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Mackinac Policy Conference results: 2008 conference produces Detroit Region's business agenda for building a stronger Michigan.

During the 2008 Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Region's business community identified the top public policy issues that need to be addressed for building a stronger Michigan. Of all the topics discussed during the event, these three issues stood out the most: preparing, retaining and attracting young professional talent, reforming the state budget and embracing the TranslinkeD vision.


"The Mackinac Policy Conference provides a strong platform for the state's business, political and community leaders to address the critical matters facing the region and stale," said Richard E. Blouse Jr., president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "After a lot of substantive dialogue, it is clear where the business community stands on what issues require immediate attention."

Conference attendees voted on a Business Ballot that included twelve issues selected by the Detroit Region's business community through polling and focus groups prior to the event. These topics received the most votes in the following order:

1 Talent, education, attraction and retention

2 Immediate budget reform

3 Elimination of term limits

4 Regional transportation system

5 Alternative energy

From the polling that took place before and during the Conference, a strategy to act on these issues--a business playbook--was created. The Chamber, along with other organizations, is now working to implement those strategies.

The topic of talent created a lot of buzz on the island. Over 70 young professionals attended the final day of the conference and participated in the Fusion track. The Chamber will pull together a Talent Task Force in the coming weeks to build on the momentum around the topic of talent from the Mackinac Policy Conference. The Chamber's WIRFD and Fusion programs will also continue working on initiatives that put the region and state in a strong position to succeed in the knowledge economy.

The Detroit Region's business community strongly believes reforming the size and scope of the stale government's budget is necessary if Michigan wants to compete in the global economy.

"The aim is to align public policies with economic development efforts in order to turn Michigan's economy around. The Chamber and other business organizations will advocate for these reforms with public officials in Lansing," continued Blouse.

The TranslinkeD initiative, unveiled during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, was another subject of conversation among attendees. It envisions turning the Detroit Region into a global logistics hub for moving people, goods and information around the world. The Chamber's efforts are designed to leverage the region's transportation assets to create jobs and attract investment. The Chamber will promote TranslinkeD as the region looks to diversify and grow its economy.

"It is evident from the conference participants the state's weak economic climate is causing frustration among the business community. The issues identified at Mackinac, and the follow-up actions in the coming months, will help address these concerns," said Blouse.



RELATED ARTICLE: New This Year: The State Debate

One of the most highly attended sessions during the 2008 Conference was the State Debate, a first-of-rts-kind forum for some of Michigan's top legislative leaders. Attendees witnessed discussions of the major policy and political reform priorities that were outlined in the results of the pre-conference polling and had the chance to submit questions. From left; Andy Dillon, speaker of the house; Craig DeRoche. house republican leader; Senator Buzz Thomas; and Mike Bishop, senate majority leader.


RELATED ARTICLE: Business Playbook

Development of the Detroit Regional Chamber Business Playbook began early this year with a telephone poll of members conducted by John Bailey ft Associates PR. Results of the poll were given additional depth via two focus group sessions held at the Chamber offices with members. During the Mackinac Policy Conference, members voted on the top five highest public policy priorities. Based on those five, the Chamber created a Business Playbook to implement:

Preparing, retaining and attracting professional talent

* Convene a "Talent Taskforce" to evaluate necessary resources needed and identify a strategy for our region to implement a talent attraction initiative

* Implement a regional internship program that matches interns with openings

* Create a Young Professional agenda that aligns with Chamber long-term strategies for retention and attraction

Immediate state budget reform through structural changes

* Assign Chamber staff resources to advocate for structural reform before state legislature

* Convene a coalition of like-minded groups to develop lobbying strategies around reform

* Issue a report of specific reforms that could save at least $500 million. Incorporate reforms into 2009/2010 state budget

Improvement of our regional transportation system through the TranslinkeD vision.

* Establish a shared vision among regional transportation system stakeholders

* Develop stakeholder priorities in support of three specific projects. Pass public policies that would implement the projects

* Create annual transportation benchmarking process

Eliminate Term Limits

* Support of efforts by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to properly position and time passage of this issue for maximum success

* Communicate to members the negative impact term limits are having on Michigan

* Raise awareness in the general community

Establish Alternative Energy as a new industry in Michigan

* Promote alternative energy adoption

* Market our region nationally and internationally to recruit alternative energy as a new industry

* Explore creation of an effort focused on young professionals related to sustainability



A New Way to Interact

Also new at the Conference this year was Detroiter Online's presence! For the first time, members back home were able to closely follow what was going on at the Conference in real time via a live Web stream of sessions, video clips, session summaries and online discussion on forums.
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Title Annotation:Makinac Policy Conference
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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