Detroit Regional Chamber Releases 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List and Announces 2014 Conference Dates

MACKINAC ISLAND, May 31, 2013 – After three days of discussions featuring top state, regional and national thought-leaders, the Detroit Regional Chamber unveiled its 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List. Conference Chair Joseph L. Welch, chairman, president and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp., and Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah announced the list of six items, reviewed and approved by Governor Rick Snyder, at the conclusion of event.

“We have had three days of candid discussions about many of the key issues facing Michigan from education and immigration reform to transportation infrastructure,” Welch said. “The To-Do List is about taking that conversation and creating the culture change to position Michigan to thrive in the global market.”
The Detroit Regional Chamber committed to executing the following action items based on the conversation held at the 2013 Conference:

1. Convene businesses and community colleges to better link the talent needs of employers with community college program offerings.

2. Expand the successful “lessons learned” trips to U.S. cities (e.g. Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.) that can help inform the ongoing renaissance in Michigan’s major urban centers.

3. Expand upon the cyber security lessons learned at MPC by developing and executing efforts that help inform the business community of 21st Century cyber threats.

4. Coalesce the regional business community to support comprehensive immigration reform that helps drive economic growth and a pilot program in Michigan.

5. Promote the Detroit region as a growing and vibrant IT and entrepreneurial hub.

6. Commit to celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit – its successes and its failures – at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference.

“This year’s Conference featured many national and regional thought-leaders, such as Gov. Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski who have provided their insight to put Michigan on a path to prosperity and the robust economic growth we need,” Baruah said. “We have to now take that conversation from the Mackinac stage and put them into action. Michigan has all the ingredients needed for success in the 21st century, we just need to bring together the business, community, political and philanthropic leaders from around the state to make it happen.”

The 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference will take place from Wednesday, May 28 through Friday, May 30.

Detroit Regional Chamber 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference
The Mackinac Policy Conference – the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual event – brings together business and government to re-energize Michigan. Since 1981, the Conference has provided access to Michigan’s top business professionals, legislative leaders, corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs and veteran regional champions. Approximately 1,600 attendees gathered for the 2013 Conference, held May 29 – May 31 at the historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The Conference focused on three pillars: education, cultural change and 21st century global market.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
With over 20,000 members and affiliates, that employ over three quarters of a million workers, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, advocacy, strategic partnerships and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

2013 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List

For the fourth consecutive year, there will be a To-Do List of concrete action items resulting from the Mackinac Policy Conference discussions in order to hold Conference leadership accountable for the upcoming year. Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah and ITC Holdings Corp. Chairman, President and CEO and 2013 Conference Chair Joseph Welch shared the list with Conference attendees this afternoon during a session moderated by DPTV’s Christy McDonald. The action items outlined are as follows:

1. Convene businesses and community colleges to better link the talent needs of employers with community college program offerings.

2. Expand the successful “lessons learned” trips to U.S. cities (e.g. Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.) that can help inform the ongoing renaissance in Michigan’s major urban centers.

3. Expand upon the cyber security lessons learned at the Mackinac Policy Conference by developing and executing efforts that help inform the business community of 21st century cyber threats.

4. Coalesce the regional business community to support comprehensive immigration reform that helps drive economic growth and a pilot program in Michigan.

5. Promote the Detroit region as a growing and vibrant IT and entrepreneurial hub.

6. Commit to celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit – its successes and its failures – at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Gov. Snyder Highlights Michigan’s Path Forward in 21st Century

“The good part is that our best days are ahead of us, because they are. And that’s something really special; that’s something we need to spread the word about and that’s something we need to be proud of,” Governor Rick Snyder said.

Following an introduction by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan CEO Daniel Loepp praising the Governor’s difficult decisions and resolve that put Michigan on a better path to success, Governor Snyder returned to the Mackinac Policy Conference stage once again to highlight Michigan’s path forward in the 21st century.

Gov. Snyder honed in on one of the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference pillars – cultural change. He broke the discussion on the critical importance of achieving a cultural shift into a deeper look at a customer service-focused government, being financially accountable and responsible, lifelong education and preparedness, and health care. He also emphasized the need to break down the barriers and create some cohesion between the public and private sectors.

Gov. Snyder discussed his “three c’s” of talent as well – collaboration, creating talent and connection. But the underlying point of his discussion was on telling the positive story of Michigan and for job creators to tell their story to the nation.

Following his keynote remarks, Gov. Snyder was joined on stage by WWJ Newsradio 950 city beat reporter Vickie Thomas for a question-and-answer session with the audience. This session was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

MARY KRAMER: EAA critics, take note of the results

From Crain’s Detroit Business

By Mary Kramer

May 31, 2013

Everybody fights with everybody.

That’s how a character in Tom Wolfe’s latest novel, “Back to Blood,” describes Miami and its cauldron of races and ethnicities.

But you could say the same thing about Detroit.

Case in point: The assault on the fledgling Educational Achievement Authority, the new entity tasked with improving student achievement in the worst schools in Detroit.

A steady stream of headlines covers accusations of fudging some facts on government grant applications and unauthorized loans from Detroit Public Schools to start operations.

But somebody should do a survey of parents of children in the EAA schools with a simple question: Do you think your child is doing better now than two years ago?

A series of articles and opinion pieces, slanted to cast the EAA as a school reform failure, has one aim: To halt the expansion of the EAA statewide, beyond the initial 15 Detroit schools deemed the worst performing based on state test scores.

One example: State Sen. Bert Johnson’s op-ed castigating the EAA and reporting, erroneously, that the schools were so mismanaged that a handful of Teach for America teachers walked off the job en masse at Pershing High School in Detroit.

(Never happened, says Annis Stubbs, who runs Teach for America in Detroit.)

Opponents of school reform do a better job with the media than reformers, Michelle Rhee told me at the Mackinac Policy Conference. That’s true of unions who oppose reform and also conservatives who challenge “common core” standards, she said.

Rhee, the school reformer who created StudentsFirst after her tenure as school chief for Washington, D.C., now spends time lobbying state legislatures to create school reform.

At Mackinac, she urged opinion leaders to create bipartisan reforms that focus on children — not on the governance debates too many adults prefer.

The EAA hand-picks teachers and principals. It uses technology to make sure that students master material before they are bumped to another grade level. Last week, the EAA finally went on the offensive, releasing results of latest testing that showed 56 percent of students in the 15 schools demonstrated at least a year’s worth of gains in reading and 65 percent gained a year in math.

Remember, these 15 schools comprising the EAA were the worst in Detroit.

Ric DeVore, regional president for PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and a business leader deeply engaged in efforts to improve education, said he had visited a handful of EAA schools and always asks the same thing of students: What is different about this school now than the school you attended before?

Two answers dominate: There’s no fighting. And: I’m not pushed along before I “get” the material.

Maybe the EAA’s critics should spend less time arguing about governance and more time talking to children and their parents.

Business, Government Leaders Analyze Challenges in Becoming Fiscally Stable

In keeping with the theme of collaboration and cultural change that has been prevalent throughout the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, there was a significant focus on interconnectedness between local and state government as well as the business community during a discussion this morning on how to achieve fiscal stability during a session titled “Michigan’s Future Financial Stability.

Panelists including Doug DeVos, president, Amway; Robert Ficano, executive, Wayne County; John Nixon, director, State Budget Office and Department of Technology Management and Budget; and Dayne Walling, mayor, City of Flint; joined moderator Rick Albin, political reporter, 24 Hour News 8.

The panel highlighted the issues many regions, counties and municipalities across the state are having in regards to a decline in revenue and the difficult decisions that have to be made structurally and strategically to realign these area’s financial futures. They highlighted the importance of long-term planning and the reliance the business community places on stability and predictability of the cities where they locate.

Michigan’s Legislators Reinventing State Policy During 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference

Funding was a hot topic on the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference stage this morning as the Michigan quadrant leaders addressed their positions on transportation and education funding in addition to Medicaid expansion and term limits. The leaders were an excellent example of the importance of political collaboration as their own positive personal relationships and mutual respect was on display.

The quadrant leaders – Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall); House Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills); Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe); and Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) – joined moderator and host for News/Talk WJR 760 AM Paul W. Smith this morning to discuss current hot topics in Lansing.

The group, who showcased the heavy legislative involvement in the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, discussed the proposed state budget and the common core curriculum standards, which were heavily supported by Wednesday’s keynote speakers Gov. Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee.  The group acknowledged the need for increased collaboration within state government to see significant movement on all of these issues. This session was sponsored by DTE Energy.

National Experts Examine Importance of Cyber Infrastructure

As the world’s dependence and social culture continues to rely more and more on technology, Michigan has become a national leader in cyber security. National experts and government leaders gathered this morning to discuss the importance of protecting critical cyber infrastructure, and what business and governments need to be prepared for during a session titled “Building and Protecting Michigan’s Critical Cyber Infrastructure.

Panelists included David Behen, chief information officer, State of Michigan; Dr. Farnam Jahanian, computer and information science directorate, National Science Foundation and University of Michigan professor; U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton); and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). Crain’s Detroit Business Publisher Mary Kramer moderated the session.

The panel discussed the vital importance of cyber hygiene and the recognition of possible threats in both the private sector and government entities. They also discussed programs, processes and research and development efforts that are improving knowledge and preparedness for potential cyber threats. Dr. Jahanian also suggested these threats are not just a technological issue, but a social and behavioral issue and the most important step to take now is to address the root causes and not just the symptoms of cyber attacks.

This session was sponsored by Comcast Business.

Rep. John Dingell, Dan Musser Jr. Honored; Henry B. Cooney Named 2014 Conference Chair

Special_rec_eDet2013 Mackinac Policy Conference leadership opened the final day of the Conference with a special presentation of two individuals who have made a lasting mark on the Conference and the state of Michigan. Following a tribute of the late Grand Hotel owner Dan Musser Jr. by Henry Ford Health System CEO and Chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors Nancy Schlichting, Dan Musser III took the stage to celebrate the life of his father.

Following Musser’s presentation, Governor Rick Snyder took the stage to recognize and highlight the distinguished career of U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn). Dingell will surpass the all-time record of congressional service on June 7 – a record not likely to ever be broken. Following the Governor’s introduction, Dingell took the stage to make a few remarks.

Following all of the special presentations, Conference Chair and Chairman, President and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp. Joseph Welch announced Henry B. Cooney, president and CEO of Plunkett Cooney, as the 2014 Conference Chair in keeping with Conference tradition. Cooney will help lead the Chamber’s efforts in planning and hosting the 2014 Conference. To read a full press release on Cooney’s role as chair, click here.

Industry Experts Analyze Supplier Industry Funding Gap

A group of industry experts and representatives from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and supplier industries joined together to analyze the funding gap that hampers suppliers’ ability to expand and places pressure on the OEMs this morning during a session titled “Funding Automotive Growth: Stimulating Job Creation in the Motor State.” The panel focused on why funding continues to be an issue, how it can be remedied and ways to find middle ground between traditional and mezzanine lending.

Panelists included Donald Baty Jr., finance practice group co-chair and partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP; Neil De Koker, founding president and CEO, Original Equipment Suppliers Association; Osamu “Simon” Nagata, president and CEO, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing N.A., Inc.; and Tom Walsh, business columnist, Detroit Free Press. BBK President and CEO Bill Diehl moderated the session.

The panelists ultimately concluded that one of the keys to closing the funding gap hinges on greater communication between the OEMs, the supply base and the lending community. They also concluded that oftentimes, traditional lenders aren’t well educated on the value of supplier equipment and the suppliers are often unaware of programming available to them for capital financing. This session was hosted by MICHauto.