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

Press Release: MCAN College Access Impact Awards Recognize Three Metro Detroit Organizations and Individuals

Detroit Regional Chamber, Hazel Park adviser and Chandler Park adviser awarded for contributions to increasing postsecondary attainment

LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) held its eighth annual conference in Lansing and recognized numerous outstanding college advocates from across the state on Monday at the annual College Access Impact Awards dinner, including Britteny Mitchell, a Michigan College Advising Corps adviser at Chandler Park High School, Moussa Traore, a Michigan State University College Advising Corps adviser at Hazel Park High School, and the Detroit Regional Chamber. Seven award categories recognized the hard work and dedication of 12 individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond to improve postsecondary educational attainment in Michigan.

Mitchell and Traore are both recipients of the Ombudsman award, for their service at Chandler Park Academy and Hazel Park High School, respectively. The Ombudsman Award recognizes individuals whose passion for college access helps them persevere over challenges while engaged in their year of service as an AmeriCorps member through one of the college advising programs within the state.

The Detroit Regional Chamber earned MCAN’s Beacon Award because of their strong leadership in the college access and degree completion space, their innovative FAFSA Challenge, their long-­‐term and ongoing support for the Detroit College Access Network and Detroit Drives Degrees, as well as their support of the Detroit Promise. The Beacon Award recognizes those that work to unite programs, activities and/or operations in support of postsecondary attainment through partnerships.

“Our annual conference celebrates the individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to improve postsecondary attainment in Michigan,” said Brandy Johnson, executive director of MCAN. “Congratulations to Britteny, Moussa, the Detroit Regional Chamber and all of our outstanding award winners. Their commitment to creating a college-­‐going culture in Michigan is making a difference in the lives of countless high school students.”

In addition to the award ceremony, the Michigan College Access Network hosted hundreds of college access professionals and education leaders during the two-­‐day conference. The conference theme, “Cultivating Tomorrow’s Talent,” emphasized the important role  talent development plays in improving   the future  of  Michigan.  MCAN  supports  initiatives  to  help  students  as  they  pursue  postsecondary education  in Michigan.

The Annual Conference included numerous breakout sessions and three keynote speakers: Michele Siqueiros, president, of The Campaign for College Opportunity, Laura Owen, director of the Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success at American University, and John Fox, head of Mopar sales and operations at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.



About Michigan College Access Network

As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-­‐income students, first-­‐generation college going students, and students of color. For the seventh year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7 percent of 25-­‐to-­‐64-­‐year-­‐olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 39.4 percent in 2016. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-­‐quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.7 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by  the year 2025. For more information, visit

Consumers Energy CEO: Tap Into Your Employee Melting Pot To Tackle Business Solutions

As one of the region’s most successful leaders, Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe says collaboration is the fuel that can drive the growth of a business. She also says that giving employees a voice at the table offers them a sense of ownership and pride in a company’s long-term vision. Poppe, a Detroit Regional Chamber Board member, sat down with the eDetroiter to share her secrets for business success. Read the Q&A below.

Hear more from Poppe at the upcoming Inside the CEO Mind event April 19 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

You were named in Crain’s “100 Most Influential Women.” To what do you attribute your success and what is the biggest lesson you can share with aspiring organizational leaders?

I attribute my success to having the ability to harness the power of others and being able to get a team of people committed to an outcome instead of pushing an individual agenda, alone. It is better to be effective than right. I have learned that there are times when I may be right but if I force my authority or power, I will not be effective.

In your opinion, what should be the next steps for the Detroit region to foster business growth?

For the economy to grow in any region there must be a supportive business community. Encouraging local businesses to work together when contracting for supplies and services is a must; that’s why we helped establish Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) and continue to encourage our Michigan-based suppliers and contractors to pay it forward. When Detroit businesses work together, the community will succeed.

How does Consumers tackle the issue of attracting and retaining talent? What can others learn from your success and/or challenges in that capacity?

We attract talent with our strong employment brand, commitment to customers and inclusive culture. We retain talent by offering fulfilling careers where a person can bring his or her full self to work and succeed. Our employees tell us that their work offers them a deep sense of pride and purpose. Everyone comes to the table with a unique perspective, and it is important to recognize that a melting pot of ideas propels a company to succeed.

If you were to give your 20-year-old self some business advice, what would it be?

You can have it all! Surround yourself with people who encourage and enable you to do what you were uniquely born to do so that you can make your mark on the world.

What is most important to you and your organization – mission, vision, or core values? Why?

At Consumers Energy we make promises every day to be Michigan’s trusted energy provider, delivering affordable, reliable energy and valuable services to enable our customers’ quality of life. It is important work because our customers are family, friends and neighbors.

What are the most-important strategic priorities for Consumers in the coming year? How will you gauge success?

To create a culture of continuous improvement through the Consumers Energy way of doing business: working safely, completing work right the first time, at the lowest cost and on schedule. Focusing on safety, quality, cost and delivery provides us with a strategic advantage so that we can continue to deliver on the promises we make to Michigan each day.

Hear more from Poppe at the upcoming Inside the CEO Mind event April 19 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.


Three Upcoming Chamber Events You Do Not Want to Miss

In March and April, the Detroit Regional Chamber has approximately 15 events. For Chamber members, it can be difficult to know which events are the most important to attend. Non-members often have the same issue, especially considering the numerous obligations and events around the region that can quickly fill calendars.

To help you slim down your choices, check out three key events for businesses the Chamber is hosting over the next two months:

  1. State of the State: Now and in the Future. During a conversation over lunch on Tuesday, March 27, Gov. Rick Snyder will discuss how the state has grown over the past eight years while also looking at the long-term impact of those accomplishments. Following his remarks, the Governor will participate in a moderated discussion with business leaders from three key industries to forecast how Michigan will continue to grow in the coming years. This Chamber members-only event is $65. Please note that prices will increase on March 20. Register here.
  2. Inside the CEO Mind: Patti Poppe. Hear from Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe on Thursday, April 19 as she shares her journey in the energy and automotive industries that have led to her current position and how her commitment to customer-first management allows her to be a successful leader. Following her presentation, audience members are invited to participate in a question-and-answer session. This event is $30 for Chamber members and $50 for non-members. Please note that prices will increase on April 12. Register here.
  3. Networking Reception: Meet the Candidates. Attendees will meet the candidates who are running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Michigan’s 9th, 11th and 13th districts while mingling with fellow Chamber members in attendance. This event offers early access and the first opportunity to meet the declared candidates. This Chamber members-only event is $15 and takes place on Tuesday, April 24. Please note, pricing will increase to $25 on April 10. Register here.

For a full list of upcoming Chamber events, visit the events page.


Five Tips to Strengthen Your Leadership Detroit Application

Leadership Detroit is entering its 40th year and is currently seeking high-potential leaders in the Detroit region to join the upcoming class. Please consider nominating a leader from your organization, or if you have been nominated and want to learn more about the program, consider attending an informational breakfast.

Leadership Detroit is a transformational program, led by the Detroit Regional Chamber, for existing and emerging leaders in the Detroit region. For the past 40 years, this program has provided the foundation for a lifelong commitment to leadership by creating awareness of key issues that affect the Detroit region. Approximately 70 individuals are selected for the class every year, representing a cross section of the community, including business, organized labor, government, education, health services and community organizations. The program takes place over a 10-month period, with a graduation ceremony in June.

If you are considering applying to Leadership Detroit, or have a colleague in mind you would like to nominate, read the five tips below to strengthen your application:

  1. Work with your employer, not against him or her. To give yourself the best chance of success, it is smart to work with your employer on the nomination and application process, rather than informing him or her after the process is complete. There are many reasons for this: you and your employer can decide how your participation in Leadership Detroit best serves the organization; your employer can write a recommendation letter to strengthen your application; and your employer can approve the dates you will need to miss work for sessions ahead of time.
  2. Accept the time commitment. Before filling out the application, it is crucial that you look at the schedule of classes. Leadership Detroit class members are required to attend a certain number of the classes. Failure to fulfill this requirement could prevent members from graduating. Once you have been nominated, be sure to review the class schedule and approve these dates with your employer.
  3. When filling out your application, be authentic. The Leadership Detroit application is all about authenticity. Be transparent about who you are and exactly why you want to be in the class. What do you hope to gain from the experience?
  4. Attend an informational breakfast. If you have been nominated for Leadership Detroit, it is highly recommended that you attend an informational breakfast to learn more about the program and the application process. There are three informational breakfasts in 2018: March 13 at Plante Moran PLLC in Southfield, March 21 at the PNC Building in Troy, and April 17 at Detroit PAL in Detroit.
  5. Do not be discouraged if you do not get in on the first try. Many Leadership Detroit applicants do not get accepted to the program on their first try, and many apply to the program multiple times. Do not be discouraged if you are not selected, and try again next year.

To learn more, visit the Leadership Detroit page on the Detroit Regional Chamber website.