Detroit Regional Chamber Statement on Grand Hotel Sale

The below statement on the sale of Grand Hotel from Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber:

“For more than eight decades the Musser family has served as tremendous stewards of Grand Hotel, one of Michigan’s most unique and valuable landmarks. Led today by Dan Musser III, the Grand Hotel team continues to polish this historic jewel to provide guests from around the globe a best-in-class experience.


“For 39 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber and Michigan’s business and government leaders have enjoyed the privilege of calling Grand Hotel home for one week each spring during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference. I expect this tradition to continue for many years.


“The Grand Hotel and its incredible, dedicated staff are our extended family. Both the venue and the Grand’s team are key factors in making the Mackinac Policy Conference unique and special. Our team is comforted to know the Grand’s executive leadership team, including Dan Musser III, will remain in place. We look forward to working with the Grand Hotel under its new ownership in planning the 2020 Mackinac Policy Conference and beyond.”


Read the press release on Grand Hotel’s website.

Chamber’s Research Team Shares Regional Data Insights at National Conference

Representing the Detroit region, the Chamber’s research team attend the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The national conference, which took place June 3 to June 7, convened more than 315 community and economic researchers.

Christyn Lucas, manager of business research for the Chamber, participated in a session titled Integrating Multiple Economies Within One Region exploring how individual communities must look beyond their borders and include nearby areas within a larger region when marketing themselves. Doing so can better help regional economists target meaningful and actionable data. Panelists discussed how regions such as Charlotte, North Carolina, Detroit, and other metropolitan areas share a labor shed — an area from which an employment center draws its commuting workers — with counties that have seen major economic transformation over the past two decades. They also explored how researchers can uncover the multiple economies within their regions and link “new economy” opportunities to “old economy” areas.

Lucas presented on Detroit’s automotive industry transformation and expansion into the mobility space along with Workforce Intelligence Network’s Michelle Wein and representatives from the Charlotte region.

“The transformation of the Detroit region — from automotive to mobility — over the past decade resonated with attendees from across the country, who also have experienced changes to their industry footprints and economies,” Lucas said. “Sharing best practices at this conference, focused on data and research, proves to be a valuable way to connect and improve the economies of all regions.”

Angela Ladetto, director of business research for the Chamber, participated in The Data-ing Game, a session reminiscent of the popular game show, The Dating Game. Guest contestants were asked several questions by a St. Louis-based site selection consultant. Contestants shared stories and best practices regarding how they use data to create compelling business propositions that resulted in a corporate investment win. At the end of the session, the site consultant crowned one lucky contestant winner.

“Getting together every year with 300-plus research professionals at the annual C2ER conference is a great way to stay abreast of research best practices, to learn more about other regions’ ongoing research, and discover new tools,” Ladetto said.

Detroit Regional Chamber’s Core Principles on Auto Insurance Reform

With auto insurance debates heating up in Lansing, the Detroit Regional Chamber is highly involved in the discussions working with bipartisan legislators and the governor’s office. The Chamber membership and Board are united in the recognition that the high cost of auto insurance is a critical issue that impacts our state’s economic development, talent attraction, and citizen well-being, and must be addressed.

The Chamber is eager to support legislation that meets the following criteria:

  • Result in a statewide and quantifiable reduction in auto insurance rates.
  • Recognize that rate reduction must be even greater in urban areas. Even a 20% reduction in urban areas leaves auto insurance unaffordable for low-income residents.
  • Reduce the number of uninsured drivers through rate reduction and increased mobility options for low-income residents.
  • Maintain Michigan’s high-quality health care delivery system.
  • Reduce insurance related fraud.

Detroit Regional Chamber Reform Vision

Auto insurance is a statewide issue that demands to be addressed. While our membership does not have a consensus view regarding detailed solutions, the Chamber supports the following core principles.

  • Reform should provide additional oversight of attendant care, particularly when delivered by relatives of the injured.
  • Michigan should pursue insurance fraud at all levels through a strong fraud authority or another enforcement mechanism.
  • Any proposed regulation of reimbursement rates should consider:

– The impact on motorists requiring catastrophic care, particularly care in trauma centers.

– The ability of health care providers to provide quality care.

– The need to lower rates for drivers across geographic, socioeconomic, and other demographic factors.

– Michigan’s insurance rates are high across the state, however, drivers in urban areas are disproportionately impacted. Reviewing the factors that cause high rates should be a special focus of policymakers.

  • Uninsured drivers in high-cost areas, like the city of Detroit, are left with few alternatives to driving illegally because of the region’s lack of effective and efficient public transportation. The number of uninsured drivers is a key component of insurance costs and the region’s consistent failure to provide mobility options has exacerbated the problem.

The Chamber Board endorsed these principles in 2017. The Chamber’s Government Relations team urges that all impacted parties must be at the table and compromise equally – there is no one single aspect of this challenge that can solve this problem – or can escape reform.

Opinion: Skills gap proposals earn broad support

May 8, 2019

The Detroit News 

Sandy Baruah and David Hecker 

As presidents of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the American Federation of Teachers Michigan respectively, we don’t always agree on public policy.

However, we do strongly agree that Michigan needs to increase the number of residents with good-paying jobs, and to close the skills gap that is threatening the future growth of our businesses.

Legislation that would do just that is now in front of the Legislature. Remarkably, in this era of partisan deadlock these proposals were developed — and have gained support — in a bipartisan manner, and were welcomed by major business organizations, labor unions, and a wide range of education and community groups across Michigan.

The reason for this broad support in an era of divided government is that these two proposals from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — MI Opportunity and Reconnect — are investments in Michigan’s talent base. They are aimed at advancing a goal shared by the chamber, the AFT, and the governor to increase our postsecondary attainment rate from 45% to 60% by 2030. More than a half-million jobs are expected to be available over the next half decade in Michigan that require more than a high school diploma — and employers have indicated their biggest concern is that we won’t have the talent to fill them.

View the full article here

Detroit Promise Path Boosts Full-Time Enrollment, Persistence, and Credit Accumulation by Detroit Community College Students

The first-year effects are among the largest seen in higher ed evaluation research
(Detroit, April 24, 2019) — A study conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research firm, shows that the Detroit Promise Path increases the likelihood that students will enroll full time, persist in school, attend summer sessions, and earn more credits. The Detroit Promise Path is a program put in place by the Detroit Regional Chamber in partnership with MDRC that adds evidence-based college support services to the promise scholarship model. The study was released at the Michigan College Promise Symposium, a gathering of business, education and government leaders.

The Detroit Promise Path provides students with campus coaches and financial stipends to help them both successfully enroll in college and persist beyond the first semester. Results from MDRC’s rigorous random assignment evaluation show that Detroit Promise Path has particularly strong effects in the first year. For example:

  • Student participants were 8.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in their second semester than students who received the scholarship but did not participate in the Path program (62.7% vs. 54.6%) — and 10.3 percentage points more likely to enroll full time (32.9% vs. 22.6%).
  •  Student participants were nearly three times more likely to enroll in the summer session their first year (20.5% vs. 7.0%). Research has shown that students who enroll in summer courses are more likely to persist and graduate.
  • Perhaps most notably, students were nearly twice as likely to complete 24 or more credits their first year (10.8% vs. 5.6%), an important marker of being on a successful path to completion.
  • Students reported positive experiences in the program, especially in their relationships with their coaches.

“The effects of the Detroit Promise Path on persistence and full-time enrollment in the second semester are among the largest we’ve seen in rigorous tests of higher education interventions,” said Alexander Mayer, deputy director of postsecondary education at MDRC, who presented the results at the Michigan College Promise Symposium. “It’s good news for the larger College Promise field, and we look forward to learning whether these results persist and eventually translate into higher graduation rates for Detroit Promise Path students overall.”

Although it is too early to reach a conclusion about the effects in the second year of the study, the early findings are encouraging. Based on data from the first group of enrollees in Detroit Promise Path, second-year findings are positive, but not all are statistically significant and the effect on credits earned is smaller.

“Providing Detroit high schools students access to college is one part of a solution to ensuring student success. It is equally important to understand and address the barriers students in order to help them persist in college,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The MDRC results on the program are promising, and we look forward to continuing to remove barriers to education for Detroiters.”

“We at the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) are thrilled at the results of the evaluation of the Detroit Promise Program. Our goal from the beginning is to ensure that every student has the opportunity for a postsecondary education and for the support needed for success. Working with our partner funders like the Kellogg Foundation and others, we’re pleased their investment has yielded this kind of success and that the program has quickly become a national model,” said Peter Remington, president of Michigan Education Excellence Foundation.

“We know that access to quality higher education is a critical pathway for economic mobility. The Detroit Promise Path program demonstrates that an evidence-based approach can lead to improved student outcomes, and open more opportunities for more Americans,” said Michele Jolin, CEO, and co-founder of Results for America, a national nonprofit that helps decision-makers at all levels of government harness the power of evidence and data to solve problems.

The study was unveiled and discussed during the National College Promise Symposium at the Detroit Regional Chamber in partnership with the College Promise Campaign, The Kresge Foundation and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“Michigan is a leader in college promise programs, and it again has provided valuable insights. Our national partners will be examining this research to better understand how we can all create more support that can bolster student persistence and completion. Closing the guidance gap is key to creating a college-going culture,” says Martha Kanter, executive director, College Promise Campaign. The nonprofit, nonpartisan campaign reports that supporters have started over 300 college promise programs in 44 states, with over 20 states having statewide promise programs.

“MDRC’s analysis of the Detroit Promise Path provides critical proof points demonstrating that well-targeted student supports alongside reduced financial barriers are at the heart of improving student outcomes,” said Bill Moses, managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. “Student success is central to our mission at Kresge and we are proud to support research that illuminates effective methods of helping more students from low-income households and students of color succeed in college.”

“A postsecondary degree can be a game changer for young people and their families,” said Dr. Darienne Driver Hudson, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “It is critical that our high-school-focused investments in College and Career Pathways serve as a bridge to postsecondary opportunities. As this report demonstrates, access to wraparound supports are integral to ensuring children are equipped to compete in today’s global economy.”

The new report, A Path from Access to Success: Interim Findings from the Detroit Promise Path Evaluation, is available on MDRC’s website. MDRC also released a report from its College Promise Success Initiative describing ways in which promise programs have designed and implemented similar student support components to boost student success. The report points to several tools on MDRC’s website that promise programs around the nation can use to improve their own offerings to students.

The Detroit Promise Path program and evaluation are primarily funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, with additional support from W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and The Kresge Foundation. The Detroit Promise Path evaluation is affiliated with MDRC’s College Promise Success Initiative, which is funded by Ascendium Education Group.

View or download the full study.

• John Hutchins, MDRC, 212-340-8604,
• Kelly Weatherwax, Detroit Regional Chamber, 313-596-0360,

Detroit Regional Chamber Launches Online Data Portal

Kelly Weatherwax


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE was Created as a Resource for the 11-county Detroit Region

April 2, 2019, Detroit, MI – The Detroit Regional Chamber has launched a new online data dashboard resource at to provide the 11-county Detroit region with extensive workforce and industry statistics to make data-driven business, philanthropic, policy, and career decisions. The Detroit Regional Data Center, created by Headlight Data of Austin, Texas, provides a one-stop, interactive, online portal for all economic, workforce, education, demographic, and social data on the Detroit region, the company’s Headlight Dashboard with the largest regional footprint.

“As the keeper of the region’s data, we see the Detroit Regional Data Center as an investment into the Detroit Region,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber. “I encourage businesses, nonprofits, and economic developers, and others to use this best-in-class resource to make data-driven decisions to advance their missions, promote the region, and continue moving the economy forward.”

The Data Center is a complimentary resource to access continuously updated data and reports to stay up-to-date on economic trends, opportunities in target industries, and demographic and social trends in the local economy.

–          Local businesses and employers can access data about county and regional demographics, wage information, and workforce by occupation and industry.

–          Economic developers can use the data as a tool for developing client proposals including, workforce by occupation and industry.

–          Grant seekers can use demographic and economic data to write more compelling proposals.

–          Students and job seekers can review data to discover what occupations and industries are available and growing in the region.

–          Site selectors can find vast amounts of data that relate to their research when looking at the Detroit Region for economic development opportunities.

–          Media can utilize the data to tell a compelling story of the region.

The Data Center will advance the Chamber’s mission of fueling economic growth, promoting collaboration between businesses and other community organizations, and providing stakeholders with resources to utilize while tackling and solving critical regional issues.

Data provided is five export formats for the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA, Genesee County/Flint MSA, Lapeer County, Lenawee County, Livingston County, Macomb County, Monroe County/Monroe MSA, Oakland County, St. Clair County, Shiawassee County, Washtenaw County/Ann Arbor MSA, Wayne County. In addition, state of Michigan and city of Detroit data is available for specific data sets.

The Data Center is being funding by the Chamber with a portion of the cost being offset by the Detroit Regional Partnership.

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. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

About Headlight Data

Headlight Data is an award-winning online data system that enables economic and workforce development organizations to produce data-intensive websites on their community’s economy and workforce, allowing them to better serve prospects, site selectors, and their residents.

New Program Seeks to Improve Public Education with Help from Business Leaders

Media Contact:
Kelly Weatherwax

New Program Seeks to Improve Public Education with Help from Business Leaders

February 8, 2019, Detroit, Mich. – To identify and prepare local leaders to serve on the governing boards of Southeast Michigan public charter schools, the Detroit Regional Chamber has partnered with Central Michigan University (CMU) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to create the Detroit Board Leadership Program.

The board leadership program aims to connect business leaders who have the right mix of skills and a desire to help Detroit’s kids succeed academically, with open seats on public charter school boards.

“The goal of the Detroit Board Leadership Program is to be intentional about improving the quality of these public charter school boards, and we are seeking leaders who have a passion for education who can be ambassadors for a school’s accomplishments and challenges,” said Dan Piepszowski, senior director of Community Leadership Development for the Chamber.

Public charter schools educate approximately 80,000 children in Southeast Michigan and are responsible for $730 million in state and federal funds. Unlike school districts, whose board members are elected, public charter schools are governed by volunteers who are publicly appointed to their position by the board of trustees of the authorizing body that has chartered their school. Each board member is vetted to ensure that they are free from conflicts of interest and will govern in the best interest of the students their school serves. Their actions are overseen by their school’s authorizing body.

CMU and GVSU, the largest public charter school authorizing bodies in the state, collectively authorize more than 43 percent of the public charter schools in southeast Michigan.

“Great public charter schools all have one thing in common: They are governed by effective boards that operate with integrity, focus on community and, most importantly, are committed to academic excellence,” said Rob Kimball, associate vice president for charter schools at GVSU.

“We’re excited to partner with the Chamber on the Detroit Board Leadership Program. It is an innovative way to connect the exceptional skills of the region’s business leaders to schools in a role where they can have an immediate impact on kids and families in their very own neighborhoods.”

In addition to providing ongoing training and leadership for potential board members, the program is designed to create a pipeline for those who are prepared to fill the vacancies that can occur on public charter school boards.

“These individuals play a vital role in addressing educational inequities and making key decisions that will determine educational outcomes for thousands of children,” said Corey Northrop, interim executive director for CMU’s Center for Charter Schools. “When a vacancy occurs, that particular school and board are serving with one less leader, so the cultivation process and development of a direct channel to have potential board members ready, and waiting to serve, is a real game-changer.”

The comprehensive training provides interested board applicants a deep-dive into board governance and responsibilities; a broad understanding of the current education landscape; insight into how public charter school boards work with their school authorizers and operators, and; the importance and value of boards being connected to the communities that they serve.

Leaders who complete the training will be introduced to local public charter school boards that are seeking new members and will receive support in advancing through the public appointment process necessary to be considered to serve on that board.

Interested candidates can apply by visiting

# # #

About 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. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

About The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University

CMU is a state and national leader in the charter public school movement, with over 20 years of experience launching, supporting and overseeing charter public schools. CMU created The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools to support the schools it charters. The University currently authorizes 58 schools serving more than 28,000 students throughout the state.

About Grand Valley State University

GVSU currently authorizes 78 K-12 charter public schools that serve more than 36,000 Michigan children. GVSU’s schools are diverse and innovative in their programming as each are designed to meet the unique needs of the communities and families that they serve.

2019 Legislative Priorities Focus on Growing the Detroit Region

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors recently adopted its legislative priorities for 2019. These 14 priorities, which are critical to economic development and growth of the region, include investing in infrastructure, support for a reliable regional transit system, maintaining a pro-growth tax structure, and creating pathways to postsecondary education and careers, among many other pro-business policy issues. This year’s priorities are aligned with the five pillars that guide the Chamber’s economic development strategy to position the region for global competitiveness.


  • Maintain a pro-growth tax structure that allows Michigan to compete globally for business and talent.
  • Encourage smart spending policies and long-term budgeting that prioritizes fiscal solvency.
  • Maintain a regulatory climate that is conducive to Michigan’s growing economy.
  • Support reforms for Michigan’s criminal justice system that reduce lengthy and costly sentences and provide age-appropriate rehabilitation.
  • Support policies that expand employment opportunities for chronically underemployed populations.


  • Increase dedicated infrastructure funding and lead efforts to prioritize regional transit options for the Detroit region.
  • Encourage regional policies that are consistent with state and federal law and balance local needs with economic growth.
  • Promote policies that increase access to health insurance while opposing policies that drive up costs for employers and individuals.


  • Maintain rigorous K-12 standards that allow students to succeed in the global economy.
  • Create greater accountability for quality and siting in charter schools.
  • Increase postsecondary education attainment through policies such as increased dual enrollment and expanded, need-based financial aid.

Global Connectivity:

  • Create pathways to career opportunities in the automotive industry that develop high-skilled talent, including support for immigration reform and the attraction of international students.
  • Promote smart trade policy, including continued USMCA participation and resisting short-sighted trade restrictions or tariffs that inhibit growth.

Next-Generation Mobility:

  • Support policies that allow Michigan to continue to lead in research and development testing for next generation mobility solutions and other emerging industry sectors.


Howes: Region’s ‘upward trajectory’ bucks new headwinds

December 4, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Daniel Howes

Just when the region is showing signs of “sustaining its upward trajectory,” as the Detroit Regional Chamber terms it in its fifth annual “State of the Region” report, two of its automotive heavyweights are signaling tougher times may lie ahead.

General Motors Co. is poised cut 8,000 salaried jobs and idle production at four U.S. plants next year, affecting 3,300 jobs. Ford Motor Co. is contemplating (still) a restructuring plan that is expected to impact its salaried workforce, even as it lays plans to rehab the dilapidated Michigan Central Depot into a hub for next-generation autonomy, mobility and electrification.

Contradictory? Not exactly, according the report to be released Tuesday. The region’s growth in real gross domestic product is outpacing the national rate, notching a 2.7-percent gain compared to 2.2 percent nationally. Per capita income in the Detroit region grew by 4.3 percent, compared to 4.1 percent nationally.

And as critical as GM and Ford remain to the regional economy — and the state’s identity — the automakers account for a smaller overall share of the state’s workforce and economic output. That’s not-so-good news, considering this town’s history, that might not be so bad.

“We are still on an upward trajectory,” Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in an interview Monday. Median home value growth between 2013 and 2017 rose by 42.4 percent, second only to Seattle. And growth in the millennial population over the same period expanded by nearly 10 percent, more than Atlanta, Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago.

“There’s a cool factor to Detroit,” said Rick Hampson, Michigan president for Rhode Island-headquartered Citizens Bank, sponsor of the annual survey. Quicken Loans Inc. Dan Gilbert’s family of companies “have been cool companies to work in for a long time.”

But they’re not the only ones, as both startups and legacy companies like GM and Ford woo tech talent in increasingly large numbers; as the rehabilitation of central downtown creeps beyond the Woodward corridor and Midtown; as steeply rising costs on the coasts make comparatively affordable Detroit more attractive.

Vacancy rates offer supporting evidence. Industrial vacancy rates in the region are among the lowest in the country for the fifth straight year, and for the first time in years office vacancy rates now track below the national average. All good.

Not so good: Detroit is the poorest major city among its peers, despite seeing its poverty rate improve to 34 percent from 41 percent five years ago. The metro region’s overall population growth is anemic, creeping up a meager 0.3 percent between 2014 and 2017, compared to 3 percent nationally. Its community well-being index ranks the Detroit region 145th out of 189 communities, hardly the makings of a chamber recruiting campaign.

All of which serves as a prelude to the most consistently urgent — and, it appears, hard to address — conundrum: educational attainment in the region and across the state. It continues to get worse, the chamber found, echoing numerous other studies compiled by educational think tanks and business groups.

“We’re a losing team in a losing league,” Baruah said, making exactly zero attempts to sugar-coat a message that should embarrass parents and teachers, administrators and lawmakers across the state. “It’s not just your neighbor’s school district that is a problem. It’s your school district that’s a problem. When you look at the statewide numbers, we keep going down.”

Ask yourself: How can Michigan make the case to become the next-century hub of transportation technology if it can’t educate the talent to staff the companies providing that technology? How can it attract that talent from high-cost Silicon Valley or the northeast if it fails to offer anything approaching an educational value proposition?

Answer: It can’t. And folks locked into a comfortable 20th-century model that effectively holds that mediocrity is good enough will learn the hard way that it’s not. Not much of a legacy, that, to leave your children.

“This has been a red flashing light since we started this report,” Baruah said. “If we don’t solve this problem, it’s going to be a problem.” It already is.


View the original article here