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Looking back: 2007-2008 results.

It's hard to believe a full year has gone by since 1 took the helm as chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber's Board of Directors. It was an exciting, rewarding and fast-paced twelve months.

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As someone who has spent a lot of time in the arena of public policy, I can truly say the Chamber is a well-respected organization in local city halls, Lansing and Washington D.C. Our agenda for promoting public policies that help the Detroit Region create jobs and grow businesses would not be possible without the access and influence the Chamber has in the political arena.

We ail remember the Service Tax that was placed on businesses as part of last fall's budget deal for the state. The Chamber sprang into action by leading an alliance of organizations dedicated to repealing the tax. Around-the-clock negotiations and thousands of phone calls by businesses helped abolish this tax on job providers.

The Chamber also spearheaded a national grassroots coalition with over 40 business organizations to have Congress pass vehicle fuel efficiency standards that did not further undermine the American automotive industry. Last December, President Bush signed a new fuel economy law that is reasonable, achievable and protects American jobs.

The Workforce Innovation and Regional Economic Development program, known as WIRED, is making the most of its $5 million federal grant. The initiative, led by the Chamber, is aligning economic development strategies with talent development and retention efforts. Two innovative internship programs have been launched to help keep a skilled workforce in the region, which will help transform the region's economy.

A major public policy objective of the business community is to keep the Detroit/Windsor border open and secure for international trade. Federal regulations were proposed mandating a passport for drivers crossing the border. This would have severely restricted the flow of commerce across the border. The Chamber responded by lobbying to allow states to develop enhanced drivers licenses for crossing the border instead of passports. Earlier this year, Gov. Granholm signed legislation creating this enhanced state license. This will help keep the border safe and unobstructed for the billions of dollars of international trade and tourism in the Detroit Region each year.

This past year, the Chamber unveiled its vision for turning the Detroit Region into a global logistics hub for moving people, goods and information around the world. The project, known as TranslinkeD, is designed to leverage the region's transportation infrastructure to create jobs and attract investment in an industry that is expected to grow from $4 trillion to $14 trillion a year by 2020. Progress on TranslinkeD continues as the Chamber maps out the region's air, water, road and rail assets, and brings together leaders in the logistics industry in order to position Southeast Michigan as a major center of global trade.

What all these accomplishments add up to is an organization that is well respected and can get things done on your behalf. As Leslie Murphy--president and CEO of Murphy Consulting--takes over as board chair, I'm confident the Chamber will continue to be an effective voice for business in the coming year.

Some big victories over the past year for the business community immediately come to mind when thinking about how the Chamber is working for your bottom line.

Danel J. Loepp is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and former chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors.
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Title Annotation:YEAR IN REVIEW; Detroit Regional Chamber
Author:Loepp, Daniel J.
Publication:Detroiter
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Words:572
Previous Article:Five ways to wow members: take a look at some of the work the Chamber is most proud of.
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