Butzel Long attorney Laura E. Johnson named to DBusiness magazine’s ‘30 in Their Thirties’

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Laura E. Johnson has been named to DBusiness magazine’s 2021 Class of “30 in Their Thirties,” which profiles metro Detroit business professionals who have achieved notable success in their respective fields. Johnson is profiled in the June 2021 edition.

Johnson practices in the area of business and corporate law. She practices primarily in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, nonprofit organizations, corporate governance, entity formation and general corporate and business law. She advises clients in venture capital and private equity transactions.

Notably, Johnson is the co-chair of Butzel Long’s Pro-Bono Committee and a member of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She serves as a council member of the State Bar of Michigan Business Law Section. She previously served as a member of OESA’s Young Leadership Council 3 and a member of its Talent Retention subcommittee.

She is admitted to practice in Michigan State Courts, New York State Courts and the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Johnson is a member of the Federal Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan.

Johnson is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 2009) where she was a member of Law Review and Executive Editor (2008-09). She also graduated from the University of Michigan (B.A., with honors, 2006).

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

ASE Releases 2021 Michigan Compensation Survey Results

Troy, Mich. —June 14, 2021— ASE, one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers, released the results of the organization’s 2021 Michigan Compensation Survey. It is the 69th year that ASE has published annual wage and salary data.

The impact of the pandemic, and its resulting recession, created many challenges for employers. While compliance and safety may have taken center stage, employee rewards and wages were also affected by COVID-19. Data from the most recent ASE compensation survey shows that overall wage growth in Michigan, based on a matched sample of companies (referred to as a constant sample) was just 2.1%.

“Our data, collected directly from local employers, shows that overall employers were conservative with their wage increases this past year,” stated Mary E. Corrado, ASE President & CEO. “This was expected given the recent recession and the economic hardships brought on by the pandemic.”

However, the data revealed that some job families increased at rates higher than the overall survey average. This year’s data shows that the Production / Manufacturing job family experienced a 2.8% increase year over year. Light Assembly climbed to $15.14 per hour, a more than 6% increase from the previous year.

Additional Highlights from ASE’s 2021 Michigan Compensation Survey:
• The Detroit area saw slightly higher wage increases. Based on a constant sample of companies, the metro Detroit area increased 2.3% year over year (compared to an average of 2.1% statewide). The constant sample represents companies who reported data in both 2020 and 2021.

• Merit increase budgets, what a company budgets for performance-based pay increases, averaged 2.8% for 2021. This is slightly above levels seen in 2020, and more consistent with 2019 merit budgets.

“Employers of all sizes should take steps now to evaluate their wages and salaries,” stated Corrado. “As employers emerge from the pandemic, they are still contending with its lingering effects – specifically, a lack of available workers.”

2021 Survey Demographics
A total of 301 companies, 57% of them located in the metro Detroit region, responded to the survey, which was distributed to human resource professionals in January 2021. Nearly 40% of the respondents are classified as automotive suppliers, and 461 jobs were reported on. 82% of the organizations that responded have 1-500 employees.

To obtain a copy of the 2021 Michigan Compensation Survey results, contact Kevin Marrs, Vice President at ASE, 248-223-8025 or kmarrs@aseonline.org.

About ASE
ASE is Michigan’s trusted HR partner. ASE is a non-profit, membership organization – everything we do is based on the needs of members and to drive the success of their organizations. ASE strengthens organization’s HR departments by offering member benefits and discounted services that span the entire employee lifecycle including recruitment, development, and retention while minimizing compliance risk. We provide our members guidance through new legislation and workplace issues such as those currently occurring with the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about ASE at www.aseonline.org.

Huntington Bank commits $1 billion in Detroit region for lending initiative for minorities, underserved, small businesses


Crain’s Detroit Business 

By Nick Manes 

  • Detroit commitment part of $40 billion initiative
  • Community Plan to focus on business and personal lending, racial social equity
  • Huntington completed TCF Bank acquisition last week

Fresh off its acquisition of TCF Financial Corp., Huntington Bank on Wednesday announced a lending pledge for minority businesses and individuals that includes a $1 billion commitment to Detroit and Wayne County.

The $1 billion in metro Detroit and $11 billion for Michigan as a whole is part of a larger $40 billion effort by the Detroit- and Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington to “help improve financial opportunities for the consumers, businesses and communities it serves, with a focus on affordable housing, small business loans and increased capital to historically disadvantaged and low- to moderate-income communities,” according to a news release.

“We recognize the crucial need for change, and the unique position our bank is in to strengthen individuals, businesses and communities,” Huntington Bank Chairman Gary Torgow, who was previously chairman of TCF, said in the release. “We are proud that our combined bank is leaning in to help business owners, new homeowners and others create wealth and pursue their dreams.”

The Community Plan announced by Huntington, now the 25th largest bank in the country with more than $170 billion in assets, has four key pillars, according to the release:

  • Racial and Social Equity: As part of the $40 billion commitment, the bank will allocate $16 billion of the Community Plan to minority borrowers and communities to advance meaningful and systemic change.
  • Consumer and Home Lending: Huntington will adopt an affordable housing and consumer lending goal of $24 billion, of which $12 billion is committed to meeting the needs of minority and under-resourced populations.
  • Small Business: Huntington will expand its Small Business lending programs into its new footprint and commit $10 billion over five years, $2 billion of which will focus on lending to minority-owned businesses or businesses operating in majority-minority communities.
  • Community Development Lending and Investing: The bank will commit $6.5 billion in loans and investments to enhance programs and services that foster equity in areas including but not limited to affordable housing, small business financing and community services that provide food security, financial empowerment and workforce development. Of the $6.5 billion, $2 billion will focus on minority initiatives in these areas. In addition, Huntington will continue its philanthropic giving and other support as part of the 2021 Community Plan.

“Huntington and TCF already have shown their dedication to Detroit by pledging $10 million to the Strategic Neighborhood Fund. So, we are especially proud that the new combined bank chose our city to make such an important announcement about its national Community Plan,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in the release. “Building Huntington’s co-headquarters in Detroit and furthering support of the region with another $1 billion pledge to the city and Wayne County is evidence of the bank’s deep-rooted commitment to our residents, businesses and communities.”

Prior to the TCF acquisition, which closed last week, Huntington in September announced a $5 billion lending initiative in Michigan.

“As a growing bank dedicated to supporting the people, businesses and communities throughout our expanded footprint, we recognize the responsibility we have to help improve economic opportunity for those we serve,” Steve Steinour, chairman, president and CEO of Huntington Bancorp. Inc., the holding company for the bank, said in the release.

“Our purpose of looking out for people guides us to be a catalyst for positive change and to ensure under-resourced consumers and businesses have the access to capital, affordable housing and other resources to achieve their goals and to pursue their dreams. Our recently completed merger with TCF Financial Corporation enables us to renew and strengthen our commitment to improving the financial stability and quality of life for people in our local communities.”

View original article here 

Fifth Third Bank boosts investment in Detroit-based First Independence


Crain’s Detroit Business 

By Nick Manes

  • Fifth Third announces new $2.5 million investment in Black-owned First Independence
  • Follows $3 million investment in 2008
  • Larger banks increasingly taking investment positions in minority banks

First Independence Bank, among the nation’s largest Black-owned banks, continues to receive interest from larger lenders amid calls for more economic equity.

The Detroit-based First Independence, a minority depository institution and community development financial institution (CDFI), has received a follow-investment of $2.5 million from a community development subsidiary of Fifth Third Bancorp., according to a news release. The investment, announced on Monday, brings the Cincinnati-based Fifth Third’s total investment in First Independence to $5.5 million since 2008, according to the release.

Federal regulators define a minority depository institution like First Independence as being a federal insured depository institution in which at least 51 percent of the voting stock is owned by minority individuals; or a majority of the board of directors is minority and the community that the institution serves is predominantly minority.

The Detroit-based lender can use the funds from Fifth Third to invest in personnel, technology and physical assets.

“CDFIs are critical to creating and preserving wealth in minority communities,” Kala Gibson, Fifth Third Bank’s head of business banking and chief enterprise corporate social responsibility officer, said in the release.. “It is imperative that larger financial services institutions support these organizations to ensure their viability and longevity.”

First Independence Bank had $323.76 million in assets as of March 31, compared with Fifth Third’s $205.5 billion and 1,100 branch offices in 11 states, according to federal regulatory filings.

Fifth Third executives say in the release that this added investment makes the bank the largest investor in the smaller bank.

“We are proud to strengthen our partnership with Fifth Third Bank through this additional investment. The confidence shown in First Independence Bank will allow us as a minority depository institution to further strengthen communities that we have served for more than 51 years,” Kenneth Kelly, chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, said in the release. “The courage of the leadership team at Fifth Third to increase their investment in First Independence Bank is the epitome of speaking about inclusion and demonstrating inclusion in a tangible manner.”

Other large banks, such as Comerica and Bank of America, have also announced investment positions in First Independence, as Crain’s has previously reported .

View original article here

Eight Local Community Organizations to Receive Community Benefits Funding

Windsor, Ontario • The Gordie Howe International Bridge team announced the distribution of $100,000 (CDN) to several local organizations as part of the project Community Benefits Plan. This marks the second annual funding release from the Community Organization Investment, and will be used to fund eight exciting and unique projects – four in Windsor and four in Detroit.

The Community Organization Investment, one initiative under the broader Community Benefits Plan, is a five-year annual investment allowance with $50,000 (CDN) allocated to registered non-profit or charitable organizations located in or serving residents in Sandwich/west Windsor and Delray/Southwest Detroit respectively. The funds support events, programming and infrastructure improvements that will benefit the communities and align with one of the community investment priorities identified through public consultation.

This year’s recipients will receive funding in July 2021. The projects include:


  • Essex County Black Historical Research Society: Across the River to Freedom: Early Black History in Sandwich, Ontario
  • Border City Athletics Club: Women Can Summit Series
  • The John McGivney Children’s Centre: A Bridge to Play McGivney: New Accessible Ramp
  • Windsor Police Services Community Services Branch in partnership with New Beginnings: Sandwich Community DiverCity BBQ


  • First Latin America Baptist Church of Detroit: Community Recreation Service Center
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation: Delray Bilingual Programs for Family Assistance
  • Unity in Our Community TimeBank: Joyful Movement Outside
  • Clark Park Coalition: Southwest Detroit Winter Carnival 2022 at Clark Park.

The recipients were selected following an application process that ran from November 2020 through January 2021 and resulted in 30 eligible submissions. The project’s Local Community Group, comprised of stakeholders from the host communities, played a significant role in reviewing the applications and providing recommendations to the project team.

As part of this initiative, community organizations can apply annually for funding for events, programming and infrastructure improvements in amounts ranging from $1,000 – $25,000 (CDN). The application process for the 2022 funding cycle is anticipated to open in November 2021.


  • Funding under the Community Organization Investment initiative will occur each year between 2020 to 2024 and is one of over 25 initiatives that make up the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy component of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan.
  • Initiatives that are eligible for funding must align with one of the community investment priorities identified during public consultation on Community Benefits. These priorities include community partnerships, community safety and connections, aesthetics and landscaping and economic benefits.
  • The Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan is being delivered by Bridging North America with collaboration and oversight from WDBA and the State of Michigan.
  • A Local Community Group representing the communities of Delray, Sandwich, Windsor-Essex County and the Greater Detroit Area has been formed by WDBA to act as informal partners during the implementation of the Community Benefits Plan.

Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a lifelong Michigander.  She is a lawyer, an educator, former prosecutor, State Representative and Senator.  She was the first woman to lead a Senate caucus. But the most important title she boasts is MOM. Inspired by her family, she’s devoted her life to building a stronger Michigan for everyone.

Governor Whitmer was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2006 where she served as the Senate Democratic Leader. In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Governor Whitmer won all 83 counties in the primary and won the general election with 53 percent of the vote. Since taking her oath of office, she has put together the most diverse cabinet in our state’s history and has signed executive directives to clean up our drinking water, end discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation and gender identity, secure equal pay for equal work, and expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. She has led bipartisan negotiations to lower Michiganders’ auto insurance and led a bipartisan group of legislators and business, education, and labor leaders to make sure every Michigander has a path to a high wage skill.

Governor Whitmer is committed to solving the problems Michiganders face every day. She has put a bold budget plan on the table that will ensure every Michigander has a great public education and a path to a good-paying job, every community has clean, safe drinking water, and everyone can drive to work or drop their kids at school safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield.

Sandy K. Baruah

The Honorable Sandy K. Baruah is president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, the third largest chamber of commerce in the nation. The Chamber represents the business interests of a region comprising 5.4 million residents and 11 Fortune 500 companies. The Chamber also serves as the regional economic development entity, Destination Detroit, the statewide automotive and mobility industry cluster association, MICHauto, and hosts the nationally recognized Mackinac Policy Conference.

Baruah joined the Chamber in 2010 after a distinguished career in Washington, D.C. He served President George W. Bush as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In this role, he was the chief executive responsible for the SBA’s 4,000 national employees and $18 billion small business loan portfolio. Baruah was one of the senior officials shaping the federal government’s response to the 2008 credit crisis and assistance to the U.S. automotive industry.

In 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Baruah as chair of Michigan’s 21st Century Economy Commission. He is a frequent commentator on local and national media regarding political developments, automotive industry matters, and Detroit and Michigan issues.

Detroit Regional Chamber Announces Arn Tellem as the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference Chair

DETROIT (June 16, 2021) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber announced Arn Tellem, vice chairman of Pistons Sports and Entertainment (PS&E), as Chairman of the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference and First Vice Chair of the Chamber. The Detroit Pistons are the largest subsidiary of PS&E.

“Since coming to Michigan, Arn Tellem has been a visible leader in the Detroit community and an important voice pushing our region to expand economic and educational opportunities equitably,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber. “Arn is a valuable member of the Chamber Board of Directors, and I look forward to working alongside him and the Detroit Pistons team to plan the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference, Michigan’s Center Stage.”

Tellem joined the Board in 2016 and began serving on its Executive Committee in 2017. After a distinguished career as one of the top player agents in the world of sports, Tellem joined PS&E in 2015. The Detroit Pistons are one of the most iconic sports franchises in North America and have supported significant investment in Detroit since their 2017 return to the city. Tellem served as one of the principal architects and negotiators that secured the club’s move to Little Caesars Arena and executes Pistons owner Tom Gores’ civic engagement strategy.

The Detroit Pistons and PS&E have a long history of being involved in community impact projects within the region that support equitable opportunities for economic growth, educational advancement, and recreation. The Pistons are committed to a community and social responsibility mission that uses the game of basketball to inspire change and improve the community through education, health and fitness, mentoring, and equality.

“Sports organizations and corporate leaders are channeling their voices and influence like never before to impact positive change in our communities. Given the challenges ahead, we are going to need to be more active and intentional as a collective group, which makes events such as the Mackinac Policy Conference so important,” said Tellem. “I am honored to serve as the Chairman of the 2022 Conference and look forward to bringing together Michigan’s top leadership to discuss how to reach our shared goals of a more prosperous and equitable state.”

Planning for the 2022 Conference will be conducted concurrently with the final preparations for the 2021 Conference (Sept. 20 to Sept. 23, 2021), led by 2021 Conference Chairman Wright L. Lassiter III, president and chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System. Tellem will lead an advisory committee of Michigan-based CEOs and Chamber leadership to develop the theme and the agenda for next year’s event, which will take place Tuesday, May 31 through Friday,June 3, 2022, on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

The Mackinac Policy Conference – the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual statewide event – convenes Michigan’s most influential audience to engage in collaborative dialogue on the state’s economic future. Since 1981, the Conference has provided a unique-in-the-nation experience for Michigan’s top business, government, civic, philanthropic, and entrepreneurial leaders. As Michigan’s premier policy event, the Conference attracts more than 1,700 attendees annually to discuss key issues facing the state. The Conference concludes with an actionable To-Do List that transforms dialogue into positive outcomes to create a more business-friendly climate in Michigan. To learn more, visit detroitchamber.com/mpc.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out by creating a business-friendly climate and providing value for members. The Chamber also executes the statewide automotive and mobility cluster association, MICHauto, and hosts the nationally recognized Mackinac Policy Conference. Additionally, the Chamber leads the most comprehensive education and talent strategy in the state.

Just Announced: GM President Joins the 2021 Conference

Mark Reuss, president of General Motors Co., will take Michigan’s Center Stage at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference. Reuss will discuss the future of Michigan’s signature automotive and mobility industry, Tuesday, Sept. 21, during the opening of the Conference. Reuss will share GM’s strategy to lead in electric and autonomous vehicles and how the company is transforming today’s vehicles, infrastructure, and ultimately, how the world gets around.

To optimize the event experience for the 2021 Conference, the Chamber announced a 30% reduction in attendance in May. The 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference has reached capacity, and registration is closed. There is a wait list for individuals who are interested in attending but are not yet registered.

Lessons in Leadership with Najah Bazzy


Najah Bazzy, founder and chief executive officer of Zaman International, joined the Chamber to discuss her unique leadership journey from leaving a six-figure salary as a nurse to creating a global nonprofit committed to empowering women to overcome extreme poverty. During the conversation, she explored the importance of prioritizing who and what matters most to fulfilling your mission, as told through her experience building an organization around the transformative power of hope.

How the Zaman International Team Realized Leadership

Understanding the Who
Bazzy began by explaining her approach to lead with the end in mind and determine how to back into that. At Zaman, the “end in mind” is the women it serves.

“Q Zero”
Before you can answer anything, said Bazzy, you must be able to answer: “What exactly do you do?” The answer to this Q Zero keeps organizations focused on their core and helps shape their missions and visions. “At the core is where there’s impact,” said Bazzy. For Zaman, the Q Zero is breaking the poverty cycle.

Bazzy’s leadership style and core mission have been influenced by her background in critical care and end-of-life care nursing roles and the lessons she’s gleaned from her patients.

“We are all term-limited,” said Bazzy. “Every breath counts and every breath we take is leading us in a direction that is forward.”

Why Do We Do What We Do?
For Bazzy, her work is about the need to fix injustice. For the organization overall, it’s because they hope to not only break the cycle of poverty for a family, but also to prevent intergenerational poverty moving forward. To that end, the Zaman team strives to help women go from stable to sustainable and create a repeatable model that can be used to fight the injustices underprivileged women and families face every day.

Zaman’s work started humbly and resourcefully using a van to operate its services. As the organization expanded, its team members became “zig-zag” leaders that learn and see the waters ahead – and the barriers along the way – and zig and zag to navigate them. This approach helped them discover the current operational model to keep all resources in one central location. Zaman’s Client Corridor is one location where clients can come in and find a host of supports to meet their needs from food items, clothing, and household essentials to career training opportunities and more.

To achieve Zaman’s goal to break the poverty cycle, though, entails both the tactile, operational components, as well as a mission-based culture.

“What Zaman is doing is building a culture that provides hope to humanity,” said Bazzy. “We’re learning that the culture we build in our organizations is long-lasting. That’s where the legacy is for any organization. Culture of the organization is more important than the structure of the organization.”

The Role of Hope in Breaking the Cycle of Extreme Poverty

“When people are leaving this world, the one thing you see in their eyes is hope,” said Bazzy.

Every human being has different hope that is constant and innate. When you take away someone’s hope, you lead them to darkness. As a leader, Bazzy sees it as a responsibility to bring people light however she can. At Zaman, the team does not define people’s hope, but rather, nurtures it – whether that’s a winter coat or a career.

“Hope is a strategy,” said Bazzy.

The Importance of Supporting Female-Led Households

The pandemic shed light on a host of inequities, and those that impact women became especially prominent. According to Bazzy, the woman in a female-led household is the beating heart of the family. Elements of poverty act as “clogged arteries” or barriers to their ability to function. Intervening with organizations like Zaman acts like bypass surgery to get the blood back flowing to the rest of the household.

The Importance of Leading from the Back

The decision to lead from the front or back comes down to competence, said Bazzy.

“If Zaman is about me, I will always lead from the front,” she said. “If Zaman is about the mission, I should definitely step back lead from the back and let the team – each of them – to be able to step up to the plate and lead.”

Leaders need to make sure that the competency is there for their teams and that they leave room for them to grow and become leaders in their own right.

“We get confused because we think management is leadership,” said Bazzy. “Leadership isn’t a person. Leadership is a process.”

Leadership is about learning how to build a system that can be recreated for the greater good. Leading from the back helps push teams forward and allows them to explore and navigate toward solutions and desired outcomes.

Leadership Inspiration

Bazzy finds inspiration in all kinds of people, places, and observations.

“I’m inspired by a lot of things. Like the mother who can build her nest and create a home for her babies – that blows my mind,” said Bazzy.

A specific leader that comes to mind is a saint in Bazzy’s religious tradition – the son-in-law and nephew of the prophet Muhammed. The story of this saint informs Bazzy’s approach of ethical leadership at Zaman – to put the people they serve above themselves.

“When it’s about you, we’re all in trouble. When it’s about we, we all are lifted,” said Bazzy.

Development of Leadership Style

Bazzy credits her leadership style to growing up in the kitchen.

“There’s something very powerful about raising kids in the kitchen,” she said.

Working in the kitchen entails problem-solving, strategizing, prioritizing, and more – skills that have been instrumental to Bazzy’s leadership style. She learned how to mold things and how to create something out of multiple ingredients.

In closing, Bazzy shared, “We need to start from zero arrogance and understand that there’s always something to learn. There could be power structures at play, but it’s our job to just bring our best self.”

Learn more about Bazzy and Zaman International’s work at zamaninternational.org.