April 9 | This Week in Government: Business Groups Urge Gov, Legislature to Create Growth With Stimulus

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Business Groups Urge Gov, Legislature to Create Growth With Stimulus
  2. CDC Awards $90M to Expand Michigan COVID Vaccine Program
  3. Whitmer: Compliance, Mobility, Variants Driving COVID Increase
  4. House, Senate to Begin Moving on Budget After Break
  5. Survey: State Saw Higher Rate of Biz Closures, Staff Reductions

Business Groups Urge Gov, Legislature to Create Growth With Stimulus

Several associations representing Michigan business entities on Tuesday said they want Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature to use the state’s cut of federal coronavirus relief and stimulus dollars to transform the state and create sustainable growth.

In a letter sent to Gov. Whitmer, as well as the state’s legislative and local leaders, the groups asked the governor to not spend the funds quickly and instead use them as long-term strategic investments.

Groups signing the letter include Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber, the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Michigan Manufacturers Association, and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

“In this moment, leaders must work together across party and jurisdictional lines as almost $14 billion in these federal funds will be allocated directly to state and local governments, and our K-12 systems with few restrictions,” the letter says. “Naturally, there will be many ideas for spending these onetime dollars and an inclination toward doing so quickly. Our organizations strongly urge leaders to take the time needed to assure these funds aren’t simply spent, but are used effectively in transforming Michigan into a better place to live, work and play.”

The groups outline six key principles to guide those investments, including the use of transformational investments, like those that would bolster education, skills, and competitiveness; maximization efforts that would address economic, health, and educational gaps brought on by COVID-19; renewed focus on flexible funding to fill in gaps in the aforementioned areas after other state resources are exhausted; investments that would leverage increased public-private partnerships; a focus on backslide prevention to not undo gains made from the previous recession in the late 2000s and throughout the 2010s; and to be clear with goals and metrics to increase transparency in spending.

“Make no mistake, other states will use this funding opportunity to become more competitive and leave the working men and women of Michigan behind,” the letter says. “By following these basic guidelines, we believe that these dollars can be invested wisely and contribute to sustainable, equitably shared prosperity for our residents, communities, and businesses. In that spirit, we offer you our support and assistance to make sure Michigan takes full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan and former member of the Whitmer administration, said in a statement that it would be easy for the governor to find ways to spend Michigan’s share of one-time funding from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, but it would be far more difficult – albeit potentially more worthwhile – if she spent that money on targeted transformational investments.

“Michigan’s goal shouldn’t just be returning to pre-pandemic status: this is an opportunity to both help our state recover from COVID-19 and advance long-term, widely shared prosperity.” Donofrio said. “We know states and regions across the country are planning strategic investments that will give them even more of a competitive edge for jobs and economic growth in the coming years – Michigan can’t be left behind.”

Likewise, Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said that the virus and its associated disease resulted in unprecedented challenges and that using federal stimulus dollars wisely would help the state rebound more swiftly.

Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, shared similar sentiments.

“The American Rescue Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Michigan to advance our state’s economic competitiveness responsibly,” Baruah said. “It is imperative that leaders in Lansing strategically use the money to support communities, businesses, and people without new taxes or unfunded mandates that would create impediments to sustained growth.”


CDC Awards $90M to Expand Michigan COVID Vaccine Program

More than $90 million in funding from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been awarded to Michigan to help support, increase and expand local coronavirus vaccination efforts for underserved populations, the agency announced Tuesday.

The award of $90.28 million is part of a $3 billion funding package granted to 64 regions to bolster broad vaccine distribution, access, and administration. The funding was made available by President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act to provide critical COVID-19 support for existing immunization cooperation agreements.

To ensure equity and expand access, at least 75 percent of the total funding will go toward programs to increase uptake among racial and ethnic minority communities. Of that amount, 60 percent is slated to go toward support for local health departments, community-based organizations, and community health centers.

“We are doing everything we can to expand access to vaccinations,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Millions of Americans are getting vaccinated every day, but we need to ensure that we are reaching those in the communities hit hardest by this pandemic. This investment will support state and local health departments and community-based organizations as they work on the frontlines to increase vaccine access, acceptance and uptake.”

Other potential uses for the funds include to be used to identify and train trusted members of specific communities to conduct door-to-door outreach, raising awareness about the available vaccines, and help individuals sign up for vaccination appointments. The same goes for bilingual health outreach, the CDC said.


Whitmer: Compliance, Mobility, Variants Driving COVID Increase

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday, ahead of receiving her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, said the state does not have a policy problem as it relates to rising caseloads and hospitalizations — it has compliance, mobility, fatigue, and variant problem.

Gov. Whitmer, who received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Ford Field on Tuesday, was asked about COVID-19 outbreaks being linked to school sports. The Governor noted the state has put in place increased testing mandates for some school athletes.

“We’re really encouraging athletes to join our quest to get more people vaccinated, and that’s why we’re so glad to be here at Ford Field and that’s why we’ve enlisted a lot of our partners in athletics to promote the efficacy and the need for getting these vaccines,” Gov. Whitmer said. “At this juncture we know what it takes to stay safe. It’s not a policy problem that we have. It is a compliance problem that we have. It is a mobility issue that we’re confronting. It is fatigue that we’re confronting, and its variants, frankly. And because of all these things, that’s why the vaccine is so important – 95 percent-plus efficacy. Guess what else has 95%-plus efficacy? A mask, which is why we have to do both until we get to that plus 70% of our eligible population vaccinated.”

Gov. Whitmer, appearing on CNN Tuesday evening, said school sports is one area where maybe the state needs to be doing more.

“We did suspend sports for quite a while and of course, there was a heavy effort to come to our state Capitol to protest that. We thought with these additional precautions in terms of increased testing, increased ability to have these safety protocols, decreased numbers of people that can attend these events that we would be able to do this safely,” she said. “But we are seeing the spread continuing in teenage sports and, frankly, it’s something that we’re very concerned about and that’s why we’re doing even more testing and possibly going further than we have. But it is it is a contributor and our goal is to resume some normalcy and get our kids back in class, this may be one area that we’ve got to do more in.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the Department of Health and Human Services, said she is concerned about where the state currently is when it comes to COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizations.

Currently, she said, the state is seeing more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day with a seven-day average of 491 cases per million people. The current positivity rate is 15.6%, a 38% increase from last week.

The state also has 1,817 confirmed variant cases in 54 counties, with likely many more that have not been identified. Hospitalizations are also up, with 3,127 confirmed COVID-positive patients in the hospital, up from 2,158 last week.

About half of those who are hospitalized are younger than 60 years old, Khaldun said.

“This is really, really important. Younger people can get COVID-19. They can get very sick from COVID-19, or they can pass it on to other people who can get very, very sick. So, we are all in this together, no matter your age,” Khaldun said. “When you get vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself, you’re protecting your family, you’re protecting your entire community. These safe and effective vaccines are really our best chance to protect not just ourselves, and I’m speaking to the youth here, it’s not just about ourselves. It’s about your parents, your aunts, your uncles, your grandparents, your entire community. It’s our chance to be able to have class with our friends and not have to go back to these periodic remote learning styles. It’s our chance to play sports, without canceled games or tournaments due to outbreaks. It’s our chance to be able to have traditional proms and graduations and baby showers and other celebrations of life’s milestones again. It’s really our chance to get back to a sense of normalcy.”

While cases and hospitalizations are up, deaths are not as high, sitting at about 16 per day.

During her appearance on CNN Tuesday, Whitmer said she does see a path where the state could lift some of the orders it has been living under this summer, similar to California which will still require masks but open normally on June 15.

“I think it’s very possible that there is a path out of a lot of the orders that we’ve had to issue to keep people safe. But it all depends on getting to that 70% number of people who are eligible vaccinated,” Gov. Whitmer said. “I think that’s the key to return to some normalcy. We’re moving very quickly. We’re grateful for the partnership from the Biden Administration, but we’ve got to do more. And we’re going to continue to grit our teeth and do the hard work of getting people vaccinated. And if we’re successful on people come in and do their part, we could very well be in that position this summer.”


House, Senate to Begin Moving on Budget After Break

Subcommittee budget recommendations should begin heading to the House and Senate chamber floors later this month shortly after lawmakers return from spring recess, officials have signaled.

Senate appropriators say despite the ongoing battles over federal coronavirus relief funding, work on department and agency budgets is going at about the pace that was expected thus far. At least two House subcommittee chairs said they would move their budget recommendations next week, when lawmakers are scheduled to return from break.

Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said overall he is pleased with the progress being made by subcommittee chairs, who were given their budget targets about a week before the Legislature left town. Lawmakers return April 13.

Stamas said he expected budgets to begin moving from subcommittees to the Senate floor during the second week of session after lawmakers return, the session week of April 20.

“We’ve been dealing with the federal dollars almost independently of the budget,” Stamas said, although he expects some overlap to occur.

At this stage lawmakers are still crafting each proposal so there really has not been interaction with the administration on what each chamber of the Legislature is crafting for its budget proposals.

“We’ll have some significant differences,” Stamas said, adding that is normal in the budget process prior to negotiations.

How much negotiation will occur with the administration is unclear.

Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), who has heavily resisted working with the administration thus far, did not return requests for comment. Some subcommittee chairs referred questions on the budget timeline to Albert, so it is also unknown if all subcommittees will be moving budgets quickly after the break in the House.

With the state being in line for billions of additional one-time federal coronavirus relief funds, Stamas said the challenge will be finding the correct balance in using the funds to best provide services while not saddling the state with items that could become ongoing budget expenses.

Stamas said he is concerned about one provision within the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allowing taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000 to exclude up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation from federal tax for 2020 only.

Stamas estimated that could present a $600 million to $700 million General Fund hit to the state, which will need to be reviewed to see how it could impact the budget.

He said one immediate issue in the budget process is when the state gets the full information from the federal government on tax policy changes and its impact on budgeting. That could create a crunch around the time of the May revenue estimating conference.

Sen. Roger Victory (R-Georgetown Township) is also anticipating moving budgets out of the subcommittees he chairs one or two weeks after lawmakers return from break.

Victory chairs the Senate Appropriations General Government Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee.

He said it has been a more difficult process than in the past “with the tsunami of federal dollars coming in” which he said requires a bit more information on how it can be spent. How the federal pandemic relief funds will supplement the base budget is a key question, he said.

Victory said it is a tough balance to use the federal funds that might be included within budgets without becoming reliant on those funds. He said prioritizing budget items to help the economy recover from the pandemic is key in the process.

While the process may be running close to expectations if not a little behind, Victory was confident the process can be completed on time.

“I’m sure we’ll hit a pothole or speed bump in the process,” Victory said, which he added is not unusual.

He said one area of concern is making sure the state continues to focus on improving its information technology programs.

Another item he said he sees as a potential economic impact is the global chip shortage for automobiles. With Michigan being a major manufacturing state, he said a concern is how that might impact the auto industry over the next year or so as the state recovers from the pandemic.

Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), chair of the House Appropriations Health and Human Services Subcommittee, said she hopes to report her panel’s budget recommendation next week when the Legislature returns from break.

Whiteford said she thinks the process has gone well so far and that she has a “really good relationship with the department.”

Rep. Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland), chair of the House Appropriations Corrections Subcommittee, also said he would like to report his budget recommendation out when the Legislature returns from break.

Kurt Weiss, spokesperson for the State Budget Office, said the administration does not have an exact idea on timeline, other than the Legislature is statutorily required to have a budget submitted to the governor by July 1.

“It’s our hope that it will be a negotiated budget that prioritizes our residents. Given the amount of federal funding, we are becoming concerned that a failure to have a traditional budget process will put us at a competitive disadvantage against other states that are investing these funds,” Weiss said. “Director Massaron continues to have informal conversations on the supplemental funding for this year, but no formal meetings have occurred as of yet.”

Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) said the budget he is working on will take some time after the legislative break is over, possibly almost into early May.

Horn chairs the Senate Appropriations Labor and Economic Opportunity/MEDC Subcommittee.

“We’ve lost a year with the pandemic, although that year feels like a decade,” Horn said. “I want to make up for that lost year.”

The senator said he feels that the pandemic has provided an opportunity not only for economic recovery but to improve on workforce training programs to craft a thriving post-pandemic economy.

For workforce development, Horn said he is going to be pushing for funding for the Going Pro Talent Fund program and Michigan Reconnect program.

Another priority is to propose additional funding for Pure Michigan to provide further assistance to help the state’s battered hospitality industry.

Workforce development program investments will be critical in getting more people back to school to get certificates and trained for new or advanced careers, he said.

For economic development, he said one proposal he is working on is an expansion of the Good Jobs for Michigan program to allow opportunities for existing businesses to invest in technology or facility upgrades. He said many of the state’s incentives tend to favor new or incoming businesses, but that there needs to be some support for long-established businesses which have good relationships with their communities and the state.

Separate from the budget, Mr. Horn said he is pushing through the Joint Capital Outlay Committee to invest more in equipment upgrades for career technical education training at higher education institutions. He said during the pandemic is a good time to make such investments in a cost-effective way.


Survey: State Saw Higher Rate of Biz Closures, Staff Reductions

Michigan small businesses have experienced a higher rate of closures and staff reductions during the coronavirus pandemic compared to the national average, a research project report released by Facebook said Thursday.

A positive sign was more Michigan businesses expressed confidence in being able to remain open during the next six months under current pandemic conditions than the national average.

In the most recent Global State of Small Business report, 24% of Michigan small businesses reported being closed compared to a 22% national average.

Those reporting reductions in employment totaled 36 percent of small businesses in Michigan. This was above the national average of 27%. Only New York (38 percent) was ahead of Michigan and Illinois also reported 36%.

Confidence was expressed by 76% of Michigan small business owners that they would be able to remain open during the next six months, higher than the national average from respondents of 68%.

In announcing the latest report, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said businesses globally have struggled during the pandemic, women and minority-owned businesses being hit hardest.

“A further reminder that whenever crises hit, it’s always the most vulnerable who are hit the hardest,” Sandberg said.

The new report was based on responses of more than 35,000 small business owners in 27 countries and territories in February. The survey included 605 respondents from Michigan.

Fifty-four percent of women-led small businesses nationally reported declines in sales, compared to 47% of businesses run by men.

Thirty-three percent of Black-led small businesses reported nationally of being closed, compared to 18% of other small businesses.

A total of 32% of minority-led small businesses nationally reported reductions in employment since the start of the pandemic. This was compared to 25% of other small businesses.

Globally, 26% of businesses were closed in February. This was up from 16% in October 2020 and 29% in May 2020. For the United States, 22% of small businesses were closed in February compared to 14% in October 2020.

“If there’s a silver lining, it’s that many businesses found success online,” Sandberg said. “More than half of those surveyed said they used digital tools to communicate with customers, and those reporting higher shares of digital sales were also more likely to have reported more robust sales overall.”

Walsh’s Master of Science in Finance receives No. 1 ranking

TROY, Mich., April 7, 2021 — Walsh announced today that its online Master of Science in Finance has ranked the No. 1 non-GMAT program on Intelligent’s list of Top 50 Master’s in Finance Degrees. The comprehensive research guide is based on an assessment of 1,280 accredited colleges and universities and each program is evaluated on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment. The 2021 rankings are calculated through a unique scoring system including student engagement, potential return on investment and leading third-party evaluations. Walsh was one of four Michigan schools and 50 schools listed overall, including Columbia University, Georgetown University and Harvard University.

Walsh has offered remote learning experiences since 1998 and is frequently recognized for excellence in online education, including a Tier One Global Online MBA by CEO Magazine, one of the Best Online Colleges for Value and one of the Best Online Cybersecurity Master’s Programs. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, Walsh pivoted all courses and student services to 100% remote delivery in a matter of days because of technology already in place. Walsh’s online programs provide identical curriculum to its on-ground programs and are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Higher Learning Commission.

For more information visit www.walshcollege.edu.

# # #

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

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

Dr. Audrey Gregory

Audrey Gregory, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Medical Center. She was named to the post on January 1, 2020. She joined the Detroit Medical Center in October 2019 as the President of Detroit Medical Center and CEO of DMC’s adult central campus including DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, DMC Harper University Hospital, DMC Heart Hospital and DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Gregory came to the DMC from Tenet Healthcare’s Saint Francis Healthcare System in Memphis, where she served as Market CEO, and CEO of St. Francis Hospital – Memphis. Dr. Gregory has been with Tenet for more than 15 years in a variety of senior leadership roles, including Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Operating Officer and CEO Placentia-Linda Hospital in Southern California. She is a recipient of three Tenet Circle of Excellence awards in recognition of her leadership.

Dr. Gregory is a highly respected leader who has been recognized nationally for her commitment and dedication.  She has been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the nation’s Top 25 Minority Leaders in health care, and was named as one of 70 African American leaders in health care to know by Becker’s Hospital Review. She serves as a trustee at-large on the Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees, and was appointed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. Dr. Gregory also serves as a member of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Executive Leadership Team, and is as a board member of Detroit Regional Chamber.

Dr. Gregory earned a Ph.D. in global leadership from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. She
earned both a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia.

Chamber Statement on the American Jobs Plan

In response to President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah released this statement.

Michigan and the United States need significant modernization for our aging infrastructure, and the Detroit Regional Chamber supports a generational infrastructure investment and applauds President Biden’s leadership in presenting an overdue infrastructure package to Congress. Modern physical and connective infrastructure is critical national competitiveness imperative.

There will be a cost to building the 21st century infrastructure system America needs, and neither party in Washington has demonstrated adequate concern for the exploding national debt. Therefore, serious consideration for how we pay for this investment is required. The Detroit Regional Chamber offers the following principles as this proposal is debated:

  • Placing the costs of this historic investment exclusively on the back of businesses – that just recently had their tax rates reduced from among the highest in the industrialized world – would cause job losses and create a less competitive American economy.
  • Spreading costs over more economic sectors, and exploring additional financing mechanisms, such as bonding, should be considered.
  • The overall size of the proposal can be reduced to focus on the types of investments that will drive the greatest long-term economic impact.

Addressing our state and national infrastructure challenges is a bi-partisan priority. This is an opportunity for Washington to demonstrate to their fellow Americans that they can work together to achieve a bold path forward that also addresses the very real concerns about cost.

The Chamber will continue to be engaged on this issue and hopes to be able to support the final package once developed.”

Michigan’s Business Community to Leaders: Use Stimulus Funds to Transform our State, Create Sustainable Growth

Associations urge strategic, deliberate investments with one-time funding to make Michigan more competitive for jobs and income

April 6, 2021

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s leading business associations representing thousands of employers have issued a call to government leaders: use federal stimulus dollars to transform our state. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) signed by Pres. Biden allows leeway for how state government, municipalities and school districts can spend the one-time funding over the next several years. Instead of simply spending the funding quickly, the business community is asking for strategic investments that will help Michigan grow for years to come.

Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber, the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA), and the Small Business Association of Michigan joined together to encourage leaders to work together across party and jurisdictional lines to assure these funds have lasting impact. The letter was sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, legislative leadership and municipal leaders this week, outlining six key principles to guide potentially transformational investments.

The letter states, in part: “There will be many ideas for spending these one-time dollars and an inclination toward doing so quickly. Our organizations strongly urge leaders to take the time needed to assure these funds aren’t simply spent, but are used effectively in transforming Michigan into a better place to live, work, and play.”

Despite ten years of economic growth following the Great Recession, Michigan has struggled to recover, with household income, educational achievement and economic growth trailing most states. These one-time funds offer Michigan an opportunity to make long-range investments that spur growth for residents and businesses.

Many states and communities are already leveraging one-time funds to better compete for jobs and investments, and many more are ready to do so.

“It can be easy to find ways to spend one-time funding on short-term needs, but far harder to find investments that will transform our state in the next decade,” said Jeff Donofrio, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “Michigan’s goal shouldn’t just be returning to pre-pandemic status: this is an opportunity to both help our state recover from COVID-19 and advance long-term, widely shared prosperity. We know states and regions across the country are planning strategic investments that will give them even more of a competitive edge for jobs and economic growth in the coming years – Michigan can’t be left behind.”

Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said: “The American Rescue Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Michigan to advance our state’s economic competitiveness responsibly. It is imperative that leaders in Lansing strategically use the money to support communities, businesses, and people without new taxes or unfunded mandates that would create impediments to sustained growth.”

“COVID-19 has resulted in unprecedented challenges in our state and it’s critical that we make the most of the federal stimulus dollars that Michigan has been allocated,” said Brian Calley, President of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “If used effectively, these dollars can help Michigan rebound from the economic, health and educational gaps the pandemic created.”

Tim Daman, President and CEO, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Lansing region will see more than $185 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan. The time for action has never been more critical. We encourage our local municipalities and K-12 education system to be strategic in moving forward for our state and region’s long-term success. Our business community has indicated that spending priorities must focus on jobs, the economy, and critical infrastructure investment.”

“Policymakers must use these one-time funds to crush the virus, mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on our businesses and communities and set the stage for future success,” said Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “Expenditures should be carefully considered for maximum, measurable and long-term impact, while avoiding the creation of unfunded, ongoing obligations or liabilities.”

John Walsh, President and CEO of MMA, said: “The ARP provides much needed support for our citizens, the state and our local governments, as well as a tremendous opportunity to stabilize our economy and grow jobs in Michigan! Spent wisely with a long-term focus on infrastructure, the economy and job growth, funds from the ARP can provide a massive investment with benefits that will last for years to come. The MMA is proud to stand with the business community in working with the Whitmer administration and the Michigan Legislature to remain focused on the best use of the funds for all Michiganders. The greatest risk will be the failure to act strategically and with bold measures that can truly transform our economy.”

###

Editor’s note: The attached letter was delivered to the Governor, legislative leadership and the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairs and vice chairs, as well as leaders of the state’s largest municipalities.

Download this letter here. 

Breaking Down the American Jobs Plan

President Biden outlined a $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan on Wednesday, March 31, that would make a significant investment in roads, bridges, telecommunications, and climate change. The American Jobs Plan includes many Chamber priorities including workforce development, a responsible approach to a clean energy transition, and research and development funding.

However, the proposed tax increases would be counter-productive to economic recovery and competitiveness. The Chamber views this bill as a starting point for negotiations and recognizes that transformative infrastructure investment requires bipartisan consensus. In response to President Biden’s plan, Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah released this statement.

Michigan and the United States need significant modernization for our aging infrastructure, and the Detroit Regional Chamber supports a generational infrastructure investment and applauds President Biden’s leadership in presenting an overdue infrastructure package to Congress. Modern physical and connective infrastructure is critical national competitiveness imperative.

There will be a cost to building the 21st century infrastructure system America needs, and neither party in Washington has demonstrated adequate concern for the exploding national debt. Therefore, serious consideration for how we pay for this investment is required. The Detroit Regional Chamber offers the following principles as this proposal is debated:

  • Placing the costs of this historic investment exclusively on the back of businesses – that just recently had their tax rates reduced from among the highest in the industrialized world – would cause job losses and create a less competitive American economy.
  • Spreading costs over more economic sectors, and exploring additional financing mechanisms, such as bonding, should be considered.
  • The overall size of the proposal can be reduced to focus on the types of investments that will drive the greatest long-term economic impact.

Addressing our state and national infrastructure challenges is a bi-partisan priority. This is an opportunity for Washington to demonstrate to their fellow Americans that they can work together to achieve a bold path forward that also addresses the very real concerns about cost.

The Chamber will continue to be engaged on this issue and hopes to be able to support the final package once developed.”

The Chamber outlines what is in the proposal below.

Public Infrastructure

  •  $115 billion to revamp highways, roads, and bridges. The plan outlined 10 major and 10,000 smaller bridges in need of reconstruction.
  • There is $20 billion in the plan to improve road safety, including measures for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The plan calls for $85 billion to modernize existing transit systems and help agencies expand to meet rider demand. This would double federal funding for public transportation.
  • The plan would invest $111 billion for clean drinking water, $45 billion of which would be used to replace the country’s lead pipes and service lines. The effort would reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child-care facilities and improve the safety of drinking water.
  • The plan includes a $25 billion in airports, that would renovate terminals and expand car-free access to air travel.
  • Finally, there is $17 billion proposed for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry and ferries.
  • $80 billion to fix Amtrak’s repair backlog.

Electrifying Transportation

  • The plan provides $174 billion in grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 electric-vehicle chargers by 2030.
  • The proposal would electrify 20% of the country’s yellow school bus fleet and help electrify 50,000 transit vehicles that are currently diesel powered.

Infrastructure for the Home and Local Community

  • The plan would provide for universal broadband, including to more than 35 percent of rural Americans who lack access to high-speed Internet.
  • Biden’s proposal would invest $213 billion to build and retrofit more than 2 million homes. The plan would build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income home buyers and invest $40 billion to improve public housing.
  • The plan includes $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools, $12 billion in community college infrastructure, and $25 billion to upgrade child-care facilities.
  • $18 billion to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics and $10 billion to revamp federal buildings.

Worker Training and climate resiliency research and development

  • $180 billion for research and development that focuses on reducing emissions, climate resilience and boosting climate-focused research.
  • The plan would invest $50 billion in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
  • The plan creates incentives for companies to locate local manufacturing jobs in the “industrial heartland.”
  • The plan would double the number of registered apprenticeships to more than 1 million and invest in a more inclusive science and technology workforce.

Next Steps

This proposal is only the start of a long process to pass a meaningful infrastructure package. Over the coming months, the Chamber will continue to provide insight on what the bill means for Michigan businesses and residents.

Pentastar Aviation Takes #1 Spot in The Americas in Annual Industry Survey

Pentastar Aviation Takes #1 Spot in The Americas in Annual Industry Survey
CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE, KATHY CORTEZ, ALSO NAMED AS AN “ABOVE & BEYOND” EMPLOYEE AGAIN

WATERFORD, MI.— Pentastar Aviation, a leader in the world of business aviation, has once again received recognition for their world-class customer service. Aviation International News (AIN), one of the most respected publications in the aviation industry, named Pentastar Aviation the #1 FBO in the Americas in their 2021 Survey of FBO Services. Customer Service Representative, Kathy Cortez, was also recognized in the survey in the Above and Beyond category.

Pentastar’s FBO, or what is more commonly referred to as their Executive Terminal, is located in Waterford, Michigan at the Oakland County International Airport. It provides ease of access into Southeast Michigan and the surrounding areas and features luxurious passenger lounges, secure ramp access, attentive concierge service, heated hangars and Fivestar Gourmet catering among the many amenities offered to its clients.

“Reaching the top ranking in AIN’s Annual FBO Survey is a distinguished honor,” said Greg Schmidt, President & CEO, Pentastar Aviation. “Even during the unprecedented times we faced in the past year, our team continued to deliver on our commitment to provide world-class customer service, and we could not be more proud of this recognition.”

“A full-service FBO in every sense of the term. The company and its 163 onsite employees offer everything from aircraft management and charter to 24-hour maintenance and interior refurbishments. It even has its own in-house kitchen, Fivestar Gourmet, which supplies catering to aircraft operators as well as meals to airport workers and customers,” writes Curt Epstein, AIN. “Unique among FBOs, the 10,000-sq-ft, two-story satellite Stargate terminal is specially equipped to handle larger charter flights such as sports teams, with its own jet bridge, baggage carousel, and departure lounge. The Avfuel location, which also serves as a DCA Approved Gateway…, has achieved IS-BAH (International Standard for Business Aviation Handling) Stage 1 registration and is certified under NATA’s (National Air Transportation Association) Safety 1st Clean Program for Covid mitigation.”

AIN asks its subscribers to evaluate FBOs they have visited in the past year based in five categories — line services, passenger amenities, pilot amenities, facilities, and customer service representatives. The current survey process, in which Pentastar has annually been recognized among the top FBOs, provides overall cumulative average scores from 2013 to the present. The survey respondents are also asked to identify specific FBO employees or teams who routinely go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. This year, Kathy Cortez, who has been with Pentastar for nearly 20 years, was recognized in the survey as an Above and Beyond employee.

Pentastar continues to be the most awarded aviation company in the FBO survey for over a decade, recognized by those who appreciate their commitment to exceeding the industry standards for both safety and service excellence.

About Pentastar Aviation
Pentastar Aviation, wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, is a leader in the world of business aviation, providing aircraft management, advisory, maintenance, avionics, interior, and award-winning FBO services, industry-leading Fivestar Gourmet® catering, and private jet charter. Air charter transportation services are provided by Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc., a U.S. FAR Part 135 on-demand air carrier, or by other U.S. FAR Part 135 certificated on-demand air carriers arranged by Pentastar Aviation, LLC. Their team is committed to delivering the highest standards of safety and service excellence to their customers.

Pentastar Aviation has been servicing regional and global travelers for more than 50 years and is headquartered at Oakland County International Airport (PTK). For more information, please visit www.pentastaraviation.com.
###

Butzel Long attorney Thomas A. Kabel reprises role as Corporate/ Real Estate Practice Department Chair

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – Thomas A. Kabel, attorney and shareholder, Butzel Long, has once again been appointed Corporate/ Real Estate Practice Department Chair, a role he previously served in for six years.

Based in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office, Kabel concentrates his practice in the area of commercial real estate and real estate-related finance. He has been involved in all facets of acquisition, disposition, leasing, financing and development of real property throughout his career.

Kabel’s real estate practice spans a wide range of diverse areas and clients, representing developers, automotive companies, colleges and universities in all aspects of their real estate needs. He also has extensive experience representing commercial lenders in conventional financing and has served as bank and bond counsel on numerous industrial revenue and other tax-exempt financings.

Kabel is certified by the National Association of Development Companies (a trade association of companies that have been certified by the Small Business Administration to provide funding for small businesses) to close SBA loans under the SBA’s 504 Loan program. For the past eight years, he has devoted a portion of his practice to representing Oakland County Business Finance Corporation in connection with their SBA 504 Loan program, closing approximately 20-24 such loans each year.

Kabel is currently Vice Chair of the Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and is a former Chair of the Section’s CLE Committee. He is the author of Equitable Subrogation: Why the Refinance Lender’s Security Interest May Not be as Secure as it Thinks (Michigan Real Property Review) and has participated as a speaker and/or author in numerous seminars and other continuing legal education programs over the years.
Kabel is also a member of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys and of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association.

Kabel is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1999), where he was Senior Articles Editor of the Wayne Law Review, and Grand Valley State University (B.S. 1995).

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Detroit Students Struggle To Earn Degrees Despite Financial Help

March 31, 2021

WDET

By Detroit Today

Detroit youth face significant challenges when it comes to successfully graduating from high school and attending college. For decades, it’s been an issue defined more by obstacles than by achievement. But in recent years, big programs have been rolled out to help change the trajectory of Detroit students trying to attain a degree or certificate. The Detroit Promise program offers to pay full college tuition for any Detroit student who graduates from high school in Detroit and has lived in the city for at least their junior and senior years. And there are other programs out there to help cover the cost of college for Detroiters. But are those efforts making much of a difference?

Kim Kozlowski is the higher education reporter for The Detroit News. In discussing a new study, which looked at the Detroit Promise program, Kozlowski says the study ”did show there was some progress made. … But the big takeaway was after three years, the students who got the coach and the stipend were graduating at about the same rate who just got free tuition.”

As far as what’s getting in the way of students finishing degrees and certificates, Kozlowski says there are many factors including financial problems, transportation, racism, a lack of diversity on campus and a lack of support where they live.

“It’s important to go to college, but you need to make it to the finish line,” says Kozlowski, who adds that many students who are enrolled in the Detroit Promise program ”need a little assistance to get them to the finish line.”

View original article here.