Butzel Long attorney Beth S. Gotthelf named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s ‘Leaders in the Law’

February 21, 2019

Butzel Long attorney Beth S. Gotthelf named
to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s ‘Leaders in the Law’

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Beth S. Gotthelf
is one of 30 attorneys named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” Class of 2019. Honorees will be recognized at a luncheon and awards celebration on April 18, 2019, at the Detroit Marriott Troy. “Leaders in the Law” are honored, among other things, for:

• Significant accomplishments or achievements in law practice;
• Outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Michigan;
• Leadership in improving the justice system in Michigan;
• Seeking improvements to the legal community and their communities at large; and,
• Setting an example for other lawyers.

Gotthelf is Butzel Long’s Director of Innovation and External Relations. She also is an Executive-in-Residence at the Macomb-OU INCubator and serves on the Macomb-OU INCubator Advisory Council.

She has helped auto suppliers diversify into alternative energy and defense, which have been lifelines to those companies.

Gotthelf served as a lay-leader on legislative trade missions to Israel to help Michigan legislators learn what has worked to make Israel an economic leader, and bring those ‘lessons learned’ back to Michigan. She is immediate past president and a current Board member of the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA). With her connector skills, Gotthelf chaired a highly successful matchmaking initiative to bring Israel and Michigan automotive companies together during a high-tech automotive exchange mission by the Israel Consul for Economic Affairs and the Michigan Israel Business Bridge (now the MIBA). That mission resulted in over 100 matchmaking meetings.

She continued her passion of connecting companies to create business when she became president of MIBA by convincing Israel to have its first ever trade mission of Israeli Defense companies to a state (Michigan) in 2017. This mission was so successful that it led to the first-ever trade mission by a state (Michigan) of defense companies to Israel in December 2018. As a result, Michigan and Israel defense companies are reaping the benefit.

Gotthelf brings a pragmatic and holistic approach to clients’ issues, assisting them in reaching their business goals, often matchmaking clients’ needs and acting as an outside general counsel. Her assistance in diversifying automotive suppliers into the aerospace & defense arena during the economic downturn is just one example of her holistic approach. She now counsels clients in governmental contracting, ITAR, EAR, and Foreign Military Sales. Gotthelf also is a leader in environmental law, bringing creative solutions to remediation, redevelopment, tax incentives, and waste management.

She represents and counsels a diverse mix of clients in numerous matters throughout the country. These matters include: compliance and permitting; alternative energy issues; responding to an emergency; siting new facilities; civil and criminal enforcement; compliance audits; brownfields; tax incentives; remediation of contaminated sites; insurance claims; administrative procedures; solid and hazardous waste; landfills; composting; and occupational safety and health.

Gotthelf has served as general counsel to the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Surface Finishers since 1990; Better Business Bureau Board member (2012-present); former general counsel to the Wayne County Brownfield Authority. She has represented the Wayne County Department of Environment on a broad variety of issues, including the Detroit bankruptcy as it related to the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department; wastewater treatment plant expansion, upgrade and compliance; wet weather; landfills; remediation; and ordinance amendments. She also represented Oakland County on matters concerning stormwater and wastewater.

She has been very active in the Bar, including past service as: Vice Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Water Quality and Wetlands; former Vice Chair of the Section’s Keystone Committee; Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Environmental Law Section; and Chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Oakland County Bar Association. She is a past member of the State Bar Representative Assembly on behalf of Oakland County.

In addition, Gotthelf is on the board of the Better Business Bureau. She is an active member of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Environmental Committee, past member of the Chambers Leadership Committee for Transportation, and is past Chair of the Chamber’s Task Force on Water and Sewer Issues. She is Chair of the City of Birmingham (Michigan) Brownfield Authority (2005-present). On behalf of industry, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee charged with recommending stormwater rules and served as a Director of the Detroit Area Commercial Board of Realtors, which covers the State of Michigan. Gotthelf served as an arbitrator for the National Arbitration Forum.

Gotthelf was selected as one of 20 influential leaders by Michigan Lawyers Weekly – Women in Law (2010). She was listed as one of the “Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers” by Michigan Super Lawyers (2006, 2007, 2008) and as one of the “Top 50 Female Michigan Super Lawyers” (2006, 2008, 2014 and 2015). She also is listed in Michigan Super Lawyers, Environmental (2006-2018). She has received a number of awards and special recognitions, including as an emerging leader by the Detroit Regional Chamber (2003); the National Association of Surface Finishers (2002); Corp! Magazine as one of “Michigan’s 95 Most Powerful Women” (2002); Corp! Magazine’s “Top 10 Business Attorneys for Southeast Michigan” (1999); and Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 emerging leaders under age 40 (40 Under 40) (1994).

She has authored articles of national interest for the ABA on Proposed Wastewater Regulations and Underground Storage Tanks, and authored a public policy update on the Detroit wastewater ordinance amendments for Detroiter. National lectures include National Brownfields Conference (2008); Walsh College “FIN or Else: FIN 47” Seminar; Urban Land Use Planning (2007); COATING 2005 on “Doing Business in China”; the ABA Annual Meetings, Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law concerning general practice (2007) and water issues (2004 and 2002); “A Civil Reaction: Confronting Environment Problems in the New Millennium” (1997); “Annual Fundamentals of Real Estate Taxation” (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002); and at the National Association of Metal Finishers, “Federal Wastewater Pretreatment Issues.”

Gotthelf’s charitable activities include serving as Co-Chair of the Gleaners Food Bank Women’s Power Breakfast fundraiser (2015); Board member and eventually President of the Board of Trustees for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter (1996-2008); Board member and eventually Chair of the Board of Trustees of Oakland Plus Foundation (2005-11); Trustee of the Jewish Vocational Services (2000-15); member of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, State Government Relations Oversight Committee (2004-present); member of the Board of Directors for the University and Cancer Foundation (2000-07), to name a few.

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 and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter @butzel_long or : https://twitter.com/butzel_long
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Media Contact: Maribeth Farkas at Caponigro Public Relations Inc.,
(248) 353-3030, ext. 214

Member of the Month: Waymo Invests in New Self-Driving Hardware Installation Facility in Metro Detroit

Editor’s note: The Member of the Month highlights a Detroit Regional Chamber member company working to grow the regional economy through innovative leadership and programs or support of policies that benefit the business community at-large.

Waymo was selected as the member of the month for February 2019 because of their recent announcement to invest up to $13.6 million in a new self-driving hardware installation facility in Southeast Michigan. This facility could create up to 400 jobs in the region by 2025 and have a significant positive impact on the region’s economy. The launch of this facility will create jobs for engineers, operations experts and fleet coordinators to retrofit and deploy the self-driving vehicles.

The agreement signed earlier this year requires Waymo to sign a three-year lease in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb county and create up to 400 jobs to be applicable to receive an $8 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Total planned investment in the plant would be up to $13.6 million.

This move signifies Michigan’s evolution towards becoming a global leader in autonomous and self-driving technology. Waymo ultimately decided on Michigan versus other states in the running because of the established engineering and manufacturing framework, and the flexibility the state offers in allowing emerging high-tech companies to grow.

Waymo is the latest in a flurry of Silicon Valley companies moving to Michigan. California-based automotive battery manufacturer Samsung SDI America Inc., semiconductor equipment manufacturer KLA-Tencor Corp. and information technology firm Nexient have announced major investments in Southeast Michigan over the past year. San Jose’s Cisco Systems acquired Ann Arbor-based Duo Security, a cloud-based, trusted-access provider, and last year, Google moved 100 employees from its Birmingham office to a new space in Little Caesars Arena.

Sandy Baruah Discusses Talent Attraction at Troy Chamber Event

“When we talk about talent, the name of the game is retention,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, during a panel discussion on talent attraction in Michigan.

Retaining talent in Southeast Michigan is a key initiative of the Chamber that is supported through the work of the Chamber’s suite of education programs – including Detroit Promise, Detroit Drives Degrees and Let’s Detroit – and its automotive cluster association, MICHauto.

The panel discussion on Feb. 12 was part of the Troy Chamber of Commerce’s Power of the Future: 2019 Economic Forecast. Baruah was featured alongside Dan Gilmartin, president and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League; and Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of the Workforce Development for Oakland County and director of the Michigan Works! Agency. WDIV Local 4 News Reporter Rod Meloni moderated the discussion.

“When you look at the lateral region, Troy is incredibly important. It’s basically Troy and Detroit that are the two central business districts in our region,” said Baruah. “It’s great to have two choices between a true downtown environment that Detroit is rapidly becoming and a suburban business base that Troy truly is.”

At one point, Meloni asked Baruah, specifically, to share his thoughts on the current push to increase higher educational attainment levels in Michigan.

Baruah replied with data, “We have about 41 percent of adults that either have a four-year, two-year degree, or highly-skilled certificate. By 2030, roughly 60 percent of all jobs will require one of the three.” He added, “If 60 percent will be our needs and we’re at 41percent –that’s bad math.”

Baruah insisted that talent retainment can become a steady growth measure by answering to the needs of people already present in Michigan.

“Keeping people here – that’s placemaking, jobs, transit and investments in the infrastructure. And if we don’t do that, it’s game over,” said Baruah.

Rehmann names Lisa Newland principal

TROY, Mich., February 18, 2019 – Rehmann has promoted Lisa Newland, CPA, CFE to principal in the firm’s Jackson, Michigan office. As an integral member of Rehmann’s Financial Institutions Group, Newland provides taxation support to bank clients across the firm.

Since joining Rehmann in 1997, Newland has provided audit, tax, financial reporting, internal audit, litigation support, forensic accounting and other consulting services to clients in varying industries. Due to her comprehensive experience in corporate taxation, she is considered a firm-wide authority for ASC Topic 740 and financial institution taxation.

In addition to her certified public accounting experience, Newland has served as the controller of a mid-Michigan community financial institution.

Newland is a member of Rehmann’s litigation support team and has provided litigation support and forensic accounting services on a broad range of matters. She has specific experience in witness preparation, technical writing and trial preparation. She has also served as a litigation consultant for a large accountant malpractice matter.

Newland received her bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Albion College and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and Community Bankers of Michigan.

About Rehmann

Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services firm of CPAs & consultants, wealth advisors and corporate investigators dedicated to providing clients proactive ideas and solutions to help them prosper professionally and personally. Additionally, through a unique combination with Trivalent Group®, a top 100 managed IT service provider, we have expanded our technology capabilities and launched a managed IT solutions practice. Rehmann has nearly 900 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at rehmann.com.

Contact: Holly Shier

Rehmann names Amanda Nellis principal

TROY, Mich., February 18, 2019 – Rehmann has promoted Amanda M. Nellis, CPA to principal in the firm’s Ann Arbor, Michigan office. Nellis primarily provides tax planning and compliance services for high net-worth individuals and closely held, private companies.

Nellis began her public accounting career in 2005 at Deloitte Tax, LLP. She spent three years in the tax department of a large Detroit-based family office before joining Rehmann in 2013.

Nellis provides tax services to flow-through entities in various industries, including manufacturing, rental real estate and investments. She is knowledgeable in individual, fiduciary, estate and gift taxation. She works closely with and advises various family offices in the metropolitan Detroit area, and often acts in a similar capacity for other high net-worth families who are not served by such an organization.

Nellis received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Eastern Michigan University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants.

About Rehmann

Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services firm of CPAs & consultants, wealth advisors and corporate investigators dedicated to providing clients proactive ideas and solutions to help them prosper professionally and personally. Additionally, through a unique combination with Trivalent Group®, a top 100 managed IT service provider, we have expanded our technology capabilities and launched a managed IT solutions practice. Rehmann has nearly 900 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at rehmann.com.

Contact: Holly Shier

Monica Labe and Katheryne Zelenock Named to Crain’s Detroit Business “Notable Women in Real Estate”

TROY, Mich., February 18, 2019 – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Monica Labe and Katheryne Zelenock have been named to Crain’s Detroit Business “Notable Women in Real Estate”. They are featured in a special section that was published on February 18, 2019.

“We would like to congratulate Monica and Kathy on this well-deserved honor,” said Michael Lusardi, Practice Group Chair of Dickinson Wright’s Real Estate Group. “Throughout the course of their careers, they have helped businesses to strategize and manage national portfolios of real estate. Through their leadership and dedication, they have made a significant impact on Dickinson Wright and the Southeast Michigan community.”

Crain’s Detroit Business “Notable Women in Real Estate” features female professionals within Michigan’s real estate industry who are considered leaders in their workplaces and in the community. In addition, these honorees have helped to shape the real estate landscape in Southeast Michigan and beyond. To see the Crain’s Detroit Business “Notable Women in Real Estate,” please click here.

Monica Labe is a Member in the firm’s Troy office. For the past 8 years she has not only practiced law at the highest levels, but she has served as Deputy CEO for the Firm in charge of Practice Management and the firm’s Business Development and Marketing Departments and prior to that time she served as the Practice Department Manager for the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group. Ms. Labe has extensive experience representing multi-national corporations, developers, real estate private equity firms, lenders and real estate investment companies in the acquisition, development, leasing, financing, construction and disposition of industrial, office, commercial, mixed-use and entertainment projects throughout Michigan and the U.S. Ms. Labe is a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Attorneys and was elected to the Midwest Real Estate News “Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame” in 2018. Ms. Labe was named a “2017 Leader in the Law” and a “2012 Woman in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and was included in Crain’s Detroit Business “50 Names to Know – Real Estate”. She is also recognized as a leader in her field by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and Michigan Super Lawyers (often being named one of the Top 100 Lawyers and Top 25 Women Business Lawyers in the State). Ms. Labe received her B.A. with distinction from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.

Katheryne Zelenock is a Member and Chair of the firm’s Real Estate Finance practice. In her practice, she leads a team that closes commercial and multifamily mortgage loans across the country on behalf of leading national lenders as well as smaller regional and local banks, including multifamily and manufactured housing community loans originated for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She is also experienced in matters related to troubled properties and owners, and the modification, restructuring and workout of financing arrangements, including related litigation and due diligence. Ms. Zelenock is a member of the American Bar Association, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association of America, Commercial Real Estate Finance Council, International Council of Shopping Centers, and the Oakland County Bar Association. She is an elected member of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, and serves on the Board of Regents of that organization, and is recognized as a leader in her field by Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Michigan Super Lawyers, and DBusiness magazine. She was recognized as a “Women Worth Watching” by Profiles in Diversity Journal in 2017, and received the Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Women in the Law” award in 2015. Ms. Zelenock received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 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.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; 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 risk 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.

Nemeth Law partner Susan Koval named to NAMWOLF board

Detroit–February 15, 2019– Detroit-based management side labor and employment law firm Nemeth Law, P.C., is pleased to announce that partner Susan D. Koval has been named to the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) board of directors. As a board member, Koval will help guide decisions on policies and procedures of the organization and assist in the recruitment of corporate sponsors, corporate and public entity partners, and affiliate members and advisory council members.

Koval is a management-side employment litigator with more than 30 years of legal experience. She has defended employers against claims of wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, FMLA and wage and hour claims before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including class action lawsuits. In addition to an accomplished trial practice—often resulting in voluntarily dismissals by plaintiffs during or immediately following depositions, the entry of summary dismissals by trial judges, favorable verdicts for employers, and victories on appeal—Koval conducts workplace investigations and trains employers’ workforces on discrimination and harassment in the workplace and other employment issues.

Koval is a member of the American Bar Association–Labor and Employment Law Section Litigation Section and Law Practice Management Section; a member of the Associated General Contractors of Michigan Legal Advisory Committee; a member of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan; and a member of the State Bar of Michigan–Labor and Employment Law Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent rating of 5.0/5.0 and has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer eight times, most recently in 2018. Koval was also named a Leading Lawyer in Michigan, 2018, in Employment Management, and is a Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Women in the Law” Class of 2015 member.

Koval is a presenter and guest lecturer on a variety of employment topics and has published articles on employment law matters, including an article about employers’ obligations to transgender employees, which was published nationally by Employment Law360. She participates in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure activities and contributes considerable support to breast cancer research. She previously served as a volunteer mediator for the EEOC mediation program and has also volunteered her time to high school youth groups.

Koval holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from West Liberty State College in West Virginia and a Juris Doctorate from West Virginia University College of Law. She is a resident of Northville.

Founded in 2001, the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) is a nonprofit trade association comprised of minority and women owned law firms and other interested parties throughout the United States. NAMWOLF assists its law firm members in developing strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations with corporations, in-house counsel and other legal trade associations. Through these efforts, NAMWOLF helps empower minority and women owned law firms.

About Nemeth Law, P.C.
Nemeth Law specializes in arbitration, mediation, workplace investigations, employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation/training for private and public sector employers. It is the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.


Population by County

Population by County

Whitmer sets new higher-ed goal — with clearer message — 15 years after Cherry Commission

February 17, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

By Chad Livengood

“If Michigan’s residents, education systems and governments can work together to increase the share of the state’s population with credentials of value, Michigan will be a vanguard state for economic vitality and quality of life.”

That was one conclusion from a 143-page report authored by the commission that then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm empaneled in 2004 to lay out a strategy for Michigan to double the percentage of adults with post-secondary credentials within a decade.

The commission chaired by former Lt. Gov. John Cherry called for a sweeping new approach to developing the Michigan’s talent pool — from improving degree completion rates to breaking down the silos between the hundreds of K-12 school districts, 28 community colleges, 15 public universities and 25 private colleges.

For the most part, the Cherry commission’s primary strategies were never fully realized — for a whole bunch of economic and political reasons.

After the report was released, a multimillion-dollar gubernatorial election ensued, Michigan’s decade-long single-state recession ballooned into a near-depression, the national economy collapsed, two of the three automakers went bankrupt, people with bachelor’s degrees left the state by the moving van load, higher-education funding got repeatedly slashed — and we have spent the past decade crawling out of the hole.

Here we are nearly 15 years later, with a new Democratic governor who is, once again, calling for a focused approach to boosting the number of adults with college degrees or high-quality certificates.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s goal of having a 60 percent higher-education attainment rate by 2030 is actually below the 64 percent rate Granholm challenged leaders in education, philanthropy, business and government to achieve by 2014.

As of 2017, 45 percent of Michigan’s adult population had a college degree or high-quality credential, ranking the Great Lakes State at 32nd in the nation, according to the Lumina Foundation.

“Had Michigan been able to implement some of the 2004 Cherry commission goals we would have a better-educated, more competitive and a more prosperous workforce today,” said Richard Rassel, chairman of the Butzel Long PC law firm and co-chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative.

To reach the 60 percent goal by the end of the next decade, Whitmer proposes establishing a new state scholarship that would make two years of community college free and allow the scholarship to be applied to the first two years of a four-year education at not-for-profit universities. She also wants to reconnect adults over age 25 with educational opportunities to earn technical certificates or associate’s degrees that also would be paid for by taxpayers.

“If you’re willing to put in the work, you will have a path to succeed,” Whitmer said Feb. 12 in her first State of the State address.

Whitmer’s proposed Michigan Reconnect program targets an entire generation of under-educated adults in their 30s, 40s and even their early 50s who have some college credentials, but never completed a degree or certificate program.

In the seven counties of Southeast Michigan, this subset of the potential workforce amounts to 691,000 adults, or nearly 7 percent of the state’s population, said Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent programs for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Southeast Michigan is 570,000 degrees or credentials short of meeting the Detroit chamber’s own goal of having 60 percent of adults in the region with a post-secondary credential by 2030.

“Southeast Michigan has a large pool of people with some post-secondary education, but no credential,” Handel said.

Statewide, an outsized portion of Michigan’s adult population lacks a higher-education credential of any sort.

Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in the percentage of adults — 20 percent — with just a high school diploma, said John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center and past adviser to the Cherry commission.

Whitmer’s Michigan Reconnect program offers a chance to “upskill” these adults who have 10 to 30 more working years ahead of them, Austin said.

“If we’re serious about reaching the (60 percent) goal, with declining school-age populations, the best way we’re going to reach the goal is to help the adults who are already out there get a job,” said Austin, a former president of the State Board of Education.

Like any major shift in public policy, there are a lot of details to flesh out and challenges to making this goal a reality.

The first one, of course, is cost and how to pay for it.

During the campaign, Whitmer’s camp estimated both programs would cost a combined $100 million. That won’t be easy to come up with in a state budget under increasing strain after nearly two decades of stagnant growth.

Whitmer will detail the costs of these two programs in her budget presentation to lawmakers on March 5.

“That’s where the rubber hits the road,” said Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities.

The Cherry commission placed an emphasis on state taxpayer investment in scholarships that drove the desired outcome of having a better-skilled and educated workforce.

“Existing scholarship programs, including Merit scholarships, must continue to give access to higher education but also should be revised to create powerful student incentives for successful completion of a degree if Michigan is to maximize the economic benefit it reaps from its investment in higher education,” the Cherry commission wrote.

Whitmer’s challenge is not just getting the Legislature to agree to a new program during an economic boom time, but getting them to maintain it when the next recession hits, Cherry said.

The Michigan Merit Award scholarship was later replaced by the Michigan Promise scholarship, which got axed by lawmakers in the budget cuts during the recession.

“That was, unfortunately, Democrats (in the House) that unfunded it,” Cherry said.

The second challenge to meeting Whitmer’s new higher-ed attainment goal is public messaging.

“There’s a lot of messengers, but she is the most important messenger in the state,” Hurley said.

Granholm’s goal of doubling the percentage of adults with a degree or credential was undermined by “a messaging problem” that the goal was solely about doubling the number of bachelor’s degrees, Austin said.

“It’s not college vs. career technical and skilled trades,” Austin said. “It’s we need more of all.”

Cherry said Whitmer has better articulated how skilled trades and technical certificates should be part of the pool of post-secondary credentials to help Michigan achieve this new goal.

“She talked about that in clearer terms than we did and said that was legitimate and that it needed support,” Cherry said.

Handel said a “multi-dimensional” approach is needed to not only get high school graduates and adults enrolled in college or certificate programs, but also guide them to completion.

“There’s no simple solutions here,” he said.

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