Michael Langley will be the first regional economic development czar for the Twin Cities.

Langley, former head of Pittsburgh's regional economic development agency, has been working as a consultant to the Minneapolis-based Itasca Project, a business alliance that revealed last fall that it was raising millions of dollars from municipalities and local companies for a new regional economic development group.

In a statement, Itasca Project member Doug Baker, CEO of St. Paul-based Ecolab Inc., said Langley will hit the ground running.

"Having an experienced and accomplished leader like Michael will allow us to reap benefits many times over," Baker said.

Baker will serve as the chairman of the new group's board.

Langley could not immediately be reached for comment. In the statement he said he was excited to lead the new regional partnership and that the Twin Cities will be a "formidable contender for attracting jobs on a national and global scale."

According to Langley's company's website, Langley Group has offices in Pittsburgh, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Washington, D.C. A posting on the firm's website says Langley starts March 14 as the founding president and CEO of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership.

The Itasca Project, which is a large group of CEOs of local Fortune 500 companies and other businesses, public officials and nonprofits, said the new group will be independent from it, and conduct its own annual fundraising. It's starting with a first-year budget of $2.8 million and will eventually go by a new, catchier name.

Langley will be charged with helping stimulate job growth by getting the Twin Cities on the radar of companies seeking to relocate. The Itasca Project has complained that the metro area is Balkanized and doesn't court businesses in a coordinated way.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, a supporter of the regional approach, told the Star Tribune in September that the Twin Cities is "getting beat on a regular basis in a game that we're not even playing."

"Every site selector that we talk to says we're not even on the list of potential cities," he said.

It's not clear what Langley will be paid. The compensation for the director spot was a source of controversy last fall when the Itasca Project was talking about a possible $350,00 to $400,000 pay package -- more than some of the CEOs of local public companies.

Langley ran the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in Pennsylvania for several years, and teaches about regional competitiveness at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

Before joining the Allegheny Conference in 2003 he was a consultant to Enterprise Florida and Workforce Florida. He also served as president and CEO of Westinghouse Audio Intelligence Devices Inc., a wireless surveillance technology company.

A former Navy pilot, Langley graduated from the Naval Academy and holds a master's degree in information systems from the academy's postgraduate school.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683