Chamber CEO Continues to be in Demand in Canada Regarding NAFTA

With the Trump Administration re-opening the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah continues to receive requests to provide insights based on his current role at the Chamber and his past work in Washington, D.C.  While NAFTA negotiations are not getting much attention in the U.S., it is a significant issue for Canadian executives.

Last week, Baruah joined a panel in Toronto to discuss the future of the NAFTA, border security, and the impact on trade between Canada and the United States that included Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Steve Verheul, Canada’s Chief NAFTA negotiator.  Baruah served a similar role in June when he addressed the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal.

Verheul noted that Canada and Mexico are aligned on several key areas of negotiation and the U.S. representatives have yet to put forth proposals in areas of interest to the U.S. team.  Baruah noted that from a U.S. business perspective, the first goal for a revised NAFTA was to “do no harm” as the supplies chains, especially in automotive, are tightly and delicately integrated across the NAFTA region.  Disruptions to this supply chain could cause significant economic and job loss in Michigan and other states.

The Detroit Regional Chamber has endorsed the NAFTA framework and recognizes the importance of the agreement to Michigan businesses.

Former state prosecutor joins Butzel Long; Theodore R. Eppel has nearly 20 years of experience in criminal and civil litigation

Theodore R. Eppel (T.R.) has joined Butzel Long as a shareholder practicing in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office. Eppel is a former state prosecutor with nearly 20 years of experience in criminal and civil litigation.

Eppel has defended various high-profile federal and state white-collar criminal cases, involving business offenses, health care fraud, public corruption, regulatory offenses, criminal antitrust matters, tax offenses, securities-related offenses and alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

He also represents clients in criminal appeals, civil RICO cases and complex civil litigation and he has conducted numerous internal investigations for corporate clients of all sizes.

Upon earning his law degree, Eppel practiced federal and state litigation in Chicago with the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw.

He then became an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County and later participated in drafting Illinois criminal legislation as a Staff Attorney for the Illinois Rewrite and Reform Commission. That position culminated in his service as co-author of the Final Report of the Illinois Criminal Code Rewrite and Reform Commission (2003).

After leaving the State’s Attorney’s office, Eppel practiced white collar criminal defense and civil litigation at Monico & Spevack and Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP.

Eppel is a graduate of Indiana University (J.D., 1997, cum laude) and the University of Michigan (B.A., 1993, with honors). He is licensed to practice in Michigan and Illinois.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

Six Chamber Members Among DBusiness’ ’30 in Their Thirties’ Class of 2017

The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates six executives from Chamber member companies for being named “30 in Their Thirties.” Disruption is a key aspect of the 2017 class and DBusiness magazine recognized these leaders for upending such traditional industries as the real estate title sector, metals recycling, 3-D scanning, point-of-sales systems, retail shopping and logistics.

  • Nicole Cicala, Director of VA/VE and Cost Modeling, American Axle and Manufacturing
  • Seth Gold, Vice President, American Jewelry and Loan
  • Moussa Niang, Global Purchasing Core Buyer, Ford Motor Co.
  • Alison Orlans, President and CEO, Orlans Group
  • John Paul Rea, Director, Planning and Economic Development, Macomb County
  • Peter VanDyke, Co-owner and CEO, Van Dyke Horn Public Relations

UHY LLP CPAs Expand Michigan Footprint with Ann Arbor Office

UHY LLP, certified public accountants, with 380 employees in Oakland and Macomb counties, is opening its fourth Michigan office in Ann Arbor. UHY’s first Washtenaw County office will be open for business in a newly renovated suite on East Eisenhower Parkway just minutes away from University of Michigan’s main campus and the Big House.

“Being in Ann Arbor will help us recruit and retain top young talent which will ultimately lead to sustainable growth for our firm for years to come”, said Tom Callan CEO of UHY Advisors MI, Inc. and managing partner of UHY LLP. “The move comes three years after opening our Detroit office and on the heels of the Michigan practice’s 50th anniversary (in 2018), marking another milestone in the development of our firm”.

Jerry Grady, office managing partner of the new Ann Arbor office adds: “We’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while. The time is right, our location is ideal, and our whole team is excited for this new venture. Having a presence in Ann Arbor will allow us to enhance our service capabilities even further and better serve our clients in surrounding areas like Brighton, Chelsea, Dexter, Howell, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Saline and Toledo.”

“Ann Arbor is a great choice for our firm,” said Tony Frabotta, CEO of UHY Advisors, Inc., the fourth largest firm in the Great Lakes region. “The opening of the Ann Arbor office carries the tradition of continued growth and will be the fourth office in the country opened this year.”

UHY LLP, a licensed CPA firm, provides audit and other attest services to publicly traded, privately owned and nonprofit organizations in a number of industry sectors. UHY Advisors provides tax and advisory services to entrepreneurial and other organizations, principally those enterprises in the dynamic middle market.

UHY LLP, operating in an alternative practice structure with UHY Advisors, forms one of the largest professional services firms in the US. While that scale might provide confidence for some clients, others tell us our greatest value is the way we bring these resources to bear to help address today’s evolving business challenges. It’s a philosophy we call “The Next Level of Service”. To learn more visit

All of the above entities are members of UHY International (“UHYI”), a worldwide network of independent professional services firms that provide audit, tax and advisory services around the globe. UHYI is ranked among the top international accountancy networks and a proud member in good standing of the Forum of Firms. Collectively, our US operating entities (UHY LLP and UHY Advisors) are the largest independent members of UHYI with significant participation, bringing the power of our international network to serve the individualized needs of our clients.

Howes: Regional Amazon Bid to Test Leadership Cohesion

Detroit Free Press

Daniel Howes

Sept. 14, 2017

Mayor Mike Duggan likens the gathering regional bid to land Amazon’s second headquarters to delivering Detroit Super Bowl XL more than a decade ago.

But it’s not even close. The hunt for Amazon is far larger, far more competitive and far more likely to tax the ability of just about anyone to corral business, political and civic leaders around a deadline measured in weeks, not years. The deadline is Oct. 19 to proffer a plan to compete for a $5 billion investment worth 50,000 jobs.

“We’ve got five weeks,” the mayor said Thursday at Crain’s Detroit Business’s Detroit Homecoming. “We’re up against really tough competition from really good cities.”

Yes, we are — as Detroit Regional Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah learned this week when he flew to Toronto for a speech on trade between Canada and the United States. On the minds of the Canadian CEOs: luring Amazon’s massive economic play north of the border, no mean feat in the era of Trump.

This is no secret to the online retail giant, of course. With a single press release, Amazon unleashed an interstate and intercity feeding frenzy for a chance to land one of the biggest economic development fish since, when? The stakes are high, and the cost is likely to be even higher.

That’s not deterring Detroit’s mayor, facing re-election. It’s not deterring Quicken Loans Inc. Chairman Dan Gilbert, who quickly accepted Duggan’s offer to chair the regional effort to prepare an Amazon bid. And it’s not deterring local and state politicians, or a business community that is far more active in economic development efforts than their predecessors a decade ago.

It shouldn’t.

In fundamental ways, this region is different than the one industrialist Roger Penske shepherded through the process of bidding for a Super Bowl (at the personal request of Bill Ford Jr., whose family owns the Lions). It’s more competent, more confident and often more regionally cooperative.

It’s witnessed the deep costs of division and political corruption, of big business that worries more about bragging rights with competitors than being competitive. It’s tasted the ignominy of financial dissolution, and seen how private capital can breed renewal.

Weathering the near-collapse of two Detroit automakers, the Great Recession and the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history can do that. Seeing the crucial importance of individual leaders in a broader mosaic of leadership can, too. So can national embarrassment.

Southeast Michigan is legendary for parochial infighting pitting city against suburb, for measuring solutions to difficult civic problems in decades, not years, for fixating on why change cannot happen instead of pushing to make it happen.

Which raises a critical point that will be answered by the success of Gilbert & Co. to rally disparate leaders quickly around a cohesive bid: Were the speed and decisiveness of the auto restructuring, of the city’s financial workout, of the revitalization of downtown just historical aberrations?

Or are they harbingers of a can-do future liberated from the confrontational zero-sum game that helped drive Detroit and its hometown auto industry to the edge of complete financial collapse?

Look, no one should kid themselves: For a bid that seeks access to regional transit with connections to an international airport, the region that put America on wheels is woefully behind. For a bid that aims to create a second headquarters hub for one of 21st-century America’s iconic corporate brands, southeast Michigan isn’t too far removed from the stain of bankruptcy, municipal and corporate.

How indelible are those stains, if at all?

We’re about to find out.

“This is a no-lose proposition for southeast Michigan,” says Baruah of the Chamber. “Best case is we prevail under some very heavy competition. Even if we don’t win, but come close. It’s still a win for us. We learn how to do this well.”

Whatever happens, business and political leaders arguably are more aligned around the economic way forward than any time in decades. The Democratic mayor of Detroit and the Republican governor coalesce around common problems, and more often than not so do their respective lawmakers.

Business leaders are more predisposed to dig into civic problems, with a dozen or so of their top leaders coming together in a new, still-unnamed group to champion reform. For the first time in a decade or more, Detroit’s automakers are led by longtime Michiganders — Mary Barra at General Motors Co. and Bill Ford and Jim Hackett at Ford.

None of that is enough to guarantee success in the campaign for Amazon. But it should give southeast Michigan a chance to earn a win that could change its economic trajectory.

Michigan Automotive Caucus Members Get Up-Close Look at Detroit’s Automotive Legacy

Recently, the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus visited Detroit to meet with the MotorCities National Heritage Area, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Park Service that preserves and links Michigan’s rich automotive legacy through grant-making and education, at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. The meeting, which was also attended by MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber, was an opportunity to explore the region’s rich automotive history and discuss creative ways to utilize the national heritage framework to strengthen future economic opportunities.

“Bringing these two parties together, the Automotive Caucus and MotorCities, shows the level of collaboration and support in the automotive industry,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Chamber. “As we continue to pivot the industry and position the state as the center for next-generation mobility, it is important to recognize our history as a global leader in automotive as well as tell the story of how we put the world on wheels.”

This meeting also gave MotorCities the opportunity to identify the need for match funding from the state for its federal appropriation.

In addition to the meeting, the Automotive Caucus toured the Piquette Avenue Plant, which is the oldest, purpose-built automotive factory open to the public. The plant is one of more than 1,000 museums, collections, historic homes, parks, libraries, archives, cemeteries and auto shows and cultural events that make up MotorCities — Michigan’s only National Heritage Area, which operates the largest collection of auto-related sites in the world.

MotorCities National Heritage Area covers more than 10,000 square miles of the state as designated by the U.S. Department of Interior. Learn more at

Dickinson Wright Receives Top Rankings in Chambers 2017 High Net Worth Guide

Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Chambers 2017 High Net Worth (HNW) Guide has named the firm’s Private Wealth Law practices in Arizona and Kentucky as “Top Ranked” practices. Five Dickinson Wright attorneys are listed as “Leaders in their Fields”.

London-based Chambers & Partners, publisher of the world’s leading guides to the legal profession, conducts research into the strengths and reputations of U.S. law firms by state, through in-depth interviews with peers and competing firm attorneys, in-house counsel and significant purchasers of legal services.

Below is a list of Dickinson Wright attorneys who were listed in Chambers 2017 HNW Guide:

Private Wealth Law
Jeffrey L. Gehring, Lexington
Henry M. Grix, Troy
Les Raatz, Phoenix
Henry C.T. Richmond, III, Lexington
James P. Spica, Troy

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 450 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has 18 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 11 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville and Music Row, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified management controls and security processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

Plunkett Cooney Attorneys Among Michigan ‘Super Lawyers’

Michigan Super Lawyers magazine recently named 24 attorneys from Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, to its 2017 list of “Super Lawyers.”

Super Lawyers features a patented selection process involving three steps: (1) creation of a candidate pool; (2) evaluation of candidates by the research department; and (3) peer evaluation by practice area. Those named to the annual list represent only five percent of the state’s licensed practitioners.

For the eleventh consecutive year, Mary Massaron, Plunkett Cooney’s Appellate Law Practice Group Leader, has received special recognition by the magazine – inclusion among the state’s top 100 attorneys and top 50 women lawyers.

Below is a list of Plunkett Cooney’s partners who have received the 2017 Michigan Super Lawyer designation:

Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office members:
• Michael P. Ashcraft, Jr. – Professional Liability: Defense
• Douglas C. Bernstein – Bankruptcy
• Charles W. Browning – Insurance Coverage
• Henry B. Cooney – Civil Litigation Defense
• Lawrence R. Donaldson – Alternative Dispute Resolution
• Jeffrey C. Gerish – Appellate
• Robert G. Kamenec – Appellate
• Mark S. Kopson – Health Care
• Stanley C. Moore, III – Employment & Labor
• Kenneth C. Newa – Insurance Coverage
• Anthony J. Rusciano – Business Litigation
• Scott H. Sirich – Construction Litigation
• Thomas P. Vincent – Professional Liability: Defense
• Michael D. Weaver – Employment Litigation Defense

Plunkett Cooney’s Detroit office members:
• D. Jennifer Andreou – Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
• James R. Geroux – Workers’ Compensation
• Laurel F. McGiffert – Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
• Stanley A. Prokop – Insurance Coverage
• Mary Catherine Rentz – Insurance Coverage
• Matthew J. Stanczyk – Personal Injury Defense: Products

Plunkett Cooney’s East Lansing office members:
• David K. Otis – Government

Plunkett Cooney’s Flint office members:
• Audrey J. Forbush – Government

Plunkett Cooney’s Petoskey office members:
• Jerome A. Galante – Personal Injury Defense: Products

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 145 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms.

For more information about Plunkett Cooney’s 2017 Michigan Super Lawyers,” contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008;


Chamber Members Step up Support for Texas and Florida in Hurricane Aftermath

After hurricanes Harvey and Irma flooded dozens of cities in Florida and Texas and left millions without power, Detroit Regional Chamber member companies have acted swiftly to assist with relief efforts. Last week, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy dispatched hundreds of employees from Michigan to Florida to remove debris and assist in restoring power.

“In the past, we were fortunate to be supported by out-of-state crews following major storms, and with fair weather here in Michigan, this is an opportunity for us to return the favor to our fellow line workers,” said Guy Packard, vice president of electric energy operations for Consumers Energy.

Fortis companies, including ITC Holdings Inc., have also committed 140 field crew members to assist with power restoration efforts in the Caribbean and Florida.

The Penske Corp. helped transport donations to the Harvey flood zone. Roger Penske, chairman, CEO and founder of Penske Corp., learned of the transportation need while listening to “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR NewsTalk 760 AM and responded by donating two semi-trucks to haul the donations to Houston.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce currently estimates corporate contributions for relief total more than $65 million. Many Chamber member companies including: AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Comerica Bank, Ford Motor Co., ITC Holdings Inc.JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kroger and PNC have reported contributions. On Tuesday, WDIV TV-4 partnered with Art Van Furniture and the American Red Cross to raise more than $430,000 during the “Help 4 Hurricane Relief” telethon.

The Detroit Tigers also played a role in supporting relief efforts. The Detroit Tigers turned their Lakeland facility into a shelter during Hurricane Irma.

Riley: Duggan asks Gilbert to lead regional team to lure Amazon to Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he has tapped Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert to recruit what he hopes will be a regional team to present a single proposal to convince the Seattle-based online retail giant Amazon to build a second headquarters in Motown.

And Detroit Regional Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah said Wednesday that officials and community leaders are 24 to 48 hours away from completing the assembly of regional Amazon bid team members, including Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who said: “Basically, we’ll be working together. Something that big, clearly 50,000 jobs, will require a regional approach, and I look forward to working on the team.”

Duggan doubled down on his assertion that Detroit has a shot at landing the headquarters, disagreeing with a national news analysis that says the city doesn’t have a chance because of the online retail giant’s needs.

Jeff Bezos set off a “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”-type competition last week, requesting proposals nationwide. The golden ticket? A $5-billion behemoth and up to 50,000 jobs.

But a widely circulated New York Times analysis, citing criteria from the company’s request for proposals, an analysis that had Detroit initially in the running dropped Motown after the first criteria: area where job growth is strong.

So Detroit wasn’t included as the Times whittled down an urban list based on: a large and growing labor pool; a high quality of life; easy transit around town; and “space and a willingness to pay to play” — winding up with Denver as the likely winner.

Duggan said people shouldn’t underestimate the importance of that last criteria: space, which the comeback city has in spades.

“We’re talking 500,000 square feet of office space initially, but could be 8 million square feet over time,” Duggan said. “I don’t expect that all to be in the downtown area. One thing that is unique is: There is the ability to build several million square feet of office space in downtown Detroit in a series of buildings woven into downtown. That’s an opportunity that they’re not going to find in any downtown in any other city in the country. So the concept that Amazon has, a campus woven into an urban community, is one that Detroit is uniquely positioned to offer.”

Duggan said that he’s been buoyed by the effort so far to work together.

“The governor called me from a bus in Japan the day the RFP came out to say his team was all in on this,” Duggan said. “I was very impressed with that. I was impressed that he had phone service on a bus in Japan.

“Now we’re reaching out now to a whole range of partners to make sure everybody’s involved,” he said. “We’ve asked for one proposal for the metropolitan area. That doesn’t mean somebody in a suburban community couldn’t put one in, but we’re going to try to put together the broadest coalition we can. We’re reaching out to everybody because the reality is if they are seriously talking about 50,000 people and 8 million square feet, which is their build-out number, it’s not all going to be in one city. No matter where you are.”

The battle for the headquarters come as Detroit continues a renaissance that began when it emerged in December 2014 from the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Thanks to Gilbert, the family of the late Mike Ilitch and a host of developers who haven’t gotten as much attention, the city has sown   a boon in development and population and excitement.

And while the RFP doesn’t mention it, Detroit has another not-so-secret weapon Bezos should consider: Its people and a can-do spirit of work that has existed here since before Henry Ford created the assembly line.

You can’t dismiss an asset as strong as Detroit’s people, those who have been here and those who are coming, people who are hungry for a new beginning. Some say Amazon will bring its workforce with it. Some of us contend that there is a strong workforce already here, that, since the auto industry left them behind, has been awaiting a redefinition as strong as the city’s.

Amazon could train for work, not just bring work, and transform an American city. People around the world are taking part in this transformation, coming because property is cheap and opportunities are plentiful.

We have to stop always looking at our city as a glass to be bypassed. Sometimes the glass half empty — the glass that needs filling — is the right glass.

But the city and region still have lessons to learn about working together. One of the biggest Achilles’ heels in the city’s efforts to woo Amazon is the lack of a mass-transit system, which the majority of residents still don’t understand the need for. The Amazon effort might make it clearer.

And smaller suburban cities still feel the need to compete with Detroit — for everything. In this instance, suburban proposals to bring Amazon to, say, Oakland County, may just assure that southeastern Michigan is knocked out of the running.

It has happened before.

Baruah, the chamber head, recalled a conversation about Volkswagen choosing Tennessee over Michigan to build a new plant a few years ago, before he assumed his post at the chamber.

“It’s John Rakolta’s story,” Baruah said, “but I borrow it.”

“When John (CEO of Walbridge, which built the Tennessee plant) was in Frankfurt  talking to the then-CEO of Volkswagen, Michigan and Tennessee were the two finalist states, and Volkswagen ended up picking Tennessee. When John asked why, the CEO said that the financial deal put on the table by the state of Michigan was actually slightly better than the one from Tennessee but they chose Tennessee because of what he called ‘cohesion.’

“He said there were multiple levels of government unified and everyone saying, ‘We have one bid for you and we’re all going to support this,’ Baruah recalled. “In Michigan, people were tripping over each other and there were multiple bids and no alignment. People were competing against each other and we wanted a region where if we had a problem, we knew the   region would come together to solve the problem as opposed to pointing fingers.

“That’s why we’ve been working so hard to make sure this Amazon bid is a regional bid.”

Baruah said the Amazon team was within “24 to 48 hours away from having an organizational ethos set.”

“And when I say ‘we,’ I mean regional economic developers, the political officials … We’re at that point where we understand this needs to be one bid. We can’t go with multiple bids; we need to present the region. They’re obviously looking at downtown Detroit. But when you look at what they’ve done in Seattle, there are over 33 buildings in Seattle, so we know if we’re successful, chances are they might start expanding into different areas for different purposes and we want them to understand the entire set of assets the region has.”

Baruah also said that if Amazon chooses Detroit, the company’s employees would live across the region.

So the work has begun. And the mayor is smart to let two billionaires come together in this effort to possibly do something unexpected, something monumental for an American city. Word is they that Gilbert   and Bezos vacation in the same place, even if not together, and their worlds and language are a cut above conversations among the usual suspects.

This region needs one committee, one team, one proposal to show that what we dream is possible, is possible.

That is the other great lesson, great opportunity for metro Detroit possibly one of the last opportunities we’ll have to show that this region, which has been fragmented for so long, can come together for a common good.

Even if we don’t get Amazon, this could be the practice run for an entirely different way of doing business, a different way of luring the next company.

But why not start with Amazon?

We better try — because we’ll eventually work together or die apart.