also completed significant post-graduate course work towards a Master of Arts in public policy and Management from the OSU John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

Jim is currently the President and CEO of the Desoto County Economic Development Council where he focuses on their mission to facilitate, promote and provide effective, unified leadership for economic development and improved quality of life in DeSoto County.

Jim worked as a planning and landscape design consultant in Clarksdale, Mississippi, before becoming planning director and eventually executive director of North Delta Planning and Development District.

He became executive director of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council in 1988 and served in that capacity until 1994, when he accepted a new position as president of the Jackson, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. In 1996 Flanagan returned to the DeSoto Council as president and CEO.

Jim has won numerous awards, including being selected as The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi’s Community Star man of the year award in 2011 for going above and beyond to bring opportunity to his community. In addition, he is responsible for the creation and management of DeSoto Leadership 2000 and the restructuring and administration of DeSoto County Foundation for Excellence in Education, which provides grants to teachers. He was also able to achieve the adoption of the DeSoto County Greenways Plan through the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors.

Jim earned his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University and master’s degree in urban and regional planning from University of Mississippi.

Brien Thorstenberg is the Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Brien leads the effort for an 11 county region comprised of 29 regional partners in Northeast Oklahoma and works in close collaboration with the Workforce and Education Department of the Tulsa Regional Chamber to meet the workforce needs of the region’s targeted industries.

Prior to joining Tulsa Chamber, Brien was the Vice President of Economic Development where he was responsible for the successful management of all primary job creation and capital investment projects. Brien was the project lead on the successful recruitment of the Macy’s Order Fulfillment Center to Tulsa County. This project (the largest in the Tulsa Region since 2004) with a $170 million capital investment employed 1500 people in a $1.3 million state of the art fulfillment center.

Brien is involved in a number of statewide, regional and local economic development organizations: Oklahoma Governors Economic Development Marketing Team, Oklahoma Economic Development Council, Oklahoma Department of Commerce Foreign Direct Investment Team, Tulsa Futures Regional Partnership and Southeast Oklahoma Regional Economic Development.

Brien received his Bachelor of Science degree in management and economics from Oklahoma State University and his Masters of Business Administration in management from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Dan FosterDan Foster heads the incentives practice of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Global Corporate Services as a Managing Director. Dan has over 20 years of experience managing corporate site selection engagements, business incentives projects and economic development consulting assignments.  Dan’s experience and expertise includes domestic and international site selection and location analysis, economic incentives research and acquisition, target industry analysis, program development and demonstrating the economic and fiscal impacts of a wide variety of projects to both corporations and governments.

Prior to joining Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Dan was a director in Duff and Phelp’s Business Incentives Group, based in Detroit. Dan has also previously served as a senior manager and regional practice leader with the credit and incentives practice at Deloitte & Touche and as a senior manager for business incentives services at Ernst & Young LLP.  In addition to Dan’s core expertise, he has significant experience in advising clients in other areas, including manufacturing rationalization and consolidation, relocation feasibility, strategic cost reduction, large capital investment program management, commercial and industrial site evaluation and due diligence methods, detailed labor market/workforce analysis and public sector economic development strategies.

Dan has spoken on a variety of economic development topics at the Tax Executive Institute; New Mexico Governor’s Summit on Economic Development; Expansion Management’s Roundtable in the Rockies; and at various local economic development organizations and Chambers of Commerce.  Dan has also provided expert testimony to the Michigan Senate and House Joint Select Committee on Economic Growth.

Dan received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Hope College and a Master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Gray SwoopeA recognized leader in economic development, Gray Swoope leads the VisionFirst Advisors, LLC team, serving as President and Chief Executive Officer.  After a successful 30 year career managing state, regional, and local economic development organizations, Gray helped launch the VisionFirst economic development consulting practice in March 2015.  The firm, a wholly owned subsidiary of Butler Snow LLP, works with a diverse base of private and public sector clients focusing on ways to gain a competitive edge. Current client work includes location advisory services, designing high performance organizations, business development planning and result driven marketing and communications strategies.

Gray is known for building highly effective teams noted for their ability to devise and implement strategic plans with positive results.  He most recently served in Governor Rick Scott’s administration (2011-2015) as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of its principal economic development organization, Enterprise Florida, Inc.  Under his leadership, Enterprise Florida completed a record fiscal year in 2013-14 and increased competitive projects by 40%, resulting in 73% more new jobs and 95% more capital investment than in 2011.  During Gray’s tenure, Florida announced competitive project wins involving dozens of leading companies including Amazon, Bristol‑Myers Squibb, Deutsche Bank, Embraer, GE, Hertz, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, USAA, United Technology Corporation and Verizon.

Prior to his tenure in Florida, Gray served as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority under then Governor and current VisionFirst Advisors board of director’s chairman, Haley Barbour.  During his tenure at the Mississippi Development Authority, Gray played a vital role in recruiting companies such as Toyota, PACCAR, GE Aviation and SeverCorr (now Steel Dynamics) to the state, resulting in a refocus of the state’s efforts to aggressively support business recruitment, retention and expansion.  He also launched the Priority One Program targeting existing businesses, resulting in a measurable increase in jobs saved and/or created.

In addition, Gray worked with the legislature and the state’s private sector partner, Momentum Mississippi, to enhance economic development performance, thus laying the groundwork for significant new investment and expansion opportunities.  Throughout his service at the MDA, Gray created a team that was recognized as one of the most responsive state economic development organizations in the nation.

Gray earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mississippi State University.