Craig Fahle speaks with Tammy Carnrike about annual “State of the Region” report

November 30, 2018

The Craig Fahle Show

By: Craig Fahle

Craig takes a deeper look into the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual “State of the Region” report with Tammy Carnrike, Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber.



Economic Experts: ‘No Time to Waste’ on Improving Region’s Educated Workforce

To accelerate the Detroit region’s growing economy, attract global firms, and bolster job creation in an age of rapid technological innovation, creative and collaborative solutions to improve Michigan’s education system must be a top priority. That was a key message a panel of economic and business experts reinforced repeatedly during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s fourth annual State of the Region on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

“We’ve laid the groundwork (for regional growth) and we can’t be complacent about this issue. The time is now. We have to make sure we remain competitive in all sectors,” said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, interim associate director of social science and policy at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, in response to a question on the State of the Region’s findings on education attainment.

While the 2017-2018 report was largely positive in areas like median home value growth and a lower unemployment rate matching the national average for the first time in more than a decade, the report also revealed that Detroit ranks just below the national average in the percentage of the adult population with an associate degree or higher.

Hughes-Cromwick was joined on the panel by Joseph Anderson Jr., chairman and CEO of TAG Holdings LLC; Daniel Howes, columnist and associate business editor for The Detroit News; and Paul Traub, senior business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit Branch. The panel was moderated by Devin Scillian, anchor for WDIV-TV 4.

Additional takeaways from the panel include:

  • In the bid for Amazon’s HQ2, Detroit can play to its strengths, including a vibrant educational base, access to the automotive industry, and proximity to Canada.
  • Regional collaboration is critical to attracting global firms to the region.
  • Regional leaders must leverage all resources to prevent place-based development and ensure equitable, inclusive growth.
  • Closing the talent gap in Southeast Michigan requires more investment at the state level in apprenticeship programs.
  • The modern realities of technology-fueled innovation and a growing talent gap present a significant challenge for companies in Southeast Michigan.
  • The timeline for mass adoption of automated vehicles on roadways is much longer than many believe and is driven by consumer demand and the testing, regulation and adoption of innovative technology, which can be a lengthy process.
  • Just like crisis was a precursor of change for the automotive industry and the city of Detroit, it will take a crisis to fix Michigan’s education system.

Chamber Releases State of the Region and Forward Detroit Annual Reports

For the first time in over a decade, the Detroit region’s unemployment rate is on par with the national average at 4.6 percent. Private sector jobs also saw growth for the fourth straight year at 2 percent, outpacing the national average growth of 1.9 percent. Those were among the key findings released to more than 350 attendees Wednesday during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of the Region luncheon at Cobo Center.

Now in its fourth year, the State of the Region provides an economic overview, both successes and challenges, of the 11-county region and benchmarks it against national peer regions. The report provides an analysis of several key economic indicators including per capita income growth, unemployment, median home values, talent, innovation and foreign direct investment.

While the region continues to experience increased job growth, the report also found that there is still work to do in the areas of education and Detroit’s Community Well-Being Index, a new measurement this year. View the full report here.

In addition to the State of the Region, the Chamber also released its Forward Detroit Annual Report, which highlights the successes of the Chamber’s economic development initiatives including Detroit Drives Degrees, Detroit Promise, Destination Detroit, HealthForward, and MICHauto. Forward Detroit is the region’s premier economic development strategy to ensure Southeast Michigan is educated, employed and healthy to compete in the 21st global economy. The strategy is centered around five pillars – people, talent, community, global connectivity and next-generation mobility. View the full report here.

Positioning the Detroit Region as the Future Home of Amazon’s HQ2

With Detroit’s revitalization fresh on the minds of the business community, there is no better time to leverage the region’s world-class talent, assets and resources to attract leading global companies. With Amazon’s recent announcement to build a second headquarters, the Detroit Regional Chamber is doing just that.

A Collaborative Effort

As reported in the Detroit Free Press, the Chamber, along with the city of Detroit and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is leading a broad coalition of business and government leaders to establish a proposal to make the case for Amazon’s expansion to the Detroit region. Through its best-in-class economic development expertise, the Chamber is well-suited to lead this effort.

From its annual State of the Region report to its automotive and mobility asset map and interactive Data Center, regional and statewide economic development partners often look to the Chamber to provide key information to site selectors and businesses interested in the Southeast Michigan market. Collectively, these assets provide an impactful tool for business attraction.

Read the latest stats and data presented by Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah to justify Detroit’s position as a contender for Amazon’s HQ2 in a letter to the editor published in Crain’s Detroit Business.

MORE: Read the latest stats and facts about how Michigan is positioned to lead the world in next-generation mobility.

Well-Positioned to Compete

Key to the coalition’s success in positioning Southeast Michigan as an ideal location for Amazon’s HQ2 will be meeting Amazon’s preferences and decision drivers as laid out in the request for proposal – namely real estate availability, incentives and a strong labor force.

  • According to the Chamber’s 2017 State of the Region, Detroit has availability of industrial and commercial real estate across the region.
  • Michigan’s business-friendly climate bodes well for economic incentives, from the recently passed “Good Jobs for Michigan” legislation, to the MI Thrive collection of bills incentivizing the redevelopment of transformational brownfields projects.
  • Detroit’s rich labor pool exceeds 2.5 million individuals, larger than 28 other states.
  • It is one of the fastest growing technology regions, leading peer regions in STEM occupation job growth at more than 18 percent since 2010.
  • The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is a world-class facility, recently being ranked No. 1 in business travel.
  • Detroit is an international gateway to business around the world. The region is one of the strongest export markets in the nation, especially with its ideal proximity to the Canadian market.

These are just a few of the ways the Detroit region is a standout contender for Amazon’s headquarters project.

The Chamber will continue to be the voice of business and will monitor the developments.

In Case You Missed It: Download the 2017 State of the Region

Recently, the Detroit Regional Chamber released its third annual State of Region report, underwritten by Citizens Bank. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah presented the report findings to nearly 300 business and community leaders at The Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit.

The report, which offers a data-driven analysis of the progress made in the 11-counties that comprise the Detroit region, garnered several media articles throughout the day. The local news outlets included: Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and MLive.

During the luncheon, Baruah outlined the accomplishments of key indicators of the region including per capita income, which the Detroit region ranked third nationally in one-year per capita income growth. Median home values also lead peer regions in both five-year and one-year growth rates and the region led its peers in median home value growth between 2014 and 2015 at 10.7 percent.

The report also showed the region added more than 200,000 jobs since 2010, with architecture and engineering as the fastest-growing occupations. The Detroit region is now sixth among its peers in the Kauffman Innovation Index, charting startup activity – up five spots. The region is also No. 1 in patent growth, with patents granted to regional innovators growing by 8 percent.

“As the data in this report suggest, the needle is indeed moving in the right direction,” Baruah said.

The afternoon presentation also addressed key areas in need of improvement. The data showed that while the region matched the national average when it came to educational attainment, it still lags behind most all of the competing regions. Transit was another area for improvement. Regional transit entities handled approximately 42 million public transit rides last year, far short of the goal of 55 million rides.

“While some progress is being made, we’re not making the dramatic progress that we need to make in order to ensure our position in the 21st century,” Baruah told the crowd. “Businesses need to remain focused on affecting public policies that boost high school graduation rates and strengthen a pipeline of students into higher education.”

Following the presentation, Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors Co., gave an overview of national economic trends and the impact they have on the region. Mohatarem then joined a panel to provide reaction to the data and discuss the current state of the economy. Panelists included Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation; John Roberts, budget director of the State of Michigan; and Marina Whitman, professor of business administration and public policy at the University of Michigan. Education and transportation were areas of most concern for all panelists.

In addition to Citizens Bank, other sponsors of the event included: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Comcast Business and Office Depot.

To view or download a copy of the report, click here.

Chamber Members Show Their Creative Side for Third Member Appreciation Day

As a way of thanking members for their support this past year, the Detroit Regional Chamber gave away a handful of prizes throughout the third Member Appreciation Day on Dec. 7th. To enter, members had to take a picture of their Chamber plaque or graphic in a fun, creative way and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The Chamber received a few creative graphics from our members. One featured the Chamber’s appreciation day graphic on Santa’s sleigh while another had a cute bulldog holding up the graphic. The Chamber also received a few video entries, among them one showed the staff of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit doing their own version of the Mannequin Challenge.

Prizes ranged from complimentary registrations to signature Chamber events to various gift cards and lunch with a Chamber executive at the Detroit Athletic Club. Five members were awarded prizes over the course of the day and three final prizes were announced the following morning.

Below is the full list of winning entries and their prizes.

December 16: Mellody Hobson, Walter Robb and Nate Silver to Keynote Mackinac Policy Conference; State of the Region Reveals Promising Growth for Southeast Michigan

Mellody Hobson, Walter Robb and Nate Silver to Keynote Mackinac Policy Conference

DreamWorks Animation Board Chair Mellody Hobson, Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb and leading political prognosticator Nate Silver are among the national all-star lineup of keynote speakers scheduled to take Michigan’s Center Stage at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference. The annual, four-day Conference is scheduled for May 26-29 at the historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. This year’s themes will focus on talent, urban revitalization and cohesion. To register for the Conference, click here.

Drawing on her vast business and financial expertise, Hobson’s perspective fits with the Conference pillar of talent and connecting individuals with opportunities. In addition to her work with DreamWorks, she is a nationally-recognized voice, having served as a financial contributor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” for the past 10 years and as the current president of Ariel Investments in Chicago.

As Co-CEO, Robb is the driving force behind Whole Foods’ market outreach, notably its expansion into Detroit in 2013. Robb oversees the company’s operations across six regions. A fervent natural foods entrepreneur, Robb’s perspective lends itself to the Conference’s cohesion pillar and the overarching ethos of doing well by doing good.

Utilizing a data-driven approach to understanding election outcomes, Silver first gained national attention in 2008 after correctly predicting the presidential winner in 49 states. His presence builds on the Conference’s legacy of attracting first-rate national experts to analyze the local and national political landscape.

Silver is the editor-in-chief of, an award-winning website focused on statistical analysis of politics, sports and science. In addition, he has published numerous books including New York Times bestseller, “The Signal and The Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t.”

Click here to view full speaker bios and an updated agenda on the Chamber’s website.

State of the Region Reveals Promising Growth for Southeast Michigan

In case you missed it, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s inaugural State of the Region is now available online.

The comprehensive overview, presented by Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah, highlights Southeast Michigan’s challenges and opportunities for economic growth heading into 2015. Among its highlights, the State of the Region shows that Southeast Michigan’s gross domestic product grew by 9 percent, outpacing the national average by 5 percent from 2009-2013. In that same time period, private sector jobs grew by 9.8 percent, and Michigan’s entrepreneurial climate ranking climbed from 41st in 2008 to sixth in the nation in 2013.

Click here to download the State of the Region and watch a video presentation of the report. The Chamber’s Year in Review that focuses on its initiatives and accomplishments throughout the past year is also available to download on the Chamber’s website.

Help Your Employees Struggling with Mental Health Issues

Depression and stress can be the underlying causes of many chronic health conditions. Additionally, employees with mental health issues display lower productivity and can impact morale. The Detroit Regional Chamber is partnering with Employers Health Coalition to promote the Right Direction initiative, which raises awareness about depression in the workplace, promotes early recognition of symptoms and reduces the stigma surrounding mental illness.

HealthForward members can attend a special presentation at the Chamber’s Employer Health Care Guiding Council meeting on Jan. 15. For more information, contact Jonathan So at

Chamber Closed for Christmas Holiday Beginning Dec. 25

The Detroit Regional Chamber will be closed for the Christmas holiday beginning Thursday, Dec. 25 through Friday, Jan. 2. The Chamber will resume its normal business hours on Monday, Jan. 5. Look for the next eDetroiter in the new year. Have a safe and happy holiday!