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Detroit Regional Chamber Welcomes Homeland Security Secretary of Jeh Johnson as Congressman Gary Peters Hosts Trade Crossing Roundtable

DETROIT, May 2, 2014 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Representative Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), as well as other high-ranking officials and key stakeholders for a roundtable to discuss the importance of constructing proposed customs plazas at high volume trade crossings like the Detroit-Windsor border. The roundtable came just a few months after U.S. Rep. Peters introduced the Customs Plaza Construction Act to construct federal customs plazas at critical trade crossings, one of the remaining significant obstacles to building the New International Trade Crossing (NITC).

“Global trade is not going to stop because Washington can’t get out of its own way. Border crossings, like the NITC grow in importance every day, as does the cost of inaction,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber. “Congressman Peters deserves a lot of credit for standing up as a leader in Congress and working to ensure the federal government lives up to its obligations to move these critical projects forward.”

U.S. Rep. Peters, who has been leading efforts for federal funding of the NITC customs plaza, invited Secretary Johnson to visit the northern border in January and is working with the Secretary to make customs plazas, including Port Huron, a national priority. The roundtable discussion focused on the importance of these projects and the best steps going forward to secure funding.

“The northern border and trade crossings in the state of Michigan have the potential to make our region a transportation and logistics hub in the Midwest if we make the necessary infrastructure investments now,” Peters said. “We should be allocating resources where the economic utilization will be greatest, where the investment will create jobs, increase exports and grow our middle class. Secretary Johnson visiting Michigan is an important step, and it is my hope that he takes the message delivered here today back to Washington, to the Department of Homeland Security and to President Obama so that we can get the federal funding needed to construct customs plazas in our state.”

U.S. Rep. Peters’ legislation prioritizes funding for trade crossings with the highest trade volume by value of shipments, including exports and imports. The Detroit–Windsor crossing and Port Huron crossing rank second and fourth, respectively, in trade volume for land ports of entry in the United States. U.S. Rep. Peters’ measure seeks to fund these critical customs plazas on the northern border to increase trade, create jobs and grow the economy in the state of Michigan. Funding for both the Detroit and Port Huron border crossings would be prioritized with passage of U.S. Rep Peters’ measure.

For more than a decade, and across several gubernatorial administrations, the Detroit Regional Chamber has advocated for the construction of the NITC as its top public policy priority. Following Governor Rick Snyder signing an agreement between Michigan and Canada to build the bridge, the long-fought battle culminated with the defeat of Proposal 6 in November 2012, which would have amended the Michigan constitution and required a vote on the construction of any international bridge or tunnel in the state.

“The NITC is the most important infrastructure project in North America,” Baruah said. “Congressman Peters and Gov. Snyder continue to show bold leadership amid politics that threaten to delay this project. The investment in infrastructure along high-volume border crossings like Port Huron and Detroit is dwarfed by the amount of global trade and related commerce flowing across these borders. Congress needs to act quickly.”

Joining U.S. Rep. Peters for the roundtable were: U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Detroit), U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), Senator Debbie Stabenow, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, Kirk Steudle, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Deputy Mayor Isaiah McKinnon, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Gil Kerlikowske; SEMCOG Deputy Executive Director Carmine Palombo; State Representative Thomas Stallworth III (D-Detroit); Mark High, President, Canada-U.S. Business Association; Chuck Hadden, President and CEO, Michigan Manufacturers Association; Matt Smego, Government Relations Manager, Michigan Farm Bureau; Bill Storves, Manager of Supply Chain Management, Material Planning and Logistics, Ford Motor Company; Scott Paradise, Vice President of Marketing and New Business Development, Magna International; Pat Devlin, CEO, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council; Mike Jackson, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights; Helena Borges, Associate Deputy Minister, Transport Canada.

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. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit detroitchamber.com.

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