Business and Economic Leaders: Government Does Well When It Invests in People

The role of government at the local, state and federal level is not to fix every problem. That responsibility falls largely on the ingenuity of its citizens. However, in removing barriers to regulation, the government can lay the foundation for a more prosperous economy that serves all citizens. That was the key message a panel of business, economic and government experts reiterated during the University of Michigan Dearborn’s Executive Speaker Series on Oct. 11.

The panel, titled “What Really Drives the Economy?” featured Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, AT&T Michigan President David Lewis, Paul Traub, senior business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and state Rep. Patrick Green (D-Warren).

“The role of government is to set a regulatory environment, not to create jobs. It is critically important for government to set the foundation where jobs can be created. The debate is how much and how should government be involved,” Baruah said. “Government creates a common set of rules, i.e., quality standards, minimum wage, safety standards, etc. How much government does beyond that is up to the people.”

Baruah said consistency in policy practice is critically important.

“Every time we have a change in the presidency, we go through a whiplash that is not good for business,” he said. “States must have relatively consistent economic development policies over multiple administrations.”

Traub agreed, adding that the role of state and local government is to create an environment where business want to flock to.

“Uncertainty is not good. The role of local government, whether it is funding infrastructure or leveling the playing field for business development, can keep the waters less choppy.”

Pointing to Detroit’s recovery from bankruptcy as a positive example of government intervention, Baruah said he does not believe the city would have experienced a renaissance without the leadership of Gov. Rick Snyder and others.

“The Governor took a huge risk and Detroit and Michigan are better because of it,” he said.

Panelists said one area where they would like to see more government intervention is in education policy and investing in the state’s talent.

“State support for higher education has dropped dramatically. That is a problem when we’re engaged in a war for talent,” Baruah said.

Other Key Takeaways:

  • Taxation rates are a value proposition for business. They are like buying a car. You can’t charge Cadillac taxation rates but provide poor services.
  • AT&T is ready to invest in 5G technology in Michigan but the regulatory environment cannot be too restrictive. “The more you regulate, we aren’t going to sit idly by,” Lewis said.
  • Michigan must become more offensive when it comes to keeping manufacturing jobs in the state. There are 250,000 fewer people working in Michigan than there were in 2010.
  • The adaption period of groundbreaking technology is getting shorter and the flexibility of government and business will be critical to the state’s competitiveness.
  • The easier government can make it for people to gain 21st-century skills, the better society will be, whether that is lowering barriers to higher education access or providing reskilling incentives for employers.
  • There is a role for government to play in infrastructure investment and widespread broadband internet accessibility. Similar to electricity and the interstate highway system, the government must step up and invest in services that benefit all people.
  • While elected leaders create policy, it is up to the people to elect individuals who will serve their best interest.

The Kresge Foundation Grants $450,000 to Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation to Improve College Readiness, Access and Success

The Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation today announce new funding to launch a comprehensive plan and campaign to increase postsecondary education attainment in Southeast Michigan. The $450,000 grant from Kresge will urgently address a crisis, as part of the Chamber’s Forward Detroit regional economic development and competitiveness strategy.

Under the Chamber’s direction, the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact represents a collective commitment by leaders in education, business, philanthropy, government and the nonprofit community to address an ongoing barrier to economic development – the lack of residents without higher education credentials or college degrees compared to peer regions across the country. Increasing the number of students who remain enrolled and graduate from a college or university is a key focus of Detroit Drives Degrees, a program started by the Chamber in 2015 to increase college attendance and, ultimately, graduation.

According to Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information, 73 percent of the region’s high school graduates enroll in college within 12 months of graduating but only 35 percent of those graduates earn a degree or credential within six years. The majority of high schools in the city of Detroit have graduating classes with less than 10 percent of students going on to earn a four-year credential, impacting the entire region.

“The Kresge Foundation’s grant allows the Chamber to both develop and implement a strategic blueprint to bolster postsecondary attainment throughout the region. Philanthropic partners like Kresge play a key role in helping us reach our goal of increasing individuals with postsecondary degrees from 43 to 60 percent by 2025,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber.

“We want to help Detroit fulfill its workforce needs using its own homegrown talent,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “Detroiters are hungry for the opportunity to get to work, and this initiative will help ensure they’re equipped with the skills, education and credentials required to do just that. We know a postsecondary education is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to move into the economic mainstream, and we’re proud to partner with the Chamber to help more Detroiters and people from across the region get that education.”

The Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council, led by Co-chairs Daniel Little, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Richard Rassel, chairman of Butzel Long, represent 35 cross-sectional leaders from the business, government and academic sectors throughout the region and will serve as signatories for the Compact.

During the next three years, the Chamber will work with the Leadership Council to designate regionwide improvement goals on key attainment metrics and will regularly track and publicize progress on these goals. The Detroit Drives Degrees Compact will address each stage of the talent development pipeline: college readiness, college access, college success and transition to the workforce.

The following will serve as key milestones in the development of the plan:

  • Publish an inaugural “State of Education” report to assess the Detroit region’s education ecosystem.
  • Develop and ratify benchmarks, which will form the basis of the Detroit Drives Degrees Compact. 
  • Cultivate public awareness and continued accountability for achieving the annual benchmarks through media, events and grassroots outreach.
  • Identify and implement key strategies to promote student success through the guidance of regional higher education institutions and other partner organizations.

Kresge’s support comes from its national Education Program and its Detroit Program.

Clayton and McKervey establishes accounting scholarship in honor of Kevin McKervey, CPA

International certified public accounting and business advisory firm Clayton & McKervey, located in metro Detroit, has established a scholarship at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in honor of former firm president, Kevin McKervey, who passed away on March 13, 2016. The scholarship was announced by Clayton & McKervey President Rob Dutkiewicz, CPA, who has led the firm since McKervey’s passing.

“The Kevin H. McKervey Memorial Scholarship will create a permanent remembrance of Kevin while providing ongoing support for accounting students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business,” Dutkiewicz said. “The scholarship addresses two of his long held passions: investing in the next generation and supporting the U of M Dearborn College of Business.”

McKervey joined Clayton & McKervey in 1990, serving as president for four years after the retirement of Don Clayton. Prior to being named president, McKervey led the firm’s international practice and was instrumental in the firm’s growth and development.
In addition, McKervey served on the U of M Dearborn College of Business Dean’s Board of Advisors for 15 years. He received the University’s Award for Professional Growth and Scholarship in 2009 and was named the College of Business Alumnus of the Year in 2012.

To be eligible for the Kevin H. McKervey Memorial Scholarship, candidates must be working accounting students who have demonstrated leadership skills, possess a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or above, and are pursuing their first career. Additional details on the scholarship are available on the U of M Dearborn website. The inaugural scholarship will be awarded at the UMD Honors Banquet in the fall.

About Clayton & McKervey

Clayton & McKervey is a full-service CPA firm helping middle-market entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace. The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world.

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