MichMash: Former Lt. Gov. Calley On Why Mackinac Matters

June 4, 2019

National Public Radio

Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth

Mackinac Island — fudge, bicycles, horses, and thousands of schmoozing bigwigs.

That last part is applicable at least one week of the year after Memorial Day weekend. The Mackinac Policy Conference is an annual gathering of some of the most influential politicians, business leaders, and non-profit folks at the Grand Hotel sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

We know what you’re thinking: The Swamp on an island (pardon the terminology). Who really cares about the Mackinac Policy Conference if you’re not a policy wonk or a business type?

It turns out, there are plenty of reasons to pay attention to what goes on each year.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, hosts Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher speak with someone who has not only attended several of these conferences, but has been directly involved in some of the major wheeling and dealing that goes on each year.

Former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a Republican who is now president of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), talks with Jake and Cheyna about all that happens at the Grand Hotel and why it’s important to Michigan politics and the economy.

Listen to the conversation here

Complete Gubernatorial Race Poll Findings Available

The Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) will host the first bipartisan debate featuring both the top Democratic and Republican candidates for Michigan governor at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.

The top three candidates for each party’s nomination were identified by a poll commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber PAC and conducted by Glengariff Group Inc. in April. The poll was a research survey of public opinion from 800 Michigan primary election voters, 400 from each party. The results do not necessarily reflect the views of the Chamber or its PAC.

Republican candidates who will participate in the debate and the percentage of voters who say they are supporting each candidate in the primary are:

  • Brian Calley, Lieutenant Governor, State of Michigan (23 percent)
  • Patrick Colbeck, Senator, State of Michigan (4.3 percent)
  • Bill Schuette, Attorney General, State of Michigan (36.3 percent)

(34 percent of Republican primary voters surveyed indicated that they are undecided.)

View the in-depth Republican results for the Michigan governor’s race here.

Democratic candidates who will participate in the debate are:

  • Abdul El-Sayed, Former Executive Director, Health Department, City of Detroit (6.5 percent)
  • Shri Thanedar, Author and Entrepreneur (29.6 percent)
  • Gretchen Whitmer, Former Senator, State of Michigan (26.3 percent)

(34.8 percent of Democratic primary voters surveyed indicated that they are undecided.)

View the in-depth Democratic results for the Michigan governor’s race here.

The Gubernatorial Debate: Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2018 PAC Reception will take place on Thursday, May 31 in the Grand Hotel’s Theatre. To attend the Gubernatorial Debate, you must also register for the Mackinac Policy Conference. Register today.

 

Detroit Regional Chamber Announces Gubernatorial Primary Poll Findings, To Host First Bipartisan Debate

DETROIT (April 26, 2018) – The Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) will host the first debate featuring both the top Democratic and Republican candidates for Michigan governor at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. The debate will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 31 in Grand Hotel’s Theatre.

The top three candidates for each party’s nomination were identified by a poll commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber PAC and conducted by Glengariff Group Inc. in April. The poll was a research survey of public opinion from 800 Michigan primary election voters, 400 from each party. The results do not necessarily reflect the views of the Chamber or its PAC.

Republican candidates who will participate in the debate and the percentage of voters who say they are supporting each candidate in the primary are:

  • Brian Calley, Lieutenant Governor, State of Michigan (23 percent)
  • Patrick Colbeck, Senator, State of Michigan (4.3 percent)
  • Bill Schuette, Attorney General, State of Michigan (36.3 percent)

(34 percent of Republican primary voters surveyed indicated that they are undecided.)

Democratic candidates who will participate in the debate are:

  • Abdul El-Sayed, Former Executive Director, Health Department, City of Detroit (6.5 percent)
  • Shri Thanedar, Author and Entrepreneur (29.6 percent)
  • Gretchen Whitmer, Former Senator, State of Michigan (26.3 percent)

(34.8 percent of Democratic primary voters surveyed indicated that they are undecided.)

“We appreciate the fact that candidates in both parties are participating in multiple debates to help voters decide. But, with this event, we are trying to do more than just narrow down a field. We want to help Michigan choose its next governor,” said Brad Williams, vice president of Government Relations for the Chamber. “The Mackinac Policy Conference has long influenced major statewide races and we expect that this debate will have a similar impact on the 2018 election.”

The candidates will be moderated by the Detroit Public Television (DPTV) “MiWeek” co-hosts Nolan Finley, Stephen Henderson and Christy McDonald. The debate audience will be comprised exclusively of Conference attendees. A separate ticket is required to attend the debate and the proceeds benefit the Chamber’s PAC. DPTV will livestream the debate at mpc.detroitchamber.com.

COMPLETE GUBERNATORIAL RACE POLL FINDINGS AVAILABLE ONLINE

The in-depth results of the poll’s findings on the governor’s race, commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber PAC, can be found at detroitchamber.com/poll-findings. The initial analysis conducted by Glengariff Group Inc. in April includes:

“The Democratic race is a toss up at this point with Thanedar’s television advertising paying dividends in Wayne County where Gretchen Whitmer is simply unknown yet.  We’re in the early stages of this race.  But Thanedar’s early television buy has made him a strong competitor early in the race,” said Richard Czuba, founder of Glengariff Group Inc.

“The Republican primary is very much a two-person race at this point with the difference being viewers of Fox News, who are going disproportionately for Bill Schuette, while Republicans who get their news from sources other than Fox are breaking relatively even between Schuette and Calley,” added Czuba.

For more information on the Mackinac Policy Conference, visit mpc.detroitchamber.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alibaba’s Gateway ’17 Opens New Doors to Chinese Market for Detroit Businesses

By Daniel Lai & Daniel A. Washington 

Alibaba Group Ltd.’s Gateway ’17 export conference held on June 20-21 at Cobo Center was the company’s first-ever event of its magnitude, attracting more than 3,000 businesses, entrepreneurs and media from 48 states, and many from the Detroit region.

“I cannot imagine a more fitting or welcoming place for our first Gateway event,” said Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, about the importance of Detroit during his opening remarks.

As a global leader in facilitating transactions and exchanges of goods and services for small businesses, entrepreneurs and consumers in China, Alibaba is looking to open new doors for businesses across the Midwest.

“Today I want to tell the people: If you miss the opportunity of selling products to China, you will miss the opportunity, you will miss the future,” said Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, in a conversation with PBS anchor Charlie Rose.

The opening ceremony included a surprise visit and remarks from local businessman Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures. Gilbert spoke briefly during a fireside chat with Lisa Ling, executive producer and host of “This is Life” on CNN.

“The truth is you can’t be afraid of failure in business,” Gilbert said. “You have to embrace it and all the opportunities afforded you to be successful – if you don’t you will never gain wealth.”

The conference included several keynotes and remarks from local and national figures, including:  Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises CEO Marcus Lemonis, UPS CEO David Abney,and many more.

View highlights from the Conference here.

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma: The Future Belongs to Small Businesses

The future belongs to small businesses that are flexible enough to embrace e-commerce, Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, predicted during a poignant keynote address at the Gateway ’17 export forum in Detroit.

Ma told the standing room-only crowd that the dominance of giant companies is declining as more small companies can cheaply and easily market their services on the internet.

“The internet is the opportunity of a lifetime for small businesses,” Ma said.

Customers that were once out of reach for startups that lacked the capital or know-how to expand is no longer an obstacle for those who have the will to learn how to move beyond their local market.

“If you believe it, you can make it happen,” he said, adding that customers are more interested in products and companies that cater specifically to their needs versus standardization.

And China is a willing market.

Rattling off statistic after statistic, Ma said 200 million Chinese customers a day purchase goods on their phones and Alibaba currently ships more than 60 million packages a day. He expects that number to increase to 1 billion packages in less than 10 years.

“Imagine the possibilities for American businesses and jobs,” he said. “Don’t ignore China as we shift from an export country to an import country. In the next decade, China’s middle class will increase to 500-600 million and with that, the demand for quality American products will be huge.”

So how does one tap into the Chinese market?

That is where companies like Alibaba and other e-commerce platforms come into play, Ma said.

The website currently has more than 7,000 U.S. companies selling products to China. Ma said he would like to increase that number to 1 million in the next five years. Doing so requires rapid adoption of new technology and a willingness to loosen restrictions in border-to-border trade.

“Think of us as a virtual mall with nearly half a billion shoppers buying from sellers that operate their own online storefronts. We are already a gateway for thousands of global brands, retailers and companies to sell to Chinese consumers,” Ma said.

Ma has traveled the world meeting with top government leaders to drive home his message that small businesses should lead globalization while also encouraging the creation of free trade zones specifically for those businesses.

Turning his attention to the business owners in the room, Ma also acknowledged that the road ahead for entrepreneurs is not without its own challenges. He himself experienced the heartache of rejection from venture capitalists, nearly leading his company to bankruptcy before finding success. Even at a young age, Ma said his applications to work for companies like KFC and to attend college at Harvard University were rejected. Still, he persisted.

Drawing on those lessons, Ma offered his advice for business success:

  • Believe in the future
  • Love your customer
  • Have a vision and hire smart individuals who believe in that vision
  • Focus on good products and customer service
  • Stay focused

He also offered a warning to those companies who have not caught up to the digital race:

“We are in the midst of the next technological revolution. Pay attention to the next 30 years. The companies that make the best use of the internet will win,” he said.

For more information on tapping into the Chinese market, visit www.alizila.com.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Daniel A. Washington is an integrated marketing specialist at the Detroit Regional Chamber.