It’s spring — and time to talk policy

May 12, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

KC Crain

The weather doesn’t feel like it, but it is definitely spring. And spring in Detroit means it’s time to head up to Mackinac Island for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

Last week, Detroit Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah and conference Chair and Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe stopped by our office to fill us in on the latest agenda.

You can tell Patti is absolutely interested in covering Detroit issues but really sees this as an opportunity to bring the entire state together.

She is quick to point out that education is not just a Detroit problem but a real statewide concern. This year, for the first time, an entire afternoon at the conference will be dedicated to education.

Skills gap proposals earn broad support

May 9, 2019

Education News – Repost from The Detroit News 

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

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

Spotlight on the News: Roads, marijuana, immigration, politics & the Detroit Policy Conference

February 22, 2019

WXYZ Detroit

By: Chuck Strokes

WXYZ DETROIT — On Sunday, February 24, Spotlight on the News will interview Michigan State Senator Peter Lucido, (R ) Shelby Township; Sandy Baruah, President & CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber; Dennis Archer, Jr., Chairman, Detroit Policy Conference; Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, (D) Dearborn and Congressman Fred Upton, (R) St. Joseph. Some of the topics will include roads, marijuana, the Detroit Policy Conference, immigration and politics.

Spotlight on the News, now in its 54th season, is Michigan’s longest-running weekly news and public affairs television program. It airs every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. on WXYZ-TV/Channel 7 in Detroit and 2:30 p.m. on 23.1 WKAR-HD in East Lansing and 6 p.m. on 23.2 WKAR World.

View the original article here

Sandy Baruah Discusses Talent Attraction at Troy Chamber Event

“When we talk about talent, the name of the game is retention,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, during a panel discussion on talent attraction in Michigan.

Retaining talent in Southeast Michigan is a key initiative of the Chamber that is supported through the work of the Chamber’s suite of education programs – including Detroit Promise, Detroit Drives Degrees and Let’s Detroit – and its automotive cluster association, MICHauto.

The panel discussion on Feb. 12 was part of the Troy Chamber of Commerce’s Power of the Future: 2019 Economic Forecast. Baruah was featured alongside Dan Gilmartin, president and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League; and Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of the Workforce Development for Oakland County and director of the Michigan Works! Agency. WDIV Local 4 News Reporter Rod Meloni moderated the discussion.

“When you look at the lateral region, Troy is incredibly important. It’s basically Troy and Detroit that are the two central business districts in our region,” said Baruah. “It’s great to have two choices between a true downtown environment that Detroit is rapidly becoming and a suburban business base that Troy truly is.”

At one point, Meloni asked Baruah, specifically, to share his thoughts on the current push to increase higher educational attainment levels in Michigan.

Baruah replied with data, “We have about 41 percent of adults that either have a four-year, two-year degree, or highly-skilled certificate. By 2030, roughly 60 percent of all jobs will require one of the three.” He added, “If 60 percent will be our needs and we’re at 41percent –that’s bad math.”

Baruah insisted that talent retainment can become a steady growth measure by answering to the needs of people already present in Michigan.

“Keeping people here – that’s placemaking, jobs, transit and investments in the infrastructure. And if we don’t do that, it’s game over,” said Baruah.

Opinion: Civility and progress go together

February 10, 2019

The Detroit News

Sandy K. Baruah 

Regardless of where you reside on the political spectrum, most Americans can agree that what they see from Washington leaves much to be desired. Many of our national leaders and media voices no longer seem to be conversing. This has led to political stalemate. The only time it seems that something gets done is when one side muscles something over the objections of the other side.

Given the progress Michigan and Detroit have made in recent years — and how much remains to be accomplished — we cannot afford to follow the example of incivility that grips much of our national dialogue. The continuation and acceleration of Michigan’s progress is dependent upon all of us working together, finding common ground and handling our inevitable disagreements with humility and grace.

We are a nation of 325 million and a state of 10 million people. Each of us has a perspective and opinion on matters great and small. Our Founding Fathers knew this and built a system based on representation, balance of power and compromise. Our system of governance is specifically designed to drive compromise.

In Michigan, we are fortunate that civility is still visible. Our former governor made a point to never criticize political opponents, even when he was criticized by them. Our new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is following a similar ethos and is actively working to build bridges with the Republican leaders of the legislature, who are responding in kind.

Being civil toward each other does not mean suppressing ideas or agreeing just to agree. There is an art to disagreeing without being disagreeable. If we begin our conversations with the knowledge that others have the right to believe in what they believe, and their life experiences may be very different than ours, we can view these interactions as an opportunity to learn a different point of view, not necessarily change our own.

Furthermore, while we often disagree about how to accomplish something (e.g. access to health care, providing more job opportunities) our end goal is often the same.

As a “Reagan-Bush era” Republican, I readily acknowledge that our society is stronger thanks to the leadership and contribution of those more politically conservative or liberal than me.

The opportunities and challenges Michigan faces are too great to be bogged down by the incivility driven by hyperpartisanship. Our state is poised to be the global leader in the transformation of how society moves. Positive economic outcomes for more citizens continue to build. Our global reputation remains on the ascent.

But despite the good news, there are warning signs we must recognize. The Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of Region report shows that our growth is lagging our peer regions across the nation. Business Leaders for Michigan data reports similar findings comparing Michigan with other states.

As Michiganians we can’t allow our leaders and citizens to follow Washington’s lead.  We have too much at stake.

Sandy K. Baruah is CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for President Bush.

View the original article here

Michigan Matters: Congressman John Dingell’s Imprint and Helping the Community

February 8, 2019 

Michigan Matters

CBS Detroit

Congressman John Dingell’s legacy went far beyond Detroit or Michigan as the MICHIGAN MATTERS roundtable of Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Detroit Regional Chamber President & Sandy Baruah, and Amy Nederlander, Founder of L!FE Leaders, Inc., talked about as they joined Host Carol Cain and shared stories.

View the original article here

 

February 11, 2019

Michigan Matters

CBS Detroit