Financial experts to examine the shifting dynamics of globalization at Automation Alley’s ‘Global Economic Outlook for 2020 and Beyond’ on January 16

TROY, Mich. — December 13, 2019 — Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center and leading technology and manufacturing business association, announced it will host its annual Global Economic Outlook for 2020 and Beyond on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, from 8-11:30 a.m. at its Troy headquarters, 2675 Bellingham. At the event, a panel of financial and business experts will address projected trends and identify industries that will either benefit or be challenged by globalization in the short, medium and long terms.

James E. Glassman, managing director, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and head economist at Chase Commercial Banking, will deliver the keynote on future business and the overall economic outlook. Other presenters include Chris Holman, founder and CEO of Michigan Business Network, who will speak on Michigan’s Future Business Index, and Tim Finerty, CPA, shareholder at Clayton & McKervey, who will provide an update on global free trade. A panel discussion by Elena Stegemann, COO, McCreadie Group, Inc., and Gianluca Romano, president of Americas, MIC Customs Solutions, will consider the opportunities and challenges of doing business overseas. Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of International Business Services, will moderate the session.

“This event is designed for business managers and industry leaders who watch trends and want solid information on the state of the global economy in order to strategically plan for 2020 and the future,” Nevshehir said. “With the U.S. now in its 10th year of economic growth, the economy in general is strong; however, there are global factors, such as tariffs, geopolitical risks and trade that could allay ongoing progress for our country, state and region.”

Topics will include the U.S.-China trade dispute, Brexit, the current and future state of our nation’s trade agreements with major trading partners and the impact of the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Closer to home, topics will examine how these and other factors will affect Michigan’s business climate, especially automotive, defense and other advanced manufacturing and high-tech industries. An audience Q & A will conclude the event.

There is a charge to attend. To register, or for more information, visit the Automation Alley website, or call 800-427-5100 or email A light buffet breakfast will be served before the presentations.

About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, with a global outlook and a regional focus. Our programs give companies a competitive advantage by helping them along every step of their digital transformation journey. We obsess over disruptive technologies like AI, the Internet of Things and automation, and work hard to make these complex concepts easier for companies to understand and implement. As a nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association, we connect industry, academia and government to fuel Michigan’s economy and accelerate innovation.

Our Mission
The mission of Automation Alley is to position Michigan as a global leader in Industry 4.0 by helping our members increase revenue, reduce costs and make strategic decisions during a time of rapid technological change.

Voting Throughout History

By Mel Barnett 

Voting is arguably the most important system for practicing democracy in the U.S. The process of voting is meant to select representatives most favored by voters. This makes the method of counting votes significant in ensuring accuracy. The electorate itself is important — when groups in the U.S.  are not permitted to vote, they cannot elect representatives who will fight for them.  

“If democracy is defined as the consent of the governed who vote in elections and elect officials to make decisions for them, it’s essential to get the maximum amount of participation in the democracy,” says former Republican state legislator Bill Ballenger. “You want everybody who’s eligible to vote to be able to vote.”  

The electorate looks a lot different today than it did in the later 18th century when only around 6% of the population was eligible to vote: white men older than 21 who owned land. And just like the electorate has expanded, so has the ways in which America votes.   

In Michigan, voting is now more accessible than ever before. Same-day registration is now allowed in Michigan, and people can now vote absentee for any reason.  

“Same day registration to vote, in other words somebody can walk in on election day who has never been registered to vote before, they can register to vote and vote,” says Ballenger. “That’s never been possible in the state of Michigan. These are huge changes.”  

On opposite sides of the country – in Maine and California – controversial changes in voting are making waves. Ranked choice voting in Maine and top-two primaries in California are both designed to elect more moderate politicians that appeal to a wider range of voters.   

The future of voting in the U.S. is unpredictable, but a look back on the past reveals that the nation has come a long way in how citizens select their elected officials. 

Melanie Barnett is the editor of Detroiter magazine. 

1634: Massachusetts is the first state to elect its governor using paper ballots. 

1776: State legislatures facilitate voting for those eligible: white men age 21 and older who own land. 

1788: Electoral college is established to elect the president of the United States. 

1870: The 15th amendment gives black men the right to vote. States implement literacy tests and poll taxes among other methods to prevent the amendment from taking effect. 

1896: 39 out of 45 states use secret ballots, first implemented in Australia, which are printed by the government and marked by voters in secret. This major change revolutionizes how we vote today. 

1920: The 19th amendment grants women the right to vote, although discriminatory tactics still prevent many women of color from voting. 

1924: The Indian Citizenship Act grants Native Americans citizenship and the right to vote. 

1965: Voting Rights Act of 1965 is implemented to protect voter registration and voting rights for racial minorities. 

1971: The age requirement for voting is amended from 21 to 18. 

2000: Hanging chad controversy during the George W. Bush vs. Al Gore presidential election leads to the Helping America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) which eliminates nearly all punch-card and lever-based voting methods 

2011: California replaces traditional party primaries with a top-two primary system. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary move on to the general election, regardless of party. 

2016: Maine becomes first to adopt ranked choice voting statewide and implements it in 2018: Voters rank candidates in order of preference instead of only choosing one. 

2019: New York City adopts ranked choice voting to be implemented in 2021.  


The Opposition: Is America’s Voting System Best Left Alone?

By Greg Tasker 

Everyone agrees voting in municipal, state, and federal elections, should be simple, convenient, and fair.  

And while there is a growing chorus of voices across the country advocating for election reforms including ranked choice voting (aka instant runoff) and nonpartisan open primaries, there is also widespread support to retain the status quo. Plurality voting, the most common form of voting in the United States, is easy to understand and the winner is clear cut.  Each voter casts one vote, for only one candidate. The candidate with the most votes wins.  

Reform advocates believe alternative methods offer voters a broader choice of candidates, a stronger voice in the election process, are more inclusive, and put a greater focus on issues rather than personalities.   

Among the frequent complaints about plurality voting are the negative impacts of gerrymandering, where districts are drawn to favor one political party over the other; the spoiler effect, limiting the number of candidates to ensure one party winner; and the constant barrage of negativity espoused by candidates in local, state, and national elections.  

One of the biggest positives of the current election system is that it is secret and it is the simplest for voters, advocates say. When a vote is cast, that choice is not transferable or manipulated. There is no second or third round of tallying and no run-off election. This system elects the candidate with the largest number of votes – period.  

“The biggest problem with ranked choice voting is ballot exhaustion,” says Hans von Spakovksy, a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a former member of the Federal Election Commision.  

He shared this example: In a race with five candidates, a voter, for whatever reasons, may rank only two candidates and ignore the others. But if a voter’s two ranked candidates are eliminated in the first two rounds of tallying, those ballots are finished. The voter has no say in who is chosen from the remaining rounds of tallying.  

“This ballot exhaustion leads to the election of candidates who are not the first choice of the majority of voters,” he says, adding that the winner has only won a majority of whatever votes were left in the final round of tabulation.  

While California’s election reform has, implementing the top-two primary system, alleviated some concerns that surface in plurality voting – the lack of opportunity for third parties and independents – it’s unclear whether the system itself has enabled minorities to achieve better representation too, says Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Better minority representation, he says, has instead come because of California’s changing population demographics and recent reform in creating electoral districts.  

“It certainly gives outside candidates a second bite of the apple,” he says, referring to the opportunity a second-place vote-getter in the primary could have to beat the lead in the followup general election.

Greg Tasker is a Michigan-based freelance writer.

Securing Our Elections

A Conversation with Michigan’s Secretary of State 

By Rick Haglund 

The way America votes is radically changing in cities and states around the country. Innovative methods of voting are impacting elections, from ranked choice voting in Maine to top-two primaries in California, changing the way voters select candidates for the purpose of reducing the role of political parties in elections and increasing the potential for more moderate candidates to be elected. The Detroiter spoke with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to get her views on election reforms and security as the 2020 presidential election moves closer.

What is your view of ranked choice voting? Do you think it would be a good idea for Michigan?    

JB: Well, there certainly seems to be an interest in some parts of the state at the local level in exploring that reform. I think Ferndale and a couple of other localities are looking at it. But there’s not a whole lot of data that ranked choice voting increases turnout. There’s not a whole lot of data, at least that I’ve seen, that voters throughout the state want to see this reform in place. But I think if I saw that data, in either regard, then I would be inclined to see it as a good thing for Michigan.    

What are your thoughts on open primaries?    

JB: I think looking at states like California, it does potentially help in a district or a state that typically leans towards one party or the other. It’s not clear to me whether or not [Michigan] voters would see this as a convenient reform. It certainly has worked in other states and has been embraced in other states like California and Louisiana.   

What measures are you taking to address concerns about election security in the upcoming 2020 presidential election?  

JB: We’ve taken the issue of election security extremely seriously. I created a task force on election security, the first of our kind in Michigan, bringing together experts from around the country from the Department of Homeland Security and elsewhere to advise us on what we need to do in Michigan, and what we can do in order to be at the top level of secure elections. [And] we’ve hired the state’s first-ever director of election security.    

What more do we need to do to increase transparency, ethics, and accountability in our election process?    

JB: Well, certainly Michigan has been consistently ranked last by the Center for Public Integrity for our ethics and transparency laws. One, we don’t require our lawmakers to disclose their personal finances, so we can’t ascertain as the public – or as the electorate – as to whether or not our representatives are financially benefiting from the votes they take or being financially incentivized to make certain votes. Number two, we need to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the governor and the legislature so that, again, citizens have access to basic information about the decisions being made that affect them every day. Then, I do think we need to reform our lobbying rules to ensure more transparency. 

Rick Haglund is a former reporter and business columnist for Booth Newspapers, now the MLive Media Group. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

KPMG Managing Partner Betsy Meter to Speak at Walsh Commencement

TROY, Mich., Dec. 12, 2019 — Betsy Meter, Managing Partner for KPMG, will address graduates and receive an honorary doctor of laws at Walsh’s 114th commencement ceremony on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Zion Church in Troy, Michigan. KPMG is a global accountancy firm providing audit, tax and advisory services.

Meter, a certified public accountant, has over 35 years of audit experience serving clients in the automotive, chemicals and diversified industrial industries. She manages the strategic direction and growth of KPMG’s Michigan practice and is also the firm’s U.S. Accounting Change Leader, providing insight and thought leadership on the implementation of new accounting standards and practices.

Meter was a 2018 dBusiness Powered by Women recipient, has been recognized as one of Crain’s 40 under 40 and was awarded both the Distinguished Service Award and Experienced Women to Watch award by the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA). She is active on several boards including the Detroit Economic Club, Detroit Regional Chamber, Downtown Detroit Partnership, MICPA and Oakland Family Services.

“We are honored to have Betsy share her experience with our students as they continue down their own paths,” said Michael Plotzke, chair of the Walsh Board of Trustees. “Her career has been defined by hard work, vision and leadership, which are qualities we strive for every Walsh student to gain. We are truly grateful that she will address our graduating class of 2020.”

For more information about Walsh, visit


Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of the region’s largest business schools and Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, offering classes in several locations as well as online. Our nationally ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (

Michigan Freedom Fund: Protect the Vote

By Melissa Anders 

When it comes to changing the way Michigan runs elections, Tony Daunt takes a cautious stance.   

Daunt is the executive director of Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative nonprofit that seeks to protect constitutional rights. The group continues to fight Proposal 2, the ballot initiative passed in 2018 that gives a 13-member citizen commission the power to draw election district boundaries instead of state lawmakers. He says it’s “fundamentally unfair” to prohibit people from serving on the commission if they or their immediate family member has served in certain political roles in the last six years.   

He’s also skeptical of other ideas or efforts to adjust election processes, such as open primaries, ranked-choice voting, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting.   

“We should be very careful [about] making rash or quick changes, or any changes at all to how we handle our elections because of the potential for unintended consequences, and having some deference for the system as it is set up that has served us well,” he says.   

Michigan currently does not allow nonpartisan open primaries, and Daunt fears changing that would weaken democracy and sensible governance. Primary elections and choosing the standard-bearer for a political party is best left to the party, he says.   

“I think that’s a modern conceit of people these days that they know better than the founders,” Daunt says. “Although the people behind them may have good intentions, their good intentions are certainly no predictor of good results and may end up making things worse.”   

He acknowledges there are ways the government can operate more efficiently. But when it comes to elections, Daunt’s top priorities are protecting the integrity and security of the vote, through means such as requiring photo identification and allowing witnesses at polling locations to monitor absentee counts and how the voting and tallying is going.   

For now, Michigan Freedom Fund is focused on monitoring recent changes to the state’s election system, including Proposal 2 as well as Proposal 3, which allows straight-ticket voting, same-day voter registration, and no-reason absentee voting, among other changes. Daunt argues that same-day registration can make it easier for voter fraud. He’s also keeping an eye on the secretary of state and urges the office to be upfront with how it’s implementing the new election district commission.   

“We want to make sure that when these changes do take place that they’re done fairly and transparently,” he says.  • 

Melissa Anders is a metro Detroit native and freelance writer. 

Voters Not Politicians: Making Votes Count

By Melissa Anders  

On the heels of two new constitutional amendments to change the election process in Michigan, Voters Not Politicians says it’s working to bring more fairness to the voters.    

The nonprofit group strives to strengthen democracy through fair elections, access, and accountability in government. It brought forth Proposal 2 in 2018, the successful ballot initiative to combat gerrymandering and change the way political districts are drawn in Michigan. It’s now working to make sure people are aware of and understand the new redistricting process, which gives a 13-member citizen commission the power to draw election district boundaries instead of state lawmakers.   

“For it to work, we need people – regular voters – to apply to serve,” says Executive Director Nancy Wang. “For the commission to be its most successful, we need it to be diverse and look like Michigan so that what we get is fair district lines, which again, goes a long way towards fair elections.”   

Spreading awareness is a “tougher job than you’d think,” Wang says. “There are a lot of interests who are seeking to undo a lot of the process that Michigan voters wanted to see.”   

There are two federal lawsuits against the amendment brought by the Michigan Republican Party and Michigan Freedom Fund. The Republican-controlled state legislature has denied some of the funding requested to administer the new commission, placing more burden on private groups to raise money and get the word out to voters about the new process, Wang says.    

Wang is excited about Proposal 3, another 2018 constitutional amendment that expanded voting rights to include straight-ticket voting, same-day voter registration, and no-reason absentee voting, among other changes.    

Looking ahead, Voters Not Politicians is working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan on a campaign to convince local clerks to stay open on nights and weekends leading up to elections so that more people can register to vote or submit absentee ballots.   

The group hasn’t taken an official stance on other voting process ideas, such as ranked choice voting, approval voting, or open primary systems. These sorts of topics have come up during town halls the group has held, and organizers want to study these ideas further.   

Wang has also heard people discussing vote by mail options, and she noted there are some high-profile examples of where it’s worked well. Given cybersecurity concerns, the snail mail option is something the group is interested in researching, she says.    

“In general, we’re in favor of anything that removes barriers that are preventing people’s choices and people’s voices from being heard and being acted upon in our state and our federal government.” • 

Melissa Anders is a metro Detroit native and freelance writer. 

2020 Census: Be Counted

By Amy Kuras 

Next year, the government is asking everyone in the country to stand up and be counted, and the consequences of not doing so could be serious for the Detroit region. Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau takes a count of everyone currently residing in the country. That count — and it’s an actual count, not a guess based on samples — determines the number of seats in the House of Representatives allocated to Michigan.  

Each House seat represents about 711,000 people and is reapportioned as states gain or lose population. Michigan has lost five congressional seats in the last 50 years, which some believe has caused a significant hit to the state’s clout on the federal level. While the state has been adding population, other states have been growing more quickly, which means Michigan could stand to lose another seat after the next census.   

That risk grows if the state is undercounted. An accurate count is crucial, and the state government, the nonprofit sector, and elected representatives have been working behind the scenes for the past two years to make sure that happens.    

“This is our congressional delegation that represents Michigan’s voice in Congress, and the fewer people we have [completing] that compared to other states puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to federal appropriations and committee work,” says Kerry Ebersole Singh, state census director.   

Singh was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to head the state’s effort toward achieving a complete count. She directs the work of a 60-member complete count committee, which brings together representatives of various interest groups from across Michigan to help ensure every person in the state is counted.    

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-14th District) says that while seniority holds more power than the size of a delegation in the House, she is committed to helping ensure an accurate count in her district.   

“The loss of seats means the loss of representation, and that would be a problem, especially if that member has served in Congress for several years and has a lot of seniority,” she says.    

The state has granted $6 million to the Be Counted MI 2020 campaign facilitated by the Michigan Nonprofit Association, which has been mobilizing its members around the census since 2017. Nonprofits, because of the close and trusted relationships they often have with the communities they serve, are uniquely situated to help make sure historically undercounted groups like people living in poverty, non-native English speakers, and young children are fully represented.   

“There are so many populations in the state who have been undercounted, people whose voices are not heard,” says Joan Gustafson, an external affairs officer for the Michigan Nonprofit Association. “Our campaign is dedicated in large part to communicating to those communities these three Cs — that the census is convenient, confidential and critical.”

Amy Kuras is a Detroit-based writer with an interest in education and urban policy. 

Point of View

Term Limits and the Influence of Gov. Milliken

Mike Shirkey, Senate Majority Leader (R-MI 16) 

Do term limits need to be amended? 

I voted in favor of the term limits law in 1992. Since that time, I have come to believe term limits are a failed experiment. Term limits encourage partisanship. Term limits do not permit us to capitalize on knowledge or experience. And, term limits ensure we are doomed to repeat mistakes over and over.  

Gov. Milliken is the longest serving Governor in Michigan and crossed over party lines on issues throughout his career what should we take from his legacy?   

Governor Milliken was revered as a statesman who forged a pathway down the center of politics. His focus was the citizens and the best solution, rather than political affiliation. To me, his service is a shining example of what we can achieve without the constraints of term limits. I respect and admire Governor Milliken for endeavoring to solve problems rather than focus on politics. 

Where is your favorite place to travel in Michigan?  

At this time of year, my favorite place in Michigan is a deer blind.  

Mike Shirkey is the Republican senator representing Michigan’s 16th District and is the state Senate majority leader. 

Christine Greig, House Minority Leader (D-MI 37) 

Do term limits need to be amended?

Recognizing the continued erosion of public trust in elected officials, our caucus continues to champion legislation like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) expansion and robust financial disclosure for public officials. We believe the legislature must take action on these common-sense good government measures before asking the voters to extend term limits. Before term limits, legislators had the required time to develop legislative skills, policy expertise and personal relationships with colleagues and staff. Our state can greatly benefit from extending, if not eliminating term limits.  

Gov. Milliken is the longest serving Governor in Michigan and crossed over party lines on issues throughout his career what should we take from his legacy? 

There is a lot that today’s legislature can learn from Gov. Milliken. What I most admire about him is his ability to put the needs of the state above party interests. He was so good at working across the aisle and passing legislation that was fair to both sides. In a time where we have a divided government in Michigan, we can look to Gov. Milliken’s example of coming together and meeting in the middle on our state’s toughest issues. 

What is your favorite restaurant outside of Oakland County?  

Raising my sons in Michigan, we had no shortage of amazing places to visit throughout the state. However, the memories I most cherish are our family visits to Sleeping Bear Dunes. I’ll never forget the fun we had scaling the huge dunes and taking in the scenic lakeshore vistas. 

Christine Greig is the Democrat representing Michigan’s 37th District and is the Michigan House minority leader. 

Detroit Drives Degrees hosts monthly Leadership Council meeting, welcomes Community Education Coalition CivicLab’s Jack Hess and John Burnett

Detroit Drives Degrees hosted its monthly Leadership Council meeting and welcomed the Community Education Coalition CivicLab’s Jack Hess and John Burnett.

Last month, the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees, collective impact effort hosted its monthly Leadership Council meeting and welcomed the Community Education Coalition CivicLab’s Jack Hess and John Burnett. CivicLab is an institute dedicated to advancing the practice of civic collaboration. The duo presented to the council on improving the health of Detroit’s regional talent ecosystem and led a group mapping activity.

CivicLab aims to encourage influential groups such as businesses, nonprofits, and local governments to collaborate on a plan to improve the region’s education attainment and strengthen the talent pool. They encourage communities to make systematic changes to education to eliminate a series of related issues from the root, rather than address each problem individually.

“It’s a systems thing, not a single thing,” said Hess. “You’re not trying to solve a problem; you’re dissolving a problem.”

Hess explained the difference between equity, equality, and justice in relationship to helping students who are at a disadvantage to succeeding in the education system. Education is a systems problem, not an individual issue, said Hess. While the region may be programs rich – initiatives created to solve individual problems in the education system – it is systems poor, meaning that work must be done on a broader scale, he said.

The council participated in a group mapping activity which involved matching factors such as mentors, food assistance, and nonprofits to the different education milestones that they contribute to such as career readiness and advancement, postsecondary success, among others. The groups then combined their lists to create a word map of the Detroit region’s talent ecosystem. [Insert picture of map on the side.]

Visit the Community Education Coalition’s website to learn more about CivicLab.