Vice President of Travel Michigan, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), in Lansing. Travel Michigan is the official State of Michigan tourism promotion agency. During his tenure at the MEDC, Travel Michigan created and launched the award-winning Pure Michigan branding campaign. A study of Pure Michigan out-of-state summer advertising from 2006 to 2009 showed that the advertising brought five million new out-of-state visitors to Michigan during that four-year period, resulting in $1.3 billion spent at Michigan businesses, and $93 million added to Michigan’s tax revenue, primarily in sales tax. For each dollar spent on Pure Michigan advertising, the state got back $2.94 in new, incremental taxes paid by out-of-state visitors. Recently, the campaign won “Best of Show” from the D awards, which honors Detroit’s advertising community. It has also won nine Mercury Awards, including “Best State Tourism Advertising Campaign,” “Best State Tourism Television Commercials,” and “Best State Tourism Radio Commercials,” along with an accolade from Forbes magazine as one of the 10 best tourism campaigns of all time. Michigan’s tourism website,, has consistently been ranked the most popular state tourism website in America. The success of the Pure Michigan campaign and its proven return on investment helped increase the funding for tourism promotion in Michigan from $8 million in 2001 to $30 million in 2009. Prior to coming to Travel Michigan, Zimmermann had been Ohio’s director of tourism for seven years. He was named “State Tourism Director of the Year” by the National Council of State Tourism Directors in 1997, and has authored three travel-related books. Zimmermann also spent more than a decade in front of the camera as a broadcast journalist and as a television writer in Texas, California, and Ohio. He received his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at Austin.

WHERE BORN: “New York City.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “I attended the University of Texas at Austin, and one of my professors in the radio, TV, and film department was very influential in developing my communications career.”

LAST BOOK READ:The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Strategic, fun-loving, outdoor enthusiast, people-oriented.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “In our case, Michigan is poised for tremendous growth in the tourism area. Michigan has always had a phenomenal tourism product but we’ve never told the story beyond the region. That’s what we’re doing with Pure Michigan. We can and will be a bigger player nationally as a tourism destination.”


FAVORITE PLACE: “Anywhere in the great state of Michigan.”



MY HIDDEN TALENT: “It’s not fully developed, but fiction writing.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “As someone who got things done, had a good time doing it, and enjoyed people along the way.”