DETROIT-Wayne County has a new economic development chief. Mulugetta Birru, who spent 25 years in various economic development positions in the Pittsburgh area, has been named the first executive director of the Greater Wayne County Economic Development Corp., Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano says.

Since 1992, Birru had been executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. Birru also has been president of the Pittsburgh Economic & Industrial Development Corp. since 1995.

Ficano says Birru’s experience of dealing with the cyclical nature of the steel industry in the Pittsburgh region should translate well to the Detroit area, where the auto industry is king. Birru also will lead the county’s revamped Economic Development Department, which oversees $15.3 million in community development block grants and $27 million in New Market tax credits.

Birru holds a doctorate in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, master’s degrees in economics and business administration from Syracuse University and a bachelor of arts in management and accounting from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He is a native of Ethopia.

Birru’s hiring has yet to be approved by the Wayne County Commission, which is required before he can begin the $175,000 a year job.

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