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A Commitment to Cohesion

Michigan can confront and prevail over any issue – as ‘One Michigan’

By Mark Davidoff

Page 12

With the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference upon us, it is a good time to check in on the progress made since we last gathered on the island for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual leadership pilgrimage.

When the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference closed, we embraced a spirit of optimism and enthusiasm about all that was accomplished over the past several years. We felt ready to maximize the next set of opportunities and were prepared to face any challenges.

As is the tradition at the end of the Conference, the To-Do List, which highlighted our areas of focus for the coming year, was unveiled.

During the 2015 Conference, we confronted the difficult and emotional topics of race and the opportunity gap. A commitment was made to transform those learnings into an effort to improve economic inclusion and Detroit’s neighborhoods, all bound in a spirit of entrepreneurship.

Major progress has been made in this arena with the establishment of Detroit as a focused priority for John Hope Bryant’s (Operation HOPE) HOPE Inside Michigan can confront and prevail over any issue — as ‘One Michigan’ By Mark Davidoff Centers across the city, which will help foster financial literacy. The Detroit Policy Conference furthered these commitments, along with a strong belief that as Michigan rises, all of her citizens should have the opportunity to rise with her.

Microlending was identified as a driver for inspiring and supporting small business growth, and efforts continue to establish a new programmatic initiative in this area.

Additionally, Chamber leaders were focused on what appeared to be the primary infrastructure issues facing our state: roads. When Gov. Rick Snyder signed the series of road funding bills in November 2015, we celebrated the fact that we had solved, in a substantive way, this infrastructure issue facing the state.

Then came Flint. Since the first acknowledgements of the depth and seriousness of this issue — and its implication for the people of Flint — for municipalities across our state and for the entire country, there has been global attention directed toward the state. I am sure we would agree; it’s been a painful period. The Mackinac Policy Conference will provide us the perfect opportunity to drive a renewed commitment to cohesion that we identified at last year’s Conference as an essential ingredient to our path forward.

Dennis Archer Jr., our 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference chair, and Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, have an amazing Conference planned. The world will be watching during our time together on the island, and we should maximize the moments to promote our brand, to celebrate our successes and to prove that we can confront and prevail over any issues, as “One Michigan.”

Mark Davidoff was the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference chair and is Michigan Managing Partner at Deloitte LLP.