Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference Media Coverage > Mackinac Policy Conference to Include U.S. Senate Debate

Mackinac Policy Conference to Include U.S. Senate Debate

May 16, 2024

May 8, 2024
Lily Guiney

The Detroit Regional Chamber announced its agenda for this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference in a Wednesday press conference, which will include a U.S. Senate debate and feature leaders in business, politics and higher education on various panels.

Detroit Regional Chamber Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah and conference chair Suzanne Shank explained that this year’s conference theme, “Bridging the Future Together” was created in hopes of engaging Michigan’s leaders in “mutual respect.”

“We wanted a theme around collaboration and working together to move Michigan,” said Shank, who is chief executive officer and co-founder of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC. “So, our theme is centered on inspiring radical collaboration.”

The conference, which takes place May 28 to May 31, will include the first debate between candidates for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat. Baruah said that the three highest-polling candidates from either party were invited to participate, and the chamber is confirming attendance in the coming weeks.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, actor Hill Harper and businessman Nasser Beydoun were the three Democratic candidates invited to the debate. On the Republican side, former U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash and businessman Sandy Pensler were invited.

“The format will allow both parties to be onstage at the same time,” Baruah said. “We think this is a unique format that really pushes candidates to a broad audience just as opposed to speaking to their base voters. So, it does create a different dynamic, and we’re very excited about that.”

A new speaker was also announced for the conference: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who will participate in a conversation about her tenure in President Joe Biden’s administration.

“We’re looking forward to having a one-on-one discussion with her about her extraordinary career and her leadership of the Department of Commerce,” Shank said. “And, her leading role in the development of many of the policies in the administration, we think, have been critical to our businesses, including the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act.”

The conference will also feature Governor Gretchen Whitmer, legislative leadership from both parties, members of Michigan’s congressional delegation, presidents of the state’s flagship public universities, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Rocket Companies founder Dan Gilbert as speakers, among others.

Full conference schedules and a speaker’s list can be found on the Mackinac Policy Conference website.