John Kasich set to deliver keynote address at Mackinac conference

March 21, 2019

The Detroit News

Beth LeBlanc 

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican critic of President Donald Trump, is set to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference and talk about the “current national political climate,” the Detroit Regional Chamber said Thursday.

The chamber-sponsored conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island has been promoting the theme of “restoring civility in American politics” during the past few years.

Trump, who is scheduled to hold a campaign rally next Thursday in Grand Rapids, is known for his brashness and attacks on political opponents.

Kasich is scheduled to speak May 30 at the annual Mackinac conference, which is traditionally attended by business professionals, Michigan and national lawmakers, as well as entrepreneurs during the last week of May.

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Learn What You Can Do to Help Save the Soo Locks

One of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2018 Legislative Priorities is focused on increasing dedicated infrastructure funding. Arguably one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in Michigan, the Soo Locks in the Upper Peninsula, are in dire need of repair.

The locks are one of the world’s busiest waterway crossings, handling 75 million tons of commerce annually and saving the Great Lakes region $3.5 billion a year on transportation costs. If they were to fall into disrepair, there would be an immediate negative impact on Michigan’s economic stability.

Within weeks, a shutdown of the Soo Locks would halt 100 percent of North American automotive production, and within 30 days it would cause a $160 million economic impact.

In April, the Locks received national attention when President Trump declared his support for fixing the Soo Locks. This month, at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a budget agreement to provide $50 million in state funding toward construction of a new lock.

The Chamber is calling on Southeast Michigan business leaders to get involved in this critical conversation. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Send an email to Gov. Snyder, your legislative leaders, and the White House.
  2. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #fixthesoolocks.
  3. Post any of the key facts on social media to raise statewide awareness of the Soo Locks’ importance.

Did you know?

  • More than 7,000 freighters cross through the Soo Locks each year, connecting the Great Lakes with the St. Lawrence Seaway. Just one freighter carries the cargo of 2,000 semi-trucks.
  • $500.4 billion of iron ore passes through the Soo Locks annually.
  • The Soo Locks rank first in economic significance (out of 196 locks).
  • A six-month shutdown of the Soo Locks would result in 11 million jobs lost nationwide.
  • The gross dometic product would decrease by $1.3 trillion as a result of the Soo Locks closing.

To learn more, visit michigan.gov/fixthesoolocks.

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 http://greatlakesmetrochambers.com.

Clayton & McKervey summarizes President Trump’s tax reform plan

Clayton & McKervey, an international certified public accounting and business advisory firm located in metro Detroit, offered a summary of President Trump’s tax reform plan, announced today and titled A Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code. The summary was prepared by Suzanne Tuson, CPA, MST, a shareholder in the firm’s international tax services department.

In reviewing the proposed reforms for individuals and families, Tuson summarized the following key reforms:

• Create a larger “zero” tax bracket by increasing standard deductions to $24,000 married filing jointly and $12,000 for single taxpayers
• Consolidate current seven tax brackets to three brackets of 12%, 25% and 35%, but leave congress the option of creating an additional higher bracket for higher income taxpayers
• Repeal personal exemptions for dependents and increases the Child Tax Credit
• Increase income levels at which the Child Tax Credit begins phase out
• Make the first $1,000 of the Child Tax Credit refundable
• Provide a $500 non-refundable credit for non-child dependents
• Repeal Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
• Eliminate most itemized deductions, but retain tax incentives for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions
• Retain tax benefits that encourage work, higher education and retirement security
• Repeal death tax and generation skipping transfer tax

In reviewing proposed reforms for business, Tuson summarized the following key reforms:
• 25% Maximum tax rate applied to business income of small and family owned businesses conducted as sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations
• 20% Corporate tax rate
• Eliminate Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax
• Immediate expensing of the cost of new investments in depreciable assets other than structures made after September 27, 2017 for at least five years
• Limit deduction for net interest expense incurred by C corporations
• Eliminate Section 199 Domestic Production Deduction
• Retain Research and Development and Low-Income Housing Credits
• Modernize rules related to special tax regimes for specific industries
• 100% exemption for dividends from foreign subsidiaries (in which the U.S. parent owns at least 10%)
• Treat accumulated foreign earnings as repatriated under the transition to the new system
• Tax at a reduced rate and global basis the foreign profits of US multinational corporations

“Today’s news perhaps raises more questions than provides answers, but we expect further details and implications of the reforms will come to light over the next several days and weeks,” Tuson said.


About Clayton & McKervey
Clayton & McKervey is a full-service CPA firm helping middle-market entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace. The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world. To learn more, visit claytonmckervey.com.

 

Digital Marketing Experts: It’s Time to Rethink How You Connect with Your Audience

By Daniel Lai

For many companies struggling to find their place in today’s digitally-driven world, lack of a clear marketing plan and failure to adapt to new platforms means getting left behind and losing business.

That was a key message marketing experts laid out to more than 200 attendees during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s first Digital Marketing Boot Camp last week at the College for Creative Studies. The event was sponsored by MLive and Motown Digital.

Sola Obayan, principal consultant at BTO Solutions and founder of the Social Media Association of Michigan, said at the heart of any good digital marketing strategy is understanding what a target audience wants and crafting that message to draw in potential customers to a company’s website.

“Oftentimes we get caught up in the ‘what’ or ‘how’ message when really we should start with the ‘why,’” she said, drawing on examples from companies like Hallmark.

The greeting card company reaps millions of dollars every year by playing off of customers’ emotional response.

“Think about how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your brand,” Obayan said. “By building that bond with your audience, you can drive action.”

Don’t Build Your House on Sand

Before a company jumps on the latest social media platforms, it must first take the time to invest in a user-friendly website. Two of the biggest “no-no’s” Obayan often sees from small and medium-sized businesses are confusing websites and stretching resources and messages across too many social media platforms, a phenomenon she called “shiny object syndrome.”

“Don’t build your house on sand,” Obayan said.

Michael Taylor II, creative partner for SS Digital Media, agreed that a company’s website is key.

“You have to do a good job of providing the customer with the content promised,” he said. “If you send someone to your website via social media, they shouldn’t have to spend time searching.”

Taylor was part of a panel of experts led by Eric Hultgren, director of marketing at MLive Media Group, that also included Lynn Haliburton, senior account executive at Marx Layne & Co., and Dan Fuoco, interactive marketing manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Hultgren said businesses must invest in websites that are mobile-friendly.

“If your brand is not here, you do not exist to the customer,” he told attendees, holding up his smartphone.

Fuoco said platforms like Facebook and Twitter are also good to promote a company’s news coverage, or “earned media” in order to increase brand awareness. However, he stressed that the platform a company chooses to use should correlate to its message goals and target audience.

“If you aren’t posting minute-by-minute updates than perhaps Twitter is not the space for you to play in,” he said.

Drawing on examples from her client, McDonald’s, and its use of social media to promote the limited release of its signature Big Mac sauce in certain stores across the country, Haliburton said social media can be a good tool to “shock and delight” loyal customers.

Putting Humans Back in the Social Media Driver’s Seat

The most important advice of the day came from Marcus Burrell and Eric Thomas, senior partners at Saga MKTG.

Thomas said too many businesses forget to talk like humans when engaging with customers online, a phenomenon that can have dire consequences for brand positioning.

“People often forget the ‘social’ part of social media. Don’t be afraid to engage and start a story with your followers. What do you want people to know about you or your brand?” Thomas said. “The most important thing we can do as digital marketers is speak to and with people, not as a robot.”

Understanding your audience and pushing out messages that connect with them is critical, Thomas said, pointing to the success of President Trump’s Twitter growth during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“He speaks in a way that makes people want to listen. He has mastered his digital messages for his demographic,” he said.

Finally, Thomas said when communicating with customers on any digital platform, “don’t tell stories you wouldn’t want to hear.”

To read more digital marketing tips, check out the Digital Marketing Boot Camp blog page.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber.