Chambers: New Expungement Package Will Help Thousands Find Work

October 9, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

Sandy Baruah and Rick Baker

We talk to businesses every day and they tell us the same thing: there are simply not enough qualified, skilled workers to meet the demands of the marketplace.

When thinking about workforce development policies to address this crisis, we must consider expungement reform legislation. Unfortunately, the current laws, and lack of awareness of the expungement process, are keeping hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents unemployed.

State lawmakers recently introduced a six-bill legislative package addressed at expunging an individual’s criminal record. These bills have the opportunity to open up the expungement process to many Michigan residents who struggle to find a job because of their past criminal records as well as open up eligibility for a number of low-level offenses such as traffic offenses that are ineligible under the current expungement law.

Research shows that expanding expungement means massive economic benefits. Annually, the underemployment of formerly incarcerated people costs the nation between $78 billion and $87 billion in gross domestic product. Within two years of receiving an expungement, a person’s likelihood of being employed increases significantly and their personal income increases by 25 percent. With a stable career, returning citizens are able to support themselves and their families while being productive members of society.

Additionally, clearance of public criminal records reduces recidivism rates and fights crime, making communities safer. Employing someone who is formerly incarcerated is the best available recidivism-reduction tool. If a person stays out of trouble for five years or more, they are no more likely to commit another crime than any member of the general public. Past convictions do not predict future criminal conduct and should not be the basis for employment decisions.

Michigan businesses are primed and ready to support individuals who want to take advantage of the benefits of expungement and address the labor shortage. In fact, many employers already overlook criminal records to fill their talent shortages, giving workers a chance to prove themselves for their past mistakes — Bank of America has partnered with the Detroit Justice Center to provide a place to get records clear, among many other services for formerly incarcerated Detroiters; Cascade Engineering helps give returning citizens a second chance for successful re-entry and provides opportunities to former inmates they may not otherwise receive; and DTE Energy partnered with the Michigan Department of Corrections last month to train inmates for careers after prison.

What they have found is that an individual with a record typically performs no differently than other employees who do not have records. Employers report that these employees are actually often more productive, sticklers for attendance and timeliness, and have lower turnover rates.

The expungement legislative package will help residents of all age groups and across multiple demographics to take that first step to a new beginning. Finding employment should be an easy process for people who are not a threat to public safety.

The time is now to modernize this legislation and change the lives of so many Michiganders.

Sandy Baruah is the president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber and Rick Baker the president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. 

Read the original article here

Whitmer, Duggan unveil campaign to boost interest in skilled trades

July 8, 2019

The Detroit News

Christine Ferretti

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined Monday with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to announce a new campaign aimed at helping Michigan employers fill an estimated 545,000 skilled-labor jobs opening up through 2026.

The public-private partnership, Going PRO in Michigan, is spearheaded by the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan, an office focused on professional skilled trade occupations and industries, officials said.

The effort, unveiled at a news conference at the Wayne County Community College’s northwest campus, will seek to dispel stigma surrounding the trades and highlight career options including welders, millwrights and electrical line workers, anesthesia and surgical technologists, web developers and industrial mechanics.

The Detroit chamber is among eight regional chambers of commerce — along with Lansing, Traverse City, Flint, Saginaw County, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Southwest Michigan and Grand Rapids — that support Going PRO.

The campaign is also supported by organized labor groups, including the Operating Engineers Local 324, IBEW Local 58 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, among others.

“While fields like healthcare and information technology weren’t historically considered a part of the professional trades, that’s no longer the case,” SEIU Heathcare Michigan President Andrea Acevedo said. “These are well-respected careers.”

Research from the state’s talent department, officials said, showed interest in professional trades varies by region, with 8% of individuals in southeast Michigan expressing interest in pursuing a training certificate.

Detroit Regional Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah said without sufficient workers with the skills employers need, businesses and regions like Detroit can’t stay competitive.

“Going PRO is a key element that we need to fix that gap,” he said.

View the full article here

Morning Edition – Sandy Baruah Discusses Manufacturing and Trade with Alisa Zee

June 30, 2019

Morning Edition with Alisa Zee

Chamber President and CEO, Sandy Baruah sat down with Alisa Zee to discuss how manufacturing and trade impacts our region.

Part One:

 
Part Two:

 

Detroit Regional Chamber Releases 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List

MACKINAC ISLAND, May 31, 2019 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber unveiled its 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List following three days of discussions featuring top state, regional, and national thought leaders. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah and 2019 Conference Chair Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy and CMS Energy, announced the list at the conclusion of the 39th annual Conference. The Conference provided dialogue on coming together for One Michigan under the pillars of Prepare Michigan, Grow Michigan, and Love Michigan.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is Michigan’s premier policy event. While we don’t make policy, we bring together statewide leadership to have honest and engaging conversations on the critical issues facing our state. The To-Do List is emerging as a substantive, impactful tradition of its own, challenging us to find new and creative ways to put actions to our words,” Baruah said.

The Chamber is proud to continue to host the nationally recognized Mackinac Policy Conference, convening more than 1,700 of Michigan’s top leadership. The 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List includes:

One Michigan

  1. Advocate for political reforms, comparable to those identified in Porter and Gehl’s research, to reinvigorate democracy and strengthen the political center.
  2. Stress the importance of participation in the 2020 Census.

Love Michigan

  1. Drive the enactment of meaningful distracted driving legislation.

Prepare Michigan

  1. Commit to support December 2019 Launch Michigan report and recommendations.

Grow Michigan

  1. Ensure Michigan’s continued leadership in automotive and next-generation mobility by facilitating feedback from the industry and creating an action plan for growth.

About Mackinac Policy Conference

The Mackinac Policy Conference – the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual statewide event – convenes Michigan’s most influential audience to engage in collaborative dialogue on the state’s economic future. Since 1981, the Conference has provided a unique in the nation experience for Michigan’s top business, government, and civic leaders. As Michigan’s premier policy event, the Conference attracts more than 1,700 attendees annually to discuss key issues facing the state. The Conference concludes with an actionable To-Do List that transforms dialogue into positive outcomes to create a more business-friendly climate in Michigan. To learn more, visit mpc.detroitchamber.com.

 

MDOT Director / Mackinac Policy Conference / Detroit Civility Project

May 23, 2019

One Detroit

In this episode of One Detroit,

Mackinac Policy Conference: Christy and Stephen preview the topics that will take center stage at next week’s Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. Plus, Conference Chair Patti Poppe of Consumers Energy and the Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah offer their perspectives on this year’s agenda.

Detroit Civility Project: In a special One Detroit report, we get an example of the conversations that Stephen and Nolan’s Detroit Civility Project with the Detroit Regional Chamber is generating.

It’s spring — and time to talk policy

May 12, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

KC Crain

The weather doesn’t feel like it, but it is definitely spring. And spring in Detroit means it’s time to head up to Mackinac Island for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

Last week, Detroit Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah and conference Chair and Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe stopped by our office to fill us in on the latest agenda.

You can tell Patti is absolutely interested in covering Detroit issues but really sees this as an opportunity to bring the entire state together.

She is quick to point out that education is not just a Detroit problem but a real statewide concern. This year, for the first time, an entire afternoon at the conference will be dedicated to education.

Skills gap proposals earn broad support

May 9, 2019

Education News – Repost from The Detroit News 

As presidents of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the American Federation of Teachers Michigan respectively, we don’t always agree on public policy.

However, we do strongly agree that Michigan needs to increase the number of residents with good-paying jobs, and to close the skills gap that is threatening the future growth of our businesses.

Legislation that would do just that is now in front of the Legislature. Remarkably, in this era of partisan deadlock these proposals were developed — and have gained support — in a bipartisan manner, and were welcomed by major business organizations, labor unions, and a wide range of education and community groups across Michigan.

The reason for this broad support in an era of divided government is that these two proposals from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — MI Opportunity and Reconnect — are investments in Michigan’s talent base. They are aimed at advancing a goal shared by the chamber, the AFT, and the governor to increase our postsecondary attainment rate from 45% to 60% by 2030. More than a half-million jobs are expected to be available over the next half decade in Michigan that require more than a high school diploma — and employers have indicated their biggest concern is that we won’t have the talent to fill them.

View the full article here

Opinion: Skills gap proposals earn broad support

May 8, 2019

The Detroit News 

Sandy Baruah and David Hecker 

As presidents of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the American Federation of Teachers Michigan respectively, we don’t always agree on public policy.

However, we do strongly agree that Michigan needs to increase the number of residents with good-paying jobs, and to close the skills gap that is threatening the future growth of our businesses.

Legislation that would do just that is now in front of the Legislature. Remarkably, in this era of partisan deadlock these proposals were developed — and have gained support — in a bipartisan manner, and were welcomed by major business organizations, labor unions, and a wide range of education and community groups across Michigan.

The reason for this broad support in an era of divided government is that these two proposals from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — MI Opportunity and Reconnect — are investments in Michigan’s talent base. They are aimed at advancing a goal shared by the chamber, the AFT, and the governor to increase our postsecondary attainment rate from 45% to 60% by 2030. More than a half-million jobs are expected to be available over the next half decade in Michigan that require more than a high school diploma — and employers have indicated their biggest concern is that we won’t have the talent to fill them.

View the full article here