Detroit Regional Chamber Announces Deloitte’s Mark Davidoff as Chair of 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference

MACKINAC ISLAND, May 30, 2014 – After three days of discussions featuring top state, regional and national thought-leaders, Conference Chair Henry Cooney, president and CEO, Plunkett Cooney and Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah announced that Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte, will serve as Chair of the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference.

“From helping lead the Detroit tax free research project as a result of Speaker Newt Gingrich’s challenge at the 2010 Mackinac Policy Conference to helping to launch the Chamber’s economic development program, Deloitte has been engaged in a multitude of Detroit Regional Chamber initiatives,” Baruah said. “I appreciate Mark Davidoff’s strong commitment to this community. Between his personal commitment and the resources of Deloitte, I am looking forward to a thought-provoking Conference agenda under Mark’s leadership.”

Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries in the U.S. have 57,000 professionals that work in four key business areas — audit, financial advisory, tax and consulting. Davidoff joined Deloitte’s Detroit office in 2005 and is currently Deloitte’s top leader in the state, overseeing more than 1,000 professionals based in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Midland. Davidoff services on the Boards of a number of other important community organizations including the Detroit Economic Club, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and The Jewish Fund.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is a unique Michigan asset that continues to drive a critical conversation about moving our region and state forward,” Davidoff said. “The Chamber’s efforts to bring in renowned national speakers and engage leaders from around Michigan each year have grown the Conference into a statewide conversation. I’m honored to be Chair next year and look forward to working with the Chamber team to create the best possible event.”

The 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference will take place from Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, May 29.

About the 2014 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, 1,700 attendees gathered for the 2014 Conference, held May 27-May 30 at the historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The Conference focused on three pillars: entrepreneurship, STEM education and impact.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.
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Detroit’s Next Panel Highlights Leadership Collaboration to Moving Economic Needle

Collaboration and consensus serve as the driving force behind the economic upheaval in Detroit and throughout the state of Michigan. Whether across the aisle, or across the state, “Detroit Next: Positioned for the Future” panelists acknowledged the interconnected nature of the state’s economy, the necessity to ignore political divisions and the critical importance of supporting Detroit’s success.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press Stephen Henderson moderated the debate, which included Gerry Anderson, chairman and CEO of DTE Energy; Jase Bolger, speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives; Vishaan Chakrabarti, partner at SHoP Artchitects, Marc Holliday Associate Professor of Real Estate Development, and Director of Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate; Brenda Jones, president of Detroit City Council; and Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation.

John James Calls for Employers to Embrace Veteran Talent, Complements Veteran Talent Showcase

If an employer hires a veteran and shares the company’s vision with that individual, he or she will produce tremendous results. That was the message delivered to attendees by John James, vice president of operations at James Group International, during his Mackinac Moment focused on talent. He implored business leaders to hire veterans, a talent pool that is docile and uniquely qualified to deliver under pressure. James called for employers to change their thought processes regarding the training of new employees, emphasizing the utilization of resources to train skills in sales and finance, as opposed to teaching traits like leadership, loyalty and change management.

James’ address paired well with the Veteran Talent Showcase, a recurring feature throughout the Conference that brought six military veterans to Michigan’s Center Stage to make the case for how they can benefit potential employers. The Showcase, sponsored by Quicken Loans, stems from a To-Do List item at the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference and is a follow-up to the Governor’s Summit on Veterans Talent that was held in November 2013. Veterans that presented included: Zaneta Adams, U.S. Army; Jerrad Carlisle, U.S. Navy; Mercy Kamau, U.S. Army; Chris Rishko, U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard; Laura Marko, U.S. Navy; and Tim Nellett, U.S. Marine Corps. Video of all veteran speeches is available here.

Kevyn Orr Emphasizes Importance of Unified Approach to Moving Detroit Forward


Kevyn Orr
, emergency manager of Detroit, spoke to the importance of a consensual and unified approach from the city’s political and business leaders to continue driving change and moving the city forward. He stressed the significance of residents fully understanding the importance of the Detroit bankruptcy settlement, and how critical the passing of the bill is to the city’s relationship with creditors. Pointing to the efforts of Mayor Mike Duggan to improve lighting, remove blight and enhance recycling, he discussed how the progressive steps taken are a testament to city leaders coming together to get the job done.

Following his remarks, Orr was joined by interviewer Vicki Mabrey, former “Nightline” correspondent on ABC News. Expressing an optimistic outlook on Detroit’s future, Orr reiterated his desire to put the city in a capable position to effectively manage sustainable economic growth, and highlighted four major infrastructure projects on the horizon that will serve as economic engines of growth in Detroit, including the M-1 Rail, New International Trade Crossing (NITC), Red Wings arena district and NITC customs plazas. This session was sponsored by ITC Holdings Corp.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu Confident that Detroit’s Best Days are Ahead

Detroit’s continued comeback is important, not only to the city and the state, but to the entire nation. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu passionately delivered that message during his keynote address at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference, which was sponsored by The Kresge Foundation. 

Comparing the circumstances of Detroit and New Orleans, Landrieu motivated leaders of government, business and faith-based communities in Detroit to rebuild the heart and soul of the city through collaborative efforts and honest and efficient governance. Expressing confidence that Detroit’s best days lie ahead, he said that it is critical to create a better version of Detroit that proactively moves toward the future while honoring traditions of the past. 

Following his remarks, Landrieu was joined by Craig Fahle, manager of broadcast and programming, and host of the “The Craig Fahle Show,” WDET 101.9 FM. Stressing the importance of tempering the tremendous opportunity with a sense of responsibility, he talked about the importance of consensus among public and private sectors in moving the city forward, as it allows for the creation of a long-term sustainable model. Ultimately, Detroit can’t move forward unless all of its constituents are willing to move forward together.

Detroit Regional Chamber Releases 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List and Announces 2015 Conference Dates

MACKINAC ISLAND, May 30, 2014 – After three days of discussions featuring top state, regional and national thought-leaders, the Detroit Regional Chamber unveiled its 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List. Conference Chair Henry B. Cooney, president and CEO, Plunkett Cooney and Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah announced the list of four items, informed by input from Governor Rick Snyder, at the conclusion of the annual Conference.

“We have had three days of candid discussions about many of the key issues facing Michigan from the need for STEM education funding and cultivating Michigan’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Cooney said. “The To-Do List is about taking that conversation and making an impact for Michigan.”
The Chamber committed to executing the following action items based on the conversation held at the 2014 Conference:

1. Support the effort to achieve a “yes” vote in the August election to repeal the “personal property tax,” which will enable Michigan to eliminate this job-killing tax and protect revenue for key local services, such as police and fire.

2. Collaborate on a plan to position Detroit to the global business community as it comes out of bankruptcy – to be “loud and proud” about Detroit’s assets and future.

3. Support Mayor Mike Duggan’s TeenWork Detroit Summer 2015 jobs initiative for youth in the city of Detroit.

4. Celebrate the “disagreeables,” as described by Malcolm Gladwell, the innovators that are defying conventional thinking and creating ground-breaking companies in Michigan.

“This year’s Conference featured many national and regional through-leaders such as Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Clifton, Mitch Daniels and Mayor Mitch Landrieu, 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 it into action. Michigan has the ingredients needed for success in the 21st century, we need to continue to bring together the business, community, political and philanthropic leaders from around the state to make it happen.”

The 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference will take place from Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, May 29.

About the 2014 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, 1,700 attendees gathered for the 2014 Conference, held May 27-May 30 at the historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The Conference focused on three pillars: entrepreneurship, STEM education and impact.
About the Detroit Regional Chamber
Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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Tom Walsh: Snyder peppers keynote Mackinac speech with Duggan praise

From: Detroit Free Press

By Tom Walsh

May 30, 2014

MACKINAC ISLAND — — Gov. Rick Snyder was gushing with relentless positive acclaim here Thursday for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

On a day when Snyder was getting plenty of love himself — the Business Leaders for Michigan endorsed his reelection bid — the governor peppered his own keynote speech at the Mackinac Policy Conference with multiple mentions of Duggan’s speech the previous day.

“Mayor Duggan, thank you for a wonderful presentation,” Snyder said early in his speech, nodding toward Duggan was seated alongside Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

“I loved his visual aids,” Snyder said, remarking on Duggan’s use of statistics and home photos when talking about the auction of abandoned city properties. Snyder himself then showed a photo of a glass-half-full shot the previous day, to illustrate a point about attitudes.

“I vowed to be a good disciple of Mike,” he added.

A few minutes later, Snyder was talking about the importance of measuring results.

“Mike and I have huge alignment on that. We’re scorecard kind of guys,” Snyder said, as he stressed the importance of using facts and data to chart progress.

And there was more. “Mike did a great job when he talked about blight,” Snyder said.

Toward the end of his speech, Snyder said, “We need to be louder and prouder about Detroit … We’re not at an economic tipping point yet, where the world will realize the comeback of Michigan. We need to create that critical mass. It’s not that far away.

“That’s why I really enjoyed Mike’s presentation,” Snyder said, “because he was going through those homes and talking about the successful bids and all the great things going on.

“He was marketing Detroit, but he was marketing reality. He was marketing facts. One of the problems we have as Michiganders, we tend to be too humble. I’ve got that same issue … If we don’t go out and tell our country and the world what we’re about, who is?

“I agree with Mike,” Snyder continued. “He put it on a slide, the one thing we really need to show, the one answer for Detroit is growing Detroit.”

And so it went, the Republican nerd governor of Michigan embracing the data-driven, results-focused Democratic mayor of Detroit.

After the speech, Duggan shrugged off Snyder’s frequent compliments, saying only, “We’re working on building relationships.”

Kind of got me thinking of the final scene of the movie “Casablanca,” where Humphrey Bogart’s cafe proprietor Rick walks off into the fog with French police captain Louis Renault, saying, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Michigan governor highlights shortage of skilled workers at business policy conference

From: Associated Press

May 30, 2014

Michigan can gain a competitive edge over other states by filling a skills gap that leads to good jobs going unfilled because of a lack of qualified candidates, Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday.

“The jurisdiction, the place that does this the best over the next few years will have a strategic economic advantage,” he told a crowd during his keynote speech at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual meeting for more than 1,500 business, political and civil leaders. “Companies will be coming to that location because there is such a national problem with this issue. When you talk about issues and you talk about the future, I put this at the top of the list.”

Snyder said, as he has before, that there are at least 70,000 unfilled positions listed on a state-sponsored jobs website. That’s despite a seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate of 7.4 last month, higher than the national average of 6.3 percent.

“That’s an understated number,” he said of the jobs total, adding that employers have told him they do not bother posting five or 10 more of the same kind of job because they cannot fill one.

Snyder said he has held economic and education summits to encourage collaboration between businesses and colleges or technical institutes, but added that is “still not good enough.”

University degrees in science, technology, engineering and math are important, but Michigan has failed to underscore the significance of skilled trades and career technical programs, he said.

“That is a huge opportunity. We need to get out there,” Snyder said.

Snyder, who is seeking re-election later this year, mentioned some programs designed to fix the problem, including the Michigan Advanced Technician Training program, where employers pay tuition for three years for employees who rotate between working and getting an advanced associate’s degree.

A similar program is Grand Rapids Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

Democrats on Thursday said fewer jobs are being created than when Snyder first took office.

“If it weren’t for the auto companies’ rebound — which has nothing to do with Snyder’s policies — there would be nearly no job growth in Michigan since Snyder’s policies went into effect,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson.

A conference forum earlier Thursday focused on so-called “STEM” education and its importance.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College President Marilyn Schlack said K-12 school districts have de-emphasized technical education.

“It’s expensive. Students haven’t wanted to be involved,” she said.

Schlack said the college and school districts partnered to create a consortium to encourage students to have a hands-on experience in welding, nursing, hospitality and graphic arts.

“We need to be much more focused on competency-based education,” she said.

Davidoff to chair 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference

From: Crain’s Detroit Business

By Chris Gautz

May 30, 2014

The chair of the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference will be Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte LLP.

The announcement was made at the conclusion of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual conference by the chamber’s president and CEO Sandy Baruah, and the 2014 conference chair, Henry Cooney, president and CEO of Plunkett Cooney PC.

Davidoff has worked in Deloitte’s Detroit office since 2005 and is the company’s top leader in the state, overseeing more than 1,000 employees across Michigan.

The 2015 conference will take place May 26-29.

Orr: Detroit’s financial creditors spreading ‘misinformation’

From: The Detroit News

By Chad Livengood

May 30, 2014

Mackinac Island — At an event showcasing bankrupt Detroit’s comeback, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr issued a dire warning to state business and political leaders Friday about the tenuous nature of a deal engineered to limit reductions in benefits for 32,000 pensioners.

The usually confident Washington, D.C. bankruptcy attorney voiced concerns that a deal to prop up city pensions with state and private funds could unravel if retirees and existing workers reject the settlement or the state Senate refuses to contribute taxpayer resources.

Orr said he’s worried about a creditor vote underway that’s already been hampered by inaccurate ballots, a “misinformation” campaign being waged by financial creditors and a looming summer trial over his plan to slash Detroit’s $18 billion in debts in half.

“Despite the momentum we have going forward, we have some pretty significant milestones and some pretty motivated angry folks standing in our way,” Orr said at the last day of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

A possible vote next week in the Senate on $195 million in aid is crucial to completing the bankruptcy “grand bargain” to aid pensioners, Orr said.

“Without the money, without the vote, we’re done,” Orr said. “We go back to the drawing board.”

Orr also expressed concern that some retirees and current workers may vote down the deal, triggering deeper cuts. His plan calls for no base cut for retired police officers and firefighters, but a reduction in their annual inflationary raises from 2.25 percent to 1 percent.

The city proposes a base 4.5 percent cut for general retirees and the elimination of cost-of-living increases. Those base pension cuts could swell to 27 percent or higher if that class of creditors rejects the deal, Orr said.

“This is not a game. This is not a time for protest votes,” Orr said. This is very serious business that could result in people being pushed to the poverty rolls.”

Orr accused “very ticked off” bond insurers of waging a “very concerted and focused campaign to undermine the proposal we have on the table.”

Facing hundreds of millions in potential losses, bond insurance giants Syncora Guarantee Inc. and Financial Guaranty Insurance Company have been pushing for a sale of city-owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which Orr has resisted.

“I just learned yesterday that they’re sending packages to the financial press in New York, not just criticizing the proposal we have out, but providing misinformation about how unfair it is … and that if we sell the art it could result in a greater recovery for all creditors,” Orr said.

The bond insurers contend more money could be extracted from the DIA than the $466 million private foundations and the DIA have offered over 20 years, coupled with a $195 million lump sum payment for Detroit pensioners that state lawmakers are contemplating.

But Orr said proceeds of selling the DIA collection to the highest bidder would have to be shared evenly among $12 billion in unsecured creditors. The city’s plan gives the DIA “grand bargain” proceeds exclusively to pensioners and nearly wipes out some city bondholders.

“The reality is the very delicate proposal we have on the table to preserve the art goes away and the pensioners get less,” Orr said.

After the speech, Orr told reporters that early returns of ballots from pensioners show nearly two-to-one votes in favor of his Plan of Adjustment.

“Early returns seem to be supportive, but here again I’m taking nothing for granted in this process,” Orr said. “A lot of people are waiting until they see if the Senate funding comes in.”

Less than 15 percent of the pension ballots have been returned since creditor voting began May 12, Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said.

During his speech, Orr acknowledged that fixing Detroit’s municipal government and revitalizing neighborhoods won’t happen on his watch as state-appointed emergency manager.

“The real work that’s going to be done will have to be continued by the mayor, the city council, the governor and everybody in this room,” Orr said.

Orr’s speech followed a Thursday push by his boss, Gov. Rick Snyder, to try to rally support among the 1,600 conference attendees for state Senate passage of $195 million in state aid for Detroit pensioners.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has scheduled a Tuesday hearing on a House-passed 11-bill package that would provide Detroit the money while requiring continued state oversight of the city’s finances for at least 13 years.

Snyder has made completion of the “grand bargain” his top priority heading into June before lawmakers leave Lansing for their summer recess and the primary election season.

Detroit’s bankruptcy and urban renewal dominated Friday’s speeches at the conference.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a keynote address ahead of Orr’s speech in the Grand Hotel’s theatre. Landrieu’s speech drew parallels between his hurricane-ravaged hometown and the Motor City.

Landrieu praised the plan to limit cuts to city pensioners with $195 million in state funds and $466 million over 20 years from twelve foundations and the DIA’s own fundraising.

“I like the plan because it requires everyone to be in,” Landrieu said. “It requires sacrifices from all.”