Skip to content

Mission: Michigan Meet-up

22nd February 2022

As mentioned before in my blog, I was on holiday in the States – and having the occasional Thames Estuary conversation too!

While I was there, I was delighted to speak with brilliant colleagues from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Detroit Regional Partnership and Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) while I was in Detroit.

Team from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Detroit regional Partnership join Estuary Envoy Kate Willard OBE in Detroit, Michigan, showing the shape of the state of Michigan by making a T shape using both hands

Team from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Detroit regional Partnership join Estuary Envoy Kate Willard OBE in Detroit, Michigan, showing the shape of the state.


There was an immediate bond and synergy with the team over here in Michigan. A real energy and drive to ‘get great stuff done’. So, lots of common ground, lots of interesting ways we can potentially work together – to the direct benefit of both regions – and we are really looking forward to our next conversations with them.

As Estuary Envoy, I have a responsibility to the UK Government for driving economic growth, investment and innovation in the Thames Estuary. For many years, our success has been built on international trade and investment – and at the Thames Estuary Growth Board, we believe collaboration with areas sharing similar opportunities and interests remains critical to our shared economic success. Michigan is a great place for us to partner with.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) do an amazing job in supporting every region within the State and in promoting Michigan’s image worldwide, and I was interested to hear about the work of the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) as a model of operation. I was delighted to meet Maureen Donohue Krauss, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Partnership (pictured above) – the go to place for business and marketing the region to out-of-state and international companies looking to attract investments and jobs. There is lots we can learn from Team Michigan to help unlock the potential of the Estuary region and lots that we can share by way of return for mutual benefit, so I was extremely pleased to meet with the guys at MEDC whose work has international impact, and to learn about their fabulous programmes.

This is definitely the beginning of a beautiful relationship…

“We enjoyed a very productive conversation with Envoy Willard on a number of areas with a high potential for collaboration,” said Eric Shreffler, Vice President of Market Development at MEDC. “We look forward to welcoming her and her team back to Michigan in the near future to further cement our ties and build upon the great relationships we share with the UK.”

Global Estuary, Global Works

Already, the Thames Estuary is acting on the global stage to drive new growth in many ways: the delivery of the Thames Freeport, the development of a hydrogen strategy and “living lab” and the Estuary’s international approach to digital infrastructure and investment confirm both its presence and potential. And I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss our emerging focus on hydrogen-related opportunities with colleagues at MEDC too.

As Envoy I will look to extend this international collaboration through strengthened relationships with regions around the world where we have common bonds and a shared drive for investment, trade and innovation. I am delighted to have embarked on this relationship building journey with esteemed colleagues at the Japan Local Government Centre and Japan Investment Bank in London last month, and our great colleagues in Chicago and Michigan this month.

Strong relationships with key international partners will benefit the region and our international partners. To deliver the region’s growth potential, I will continue to raise the profile of the Thames Estuary internationally and build meaningful partnerships that deliver great results. And of course, I will continue to share updates here on my blog!

Signing off for now,


Find out more about: