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Detroit Regional Chamber unveils agenda for 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference


By Dustin Block

April 30, 2013

DETROIT, MI – Cultural change, jobs and the 21st Century global market are the themes of the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference.

The annual conference, hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, runs May 29-31 this year. DRC CEO Sandy Baruah and conference chair Joseph Welch, chairman, president and CEO, ITC Holdings Corp., unveiled the agenda Tuesday in Downtown Detroit.

Keynote speakers include ex-Florida governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, BET TV founder Robert L. Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who will talk about immigration reform, and Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, who will challenge Michigan to take on education reform.

Major panels will focus on early childhood education, the customer experience in health care, bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., closing the gap between education and jobs, and a world economic view from Michigan.

Top Republican and Democratic leaders from the Michigan Legislature will meet together to talk about current state issues. Reps. Jase Bolger and Tim Greimel, and Sens. Randy Richardville, and Gretchen Whitmer will share the stage.

Auto industry panels include John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam Corp., moderating a discussion on Michigan’s auto suppliers, and John Murphy, lead U.S. Auto Analyst and Managing Director, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will talk about the recovering auto industry. MICHAuto will host a panel on continuing the auto industry’s recovery.

On the lighter side, the 2013 conference includes something called “Summerfast: A Night of NASCAR Thrills” and an ice cream social at the renovated Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor.

Noticeably absent from this year’s conference is the “Big Four” panel featuring the heads of Detroit, Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County. The panel was cancelled after Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson announced he couldn’t attend the conference. Patterson is recovering from major injuries sustained in a car accident.