Mount Pleasant Economic Development Corporation Hosts Mike Grella on a 3-day Listening Tour
Mount Pleasant, TEXAS- Mount Pleasant Economic Development Corporation (MPEDC) hosted Mike Grella, former Amazon executive, on a 3-day familiarization and listening tour from July 13-16, 2021. The MPEDC partnered with Grella Partnership Strategies to help structure an economic development-specific strategic plan, provide ongoing project support, and assist with marketing efforts for Mount Pleasant.
Mr. Grella met with various community leaders and stakeholders, including elected officials, manufacturing CEOs, education leaders, the city’s department heads and development team, and the Chamber of Commerce and economic development board of directors, to better understand Mount Pleasant’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Mr. Grella also toured four major manufacturing facilities in the city and attended dinners with financial institutions, real estate brokers, and community leaders.
Mr. Grella’s listening tour culminated in a community stakeholder debrief and feedback luncheon held July 16, 2021, at the Civic Center. At the debrief, Mr. Grella said he was impressed by the community’s ubiquitous support during the 3-day listening tour. Mr. Grella said, “Every time I’ve had a meeting, frankly, the bar has gotten a little bit higher.”
Mr. Grella noted Mount Pleasant’s ability to “punch above its weight class” and added that he was impressed with the city’s ~100,000 population retail trade area and positioning as a trade hub along Interstate 30. Mr. Grella said he especially loved Mount Pleasant’s strong coffee game and existing major industries presence. “Your existing industries are your biggest fans and third-party validators,” he said.
Mr. Grella emphasized how the world is changing and evolving rapidly, hence the importance of a strong partnership with the education sectors. Based on his conversations with K-12 and higher education leadership, Mr. Grella said Mount Pleasant is well-positioned to meet current and future workforce needs. Two noteworthy community assets and differentiators in Mount Pleasant were its excess water availability and electric reliability as one of the few areas in Texas connected to the Southwest Power Pool, not ERCOT, which has been the subject of significant criticism following a winter storm earlier in 2021.
With the increase in remote work, Mr. Grella noted that immediately identifiable drawbacks for the community were affordable workforce housing and better broadband service. These drawbacks, he said, were common concerns voiced across all community sectors during his tour.
Mike Grella has over 26 years of economic development experience as an attorney and advisor, helping communities and companies locate, grow, and thrive.
Mike began the first 17 years of his career serving hundreds of clients, including dozens of the world’s most recognized brands on economic development strategy and expansion transactions providing tax, legal, and financing advice.
In 2012 mike was recruited as amazon’s first global head of economic development. During his seven-year tenure with amazon and its cloud computing division amazon web services where he also served as director of infrastructure, Mr. Grella forged public/private partnerships responsible for more than $10 billion in capital investments, over 50 million of square feet of new development, and 100,000 new jobs in dozens of states and fifteen countries. Mike was also involved in amazon’s original agreement to establish operations in Texas, siting the company’s first facilities in Haslet, Coppell, and Schertz. In 2019, mike formed Grella Partnership Strategies (GPS), an economic development advisory firm helping organizations and communities become more prosperous by embracing cutting-edge technologies, resiliency, data analytics, environmental stewardship, diversity & inclusion, placemaking, and attracting talent for in-demand industries & occupations.