May 13 | This Week in Government: 5 Republicans Invited To Mackinac Conference Gubernatorial Debate; Term Limits, Financial Disclosure Changes Headed To Ballot

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. 5 Republicans Invited To Mackinac Conference Gubernatorial Debate
  2. Term Limits, Financial Disclosure Changes Headed To Ballot
  3. Disclosing Dollars Spent By Detroit Zoo, DIA Debated By Senate Panel
  4. Shirkey, Industry Leader Tout Proposed Blockchain, Crypto Study
  5. MI Opts Out Of Fed Requirements For Physician Supervision Of CRNAs

 


5 Republicans Invited to Mackinac Conference Gubernatorial Debate

James Craig, Perry Johnson, and Kevin Rinke are three of the five Republican candidates invited to the Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Policy Conference gubernatorial debate on June 2, assuming they all make it on the ballot.

Also invited to the debate are Ryan Kelley and Garrett Soldano. Notably missing from the list is Tudor Dixon who, along with Mr. Craig and Mr. Johnson, is facing petition challenges.

All three have since filed responses to the challenges (See Gongwer Michigan Report, May 11, 2022). Mr. Craig appears in the most serious trouble for being blocked from ballot access.

In its release, the chamber said its members and the Michigan Republican Party determined the selection process and a recent statewide survey of Republican primary voters informed the selection. The survey collected its votes from 500 anticipated August 2022 Republican primary voters between April 29 and May 1.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is pleased to welcome Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial hopefuls to Michigan’s Center Stage as they present their vision for our state’s future,” Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “We look forward to the candidates for governor giving our attendees and a statewide audience their perspectives on Michigan’s future beyond campaign soundbites.”

If the Board of State Canvassers rules on ballot petition challenges, the chamber will switch up the debate participants. The other five candidates – Mike Brown, Ralph Rebandt, Donna Brandenburg, and Michael Markey Jr. – will not appear on stage, however they have been invited to attend the conference.

Related: [Chamber Invites Top 5 Candidates To Participate In GOP Gubernatorial Debate]


Term Limits, Financial Disclosure Changes Headed to Ballot

The Legislature took historic votes Tuesday morning to send the first significant changes to the state’s 30-year-old term limits law to the November ballot, but not before weakening the proposed financial disclosure requirements within the ballot measure in an amended form.

Introduced Tuesday by House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), HJR R was passed by a 76-28 vote in the House and then quickly passed by the Senate 26-6, obtaining the necessary two-thirds votes for sending the proposed constitutional amendment directly to the ballot.

The joint resolution contained much of the language being pushed by the coalition Voters for Transparency and Term Limits (See Gongwer Michigan Report, March 1, 2022).

House lawmakers are currently capped at three, two-year terms of service, though can go on to be elected to the Senate and serve for two, four-year terms for a total of 14 overall years of public service. That would be lessened to 12 years under this joint resolution, though a person could choose to serve all 12 years in a singular chamber.

In addition to the stipulations surrounding cumulative years served, the proposal also would require financial disclosures from officials for the first time.

It specifies that by April 15, 2024, the Legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, and the attorney general must electronically file an annual financial disclosure report with the Department of State.

The disclosure would require a description of assets and sources of unearned income, sources of earned income, description of liabilities, and positions currently held. That would include a position held as an officer, director, trustee, or employee of any business enterprise, nonprofit, labor organization, or institution other than the state itself.

The positions required for disclosure would not apply to positions held in any religious, social, fraternal or political entity, or positions that are solely of an honorary nature.

Additional disclosure requirements would include:

  • Agreements or arrangements with respect to future employment, a leave of absence while serving as a legislator or state officer, continuation or deferral of payments by a former or current employer other than the state or continuing participation in an employee welfare or benefit plan maintained by a former employer;
  • Gifts received and required to be reported by a lobbyist or lobbyist agent, as prescribed by state law;
  • Travel payments and reimbursements received and required to be reported by a lobbyist or lobbyist agent as prescribed by state law; and
  • Payments made by lobbyists or a lobbyist agent to a charity in lieu of honoraria.

Of significance, however, were the several changes to the proposed financial disclosure requirements contained in the coalition’s proposal that were weakened prior to coming before the Legislature.

Language in the ballot group’s proposal stating the financial disclosure rules must be at least as strict as those for Congress was removed. Also removed in the resolution was language referring to a requirement to disclose “purchases, sales or exchanges of a security or real property.”

The coalition’s language would have required the reporting of liabilities, income, and assets. Under HJR R, that language instead requires a description of liabilities, assets, and sources of income.

For reporting gifts and travel reimbursements, the proposal dictates that lawmakers must report all gifts and travel reimbursement. The resolution only requires what is currently required for lobbyists to report.

Asked why the House felt the need to move the joint resolution Tuesday, Mr. Wentworth was short in saying that the caucus has “been talking about this for weeks as a caucus and as a Legislature.”

“When the votes are there, you move it,” he said. “So, that’s what we did.”

There is, though, a massive caveat in the joint resolution which relies heavily on yet-to-be-passed legislation.

Gideon D’Assandro, spokesperson for Mr. Wentworth, said that would include what qualifies as a conflict of interest along with how to implement this portion of the joint resolution. Residents would be able to bring legal action against the state directly to the Supreme Court should the Legislature not enact legislation by December 31, 2023.

“The alternative was to just adopt the congressional standard which doesn’t fit … existing Michigan requirements – for example, lobbyist interactions – but then … it creates a standard for what is a conflict of interest for our congressmen, which may not apply to be a conflict of interest for a state rep,” Mr. D’Assandro said.

Mr. Wentworth said that aligning lawmaker reporting requirements with lobbyist reporting requirements would make it so both parties are playing by the same rulebook. Therefore, if a lobbyist doesn’t report something that a lawmaker does, it would be easy to see where reports are falling through the cracks.

“I think it’s absolutely a slam dunk,” Mr. Wentworth said of reporting requirements. “Right now, under current law, it’s on lobbyists to report, right? This would actually require the legislator to report as well so that checks and balances. If a lobbyist were not to report something, there’s no (current) balance, there’s no check on that.”

He continued: “If a legislator then actually discloses, and the lobbyist doesn’t, then there’s a check and balance there. I think this is actually much stricter of an approach we need to make, to make sure that this is a focus.”

Asked why the House didn’t carve out terms within the joint resolution ahead of passing it out of the lower chamber, Mr. Wentworth said it was important that voters knew what they were voting on and that there was only “a certain amount of space you can do that with.”

“To make sure that they know that these are the priorities of financial disclosure and term limit changes is key,” he said. “Then the Legislature can enact the policy going forward.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) did not make himself available to reporters following session, but in a statement praised the proposal as being a solid option for the voters to weigh in on the fall.

“By enabling lawmakers to serve out all their time in one chamber, even if for an overall shorter period of 12 years instead of the current 14, individuals would be free to focus on issues that are important to the communities they represent rather than on their next career move,” Mr. Shirkey said. “Likewise, it is also important that we strike a reasonable balance when it comes to the financial information elected officials must disclose to help make government more transparent, and not further discourage good folks from running for office.”

Mr. Shirkey has long been a supporter of changing the state’s laws on term limits. He has also been opposed to certain levels of financial disclosure, which he has repeatedly said might dissuade otherwise qualified persons from running for office.

Patrick Anderson from the Term Limits Defense Fund slammed the Legislature’s action as lacking any discussion. He said he was in the lobby in the Senate when the 26th vote went on the board and “the lobbyists around me quietly cheered.”

“This was adopted with no notice to the voters. It was hastily passed it with no debate. They even suspended the rules so they could avoid reading it out loud,” he said in a statement. “Whether you like term limits or not, this is a disgrace. These elected officials just reminded voters why they need to limit the power of incumbency. The stench of this ambush of the voters will last all the way to November.”

The breakdown of Tuesday’s House vote on HJR R split members of both caucuses:

HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTING YES: Breen, Bolden, Cambensy, Camilleri, B. Carter, T. Carter, Cavanagh, Cherry, Clemente, Coleman, Ellison, Garza, Harris, Hertel, Hood, Hope, Jones, Koleszar, Kuppa, LaGrand, Liberati, Manoogian, Morse, Neeley, O’Neal, Pepper, Peterson, Pohutsky, Sabo, Scott, Shannon, Sowerby, Steckloff, Steenland, Tate, Thanedar, Weiss, Whitsett, Witwer, Yancey, and Young.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTING NO: Aiyash, Brixie, Haadsma, C. Johnson, Rabhi, Rogers, Sneller, and Stone.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTING YES: Alexander, Beeler, Bellino, Berman, Beson, Brann, Calley, Clements, Eisen, Filler, Frederick, Green, Griffin, Hall, Hoitenga, Hornberger, Howell, Kahle, Lightner, Lilly, Marino, Meerman, Mekoski, O’Malley, Outman, Paquette, Posthumus, Slagh, Tisdel, Vansingel, Wakeman, Wendzel, Wentworth, Whiteford and Yaroch.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTING NO: Albert, Allor, Bollin, Borton, Carra, Damoose, Farrington, Fink, Glenn, Hauck, S. Johnson, LaFave, Maddock, Markkanen, Martin, Mueller, Reilly, Rendon, Roth, and VanWoerkom.

HOUSE MEMBERS NOT VOTING: Anthony, Brabec, Lasinski, Puri, and Bezotte.

In the Senate, the six members who voted against the resolution were Sen. Betty Alexander (D-Detroit), Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Groveland Township), Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) and Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington).

Six members were absent and did not vote Tuesday. Those included Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint), Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-North Muskegon), Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles) and Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).

Related: [Advocacy In Action Update: Chamber Supports Term Limit Reforms]


Disclosing Dollars Spent By Detroit Zoo, DIA Debated By Senate Panel

A pair of bills that would require the Detroit Zoological Society and the Detroit Institute of Arts to disclose how they spend their money saw some pushback during a Tuesday testimony before a Senate committee, with some questioning if this was a move to make now private nonprofits subject to regulations reserved for public and government entities.

SB 818, heard by the Senate Oversight Committee on Tuesday, would amend the Open Meetings Act to include accredited zoological institutions and art institutes that receive tax money and require all meetings to be open and available to the public. A separate bill, SB 819, would amend the Freedom of Information Act to also include zoological institutions and art institutes to disclose how they spend the money they receive upon request.

Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), SB 818’s sponsor, said the issue at hand was about transparency. Mr. Runestad said approximately $22 million annually is dedicated to the DIA and $5.8 million is given to the Detroit Zoo.

Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties have authority boards that levy taxes for each of the institutions, and once the millages are approved by the voters, the authority boards allocate the money to the DIA and the Detroit Zoo. These authorities are subject to FOIA, however, the Detroit Zoo and DIA do not have to disclose how they spend those dollars.

“What happens with the money once it’s at the two institutions? We don’t know,” Mr. Runestad said. “We are told that the entities, they’re private, so you shouldn’t be able to look at them. Well, are they, when 70 percent of (the DIA’s) funding, 33 percent of (the Detroit Zoo’s) funding is from public taxpayer dollars?”

Mr. Runestad said he is open to including a prohibition of disclosing the donors and open to modifying the bill to allow for leaders at the DIA to discuss purchasing art in a closed session.

Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) raised some concerns about the bills, asking why the two institutions were explicitly named and were the only vendors subject to the Open Meetings Act and FOIA while other vendors the authorities use, such as a vendor for accounting and a vendor for auditing, would not be included.

“It’s concerning to take a private entity and make it public through government action,” Mr. Irwin said.

Mr. Runestad replied he saw a real difference between a private company that’s among a multitude of private companies competing for the business of the authority, adding these two entities do not operate like other private companies.

“The way I see it and I think the general public sees it as nothing more than a pass-through entity – the authority – to a quasi-governmental agency, Mr. Runestad said.

Speaking on behalf of the Detroit Zoo was Kirk Profit, the director of Government Consultant Services, while Honigman LLP attorney Peter Ruddell spoke on behalf of the DIA. Both said they valued transparency and Mr. Profit said the entities receive the funding they do because of their transparency with the public.

“You look across different budgets – community health, education, social services, roads, transportation, public safety – a lot of that money is going to go to a private vendor,” Mr. Profit said. “By exposing those private vendors to this kind of sunshine, by law that is appropriate, and we embrace it for government entities … should we expand the notion of a public body to a nonprofit private entity?”

Mr. Ruddell clarified the DIA does not receive 70 percent of its funds from public entities. He also said the bills’ language is so vague it could be argued for example if Sen. Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Township) donated to the DIA in his will, his will could also be subject to FOIA.

No other action was taken on the bills. Committee Chair Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) said he hopes to discuss the bills again in the coming weeks.

OTHER BUSINESS: A bill that would require the Legislature to appropriate and disburse each year the amount needed for local governments to pay mandates required by the state saw no action.

Mr. McBroom, the bill’s sponsor, said an amendment for SB 449 is currently being worked on.

Under this bill, local governments could choose not to provide a new service required by the state unless a fiscal note is prepared, and the state appropriated the necessary funds.

If the money is not appropriated to the local governments, the bill would also prohibit the state from imposing a penalty, withholding funds, or imposing any form of monetary sanction on the local governments for failing to comply with the state requirement under certain circumstances.

The Department of Treasury would also be required to develop an account system to assist in the fiscal note process and the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget would be required to adjust the necessary funding to meet the state’s funding responsibility for each fiscal year.

Depending on the workload, the Senate Fiscal Agency estimates an additional full-time employee may be needed in the Legislature. Treasury would also experience additional costs to develop the accounting system.


Shirkey, Industry Leader Tout Proposed Blockchain, Crypto Study

Senators were told Thursday a proposed study of blockchain and cryptocurrency could eventually open the state up to the technology while making Michigan attractive to an educated workforce and new financial capital.

Before the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee for testimony only was SB 888, a bill that would create a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Commission.

Membership of the 16-member commission would include a member apiece appointed by the House and Senate majority and minority leaders, two gubernatorial appointees, the heads of the departments of Attorney General, Treasury, Technology, Management, and Budget or their designees, and several others.

The duties of the commission would be to investigate blockchain and cryptocurrency and develop a set of recommendations for the expansion of blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency industry in the state.

“I can’t think of a topic today that is more pertinent than making sure Michigan is welcoming to the trends in the use and application of blockchain technology and everything associated with cryptocurrency,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), a co-sponsor of SB 888, told the committee. “This is not simply to create a commission. This is really sending a signal to the nation and the world that Michigan is paying attention.”

Mr. Shirkey testified in the place of Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), the bill’s main sponsor, who was not available to testify Thursday.

Bob Burnett, co-founder of Florida-based Divvy Systems and Barefoot Mining, told the committee bringing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency mining to Michigan could have huge implications.

Mr. Burnett said advantages include having a finite amount of currency in the system, being able to make transactions more quickly than a traditional bank and there being a permanent chronological record of all transactions.

He also explained, when asked about prices for bitcoin cratering in recent days, that the currency is better for investment rather than attempts at short-term gain.

“It’s an appropriate place to save money in the long term,” Mr. Burnett said, using the example of placing some bitcoin aside for a grandchild’s college education.

For mining purposes, Mr. Burnett said Michigan is an advantageous location due to its moderate climate and diverse resources.

When asked about environmental concerns of mining, Mr. Burnett said the industry’s percentage of renewable energy is higher than other industries. Further, he said mining can locate right next to an energy source, saving on expensive transmission methods and potential increases in emissions.

The time to begin researching blockchain technology and cryptocurrency is now, he said.

“By doing nothing … you’ll get ignored,” Mr. Burnett said, adding relationships and infrastructure may be in place elsewhere if Michigan were to wait to get involved.

Under SB 888, factors to be studied would include the feasibility and risks of the technology’s use in state and local government and Michigan-based businesses would be among the commission’s areas of investigation.

Areas of government use to study would include government records, delivery of services, use in statewide registries including for firearms, marijuana, and elections processes.

For business use, areas of study would include whether it is advisable for businesses to maintain corporate records through blockchain technology.

Other areas of study would include the impact on state revenues, what changes to the state’s tax structure may be needed, whether cryptocurrency transactions should be part of state sales tax, the feasibility of regulating energy consumption associated with cryptocurrency, and best practices for its use to government, businesses, and residents.

A report containing the commission’s recommendations and draft legislation for implementing recommendations would be due to the House and Senate within one year of the commission being appointed and seated.


MI Opts Out Of Fed Requirements For Physician Supervision Of CRNAs

Michigan will become the 20th state to opt-out of federal requirements for a physician to supervise certified registered nurse anesthetists after Governor Gretchen Whitmer late last month penned a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid asking to do so.

“I have concluded that it is in the best interest of Michigan Citizens to opt-out of the current physician supervision requirement, as provided in the federal regulations, and that the opt-out is consistent with Michigan state law,” Ms. Whitmer wrote in an April 18 letter to the CMS. “This letter constitutes my formal notification of the State of Michigan opt-out.”

The decision was informed after her own review of the topic and done in consultation with both the Michigan Board of Nursing and the Board of Medicine, as well as on the advice of legislative leaders, Ms. Whitmer noted in the letter.

It directly follows the creation of PA 53 of 2021 – formerly HB 4359, sponsored by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) – which allowed CRNAs to work in accordance with national standards while also mandating that a CRNA hold a specialty certification for at least three years before practicing without supervision.

Another requirement would be for physicians, podiatrists and dentists to be part of a patient-centered care team (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 13, 2021).

Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists President Adam Kuz praised the move in a Thursday statement, saying: “Governor Whitmer’s action in signing the opt-out ensures Michigan’s patients have access to efficient and value-based, high-quality care which optimizes healthcare teams across our state.”

Roughly 2,600 CRNAs are currently practicing in Michigan making up 70 percent of all anesthesia providers in the state.

Chamber Invites Top 5 Candidates to Participate in GOP Gubernatorial Debate

DETROIT (May 12, 2022) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber invited five candidates for Michigan Governor to participate in a Republican Gubernatorial debate. The Chamber is hosting the debate, in coordination with the Michigan Republican Party, during its 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference on Thursday, June 2, at 4:30 p.m. at Grand Hotel. The candidates invited today are:

  • James Craig
  • Perry Johnson
  • Ryan Kelley
  • Kevin Rinke
  • Garrett Soldano

The candidate selection process was determined jointly by the Chamber and the Michigan Republican Party. A recent statewide survey of Republican primary voters conducted by The Glengariff Group Inc., the Chamber’s polling partner, informed the selection. The survey polled 500 likely August 2022 Republican Primary voters between April 29 and May 1, 2022.

The selection was based on the following survey question: respondents were read the names of all 10 filed candidates in alphabetical order and asked who they would support to be the Republican nominee for Governor. Each of the selected candidates received a response of 5% or higher to this question. The entire survey is available online.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is pleased to welcome Michigan’s Republican Gubernatorial hopefuls to Michigan’s Center Stage as they present their vision for our state’s future,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We look forward to the candidates for Governor giving our attendees and a statewide audience their perspectives on Michigan’s future beyond campaign soundbites.”

While five candidates were invited to participate in the debate, the Chamber also extended an invitation to the additional five candidates to attend the Conference. The Chamber reserves the right to modify debate participants if the Board of State Canvassers rules on ballot petition challenges or if new, public, independent polling further identifies additional competitive candidates. Candidate polls will not qualify as independent polling. Candidates that exit the race will be excluded.

View the latest Conference updates at detroitchamber.com/mpc.

Advocacy In Action Roundup: County Executives Give Outlook on Regional Transit, Talent Shortage

On May 11, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted the county executives from Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties to discuss the significant business issues of the region. Hosted at the Mint Conference Center in Lathrup Village, this was the first time that all three were in-person together since early 2020 when they last held an event to discuss regional transit. Carol Cain, senior producer and host for CBS 62 Michigan Matters and columnist for the Detroit Free Press, led the conversation.

 

 

Leading Through COVID-19 Brought Valuable Lessons on Problem Solving

Cain started with the topic of what the past two and a half years have been like as a county executive dealing with COVID-19 and the fallout in their communities.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter said nothing really prepared him for this job. He lamented that there’s “hardly ever a training manual for your job, but you will do just fine if you let your values and style guide you.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said that Wayne County, and he personally, faced “difficult and troublesome” times, but he was able to learn from the situation.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel looked at COVID-19 as an insightful experience, learning who would “step up and address the current problems, instead of sitting back and creating more problems.”

 

Unified Regional Transit Services Have “Larger Price Tag” But Should Introduce More National Opportunities

The topic of discussion quickly shifted to regional cooperation and a transit system to service Metro Detroit.
Coulter pointed out that the pandemic highlighted the need for regional transit and that it “holds the region back” from more significant events like hosting the Super Bowl again.

Evans agreed with a unified approach to transit but said that the solutions could be “hard to swallow due to their larger price tags.”

Finishing the group off, Hackel pointed to Macomb’s “all in” approach with transit. Every community in Macomb is a SMART community, paying an annual mileage to the transit service. Hackel believes that a regional transit system would exist if the other two counties opted entirely into SMART, saying it would be “SMART-er.”

 

To Solve Talent Shortage, Schools and Employers Must Strengthen Requirement Coordination

Later in the discussion, the topic became the talent shortage that the region is currently facing.
Coulter wants to connect Oakland County employers with Michigan’s colleges and trade schools to ensure students graduate with the relevant experience employers seek.

Evans pointed to some of the extreme requirements employers put on potential job seekers, saying that some testing and education requirements may be “too strenuous in this employment market.”

Macomb County currently has 35,000 job openings, for which Hackel blamed a lack of coordination between schools and employers.

 

“Economic Competitiveness” and Infrastructure are Expected Conversation Topics at Mackinac Policy Conference

Wrapping up the event, Cain asks what issue they hope to discuss on the porch of the Grand Hotel during this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

Coulter finds that our economy should be the number one topic. He says we need to focus on site readiness and economic competitiveness as a state.

Evans agreed with the economy being a central point of discussion but instead primarily focused on the backfilled tax losses with the new investment that the region is receiving. Evans specifically pointed to all of the investment coming to the airport.

Hackel joked that the topic of discussion should be three things: “sustainable funding for roads, roads, and roads.” Finishing off the discussion, he warns if the region “does not get serious about infrastructure problems now, it will be too late in the future.”

Watch the full discussion below.

 

Fortune 500 Companies Step Up to Appoint More Women on Boards

Bizwomen
Marie Leech

May 12, 2022

Fortune 500 boards appointed a record number of women in 2021, although Latinx, Asian and Asian American women continue to be underrepresented, according to a new report released by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

The 2022 Board Monitor report found that 45% of the 449 board seats filled in 2021 were women directors, up from 41% the previous year.

According to the report, global events like the pandemic, climate change, increased calls for racial and social justice, and the war in Ukraine have prompted corporations to focus more attention on “organizational purpose.” In response, the report states, Fortune 500 boards of directors notably shifted to bringing in a wider range of experience, including more directors who are women, diverse and serving for the first time in the boardroom.

“Boards continue to seek fresh thinking as evidenced by the appointment of directors with more diverse backgrounds,” said Bonnie Gwin, vice chair and co-managing partner of Headrick & Struggles’ global chief executive officer and board of directors practice. “And the truly cutting-edge boards are taking a strategic, holistic approach to board succession by continuously monitoring refreshment opportunities to meet today’s challenges and respond with resilience when the unexpected occurs.”

While the number of women board members continues to trend up – 29% of all directors on Fortune 500 boards are women, up from 19% in 2015 – the number of Asian/Asian American and Hispanic/Latinx directors continue to be underrepresented at 9% and 6%, respectively. Those percentages have not risen in recent years, the report found.

“We are encouraged to see the trend toward more equitable representation on boards,” said Lyndon Taylor, regional managing partner of Headrick & Struggles’ North American CEO and board of director practice. “We expect that more progress will be made on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) when diverse directors hold more influential board positions, especially as board chair or chair of the nominating and governance committee, but this will require that boards take a comprehensive perspective on diversity from gender experience to continue pursuit of aspiring directors that are racially and ethnically diverse.”

Other notable findings in the report include:

  • While current or former chief executive officers and chief financial officers continue to fill the majority of appointments, the trend is on a gradual decline. In 2021, 40% of appointees were current or former chief executive officers, down significantly from the high of 60% in 2018. Current or former chief financial officers made up 14% of appointments in 2021, down from a high of 21% in 2020. Notably this year, 16% of newly appointed women directors have chief financial officer experience compared to 11% of men.
  • The average age of new board members continues – for the sixth year – to hold steady at around 57, with 64% of the seats in 2021 going to people 55 and older; 6% to those under 45.

Only 31% of Hispanic/Latinx appointments and 33% of Asian/Asian American appointees are women compared to the higher gender diversity among Black (43%) and white (49%) appointees.

View the original article.

Van Dyke Horn Public Relations New Strategic Partnership Brings New Capabilities & Hires

Van Dyke Horn New Hires Include More Than 30 Years of Combined Experience and Creative Services, Multimedia and Website Capabilities to Clients

DETROIT–April 18, 2022– After the initial announcement of Van Dyke Horn Public Relations (VDH) and Lambert joining forces on March 30, we asked, what’s next? VDH today announced the hiring of four seasoned staff who make up the agency’s 11-member team.

VDH announced a strategic partnership with Lambert, a national integrated communications agency, on March 30, joining two of Michigan’s top PR agencies. VDH remains a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) business as it has for the last 24 years. The new alliance provides both firms with new opportunities and capabilities, including creative services, multimedia production, website, social media management and digital marketing. Both firms are already bringing shared assets and services to the table for their clients to help achieve goals. VDH plans to rename and rebrand in the next few weeks.

Kelsey Hartung and Antonice Strickland, MPS, join VDH as Senior Account Executives. Jerel Jones and Sabira Rahman have both joined as Account Executives.

Hartung has nearly 15 years of experience in public relations, community engagement, and event planning and management. Before VDH, Hartung handled corporate communications for Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in Detroit. Prior to that, she led communications and event planning for the legal staff at General Motors, served as director of communications and public affairs for the Public Lighting Authority, and worked at VDH from 2011 to 2014, when the agency was Berg Muirhead and Associates. She is eager to return to the storied agency where commitment to the community is the cornerstone of its work. Hartung received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Oakland University. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Detroit and the Rotary Club of Detroit.

Strickland is an award-winning public relations and communications professional with experience across nonprofit, fortune 500, and entertainment industries for a decade. In her previous roles, Strickland headed up marketing and public relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, served as a senior account executive with Truscott Rossman, and was the communications manager for Black Women’s Health Imperative from Washington, D.C. She holds a Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University. Strickland is a board member of PRSA Detroit and formerly served as chapter president of the National Black Public Relations Society.

“Our new hires join our existing staff and senior leadership, bringing more skills and talents into the fold,” said Georgella Muirhead, APR, founder and CEO of VDH, “We continue to break down walls, and barriers to serve our employees, clients and community. This is our home.”

Rahman is an experienced communicator with a concentration in PR, digital marketing, content creating and writing. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in communications and public relations, summa cum laude, from Wayne State University. Prior to VDH, she supported Featherstone, the Children’s Foundation and Beaumont Health with PR, digital marketing and media relations. Rahman is fluent in English, Bangla and Arabic.

Jones previously worked as a freelancer for Upwork and supported the Detroit Health Department with communications and social media before joining VDH. He has experience leading media relations and marketing campaigns for diverse clients through Lovio George, a communications and design agency. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“We remain committed to providing the highest quality of services to our clients and our community,” said Marilyn Horn, president and CFO of VDH. “We are eager to bring new capabilities to the table alongside Lambert–including creative services, video production, website design and more. VDH continues to grow in size, services and spirit. We are going back to our roots, which will be at the core of our new name and brand.”

Hartung and Strickland will serve as day-to-day contacts for clients and teams in their new roles. They will lead the development of communications plans, reporting and analytics, communications campaigns, and marketing strategies. Jones and Rahman will play a critical role in implementing program strategies, assisting in PR and marketing plans, while conducting thorough research, media monitoring and drawing analytics.

“The team keeps knocking it out of the park to attract top talent to the agency,” said Lambert CEO Michelle Olson, APR. “And, our partnership has already opened the doors to opportunities and clients we both would have walked away from alone. The two agencies have skills that continue to set each other apart — and together, we make a stronger team.”

# # #

Media Contacts:
Brenda Hu; bhu@lambert.com; 517-599-1360
Kelsey Hartung; kelsey@vandykehorn.com; 313-799-0201

Comcast RISE to Award $1M in Grants to Small Businesses Owned by Women and People of Color in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck

On Thursday, May 12, Comcast announced it will award $1 million in grants to 100  Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck small businesses owned by women and people of color, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American owners, among others. Detroit was one of five cities, including Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Twin Cities, selected for the program. Comcast will award a $10,000 grant to 100 local businesses from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, for a total of $5 million across 500 businesses. This brings the amount awarded to $16 million to date.

The application process will open to qualifying businesses June 1-14, and prospective owners must have their businesses located within the geographic boundaries of Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck.

“The Comcast RISE Investment Fund supported my business at a very critical time in the midst of the pandemic when parents, particularly those who were considered essential workers, needed a safe, reliable environment for their pre-K-aged children,” said Nina Hodge, Above and Beyond Learning Childcare Center on Detroit’s east side.

To help drive outreach about the program and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast is also awarding $60,000 in grants to four community-based organizations in Detroit, including Build Institute, Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance, Michigan Women Forward and TechTown Detroit.

In addition, Comcast RISE invests in ongoing mentorship and resources to help businesses succeed over the long-term. The program has partnered with Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to provide grant recipients with business coaching to help build skills in company foundation, growing customers and financial stability.

All Comcast RISE recipients will also have a specialized online networking community within Ureeka with access to educational resources, sources of capital, and vetted experts such as U.S. Black Chambers, National Asian Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Walker’s Legacy and Operation Hope.

“Ureeka is proud to partner with Comcast RISE to grow small businesses nationwide with coaching and digital services,” said, Melissa Bradley, co-founder of Ureeka. “We know there are stark disparities in access to capital and resources for entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs. The additional coaching and digital resources that these businesses receive, in addition to potential monetary funding, will help these businesses gain valuable skills and opportunities that will help them move from survive to thrive.”

Comcast RISE was formed in late 2020 to give small businesses owned by people of color, from bakeries and barbershops to child care centers and cleaning services, the grants needed to not just survive, but thrive. The 4,700 recipients are from 422 cities across 34 states. In November 2021, Comcast RISE announced a major expansion to all women-owned businesses nationwide.

Comcast RISE Marketing and Technology Services

In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color and women nationwide to apply for grants for one or more of the following support focus areas with the opportunity to receive one.

  • Marketing Services Grant: The following services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, and its creative agency, Mnemonic, are designed to help recipients with their marketing and media campaigns, including:
    • Media: A linear TV media campaign to run over a 90-day period.
    • Creative Production: Turnkey 30-second TV commercial production, plus a media strategy consultation and a 90-day linear TV media campaign.
    • Consult: Digital audits by Ureeka in the form of Website Repair Reports and SEO Keyword reports to target website mechanics and effective organic marketing
  • Technology Makeover Grants: The state-of-the-art equipment and technology upgrade from Comcast Business includes computer equipment as well as internet, voice and cybersecurity services for up to a 12-month period. (Taxes and other fees may still apply for tech makeover services.)
  • Monetary Grants: In round one, which was announced in April of 2021, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund provided $5 million in grants to 500 small businesses owned by people of color in five cities: Detroit, Philadelphia/Chester, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. In round two, which was announced in September of 2021, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund provided $6 million in grants to 600 small businesses in six cities: Miami, Houston, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C. As noted above, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund will provide an additional $5 million in grants to 500 small businesses owned by people of color and women in five cities: Detroit, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Twin Cities.

All eligible applicants will receive a monthly Comcast RISE newsletter with educational content, and all small business owners can visit the Comcast RISE destination on the X1 platform featuring aggregated small business news, tips, insights, and more. Just say “Comcast RISE” into the X1 voice remote.

Comcast’s Ongoing Commitment to Advancing Digital Equity

Comcast RISE is part of Comcast’s ongoing efforts to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive. Over the next 10 years, Comcast has committed $1 billion to programs and partnerships that will reach tens of millions of people with the skills, opportunities, and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.

MSU’s Cook Makes History as First Black Woman on Fed Board of Governors

The Detroit News
Melissa Nann Burke and Riley Beggin
May 10, 2022

MSU Professor Lisa Cook.

Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook made history after the U.S. Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to approve her nomination to the Federal Reserve, where she will be the first Black woman to serve on the Board of Governors.

The vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie. Senate Democrats lauded Cook’s credentials, and Republicans cast doubt about her economic views and independence from partisan politics.

If the Senate goes on to confirm Fed nominee Philip Jefferson to the Fed, it would be the first time the board has included more than one Black governor at once, according to research by Kaleb Nygaard at the Yale Program on Financial Stability.

Democrats have been pushing for nearly four months to confirm Cook, whose pick was lauded by bankers, former Federal Reserve governors and top-tier economists but has faced united opposition from Senate Republicans. The central bank’s mandate is to promote stable prices and maximum employment.

Tuesday was the Democrats’ second attempt after senators tried and failed to advance Cook’s nomination two weeks ago by a vote of 47-51. That occurred amid the absences of two Democratic senators who had COVID-19, as well as  Harris.

“Dr. Lisa Cook is the right person at the right time to serve at the Federal Reserve,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing. “Today’s confirmation comes at a moment when the Federal Reserve needs the best and the brightest to help us recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Cook’s perspective and experience is unmatched and will be instrumental in our nation’s recovery.”

A Georgia native, Cook has taught since 2005 at MSU, where she is a professor of economics and international relations. She was named a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in January and previously served as a senior Treasury Department adviser and on President Barack Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisors from 2011-12.

“The depth and breadth of my experience in both the public and private sectors qualify me to serve as a Federal Reserve governor,” Cook said at her hearing in February. “And should I be confirmed, I would be honored to work with my colleagues to help navigate this critical moment for our nation’s economy and the global economy.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the banking panel, for months has urged his GOP colleagues to reject Cook, saying she would politicize the nonpartisan Board of Governors and that she doesn’t have enough expertise in monetary policy, points he reiterated in a floor speech Tuesday. Other GOP senators have called her economic views “radical.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the floor Tuesday again claimed that Cook has “no proven expertise in modern economics” or fighting inflation.

“Professor Cook is a proven partisan who has promoted left-wing conspiracy theories and called for a fellow academic to be fired because that person did not support defunding the police,” McConnell said. “The American people deserve an independent, nonpartisan inflation fighter for this important post.”

Democratic Ohio Sen. ​​​​​​Sherrod Brown, chair of the banking committee, said Thursday that hundreds of prominent economists have sent letters to the panel supporting Cook’s nomination.

“She understands how economic policy affects all kinds of different people in different parts of the country, from the rural South where she grew up to the industrial Midwest where she built her career,” Brown said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has said GOP senators are working to obstruct her “purely for political purposes.”

“Her qualifications are irrefutable,” Schumer said last month.

“Michigan’s own Dr. Lisa Cook has the experience and leadership needed to help strengthen our economy and support families across our state,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “I was proud to support her historic confirmation and am confident her perspective will serve our nation well on the Federal Reserve.”

Inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year, according to a March report by the U.S. Department of Labor, the sharpest spike since 1982. Critics have argued the Federal Reserve waited too long to combat inflation as the board last week raised its benchmark interest rate by a half-percentage point — its most aggressive move since 2000.

Cook at her March hearing said she backed the direction taken by the Fed to counter the highest inflation in decades, but she didn’t detail how she would vote on policy or what other tools she would support using to counter inflation.

In response to GOP questions about her expertise in monetary policy, Cook pointed to her publications related to banking reform and recognizing systemic risk, as well as her doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Cook described her economic specialty as managing financial crises, noting her post with the Financial Crisis Think Tank at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and that she was in charge of managing the eurozone crisis during her time on the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

Cook’s published work has focused in part on policies that boost economic opportunity and innovation, including how tackling inequality can promote economic growth and the effects of gender and racial disparities on wealth inequality.

A 2014 research paper studied patents and found violence against Black Americans between 1870 to 1940 had depressed their innovation, suggesting that political conflict can affect the direction and “quality of invention of economic growth over time.”

She’s also written about supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the area of international finance “in places of uncertainty and emerging markets and developing countries,” she said at her hearing.

Cook in her hearing testimony also said she’d follow the example of economist and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, “whom I greatly admire for his unwavering dedication to a nonpolitical and independent Federal Reserve.”

“My approach to complex problems is to be guided by facts, data and analysis and to work collaboratively,” she said. “I have served in the administrations of presidents from both parties and when I make decisions, I do so based on the facts and not politics.”

Cook’s nomination and other Fed nominations were held up for about a month earlier this year after Republicans on the banking committee boycotted meetings over their objections to one of Biden’s picks, Sarah Bloom Raskin, who has since withdrawn her nomination.

Biden this month nominated Michael Barr, the dean of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, to be the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman of supervision.

Before becoming dean, Barr was an assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions during the Obama administration who helped design the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulations after the devastating 2008 financial crisis.

Barr is also a Rhodes Scholar who clerked for former Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court and served during the Clinton administration at the White House, the Treasury Department and the State Department.

View the original article.

‘Activate Detroit’ Loan Helps Open Bagley Restaurant in Detroit

Michigan Chronicle
April 25, 2022

Never say never to Jamaal Muhammad. Unless you want to see him succeed.

“A high school teacher once told me I’d never go to college and, if I did, I’d fail,” recalled Muhammad, now a college graduate, a high school administrator and a thriving small business entrepreneur in Detroit, Michigan. “I’m the kind of guy who if you tell me I can’t, I double down on commitment.”

Of the 11 children in his family, Muhammad is the only one who earned a college degree – and he did it in less than four years. He’s also the only one who parlayed his cooking talents learned in his mother’s kitchen into a prospering venture called Supreme Cafe.

At his business, Muhammad’s mission is to meet the needs of a community struggling in a “food desert,” where national grocery stores have deserted the area, leaving residents mostly with convenience stores and fast-food eateries to meet their daily food needs. When preparing all his menu items – including sandwiches, burgers, tacos and wraps – Muhammad uses only natural, organic ingredients with vegan options.

Since Muhammad launched Supreme Cafe, it’s been a mobile venture. He’s leveraged catering services, pop-up shops and online sales to make ends meet, while still finding ways to donate food to the elderly, homeless and youth.

Sweat Equity and Passion Attract Unique Funding

Muhammad now has plans to open his first brick-and-mortar location on Detroit’s west side. Muhammad will open his cafe in the Bagley neighborhood thanks to a grant he won from the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s Motor City Match program and a unique loan from the mission-based nonprofit lender CDC Small Business Finance.

CDC Small Business Finance offers an innovative character-based lending program called “Activate Detroit,” designed specifically for small business owners like Muhammad who want more than just capital investment – they want to help their communities thrive. Receiving such financial support at the beginning of 2022 turned out to be emotionally overwhelming for Muhammad.

“I think I cried more than ever before,” he admitted. “I was just so grateful to all the people who believed in me.”

Nimaj Driscoll, the loan officer who helped Muhammad apply for the Activate Detroit loan, was not surprised the young entrepreneur was approved for the financing.

“He was extremely committed to the process, working into the middle of the night on occasion,” Driscoll said. “It spoke loudly about his character.”

Overcoming Bias to Make a Powerful Impact

Indeed, character is one of the unique features of the Activate Detroit loans, developed exclusively in this pilot phase for Black small business owners in metro Detroit (Macomb, Wayne and Oakland counties). Another key attribute is to not consider a borrower’s credit score when considering them for a loan.

Instead, loan experts at CDC Small Business Finance are trained to listen to an entrepreneur’s whole story, with an ear especially attuned to sweat equity, demonstrated passion and a commitment to the business. Working with Muhammad was a perfect example.

As a young entrepreneur he had very little in the way of liquidity, as he had not yet had the opportunity to accrue significant assets or savings. He put all of his extra money into building Supreme Cafe. He also had some personal debt for things like auto and student loans that he was working to pay off.

“On paper,” Muhammad may have been seen as too risky for a traditional lender, but the team at CDC saw his potential. They paired him with Donell Miles, a member of CDC’s Business Advisory Team, to provide free services, including working through his projections and assumptions for revenue.

“Black-owned businesses often have a unique set of challenges that most traditional financial institutions don’t want to take a chance on, or take the time to understand the cultural impact these businesses have in the community,” noted Driscoll. “We realized this left a real void in the ability for Black entrepreneurs to bring jobs and opportunities to their communities. Through Activate Detroit we are rethinking what it means to be a good candidate for a loan by really getting to know the borrower and seeing their potential.”

The key features of the Activate Detroit loan are so different from any product offered by traditional lenders that most small business owners find it hard to believe. They include:

  • Credit scoring is blinded; no minimum FICO score is required
  • A heavy emphasis on the small business owner character
  • No down-payment required
  • Flexible repayment
  • Simplified, streamlined application process
  • Complimentary pre- and post-loan business advising

“In developing the Activate Detroit loan, we had to face the reality that there is racial bias – both intentional and unintentional – in traditional systems that provide access to capital,” said Ellis Carr, president and chief executive officer of CDC Small Business Finance and Capital Impact Partners. “Too often, Black small business owners fall through the traditional lending cracks and are taken advantage of by predatory, high-interest lenders.”

Black-owned businesses rarely get all the financing they’re seeking. It happened just 31% of the time in 2018, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. That trailed behind businesses whose owners identified as Latino (35%), Asian (39%), or White (49%).

And they were denied altogether more often: 38% of the time for Black-owned small businesses, compared with businesses whose owners identified as Latino (33%), Asian (24%) and White (20%).

It’s no wonder, then, that Black business owners are far less likely to even seek a loan than White business owners because they think they will be turned down, according to a recent survey by the New York Federal Reserve. That was true well before the pandemic. When relief funds went out, areas with significant numbers of Black-owned businesses such as Wayne County received surprisingly little assistance. Racial bias has also long had an impact on the many factors that feed into a credit score.

“We wanted to create a product that is anti-status quo,” Carr added. “Activate Detroit is a solution that we hope will be more equitable and inclusive – and will help break a cycle of distrust and disenfranchisement.”

Muhammad plans to use his Activate Detroit loan proceeds to buy equipment and initial inventory for his permanent Supreme Cafe home. He has his eyes on a convection oven, ventilation hood system, two fryers, gas griddle, fryer rack, sandwich prep station and signage. And of course, he’ll use some of the money to pay his seven employees, a team he hopes to grow to 30 or 40 in a few months.

“At the end of the day, I love putting smiles on people’s faces with my food,” Muhammad said “I have a dream and love in my heart for helping people whatever way I can – and being able to use my business to help out my community has really been a blessing.”

View the original article.

Chamber Signs Onto Coalition Letter in Support of Funding the CHIPS Act

The Detroit Regional Chamber signed onto the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act coalition letter. With the support of more than 200 organizations, the letter was sent to Members of the United States Congress.

As stated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in organizing this letter, the demand for semiconductors has outstripped supply and approval of funding provisions would help meet this long-term challenge by incentivizing semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing in the United States.

View the full text of the letter below.


TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

On behalf of the undersigned chambers of commerce and business organizations from across the United States, we urge you to swiftly complete negotiations on the Bipartisan Innovation Act to fund the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act and enhanced Facilitating American-Built Semiconductors (FABS) Act. Doing so is critical to America’s workers and our long-term competitiveness.

Semiconductors are essential to nearly every sector of the economy, including aerospace, automobiles, communications, clean energy, information technology, and medical devices. Unfortunately, demand for semiconductors has outstripped supply, partly due to shifts arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has created a global chip shortage and resulted in lost growth and jobs, in turn underscoring the need for increased domestic manufacturing capacity.

Approval of funding provisions would help meet this long-term challenge by incentivizing semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing in the United States. This will in turn strengthen the U.S. economy, national security, and supply chain resilience and increase the supply of chips so important to our entire economy.

We urge you to expeditiously enact this important legislation.

Sincerely,

National

Associated Equipment Distributors

Associated Wire Rope Fabricators

Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association

National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA)

National Waste & Recycling Association

North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM)

NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry

State Business Executives

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Alabama

Birmingham Business Alliance

Enterprise Chamber of Commerce

Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce

Alaska

Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce

Arizona

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce

Carefree Cave Creek Chamber

Chandler Chamber of Commerce

Gilbert Chamber of Commerce

Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce

Greater Phoenix Chamber

Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center

Mesa Chamber of Commerce

Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce

Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce

Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce

Tempe Chamber of Commerce

Tucson Metro Chamber

West Valley Chamber Alliance

Arkansas

Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce

Rogers Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

California

Brea Chamber of Commerce

California Chamber of Commerce

Carmichael Chamber of Commerce

Fremont Chamber of Commerce

Fresno Chamber of Commerce

Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce

Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce

Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Orange County Business Council

Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association

Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

San Jose Chamber of Commerce

San Mateo Chamber of Commerce

San Ramon Chamber of Commerce

Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce

Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce

Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce

Tulare Chamber of Commerce

Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau

West Ventura County Business Alliance

Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce

Colorado

Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce

Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC

Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce

Florida

Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches

Citrus County Chamber of Commerce

Englewood Florida Chamber of Commerce

Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce

Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce

Orlando Economic Partnership

Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce

Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce

Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce

The Osceola Chamber

Georgia

Barrow County Chamber of Commerce

Columbia County (GA) Chamber of Commerce

Dublin Laurens County Chamber

Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce

Hawaii

Kapolei Chamber of Commerce

Maui Chamber of Commerce

Idaho

Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce

Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry

Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce

Illinois

Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce

Chamber630

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

GLMV Chamber of Commerce

Illinois Chamber of Commerce

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

West Suburban Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Indiana

Greater Lawrence Chamber

Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Nappanee Area Chamber of Commerce

Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce

Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Iowa

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce

Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce Inc

Kansas

Grant County Chamber of Commerce

Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce

Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Kentucky

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Union County, KY Chamber of Commerce

Louisiana

Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce

Maryland

Maryland Chamber of Commerce

Michigan

Detroit Regional Chamber

Holly Area Chamber of Commerce

Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

Michigan Chamber

Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber

Minnesota

Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce

Greater Mankato Growth

Nisswa Chamber of Commerce

Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB

Missouri

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

The Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce

Montana

Billings Chamber of Commerce

Kalispell Chamber of Commerce

Montana Chamber of Commerce

Nebraska

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce

Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry

New Jersey

Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce

New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce

New Mexico

New Mexico Chamber of Commerce

Nevada

Carson City Chamber of Commerce

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Mesquite NV Chamber of Commerce

Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce

Vegas Chamber

White Pine Chamber of Commerce

New York

Capital Region Chamber

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce

North Country Chamber of Commerce

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

The Business Council of New York State, Inc.

North Carolina

Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

Moore County Chamber of Commerce

NC Chamber

Rowan Chamber of Commerce

Triangle East Chamber of Commerce

Yadkin County Economic Development Partnership

North Dakota

Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce

Ohio

Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Euclid Chamber of Commerce

Licking County Chamber of Commerce

Marion Area Chamber of Commerce

New Albany Chamber of Commerce

Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Solon Chamber of Commerce

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

Union County Chamber of Commerce

Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce

Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce

Oklahoma

Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce

Tulsa Regional Chamber

Oregon

Oregon Business & Industry

Portland Business Alliance

Tigard Chamber Commerce

Washington County Chamber of Commerce

Pennsylvania

Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County

Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce

Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC

Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce

Somerset County Chamber of Commerce

Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce

South Carolina

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Edgefield County Chamber of Commerce

Fountain Inn Chamber of Commerce

Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce

Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

South Carolina Chamber of Commerce

Tri-County Regional Chamber of Commerce

South Dakota

Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

Tennessee

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce

Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Texas

Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Allen Fairview Chamber of Commerce

Baytown Chamber of Commerce

Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

Cuero Chamber of Commerce Agriculture & Visitor’s Bureau

Dallas County Manufacturers Association/ Garland Chamber of Commerce

Dallas Regional Chamber

East Parker County Chamber of Commerce

Farmers Branch Chamber of Commerce

Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce

Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce

Grapevine Chamber of Commerce

Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce

Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce

Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce

Greater Taylor Chamber of Commerce

League City Regional Chamber of Commerce

Longview TX Chamber of Commerce

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce

Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce

North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

North Texas Commission

Round Rock Chamber

Rowlett Area Chamber & Visitors Center

Seguin and Guadalupe County (Texas) Area Chamber of Commerce

South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce

Terrell Chamber of Commerce

Texarkana USA Regional Chamber of Commerce

Texas Association of Business

United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce

Utah

Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce

Davis Chamber of Commerce

Payson Santaquin Chamber of Commerce

Salt Lake Chamber

South Valley Chamber of Commerce

St. George Area Chamber of Commerce

West Jordan Chamber of Commerce

Virginia

Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Vermont

Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Washington

Association of Washington Business

Bremerton Chamber of Commerce

Burlington Chamber of Commerce

Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce

Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce

Greater Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce

Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce

Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce

Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce

Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce

Shelton-Mason County Chamber

Silverdale Chamber of Commerce

Tacoma Pierce County Chamber

West Plains Chamber of Commerce

Wisconsin

Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce

Wyoming

Evanston Chamber of Commerce

Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce

Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce


View the letter online from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Rip Rapson

Rip Rapson is president and chief executive officer of The Kresge Foundation, a private, national foundation founded in 1924, dedicated to building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for people with low incomes living in America’s cities, including in Kresge’s hometown of Detroit.

Since 2006, he has expanded the foundation’s grantmaking and investing tools to improve the economic, social, health, cultural, and environmental conditions of city life across the nation.

He previously served as president of the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, where he led early childhood development efforts, created a regional public-private-philanthropic economic development organization, and enhanced environmental protections along the Mississippi River.

He earlier served as the deputy mayor of Minneapolis, responsible for designing a $400 million neighborhood revitalization program, revamping the municipal budgeting process, and elevating the city’s commitment to children and families.