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Progress through regional collaboration.

Taking the helm as chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors gives me an opportunity to help create positive change for the 23,000-plus businesses we represent across the Detroit Region. This leadership position gives me the chance to harness the momentum of this year's successful Mackinac Policy Conference by implementing the great ideas and proposals identified on the island.

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Once again, more than 1,700 of Michigan's top business, political, media and community leaders attended. Top executives from 550 companies, including 213 small businesses, participated in three days of discussions on the most important issues confronting Southeast Michigan.

A top priority on my agenda as chairman will be ensuring One D continues to make progress through regional collaboration. I am committed to keeping the Chamber as a major driving force behind the initiative, especially for the economic prosperity and regional transit goals of One D. We made great strides at Mackinac to educate the community about One D; now it is time to execute the strategy for transforming regional Detroit.

Another important outcome from the Mackinac Policy Conference was bringing union and business leaders together. It was the first time in the Conference's history that we had two national labor leaders, Ron Gettelfinger from the UAW and James Hoffa from the Teamsters, address the attendees.

It is important that business and labor continue this open dialogue, because the fortunes of both are inextricably linked. While we are working hard to diversify the Detroit Region's economy by growing small businesses and developing new industries, the fact remains that the American automotive industry and its supplier network, will continue to be a major force in Southeast Michigan. Having a healthy relationship between labor and management is crucial to our economic turn around.

The Chamber is entering the final year of its three-year strategic plan, so the Board of Directors will be focused on meeting our objectives from this plan, which include leading the business policy agenda, providing solutions that help members succeed in the marketplace and creating a competitive region that attracts and retains business investment and jobs. We will also map out the next strategic plan.

I will help the Chamber continue to work towards transforming the health care industry. The issue is not only the main focus for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; it is the largest and most complex challenge businesses face today.

The partnership between the Chamber and Detroit Renaissance to create a strong force for economic transformation is formidable. I intend to build on this productive relationship in the months ahead.

All of my priorities have one common thread woven through them-collaboration. The collective fabric of the Detroit Region depends on collaboration, and I look forward to working with the Board of Directors to keep the Chamber a powerful advocate for regionalism.

Dan Loepp is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Chamber's incoming chairman of the board.
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Title Annotation:Leadership
Author:Loepp, Dan
Publication:Detroiter
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:490
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