Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > 2024 Conference Open

2024 Conference Open

May 29, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • We live in an era of misinformation with polarization extending beyond political issues to basic fundamental facts.
  • Eroding confidence in democracy threatens the stability business needs to thrive and innovate.
  • Achieving transformative solutions that bring jobs, businesses, and population growth and a more prosperous Michigan requires dispelling misinformation and building bridges across our divides.


Stability is Essential for Business Growth and Society

In today’s era of misinformation, American society is severely polarized, which is creating instability that undermines businesses’ ability to innovate and thrive.

That fact is represented by the Michigan Voters Poll released at the 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference, which kicked off with a call for business leaders to step up to combat misinformation and push for transformative solutions that bridge our divides and create a more prosperous Michigan.

“The stability of our society, the strength of our democracy, is necessary for businesses and their employees to thrive. A stable environment enables capitalism. It enables business growth and investment,” Baruah said. “Without this stability, those things are unable to occur.”

Sixty-eight percent of voters are dissatisfied with the state of democracy and also tend to blame “other political figures” as the biggest threat to democracy along partisan lines, according to the poll.

Additionally, only 49% strongly agree democracy is the best form of government, and 33% of voters said it doesn’t matter if our government is democratic, an authoritarian regime could be preferrable, or couldn’t answer the question.

Baruah called on attendees to combat misinformation and encourage people to be engaged and active voters.

“In this changing environment, business leaders have a role to play in combatting misinformation,” Baruah said. “And the fact that you are here tells me, as a business leader, you already understand the outsized role you play in the defense of democracy.”

Bridging Gaps at the Conference and Throughout Michigan

Bridging that information gap is central to the Conference theme of “Bridging the Future Together” and creating a more prosperous Michigan.

“This state is really the epicenter of American commerce in countless ways, so it’s imperative that we team up to push for real, transformative solutions that will bring more jobs, businesses, and population within our borders,” Shank said. “Getting there won’t be through bickering or vilifying. Instead, it will necessitate listening, connecting, [and] expanding. It will require building bridges.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer echoed those sentiments during her traditional Conference welcome, touting Detroit’s continued transformation and Michigan’s economic growth in automotive, manufacturing, and clean energy over the past five years.

“I’m very optimistic about Michigan and our future. We’re scrappy and open for business.” said Whitmer, who touted how the state is embracing last year’s Conference theme, “The Power of &,” by focusing on business and communities, clean energy and manufacturing, and other examples.

She also called on Michigan’s business, government, and philanthropic leaders attending the Conference to recommit building the Michigan we want to see.

“Open your mind to creative new solutions to the problems we are grappling with – and how you can move us forward,” said Whitmer, who will deliver her keynote address on Thursday.