Metropolitan Economic Development Association Names New CEO

Gary Cunningham to Further MEDA Mission to Level Racial Economic Gap

Gary Cunningham, president and CEO-elect, Meda (Photo: Steve Wewerka)

Gary Cunningham, president and CEO-elect, Meda (Photo: Steve Wewerka)

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MINNEAPOLIS--()--The Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), with primary focus to provide assistance to businesses owned and managed by entrepreneurs of color, appoints its seventh leader in the non-profit’s storied 43-year history.

Northwest Area Foundation Vice President of Programs and Chief Program Officer Gary Cunningham is the newly appointed president and CEO, succeeding Yvonne Cheung Ho who retires June 30 after helming the organization for 15 successful years.

Cunningham will assume his duties August 18. Meda Senior Director of Consulting Services and Financing, Jan Jordet, will act as interim President and CEO starting July 1.

“Meda is primed for transformational change, and with this appointment, the Twin Cities’ business community is stepping up to the plate to address racial disparities through Meda,” said Doug Eden, Meda board chair and CEO search committee chair. “Gary is the leader who will take Meda to the next level in its ongoing mission to strengthen the minority business community in Minnesota and beyond.”

The issues of racial disparities are complex and will require a multifaceted sustainable approach to be successfully addressed; one key element in addressing the disparities throughout the country is the development of business opportunities.

Meda is unique among economic development associations due to the wealth of services it provides new and existing business owners who are committed to business growth, job creation and community involvement. Meda offers economic development services in three areas: business consulting, financing and assistance to access corporate and government market opportunities.

“I’m thrilled to join an organization so greatly committed to providing business development solutions and resources to help narrow Minnesota’s racial economic disparities,” said Gary Cunningham, Meda President and CEO-elect. “Meda recognizes that the sustainable growth of even a single high-performing minority-owned company can bring jobs and significant economic opportunity to an entire community.”

Meda’s clients hire minority employees at an average rate of over 40 percent, and over the past 43 years, Meda has provided thousands of jobs through its assistance of approximately 19,500 entrepreneurs of color and the start-up of more than 490 businesses. An investment in Meda pays off. For every one dollar invested, it pays an $11.00 return.

Cunningham, a current member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the Humphrey School Dean’s Advisory Council, The Center of Policy Studies at Hamline University and the Metropolitan Council’s Community Development Committee Chair, brings a wealth of private, public, nonprofit and governmental experience that will move Meda to the next level of its evolution to build economic opportunity for entrepreneurs of color. The Meda board of directors is excited to have a leader of Mr. Cunningham's caliber take the helm of this organization at this critical juncture.

It’s that excitement that gives Cheung Ho confidence as she steps away from an organization that was founded by the Twin Cities business community more than four decades ago. One of the founding members, John Stout, still serves on the board today.

“For more than 40 years, Meda has successfully worked with the private, public and nonprofit sectors to support entrepreneurs of color to build their businesses and create employment opportunities for their communities,” said Yvonne Cheung Ho, outgoing president and CEO. “I’ve no doubt Meda will continue to aggressively pursue that mission for 40 more years to come.”

For more information about Meda, please visit http://www.meda.net

Contacts

Metropolitan Economic Development Association
Robert Reese, 612-259-6581
Director of Development and Community Relations
rreese@meda.net

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Contacts

Metropolitan Economic Development Association
Robert Reese, 612-259-6581
Director of Development and Community Relations
rreese@meda.net