Detroit Free Press
May 26, 2023
Business and political leaders will gather next week on Michigan’s Mackinac Island for an annual conference aimed at generating new policy ideas to address a range of challenges from child care to housing affordability.
The Detroit Regional Chamber‘s Mackinac Policy Conference runs from May 30 to June 2. It will feature some nationally-recognized speakers such as former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will also deliver keynote addresses during the event.
The focus of this year’s conference is “the Power of &.” The theme isn’t about the transformational power of a punctuation mark. Rather, the conference “will invite dialogue among speakers and attendees on why Michigan needs an ‘and’ approach instead of ‘either or’ policy solutions,” according to the website for the gathering.
Over the course of the four-day conference, Michigan’s state lawmakers, congressional delegation, government officials, leaders in the private sector and academics will network on the island and attend panel discussions such as “Bridging Divides With Inclusive Policymaking”, “How Gen Z is Changing the Game From Strategy to Policy”, “Talent Today & Tomorrow” or “The Intersection of Business & Equity Objectives.”
Which Michigan Politicians are Going?
Along with Whitmer, other statewide elected officeholders plan to attend the conference. They include Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow along with U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor; Bill Huizenga, R-Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township; Hillary Scholten, D-Grand Rapids; Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing; Haley Stevens, D-Birmingham and Shri Thanedar, D-Detroit.
Meanwhile, 101 out of Michigan’s 148 state lawmakers are planning to attend the conference with bipartisan representation from both chambers of the state Legislature, according to a list of attendees.
What’s on the Agenda?
The agenda lays out a full list of keynote addresses and panels featuring more than 90 speakers. Conference organizers say the program will hopefully inspire new ideas political and business leaders will take back home with prompts to consider at least one change that can be implemented immediately along with how leaders will gauge their success.
The events will take stock of how Michigan is faring on a range of issues from its transition to electric vehicles to preventing school violence. But an overarching focus connecting the discussions will be where Michigan is and where it’s going, said Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah.