Baruah, Tellem Kick Off Mackinac Policy Conference with Call for Businesses to Speak Up on Social Issues; Whitmer Welcomes Attendees, Touts “Blockbuster” Year for the StateJune 1, 2022
Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah welcomed guests to the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference – a unique-in-the-nation annual convening of business, government, and philanthropic leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for our state. This year’s theme – the business community’s changing civic role in polarizing times – is as timely as ever, especially in Michigan.
“We at the Detroit Regional Chamber view ourselves as stewards of an incredibly important Michigan asset,” said Baruah.
This meeting is more important than ever as the state faces “crisis levels” of disinformation and a conflict of identity between a nation of “We the people” and “Don’t tread on me.” We’ve shifted from a collective, unified identity to a spirit of individualism and entrepreneurialism. Unfortunately, shifting the scale to an individualistic nature while we have significant political and societal issues to address can be dangerous.
However, on what he’s most proud of about this Conference, Baruah said, “Civility lives here, and it lives with all of you.”
“We come here to enjoy each other, and to learn from each other, and frankly, make policy fun.”
Next, Arn Tellem, 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference chair and vice chairman of Pistons Sports and Entertainment, engaged the crowd with a compelling call to action for businesses to take action and contribute positively to the betterment of their communities. “Inaction is not an option,” he said.
Recounting the Detroit Pistons’ move to Detroit for more than just basketball games, he shared his organization’s commitment to becoming an integral part of the community and active stewards and partners helping to make Detroit the best it can be for its residents.
“We have made much more than a game-day commitment,” said Tellem. “We moved the entire franchise downtown, building a new training facility and headquarters in the heart of Detroit.”
Tellem also made the thought-provoking connection between sports and civility, noting that sports are also a convener – a microcosm of a diverse society that brings together people from different backgrounds over a common cause. He noted how the lessons learned through sports can apply to business and to life – like how to develop greater empathy and create stronger relationships that build a more civil society. That is why sports will be a common thread throughout the week’s programming.
On the Conference theme, Tellem shared, “It’s our belief that companies should play a more visible public role in social and political issues.”
“If there ever was a time that we need to come together, it’s now. And why not start here?”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also took the stage to briefly address and welcome attendees to the Conference. In her opening remarks, she touted the state’s resilience and economic progress coming out of the pandemic. Despite that positive report, she also acknowledged the challenges ahead for the state on issues like infrastructure, education, and inflation – topics that will be addressed in conversations on the island.
With this first presentation on Michigan’s Center Stage, these leaders set the tone for what is sure to be one of the most impactful, productive Conferences to date.