Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Take Effect, Supreme Court To Hold Hearings on ‘Adopt and Amend’

Michigan’s new minimum wage and paid sick leave laws have taken effect. Member companies are encouraged to carefully review the new laws to ensure they are in compliance.

Minimum Wage

  • Effective today, the minimum wage has increased to $9.45. The minimum wage will increase again in 2020 to $9.65, and will continue to increase annually until ultimately reaching $12.05 an hour in 2030.
  • The minimum wage for tipped employees remains 38 percent of the minimum wage, resulting in a four cent increase an hour.
  • Employers are only required to pay minors 16 to 17-years-old 85 percent of the minimum wage rate, increasing from $7.86 an hour to $8.03 an hour.

Paid Sick Leave

  • The newly adopted paid sick leave law generally provides for workers to receive one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked up to a maximum of 40 hours a year. The new law only applies to businesses who employ 50 or more employees, as defined by the statute.
  • Review a detailed FAQ released by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

‘Adopt and Amend’ Strategy Undergoing Review – What Happens Next?
After successfully advocating for amendments to the original petition language late last year, the Detroit Regional Chamber has been working diligently as part of the Small Business for a Better Michigan Coalition to ensure these new requirements continue to adequately address the needs of small businesses across the state.

Request for Supreme Court to Weigh In
In January, Sen. Stephanie Chang asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to issue an advisory opinion on the constitutionality of the “adopt and amend” process used to pass the legislative amendments to the adopted proposals. In response, the Michigan Legislature has requested the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue and the attorney general has stated she will hold off on releasing her own opinion until the Supreme Court responds to the Legislature’s request.

Supreme Court to Hold Hearings
The Supreme Court weighed in and announced it will hold oral arguments in July on the requests from the House and Senate for an advisory opinion regarding the constitutionality of the “adopt and amend” strategy used on both the Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave laws.
The Chamber will continue to support the adopted amendments in order to maintain Michigan’s competitive business environment and will keep members updated as the process continues.

Winners Announced for Detroit Drives Degrees 2019 Race to the FAFSA Challenge

The Detroit Regional Chamber Detroit Drives Degrees’ annual “Race to the FAFSA Line” challenge was started three years ago to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne county to 65 percent and encourage them to take the next step to postsecondary education.

This year, 81 schools and more than 8,000 students in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne county participated in the challenge. Combined these students will receive an estimated $65.4 million in aid for completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The winners of this year’s challenge include:

  • Grand Prize Winner for Overall Most Improved FAFSA Completion: Detroit International Academy for Young Women for 49 percent improvement.
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Medium Schools: Romulus Senior High School for 14 percent improvement.
  • Most Improved FAFSA Completion for Large Schools: Grosse Point South High School for 11 percent improvement.
  • Most Innovative FAFSA Completion Strategy: Frontier International Academy for 84 percent overall completion rate.
  • Highest Overall FAFSA Completion Rate: Taylor Preparatory High School for 128 percent completion.*

The challenge was a collaborative effort involving the following partners: Detroit College Access Network (DCAN), Detroit Public Schools Community District, Macomb Intermediate School District, Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Wayne RESA, and several local college access networks. The challenge was supported by The Detroit Pistons, DTE Energy, Emagine Entertainment, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, Independent Bank, the Michigan Association of State Universities, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

*The FAFSA completion rate is calculated using the total number of completed FAFSAs and the total number of seniors in a class. The rate can be over 100 percent of students filling out the FAFSA for the first time are 19 years old and no longer in high school, as so in the case at Taylor Preparatory High School.

Member of the Month: FCA Invests $4.5 B In Michigan Plant Expansion

Editor’s note: The member of the month highlights a Detroit Regional Chamber member company working to grow the regional economy through innovative leadership, programs, or support of policies that benefit the business community atlarge.

FCA was selected as the member of the month for March 2019 because of their announcement to invest $4.5 billion to expand production capacity in Michigan, including building the first new assembly plant within the city of Detroit in nearly three decades. This plan is expected to create nearly 6,500 new jobs, increase capacity at five facilities across Southeast Michigan, and add electric and three-row Jeeps to production plans.

The Warren Truck plant will be retooled for the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, and continue to build the Ram 1500 Classic; Jefferson North Assembly Plant will be modernized to build the Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee; and the reborn Mack Avenue Engine Complex will build the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as an all-new three-row full-size Jeep SUV.

Other investments include $119 million to move Pentastar engine production from Mack I to the Dundee Engine plant, $400 million for increased capacity, and 80 new jobs at the Sterling and Warren stamping plants. Mike Manley, chief executive officer, FCA N.V., said that these updates allow Jeep to enter “white space segments” that will help the company grow and enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles.

This announcement is a significant investment in Southeast Michigan’s potential as the leader of next generation mobility. As the automotive industry continues to evolve, Detroit remains at the forefront of this change.

MICHauto Convenes Investors to Discuss Mobility Ecosystem at 2019 Annual Meeting

“MICHauto was the first statewide program to highlight the importance of connected vehicles and next-generation autonomous vehicles,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, during the 2019 MICHauto Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Baruah noted collaboration between the business, government, and education communities as a cornerstone for bolstering Michigan’s position as a global force in the industry and announced a more than half a million dollar Chamber investment to support the program’s statewide expansion and branding efforts.

Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Chamber, followed with MICHauto’s strategic vision rooted in talent, policy, awareness, and next-generation mobility. Stevens outlined the program’s path forward as a key component toward reaching economic prosperity in Michigan.

“Many of us have heard for many years that we need to diversify away from the auto industry,” Stevens said. “We would argue that the greatest platform we have for diversification is the auto industry.”









View Baruah and Stevens’s slides from their presentations here.


  • MICHauto unveiled the 2019 Michigan Is Automobility Report. From Michigan’s global impact and talent pipeline to education initiatives and legislative updates, the report offers updates and detailed data on Michigan’s evolving automotive ecosystem. Download the full report.
  • In a keynote address, Magna International’s Jim Tobin discussed the innovative future of mobility and how Michigan can be a leader. From building the next-generation talent pool with career-ready educational programming to upskilling existing employees, the future of the automotive industry will rely on communication, coordination, and cooperation between stakeholders. Read more.
  • In a panel discussion with New Economy Initiative’s Pamela Lewis, Magna International’s Jim Tobin, and Ford X’s Kristin Welch, The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes moderated a timely conversation on the intersection between the traditional automotive industry and startup culture, leveraging Michigan’s robust mobility assets to drive job access, and drawing out-of-state and local talent. Read more. 
  • Mark Montone, executive director of business development for Lacks Enterprises Inc., was awarded MICHauto’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his long-standing support of MICHauto initiatives and his active presence in the automotive industry.

Industry Collaboration Panel: Moving the Michigan Mobility Needle

During MICHauto’s 2019 Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 29 at the Detroit Athletic Club, The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes moderated a discussion on industry collaboration between New Economy Initiative’s Pamela Lewis, Magna International’s Jim Tobin, and Ford X’s Kristin Welch.

“I have the unique experience of working on the technology and OEM side,” said Welch in discussing the intersection between startup culture and traditional mobility. Ford X is creating a safe space for startups within OEM, she said.

While startup culture has an ethos of risk-taking, traditional automobility tends to be more regulated because of its complicated nature. But the industry can still take smart risks, Tobin said.

“Failure will be there, but fail fast, fail cheap,” he said. “Let’s have a funnel of many opportunities but let’s get to a point where it’s not going to a be an expensive failure.”

Fifteen years ago, this encouraging attitude toward entrepreneurship was not present, Lewis said. However, today the dynamic has changed, and innovation is encouraged.

With next-generation mobility technology underway, Lewis emphasized the importance of fostering access to the industry. She called on increased diversity during conversations about the future. Innovation in mobility assets should also be used to remove barriers in workforce readiness and job access. She pointed to the insights of “experiential experts,” like residents who take the bus for example, as critical to dialogue.

“How can we influence the mobility conversation on how assets can increase job access?” she asked the audience.

With her West Coast startup experience, Welch praised Southeast Michigan’s community-oriented and collaborative culture in the automotive industry.

“People don’t know to come here, but let’s show them,” she said. “We need more trumpet blowing.”

At the same time, it’s necessary to draw talent from the local region itself.

“I’d like to think that we’re growing from our own crop of the workforce and not having to convince others to come to us,” Welch said.

With continuing partnerships and the support of various sectors, like universities, corporations, and more, along with legislative support, Michigan can build an even stronger automotive ecosystem and become a global leader in next-generation mobility.

“In order to get to the next level, the state has to be a key part,” Tobin said.

Jim Tobin: Driving the Future of Michigan Mobility Requires Collaboration

“A car doesn’t use technology; a car is technology,” said Jim Tobin, chief marketing officer and president of Magna Asia and Magna International in his keynote address at MICHauto’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Speaking from 39 years of experience, Tobin told attendees that the automotive and mobility industry is the most complex.

“As we go forward, there is going to be exponential change,” he said.

From automation to electrification and beyond, the industry is rife with potential technological growth, but the question remains: when are these innovations going to hit the mainstream?

Tobin said, not for a while. In the midst of disruption, the industry should also consider factors such as affordability and infrastructure. He stressed the importance of collaboration between various sectors —government, industry, and academia.

“The value of partnerships to pool resources and knowledge to attack challenges is critical.”

According to Tobin, by 2030 there will be an estimated 70 million vehicles with electrified powertrain and the market size will increase to approximately $80-95 billion. With this projected boom in the industry, Michigan can be a leader by leveraging great automotive minds, pooling resources for better alignment, and appointing an auto czar — or advocate — in Lansing.

The next 10 years will be critical for Michigan, said Tobin, and education is a key factor that will drive Michigan’s automotive and mobility needle.

“We need to create awareness early enough in life that children know that there are opportunities in the auto industry.”

Tobin said drawing the next-generation talent pool includes changing the conversation from “college-ready to career-ready,” connecting with students from K-9, including basic hand tools training in the education system, and allowing high school students to enter pre-apprenticeship programs.

The factories of the future will also work to upskill employees in their current plants. It’s not enough to just pay attention to technology; the industry must analyze how the existing infrastructure will handle what’s going to happen down the road.

“How can we use MICHauto to make sure the state of Michigan is the go-to moving forward,” Tobin said. “No one company is going to do it on their own. We need communication, coordination, and cooperation. Where do we want to take this industry?”









View Tobin’s slides from the presentation here.

ArcelorMittal Partnership Driving Jobs, Investment for Our Region

Last month, ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks celebrated a ribbon cutting for its new facility on Detroit’s east side, bringing an $83 million investment and 120 new jobs to Michigan. The Detroit Regional Chamber was a key partner in the company’s decision to move to the Detroit region and served as the initial contact and project manager throughout the process.

Bringing New Technology Into the Detroit Region
The addition to the I-94 Industrial Corridor, Arcelor Mittal brings new lightweighting and high-strength materials technology into the North American automotive market that will make vehicles safer and more fuel efficient. Three months after initial engagement, the global steel company quickly understood why the Detroit region was the perfect market to house its tailored blanks division, as opposed to Ohio or Ontario. Bringing the company to Michigan is a testament to the collaborative effort of the Chamber and its partners, from the city of Detroit and Detroit Economic Growth Corp., DTE Energy and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“The Chamber aligned us with the right people to make it more favorable than any other location, among other things helping line up city and state incentives, including funding to improve the stretch of road between the plant and I-94,” said Mike Clark, director of purchasing for the ArcelorMittal subsidiary.

Serving as a Connection Point
The Chamber moved quickly to access ArcelorMittal’s needs, connect them to appropriate public and private partners, address any concerns, vet real-estate options, coordinate incentive negotiations with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), and support the utility assessment with DTE Energy. These efforts were critical to securing the project for Southeast Michigan.

“Our role is on the front end with developing opportunities, making the business case for our region, and serving as project manager,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Chamber. “After the project is actually secured, the work to get a facility up and running continues for months afterword with the support of local municipalities, utilities and private partners.”

Engaging Partners to Cross the Finish Line
Once site selection was determined on the Mount Elliott facility, the city of Detroit took over the day-to-day management associated with building site inspections and approvals, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. (DEGC) assisted the company with the local tax abatement process.

The next 15 months were spent with numerous partners and organizations to bring the facility to reality. Forward Detroit investor DTE Energy, a key partner in the project, had one of the largest lifts.

“Once ArcelorMittal had decided on the Detroit region and the Detroit Regional Chamber engaged us in the process, we had to address complex issues to get infrastructure there within a proper timeline for the client,” said Robert Feldmann, Executive Director for DTE Energy. “We were happy to assist with bringing a world-class company to the Detroit region.”

During the ribbon cutting, Mayor Mike Duggan recognized all the partners for their contribution to bringing more opportunities to the region and state.

Read more on ArcelorMittal’s move to the Detroit region

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Harris at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Great Lakes Metro Chambers Convene On the USMCA, Soo Locks, and More

The Detroit Regional Chamber and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition met with members of Congress and their staff during a two-day fly-in to Washington D.C. last week to discuss the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Soo Locks, and immigration.

During the visit, the Coalition met at the White House with staff from the National Economic Council and the Department of Energy. The Coalition emphasized the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in providing funding to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress towards long-term goals. President Trump’s new budget proposed cutting funding for this initiative by 90 percent.

A later meeting with Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney placed a heavy importance on supporting the USMCA. The USMCA is the renegotiated trade agreement made between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Highlights from the agreement include adding new chapters that cover digital trade, anti-corruption, and good regulatory practices; new protections for U.S. intellectual property; and improving rules of origin for automobiles, trucks, and other products. This new agreement will go to Congress for approval before the end of the year.

In a meeting with Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI 1), the Coalition discussed ongoing repairs to the Soo Locks — one of the world’s busiest waterway crossings, handling 75 million tons of commerce annually and saving the Great Lakes region $3.5 billion a year on transportation costs. Last year, President Trump approved a federal grant of roughly $21 million that will go to repairing this crucial waterway.

Meetings were also held with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 19) on immigration and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on the Coalition’s comprehensive agenda. At the end of the fly-in, the Coalition hosted a reception for the entire Great Lakes delegation and their staff.

For more information on the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, visit

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Address to the Business Community: Focusing on the Fundamentals

“We’ve got to get the fundamentals right first. No one is going to invest in Michigan if we don’t invest in ourselves,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

On Thursday, March 14, Gov. Whitmer spoke for the first time to the Detroit Regional Chamber members at a luncheon hosted by the Chamber at MGM Grand Detroit. The event was a part of the governor’s Road to Opportunity Tour and follows her first state budget proposal to the Michigan Legislature. The event offered regional businesses the opportunity to learn more about the 2020 state budget proposal and the governor’s vision of collaborating with the business community to accomplish her priorities for Michigan and its citizens.

From the broken roads to the skills gap, the governor addressed critical issues facing the state and the need to drive change at the foundational level in order to move forward. Michigan ranks 46 out of the 50 states when it comes to per capita spending on roads. The governor said that when it comes to education, Michigan is at a crossroads—the state was last in education revenue growth funding between 1995 and 2015.

“I didn’t get elected to manage the decline of the state I love,” she said.

Her priorities for the state and its residents are aligned with fundamental improvements to roads, education, skills attainment, and drinking water. She called for strong measures to solve the issues.

“A real solution matches the magnitude of the problem.”

Her 2030 goals for Michigan include getting 90 percent of state roads in good or fair conditions and providing resources for local roads, ensuring that 100 percent of communities have clean drinking water, facilitating 60 percent of post-secondary educational attainment for adults, and making Michigan a top 10 state in third grade literacy.


View Whitmer’s slides from the presentation here

In a Q&A with Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, Gov. Whitmer answered questions from audience members on her gas tax increase, skills attainment plan, third grade literacy improvements, state funding, civility, and her relationship with the city of Detroit and Mayor Mike Duggan.

She stressed the importance of civil discourse and giving others the benefit of the doubt in order to “get back to the table.”

“If we share a goal, we can figure out how to get there. We have to negotiate.”

In her vision for the state, the governor cited the need to triple the number of literacy coaches to boost 3rd grade literacy, provide scholarships for high school students, and fill skilled trades jobs to 15,000 by 2024.
Whitmer commended the announcement of FCA’s $4.5 billion plan to add 6,500 jobs in the Detroit area, and said this “kind of investment is not happening in any other place in the country.” She praised the economic development occurring in Detroit, under Mayor Mike Duggan, and said that she has her “foot on the gas” when it comes to the city.

Gov. Whitmer addressed her 45-cent fuel tax increase, noting that it would be “painful for a number of people in our state.” She touched upon her tax proposal affecting the business community.

“If you disagree with me on this particular part of the plan, I’m okay with that,” she said. “We can have that discussion. The crux of solving the water crisis, skills gap, and education, and fixing the roads is the gas tax.”

Overall, she emphasized her prioritization of the gas tax as the linchpin to accomplish her goals for the state.

Gov. Whitmer expressed that the Chamber will be integral to navigating her proposals.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us. This could be a monumental step. We have to bring people to the table and give them the support they need.”

The chance to make this historic budget a reality is exhausting yet exciting, said the governor. From conversations with everyday Michiganders, there are moments of learning and inspiration. And businesses are key to driving the state toward progress.

“Use your platform, voice, and relationships to help make sure that we solve problems,” Gov. Whitmer said to the audience. “I’m going to need the help of everyone in this room.”

News Coverage:

Bridge Magazine
– Whitmer to Detroit chamber: ‘There is not enough pot to fill the potholes.’

Crain’s Detroit Business
– Baruah: Business community ‘amenable’ to Whitmer’s 45-cent fuel tax hike

Michigan Advance
– Susan J. Demas: Business leaders should call GOP’s bluff on Whitmer’s gas tax
– Detroit chamber CEO: ‘Growing split’ with GOP, biz community on roads

WWJ News Radio
– Whitmer Visits Detroit To Sell Proposed Budget, Gas Tax Increase

Regional Women Business Leaders Talk Leading with Purpose

“Purpose is not a goal we can check off as ‘completed,’ but it is a guiding light to how we should be living our lives,” said The Cabinet Studio’s Leigh Ann Hello at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s inaugural International Women’s Day Lunch.

Hello joined a panel with Faurecia North America’s Ana Almeida, Benkari Mechanical LLC’s Adrienne Bennett, and Detroit Public Television’s Christy McDonald on Monday, March 11 to discuss what it means to lead with purpose. International Women’s Day was celebrated across the world a few days earlier on Friday, March 8 to acknowledge the success of women everywhere.

Over 75 items were donated to the Coalition On Temporary Shelter (COTS) at this event, but those who were unable to bring an item can also donate here.

Bennett was the first African American master plumber in the United States, but this designation did not come without challenges. She spoke of her experiences breaking ground in a typically male-dominated profession and offered five key pieces of advice to women moving into leadership positions:

  1. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
  2. Build a network of loyal, trustworthy staff.
  3. Stand by your word. Be who you say you’re going to be.
  4. Pay your bills and pay them on time.
  5. Invest in yourself.

Ana Almeida defined purpose as a unique gift that you can bring to the table, or something your staff will remember about you when you leave. Her advice for finding one’s purpose was to craft a “purpose statement” by thinking of what kinds of experiences you love the most, as well as what qualities help you get out of times of struggle.

After their discussions, all three women were joined on stage by McDonald to talk perceptions, diplomacy at work, dealing with fear, and more.

Bennett wrapped up the event well when she said, “In the workplace, don’t think of yourself as a ‘woman,’ just be yourself. Make a place for yourself at the table and others will follow suit.”

Watch a full video of the discussion here.