Statement on RTA “Connect Southeast Michigan” Plan

“We are disappointed that the Southeast Michigan leaders represented on the Regional Transit Authority were unable to agree upon a plan to move our region’s transit system forward.  When the quality of transit systems in large urban areas across our country are ranked, our region’s transit system consistently falls near the bottom of the list – and that state of affairs is badly complicating life for many of our citizens.

“Strong mass transit benefits everyone, directly or indirectly.  It connects residents with jobs, education, health care and entertainment.  It spurs economic development and improves the quality of life.

“At the Mackinac Policy Conference in May, more than 250 companies and nonprofits called for a plan to improve transit in our region.  That call for action will persist, despite today’s setback, and we remain committed to working with our region’s leaders to achieve this goal.”

Sandy Baruah, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber; Gerry Anderson, Chairman and CEO, DTE Energy; and the 250+ Employers for Transit Coalition

Chamber PAC Endorsements Victorious in National, State Election

Last week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) continued its record of successfully endorsing strong, pro-business candidates at the local, state and federal level. With the Chamber PAC’s support, more than 92 percent of endorsed candidates won their respective races in the Nov. 8 election, including:

  • Nine candidates for U.S. Congress, including the highly contested District 8 race, where Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) won re-election.
  • 51 of 53 candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives, which includes 25 Democrats and 26 Republicans. Of note, highly contested candidate races such as Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.) in the 39th District and Diana Farrington (R-Utica) in the 30th District won their respective election bid.
  • Congresswoman Candice Miller was elected Macomb County Public Works Commissioner.
  • Janeé Ayers was re-elected to the Detroit City Council.
  • Iris Taylor, Misha Stallworth and Sonya Mays were elected to the Detroit School Board.

“The 2016 election furthers the Chamber’s bipartisan efforts to elect public officials who will positively contribute to the success of Southeast Michigan businesses,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber. “All officials elected in this cycle will play a crucial role in deciding the future for the Southeast Michigan economy and will support policies that help Detroit continue to grow.”

Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Millage Proposal

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s millage proposal to connect Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties with safe, reliable infrastructure did not pass. The Chamber was a chief proponent of the proposal’s passage. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement:

“To say we’re disappointed is an understatement. However, we respect the will of the voters and will continue to seek solutions to connect our region and provide mobility to those without access to personal vehicles.”

Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinances

Detroit voters decided how to best regulate and control community development projects with a “no” vote on Proposal A and a “yes” vote on Proposal B. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement on the passing of Proposal B regarding the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) ordinances:

“We thought Proposal B was better and we’re glad the citizens of Detroit agreed. Proposal B strikes a balance between economic realities and the needs of our citizens.”

For more information on the Chamber’s government relations activity, contact Jason Puscas at 248.709.4866 or jpuscas@detroitchamber.com.

 

Statement from Detroit Regional Chamber on RTA Ballot Results

DETROIT, November 9, 2016 – Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement on the failing of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan millage.

“To say we’re disappointed is an understatement. However, we respect the will of the voters and will continue to seek solutions to connect our region and provide mobility to those without access to personal vehicles.”

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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‘Yes’ Vote on Connected Transit System Essential to Region’s Future

A Roadmap for Economic Resilience

By Sandy K. Baruah

Transit. This seven-letter word has been on the hearts and minds of Michiganders for over a decade. To some it represents economic opportunity, while to others it is a lifeline to family, hospitals, and other essential services.

Over 100 years ago, business leaders from this region identified transportation and the ability to move individuals and products safely and efficiently as one of the primary challenges facing the region. A century later we are still dealing with this fundamental issue. Transit in the Detroit region has fared poorly compared to other metropolitan regions across the country, with studies placing the region near the bottom.

From the perspective of the business community in our region, lack of a safe, reliable connected transit system linking Southeast Michigan’s four counties (Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw) is a missed opportunity. According to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, 92 percent of the region’s jobs are not reachable within 60 minutes using our current transit options. That is simply unacceptable.

I have lived with coordinated public transit most of my life. In my former hometowns of Portland and Washington, D.C., I have seen firsthand the economic impact that transit can have on cities and surrounding suburban communities. If we desire to be a world-class city and region, coordinated public transit is an absolute necessity.

The Chamber applauds the hard work and dedication of our elected leaders, who, along with the RTA Board of Directors, came together on an agreement that benefits all residents in the region. This compromise is an extension of the type of collaborative leadership that has become the hallmark of our elected leaders. Gone are the days of divisiveness and “go it alone” mentality, replaced by strong leaders who do not shy away from tough decisions while working collaboratively to erase the “dotted lines” on the map.

Now it is our turn as voters. Metro Detroiters face an unprecedented opportunity to chart a new path forward for our region’s long-term economic prosperity by voting “yes” on transit in November.

The proposal voters will be asked to approve is the very definition of “bang for the buck” and offers a path forward we desperately need. The benefits will be felt throughout the entire region. For the first time, we will have connected communities that allow residents to navigate via public transit, regardless of political boundaries, and job-hunters will be able to answer “yes” when a job application asks whether they have reliable transportation.

Not only is it the right thing to do for our businesses, it is the human thing to do for our residents. A properly funded transit system will also provide seniors and people with disabilities with increased independence and better access to employment, health care and family.

Finally, Detroit and our other cities will be able to compete on equal footing in the battle for talent — a critical need for employers starving for qualified employees to close the gap. It is not enough to simply say, “come check us out.” In study after study, millennials put regional transit at the top of their wish list when considering their career. If we truly want to be a contender for the next generation of talent, we must have the infrastructure in place that attracts and retains our young people and can safely and reliably get them from their home to their job and to our world-class colleges and universities.

By voting yes for robust transit to connect Southeast Michigan, we will be able to grow and compete with other regions, build for the future and ensure a better collective quality of life for all.

Walsh College Becomes First Private College to Sign a Reverse Transfer Agreement with Schoolcraft College

Walsh College has become the first private college to sign a reverse transfer agreement (RTA) with Schoolcraft College, a community college in Livonia, Mich. It enables students to earn their associate degree credential while pursuing a higher-level business or information technology degree at Walsh College.

The RTA facilitates transfer of credits from Walsh College back to Schoolcraft, allowing students to meet the requirements required for a Schoolcraft associate degree, helping them earn an additional academic credential.

Previously, some students transferred from Schoolcraft to Walsh with an appropriate number of credits but prior to fulfilling requirements for an associate degree. Now, eligible students can earn credit for the associate degree while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Walsh.

With the RTA, eligible students can graduate with both an associate degree from Schoolcraft and a bachelor’s degree from Walsh College, if requirements are met.

The agreement is the second RTA signed by Walsh College. It became the first private institution in Michigan to sign one with Macomb Community College in 2014.

“Both Walsh and Schoolcraft share a commitment to student success and achievement. This agreement strengthens that important relationship by preparing business students with quality academic programs,” said Stephanie Bergeron, president and CEO, Walsh College. “It benefits both of our schools.”

Dr. Conway Jeffress, president, Schoolcraft College, added, “This kind cooperation speaks well to the future of higher education in our region and to our roles in providing it. We are pleased to partner with Walsh on an agreement which focuses squarely on students.”

Bergeron and Dr. Jeffress inked the agreement in a signing ceremony at Schoolcraft on Tuesday, June 2.

Walsh and Schoolcraft have agreed to maintain the integrity of their separate programs and enter the agreement as equal partners.

Under the agreement, both schools have agreed to establish appropriate criteria to identify eligible students, share student information in compliance with guidelines, develop a method to track participation and results, and document administrative elements supporting the initiative.

For more information on Walsh College or enrollment information, visit www.walshcollege.edu.

More information about Schoolcraft College can be found at www.schoolcraft.edu.