As the 37th annual Mackinac Policy Conference wraps up, it’s clear that the politicians, community leaders and business stakeholders gathered on Mackinac Island are passionate about the state of Michigan and committed to the continued economic revitalization of Detroit. Hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber, the conference drew more than 1,700 statewide leaders together to focus on the pillars of restoring civility in American politics, winning the race in connected technology and increasing economic opportunity. Here are some of the takeaways from this year’s conference that should make Detroit residents smile about the city’s prospects.
- Mayor Mike Duggan presenting at the conference. A commitment to move everyone in Detroit forward. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled an energetic plan to advance the city’s growth, but not at the expense of long-time neighborhood residents. Watch his passionate speech, which includes a history lesson that many conference goers say was long overdue.
- A focus on widening access to quality early childhood education. A framework to strengthen early childhood outcomes in Detroit by 2027 with the intent to make the city a family-friendly place to live will be unveiled later this year through the Hope Starts Here initiative, a joint venture between The Kresge and W.K. Kellogg foundations. Currently, nearly 30,000 eligible young children have no access to high-quality early learning and care options in the city.
- An evolving auto industry still wants to do business in Michigan. The state is “home to more than 75 percent of North America’s research and development, 60 percent of the industry’s suppliers and a quarter of all U.S. assembly plants,” according to an introductory letter penned by Governor Rick Snyder for a Michigan Economic Development Corporation report. The MEDC’s Planet M initiative was on full display at the conference with a virtual reality tour of Michigan’s mobility assets and autonomous vehicles greeting attendees at the ferry dock.
- It’s a good time to be a young entrepreneur in Detroit. This year’s conference attendees included a number of business owners designated as part of the Chamber’s Future Leaders programs. Among them were Anya Babbitt, founder and CEO of ride-sharing start-up SPLT, which relocated from New York to Detroit; April Anderson, co-owner of Good Cakes and Bakes; and Candice Simons, founder and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor.
- A spirit of collaboration in the city is alive and well. Whether the topic was re-building Detroit Public Schools, advancing economic opportunity for everyone or positioning Detroit and Michigan to be a leader in connected technology, there seemed to be consensus that without all hands on deck, ambitious goals can’t be met. Filmmaker Julie Winokur’s keynote address shed light on how people from different political persuasions can seek to understand one another in order to move forward.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a Diamond-level sponsor of the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: