Eslinger Named NMU Point Person for Economic Development
Robert “Bob” Eslinger has been promoted to special assistant to the president for economic development and director of the Center for Innovation and Industrial Technologies at Northern Michigan University. The center is based in the NMU Jacobetti Complex.
As special assistant, Eslinger will guide Northern’s strategic approach to economic development, especially in the Upper Peninsula. He also will coordinate university activities related to community engagement on economic development initiatives and provide guidance on university research specific to economic development, workforce and talent issues.
The new Center for Innovation and Industrial Technologies is composed of three existing departments: technology and occupational sciences, engineering technology, and continuing education and workforce development. Eslinger will serve as the principal non-academic administrative officer for the center.
“The goal is to raise awareness of the programs offered in the Jacobetti Complex, both for industries that might benefit from the training provided here and for prospective students who could possibly stay in the Upper Peninsula to work after they graduate,” he said. “Historically, the focus seems to be more on the facility than the programs. People have grouped everything together as ‘the Jacobetti.’ Every time you take a business owner, community leader or government official on a tour, the first response is always, “I didn’t know you did that here’ or ‘NMU has a program in that?’ We want to change that by putting attention on the programs, where it belongs, and by creating synergy between the three organizations involved in industrial technology, innovation and workforce training.”
As director of the center, Eslinger also will work to expand NMU’s connection with regional businesses and schools. He will improve the university's understanding of the talent needs of regional industry and promote NMU’s industrial programs to schools, potential students and U.P. businesses.
“Bob is highly qualified in all matters related to economic development and workforce training,” said NMU President David Haynes. “Having one person oversee this coordinated effort will make it easier for community and business leaders to establish contact and begin a more efficient and productive dialogue on these issues.”
Eslinger previously served as executive director of business services for Michigan Works! and the Six County Employment Alliance, where he assisted U.P. businesses with their workforce and training needs. He was hired by NMU in May 2011 to oversee the continuing education and workforce development department. Eslinger also directs the Center for Rural Community and Economic Development at NMU. He said the plan is to fold those functions into the new Center for Innovation and Industrial Technologies.