Community extends a hand to the Detroit Regional Chamber

The Arab American News

July 28, 2016

According to Detroit Regional Chamber President Sandy Baruah, the Chamber’s number one job is to attract capital, talent and business investment into the 11 counties in southeast Michigan.

“Through our efforts and other partners we work with at the state and local level, we are marketing southeast Michigan to the domestic and international communities,” Baruah said.

The AANews Publisher Osama Siblani hosted an event with Baruah and community members at Byblos Banquets on Tuesday, July 26. Those in attendance included Dearborn School Board Trustees Mariam Bazzi and Fadwa Hammoud, 19th District Court Judge Candidate Abbie Bazzi, 19th District Court Magistrate Helal Farhat, City Councilman Mike Sareini, Dearborn Heights City Councilman Dave Abdallah, Garden City Hospital President Saju George, Wayne County  Deputy Chief Mike Jaafar, among other local business owners, lawyers, pharmacists and law enforcement officials.

The Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the region’s oldest and largest chambers of commerce in the country, having served the business community for more than 100 years. With 81 employees, the Chamber is dedicated to powering the economy of southeast Michigan and carrying out its mission through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members.

The local leaders used the meet and greet with Baruah to address issues of concern to local businesses, ranging from education to evolving laws on operating a hookah lounge.

Siblani told Baruah that Arab involvement with the Chamber has been minimal and that the community could prosper from the organization’s assistance.

“We wanted to plug the Chamber into our community and see how we can benefit from it,” Siblani said. “The Chamber has an influence and the guidelines to a final destination with the state and county.”

Baruah told the community that participation from ethnic groups and immigrants was a necessity to the Chamber, as it aims to place Southeast Michigan on the map as a business and economic hot-spot.

He noted that the organization remains bi-partisan, even as it works closely with state officials.

“The policy work that we do is primarily, but not exclusively, at the state level,” Baruah said. “We have a full-time lobby shop in Lansing and a full-time staff at Lansing that is devoted to supporting a broad business-friendly agenda. And I’m happy to say that the lobby shop has been voted the second most effective lobby shop in the state.”

Baruah also discussed measures the Chamber has been taking with Gov. Snyder to provide educational reform to Detroit residents.

The Chamber is spearheading two scholarship programs in Detroit that offer two years of community college and a potential four-year college degree at no cost. The Chamber is looking to expand the program to neighboring cities.

Baruah said the national average per region of adults with a higher degree stands at 60 percent, but in the Southeast Michigan region, it is only at 37 percent.

“It has been a collaborative effort with the governor,” Baruah said. “One of our critical goals is increasing the number of percentage of adults with some sort of higher degree or advanced skill certificate…we need to have the talent to fill the jobs.”

Community members took an opportunity to inform Baruah of the evolving laws on operating a hookah lounge, which started at the state level and trickled down to local ordinances.

In recent years, hookah lounge owners have spent thousands remodeling their establishments to meet state standards, which do not allow food to be served in the same setting as the hookah smoking areas.

Although the law was passed, it was never enforced by either the county or the state, which resulted in many establishments disregarding the rules. This forced local municipalities such as Dearborn to step in and create their own ordinances.

The state law caused a great deal of confusion and led to a decline in revenue for many local businesses, because customers preferred to eat and smoke hookah at the same time.

“You make an investment and in the middle of the game they change the rules,” Siblani said. “And that is not fair. We have so many people who own lounges. When you see how this industry has been dealt with on the city level and on the state level, it doesn’t make sense.”

Councilman Sareini further elaborated on the unnecessary obstacles to which hookah lounge owners are subjected.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “Business owners come to us and say, ‘I’m losing business because I did what the law said.’ A customer says, ‘Well, I want to eat and smoke at the same time.’ So they go to another business that’s not abiding by the law.”

Baruah said he was not familiar with the hookah restrictions until local community members brought it to his attention. He offered suggestions on how to change the law, suggesting a task force be created to draft a new legislation and to lobby Gov. Snyder’s administration for approval.

“It sounds like it has the unintended impact of looking very discriminatory,” Baruah said of the current law. “[A change] sounds like something we can support. If the governor green lights it and says okay, then that’s an easy call for us. If it’s not something he’s approving of, then I have to work the system.”

Local leaders said they plan on organizing a task force and coordinating with Baruah.

To learn more about the Detroit Regional Chamber visit:

View the original article here:

Region’s Leaders Must Work Together Quickly to Solve Transit Issues as Deadline Approaches

This week, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan board voted down ballot language that would bring a proposal before voters in November to fund safe, reliable transit in the region. The vote proceeded a public hearing on the RTA’s master plan held at the Detroit Regional Chamber on Thursday.

Sending the proposal to voters requires approval from seven of nine members of the RTA board, with at least one yes vote from representatives of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. Oakland County representatives Chuck Moss and Timothy Soave, and Macomb County representatives Roy Rose and Donald Morandini voted against the ballot language following concerns voiced by their respective county executives regarding the governance structure of the RTA board and service to outlying areas of both counties, among other issues.

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Chamber, said the 5-4 decision slows years of progress made by the RTA under the leadership of Chair Paul Hillegonds and once again jeopardizes the region’s long-term sustainability and economic growth.

Whether its connecting employees to jobs, or providing safe, reliable transit to hospitals, shopping centers and businesses, a strong, connected regional transit system has been a longstanding priority for the Chamber and its members to compete effectively across the country and ensure future economic growth and vibrant communities. The plan laid out by the RTA is the best path forward, Williams said.

Prior to the meeting, the Chamber, along with a coalition of regional corporate, university and civic leaders issued an open letter to Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel urging them to come together as quickly as possible to resolve their differences so that voters will have the opportunity to vote on a transit plan that benefits all of Southeast Michigan. View the letter here.

Timing of this matter is crucial. Due to state election deadlines, the RTA has until Aug. 16 to submit approved ballot language to county clerks in order to be included on the November ballot. If the ballot language is not approved by the deadline, it could be another two years or more before residents in Southeast Michigan will have the ability to vote on a regional transit plan, derailing Michigan’s ability to compete in the 21st century.

The Chamber urges representatives from the four counties and the city of Detroit to heed the call of the RTA to convene an emergency meeting next week and find the political will to work out their differences so that the master plan can move forward in November. Failure to do so would be detrimental to the state and the region’s bright future.

FLG’s Managing Partner Rami Fakhoury receives nomination from Who’s Who Legal “Corporate Immigration”

Mr. Rami D. Fakhoury, Managing Director of Fakhoury Law Group (FLG), has been nominated for inclusion in Who’s Who Legal’s Corporate Immigration 2016 volume. Who’s Who Legal, a publication by the esteemed London-based Law Business Research, Ltd., identifies the foremost practitioners in various areas of the law and the top private practice lawyers in over 100 national jurisdictions ( Mr. Fakhoury achieved this distinction based on the recommendations of his peers and on Law Business Research’s independent research. The nomination confirms Mr. Fakhoury’s status as one of the world’s leading immigration attorneys. For the past twenty years, FLG has steadily grown to become Michigan’s largest independently-owned immigration law firm. Today FLG specializes in U.S. and global business-based immigration and represents many of the world’s leading brands in the automotive, engineering, health care, and information technology sectors, among others.

Given its growing worldwide client base, FLG has added four offices in California, Colorado, New York, and India to its headquarters in Troy, Michigan. Mr. Fakhoury’s core values of comprehensive immigration expertise and customer-centered service has shaped his firm’s approach to immigration law. FLG has distinguished itself from other such firms by emphasizing technology-driven solutions and Six Sigma processes. Mr. Fakhoury and the Fakhoury Law Group have received multiple awards such as an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, US News and World Report’s Best Law Firms for 2015, and Global Immigration Law Firm of the Year for Excellence by Corporate NTL. All of these awards, along with his inclusion into the Who’s Whos Legal Corporate Immigration 2016 volume, attest to Mr. Fakhoury’s superlative contributions to, and the high ethical standards he upholds in, the practice of immigration law.

For more information, please contact Timothy Braswell at or visit us at

Hitachi Business Finance Announces Completion of Deals Totaling $7 million

Hitachi Business Finance, a division of Hitachi Capital America Corp. and a leader in easy and flexible financing for growing companies, recently provided $7 million in working capital to two companies.

Of the new clients that received funding, the first is headquartered in Michigan. The company provides steel fabrication services and is a supplier to many different industries and organizations, including the US Department of Defense. With their $4.5 million line of credit from Hitachi Business Finance, the company now has a more comfortable cash flow position and plans to pay off existing loans, as well as take on additional work.

“Quite a few companies, in all varieties of industries, have been discovering the need for asset-based lending,” said President and COO Mike Semanco. “Whether it’s been fulfilling a huge order or hiring new personnel, our flexible and tailored lending gives these companies the cash flow assistance they need to take that next step forward.”

Additionally, Hitachi Business Finance was also instrumental in helping a Georgia-based educational provider. After consulting with the owners and learning that future sales are predicted to be at all-time highs, Hitachi was able to offer a $2.5 million line of credit supported by A/R, inventory, and equipment. The company plans to use the money to pay down the existing owner and purchase additional inventory.

“Assisting companies in their growth and development is something we are proud to be a part of,” said Chris Mitchell, regional VP and business development officer. “We know that in today’s market, competition is fierce, which is why we take pride in giving companies the cash flow they need to rise in the market.”

About Hitachi Business Finance
Hitachi Business Finance provides easy, flexible financing to support a company’s continued growth and success. A division of Hitachi Capital America, the company offers A/R financing, lines of credit, and government contractor financing. Based in Rochester, Michigan, with an office in Atlanta, we provide cash flow solutions for small- to-mid-size companies across the United States. Visit or call (248) 658-1100 to learn more.

About Hitachi Capital America Corp.
Hitachi Capital America Corp. is an independent, diversified leasing and financial services company providing financing to commercial businesses and other Hitachi companies in the United States. We offer a variety of asset-based financing solutions with a focus on truck, trailer, and floorplan financing; trade financing; medium/small ticket financing; structured financing; vendor financing; and asset-based lending.

Learn more at

American Society of Employers (ASE) welcomes 20 new members

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, announces 20 organizations joined ASE as members during the second quarter of 2016. The organizations are:

• Greenbright Holdings, a full-service design build firm based in Ann Arbor and focusing on architectural design and build that integrates sustainability and smart technology into residential and commercial buildings.
• Michigan Planners, with offices in Traverse City and Washington, Mich., this employee benefits firm services employer-sponsored and voluntary products and 401(k) programs.
• Detroit Country Day School, with campuses in Bloomfield Hills and Beverly Hills, provides a superior college preparatory education for the scholar, athlete and artist.
• 36th District Court, based in Detroit, is the largest district court in the state of Michigan.
• TSM Corporation, a full-service manufacturer of precision machined components and complex assemblies for the global automotive industry and based in Auburn Hills.
• Dickinson Wright, PLLC, founded in Detroit in 1878, the law firm provides clients with specialized knowledge in more than 40 practice areas.
• Legend Manufacturing, based in Alma and offering all-aluminum structural design and quality built trailers and related products for work and play.
• Wolverine Solutions Group, based in Detroit, provides solutions that support strategic growth, using business-critical communications to help clients connect with their target market, whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer.
• Alternatives For Girls, based in Detroit, helps homeless and high risk girls and young women avoid violence, teen pregnancy and exploitation through a variety of outreach programs.
• OpTech, LLC, a professional services firm headquartered in Troy and providing information technology, engineering, healthcare and financial and accounting services to FORTUNE 500 and government clients.
• Martinrea Jonesville LLC, a leader in the production of quality steel and aluminum metal parts, assemblies and modules and fluid management systems focused primarily on the automotive sector, with a Michigan office in Troy.
• Rempco, Inc., a Cadillac-based manufacturer of precision replacement parts for industrial machinery.
• The Huntington Company, based in Berkley, is a multi-concept franchisor focused on providing the best textile restoration and retail dry cleaning and laundry services in America and beyond.
• Helm, Incorporated, with a Michigan office in Plymouth, serves a variety of industries and supports clients through comprehensive fulfillment, marketing, technology and customer satisfaction services.
• TI Automotive, a valued supplier partner to the world’s major automakers and based in the United Kingdom, with a corporate office in Auburn Hills.
• Dart Container Corporation, a leader in the manufacture of single-use food and beverage packaging products, with distribution across the globe and based in Mason, Michigan.
• Superior Industries International, Inc., the largest manufacturer of aluminum wheels for passenger cars and light duty vehicles in North America and based in Southfield.
• Jackson Area Manufactures Association, a not-for-profit association for manufacturers and associate members located or doing business in Jackson County and the surrounding region.
• Hutchison Sealing Systems, headquartered in France with a Michigan office in Auburn Hills, the company manufactures sealing systems for the aerospace, automotive and heavy truck industries, among others.
• United Financial Credit Union, a full-service, not-for-profit financial cooperative based in Saginaw.

“The second quarter 2016 reflects ASE’s ongoing trend of membership growth in a variety of sectors across the state,” Mary E. Corrado, CEO of ASE said. “We welcome these new members and look forward to assisting them in growing their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people through ASE’s wide array of HR services.”

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization
The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at

Butzel Long adds attorneys specializing in White Collar Criminal Defense, Family Law and Labor and Employment Law

Butzel Long is expanding once again with the addition of three new attorneys Joshua J. Chinsky, Mark E. Crane and Michael R. Griffie.

Chinsky, an associate, specializes in White Collar Criminal Defense and is based in the firm’s Detroit office. Crane, a shareholder, focuses his practice in Family Law and is based in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office. Griffie, an associate, specializes in Labor and Employment Law and is based in the Detroit office.

“We welcome Josh, Mark and Michael as we continue to grow our team to meet our clients’ needs,” said Justin G. Klimko, President and Managing Shareholder, Butzel Long.

Joshua J. Chinsky

Chinsky also focuses his practice on Aerospace and Defense industry matters.

Prior to joining Butzel Long, Chinsky served as Corporate Counsel and Deputy Director, Studies and Analyses, for a Washington, D.C. area consulting company. He also served in the United States Marine Corps as a judge advocate. While on active duty, he prosecuted contested jury trials and served as a legal advisor to commanders, service members, and dependents. He continues to serve as a judge advocate in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Chinsky is a graduate of the Duke University School of Law, where he received the Bidlake Award for legal writing and was an editor of Law and Contemporary Problems. He also received his BA from the University of Michigan, graduating with highest distinction and Phi Beta Kappa.

He is admitted to practice in the states of Michigan and Georgia, and before United States Courts-Martial.

Mark E. Crane

Crane has more than 23 years of experience in Family Law. For the past 12 years, he has been the principal of his own firm.

His primary practice areas include family law, divorce, paternity and custody litigation, commercial and general civil litigation, real estate litigation, tax litigation and appeals.

Crane is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School (J.D, 1993. Cum Laude), where he was Managing Editor (1992-93) and an Associate Editor (1991-92) of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform.

He attended the Detroit College of Law for two years, where he earned American Jurisprudence Awards in Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and Agency and Partnership. He also received honors in Research, Writing and Advocacy; finished first in the First Year Moot Court Competition; and, was awarded the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company Award for receiving the highest grade point average in his class.

Crane earned a B.A. in Economics from The University of Michigan in 1987.

He is a sustaining member of the Oakland County Bar Association, and past chair of the OCBA’s Family Court Committee. He also is a member of the State Bar of Michigan (Family Law Section), American Bar Association and a Fellow of the Oakland County Bar Foundation. He is a Case Evaluator for the Oakland County Circuit and District Courts and routinely appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem in the Oakland County Probate Court. He has provided pro bono legal representation through the Women’s Survival Center, Oakland-Livingston Legal Aid and the Family Law Assistance Project.

Crane is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of Michigan and in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He carries a rating of “AV Preeminent” through the Martindale-Hubbell peer review rating organization. He is certified as a Divorce and Family Law Mediator and as a Collaborative Divorce Attorney. He is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan. He is a founding member of The Commons, a metro-Detroit collaborative practice group comprised of attorneys, mediators, financial advisors, divorce coaches and mental health professionals.

He previously served on the Orion Township Board of Trustees, Orion Township Planning Commission, Orion Township Zoning Board of Appeals, and on the Boards of the North Oakland Transportation Authority and the Paint Creek Trailways Commission.

Michael R. Griffie

Griffie also practices in the areas of commercial litigation, and higher education law.

He joined Butzel Long with a decade of experience in school leadership, most recently serving as principal of the highly regarded Hamtramck Academy. As principal, he managed school operations and oversaw a $6.6 million budget.

In November, 2014, Griffie received the Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40 award for his service in education leadership.

His community involvement has included serving on the Wayne County Ethics Board (2016) where he was appointed by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Griffie is a graduate of Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School (J.D., 2014) and Wayne State University (B.A., English 2005, M.A., Teaching 2007) where he served as captain of the football team (2004).

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

Statement From Detroit Regional Chamber On RTA Ballot Proposal Vote

DETROIT, July 28, 2016 – Today, Detroit Regional Chamber Vice President of Government Relations Brad Williams issued the following statement on the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s vote regarding ballot language for a millage proposal in the November election.

“Despite 50 years of effort to create a sustainable, reliable transit system in Southeast Michigan, today’s vote of the RTA Board slowed progress on this critical need once again and jeopardizes the region’s long-term sustainability and economic growth. We encourage regional leaders to come together as quickly as possible to resolve their differences so that voters will have the opportunity to vote on this plan.”

Yesterday, a coalition of regional corporate, university and civic leaders issued an open letter to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel regarding the RTA vote.

View the full letter attached.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit


Degenhardt joins firm’s Insurance Law Practice Group

Attorney Theodore L. Degenhardt IV recently joined Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, as a member of its Insurance Law Practice Group.

Degenhardt, who is a member of the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office, represents insurance companies in coverage matters, including claims related to environmental contamination, construction defects, product liability, property losses and claims involving allegations of commercial crime and advertising injury.

“Ted is an outstanding attorney who adds further depth to our coverage practice,” said Dennis G. Cowan, Plunkett Cooney’s President & CEO. “He is already involved in some of the firm’s more complex insurance coverage litigation.”

A member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Oakland County Bar Association, Degenhardt received his law degree from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2012. While there, he worked as a judicial intern to the Honorable Judges Victoria Roberts and Paul Komives of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Degenhardt received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 2009.

Plunkett Cooney is recognized as one of the nation’s leading law firms for insurance coverage litigation. Several members of the firm’s Insurance Law Practice Group have been awarded the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. In addition to their litigation expertise, Plunkett Cooney attorneys work with their clients to develop new insurance products and to address emergent theories of legal liability.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 140 attorneys in nine Michigan cities, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms, and it was named by American Lawyer Media’s as a “ go-to” law firm in 2016. The firm has also received several awards naming it among the top workplaces in the legal industry.

For more information about Theodore L. Degenhardt IV joining Plunkett Cooney’s Insurance Law Practice Group, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing and Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008;

Butzel Long attorney Claudia Rast appointed to ABA Cybersecurity Legal Task Force

Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Claudia Rast has been appointed to serve a one-year term on the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Cybersecurity Legal Task Force by the ABA President-Elect. Task Force members are charged with examining risks posed by criminals, terrorists and nations that seek to steal personal and financial information, disrupt critical infrastructure, and wage cyberwar.

Based in Butzel Long’s Ann Arbor office, Rast blends her expertise in law, business, and science to assist companies in their strategic use of technology, counseling clients in the areas of privacy, cybersecurity, data theft, intellectual property licensing and registration, and the forensic preservation and analysis of electronically stored information.

With the rise of cyber events in recent years, her background in forensics, IT environments and security has proved invaluable in working with clients to both defend against and respond to pervasive cyber attacks and to conduct cybersecurity awareness and response training sessions. Similarly, over the past several years, she has worked within both the IT entrepreneur community and the automotive supplier network to negotiate contracts covering innovative technologies associated with autonomous and connected vehicles, to address security, privacy, IP ownership, and new and potential regulations.

She is a Board member with the New Enterprise Forum in Ann Arbor. She coaches technology start-ups in their efforts to connect with management expertise, venture capital, and business partners.

Rast is a frequent national speaker on matters ranging from cybersecurity, privacy, data breach, eDiscovery, and social media. In addition, she has published numerous articles including an online course for CPE credit, CPA’s Guide to Privacy (Bisk Education 2006, 2012, 2014 & 2016), and a chapter on Privacy & Data Breach for Thompson Reuters’ “Inside the Minds” Aspatore Book series (April 2013).

Her memberships include the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, where she has been involved in the leadership of the Section since 1999, including Chair of the Section in 2008-2009, Ann Arbor’s New Enterprise Forum Board of Directors (2008-present), the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Board of Directors (2008-2013), and ICLE’s Technology Training Advisory Board (1998-present). In 2001, she was the only lawyer named as a Technology Industry Leader in Crain’s Detroit Business, and in 2003 the Ann Arbor Chapter of American Women in Computing named her as one of twenty “Top Michigan Women in Computing.” In 2015, she was named by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as
a “Leader in the Law.”

Rast is a graduate of the University of Michigan (B.S., Natural Resources) and cum laude graduate of the University of Detroit School of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Detroit Law Review. In 2014, she successfully completed the four-week online program, “Tackling the Challenges of Big Data,” developed and taught by the faculty of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in collaboration with MIT Professional Education.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms.

Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

Regional Leaders Issue Letter of Support for RTA Millage Proposal to Oakland and Macomb County Executives

DETROIT, July 27, 2016 – Today, the Detroit region’s corporate, university and civic leaders issued an open letter to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel in response to questions over the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s millage proposal for the November election.

“As leaders of Southeast Michigan’s largest businesses, health systems, colleges, nonprofits, and other institutions invested in the future of this region, we are asking you to work through any open issues in the days ahead to ensure that the people of this region have the opportunity to vote on the regional transit plan,” the letter states.

Please view the full letter below:

July 27, 2016

Dear Executives Patterson and Hackel:

As leaders of Southeast Michigan’s largest businesses, health systems, colleges, non-profits, and other institutions invested in the future of this region, we are asking you to work through any open issues in the days ahead to ensure that the people of this region have the opportunity to vote on the regional transit plan.

Virtually all of us signing this letter lead regional institutions. Our employees live across the region. Our facilities are located across the region. Our students come from across the region. Our ability to attract and retain talent is tied to what we have to offer as a region. It takes but a glance at successful regions across the nation to know that the issue before us is one of the most important regional issues of our lifetime.

We have come too far, after too long, to see our best shot at regional transit in a generation fall before the people are able to decide.

We appreciate that you have expressed past support for regional transit, and that you want the time to get it right. That time is short, measured in days.

The weight of this moment is great. We are asking you to come to a resolution of the issues you have raised so that the people of this region, as a region, can have the chance to decide on something fundamentally important to our collective future.

Gerard M. Anderson, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, DTE Energy
Dennis Archer, Jr., Founding Principal & President, Archer Corporate Services, LLC
Sandy Baruah, President & CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber
John Carter, President, Michigan Middle Market, Chase, J.P. Morgan Securities, LLC
Matt Cullen, President & CEO, Rock Ventures, LLC
Mark Davidoff, Michigan Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP
Bud Denker, Executive Vice President, Penske Corporation
Richard DeVore, Regional President – Detroit and Southeast Michigan, PNC Financial Services Group
Shauna Ryder Diggs, MD, Regent, University of Michigan
David Egner, President & CEO, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
Linda Forte, Senior Vice President, Comerica Incorporated
John T. Fox, President & CEO, Beaumont Health
Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman, Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC
J.G. Ted Gillary, Executive Manager, Detroit Athletic Club
Antoine Garibaldi, Ph.D., President, University of Detroit Mercy
Herman B. Gray, MD, MBA, President & CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Cindy Hill, DRIVE
Pamela Iacobelli, President & CEO, CultureSource
Eric Larson, CEO, Downtown Detroit Partnership

Sen. Carl Levin, Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn, LLP
Daniel J. Loepp, President & CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Florine Mark, President & CEO, The WW Group, Inc.
Jean Meyer, President & CEO, St. John Providence Health System
Patricia E. Mooradian, President, The Henry Ford
James Nicholson, President & CEO, PVS Chemicals, Inc.

Rev. Louise R. Ott, Congregational Church of Birmingham
Heather C. Paquette, Managing Partner, KPMG LLP
Roger S. Penske, Founder & Chairman, Penske Corporation
Cameron H. Piggott, Member, Dykema Gossett PLLC
Rip Rapson, President & CEO, The Kresge Foundation
Michael T. Ritchie, President – Michigan Market, Comerica Bank
Andra Rush, Founder, President & CEO, Rush Group LLC
Nancy M. Schlichting, Chief Executive Officer, Henry Ford Health System
Ramesh (Ray) Telang, Greater Michigan Market Managing Partner, PwC
Brad Simmons, Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations, Ford Motor Company
Mark Wallace, President & CEO, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit