Legislative Update: Top Six Proposals the Chamber is Pushing Before End of the Year

The midterm elections are over, but Lansing is still buzzing as legislators work on key issues before the end of the year. The Detroit Regional Chamber is actively engaging on pro-business legislation and is working with bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate to educate them on how the bills may impact Southeast Michigan’s economy.

Regulatory Climate

  • Minimum wage and paid sick leave: During summer session, the Legislature adopted two ballot proposals to increase the minimum wage and require businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. These bills are expected to be amended during this year’s lame duck session to address concerns raised by the business community. The Chamber is engaging as part of a broad coalition of stakeholders to make recommendations on how the state can best enact these proposals without unduly burdening Michigan’s businesses and embracing national best practices.
  • Small cells: The Chamber is supporting legislation (SB 637) that would create a new, standardized regulatory scheme for small cell wireless facilities in both urban and rural communities. These new facilities would improve wireless connections throughout dense urban areas where cell towers struggle to keep up with the increasing need for fast, wireless connectivity. Additionally, rural communities would benefit as small cell technology would keep businesses in these communities competitive. The legislation has been introduced in the Senate and is expected to be scheduled for a committee hearing in the coming weeks.

Tax Environment

  • Federal and state tax decoupling: Michigan’s taxable state income is defined by reference under federal law. The Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the amount of interest expenses that may be deducted from corporate income, unintentionally raising state income tax liabilities for Michigan businesses. To counteract this increase, the Chamber is supporting legislation (SB 1097) that will decouple the state’s definition of taxable income from the Internal Revenue Code and revert to the definition prior to the passage of the new federal statute.


  • A-F Grading in Schools: The Chamber has been longstanding supporter of letter grades for school buildings. Recently introduced legislation (HB 5526) provides multiple letter grades in the following areas: proficiency, growth, growth of ESL students, graduation rate, absenteeism and participation. This much-needed reform provides transparency and clarity for parents and the community about the performance of local schools. The Chamber is working to get this legislation passed out of the state House and into the Senate.

Health Care

  • Prescription drug pricing transparency: The Chamber supports legislation (HB 5223) introduced in the House that requires reporting on costs associated with certain prescription drugs. This pricing clarity helps customers make informed decisions and helps lower costs for employers and purchasers.


  • Raise the Age: The Chamber supports a package of bills (HB 4607, 4653, 4662, 4664, 4676, 4659, 4685) that will raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18. Under these changes, 17 year olds would be subject to the juvenile justice system instead of state prisons. This proposed legislation changes Michigan statute so that minors currently entrapped in the penal system can instead receive age appropriate rehabilitation and then participate in Michigan’s workforce without the disadvantage of a criminal record.

For updates on the Chamber’s advocacy work, visit www.detroitchamber.com/advocacy.

DeLorenzo appointed to State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners

Josephine A. DeLorenzo, a partner at Plunkett Cooney – one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms – has been appointed commissioner-at-large of the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) Board of Commissioners.

A co-leader of the firm’s Appellate Law Practice Group, DeLorenzo was recently appointed to the post by the Michigan Supreme Court. Commissioners serve three-year terms commencing each year upon adjournment of the SBM annual meeting.

The SBM Board of Commissioners provides oversight to the State Bar on finance, public policy, professional standards and member services and communications.

DeLorenzo, who graduated magna cum laude from University of Notre Dame in 1991 and summa cum laude from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2008, joined the firm in 2011 and became a partner in 2017.

A former law clerk to the Honorable Kurtis T. Wilder when he served on the Michigan Court of Appeals, DeLorenzo focuses her practice in the areas of appellate law, insurance coverage and governmental law.

Named a “Michigan Rising Star” in appellate law by Michigan Super Lawyers magazine, DeLorenzo is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts in Michigan, as well as in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court.

Plunkett Cooney is one of the few law firms in the Midwest with a dedicated team of appellate attorneys, who routinely handle cutting-edge appeals involving issues of first impression and seek to reverse adverse judgments. In addition to representation before state and federal appellate courts, the firm’s appellate attorneys provide a broad range of specialized services, including counsel during trial designed to optimally position cases for possible appeal.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney employs nearly 300 employees, including approximately 145 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as in Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial firms in the United States.

For more information about Josephine DeLorenzo’s appointment as commissioner-at-large of the SBM Board of Commissioners, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

Howard & Howard Ranked Among Nation’s 2019 “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News – Best Lawyers

Royal Oak, Michigan, November 13, 2018: Howard & Howard has been named to the 2019 U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list in the following areas:

• Ann Arbor
o Litigation – Intellectual Property

• Las Vegas
o Construction Law
o Franchise Law

• Troy
o Commercial Litigation
o Energy Law
o Litigation – Intellectual Property
o Litigation – Patent
o Patent Law
o Trademark Law

• Ann Arbor
o Commercial Litigation

• Las Vegas
o Arbitration
o Commercial Litigation
o Employment Law – Management
o Labor Law – Management
o Litigation – Construction
o Patent Law

• Troy
o Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
o Labor Law – Management
o Trusts & Estates Law

• Las Vegas
o Litigation – Labor & Employment
o Real Estate Law
o Trademark Law

• Troy
o Corporate Law

Firms included in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

The 2019 rankings are based on the highest number of participating firms and highest number of client votes received on record. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer recognized first in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. Over 16,000 lawyers provided more than 1,125,000 law firm assessments, and almost 12,000 clients provided more than 107,000 evaluations.

About “Best Law Firms”
The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in the field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a 2019 ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer recognized in the 24th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America list for that particular location and specialty.

About Howard & Howard
Founded in 1869, Howard & Howard is a full-service law firm with a national and international practice that provides legal services to businesses and business owners. The firm has offices in Michigan (Ann Arbor and Royal Oak); Illinois (Chicago and Peoria); Las Vegas, Nevada; and Los Angeles, California. Howard & Howard’s major areas of practice include: bankruptcy and creditors’ rights; business and corporate; commercial litigation; employee benefits; environmental; estate planning; franchising; intellectual property; labor, employment and immigration; mergers and acquisitions; real estate; securities; and tax. Our distinguished backgrounds provide us with a solid understanding of the industries we serve, including, automotive and industrial; cannabis; commodity futures; construction; energy and utilities; financial services; gaming; healthcare; and hospitality. For more information, please visit the firm’s website at www.howardandhoward.com.

Butzel Long attorney Mark Lezotte will moderate panel during Automation Alley’s Integr8™ Conference on November 14 in Detroit

DETROIT, Mich. – Mark Lezotte, a leading southeast Michigan health care attorney with Butzel Long, will moderate a panel program during Automation Alley’s Integr8™: The Industry 4.0 Conference on Thursday, November 14, 2018 at the Renaissance Center in Detroit. The focus of the panel discussion is: “Big Data and Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on Health Care.”

Panelists for the session include: Kevin Lasser, CEO, JEMS Technology; Gloria Jen, Director of Clinical Operations, Clinical Development, SRI Biosciences; Brian Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager of Materialise; and, Dr. Ryan J. Nelson, Michigan Institute of Urology. The panel will discuss technology and medical innovation, and the effect on improved health outcomes, quality, and cost containment.

Lezotte has substantial experience in corporate, health care, tax, and exempt organization matters, including healthcare ventures, business transactions, regulatory investigations, corporate and nonprofit governance, , and tax-exempt issues. He also has served in leadership roles on many other civic and nonprofit boards.

He has been active in numerous bar and professional organizations. He has been recognized in “The Best Lawyers in America” (health care law), published by Woodward/White, Inc. since 2013; and has been selected to Michigan Super Lawyers, published by Thomson Reuters, since 2008.

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: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Patterson faces Democrat-majority on Oakland County commission for first time

November 11, 2018

Crain’s Detroit

By: Bill Shea

While the pundits and partisans debate the national scope of the so-called Blue Wave in Tuesday’s election, in Oakland County the reality is clear: Democrats will assume the majority of seats on the county commission for the first time since the mid-1970s.

And that may accelerate the county government’s participation in regional issues such as mass transit and economic development.

The current 14-7 Republican majority flipped on Tuesday to an 11-10 Democratic majority that begins Jan. 1. The only other Democratic majorities in the board’s history were 1972-1974 and 1976.

Tuesday’s result means longtime Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson will face an opposition majority on the county commission since being elected to his role in 1992.

None of the four Democrats elected to formerly GOP seats campaigned as economic radicals, so there appears to be little worry of anything upsetting Oakland County’s business-friendly reputation.

The clashes may come if the Democrats push regionalism. Patterson prefers to concentrate on the county’s internal economic development and endorses regional issues only when the direct benefits to Oakland County residents and businesses are clear.

Patterson issued a statement the day after the election: “The results of Tuesday’s election were not unexpected. My administration has always reached across the aisle, especially at budget time, to pass a bipartisan, balanced, three-year budget. We will continue to do so.

“I look forward to working with the new board to continue my administration’s priorities of protecting Oakland County taxpayers with a balanced, multi-year budget, a AAA-bond rating, and a healthy fund balance. In addition, driving job creation in Michigan through diversification in the knowledge-based economy and supporting small businesses, investing in technology to improve government efficiency and services, and to enable our residents to experience a premiere quality of life through active and healthy lifestyles.”

Crain’s requested a chance to talk to Patterson directly about what he sees at potential conflicts with the new board of commissioners, but his office didn’t make him available.

Regional cooperation is the chief area that’s likely will be a source of tension between the commission majority and the county executive, said Oakland County Commissioner David Woodward, a Democrat whose 19th District represents Berkley and a portion of Royal Oak. He was first elected to the commission in 2004.

“When it comes to a lot of regional issues, Oakland County has been a barrier to progress, and that’s going to change,” he said.

Regional transit is especially a potential showdown. Patterson undercut the 2016 tax initiative that would have funded a system of high-speed buses and other transit options across Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties. Its narrow failure at the polls — it lost by just 1,109 votes in Oakland County out of 586,000 cast — set back any effort at regional transit by years and left the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan gutted.

Patterson, long hailed by supporters and even some detractors for his stewardship of the county’s finances, also has staked out opposition to a new regional economic development effort, Woodward said.

Some of the region’s CEOs formed a loose coalition two years ago to back the regional transit effort, making it one of the rare occasions Patterson and Oakland County government found itself at odds with the larger business community. His objection to the tax was that Oakland’s participation wasn’t justified by the level of service its residents would get under the plan.

That nameless group of regional CEOs and organizations, during this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, announced its plans to launch a regional economic development nonprofit public. Patterson hasn’t joined the group and in August drew condemnation when he said he’d “rather join the Klan” than pay dues to the new business attraction group. For him, the organization appears to represent a threat to county autonomy and its ability to lure companies. Phil Bertolini, Oakland County’s deputy executive and CIO, did join in an advisory role.

Longtime transit advocate Marie Donigan, an Oakland County political observer and former state representative from Royal Oak, predicts that any squabbling likely will come over the next effort to gin up regional support for mass transit along with economic development efforts that cross county borders.

“I’m sure the new Democratic leadership will be more eager to participate in regional efforts to bring businesses and jobs to the region while fighting for what’s best for Oakland County,” she said via email. “I think the Democrats will push the Regional Transit Authority to develop a vibrant public transit plan that meets the needs of those with no other choices while giving everyone else the choice to get where they want and need to go without having to rely on a car.”

Patterson appoints members to the RTA board and has veto power over any plan it proposes. He used that power in 2016 to carve out more benefits for the county before allowing it to go in front of voters.

Economic issues within Oakland County are likely to be more politically harmonious for the board of commissioners and the executive. Woodward said he’s optimist there largely will be bipartisan cooperation between the new board majority, the GOP, and Patterson.

“Democrats and Republicans in Oakland County government share a lot of the same priorities,” he said. Democrats on the commission campaigned on investing in people and infrastructure, and protecting the water, Woodward said. Roads are a priority for the incoming board, Woodward said.

“Frankly, those should be bipartisan issues,” he said.

Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said he’s not concerned that the board’s control change will have much affect on Oakland County’s business hospitality.

“Oakland County has such a strong and growing base of businesses, it’s reputation for attracting business is so strong, that I don’t think changes in the county commission are going to impact that,” he said. “The change in control doesn’t mean Democrats don’t share similar goals to increase the tax base and make Oakland County a prosperous place.”

Baruah also said he believes Patterson is genuine in his pledge to seek bipartisan compromise because he’s done it when Democrats were the minority, and it’s in the best interest of the county overall.

“Brooks is a pragmatic guy. He’ll find a way to work with the new commission,” he said.

That pragmatism and rhetoric about bipartisanship on county issues will be tested when it comes time to carve out spending priorities next year.

Oakland County does budget forecasts on three-year cycles, and in September approved a balanced spending program totally $2.1 billion through 2021. The fiscal 2019 budget alone is $893.4 million. The county’s 5,100-plus employees serving a population of 1.25 million residents.

Oakland is the state’s second-most-populous county after Wayne, and is one of the most affluent in the nation. The 2010 U.S. Census ranked Oakland County seventh amount U.S. counties by median household income at $99,198. Tops was Loudoun County, Virginia, at $115,574.

Oakland County’s top employment sectors are health care and social assistance (102,419 jobs); professional, scientific, and technical services (102,348); retail trade (79,622); manufacturing (66,792); and administrative and support services (65,653), per stats provided by the county.

Baruah isn’t surprised the board flipped after so many years because demographic changes with the Democratic Party, which he said increasingly includes highly educated wealthy people that might once have been Republicans. Being business friendly isn’t just a GOP attribute.

“We’ve seen the purple-ing of Oakland County over the last decade and this is the year it finally flipped in a significant way,” he said.

The one constant for more than a generation of Oakland County politics has been Patterson, 79, who won his seventh four-year term in 2016. He was elected county prosecutor in 1976, a role he held until his county executive election 16 years later. He was badly injured in a 2012 traffic accident and hasn’t decided if he’ll seek re-election when his current term ends on Dec. 31, 2020.

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Howes: Whitmer can win influential ally in business — if she wants one

November 8, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Daniel Howes

On the campaign trail, Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer promised to repeal the state’s right-to-work law, end the so-called “retirement tax” on public-sector pensions and reinstate the Prevailing Wage Law.

But realizing the political dreams of her supporters in organized labor ain’t happening now with Republicans maintaining control of the Legislature, if with reduced majorities. That frees the next governor, a Democrat, to prove whether she’ll be a pragmatic ally of the business and philanthropic community.

She should be — because it’s in the interest of the state and her political future to do so. Business leaders buoyed by the progress of the past eight years are more interested in maintaining economic momentum than once again fighting tired ideological battles producing confrontation and few real winners.

They see enthusiasm reshaping Detroit, thanks to billions in private-sector investment, pragmatic leadership in City Hall and a working relationship with the Snyder administration that should be continued, if not improved, by the next one. They know Michigan is more economically competitive today than it was when Rick Snyder took office almost eight years ago.

And they’re more interested in the next governor showing she understands the mutual benefits of partnering with the business community than whether she has an “R” or a “D” after her name. Want proof that’s true? Look no further than Mayor Mike Duggan, a powerful Democrat who knows his city’s reinvention will lose traction if its generally pro-business attitude flags.

“The business community wants to be helpful,” says Dan Loepp, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and an honorary co-chair of Whitmer’s transition. “People want things to get better. There are problems that are still facing the state that we’ve got to deal with.”

The results of Tuesday’s election mean Whitmer, a former state Senate minority leader, will be limited by the political realities of a Republican House and Senate. And that means the new governor will be forced to focus on issues of mutual political interest if she wants to get anything meaningful accomplished.

“If you’re motivated to get things done for the good of the state, you’re required to head more for the middle,” says Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “There’s every reason to believe we can make progress on issues that both parties have an interest in.”

Topping the list are “the damn roads” of Whitmer’s relentlessly repetitive conjuring. She wisely made them a centerpiece of her campaign, understanding that a) the sorry state of Michigan’s roads and infrastructure affect just about everyone, irrespective of party or income, and b) voters know fixing them ain’t free.

“We feel that more revenues are needed,” Rothwell says of the road funds already earmarked for repairs. “The business community could be her ally.”

Exactly right — on roads, on education, on worker training, on focusing economic development efforts on technology and investment tied to the next-generation auto industry of mobility, autonomy and electrification.

The ideological purity so fervent on the fringes of the right and the left is very much alive. It’s not fertile ground for the kind of policy compromise that pragmatic business leaders seek to improve competitiveness, to nurture and recruit talent, to recast a narrative of decline.

The nominally political Snyder learned that lesson the hard way; his predecessor, Jennifer Granholm, arguably never did. Whitmer — the most experienced legislator to be elected governor since John Engler 28 years ago — knows better, thanks especially to her years working in and leading the Senate minority.

It’s too soon to know just what Whitmer may have promised supporters on her way to the governor’s office, or how any of those pledges may shape her political posture and priorities on business and economic competitiveness issues.

But it’s not too soon to know that when Whitmer takes the oath of office on Jan. 1, she will inherit the strongest Michigan economy in decades. It’s the product of a continuing national economic recovery, a restructured auto industry generating solid profits and more business-friendly policies in Detroit and Lansing.

She’ll also get a Michigan business community generally conditioned to work with the governor’s office — Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the CEO group with no name led by DTE Energy Co. CEO Gerard Anderson.

All she has to do is ask. And remember that some very influential people will be listening very closely to what she says — and does.

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Democrats Picked Up Midwest Governor Seats by Vowing to Fix Schools, Potholes

November 7, 2018

The Wall Street Journal

By: Valerie Bauerlein & Kris Maher

Midwesterners elected gubernatorial candidates who promised to boost teacher pay in Wisconsin, fix potholes in Michigan and reverse deep budget cuts in Kansas. These issues, divorced from national politics, fueled Democratic victories across the region. The traditional political battleground helped hand the presidency to President Trump in 2016, but Tuesday’s election shows some of the states are still up for grabs. Governors are particularly powerful now as they increasingly take the lead on energy, health care and transportation policy.

“When you have gridlock in Washington, naturally people turn to the states,” said Jim Hodges, a former Democratic governor of South Carolina who now advises clients on working with governors. “More and more issues are being pushed to the state stage and to the local stage.” Still, political analysts cautioned against reading too much into the Democratic gubernatorial wins in the Midwest, known for its swing states.

Adding governors in the Midwest could help 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, who would be able to rely on governors’ fundraising networks and potential endorsements, analysts said. But three of the four Midwestern Democrats will be working with GOP-led legislatures, so it is unclear how much of their agendas they will be able to implement.

Blue Versus Red

Democrats picked up gubernatorial seats in the Midwest that were GOP-held for years. Democrats picked up a rare win in deep-red Kansas and reclaimed once reliably blue territory in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Republicans held on to governors’ seats in Ohio and Iowa. Overall, Democrats added seven governor seats on Tuesday, ending up with 23. Republicans have 26, with Georgia still too close to call. Republicans previously held 33 governorships, while Democrats had 16.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, a former state Senate minority leader who won the governor’s seat in Michigan, ran economically focused ads and won back many blue-collar voters in places like Macomb County, part of the Detroit metro area, said Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State University. “She ran the traditional hard-hat campaign where she was at factories with mostly blue-collar men talking about her background,” Mr. Grossmann said. “That’s a quintessential Michigan campaign.”

Voters said they favored Democrats because of state-specific issues such as expanding Medicaid and repairing infrastructure. They played down issues like immigration, which President Trump focused on before the election. Campaign pledges to restore civility also seemed to resonate among voters in a region that often prides itself on being genial. Marsha Luetjen, 72 years old, considers herself an independent and voted for Ms. Whitmer. “We have some of the worst roads in the country,” said Ms. Luetjen, of Brighton Township, Mich., a rural and mostly conservative area between Detroit and Lansing.

Ms. Luetjen said she hopes the new governor will fix roads and potentially lower the state’s income tax on pensions. “I think those are things that she can probably get done without a whole bunch of hoopla from both sides,” she said. The Detroit Regional Chamber endorsed a Democrat for the first time in a generation, choosing Ms. Whitmer over Republican state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Chamber Chief Executive Sandy Baruah said he was optimistic that Ms. Whitmer’s leadership would lead to key investments in education and transportation, though he worried she might face significant pressure from her base “to do some things we’re going to have to push back against.” Ms. Whitmer said in a press conference Wednesday she was eager to fix roads, lower auto-insurance rates, improve the quality of drinking water and help underperforming schools. She said she planned to meet Wednesday with departing two-term Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

“The people of Michigan expect, want and deserve leaders who can work together to solve problems,” she said. “I think when you talk you can find common ground. But when you’re not talking, you don’t have any shot at it.” In Wisconsin, state schools superintendent Tony Evers narrowly defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who was seeking a third term.

Mr. Evers said he was looking forward to working with the state’s two top Republican lawmakers on his campaign pledges of better schools, better roads and more affordable health care with protections for people with pre-existing conditions. “Knowing we may not fix all our problems with any single person or any election vote, the real work starts tomorrow,” he said Tuesday. “As I said throughout this campaign, it’s time for a change. The voters of Wisconsin spoke, and they agree.”

In Kansas, Laura Kelly, a Democratic state senator who touted her family’s military background, defeated Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump ally and strong backer of the administration’s immigration policies. Ms. Kelly campaigned on education and a shift from recent GOP governors’ policies of tax and spending cuts. In a victory speech Tuesday, Ms. Kelly said she would aim to work in a bipartisan way with state lawmakers, and that one of her first priorities would be funding schools.

“I will listen every day to leaders from both parties and to the people of this state,” she said. “We’ll take the best ideas no matter where they come from, and we’ll work together despite our political labels.” Looking ahead, some cautioned there is little correlation between midterm election results and a sitting president’s re-election chances. “The Midwest was historically the swing region, and it remains so,“ said Mr. Grossmann of Michigan State. ”They’ll be swing states from here on out.”

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Ford Selects Restoration Design and Construction Partners for Michigan Central Station

DETROIT, Nov. 8, 2018 – Ford Motor Company is advancing its Corktown campus plans with the selection of its first architectural and construction partners that will work on restoring Michigan Central Station to its original grandeur. Quinn Evans Architects will lead the design work, while Christman and Brinker are teamed up in a joint venture to serve as construction manager for the Corktown transformation project. Construction will get underway before the end of this year, contingent on receiving all necessary government approvals. It is expected to be complete in 2022.

Ford announced it had purchased the iconic train station building in June and plans to transform it into the centerpiece of a new 1.2 million-square-foot campus in Corktown, including several surrounding properties. The campus will be an innovation hub where Ford and its partners can work to define the future of transportation, including building autonomous and electric vehicles, and designing mobility services and solutions for urban environments.

Detroit-based Quinn Evans Architects is one of the nation’s leading architectural practices specializing in historic preservation. The firm has worked on numerous landmark preservation projects, including the Michigan State Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Academy of Sciences on the National Mall and Baltimore’s Penn Station.

Corktown Transformation Joint Venture, a Detroit-based certified minority enterprise, is made up of Christman and Brinker. The two companies have worked together for more than 30 years on multiple high-profile projects including the campus expansion of Little Caesars World Headquarters, Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business, multiple Detroit Public Schools, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan BLUEnite headquarters.

The joint team of professionals assigned to Michigan Central Station has amassed 235 years of combined historic preservation experience on projects totaling more than $2 billion.

“Quinn Evans Architects and Christman Brinker have a strong track record of working together on restoring historic buildings, so we felt they were the right partners to help us begin this transformation project,” said Todd Brooks, program manager at Ford Land, the company’s real estate arm overseeing Ford’s Corktown campus. “They share Ford’s passion for redeveloping Detroit’s landmark train station, ensuring the local community benefits from our presence and building the future of the transportation industry right here in Detroit.”

“Michigan Central Station serves as a symbol of Detroit’s resilience,” said Richard B. Hess, a principal with Quinn Evans Architects. “With Ford’s commitment to a city of tomorrow, long-term sustainability and interconnected mobility, revitalization of the train station will go beyond preservation treatments to explore how the future of mobility can have a positive impact on the way people live and work in historic buildings while preserving the cultural heritage of existing neighborhoods. Our goal is to embrace both Detroit’s past and Detroit’s future. When completed, Michigan Central Station will once again serve as a symbol of Detroit’s ingenuity, innovation and civic pride.”

“Our team’s historic preservation expertise from successfully planning and implementing construction on more than 100 National Register and National Landmark projects will ensure that Ford’s investment in restoring the iconic Michigan Central Station will result in one of Detroit’s most recognized buildings seeing a second century of service,” said Ronald D. Staley, FAPT (Fellow, Association for Preservation Technology), Christman Brinker executive director of historic preservation. “Preserving the existing eight acres of masonry and replicating more than two acres of decorative plaster will be an exciting challenge for the project team.”

Ford and its partners are committed to hiring as many local residents as possible during the construction process. In addition, in its effort to address a shortage of skilled trade workers in the City, Ford has committed $5 million for workforce training, education and development.


Michigan Central Station has been a source of civic pride in Detroit for more than a century. When the 18-story station opened in 1913, it was the fourth tallest building in the city and the tallest train station in the world, once accommodating as many as 200 trains a day. The 600,000-square-foot space served as the city’s passenger rail station until 1988, when the last train departed and Amtrak shuttered the building. It has been vacant the last 30 years.


# # #


About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 200,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.


About Quinn Evans Architects

Established in 1984, Quinn Evans Architects specializes in architecture, planning, urban revitalization, and historic preservation, including sustainable preservation and stewardship. The firm has completed more than 60 preservation and restoration projects at National Historic Landmark sites throughout the U.S. Quinn Evans Architects employs more than 170 professionals in offices in Washington, D.C.; Ann Arbor and Detroit, Mi.; Madison, Wi.; Baltimore, Md; and Richmond, Va. The firm’s portfolio comprises cultural, institutional, commercial, and educational projects, such as museums, historic parks, theaters, mixed-use buildings, schools and campus facilities, libraries, and civic landmarks.

 Current projects include the modernization of the National Air and Space Museum, renovation of the Lincoln Memorial, and rehabilitation of the historic Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.; renovation of the Old City Hall in Richmond, Va.; upgrades to the Cincinnati Art Museum; modernization of the historic Southeast Library in Minneapolis, Minn.; renovation and adaptive use of the Phillips Packing House in Cambridge, Md.; and several projects in Detroit, including restoration of the historic Wurlitzer Building, renovation of 985 Michigan Avenue for the U.S. General Services Administration, and the adaptive reuse of the historic Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center. Quinn Evans Architects has also recently been selected to serve as associate architect on Beatty Development Group’s team for Amtrak’s redevelopment of Baltimore Penn Station. For more information, visit www.quinnevans.com.

 About Christman Brinker
The Christman Company (christmanco.com), a Detroit-Based business who has an office in the Christman-built Fisher Building, was founded in 1894, and has been building in Detroit for 100 years. Christman is listed at #102 on the Engineering News-Record ENR 400 list of top contractors nationally, at #6 on the 2018 Crain’s Detroit Business list of largest contractors, and at #7 on the 2018 Crain’s Detroit Business “Fast 50” list of fastest-growing businesses in Detroit. Christman has completed work on 35 National Historic Landmarks and 77 National Register of Historic Places Properties, and successfully completed historic tax credit projects totaling more than $380 million. L.S. Brinker Company (brinkergroup.com), a certified Detroit Headquartered Business and certified Minority Business Enterprise, was founded in 1993 and specializes in providing construction and management related services. Projects together have included the Little Caesars World Headquarters Campus Expansion, Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business, multiple Detroit Public Schools, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan BLUnite, and the Detroit Cornice and Slate building renovation. Christman Brinker JV is also nationally certified by the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.


Contact:     Christina Twelftree




Five takeaways from Michigan’s midterm election

November 8, 2018


By: Lindsay VanHulle & Jim Malewitz

A new Democratic governor, secretary of state and attorney general, and slimmer Republican majorities in the state legislature.

As Democrats gain a foothold on power in Lansing for the first time in eight years, Bridge asked pollsters, analysts, consultants and other experts about what Tuesday night’s results suggest about the issues that mattered, the electorate at large and what to expect in 2019.

Will the governor and legislature play well together?

Whitmer says her role in Senate leadership in the minority party forced her to compromise if Democrats were to make progress on any of their priorities, and that bipartisan work will carry over to her administration.

She told reporters Wednesday that bipartisanship is a “skill I’ve honed over the years” and that roads, schools and water are areas of common ground that unite Democrats and Republicans.

She said she is planning to meet legislative leaders next week to discuss possible road funding. (That could include taxes.) She met with Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday, and Whitmer said she plans to have regular meetings with leaders of both political parties.

Divided government presents both opportunities and challenges, said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. His group’s political action committee endorsed Whitmer for governor in part because it said she was best-suited to find bipartisan solutions.

It’ll be in both Democrats’ and Republicans’ interests to craft compromises on big-ticket items such as improving infrastructure and education, Baruah said.

“Everyone’s already looking at 2020, and if the Republicans just obstruct between now and 2020, I think that’s going to put them in (a) pretty bad position for the 2020 election,” he said. “I think they’re going to want to show some accomplishments.”

State Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville and the winner of a Senate seat previously held by Republican Rick Jones, suggested Michigan lawmakers can get things done even under split leadership.

“Even with Republicans in both chambers and a Republican governor, we still compromise on everything,” he said Tuesday night.

Blue wave? You betcha

Did a blue wave wash over Michigan as Democrats hoped? Yes, even as Republicans retained control of both chambers, said Arnold Weinfeld, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.

“Republican-held seats did flip,” he said. “It wasn’t a tsunami, but I think it was a wave both here in Michigan and across the country.”

The House will go from a 63-47 Republican majority to 58-52; Democrats lost a seat in the Upper Peninsula to Republicans for a net gain of five.

Democrats also closed the GOP’s 27-11 supermajority in the Senate, shrinking the gap to 22-16.

Senate Democrats said earlier Tuesday that the party has not seen a net gain of more than a single seat in the upper chamber since 1974, when the pickup also was five.

Weinfeld said he was not surprised Democrats fell short of a majority in the House, and few experts predicted the party would take the Senate. Republicans’ heavy hand in drawing district boundaries (Michigan is seen as one of the most politically gerrymandered states) was too much to overcome, he said.

“At the end of the day, those maps tend to favor Republican candidates,” he said.

Democrats picked up seats on state education and university boards, which usually suggests a wave election, said Bernie Porn, president of Lansing-based polling firm EPIC-MRA. Candidates for those seats don’t have much statewide name recognition and are nominated by political parties.

But Porn said he was surprised that Democrats didn’t pick up more seats in the state Legislature. Their gains are “decent,” he said.

Some Republicans sought to explain Michigan’s shift to a more purple hue as almost an inevitability after a long stint of one-party control.

“It’s the second year of the presidency, as you know, and we tend to vote against the president’s party,” Ron Weiser, Michigan Republican Party chairman, told a subdued gathering of his party mates in Lansing just before Bill Schuette’s concession speech. “As you also know, every eight years we change parties in Michigan.”

Schuette pointed to national forces at play.

“It was a tough year, a tough political environment,” he told reporters following his loss Tuesday. “Look across the country. There are a lot of bumps out there, right? Some close races, some races that didn’t go the Republican way, midterm elections — all those things come into play.”

Said Tom Shields, a Republican political consultant and president of Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group Inc. said Whitmer “didn’t do anything to upset the wave and stop it from coming. And Bill Schuette just couldn’t find any issue out there that really caught on.”

Rockin’ the suburbs

Dems tend to do well in urban areas but the real story Tuesday may have been Democratic gains in the suburbs, said Weinfeld, the MSU expert.

“I don’t think we can discount the impact of suburban voters,” he said.

Michigan’s urban-rural divide “may be more stark now that population is moving more into urban and metropolitan areas, but that means that the suburbs begin to play a much bigger role, and I think we saw that in Michigan and across the country,” he said.

For instance, in Democrat Elissa Slotkin’s successful race to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District: “I’m guessing that Slotkin wins on the strength of suburban areas” in Ingham and Oakland counties, Weinfeld said.

Women drive “pink wave”

That women swept the top of the ticket — from statewide offices, to the U.S. Senate — is “a historical occurrence,” said Weinfeld, of MSU.

And it’s part of a larger national trend. Women were motivated to turn out after Trump’s election in 2016 because they felt that issues they cared about were under threat in Washington, said Andrea Dew Steele, founder and president of Emerge America, a group that works to recruit and train Democratic women to run for office.

One of Emerge’s goals is to build a pipeline of female candidates at the local and state levels that could feed into federal races.

“The single reason we don’t have more women in office is traditionally because not enough women want to run,” Dew Steele said. “They don’t see politics as the arena in which they want to serve their community, and this did flip for us certainly after that election.

“This is not a wave that’s going to crash and die out.”

Mallory McMorrow, a first-time Democratic candidate from Royal Oak who flipped a GOP state Senate seat, said she was motivated to run for office after seeing a viral video of students at Royal Oak Middle School chanting “build the wall” after the 2016 election, mirroring the language at Trump campaign rallies.

“It broke something in me,” McMorrow told reporters Wednesday, on a conference call hosted by Emerge America. “I really realized that we have to start locally and build back up, because we cannot wait for the rhetoric to come from the top down.”

As a candidate, she said, “we weren’t trying to fit into a specific mold. And I think all of us were not running on our gender. We were running on our incredibly different backgrounds and experiences.”

Those backgrounds created a sense of authenticity voters responded to, said Maeve Coyle, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List in Washington, D.C., a group that works to elect Democratic women to office.

Whitmer, Coyle said, she didn’t shy away from sexism in the campaign while sticking to messages about key issues.

“We still live in a world where women face that,” Coyle said, “and she hit the right tone in responding to all of that while staying true to herself.”

The polls were (generally) right

After failing to correctly predict the outcome in 2016, polls have gotten their share of skeptics.

They were more on target this year.

Schuette trailed Whitmer throughout the general election campaign, sometimes by double digits.

Porn, of EPIC-MRA, released a survey in October commissioned by the Detroit Free Press and other media outlets that showed Whitmer’s lead had shrank to 5 points. (With Wayne County’s results still unreported as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Whitmer was leading 50.2 percent to 46.8 percent, according to unofficial state election results.)

And his October survey came within a few points of the results for the three statewide ballot proposals, all of which passed.

“We feel really good about our polling,” Porn said.

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