The Kellogg Foundation: Michigan Business Case for Racial Equity

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s report highlighting the business case for racial equity stresses the importance of racial equity as both an imperative for social justice and a strategy for Michigan’s economic development and growth.

Maximizing human potential and economic contributions of people of color requires the elimination of disparities and opportunity differentials. The potential economic and social gains are significant. By 2050, 40% of the workforce and consumers in Michigan will be people of color. Michigan stands to realize a $92 billion gain in economic output by closing the racial equity gap.

Centered on domains of opportunity, the report identifies the current challenges and identifies solutions in the follow areas that strongly influence life outcomes: Housing, Education, Health, Criminal Justice, Employment and Entrepreneurship.

View and Download The Business Case for Racial Equity

U.S. Chamber America’s Opportunity Gaps By the Numbers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched the Equality of Opportunity Initiative to address opportunity gaps that perpetuate broader inequalities in our society and hold back individual and business success and economic growth. Through this initiative the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is developing and advancing data-driven business and policy solutions to bridge opportunity gaps and ensure that Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed. Research has been compiled to show the magnitude of the opportunity gaps in six key areas – Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Criminal Justice, Health and Wealth.

Download the full report, view videos from the launch summit, and review policy recommendations and solutions here. 

COVID-19’s Role in Economic Inequity

With more than 1 million Americans affected by COVID-19, data has shown that the results of the pandemic will disproportionately affect black communities. In many cases, this pandemic has highlighted the inequities that already impact communities, such as access to health care, housing instability, unemployment, financial barriers for entrepreneurs, and the education divide.

According to Detroit Future City’s COVID-19: Future Resilience Demands Greater Equity Today report, African Americans represent 31% of COVID-19 cases in Michigan, where they account for 14% of the population. Hispanics are slightly overrepresented as well, representing 7% of COVID-19 cases, but only 5% of the population. Detroit, which is 77% African American and 8% Hispanic, has had more than 10,902 cases. This alarming rate highlights the disproportionate impact on African Americans and Hispanics, which has compounded instability in areas where there is a high concentration of poverty.

The Black community has faced the worst economic decline in businesses and wealth since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports cites close ties between the health and economic effects of COVID-19 in specific communities. “Counties with the highest concentration of COVID-19 are also the areas with the highest concentration of Black businesses and networks.” With the data presented, our region and state will have to be work even harder to restore our communities after the pandemic.

Explore the reports below for a more detailed analysis.

Equity in Educational Outcomes

The talent pipeline in the Detroit region directly impacts the workforce needs and per capita income of our region. Students in the city and region are falling off at various points of their education – before graduating high school, before obtaining a college degree or skilled certificate, and before joining the workforce. Since the majority of Detroit students are Black, Latinx, or of other minority races, these populations are being disproportionately impacted by the broken talent pipeline.

  • 69% of city of Detroit residents ages 18-64 without a high school diploma are either not in the labor force or are unemployed.
  • 47% of Detroit region students and 73% of City of Detroit students who pursue postsecondary education have not earned a degree or certificate within six years of graduating.
  • Per Capita Income increases by $1,250 when bachelor’s degree attainment increases by one percentage point.

Source: Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of Education Report

Related Articles:

Grow the Talent Pipeline and Increase Per Capita Income

Helping Detroiters Obtain a College Education

Increasing Education Attainment for Greater Economic Prosperity and Social Mobility

Michigan’s Economy Could Take a Beating After Ruling Against Whitmer’s COVID-19 Orders

By: Rick Haglund

Now that the state Supreme Court has struck down a 1945 law that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer repeatedly used to issue executive orders in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus, where is Michigan’s economy headed?

Some might argue that the state’s economy, which has regained 593,100 jobs since April’s employment collapse, could boom as businesses and consumers return to some semblance of pre-pandemic behavior.

But there’s a big risk that widespread unemployment could return if the state ends COVID-related restrictions in the belief that the deadly virus is no longer much of a threat to public health.

And that could be where we’re headed.

“If the virus gets out of control, there is an economic impact on that,” Sandy Baruah, president of the Detroit Regional Chamber, told me. “It puts much more pressure on government leaders to enact mandatory shutdowns.”

Many of Whitmer’s executive orders, including mandatory mask-wearing in stores and restaurants, and workplace safety rules, remain under a patchwork of state and local public health orders. But it appears likely that the broad power of the state Department of Health and Human Services to protect public health in pandemics also will be challenged in court.

As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, Whitmer must work with the Legislature to craft future pandemic-related orders. That will be a monumental task as Republicans who control that body are far more concerned with individual freedoms than they are with protecting public health.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has said he does not favor a mask mandate, preferring instead to move to “more of an informing and inspiring and encouraging and loving and trusting people to do the right thing” approach.

Forget that, said Katherine Henry, a lawyer who argued against Whitmer’s order-making authority in the Supreme Court. Henry told WJBK-TV in Detroit that people and businesses should “burn their masks” and ignore all of the governor’s COVID-related orders.

And just hours after 13 people were charged Thursday in a shocking plot to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow the government, Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) attended a right-wing, anti-Whitmer rally at the state Capitol.

“This is no time to be weak in our commitment to freedom,” Shirkey told the crowd. “We need to be strong … and not be afraid of those who are taking our freedoms away from us.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is pushing a dangerous message that Americans shouldn’t fear COVID, and that the economy should be fully reopened. (Note: almost 215,000 Americans, including almost 7,000 in Michigan, have died from the virus.)

Public health experts are nearly unanimous in their view that wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and frequent hand washing are key to reducing the virus to a manageable level.

But if cases spike as a result of no mask mandates and lawmakers continue to favor personal freedom over public health, Michigan’s economy could be in for a tough slog.

“A lot depends on the comfort level of the average person,” Baruah said. “They won’t shop if they feel it’s unsafe. They are going to self-quarantine.”

Tim Bartik, senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, echoed that point to me. He also said a coronavirus spike would likely increase the number of people who already feel unsafe about returning to work, shrinking overall employment.

Michigan could see some short-term employment gains if more restrictions on business activity are lifted as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Whitmer’s executive orders, Bartik said. But they could be short-lived.

“If people going into bars and restaurants and talking loudly without masks leads to an increased pandemic, as seems plausible, [that] will more than offset this very short-run effect — within a few weeks or, at most, a month or two,” he said.

Controlling the virus also is paramount in keeping open K-12 schools and child care centers, and reopening schools that are offering only online instruction. Those actions are especially important to increasing the number of women in the workplace, Bartik said.

Nationwide, more than 860,000 women dropped out of the labor market last month, according to one report, mainly because child care and schooling issues.

Nearly two-thirds of Michigan voters approve of Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus. Her performance hasn’t been perfect, of course.

She has issued more than 180 pandemic-related executive orders, some of which have been confusing or unclear. And those orders, which likely saved thousands of lives, created economic hardships for many.

But with her powers now greatly reduced, it’s unclear what direction state public health policy will take. And that’s a threat to the state’s economy.

“The first key to economic recovery is controlling the pandemic,” Bartik said.

In order to do that, more people need to wear masks. Some pullback in opening the economy might be necessary if people and businesses aren’t smart in taking needed precautions in the coming winter months.

But as those freedom-loving toy soldiers with their semi-automatic rifles who protest at the Capitol and in front of Whitmer’s home should know: freedom isn’t free.

The Makeup of Our Region

Understanding the composition of our nation, region, and communities is critical to developing effective solutions and making progress toward racial justice and economic equity. In our region, the major city of Detroit comprises more than 80% people of color.

Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah is part of a statewide coalition, Rising Income for All, calling for state leaders to make rising income for all an economic priority and recognize the United Way’s ALICE rate as the statewide measure for success in meeting that goal. According to the latest data reported, 43% of Michigan households cannot afford basic necessities. The coalition urges local and state leaders to start developing strategies to ensure the growing economy in Michigan benefits all. Learn more.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2019 American Community Survey One-Year Estimates, United Way Rising Income for All, Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE Measure)
Note: Hispanic or Latinx population percentages are of any race.

Economic Impact of Inequality

The ideal Detroit region is an equal and fair community where all people have the opportunity, resources, and tools needed to achieve their potential, and to lead healthy and fulfilling lives with rewarding work. This leads to a stronger economy and greater community wellbeing.

Estimates show that our region’s economy has the potential to grow by as much as 12% and generate an additional $28 billion annually by reconciling gaps in economic equity that have historically limited people of color full participation in the economy. By 2050, Michigan stands to gain $92 billion in economic output by closing the racial equity gap.

To get there, each of us has the responsibility of advancing racial equity within our circles, workplaces, and communities. For years, the Detroit Regional Chamber has led programs and initiatives to make education more equitable for Detroiters, empower neighborhoods and entrepreneurs, advocate for fair and equal legislation and transportation options, and embrace the critical conversations on our stages with national thought leaders and local business, government, and civic leaders.

Related Articles

An Equal, Equitable, and Inclusive Detroit Region Will Improve the Economy

The Cost of Accepting the Status Quo

Extensive research reveals that if four key racial gaps, educations, wages, housing, and investments are closed, a significant amount of wealth would be added to the U.S. economy. As the conversation continues to move forward, data is key to determining how to closes these gaps. According to Citi’s Closing The Racial Inequality Gaps: The Cost of Black Inequality in the U.S., if the economic gap was closed 20 years ago, $16 trillion could have been added to the U.S. economy. Further, if the gaps are closed today, $5 trillion could be added to U.S. GDP over the next five years. This would be a tremendous boost to the country’s jobs, workforce, and consumer spending. By eliminating the disparities faced by people of color, the gains “would be equivalent to a continuous boost in GDP growth of 0.5% per year, increasing the competitiveness of the country for decades to come.”

There is an economic upside of racial equity. A well-equipped and diverse workforce is critical to the success of U.S. businesses. Issues the workforce face like employer demand versus available talent is just one example of how increasing the opportunities for talent can lead to better business productivity. The Business Case for Racial Equity from The W.K. Kellogg Foundation notes, “by 2050, the United States stands to gain $8 trillion in GDP—more than the current GDP of every country in the world except the U.S. and China.” Factors that contribute to that are increased consumer spending power, a greater economic output, and reducing health disparities.

Reports show that by 2044, America will be a nation of a majority of people of color. In order for people of color to thrive in the future, health, wealth, and employment opportunities have to improve. FSG, in partnership with PolicyLink, states that the “twin forces of rising diversity amidst persistent exclusion form a core challenge that American businesses must address to remain competitive.”

To begin this work, business leaders must first develop a deeper understanding of why racial inequities exist and then take a fresh look at every aspect of their business to find opportunities for business innovation that can simultaneously advance racial equity and also benefit the business.

Explore the reports below for a more detailed analysis.

Aaron Burrell Named a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation

DETROIT, Mich. – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Aaron Burrell (Member, Detroit) has been named a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation (MSBF).

Established in 1984, the Michigan State Bar Foundation’s Fellows Program recognizes distinguished Michigan lawyers for their professional excellence and service to the community. The Fellows Program supports the Foundation in providing leadership and grants for improvements in the administration of justice and the delivery of civil legal aid to the poor. Fellows are nominated by their peers and elected by the MSBF Trustees. Aaron was welcomed as a new Fellow at the virtual annual MSBF Fellows Meeting on September 23rd.

Aaron is a business lawyer who focuses his practice in the areas of complex commercial litigation, appellate law, labor and employment law, and minority business enterprises. He has prevailed in numerous complex, commercial-litigation cases in a number of state and federal trial courts and courts of appeals. He has also successfully defended clients in a wide range of discrimination and unfair-labor-practice claims in state and federal courts and administrative agencies, and he has counseled clients on all aspects of the employment relationship.

Aaron serves on the board of directors of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and Oakland County Bar Association. He has served as Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly, a Commissioner on the State Bar of Michigan’s Board of Commissioners, Co-Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Equal Access Initiative, past president of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, and an affiliate representative of the National Bar Association. He is a fellow of both the American Bar Foundation and the Oakland County Bar Foundation. He is recognized as a “40 Under 40” honoree by Crain’s Detroit Business, an “Up and Coming Lawyer” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly and is listed as a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. The firm has 18 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 11 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

# # #

Governor Signs Chamber-Backed Bills to Ease Expungement of Crimes

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today signed Chamber-backed legislation making it easier for residents to get past convictions erased from their record. It is the latest sweeping criminal justice package to become law during the 2019-20 legislative term.

The Chamber supports this package as part of its 2020 policy priority for criminal justice reform. The Chamber has been a longtime advocate of policies creating pathways for returning citizens to rejoin the workforce and create new talent pools for businesses.

Gov. Whitmer signed HB 4980, HB 4981, HB 4982, HB 4983, HB 4984, HB 4985, and HB 5120, setting up an automatic process for setting aside eligible misdemeanors after seven years and some non-assaultive felonies after 10 years.

The bills also:

  • Expand the number and types of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside;
  • Revise the waiting period before someone can apply for expungement;
  • Treat multiple felonies or misdemeanor convictions arising from the same offense as a single felony or misdemeanor in some circumstances;
  • Add traffic offenses as those eligible for expungement;
  • Allows for expungement of a marijuana offense if it would now be legal in Michigan because of the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

This criminal justice package had overwhelming bipartisan support.