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May 2015
28
May 28, 2015

Mackinac Policy Conference: The Gang’s All Here for an Upbeat Start


It seems almost unbelievable that we’re at another Mackinac Policy Conference, but here we are and it’s starting off with a who’s who of Michigan’s political, civic, business and educational leaders and a jam-packed agenda of discussions on how to make Detroit and Michigan better for us all.

Today’s session kicked off with Governor Snyder’s keynote address outlining where Michigan is and where it’s going, with special emphasis on education, talent, urban revitalization and cohesion.

TV’s Mike Rowe, host of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” on CNN and “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel, was next up.  Rowe was the surprise of the day with a fabulous talk on a subject he obviously knows a lot about:  hard work.  After regaling the audience with tales of his first episode of “Dirty Jobs” – a story about a San Francisco sewer repairman – he suggested that hard work got a “dirty name” in the ‘70s but that “hard work is everything” and there are always jobs that need to be filled.  They may not all be glamorous, he said, but they can be very rewarding and they’re there for the taking.  Filling these jobs would help bring the unemployment rate down and the average wage rate up. Rowe has written extensively about the country’s relationship with work and the widening skills gap, among other topics.

Segway Transporter inventor and CEO Dean Kamen followed Rowe (a hard act to follow) and discussed innovation and the desperate need for new technology, empowerment and entrepreneurship.  Kamen said Michigan is absolutely leading the way in the First Robotics competition he founded over a decade ago and he named Governor Snyder, who attended his first First Robotics event a year ago, his 2015 “First Robotics Champion.”

One of the best parts of the day for me as a co-founder of MICHauto came this morning before the official start of the conference when MICHauto and a coalition of leading business, automotive and university stakeholders announced the Michigan Mobility Initiative.  This initiative is an aggressive program to promote Michigan’s leadership in next generation mobility development.  Michigan is at the forefront of connected vehicle development and it’s absolutely critical that we do everything in our power to make that message heard and to lure new high tech auto companies and jobs to our state.  With MEDC, Business Leaders for Michigan, MDOT and the University Research Corridor as partners, we’re confident we have the right team to do the job.

After a night of discussion and debate over the day’s presentations and the attendees’ dreams and aspirations for our state, tomorrow morning kicks off with a high-powered discussion on insights gained, challenges remaining and the keys to success for Detroit after the city’s infamous but hugely successful bankruptcy.  We’ll be hearing from an expert panel on these subjects – former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Grand Bargain architect, Judge Gerald Rosen, and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. This is a power-packed group and promises a lively and worthwhile discussion.  I’m looking forward to it.

This policy conference is always a meaningful and beneficial event for Detroit, for Michigan, and for all the attendees.  So far this year’s meeting is the most upbeat and practical one I’ve attended. We’re off to a great start!
 
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Tom Manganello is a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, and is attending the Mackinac Policy Conference. As co-chair of the law firm's Automotive Industry Group, Tom’s practice includes supplier-focused automotive contracts, commercial supply chain and warranty issues as well as liability litigation. Tom is also a co-founder of MICHauto and serves as legal counsel to the OESA Sales & Marketing and CEO councils. He can be reached at tmanganello@wnj.com.

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