Katila Howard Named 2017 “Five Under Ten” Recipient for UMBA

Foster Swift attorney Katila Howard is one of the five recipients for the “Five Under Ten” Young Alumni Recognition Award for the 2017 Black Alumni Association of the University of Michigan (UMBA) awards gala. The award is given annually to five recent University of Michigan graduates who are recognized by their peers for achievements in their respective professional fields and contributions in the community. To be eligible, the alums must have received an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan within the last ten years. The 41st Annual Reunion of Black Graduates will take place on Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Katila is a member of Foster Swift’s Business & Corporate practice group, where she focuses on matters of employee benefit and Internal Revenue Code compliance. She also works with nonprofit & tax exempt organizations, assisting in matters such as exempt status attainment and drafting/negotiating contracts among other challenges.

In addition to her practices, Katila is a zealous advocate for diversifying the legal profession and mentors minority law students and helps prepare them for their interviews and the Bar Exam. She also speaks to elementary and middle school students from disadvantaged communities regarding the importance of education and perseverance.

Furthermore, Katila is dedicated to increasing access to quality legal and business resources to organizations that may not otherwise have access. In this capacity, she serves on the board of two nonprofits where she volunteers and assists with compliance, fundraising and planning.

Katila has acted as a volunteer for former Michigan House of Representatives member, Rashida Tlaib to help raise voter awareness in the Detroit community. Katila earned both her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Michigan and prior to attending law school, Katila started as an elementary school teacher with Teach for America in Detroit.

Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC is a full service law firm founded in 1902.  The firm employs 100-plus attorneys and over 100 support staff in six locations; Lansing, Detroit, Southfield, Grand Rapids, Holland and St. Joseph.  For more information about the firm, its attorneys and to access recent publications, visit www.fosterswift.com.

Michigan House, Senate Pass ‘Good Jobs for Michigan’ Legislation

Today, Michigan legislators passed the “Good Jobs for Michigan” bill package, Senate Bills 242-244. This is one of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s legislative priorities as the government relations team has continuously urged legislators to adopt all three bills. A leading regional economic development organization, the Chamber leveraged its influential public policy voice as a key advocate for the legislation’s passage.

“The Chamber is thankful for the leadership of Governor Snyder and the Legislature to create this policy that will allow Michigan to compete with every state in the nation for job growth,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

MORE: Read the Chamber’s testimony to the House Policy Committee in support of House Bills 242-244.

Under the legislation, business expansions or new locations that create a minimum of 500 new jobs and pay wages at 100 percent or more of the regional average wage would be eligible to capture up to 50 percent of the personal income tax withholdings of the new employees for up to five years. In addition, business expansions or new locations that create a minimum of 250 new jobs and pay wages at 125 percent or more of the regional average wage would be eligible to capture up to 100  percent of the personal income tax withholdings of the new employees for up to 10 years. There is a cap of 15 projects per year with a rolling cap of $250 million for all projects.

“The passage of this legislation creates a vital tool as the Chamber travels the nation and globe to attract companies to grow in our region,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

This is the Chamber’s second major economic development victory in the state this year, following the MIThrive package that will incentivize transformational brownfield developments in cities across the state.

Detroit Tour Makes Case for Transformational Brownfields Legislation to Lawmakers

Last week, five state lawmakers joined the Chamber’s government relations team and local leaders to explore transformational economic development sites in the city of Detroit. In addition to discussing potential plans and opportunities with major developers, legislators could see the “before and after” impact on sites such as the former Hudson’s department store, Brush Park, Book Tower and the Chrysler House.

Legislators also witnessed the potential impact of legislation pending in the Michigan House of Representatives related to “transformational brownfield” projects. Senate Bills 111-115 are supported by the Chamber and more than 40 members of the MI Thrive Coalition, and are estimated to unlock more than $5 billion in new investment to transform empty brownfield sites across the state.


“Discussions related to legislation are often high-level or theoretical, and it’s easy to forget the real impact bills like these can have right at home,” said Jason Puscas, director of government relations for the Chamber. “A building isn’t just a building; it’s people, jobs, small business, quality of life. We appreciated the opportunity to show legislators firsthand why we believe programs like these are important for the city’s continued revitalization.”

Legislators in attendance included Reps. Leslie Love (D-Detroit), Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit), Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights), Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park), and staff members for Reps. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor).

For more information on the proposed legislation, contact Jason Puscas at jpuscas@detroitchamber.com.

Read more about the change in Detroit:

The Ilitch Touch: Transforming Detroit’s Downtown

Dan Gilbert Taking Detroit to Overdrive

Chamber PAC Endorsements Victorious in National, State Election

Last week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) continued its record of successfully endorsing strong, pro-business candidates at the local, state and federal level. With the Chamber PAC’s support, more than 92 percent of endorsed candidates won their respective races in the Nov. 8 election, including:

  • Nine candidates for U.S. Congress, including the highly contested District 8 race, where Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) won re-election.
  • 51 of 53 candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives, which includes 25 Democrats and 26 Republicans. Of note, highly contested candidate races such as Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.) in the 39th District and Diana Farrington (R-Utica) in the 30th District won their respective election bid.
  • Congresswoman Candice Miller was elected Macomb County Public Works Commissioner.
  • Janeé Ayers was re-elected to the Detroit City Council.
  • Iris Taylor, Misha Stallworth and Sonya Mays were elected to the Detroit School Board.

“The 2016 election furthers the Chamber’s bipartisan efforts to elect public officials who will positively contribute to the success of Southeast Michigan businesses,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber. “All officials elected in this cycle will play a crucial role in deciding the future for the Southeast Michigan economy and will support policies that help Detroit continue to grow.”

Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Millage Proposal

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s millage proposal to connect Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties with safe, reliable infrastructure did not pass. The Chamber was a chief proponent of the proposal’s passage. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement:

“To say we’re disappointed is an understatement. However, we respect the will of the voters and will continue to seek solutions to connect our region and provide mobility to those without access to personal vehicles.”

Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinances

Detroit voters decided how to best regulate and control community development projects with a “no” vote on Proposal A and a “yes” vote on Proposal B. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah issued the following statement on the passing of Proposal B regarding the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) ordinances:

“We thought Proposal B was better and we’re glad the citizens of Detroit agreed. Proposal B strikes a balance between economic realities and the needs of our citizens.”

For more information on the Chamber’s government relations activity, contact Jason Puscas at 248.709.4866 or jpuscas@detroitchamber.com.