Michigan’s Talent Shortage Requires Preparing All Types of Citizens

To ensure we are building the future workforce that the economy demands, the Detroit Regional Chamber is focused on supporting smart policy that will empower and prepare all types of Michiganders to fill the talent demand for employers across the region and state that tell us their top issue is a talent shortage.

The Chamber has advocated in the education and workforce space for decades with a focus on increasing postsecondary education attainment through policies such as increased dual enrollment and expanded, need-based financial aid, among other focuses on K-12 education.

There is a significant opportunity for the nearly 700,000 people in Detroit that have started college but “stopped out” before receiving a degree or credential to connect with the required education or training businesses need in their talent pool.

To get more of Michigan’s citizens into the workforce and continue to grow the economy, the Chamber supports:

  • Michigan Reconnect, to help connect a large portion of the adult population without degrees or certificates on a path towards continued education. This policy work is supported by the Chamber’s education and talent strategy program work that is already reengaging adult students with some or no college experience in the Detroit region to get them on a track to a degree or training certificate.
  • Going Pro in Michigan, to upskill and rescale adults who find themselves left behind in our rapidly changing economy.
  • Criminal Justice Reform, to reduce lengthy and costly sentences and provide age-appropriate rehabilitation. Currently, the Chamber is advocating for a six-bill expungement reform package is going through the Michigan House of Representatives that will open up the expungement process to many Michigan residents who struggle to find a job because of past criminal records and open up eligibility for a number of low-level offenses such as traffic offenses that are ineligible under the current expungement law.
  • Immigration Reform, to fix the broken immigration system and provide businesses with global talent that will help keep our economy competitive.

The data shows that getting our high school graduates into the right universities or skilled trade programs is not enough to produce the workforce pipeline needed to be competitive in a 21st-century economy and beyond. By engaging all kinds of populations, Michigan can meet the talent demands businesses require and be an economically competitive state.


Detroit Regional Chamber’s Core Principles on Auto Insurance Reform

With auto insurance debates heating up in Lansing, the Detroit Regional Chamber is highly involved in the discussions working with bipartisan legislators and the governor’s office. The Chamber membership and Board are united in the recognition that the high cost of auto insurance is a critical issue that impacts our state’s economic development, talent attraction, and citizen well-being, and must be addressed.

The Chamber is eager to support legislation that meets the following criteria:

  • Result in a statewide and quantifiable reduction in auto insurance rates.
  • Recognize that rate reduction must be even greater in urban areas. Even a 20% reduction in urban areas leaves auto insurance unaffordable for low-income residents.
  • Reduce the number of uninsured drivers through rate reduction and increased mobility options for low-income residents.
  • Maintain Michigan’s high-quality health care delivery system.
  • Reduce insurance related fraud.

Detroit Regional Chamber Reform Vision

Auto insurance is a statewide issue that demands to be addressed. While our membership does not have a consensus view regarding detailed solutions, the Chamber supports the following core principles.

  • Reform should provide additional oversight of attendant care, particularly when delivered by relatives of the injured.
  • Michigan should pursue insurance fraud at all levels through a strong fraud authority or another enforcement mechanism.
  • Any proposed regulation of reimbursement rates should consider:

– The impact on motorists requiring catastrophic care, particularly care in trauma centers.

– The ability of health care providers to provide quality care.

– The need to lower rates for drivers across geographic, socioeconomic, and other demographic factors.

– Michigan’s insurance rates are high across the state, however, drivers in urban areas are disproportionately impacted. Reviewing the factors that cause high rates should be a special focus of policymakers.

  • Uninsured drivers in high-cost areas, like the city of Detroit, are left with few alternatives to driving illegally because of the region’s lack of effective and efficient public transportation. The number of uninsured drivers is a key component of insurance costs and the region’s consistent failure to provide mobility options has exacerbated the problem.

The Chamber Board endorsed these principles in 2017. The Chamber’s Government Relations team urges that all impacted parties must be at the table and compromise equally – there is no one single aspect of this challenge that can solve this problem – or can escape reform.

Marsh & McLennan Agency Welcomes Geoff Brieden as Vice President, Health & Benefits

Troy, Michigan – February 11, 2019 – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (MMA) recently appointed Geoff Brieden as a vice president with the health and benefits practice in Troy, Mich. In his new position, Brieden identifies best practices and strategic solutions that optimally fit his clients’ group benefit needs.

Prior to joining MMA, Brieden owned Kane Atwood Group Services for over ten years, assisting employers with their benefits strategies. During this time, he developed a particular affinity for and understanding of the unique needs of the health care industry. Before starting his own firm, Brieden garnered thirteen years of experience with a third party administrator.

As a vice president of health & benefits with MMA, Brieden will leverage his extensive background to help employers design strategic benefits plans that meet their business management goals as well as help achieve their talent recruitment and engagement goals.

“We are honored to welcome Geoff to our team: his entrepreneurial spirit and thoughtful approach are a great addition to MMA. Geoff understands the complex and changing needs of mid-size and larger employers and takes a thorough approach to addressing those challenges,” said Rebecca A. McLaughlan, president & ceo of Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC’s Michigan Health & Benefits operations.

“I chose to join MMA because of the energy and intelligence of the people, and the resources that MMA brings to the table. I am excited for what the future holds,” added Brieden.

Brieden received his BA in Business & Economics from Kalamazoo College and an MBA in Business & Finance from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business. A competitive sailor, Brieden is also an active supporter of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, Wreaths Across America, and the LivLife Foundation.

If you would like more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Ryan Bowers at (248)822-6231 or rbowers@mma-mi.com.

New Co-Chairs of Michigan’s Automotive Caucus Prioritize Future of State’s Signature Industry

DETROIT, Mich., January 15, 2019 – Today, the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus announced the new co-chairs for the 2019-20 legislative session as Rep. Jim Lilly (R-Park Twp), Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), and Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City).

The announcement was made as legislators attended the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) preview week with representatives of the state’s automotive and mobility industry at a meeting convened by MICHauto, Michigan’s only automotive cluster association.

“For over a century, Michigan’s automotive industry has undoubtedly shaped the global economy along with how people engage with one another,” said Rep. Tate. “I am thrilled to be working with my esteemed co-chairs, and there is no more appropriate place for us to announce this renewed focus than at NAIAS as we celebrate the legacy and the future of this storied relationship between Detroit and the automobile.”

The incoming leadership represents a diversity of experience and geographical representation of Michigan’s automotive industry and the communities so closely tied to it.

“This issue is incredibly timely and relevant to our priorities as a legislature. Our automotive industry touches every corner of the state and reaches well beyond the assembly line and manufacturing floor in terms of jobs and economic impact,” said Sen. Schmidt. “Whether it be raw materials mined in the north and shipped on our Great Lakes, advanced manufacturing in West Michigan, or testing the latest innovation at the American Center for Mobility, a strong automotive industry means a strong Michigan.”

Founded in 2015, the Auto Caucus is dedicated to ensuring Michigan’s business climate remains competitive and supports the state’s global leadership in next-generation mobility technology and its signature industry. Since its formation, the Caucus has taken a leadership role in defining policy such as the SAVE Act legislation put in place in 2016 to establish regulations for the testing, use and the eventual sale of autonomous vehicle legislation.

“My colleagues and I are dedicated to ensuring our state addresses key challenges in terms of stakeholder engagement and infrastructure improvement,” said Sen. McMorrow. “I look forward to bringing my years of experience in and around the automotive industry to the table to ensure Michigan stays well-positioned to lead the nation in the development and deployment of electrification and connected and autonomous vehicles.”

The co-chairs will be spending the upcoming weeks educating new legislators on the caucus and solidify membership before holding their first meeting of the new legislative session, which is tentatively expected to be held in February.

“As a caucus, we look forward to announcing an ambitious schedule of education opportunities, site visits, and policy priorities for our colleagues in the legislature,” said Rep. Lilly. “We will be looking to collaborate with our partners in the automotive and energy industries as well as state and federal regulators to ensure that Michigan remains the automotive and mobility capital of the world.”

The new co-chairs succeed Sen. Steven Bieda (D-Warren), Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), Rep. Michael McCready (R-Bloomfield Hills), and Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), all of whom were termed out of their respective offices at the end of the 2017-18 legislative session.



About Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus

The Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus is a bi-partisan, bi-cameral group of legislators from across Michigan focused on the future success of the state’s automotive industry. The Auto Caucus is committed to ensuring Michigan provides the competitive climate to remain the global automotive capital through their support of relevant policy priorities and working in partnership with Michigan’s business, philanthropic, and regulatory communities.

About MICHauto

MICHauto, Michigan’s only automotive cluster association, is a statewide economic development initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Dedicated to promoting, retaining and growing the automotive and next-generation mobility industry in Michigan, MICHauto embodies a public-private strategy, championing Michigan as the global epicenter of the automotive industry and providing a platform for collaboration on advocacy, business attraction and retention, and talent attraction. To learn more, visit MICHauto.org.

Statement on the Michigan governor’s race results:

DETROIT, Mich. Nov. 6, 2018 —

“We congratulate incoming Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and look forward to working with her administration to continue Michigan’s positive momentum.  Michigan has benefited from strong, stable and calm leadership for eight years and we are committed to continuing this positive flywheel.  The Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed Whitmer and is ready to help the new governor deliver on plans for improving infrastructure, regional transit and education outcomes.”

Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber


Howes: Strong economy poses risks for next governor — whoever it is

November 5, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Daniel Howes

Michigan’s next governor will inherit something the state’s last three CEOs didn’t — the strongest economy in close to 50 years.

Job creation is up, unemployment is plumbing record lows and per-capita income is rising. State tax policy is once again deemed competitive. And for the first time in decades, Detroit is on generally solid financial footing, attracting billions in private capital and fundamentally changing the narrative of America’s poorest major city.

The challenge for Gov. Rick Snyder’s successor: don’t screw it up. Whatever you think of the Republican incumbent, he used the lessons of the “Lost Decade” over the past eight years to assemble a record of disciplined financial management and pragmatic problem-solving that reassured business and often transcended the partisan divide in a hyper-partisan era.

With the notable exception of the Flint water crisis, Michigan is on sounder economic ground than any time in at least a generation. Its auto industry is restructured and, for now, profitable. Its tech sector is growing. And its metrics of performance are consistently improving instead of declining as they did in the run-up to the Great Recession.

If history is any guide — and it usually is in this state — the most likely outcome of Tuesday’s election won’t so much mean more of the same, even if Republican Bill Schuette proves the polls wrong and wins. It’ll be what Business Leaders for Michigan’s CEO, Doug Rothwell, calls the state’s “consistent inconsistency” on the priorities and policy-making that impact investment, growth and job creation.

Meaning that whenever the out-of-power party regains the governor’s office, control of the Legislature or both, Michigan’s political tradition pretty much ensures that tax, spending and economic development policies are overturned summarily, whipsawing business by rewarding friends and punishing enemies. It’s not helpful.

“The Lost Decade was not an accident,” said Patrick Anderson, CEO of the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group. “We lost that decade. It was a self-inflicted wound. It wasn’t just bad conditions. It was bad management.”

His counsel for whoever succeeds Snyder: first, do not undermine the dramatic improvement in Michigan’s business-tax climate, now ranked in the top 10 nationwide. Second, do not succumb to the budget brinksmanship of the Granholm years, including the occasional middle-of-the-night tax increase. And keep the momentum going on Detroit.

“Don’t fall back into the old, poisonous ways,” Anderson added. “Then we’re going to be signaling that we’re slipping back into the kind of incompetence and self-defeating activity that marred some of Michigan during the Lost Decade.”

Detroit is undergoing an unmistakable rebound. Credit the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which Snyder ordered. Credit business and political leaders in both parties who coalesced behind an agenda of reinvention. Credit private capital driving the resurgence — billions of dollars invested in the old bones of downtown and Midtown under a pragmatic mayor who understands business as well as politics.

And that’s precisely the balance Schuette or Democrat Gretchen Whitmer should emulate upon taking office. They can either build on the bipartisan economic consensus crafted by business, by philanthropy, by Snyder and Mike Duggan — two comparatively nominal partisans with a bias for focusing on what works.

Or the next governor can muck up Michigan’s mojo and alienate half the state and much of the business community by reversing reforms to reward their favorite constituencies and score ideological points, whatever the dollars-and-cents impact to Michigan’s budget and business climate.

Case in point: Whitmer and fellow Democrats running for legislative seats vow to repeal the state’s right-to-work law, to repeal the so-called “pension tax” levied on defined-benefit payouts of public-sector retirees, to reinstate the Prevailing Wage Law. And Schuette promises yet another tax cut, even as Michigan’s roads crumble and education funding mostly flatlines.

An alternative favored by some of the state’s leading business groups is to continue practicing the fiscal discipline favored by Michigan’s current CEO-turned-governor. To continue paying down long-term debt; to continue delivering balanced budgets on time and without drama; to maximize the tax base without discouraging investment.

“That positive flywheel is working,” said Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We certainly don’t want that tinkered with.”

And continue to avoid the Trump-era polarization defining politics in too many parts of the country. Snyder eschewed such extreme partisanship, preferring to practice a “relentless positive action” that enabled big things (see the Detroit bankruptcy) considered too hard to tackle.

Michigan’s next governor should take care to avoid breaking what’s already fixed. The second half of the past 16 years proved two things: that governors don’t cause macro-economic recessions, and that undisciplined, anti-business financial management at the state level tends to make the predicament worse.

Business cycles don’t conform to electoral cycles, as Granholm could attest. Her successor’s tenure coincided with the longest year-over-year sales and profit expansion for the Detroit auto industry since the 1960s, as well as the longest national economic recovery the country has seen in decades.

Snyder’s successor may not be so fortunate. Even as it reported surprisingly strong third-quarter results, General Motors Co. last week confirmed plans to offer buyouts to 18,000 salaried employees and signaled that rising interest rates and trade uncertainty are combining to create an industry slowdown.

Ford Motor Co. is deep in a global restructuring that is expected to claim a slice of its global salaried workforce. As the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates, equity markets are telegraphing uncertainty and worries that corporate earnings mostly have nowhere to go but down.

Major challenges loom for the state. The educational attainment of its public school students is a national embarrassment, worsening as most other states improve. Repairs to its roads and transportation infrastructure are desperately needed, but the legislators in the state that put America on wheels can’t — won’t — figure out how to pay for it.

Making headway on those and other serious issues won’t be accomplished unilaterally, no matter who prevails in this election. It’ll take consensus and a lot less worrying about who gets the credit.

View the original article here

Southfield Attorney Sworn in at Supreme Court

Foster Swift attorney Stefania Gismondi was among those from the State Bar of Michigan’s Young Lawyers’ section sworn in at the U.S. Supreme Court at a small group bar admission ceremony on Wednesday, October 10 in Washington D.C.

Stefania is a member of the firm’s General Litigation practice group and practices in the Southfield office. She has experience working with small business enterprises and non-profits.

Employment law attorney Stacy Kelly joins Plunkett Cooney

Attorney Stacy L. Kelly recently joined the Labor & Employment Law Practice Group of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms.

A member of the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office, Kelly primarily focuses her practice in the areas of labor and employment law with particular expertise in litigation involving academic institutions.

Kelly has worked in higher education administration on various-size campuses with university systems and athletics conference offices for over 12 years. She has extensive experience with educational policy and NCAA Division I, II and III rules compliance. Kelly counseled universities and colleges on the investigation and adjudication of student and employee conduct matters, compliance audits and rules education programs.

In addition, Kelly has experience interpreting state policies and federal regulations, such as those related to Title IX, Clery Act, Violence Against Women Act and Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act reporting requirements. She previously served on the NCAA Eligibility Center Advisory Committee and traveled nationally as a facilitator with the NCAA Leadership Development program.

Kelly’s employment law practice also includes handling discrimination, retaliation and civil rights claims on behalf of employers. She works with public- and private-sector clients on contract and handbook reviews and employment-related matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Title VII and Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Admitted to practice law in North Carolina and Michigan, Kelly is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, the North Carolina Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Washtenaw County Bar Association.

Kelly received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2017. She also received her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2004 and her undergraduate degree from Wartburg College in 2002.

The members of Plunkett Cooney’s Labor and Employment Law Practice Group provide a full range of employment-related legal services, including human resources counseling, litigation defense representation, alternative dispute resolution, labor law assistance and regulatory compliance review and defense.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is one of the nation’s oldest and largest law firms with approximately 300 employees, including 145 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as in Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial law firms in the United States.

For more information about employment law attorney Stacy Kelly joining Plunkett Cooney, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008; jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

– End –

Plunkett Cooney moves Petoskey office to Chemical Bank building

Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, announces that its office in downtown Petoskey, Michigan has moved to the nearby Chemical Bank building.

The new office address is:

406 Bay Street
Petoskey, MI 49770
General: (231) 347-1200
FAX (248) 901-4040

Plunkett Cooney’s new office space is located on the 3rd floor of the building, which overlooks Little Traverse Bay. Visitors are greeted by a contemporary design concept and employees enjoy an open floor plan.

The Petoskey office is home to six attorneys, one paralegal and four support staff members who provide a range of legal services to clients in the public and private sectors. The firm has maintained an office presence in downtown Petoskey since 1988.

Plunkett Cooney provides an array of transactional and litigation services to clients in such diverse industries as healthcare, manufacturing, professional services, retail, insurance, banking and finance, real estate and many others. The firm’s clients include Fortune 500 corporations, privately-held companies, municipalities and nonprofits.

Plunkett Cooney employs approximately 145 attorneys in eight Michigan cities and one each in Columbus, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading international directory of law firms, and it is listed among the U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms.”

For more information about the firm’s new office location, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John E. Cornwell at (248) 901-4008; jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.