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Build Smart, Lead Strong | Collen Killen-Roberts, Rodney Parkkonen - MANUFACTURERS COHORT

Build Smart. Lead Strong.
July 10, 2023 5:00 PM

MGA logo 2In this second episode of the relaunched 'Build Smart, Lead Strong' by conducting a four-part interview with Collen Killen-Roberts, Vice President of Entrepreneurship with the Edward Lowe Foundation, and Rodney Parkkonen, Senior Small Business Manager with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Hear Collen and Rodney join Elizabeth in this conversation about the Edward Lowe Foundation, MEDC, their work with MGA, and the success of the manufacturing cohort held at Edward Lowe Foundation the four-part interview in the SoundCloud PodCast shared below!

Michigan has invested heavily in its small and medium manufacturers (SMMs), yet many are unaware of the opportunities available to them. In this episode, MGA talks with the pair to find out how they both serve manufacturers in Michigan, and much more. Join this episode to learn about the System for Integrated Growth and Second Stage Growth Solutions, two programs available to you through this collaboration between the Edward Lowe Foundation and MEDC.

Colleen Killen-RobertsCollen Killen-Roberts (left) was recruited to the foundation in 2015. In April 2016 she was promoted to director of entrepreneurship and then named divisional vice president of entrepreneurship in December 2018. In her current role she leads the entrepreneurship team in developing programs that help second-stage entrepreneurs get to the next level. These include: the System for Integrated Growth, PeerSpectives® Roundtables, the American Academy of Entrepreneurs®, Leader Retreats at Big Rock Valley, Entrepreneur in Residence and Legacy Council. Killen-Roberts also cultivates appropriate partners to deliver these programs throughout the country and manages the rollout process.

A trained business coach, Killen-Roberts has more than 20 years of operational and fiscal management experience. She played a key role in several second-stage companies as director of operations, CFO and chief of staff, guiding these companies to profitability and record growth. Most recently, she was the director of business operations at Emerson School, a nationally recognized nonprofit school for gifted children in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Among professional recognitions, Killen-Roberts was a finalist in the 2007 Crain’s Detroit Business CFO of the Year award and a Golden Key winner in the 2006 TEC Group for being a leader of leaders.

Killen-Roberts currently serves on the board of Michigan Celebrates Small Business and the Michigan Manufacturing Growth Alliance. In addition to promoting entrepreneurship, she is passionate about her family, pets and community. She is a board member at the Kalamazoo Humane Society and co-chaired a capital campaign that raised more than $4.75 million for an animal resource center.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in administration, accounting and management at the University of Michigan and earned an MBA from Eastern Michigan University, graduating magna cum laude.

Rodney-ParkkonenRodney Parkkonen (left) serves as small business consultant on the Small Business Services team at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In his role, Rodney leads programming designed to help second-stage entrepreneurs gain access to strategic information and participate in valuable retreats and roundtables. Additionally, Rodney’s role includes work in building the state’s trusted connector network and helping grow and align the state’s small business support ecosystem. Before joining the Small Business Services team, Rodney worked on teams devoted to securing new business growth, job creation and investment in the State of Michigan.

Prior to joining the MEDC, Rodney’s career included working with small businesses in various industries and capacities for nearly 20 years. It was these experiences that gave context to the importance small businesses play in their community and the impact they can have on local, regional and state economies. Rodney’s volunteer experience includes coaching middle school and high school sports and serving as a hospice volunteer.

Born in Marquette, Michigan, Rodney earned his bachelor’s degree along with a master’s degree in Human Performance Improvement from Northern Michigan University. He is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council and is nearing completion of his Entrepreneurship Development Professional from the International Economic Development Council. He lives in DeWitt, Michigan with his wife, son and dog. 

Colleen and Rodney also both serve on the board for MGA, the Manufacturing Growth Alliance in Michigan. A big focus of this episode is looking ahead to MANUFACTURERS COHORT – A 3-part process to accelerate growth that includes:

#1: A 3-day, 2-night Leadership Retreat at the Edward Lowe Foundation – October 31- November 2, 2023 in Cassopolis, Michigan

A $1,000 value per participant, which includes program facilitation, lodging, meals, snacks and nonalcoholic beverages.

Oct 31, 9:00 AM EDT – Nov 02, 12:00 PM EDT

Edward Lowe Foundation, 58054 Decatur Rd, Cassopolis, MI 49031, USA

About Manufacturing Growth Alliance
The Manufacturing Growth Alliance champions, serves, and advocates for Michigan's small manufacturers, as they drive solutions that make manufacturing in Michigan the most competitive and prosperous in the nation.

They are a single solution to support your small manufacturing facility, which means they will help you simplify how you find and attain the resources you need for your business, provide simple and easy-to-use tools to find and access resources and save you time and money.

MGA logo 2

More details at: https://www.mgalliance.org/

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  • MGA logo 2
  • A Elizabeth Bernhard, head shot-1
  • EdwardLowe logo
  • Colleen Killen-Roberts
  • MEDC logo
  • Rodney-Parkkonen
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Build Smart. Lead Strong., hosted by Elizabeth Bernhard, highlights the innovative work being done by Michigan manufacturers. She talks with small manufacturers all across Michigan, in rural communities as well as urban that are building smart and leading strong. Industry experts share how they are supporting small manufacturers to innovate, pivot to capture new opportunities, and stay on a growth path.
Elizabeth also wishes to thank Jennifer Deamud, her predecessor in both the Executive Director's role and for her three years as host of this MBN program.

12:00 PM every Monday
Replay: 6:00 PM, Tues. 12:00 AM, 6:00 AM

Additionally a special thanks to Joseph Derrick Marshall-Mosley for providing the music for this program. You can find more of his work at Apple Music: