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CEO Podcast: Tim Marshall, Bank of Ann Arbor

March 22, 2024 Podcasts

In this episode, host Paul Krutko welcomes Tim Marshall, president and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor. The conversation explores SPARK’s origins, its impact on the region, and the collaboration between academia, government, and the private sector, as well as SPARK’s contributions to the community, the importance of continued involvement, and perspectives on its future.


Paul Krutko: Welcome to Ann SPARK’s CEO podcast, Conversations on Economic Opportunity. My name is Paul Krutko and I’m the president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.

In celebration of Ann SPARK’s 20th anniversary, we’re going to have a series of podcast episodes with our past chairpersons of the SPARK Board of Directors. Each will share their unique perspectives on SPARK’s impact over the past two decades, proud moments during their tenure, and their thoughts on the future of the Ann Arbor region.

Today we welcome Tim Marshall, who served as the Ann Arbor SPARK Board chair from 2012 to 2015. Tim is the president and CEO of Arbor Bank Corp, Inc. and the Bank of Ann Arbor. Under his leadership, the bank has seen consistent growth, including 10 consecutive years of record earnings. A Purdue University and Butler University graduate, Marshall has over 30 years in the banking industry, previously holding key positions at American Fletcher National Bank and Salin Bank and Trust company. He’s recognized for his community involvement, serving on various boards and participating in economic development and community service initiatives. And I should say, Tim was my initial chair here at SPARK. And so we’ve had-

Tim Marshall: – and what a great decision we made with that, didn’t we, Paul? 

Paul: He’s going to shine on me now for sure. Anyway, thank you for joining us today, Tim. We really appreciate it.

Tim: And interestingly enough, Paul, that the decision to bring you on, and it included the many people that you’re including in this podcast. It was Steve Forrest as the chair, Cynthia Wilbanks, Tim Marshall, David Parsigian, what a great group. And then to have you agree to join the Ann Arbor community and relocate from California, what a wonderful event and what a 10 strike for this community. 

Paul: Well, I thank you. I appreciate that. And the other piece in the sequence of what you’re describing, that opportunity was created because our first chair became Governor of the State of Michigan. And my predecessor, our good friend, and we miss him greatly, Mike Finney, went with him to the State, and that reinforced our relationship with the State of Michigan in terms of what we did here. So yes, and I always say this, we’re a little bit off our script a little bit, but one of the things that I always talk about is how the leaders in the community have stayed with this initiative for the twenty years. So like you say, many people who were there at the beginning are still involved and engaged in a very significant way, which is unusual for these kinds of initiatives in other places. So it speaks to the glue of this particular community. 

So anyway, what was your initial involvement with SPARK, and what motivated that involvement? 

Tim: Well, as you know Paul, I was recruited to come to the Bank of Ann Arbor in 2004 and joined the bank in the summer of 2004. And we’d always had a commitment to the community, giving back to the community, and being a participant in the community had always been part of our DNA since the bank was formed in 1996. And I’ll never forget the ask for a meeting with Governor Snyder and Cynthia Wilbanks representing-

Paul: – Mary Sue Coleman 

Tim: Yeah, President Coleman, thank you, Paul. And to hear the story, to hear the strategy, to hear what the possible outcomes would be, was very easy to embrace and very easy to get behind. And at that point in time, Bank of Ann Arbor was a much smaller organization. Our contributions and sponsorships, while meaningful, were never of a significant six-figure type contribution. And based on the request, which was necessary to provide seed funding, I presented to the board a request for $150,000 to help with the seed funding of Ann Arbor SPARK. And it was made with unanimous support. And everybody could see from a very early stage, a fledgling stage how this could develop into the powerhouse that has become. 

Paul: And that’s what some of the recollections with your peers, the chairs. One of the things I keep going back to is that not only was that commitment there, but it created this unique platform of the academic community, the private sector community, and government working together. And then you, I think working with Governor Snyder, gave the organization a private sector mentality as it did the work that it did then and does now. 

So do you have any particular memorable spark experience or project that stands out to you during the years? 

Tim: I really don’t. I think to identify one project isn’t really fair to all the projects that have been done and the importance of every project, no matter how big or how small, they all create economic impact for this community. And I’ve seen so many since the inception of SPARK, and I got to tell you, I love every one of them. 

Paul: Well, I think that’s a very, very good perspective because the thing is you do look back necessarily isn’t the individual project, it’s the aggregate of the impact over time. 

Tim: Well, your map, it is so impactful. If you haven’t visited the SPARK offices, you should make it a point to stop by and just see the various maps of townships, cities, counties, and to see all the, I mean, there’s barely room to add another flag for the next project that’s been successful because there are so many over the years. And I just applaud everybody on the SPARK team and the effort and the results are incredible. 

Paul: Well, you’ve kind of already spoken to that a little bit. How do you assess the impact that the SPARK initiative has had in the region and in the broader community? 

Tim: I think the one that stands out the most to me, Paul, is dating back to the inception. And we had a number of voices in the community that were trying to do economic development. Some of them were focused more on real estate development. Some of them were more focused on an individual community. And the beauty of bringing this together and over time, merging all these individual voices into one Ann Arbor SPARK voice was a huge transformation. And I think it provided the ability to have one voice and then also to deliver so many more services under one roof. And you think about the services that we provide, retention, talent, capital, entrepreneurial services, the list goes on and on, and none of that was possible with all these individual voices. So I think that it’s been a really good thing for the community, for the region and for the state. 

Paul: Yeah, I think it’s an interesting thing to think about in the sense of the platform and combining everything is really appropriate for a community of our size. If you’re in New York City, let’s use that example. Each of these individual functions might be a separate organization with a separate team and all that. And what we’ve been able to do is really maximize what we can accomplish with a relatively small team, but active in all those areas and coordinating. And so I think I always, I say this, and it’s not intended to be overly complimentary to the founders, but the thought process of what was put in place has served the community well as we go forward. For example, things happen that SPARK may be asked to initiate or lead, like the American Center for Mobility, but at a certain point in time, it gets spun off into something else. But if we didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have taken on that initiative because we needed the academic side, the private sector side, and local government all to work together. 

Tim: I think that speaks to the flexibility and the lack of pride of ownership, that if there’s a better mousetrap, if there’s a better way to execute, and your conversation about the American Center for Mobility is an excellent one. There was a lot of backend work done by Ann Arbor SPARK, and if we would’ve put our arms around it and said, we own this, it never would’ve gotten to the place that it is today with the support from the government and the support from the big three and the foreign automakers who have embraced it. So I think there’s been just a real flexible air about Ann Arbor SPARK that has benefited it and the community over the years. 

Paul: Yeah. One of the things that in the conversation with Cynthia Wilbanks that we talked about, and you’ll recall this, is that when Pfizer left, there was this facility that Roger Newton was working in. There was a tremendous life science facility that SPARK took the risk, Mike brought to the board, that we should preserve that asset. Ultimately, we spun it back off to the state. But that’s an example where had we not done something at that moment, who knows what that facility would be and it wouldn’t be the place it is today with lots of bioscience, early stage companies, and Roger’s successor companies that they’re doing quite well. 

So you’re a highly regarded leader in the community. So the nature of this question is not just related to SPARK, but what’s your advice for leaders in those sectors that we’ve just talked about about getting involved in this kind of activity? Do you have advice about that or encouragement in that way? 

Tim: Well, I think that part of my message would be, if you’ve been supported by SPARK, then you should support SPARK. And there’s a number of different ways you can volunteer. You can commit time and effort, but I think most importantly, we need more people to step up to the plate and provide financial support to make Ann Arbor SPARK even better, doing even more work, expanding our services. It all takes financial support and our core runs on financial support. We have a lot of support from other areas, but they’re pinpointed, they’re segmented. If you look at the work that SPARK does for Ann Arbor, not DDA, what’s the tax increment? 

Paul: Oh, the LDFA-

Tim: Yes, the LDFA. If you look at the work that SPARK does for the LDFA, it’s significant, but it’s very fine-tuned. And there’s a mission that’s laid out by the LDFA as to how they want their dollars spent. And we will never go away from things like that. All the targeted funding also creates opportunity, but I think I’m a broken record around the board table and out in the community is we need more people and we need bigger contributions to support the core work of Ann Arbor SPARK. 

Paul: And I appreciate you speaking to that. I think to amplify your point, for the audience that’s listening, two-thirds of SPARK’s budget is directed by geography or purpose. So a third of the resources we get are driven more by the strategic plan of the leaders of the community seeing what needs to be done. And those dollars are really, really precious because, we’ve alluded to a couple things already, that was the dollars that supported us in working on the American Center for Mobility. We couldn’t use the LDFA dollars for that purpose because they’re to be spent in downtown Ypsilanti, in downtown Ann Arbor. That’s my point. They had a purpose and a geography — we couldn’t take those dollars and spend them. So your support and leadership in this area is very important because those dollars are the things that allow us to do the creative economic development initiatives that we take on. 

So this is an interesting question. In the context of your perch, in your leadership with the Bank of Ann Arbor, what do you think the region’s going to look like in the next 20 years? I know prognostication is hard, but how do you see us continuing to play a role in that? 

Tim: Well, I think there’s a number of things that come to mind. Number one, I think a lot of it revolves around talent and how do we grow the talent ecosystem? How do we create an ecosystem that gives people the confidence that if this entrepreneurial effort is not successful, can I walk across the street and continue my work, my leadership? And so I think all of our efforts need to start with talent because we’ve got such a great story to tell. 

I mean, you look at the cost advantage that we have over the coasts, and you look at how highly rated our health system is here in the southeast Michigan area. You look at the geography, this is a beautiful place to live. And I think we just need to continue to hammer away and sell all these benefits and enjoy all the recognition that we get nationally as one of the top places in the country to live and work and play. And the arts and culture here is second to none. We were just talking about the UMS Godfather performance on Sunday afternoon. Where can you go, and I mean, this is a weekly event, whether it’s UMS or the Michigan Theater, the State Theater, The Ark, the list goes on and on in terms of the arts and culture and all the benefits to living here in this region. 

Paul: Well, we touched on this a little bit, closing out our conversation. What advice do you give to future leaders of SPARK and those aspiring to make a positive impact on the region? 

Tim: Get involved. Give time, energy, effort, and resources. It’s easy. Have a passion. Have a passion to help make this a better place to live, work, and play. 

Paul: That’s interesting that you say that because given that Carly’s in the room, so referencing, Carly and I have been doing these conversations with the past chairs, and there is a thematic thing that goes through that. Cynthia talked at length about how her involvement with this initiative made her have new relationships and helped her in her real job to be better at her real job. And that was sort of the advice she gave. This involvement broadens your wings, if you will, and creates a bigger network for you. And you get to learn about a variety of various things. David Parsigian shared that he felt that he learned so much just about economic development by being involved in it, that he had one perspective, but after being involved, he had a completely different one. So that’s a really good point. 

So any final thoughts that you have as we close out the conversation today? 

Tim: I just can’t emphasize enough, Paul, the organization that you’ve been so impactful in building and developing and the work that’s done day in and day out by a significant group of professionals who get out of bed every day with a passion for capital, a passion for entrepreneurial services, a passion for marketing this community, a passion for growing the talent level. And you put all that together, you put it in the mixing bowl, and what comes out is even better than the best dessert that I’ve ever eaten in my life. And I would be remiss not to applaud you, and applaud the team, and applaud all the success that Ann Arbor SPARK has enjoyed over the last 20 years. And I’m humbled in my small way to be a part of this organization.

Paul: Well, thank you. One of the things I would definitely say is that is my time here. I’ve been blessed with a very, this is something that lots of people say, but I think it’s one of the top economic development teams you’d find anywhere in a country. And the proof of that is what happens when some individuals leave us. The alumni of SPARK scattered around in positions of significance tells you the kind of experience they have here and what happens as they go on. 

But I would also say sort of playing back your compliment, the support of the board of directors and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and their commitment, and I think I alluded to this earlier, sometimes you see in other communities, as you know, I’ve worked all over the country initiative like this gets started and everybody’s behind it, we’re going to do it. And then four or five years, it starts to kind of go away, and then something happens to the community, oh, we need to do that again. What’s happened here is, no, we’re going to stay the course. We’re committed to doing this regional economic development strategy, and that comes from the board. 

Tim: Well, I think Paul, I think that the one voice, the vision that Governor Snyder and President Coleman had from the inception, was one voice and bringing together academia, bringing together all of the government, municipality, cities, bringing together the business community. I think it’s just borne incredible fruit. And you mentioned the talent level and I think back as you do, to some of our former colleagues and how talented and great they were, but you’ve never let moss grow under your feet. And all of a sudden, shortly thereafter, here comes another super talented, super incredible individual that wants to be part of the SPARK team. And I think it just gives another example of how SPARK operates, whether it’s a project or whether it’s the team of colleagues that we wish everybody well and we wish every project well. And I think that just bodes super well for the future. 

Paul: Well, Tim, I just again want to thank you for your hard work and commitment that’s really helped SPARK grow and succeed. And our success is really the region’s success, and we talk a lot about what’s the goal of economic development, that families have better lives, that they are able to achieve what they want to achieve for their family through the jobs and things that we create. So I think we have a lot to be proud of in that regard. 

So I want to, again, thank you for everything you’ve done to boost the region’s economy, and we really appreciate it. 

I want to thank our audience for listening and learning more about those leaders and organizations working hard to create the Ann Arbor region’s economic future. These conversations are brought to you by Ann SPARK. For more information about Ann Arbor SPARK, you could find us on the web at and also on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

And Tim, do you want to give an email address or anything to the audience? I think they could find you?

Tim: Sure. They can find me at the Bank of Ann, they can find me at the Bank of Ann Arbor. My email address is If we can be of any assistance, we’re here to help. 

Paul: I think there’s some new signs going up, new billboards that are celebrating something that happened in the community in the last couple of days?

Tim: In fact, they’re up. We did some pre-planning in anticipation of a national championship. And so they’re primarily interstate boards. So if you happen to be on 94 coming into the community through Ypsilanti, if you’re coming into the community on M-14, you’ll see our messaging. And of course, we’ve got north and southbound on 23 and a couple up on 96 that just congratulate Coach Harbaugh, the team, the community, the University on a well-deserved and hard-earned national championship. 

Paul: Well, I know the community looks forward to and enjoys the billboards, so this will be another opportunity for us to have that enjoyment. So again, Tim, thank you very much.

Tim: Thank you. Thanks, Paul. Great to visit with you.

Tim Marshall’s Bio

Tim Marshall joined the bank in 2004 when the bank had $300 million in assets. Since his arrival he has served as the President and CEO of Arbor Bancorp, Inc. and Bank of Ann Arbor, a locally owned and operated full-service community bank with 16 locations serving Michiganders throughout southeast Michigan. The bank was founded in 1996 and has grown to over $3.3 billion in total assets. The trust and investment management group was formed in late 1997 and has total assets under management exceeding $2.1 billion. Combined bank and trust assets are over $5.4 billion. The December 31, 2019 fiscal year end represented ten consecutive years of record-level earnings, increasing at an average annual growth rate of 23% since 2010. The December 31, 2021 fiscal year reflected another year of record level earnings and growth. In addition to supporting the lending and deposit needs of our local businesses and consumers, Bank of Ann Arbor is very active in the entrepreneurial community and has built one of the premier Technology and Life Science Banking Groups in the Midwest. The bank has also been recognized state-wide and nationally for its employee health initiatives, social media strategies, and as a great place to work.

In addition to its social media success, in 2017, Bank of Ann Arbor was again deemed one of the U.S.’s Top 50 Banks to Work For by the American Bankers Association, the third time in five years. Also, Crain’s Detroit Business has previously awarded Bank of Ann Arbor as the top performer in its size category on its list of Healthiest Employers in Southeast Michigan. The Independent Community Bankers of America recognized Bank of Ann Arbor as the 15th best performing bank in the country with assets over $1 billion based on a 3 yr. average ROA of 2.35.

Tim graduated from Purdue University with his B.S. in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Business and his M.B.A. from Butler University.

His banking career spans 30 plus years starting in 1981 at Indianapolis based American Fletcher National Bank. In 1994, he moved to Indianapolis headquartered Salin Bank & Trust Co. where his management responsibilities ranged from serving as Chief Credit Officer to managing all functional business lines as the President, Chief Operating Officer, and a Board Director of Salin. The bank grew from approximately $200 million in assets to over $1 billion under his management. Trust assets were $34 million in 1998 and grew to $431 million prior to his departure in June 2004 when he joined Bank of Ann Arbor in his current role.

Active in his community, Tim is a past board member and chair for the Michigan Bankers Association as well as a current board member for the Affordable Housing Partners, Inc., Cinnaire Investment Corp., Inclusivity Institute, LLC, and the Ann Arbor Economic Development Corp. In 2017, he finished a seven-year term on the board of directors of the Washtenaw County Shelter Association. In 2011, Tim was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Community Depository Institution Advisory Council (CDIAC) and served as its Chair from 2012-2014. In his capacity as Chair, Tim met with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors twice a year in Washington D.C. on economic and banking industry trends. Bank of Ann Arbor was a founding member in 2005 of Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development organization in southeast Michigan, where he has served on its board and executive committee since its founding and served as Chairman of the Board from 2012-2015. Tim was elected to the University Musical Society Board of Directors on July 1, 2018. He’s also a member of the Downtown Rotary Club and has volunteered his time on numerous initiatives with the United Way, American Red Cross, Arbor Hospice, Telling It, Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, SOS Community Services, and Chamber of Commerce.

Tim and his wife, Emily, have two adult sons and enjoy spending time at their lake house. His interests include reading, playing golf, attending sporting events, cooking and listening to music.