Grand Rapids Chamber discusses upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference

May 10, 2019

WZZM-TV

Nina DeSarro

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce welcomed several state leaders to discuss the upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference.

This year’s conference centers around education, economic development.. and sustainability. The event runs for four days, from May 28-31 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

“This is a statewide conference very much by design where we are focused on statewide issues and bring in national speakers to input into what’s happening here in Michigan, so it is a thorough leadership conference and we could not do it without our friends and leaders here in west Michigan,” Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sandy Baruah said.

Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia, will be there along with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Dan DeVos, John Kasich and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

View the full article here

Food industry job training & development program launches in Eastern Market District

DETROIT, April 1, 2019…Four of Detroit’s foundational food businesses are joining forces to launch Food Industry Jobs, a training and development pilot program that will prepare workers for stable jobs and career paths in the food and agriculture trade. This sector provides the highest number of entry-level, living-wage jobs and makes up more than 20% of Michigan’s workforce.

With over 300 years of combined experience in food resourcing, processing, packing, distribution and retail, Eastern Market Corporation, along with partners Wolverine Packing Co, E.W. Grobbel, and Germack, are working with Greenhorn Training Solutions on a comprehensive program that will prepare participants to succeed in the food and agriculture industry.

“Food processing and distribution provides a great portal for Detroiters who have limited skill sets to enter the workforce. There are many growth opportunities for dedicated workers to continuously build their skills and talent,” said Dan Carmody, president, Eastern Market Corporation.

The program’s first cohort will take 25 people through 72 hours of rigorous classroom instruction over two-and-a-half weeks, beginning May 1. Participants will learn industry basics and career skills including time management, conflict resolution, financial literacy and teamwork. Participants also will complete certification training and testing in ServSafe Food Handling.

There is no cost to the participant, but they must first apply for the program online at apply4worknow.com beginning April 1. Qualified applicants will be enrolled at an April 24 project launch, where they will meet the Food Industry Jobs partner businesses.

Participants who complete the course will attend a graduation event May 17, with interviews occurring the week after. These jobs will help to fill the food and agriculture career pipeline.

“Growing and developing people both personally and professionally is the heart of what we do every day,” said Jason Grobbel, CEO of E.W. Grobbel. “Trained, dedicated, hard-working people have tremendous opportunity within the food industry. Food industry jobs are vital to Michigan’s economic diversity and stability.”

The Food Industry Jobs partners aim to train a total of 120 people in four cohorts over the next year.

“We’ll evaluate after the first cohort, but we are applying for grants and looking to connect with additional partners to help fund the program on a continuous basis,” Carmody said.

In addition to the four partners, Michigan State University and Detroit Edison Public School Academy are consulting on curriculum design and instruction, to ensure a training experience that is suitable for all educational backgrounds. For more information or to apply to Food Industry Jobs, go to apply4worknow.com.

Detroit chamber launches online data dashboard

March 31, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

Dustin Walsh

[…]

The Detroit Regional Data Center, created by Austin, Texas-based Headlight Data, provides economic, workforce, education and demographic data for the 11-county region — Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair, Genesee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Lenawee and Shiawassee. The website is designed to be used by economic development officials, businesses and the general public to access continuously updated economic indicators.

“We wanted to bring our business community a tool they can use on a daily basis to make more informed decisions on their business and community efforts,” said Angela Ladetto, director of business research for the chamber. “While there’s no forecasting in it, it provides a good snapshot on segments of our economy and demographics that can help make their work easier.”

Ladetto also stressed that the updated industry and employment data is useful to students and job seekers looking to identify which industries and occupations are growing as well as for site selectors and grant writers.

The tool tracks anything from employment by county to average salary by industry to housing permits. The data is automatically updated as government institutions and research firms release findings, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Brookings Institution, etc.

The Detroit Regional Partnership, the regional economic development collaborative that spun out of the Detroit Regional Chamber earlier this year, is funding 20 percent of the tool, chamber CEO Sandy Baruah said. Detroit will be the largest region in the country to have a portal like this available.

“Anyone with an economic development role is using data quite a bit,” Baruah said. “This is partly public service, partly as we view ourselves of the keepers of regional data.”

To view the data, visit detroitdatacenter.org.

View the full article here

Stacey Abrams to speak at Mackinac Policy Conference

March 14, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

Anisa Jibrell

Political activist Stacey Abrams of Georgia is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech on the nation’s current political landscape at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference in May.

The annual Mackinac Policy Conference, which runs May 28-31 on Mackinac Island, includes a roster of influential names in local politics and community leadership. The event is platform to discuss topics such as mobility, economic development and education.

View the full article here

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.

 People:

  • 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.

Community:

  • 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.

Talent:

  • 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.

 

Site Selection Magazine Names Detroit Regional Chamber Top Economic Development Group

DETROIT (May 7, 2018) – The Detroit Regional Chamber has been named a “Top Economic Development Group,” a Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development to be featured in the leading national economic development publication, Site Selection magazine. This year’s award winners will be featured in the May 2018 issue.

“Strategic partnerships and regional collaboration have helped power Detroit’s renaissance and are setting the stage for long-term prosperity,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Our team markets the Detroit region to global businesses as a premier destination to grow, innovate and compete.”

Site Selection magazine determined “Top Group” agencies by assessing their 2017 business attraction success. Metrics evaluated included: new facilities according to per capita and total capital investment, as well as per capita and total new jobs created. Additional criteria included creativity of economic development strategy, depth and breadth of project activity, ability to generate breakthrough deals, and the ability to document the contributions of the economic development organization to project results.

The Chamber has a long history of attracting global companies to the Detroit region. Recent projects include ArcelorMittal, a $83.5 million investment; Fuyao Glass, a $66.3 million investment; and creation of the PlanetM Landing Zone, which attracts global mobility companies to Detroit.

 

ArcelorMittal Sees its Future in an Old Detroit Plant

By: Paul Eisenstein

Driving through the old neighborhood on Detroit’s east side there’s a good chance you’d barely  notice the 92-year-old brick building, just one of many ancient factories left over from another era when Detroit was the indisputable center of the automotive universe. Slow down a bit and you might realize something dramatic is happening there – and at several other old plant sites nearby.

Originally opened in 1926 by the R.C. Mahon Co., a specialty steel producer, the 313,000 square-foot factory has come back to life to serve much the same purpose, albeit today producing state-of-the-art tailored blanks and other products for ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel manufacturer.

“In five years, you won’t know the area.It’s changing, and changing for the better,” says Mike Clark, the director of purchasing for the ArcelorMittal subsidiary, as he points to all the redevelopment efforts going on nearby, even the old party store across the street undergoing a renovation.

ArcelorMittal operates a similar factory in Ohio, but having experienced 30 percent growth for its specialty unit in the past two years, it recognized the need to add another plant. It looked at an assortment of sites in the Great Lakes region before settling on the Mt. Elliott factory.

Some of the advantages were obvious, including Detroit’s available and well-trained workforce, and “this is where our customers are,” ArcelorMittal supplying specialty metal products to all of the Detroit Big Three, as well as a Who’s-Who of imports.  Meanwhile, the Luxembourg-based steelmaker also had to deal with a compressed timetable, just 13 months to get a new factory into production.

Clark is quick to give much of the credit for making that possible to the Detroit Regional Chamber. “They aligned us with the right people to make it more favorable than any other location, among other things helping line up city and state incentives, including funding to improve the stretch of road between the plant and I-94.”

“They gave us the green-light,” he says, adding that the steelmaker was happy with what the Chamber pulled together.

In an era when many manufacturers prefer to move to the suburbs and build from the ground up, Clark said that it made much more sense for ArcelorMittal to move into the old factory. True, it took extensive renovation effort, but even after pumping in $40 million – the owner of the property kicking in another $10 million – the numbers made sense, especially with the short deadline for meeting new production contracts.

“Investments like ArcelorMittal’s in the Detroit region are what our organization strives for every day,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We are actively out recruiting companies with the best technology that can help drive our core industries forward. The Chamber’s business attraction efforts seek to communicate to companies the advantages of locating to our region and then we connect them with the real estate, incentives, services and partners they will need to bring their project to fruition in our community, ultimately putting more of our residents to work.”

Economic development is a team sport and this project relied on tremendous additional support from DTE Energy, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the City of Detroit to get it across the finish line.

ArcelorMittal is still ramping up operations at the Detroit plant – which includes not only the manufacturing shop, a metrology and metal research lab, and a variety of sales and executive management offices. The first-year target is to create 84 jobs – but that could be exceeded, Clark notes. Sales for the specialty unit hit $158 million in 2017 and the forecast is that they will reach $258 million by 2019.

The company is already looking to the future, its three-to-five-year North American plan calling for additional expansion. Though it did sign a 15-year lease, the company hasn’t locked down longer-term plans. That said, Clark said he is upbeat that, by working with the Chamber, the stars may again fall into alignment favoring further expansion in the city of Detroit.

PlanetM Landing Zone Amps up in First 90 Days, No Sign of Slowing Down

Logo for Planet M Landing Zone

Ninety days since the official launch of the PlanetM Landing Zone, efforts to attract and connect global mobility startups to the Detroit region are moving rapidly, with 18 global mobility startups, three Tier 1 OEM partners and a venture capital firm actively engaging at WeWork Merchant’s Row. The Chamber launched the PlanetM Landing Zone in October 2017, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Connection Point for Global Mobility Startups

This first-of-its-kind space creates a physical entry point for startups and businesses to share and collaborate to drive innovation in next-generation mobility.

Global startups such as DriveSmart, based out of Madrid, the first company in the world specializing in smart driving metrics; and DERQ, a Dubai-based MIT artificial intelligence spinoff, have set up a presence at the Landing Zone.

National startups are also engaging in the space including Mapbox, a location data company, and Spatial, the world’s first human-driven artificial intelligence platform and graduate of the Techstars Mobility accelerator program.

Ford Motor Company and two additional Tier 1 OEMs have signed on as industry partners to actively engage with member startup companies and explore their technology and potential partnerships. With the momentum and attention the Landing Zone has built up in the first 90 days, the opportunities to drive collaboration and innovation in Detroit position our region for strategic growth in the automotive, IT, and mobility sectors.

CES and North American International Auto Show Provide New Leads

From Las Vegas to Detroit, the Chamber started the new year engaging with global mobility and technology startups to promote the Detroit region’s automotive and mobility assets. The Chamber’s business attraction efforts from CES and the North American International Auto Show led to Mighty AI, a tech startup based out of Seattle, Wash. establishing a presence at the Landing Zone and a dozen other global startups considering memberships.

As membership continues to grow, the Landing Zone is actively exploring ways to connect startups to the resources they need to succeed in the region. In the next coming months, aside from networking and curated events, members will also be able to engage and connect through a mobile application, and will also have access to a catalog of legal, tax and human resources services to help grow their businesses.

For more information about the PlanetM Landing Zone or to engage, please visit www.planetmlandingzone.com.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Harris at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Chamber’s Work to Grow Region’s Educated Workforce Backed by Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren

Last week, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren endorsed the Detroit Regional Chamber’s plan to establish a regional Education Compact, a key step in ensuring that the region is educated, healthy and employed to compete in the 21st century global economy. The Compact will be led by the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, with the support of a grant from The Kresge Foundation.

The endorsement was part of the Coalition’s action items under six priorities it released in a new report titled “Our Schools, Our Moment.” The report highlights areas that can be acted upon immediately by leaders across the public and private sectors to ensure success for all students.

Under the Chamber’s direction, the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact  will establish long-term goals and set key benchmarks in bolstering postsecondary readiness, access and success for Detroit students. This initiative represents a collective commitment by leaders in education, business, philanthropy, government and the nonprofit community to address an ongoing barrier to regional economic development – a lack of residents with higher education credentials or college degrees compared to peer regions across the country.

Currently in the beginning phases, Detroit Drives Degrees has begun to identify baseline data, create the Compact framework, and conduct economic analysis to determine education attainment needs through 2030. Steps to finalize the Compact agreement will take place over the next 18 months, with a signing ceremony slated for 2019.

“The goal of the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact will be to facilitate partnerships between K-12 stakeholders and postsecondary education institutions with a shared goal,” explained Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent for the Chamber. “It is needed to drive collective action in helping more students achieve their postsecondary goals. The Coalition voicing its support is an important step forward in this endeavor to increase student success.”

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, comprised of a diverse cross-section of business, civic, education, philanthropic, religious and community leaders, make the case that these six priorities ensure Detroit’s youth are educated to career- and college-ready standards. The Chamber’s Forward Detroit Strategy has aligned with the goals of the report and the Chamber is a key partner and business voice for the Coalition. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah serves as a steering committee member of the Coalition and has been involved from its inception.
The Coalition’s priorities outlined in the report include:

  1. Get Serious About Attendance – Students have to show up to learn.
  2. Choose Detroit – Getting students and educators to our schools.
  3. Learn to Read, Then Read to Learn – Reading by third grade is essential.
  4. Keep Pace with Detroit’s Economic Recovery – Give students multiple college and career pathways after high school.
  5. Fully Fund Special Education – State and federal action required.
  6. Expect Improved Cooperation and Accountability from Our Leaders – Shared responsibility means all schools working together.

Read and download the full report here.

Michigan’s economic growth is sustained by an educated workforce, which is why it is critical the business community be engaged and have a voice in the Coalition. Among the five co-chairs of the Coalition representing the business community are Chamber Executive Committee member John Rakolta Jr., president and CEO of Walbridge; and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain for General Motors Co. Additional co-chairs include: Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation; Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch for the NAACP; and Angela Reyes, executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.

This report is the second released by the Coalition since its formation three years ago. The first report, “Choice Is Ours,” is targeted toward Lansing lawmakers regarding reforming Detroit Public Schools Community District.

For more information about Detroit Drives Degrees, an initiative of Forward Detroit, visit detroitdrivesdegrees.com.