Detroit Chamber endorses Gretchen Whitmer for governor

October 17, 2018

WXYZ Detroit

The Detroit Regional Chamber has announced their support for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer released this statement following their endorsement:

“I’m so proud to have this endorsement because we need a governor who can bring both parties together to solve problems and get things done for the people of Michigan. I’ve got real plans to help our businesses grow and attract talent to Michigan by fixing our roads and infrastructure, making health care more affordable, and ensuring every Michigander has a path to a high wage skill. As governor, I’m ready to partner with the Detroit Chamber and everyone else who wants to make Michigan the place people move to for opportunity again. Let’s get to work.”

The Chamber originally backed Whitmer during the primaries.

View the original article here

$30K grant gives 8 Detroit neighborhoods makeovers

October 5, 2018


Neighbors in eight areas about to see a makeover thanks to a $30,000 grant.

GM and the Detroit Regional Chamber awarded the Neighbor-Hub grant to help fix up Eden Gardens Block Club on Glenfield Street on Detroit’s east side. “I screamed and I said thank you! I said thank you so much thank you so much because we had no idea we were going to get it,” said Karen Knox with Eden Gardens Block Club.

It’s a grant that will create a safe space for kids and elders — a pocket park that merges young and old in one neighborhood.

“Elders have something to offer. They have the wisdom of life that they can give to children and the children have the wisdom of today’s world and technology and this is an exchange that we are bringing here to our community to make a more positive impact on the children and all the adults,” Knox said.

Dennis Markray is a volunteer.

“My father lives in the neighborhood and he rides his bike so he can come over to the park and be able to enjoy it,” he said.

He’s been helping change this patch of land across from abandoned houses into a safe spot for all generations.

“Detroit is a whole lot more than what people think. And when people come together they can make some really powerful things happen,” he said.

Officials say more than 100 people applied for the grant. Now Eden Gardens Block Club is working to make it into a unique spot blending old and new, including chess tables and outdoor cardio walkers alongside playscapes.

The blueprint was put together by Karen Knox and Polly Jones.

“All that’s happening downtown is great,” Knox said. “But we are still here in the community among the blight, among the burnt out houses. So it is us that has to work hard to rebuild this neighborhood to make it a place where we are welcoming other people to come in and rebuild. Downtown is great to come out here.”

Volunteers from Hastings drove down to help make this happen.

“The need here it’s just incredible. Just seeing that there’s so much need and it just motivated us to want to come down and help,” said Jenny Stoetzel.

Other recipients include Motown Museum, Detroit Phoenix Center, and the Detroit Theater Organ Society and five others.

View the original article here

Detroit Regional Chamber, General Motors Announce NeighborHUB Grant Winners

• Eight grants up to $30,000 awarded to Detroit neighborhood nonprofit organizations.
• More than 100 applications received; number of grant awards increased from five to eight.
• Yearlong project work to begin this month.

DETROIT, Mich., Oct. 5, 2018 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber and General Motors announced the awardees for the NeighborHUB grant program during a press conference at the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit. Eight neighborhood nonprofit organizations will receive a grant and in-kind business support for innovative and collaborative solutions to problems their community faces. The NeighborHUB program is a collaborative effort between the Chamber and General Motors that is designed to empower residents in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park to affect change in their neighborhoods through physical presence and innovative programming.

The grant awardees include:

1. Carrie Morris Arts Production (CMAP)
2. Detroit College Access Network and Detroit Parent Network (DCAN)
3. Detroit Phoenix Center
4. Detroit Theater Organ Society (DTOS)
5. Eden Gardens Block Club
6. Hubbard Farms Neighborhood Association
7. Motown Museum
8. Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency

“The response to this program was incredible, both in quality and quantity of proposals,” said Terry Rhadigan, executive director of Corporate Giving at General Motors. “We’re proud to have expanded the support to eight awardees and are excited to see the change the projects make across Detroit.”

The NeighborHUB program was announced earlier this year at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference and the application period launched in July. Through a collaborative process a advisory selection committee composed of representatives from the Chamber, General Motors and a representative from local organizations including the Department of Neighborhoods for the City of Detroit, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, and Michigan Community Resources, reviewed and voted on the proposals.

“We are confident that the committee selected organizations that will use the grant to provide their neighborhood with viable and innovative resources,” said Tammy Carnrike, chief operating officers for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It is our hope that this program will serve as a roadmap for creating change in other communities across Detroit and the region.”

More than 100 grant applications were submitted, and the selection process was very competitive. Given the selection committee is made up individuals heavily involved with community nonprofit organizations, there were several instances where committee members had to recuse themselves from reviewing and voting on certain proposals.

Project work will begin this month and continue until October 2019.

NeighborHUB Grant Program Awardees

Carrie Morris Arts Production (CMAP)

• Project: The CMAP Amphitheater and 2019 Outdoor Summer Series
• Scope: This project will create an amphitheater and provide free, multilingual family-friendly performance programming across 12 formerly vacant lots serving the West Campau and Banglatown neighborhood.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“We are thrilled to receive support from the Detroit Regional Chamber and General Motors via the NeighborHUB grant program. This support for our physical infrastructure expands our reach, allowing us to provide free, multilingual, family-friendly performance programming to twice the number of our current audience members in 2019.”

– Carrie Morris, Founder and Director, Carrie Morris Arts Production

Detroit College Access Network and Detroit Parent Network (DCAN)

• Project: The Pathways to Higher Education and Careers Center (P-HECC)
• Scope: This partnership will support the Pathways to Higher Education and Careers Center and help connect both parents and students to higher education, workforce development, skilled trades, on-the-job training, and other opportunities that lead to a postsecondary degree and increased income.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“We are thrilled to expand our multigenerational approach of empowering parents as champions for their children to also address the significant gap in educational and career attainment in our neighborhoods. At DPN we engage, equip and empower parents to become leaders in schools and the community. With this startup grant and our partnership with DCAN, we can now train parents as Cradle to Career Ambassadors to help more youth and their parents to navigate the complexities of colleges, trade and workforce programs. Our Family College Drop In Center designed by and for parents along with College Cafes in the neighborhoods will help build more Pathways to Opportunity so that ALL of the families in Detroit can thrive!”

– Jametta Lilly, Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Parent Network

Detroit Phoenix Center

• Project: Asset Based Resource Center (ABRC)-Zen Zone
• Scope: This program will support the Asset Based Resource Center’s Zen Zone to provide support services and a safe, inclusive and youth-centric environment for disconnected, homeless and runaway youth in Detroit.
• Grant Award: $26,500
“The impact that this project has on our community is unmatched. The development of the Asset Based Resource Center – Zen Zone helps ensure that the most vulnerable youth in our community have a safe, affirming and inclusive environment to access critical resources and support. Thus, aiding in the likelihood that they will thrive in school, on the job and in life. When our youth thrive, our communities thrive.”
– Courtney Smith, Executive Director, Detroit Phoenix Center

Detroit Theater Organ Society (DTOS)

• Project: Welcome to The Senate: Catalyzing Community Cinema
• Scope: This grant will foster neighborhood engagement and expanded community use of the Senate Theater by transforming its vacant adjacent lot to a new useable community space and replace the theater’s missing marquee.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“Welcome to The Senate is a project that is going to help the Detroit Theater Organ Society share the magic of the movies and the Mighty Wurlizter with all of our neighbors, while beautifying our block. We are so thankful the NeighborHUB program is powering this initiative!”

– Lindsay Robillard, Playing Member, Detroit Theater Organ Society

Eden Gardens Block Club

• Project: Bringing Generations Together Through Clean and Safe Play
• Scope: This program will create a multigenerational, community-built playground that will serve as a hub for building positive relationships between community children and seniors, as well as promote fitness activity for all ages.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“Our multigenerational playground project will impact the community by serving as a central hub for social interaction between neighborhood youth and seniors. It will transform two vacant lots into a family-oriented space filled with laughter and promoting physical fitness. It will be a space where children can learn about leadership, cooperation and play. And, it will provide an opportunity for seniors who may be housebound to get fresh air and exercise. Our community will be impacted greatly by this project and we are extremely grateful to the Detroit Regional Chamber for the opportunity to make it a reality.”

– Karen Knox, Executive Director, Eden Hardens Block Club

Hubbard Farms Neighborhood Association

• Project: Fit & Funky: Culture and Wellness Programming in Clark Park
• Scope: Named “Fit & Funky,” this program will build on existing park assets to create community space for residents’ young and old by bringing fitness and music to the north end of Clark Park in southwest Detroit.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“Our collaborative neighborhood project between Hubbard Farms and Clark Park is all about bringing our neighborhood residents and families together within Clark Park by creating opportunities to enjoy time together. Whether it is gathering to hear music in our park during a regularly scheduled weekly summertime evening or being able to grab a neighbor to go work out together on our new fitness trail because spending time together as neighbors, develops an extended neighborhood family that cares for one another.”

– Deborah Sumner, Founding Member, Clark Park Coalition; Board Member, Hubbard Farms Neighborhood Association

Motown Museum

• Project: Dancing in the Street
• Scope: Titled “Dancing in the Streets,” this grant will help transform the green space adjacent to Hitsville U.S.A. into a community gathering space and provide programming such as: health screenings and fitness programs; food truck rallies and cooking competitions; popup shops for local businesses and much more.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“Dancing in the Street will transform a vacant Museum lot into a year-round gathering space designed to bring tourists and Detroit residents together through the love of Motown music. Motown Museum recognizes its responsibility to serve as a community resource in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood and is proud that Dancing in the Street will offer a community gathering space that is safe and interactive. Long before the Museum became a place to visit, the grounds of the Hitsville home was a safe space for aspiring musicians to learn, create and socialize.”

– Paul D. Barker, Director, Development and Community Activation, Motown Museum

Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency

• Project: Quality Housing Incubator at the Cortland Community Impact Center
• Scope: This grant will help launch a Quality Housing Incubator to provide hands-on home repair and weatherization instruction for area residents. The space will also be open for neighborhood gatherings.
• Grant Award: $30,000

“The NeighborHUB award will support Wayne Metro’s larger effort to transform and revitalize blighted neighborhood properties in Highland Park into a safe, clean and productive destination for community members seeking a variety of supports. Our efforts will focus on renovating a formerly abandoned house across from our Cortland Community Impact Center into a hands-on home repair and weatherization training and demonstration center for entry-level contractors throughout Southeast Michigan. This Quality Housing Incubator will also serve as a welcoming, accessible space for neighborhood gatherings and will strengthen residents’ sense of community with places to meet, share and volunteer together.”

– Anne Zobel, Chief Program Officer, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency

Please note, grants were awarded based on the amount requested by the organization. Learn more about the projects at

Detroit’s Adult College Students: ‘It’s Never Too Late to Go’

For the region’s 690,000 adults with some college education, no degree or credential, returning to school can seem daunting, especially for individuals saddled with debt. Recognizing the need to grow Southeast Michigan’s talent pipeline, Detroit Drives Degrees is working with regional leaders to increase access among adults to pursue postsecondary educational opportunities for high-quality credentials, two-year and four-year degrees.

Detroit Drives Degrees hosted its Leadership Council meeting in June, bringing together leading representatives in higher education, business, government, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. This meeting focused on adult talent and how adults can find their way back to and complete postsecondary education.

Working on a Dream

For Bob Ellis, a real estate agent and Macomb Community College (Macomb) student, returning to school was a big life decision. Raised in a working-class family, Ellis said college was never encouraged. But after a series of setbacks in his 40s, he realized he wanted to improve his life and follow his dream of getting a degree. Ellis returned to school to enhance his skills and follow his passion to help people.

Ellis struggled early on in college, as he lacked the necessary reading comprehension and study skills required at the college level. It wasn’t until he was placed into a student cohort that he was able to excel, learn study habits, and feel part of a community. Ellis transferred to Wayne State University (WSU), but faced higher tuition bills and a sense of uncertainty about his chosen degree path. He’s put his college attainment on hold while he saves money and further explores career opportunities after he obtains his degree.

Tiffany Treadwell returned to college after a career in retail with companies like Apple and Shinola. Treadwell said through her sales experience, she developed an interest in advocacy and human resources. Committed to return to school to obtain a bachelor’s degree but with few financial resources, Treadwell applied for a job with the university to take advantage of WSU’s tuition-free policy for employees. The transition back to school was challenging and although she used WSU’s tutoring programs, she didn’t meet the academic requirement for her first semester. Determined to continue, she used her advocacy skills and appealed her case to the Provost’s Office. She’s now back on-track, working and in school, as well as helping the university improve their systems for re-engaging adult students.

Both Ellis and Treadwell shared their story as part of a panel discussion moderated by David Scobey, director of the national initiative, Bringing Theory to Practice. Bringing Theory to Practice encourages and supports colleges and universities in developing sustainable campus cultures that support engaged learning and discovery, civic purpose, well-being, and preparation for a meaningful life.

A second panel moderated by Melanie D’Evelyn, director of Detroit Drives Degrees, featured Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management at WSU, Scott Anderson, vice president of human resources at Comcast, and Scobey. Focusing on the roles that institutional leaders play in an adult’s education, panelists discussed the importance of changing the learning practices that are in place, and rules that could potentially leave behind adult students due to grades or unpaid debt.

Finding Your Way Back to School

Businesses are encouraging adult education through tuition reimbursement. Comcast offers tuition reimbursement to employees and research by the Lumina Foundation showcases the return on investment for employers. WSU now offers one of the most innovative strategies in the country to re-engage adult learners. As announced at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, WSU created the Warrior Way Back program for returning students. Warrior Way Back relieves past student tuition balances of former students who did not graduate.

Detroit Drives Degrees is also working to improve opportunities for adults to further their education, by focusing on creating a community of leaders that can be used to learn from each other to continue to create opportunities for adults to continue to pursue their degree. Detroit Drives Degrees is also developing a formal compact among higher education partners and others to better track and measure components of the talent pipeline, like reducing the percent of the adult population with some college, no degree.

To learn more about the Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council visit:

Southeast Michigan’s New Online Platform to Give Businesses the Tools to Attract Talent

Research shows that 36 percent of college students left Michigan within a year in 2017. For a region positioning itself to lead the world in technological innovation, the talent problem can no longer be ignored.

To stop the flow of individuals leaving and attract new talent, the Detroit Regional Chamber will launch a new strategy this fall. The strategy is a collaborative project of the Detroit Regional Chamber and Detroit Drives Degrees, an economic development initiative of Forward Detroit focused on increasing the number of adults in the region with a postsecondary degree or credential.

Gathering Best Practices for Talent Retention

This past year, Detroit Drives Degrees connected with more than 1,000 people within the region to conduct local surveys and interviews. Research revealed that half of employers recruit out of state but lack the tools to promote Michigan and Detroit. Additionally, Michigan rarely is on the radar of young talent. While young people’s perceptions of Detroit are changing, they rely heavily on feedback from peers.

Greg Handel, the Chamber’s vice president of education and talent, shared that the strategy will help fill a void by establishing a centralized location for people looking for more information on the city and region. Through the strategy’s various components, it will better promote all that Detroit and the region has to offer – from a booming restaurant scene, to fun outdoor events. The strategy is focused on driving economic development by retaining and attracting talent across Southeast Michigan and aligns with Detroit Drives Degrees’ goal to increase the regional postsecondary attainment rate to 60 percent by 2030.

The recruitment strategy has three main objectives:

  • Improve the narrative and global perception of Detroit and Southeast Michigan
  • Promote “brain gain” by increasing graduates in Southeast Michigan by 1 percent annually
  • Cultivate an innovative, engaged and culture-focused business community

“Talent is the fuel for the region and contributes the most to economic growth and prosperity,” Handel said.

Showcasing Detroit’s Reinvention

A panel featuring three ambassadors for the strategy including Darvell Powell, president of Black Young Professionals of Metro Detroit; Tim Robinson, director of operations at Lenawee Now; and Dana Williams, manager of public affairs at DTE, agreed that giving prospective talent the ability to learn about the region and connect in an authentic way will pay dividends for businesses.

“When people aren’t connected, they aren’t going to stay around; they need to feel included and engaged in the city,” said Powell.

To learn more, contact Sarah Craft at

Detroit Regional Chamber PAC Announces State Legislature Endorsements

DETROIT, July 11, 2018  Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors announced endorsements for the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives.  The endorsements include:

Michigan Senate

1st District – Stephanie Chang (D)

2nd District – Adam Hollier (D)

3rd District – Sylvia Santana (D)

4th District – Marshall Bullock (D)

5th District – David Knezek (D)

6th District – Robert Kosowski (D)

7th District – Laura Cox (R)

8th District – Peter Lucido (R)

10th District – Henry Yanez (D)

11th District – Jeremy Moss (D)

12th District – Jim Tedder (R)

13th District – Marty Knollenberg (R)

14th District – Ruth Johnson (R)

16th District – Mike Shirkey (R)

17th District – Dale Zorn (R)

23rd District – Curtis Hertel (D)

24th District – Kelly Rossman-McKinney (D)

27th District – Jim Ananich (D)

28th District – Peter MacGregor (R)

29th District – Chris Afendoulis (R)

31st District – Kevin Daley (R)

32nd District – Ken Horn (R)

33rd District – Rick Outman (R)

35th District – Curt VanderWall (R)

36th District – Jim Stamas (R)

37th District – Wayne Schmidt (R)

Michigan House of Representatives

1st District – Tenisha Yancey (D)

2nd District – Joseph Tate (D)

3rd District – Wendell Byrd (D)

4th District – Rico Razo (D)

5th District – Rita Ross (D)

8th District – Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D)

10th District – Leslie Love (D)

11th District – Jewell Jones (D)

12th District – Alex Garza (D)

13th District – Frank Liberati (D)

15th District – Abdullah Hammoud (D)

17th District – Joe Bellino (R)

18th District – Kevin Hertel (D)

22nd District – John Chirkun (D)

23rd District – Darrin Camilleri (D)

26th District – Jim Ellison (D)

27th District – Robert Wittenberg (D)

28th District – Patrick Green (D)

30th District – Diana Farrington (R)

31st District – William Sowerby (D)

37th District – Christine Greig (D)

38th District – Kathy Crawford (R)

41st District – Doug Teitz (R)

43rd District – Andrea Schroeder (R)

45th District – Michael Webber (R)

47th District – Hank Vaupel (R)

50th District – Tim Sneller (D)

52nd District – Donna Lasinski (D)

55th District – Rebekah Warren (D)

56th District – Jason Sheppard (R)

60th District – Jon Hoadley (D)

61st District – Brandt Iden (R)

63rd District – David Maturen (R)

66th District – Beth Griffin (R)

68th District – Sarah Anthony (D)

71st District – Chuck Cascarilla (R)

73rd District – Lynn Afendoulis (R)

74th District – Mark Huizenga  (R)

80th District – Mary Whiteford (R)

85th District – Ben Frederick (R)

87th District – Julie Calley (R)

89th District – Jim Lilly (R)

91st District – Greg VanWoerkom (R)

93rd District – Graham Filler (R)

100th District – Scott VanSingel (R)

104th District – Larry Inman (R)

107th District – Lee Chatfield (R)

“Michigan’s turnaround in the last eight years has been remarkable. We are confident that these candidates for the Legislature will be key allies for our next governor to continue Michigan’s growth,” said Brad Williams, vice president of Government Relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities. After careful consideration, the Board made the endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey, input from PAC members and individual interactions.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber PAC

The Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) was the first major organization to announce its support for Gov. Rick Snyder in the 2010 Republican primary and Mayor Mike Duggan’s write-in campaign in the 2013 Detroit mayoral primary. The Chamber PAC prides itself on being one of the most sought after, bipartisan endorsements in Michigan and focuses in large part on candidates’ stances on business issues and the potential to represent the regional business community.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

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

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Daniel Little Receives Inaugural Award for Excellence in Education and Leadership

The Chamber, through its Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, presented Daniel Little, outgoing chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UMD), its inaugural Excellence in Education and Leadership award during the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference. The award recognizes impactful leaders that play a role in growing the region’s higher education graduates.

The award was presented by Richard Rassel, chairman at Butzel Long and Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council co-chair. Rassel expressed his appreciation for Little’s legacy of higher education stating, “he brings a unique value to the students.”

Little, who has served as university chancellor since 2000, stepped down in June. Little also serves as a professor of philosophy at UMD and a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. As Leadership Council co-chair, Little raises awareness on the importance of developing the region’s workforce to grow the economy and positively impact the lives of Detroiters.

Rassel said Little is a selfless leader stating, “while he has always been passionate about raising the profile of his own institution, University of Michigan-Dearborn, he also has remained loyal to a vision of universities and community colleges collaborating together on behalf of the region. This is the spirit that undergirds Detroit Drives Degrees. Without any ego but with tremendous skill and a leadership style marked by inclusivity, Chancellor Little has left an enduring legacy.”

Prior to presenting Little with the award, Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent for the Detroit Regional Chamber, announced the award will be given every year and dubbed it the Dan Little Award in Excellence in Education and Leadership, adding that Little “set the bar very, very high for future awardees.”

On accepting the award, Little emphasized the important work of Detroit Drives Degrees and the value of higher education.

“It is an honor to have served as co-chair of the Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council. The work of the Chamber and its partners is critical for our state, region and the Detroit Drives Degrees students who now have a brighter future,” he said.

Chamber Chief Financial Officer and Elite Member Executives Among Crain’s ‘Notable Women in Finance 2018’

Crain’s Detroit Business recently released its “Notable Women in Finance” report, distinguishing women who work in finance roles for Michigan companies. This year, Karen Belans, chief financial officer for the Detroit Regional Chamber, as well as 11 Elite member company executives, were awarded the distinction. These women were nominated by their peers and are being recognized for their ability to navigate restructurings, advise on acquisitions, and lead mergers. View the list of Chamber member companies below:

  • Marlene Beach, Principal, UHY LLP
  • Karen Belans, Chief Financial Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Rita Sola Cook, Midwest Region Executive, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Bridgett Feagin, Chief Financial Officer, DMC Harper-Hutzel and Detroit Receiving Hospitals
  • Gretchen Holloway, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, ITC Holdings Corp.
  • Pamela May, Partner, UHY LLP
  • Christine Moore, Executive Vice President and General Auditor, Comerica Inc.
  • Margaret Scheske, Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer, AAA – The Auto Club Group
  • Tosha Tabron, Vice President and Relationship Manager, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Terri Weems, Chief Financial Officer, Detroit Employment Solutions Corp.
  • Loni Winkler, Principal, UHY LLP
  • Donna Zuk, Vice President, Financial Operations, Beaumont Health

View the full list of 2018 Notable Women in Finance here.

Business Leaders: Education Reform and Job Creation Will Help Michigan ‘Live Long and Prosper’

Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah and Education Attainment Manager Melanie D’Evelyn spoke at the Michigan Solutions Summit on Thursday, March 22 to share insight on the Chamber’s ongoing efforts towards education reform, job creation, and talent retention in metro Detroit. The event was hosted by Business Leaders for Michigan and Bridge magazine.

The More You Learn the More You Earn
D’Evelyn outlined Detroit Drives Degrees’ plan to increase the percentage of postsecondary degrees in the metro Detroit region to 60 percent by 2030. Currently, about 40 percent of Detroiters hold a postsecondary degree.

“Detroit Drives Degrees’ goal is to create an education compact and collaborate with different sectors (nonprofits, higher education, philanthropy) toward reaching a common goal,” D’Evelyn said.. “We want the public to hold us accountable.”

The compact’s work has already begun. Wayne State University (WSU) Provost Keith Whitfield announced at the summit that the university is creating a program that allows adults who left college to re-enroll without paying back the full amount of educational debt they accumulated. The idea is that the university will absorb some of that debt to encourage adults to focus on completing their degrees.

Whitfield also announced that WSU is investing in academic advisors to help current students succeed and building partnerships to offer more paid internships to students. Both Whitfield and D’Evelyn are hoping that other universities will see the benefits of these innovations and create similar programs.

Regional Collaboration Will Drive Job Creation
After D’Evelyn’s discussion on educational reform, Baruah, along with Dave Egner, President and CEO of the Ralph Wilson Foundation, and Kim Trent, Wayne State University Board of Directors sat on a panel to discuss how job creation and talent retention fit into the regional improvement puzzle.

Baruah addressed several roadblocks that currently hinder business growth and investment in the region that would, in turn, produce prosperous jobs to retain educated Michiganders. One such roadblock is a lack of connected, reliable regional transit.

“What is preventing regional transit? Essentially, two things: one, change is an issue of culture. People in Michigan love cars and grew up in the auto culture, and they don’t want that to change,” Baruah said. “And the second big issue is a lingering sense of distrust between Detroiters and suburbanites. People don’t want to pay higher taxes for a system they don’t think they’ll use.”

Aside from transit, the lack of qualified talent was another issue Baruah cited as preventing Detroit from attracting new business. He emphasized the region’s need to invest in talent, encourage people to go into the skilled trades, and repurpose money used to incarcerate non-violent criminals to reintroduce these individuals into Michigan’s workforce.

Both D’Evelyn and Baruah emphasized that collaboration between the public and private sectors is what will drive education reform, job creation and talent retention for the state and region. By working together, Detroiters can create a region where everyone can prosper.

Great Lakes Metro Chambers Push for Action on Infrastructure, Immigration and Trade

The Detroit Regional Chamber and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition met with members of Congress and their staff during a two-day fly-in to Washington, D.C. last week to discuss several recently proposed policies that will affect business in the Great Lakes region.

During the visit, the Coalition met with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN 6), and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), among others. This visit primarily centered around advancing three of the Coalition’s top policy priorities: the development of a robust, nationwide infrastructure plan; increasing high-skilled immigration; and supporting the preservation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Coalition members spent much of their time discussing President Trump’s recently proposed infrastructure, immigration and trade policies. The infrastructure policy allocates $1.5 trillion in investment that was proposed in February. The Coalition supports developing comprehensive infrastructure legislation and increased federal funding for key projects, including an upgrade to the Soo Locks.

Regarding immigration, the Coalition continues to support high-skilled immigration. Data shows that immigrants bring the talent, labor, and spending power needed to help grow the Great Lakes’ economy. According to a New American Economy report, in the Great Lakes region alone, immigrants account for half of the population growth over the last 15 years and drove almost two-thirds of the region’s working-age population growth in the same amount of time.

Finally, the Coalition met with representatives to discuss the preservation of NAFTA. Modernization is necessary to improve trade between the United States and its allies, but pulling the United States from NAFTA would be catastrophic for businesses across the Great Lakes region that rely on restrictive-free trade with Canada and Mexico.

The Coalition will continue to engage the administration on improving infrastructure, immigration and trade regulations to help grow the region’s economy.

For more information on the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, visit