Industry Experts: Latest Proposed Changes to NAFTA Are Red Flag for Automotive Supply Chain

As the fourth round of negotiations between Canada, the United States and Mexico surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) conclude, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with MICHauto and the Consulate General of Canada, hosted members of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association for an informative discussion on NAFTA’s potential impact on trade and economic growth for the U.S. and Canadian economies.

Anne Cascadden, trade commissioner for the Consulate General of Canada, said two of the biggest sticking points that are hindering negotiation efforts between the three countries revolve around the United States’ proposal that requires:

  • Any new agreement would sunset after five years and must be renegotiated
  • Rules of origin for automobiles would include 85 percent NAFTA-country product, up from 62.5 percent now, and 50 percent U.S.-made product in order to be exempt from tariffs

Cascadden said the U.S. proposal would greatly impact NAFTA supply chains. Specifically, steel, aluminum, copper, plastics, electronics, and other parts currently exempt would be required to come from North America for vehicles to qualify under rules of origin.

Other discussion participants included Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association; Xavier Mosquet, senior partner for The Boston Consulting Group; and Christopher Sands, senior research professor and director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

In welcoming remarks, Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said that Canada and Mexico are more in-tune with the economic ramifications of the United States’ potential withdrawal from the trade agreement, adding that any new agreement must first “do no harm” to the countries’ existing trade relationship. While not perfect, Baruah said NAFTA has been a major factor in North America’s competitiveness with the European Union.

Baruah has been a key voice regarding the NAFTA renegotiation and remains highly sought after for his expertise and insight at discussions in Michigan and Canada based on his current role at the Chamber and his past work in Washington, D.C.

Detroit Drives Degrees Kicks off Annual Challenge to Connect More Students with College Financial Aid

By Tiffany Jones

In an effort to put more of the $90 million in federal aid that went unclaimed in Michigan last year into the hands of students, Detroit Drives Degrees kicked off its second annual “Race to the FAFSA Line” Challenge, which promotes the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Challenge offers incentives to students, counselors and high schools to complete the form and runs through Feb. 28, 2018. Detroit Drives Degrees, an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit strategy, works to strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing the number of adults with postsecondary degrees in the region.

The goal of the Challenge is to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to 65 percent. In its inaugural year, the Challenge and a variety of other efforts boosted the completion rate to 59 percent in 2016, up from 55.6 percent.

The National College Access Network states that high school graduates who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college and by 2025, 70 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary credential.

In order to participate, high schools must register at DetroitDrivesDegrees.com. More than 85 schools participated in the 2016 competition. The school with the highest completion rate will win a senior all-night party, courtesy of Emagine Entertainment. Additional prizes from Emagine and the Detroit Pistons will be awarded to participating schools and student teams across the region.

The Challenge is sponsored by Chemical Bank, DTE Energy, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, Independent Bank, Kerkstra Precast and University of Michigan-Dearborn. In addition to Emagine Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons, other Challenge partners include: Detroit College Access Network, Frank FAFSA, Macomb Intermediate School District, Michigan College Access Network, Oakland Community College, Oakland Schools, University of Michigan, Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency, and numerous local college access networks.

Detroit Named ‘Freightliner Trucks Hardest Working City’ for Manufacturing Excellence, Economic Growth

By Daniel Lai

With efforts underway to position Detroit as the premier location for Amazon’s HQ2, the city’s latest accolade sends a clear message to the retail giant: Detroit’s innovation economy is powered by an unrivaled manufacturing workforce.

On Wednesday, Freightliner Trucks awarded the city its “Hardest Working Cities” designation. The award recognizes cities across North America that are fueling economic growth as determined by an exhaustive review of approximately 400 metropolitan census areas across 11 different key economic performance indicators, including unemployment rate, infrastructure investment, and contribution to total gross domestic product.

Detroit was recognized as one of the leading cities in North America for manufacturing employment. It is also among:

  • The top 10 percent of cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and light truck and delivery
  • The top 10 percent of cities for number of transportation establishments
  • The top 15 percent of cities for contribution to U.S. gross domestic product
  • The top 20 percent of cities for construction employment

“The city of Detroit is near and dear to Freightliner because of the legendary Detroit engines and drivetrains that power our trucks,” said Allan Haggai, marketing communications manager for Freightliner Vocational Trucks.

Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber, accepted the award on behalf of the business community during an event at Detroit Diesel Corporation.

“The Detroit Regional Chamber proudly accepts this honor and recognition on behalf of the region’s business community. As Freightliner’s ‘Hardest Working City,’ this award celebrates the people and industries powering the Detroit region’s economy and builds on our rich history of driving innovation, developing word-class talent and creating high-quality jobs in order to compete and win in the 21st century global economy,” Robinson said.

Since its inception, the award has recognized 10 cities across North America: Dallas, Des Moines, Edmonton, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Toronto.

Highgate’s Stephen Polk to Lead Chamber Board, New Directors Announced

The Detroit Regional Chamber announced the election of Highgate President and CEO Stephen Polk as chairman of its Board of Directors for the 2017-18 term. Polk, who chaired the highly successful 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference, succeeds Archer Corporate Services President Dennis Archer Jr., whose one-year term as board chairman came to an end.

“My vision for this year is to push forward,” Polk said. “I plan to continue the momentum of this year’s Conference pillars of restoring civility in American politics, winning the race in connected technology, and increasing economic opportunity.”

With the announcement, PwC Greater Michigan Market Managing Partner and U.S. Automotive Leader Ramesh “Ray” Telang becomes the Chamber’s first vice chairman who will chair the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, which will be held from Tuesday, May 29 to Friday, June 1.

In addition to announcing the new board chair, the Chamber welcomed 12 new board directors, including:

  • Chris Brochert, Partner, Lormax Stern Development Co.
  • Dean Brody, Managing Director, Accenture
  • Michael Brosseau, President, Brose North America Inc.
  • Jeff Davidman, Vice President, State and Local Government Affairs, Delta Air Lines
  • Brian Demkowicz, Managing Partner, Huron Capital Partners LLC
  • Alessandro DiNello, President and CEO, Flagstar Bank
  • Anthony Frabotta, Managing Director, UHY LLP
  • Wright Lassiter III, President, Henry Ford Health System
  • Trevor Lauer, President and CEO, DTE Electric, DTE Energy
  • Leon Richardson, President and CEO, Chemico Systems Inc.
  • David Segura, CEO, VisionIT
  • Chris Thomas, Founder and Partner, Fontinalis Partners LLC

In recognizing the new directors Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said: “We are incredibly grateful for you volunteering your valuable time. You are all leaders working nationally and internationally and the fact that you would spend some time with us, we are very honored by that.”

Archer will remain a member of the board as immediate past chair and serve on the Executive Committee.

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 detroitchamber.com.

Chamber Welcomes New Board Members, Stephen Polk Named Board Chair

The Detroit Regional Chamber announced the election of Highgate President and CEO Stephen Polk as chairman of its Board of Directors for the 2017-18 term. Polk, who chaired the highly successful 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference, succeeds Archer Corporate Services President Dennis Archer Jr., whose one-year term as board chairman came to an end.

“My vision for this year is to push forward,” Polk said. “I plan to continue the momentum of this year’s Conference pillars of restoring civility in American politics, winning the race in connected technology, and increasing economic opportunity.”

In addition to announcing the new chair, the Chamber welcomed 12 new executives to its Board of Directors. The new board members, representing the region and a variety of industries, include:

  • Chris Brochert, Partner, Lormax Stern Development Co.
  • Dean Brody, Managing Director, Accenture
  • Michael Brosseau, President, Brose North America Inc.
  • Jeff Davidman, Vice President, State and Local Government Affairs, Delta Air Lines
  • Brian Demkowicz, Managing Partner, Huron Capital Partners LLC
  • Alessandro DiNello, President and CEO, Flagstar Bank
  • Anthony Frabotta, Managing Director, UHY LLP
  • Wright Lassiter III, President, Henry Ford Health System
  • Trevor Lauer, President and CEO, DTE Electric, DTE Energy
  • Leon Richardson, President and CEO, Chemico Systems Inc.
  • David Segura, CEO, VisionIT
  • Chris Thomas, Founder and Partner, Fontinalis Partners LLC

In recognizing the new directors, Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said: “We are incredibly grateful for you volunteering your valuable time. You are all leaders working nationally and internationally and the fact that you would spend some time with us, we are very honored by that.”

The Chamber also made a special presentation to honor Archer for his work as board chairman.

“Dennis made us a better organization. Our culture of diversity and inclusion was impacted by his leadership this past year,” Baruah said.

Archer will remain a member of the board as immediate past chair and will serve on the Executive Committee.

The staff also recognized the service of the outgoing directors including: Stephanie Bergeron, president of Walsh College; Phil Cooley, co-owner of Slows Bar BQ; George Johnson, managing director of George Johnson & Company; Steven Kurmas, vice chairman of DTE Energy; Nigel Thompson, advisor to the CEO for Yazaki North America Inc.; and David Zilko, CEO of Fuel Leadership LLC.

View the full list of board members here.

Michigan’s Mobility Assets Key Topic of Netherlands Delegation Visit to Detroit

On June 21, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted a delegation of 15 representatives from the Netherlands’ most successful mobility companies to discuss smart mobility and smart city solutions. Delegates were eager to learn about Detroit’s landscape, its business environment, and its leadership and future mobility projects, particularly in autonomous driving.

The Netherlands are among the world’s leading developers of smart and sustainable cities. During the visit, the delegation met with Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, and Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility for the city of Detroit, who shared the city’s strategy around mobility as a service (MAAS).

Additionally, on June 26, a second delegation from the Netherlands featuring key representatives from AutomotiveNL and Brainport Region joined the Chamber for a tour of Southeast Michigan, meeting with representatives from Ann Arbor SPARK, Ford Motor Co. and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The delegation also received a tour of the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center and DENSO to discuss the region’s automotive and mobility landscape. The delegation visits were part of an ongoing effort by the Chamber and its economic development partners to connect leading global technology firms with automotive OEMs and the supplier pipeline in the region.

Congress Passes the Water Resources Development Act in its Final Vote of the Year

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 prior to adjourning for the year. The legislation is highly supported by the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC), in which the Detroit Regional Chamber is a member and Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber also serves as the executive director.

The bill authorizes 25 critical Army Corps projects in 17 states, Michigan being one of them, and provides critical investment in the country’s aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, assists poor and disadvantaged communities in meeting public health standards under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and promotes innovative technologies to address drought and other critical water resource needs.

The bill also responds to the drinking water crisis in Flint by providing emergency assistance to Flint and other similar communities across the country facing drinking water contamination.

The bill will now be sent to the President for signature.

Detroit Regional Chamber Joins Coalition to Focus on Equity and Excellence in Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

The Detroit Regional Chamber joins the Michigan Students Achieve Coalition to ensure Michigan’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, focuses on academic excellence for all students. The Coalition, announced last week, will provide recommendations to the ESSA plan, being prepared by the Michigan Department of Education and is expected to be completed in the spring. The plan will be used to comply with the new federal education law, passed in 2015, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and focuses on the opportunity and responsibility for improving outcomes, accountability for all groups of students and improvement actions on the state and local school districts. The other coalition members include: Black Family Development, Detroit Branch NAACP, Education Trust-Midwest, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Urban League, Michigan Alliance for Special Education, Michigan Association of United Ways, Michigan College Access Network, Michigan State Branch NAACP and the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan.

“It’s no secret that not enough of our students are adequately prepared for life after high school,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of The Detroit Regional Chamber. “The success of our region, depends on the success of our talent. It is critical that Michigan’s ESSA plan prioritizes equal access and opportunity for all students.”

Learn more about ESSA and the Coalition’s recommendations.

 

Chamber Members Show Their Creative Side for Third Member Appreciation Day

As a way of thanking members for their support this past year, the Detroit Regional Chamber gave away a handful of prizes throughout the third Member Appreciation Day on Dec. 7th. To enter, members had to take a picture of their Chamber plaque or graphic in a fun, creative way and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The Chamber received a few creative graphics from our members. One featured the Chamber’s appreciation day graphic on Santa’s sleigh while another had a cute bulldog holding up the graphic. The Chamber also received a few video entries, among them one showed the staff of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit doing their own version of the Mannequin Challenge.

Prizes ranged from complimentary registrations to signature Chamber events to various gift cards and lunch with a Chamber executive at the Detroit Athletic Club. Five members were awarded prizes over the course of the day and three final prizes were announced the following morning.

Below is the full list of winning entries and their prizes.

Detroit Promise Expands Tuition-Free Program to Four-Year Universities

Yesterday, on Nov. 28, the Detroit Regional Chamber joined with Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to announce the expansion of the Detroit Promise college scholarship program to include free tuition for eligible students at four-year educational institutions.

Launched in 2013, the program grew out of a collaborative effort between the Chamber, Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF). MEEF raises the funds for the scholarship and the Chamber partners with the schools and students to administer the program. In the past three years, nearly 2,000 Detroit high school graduates have had the opportunity to attend community college, tuition-free.

Earlier this year, Mayor Duggan launched the Detroit Promise Zone Authority that would permanently dedicate a portion of tax dollars to fund the two-year scholarships. This partnership, along with the partnerships from participating universities, allowed the program to expand to allow students that live in and attend high school in Detroit the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university. The expansion has been introduced as a pilot program for two cohorts of four-year students that began this fall and will include a second cohort that starts next fall. The four-year scholarships will be paid with funds raised by the MEEF, which has launched a campaign in hopes of raising $25 million over the next seven years.

In the current academic year, more than 700 students are attending two-year or four-year colleges through “last-dollar” scholarships, which cover tuition and other mandatory fees not covered by federal or state grant sources.

“In order for Detroit to compete and win in the 21st century global economy, the city needs world-class talent” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We’re pleased to partner with Gov. Snyder, Mayor Duggan, education partners and the funders to fulfill the Detroit Promise, and see post-secondary degrees increase in the city of Detroit.”

For more information on eligibility and instructions on how to register, please visit the Detroit Promise website.