Chamber Announces Partnership with Startgrid, Launch of New Entrepreneurial Support Program

In a special announcement made at the Detroit Policy Conference, the Chamber announced its partnership with Startgrid in launching a collaborative community for entrepreneurs to come together to test, share and grow ideas that will change the world. To introduce Startgrid, Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah was joined on stage by Peter Gardner, CEO of Startgrid; Benjamin Erulkar, vice president of economic development – new development strategies at the Chamber; and Dave Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI). During the presentation, Egner announced that the NEI had given a $100,000 grant to the Startgrid initiative.

Startgrid offers businesses a place to develop ideas among people who understand entrepreneurship, collaborate with trusted experts and friends to build ventures, and meet people who can help expand ideas. To learn more about the program, click here.

Economic Development Group Releases Portfolio Results

The Chamber’s Economic Development group has produced high-quality results throughout its portfolio of programs since its reset in 2010, highlighted by job creation, capital investment, new contracts for Michigan suppliers, and a strategic commitment to regional and state partnerships.

The Business Attraction team, through collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and county economic development corporations throughout Southeast Michigan, has generated more than 800 jobs and $77 million in capital investment. The Pure Michigan Business Connect program, operated through a merger between the Chamber and MEDC, has surpassed $30 million in new contracts for Michigan suppliers, partnering with companies such as Boeing, Ford, Chrysler and Deutz. For a full list of portfolio accomplishments, click here.

A Message from Chamber Economic Development Leadership Council Chair, Tricia Keith

Optimism, realism and measurable progress continue to characterize Detroit’s redevelopment. All of these themes flowed through the recent Detroit Policy Conference, in which I was privileged to participate on a panel to address the diversification of Detroit’s industries. Health care, information technology, food, logistics and financial services all show tremendous growth in the city’s business community, and are forging new ground in recruiting capital and talent. To compare the state of the city and our prospects today to where we were four years ago is to compare two separate worlds, two vastly different cities.

The Detroit Policy Conference, itself, and what it has become in its third year, symbolize much of what has happened in the city. The Conference has become a mini-Mackinac Policy Conference for Detroit, growing in attendance each year. The energy is palpable, and with so many ideas and initiatives, it’s almost impossible to keep track of them. And while it will take all of us – government, businesses, non-profits and the general population – to make the city we want, more and more businesses of every size and sector are making a public commitment to improve the region.

Perhaps most important, I noted a certain maturity in the conversations at the Conference, and those that I hear around the city. The optimism has moved beyond mere happy talk – it’s realistic about the very real challenges that we’ll need to confront to succeed. But this realism didn’t temper the optimism – it’s driving it. That’s the kind of energy that underlies the real progress we’ve made so far, and that I’m convinced lies ahead for Detroit.

Investor Spotlight: Huntington Bank Partners with MEDC to Launch Microfinance Initiative

Huntington Bank has formed the Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative with the MEDC to address capital access issues affecting small businesses. Considered to be a first-of-its-kind program in the U.S., Huntington and MEDC are leading the program as part of a commitment to invest in Michigan and spur economic recovery in the Midwest by supporting the creation of new jobs at the small business level. It is backed by a Huntington statewide commitment of $25 million, which includes $5 million dedicated to Detroit small businesses.

The Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative launched in Detroit in November 2013 through the Detroit Development Fund, and targets small business owners in need of micro loan infusions beyond the scope of traditional bank underwriting. To read more about the partnership, click here.

Chamber’s Detroit Board Fellowship Program Records First School Board Appointee

The Chamber’s Detroit Board Fellowship Program notched its first participant to receive an appointment to a school board, as Ian Wiesner, a senior loan officer at Capital Impact Partners and a Leadership Detroit Class XXXIV graduate, was sworn onto the board of Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Charter Academy on Tuesday, March 4.

The Detroit Board Fellowship is funded by Excellent Schools Detroit through grants from the Skillman and Walton Family Foundations. The Chamber trains participants to understand school academic performance, board roles and issues surrounding urban education, and then assists with the identification of board vacancies. For more information about the program, click here.

InnoState Helps Macomb County Connect Local Advanced Manufacturers

The Chamber’s InnoState program participated in “Manufacturing Matters in Macomb County” on Friday, February 28, an event designed to demonstrate the region’s manufacturing assets. The event included a roundtable discussion with some of Macomb County’s most innovative manufacturers, as small and large manufacturers discussed with educators, legislators and community members how to promote and improve the industry.

The event set a foundation for Macomb County’s “Manufacturing Day,” which will be held on Saturday, October 4. Representatives from 15 Macomb County manufacturers will share their perspective on how technology and innovation has changed production, productivity and the ability to be competitive. To learn more about Manufacturing Day, click here.

U.S.-Canada Bridge Funding at Risk

From: Wall Street Journal

By: Alistair MacDonald and Matthew Dolan

March 28, 2014

In a potential blow to a project that would speed traffic over one of the world’s busiest trade routes, the Obama administration is holding back financial support for a customs plaza that is key to the future of a proposed international bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Canada has already pledged to provide or guarantee private funding for most of the project’s expected $3.65 billion cost, including $550 million for a link between the bridge and U.S. Interstate 75. The Obama administration approved construction of the bridge last April, and Ottawa expected Washington to contribute $250 million to build the plaza, without which the bridge wouldn’t be viable.

The bridge has support of Michigan’s Republican governor and its two Democratic senators, among others in the state’s congressional delegation. But U.S. officials say that there are limited infrastructure dollars and competing projects and that private money can step in on this bridge.

“We are increasingly concerned that the administration, by way of inaction, will stand in the way of this national infrastructure project,” said Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group.

Canada continues to work under the assumption that the U.S. will fund the customs plaza and has heard nothing from the White House to suggest otherwise, said Roy Norton, a Canadian diplomat who until earlier this month was consul general in Detroit.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration have told a group of seven Michigan congressional members and the Canadian government that their agencies don’t have resources available to build the plaza, according to a February letter by those members.

More recently, several administration officials have told Canadian counterparts that Canadian, or private money, should replace the $250 million that Washington was set to spend on the customs plaza, according to people familiar with the matter. The Obama administration argues that those private funds can be recouped through toll revenue, according to a White House budget official. Canada, though, is struggling to accept that U.S. funding may not come, said another person.

Mr. Norton said asking private investors for more money could put them off investing, given that Canada has already talked to them about the $1 billion the current plan calls for them to invest. Canada is talking to the U.S. about ways to spread its $250 million over a number of years, he said.

“Clearly the United States government is responsible for paying for its own Port of Entry and customs plaza,” said a spokeswoman for Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Minister of Transport.

The potential knockback comes at a time when relations between the U.S. and its biggest trading partner, Canada, are already being tested by the yearslong approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline supported by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

More than $130 billion of trade flowed through Detroit into Canada in 2012, the second largest cross-border flow after Laredo, Texas, and Mexico. A new crossing at the Windsor-Detroit border has long been a top priority for Canadian policy makers despite a legal challenge from the owner of the competing Ambassador Bridge.

Canadian exporters complain the current congested span costs the economy billions of dollars in delivery delays and increased compliance burdens.

Lack of U.S. funding for customs plazas has stymied similar projects along its borders. The president’s current budget includes $420 million that could be spent on customs plazas, but the General Services Administration listed only border stations in California and New York, not the proposed bridge in Michigan. A GSA spokesman said Wednesday the agency is working on the issue.

A Transportation Department spokeswoman said money is still being spent on new infrastructure and the department continues to “work with other agencies to move the project forward.”

Michigan officials have ramped up pressure on the White House in recent months.

“We risk further hampering international trade if border capacity is not increased to meet projected growth,” the congressional members wrote in the February letter. Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat who represents parts of Detroit and its suburbs, introduced a bill that would fund the plaza.

MICHauto Investor Opportunities

Register Today for Leadership and the Innovation Equation On Wednesday, April 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Leadership Detroit program is offering a discounted price to attend Leadership and the Innovation Equation at Henry Ford Innovation Institute. The all-day workshop, in collaboration with the New North Center, will help you embrace the art of transformative thinking and further develop the skill set to harness and channel innovation.

As a MICHauto investor, you are able to register today saving $20 using the following promotional code: LDGradDisc.

Be a part of the national movement that is prioritizing innovation in the work place. Click here to register for this exclusive event.

Learn About Connected Vehicles at the 2014 AppConext Auto Conference2014 promises to be the year of the connected car, evident by the unveiling of Apple CarPlay and Google’s Open Automotive Alliance. If you’re interested in learning more about the future of connected vehicle operating systems and platforms, please mark your calendars for May 13-14 for the 2014 AppConext Auto Conference at Lawrence Technological University. General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Hertz NeverLost, TomTom, Sirius XM, Cisco, Panasonic, and the US Department of Energy are among companies who will be in attendance and speaking.

As a MICHauto investor, you have the opportunity to save $200 off any conference pass of your choice by using the following promotional code at registration: MICHAUTO200

Click here to learn more about the 2014 AppConext Auto Conference.

Tiffany Williams

Tiffany Williams-smallTiffany Williams became the executive director of Teach for America-Detroit in 2014, after joining the staff in 2010 as the senior managing director teacher leadership development in Detroit. She most recently served as the vice president of regional management.

Previously, Williams had taught sixth grade special education for Teach for America-Philadelphia, and worked in the finance and affordable housing development field in Washington, D.C. She later worked as a high school administrator with one of the highest performing charter networks in the country.

Williams has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Afro-American studies from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in community planning from the University of Maryland, with a concentration in economic development and real estate development.

Jennifer White

Jennifer_WhiteJennifer White hosts All Things Considered on Michigan Radio where she also serves as the director of community outreach for the station’s State of Opportunity project.

White has served as executive producer and host of the television program, “Out of the Blue: The Michigan Difference,” on the Big Ten Network. She was also the host of the nationally distributed public radio documentary “Finding Our Bootstraps: Americans Deal With Recession,” and has served as executive producer and host of the public television programs “Out of the Box” and “Edible Legacies.”

Recently, White has moderated several political forums, including gubernatorial and mayoral debates for both public radio and television. A native of Detroit and graduate of the University of Michigan, she has worked at Michigan Public Media since 1999, most recently as the station’s director of media outreach and community relations. From 2005-2009, White served as station manager for Michigan Television, WFUM-TV.