This Week on One Detroit:

For the 13th year, One Detroit brings you some of the key conversations from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference and explores how this year’s theme, “The Power of &,” can move Michigan forward through partnership and collaborative efforts. 

From conference sessions to individual conversations, One Detroit’s Mackinac Policy Conference correspondent Zoe Clark, political director for Michigan Radio, and contributors Stephen Henderson and Nolan Finley share important highlights from this year’s conference.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announces Land Value Tax plan to erase blight in the city

Each year at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Detroit’s Mayor updates civic and business leaders about the state of the Motor City’s goals, investments and progress. This year, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan used his keynote to talk about changing a tax structure that’s been in place in the city for 50 years. 

From the Mackinac Policy Conference main stage, Mayor Duggan shares his thoughts on the flaws within Detroit’s property tax system, which rewards blighted properties and punishes new building investments. He shares his plans to cut building taxes by 30% and triple land taxes in a new Land Value Tax system that he will present to the state’s legislature later this year, along with the impact it will have on the city’s landowners and homeowners.  

Does Detroit have the building blocks to be a strong city? These urban experts think so

Thriving cities are an essential part of any state’s economy. States need them to attract talent, to grow populations, and to sustain the economy. How can city and civic leaders, policymakers, and business executives turn Detroit from a city that’s merely surviving to one that’s thriving again?  

One Detroit’s 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference correspondent Zoe Clark, political director for Michigan Radio, sat down with the world’s leading urbanist Richard Florida, founder of The Creative Class Group, and Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson to understand what our state’s top leaders can do to create change and progress in Detroit. 

They talk about the environmental versatility Michigan offers to people, whether they prefer urban, rural, suburban or waterfront communities, and the importance of places being authentic, historic and rich with opportunity. Florida also shares findings from his latest report, “Michigan’s Great Inflection: A Strategy for the Age of Technology and Talent,” which shows where the state ranks in terms of population growth, higher education talent retention, and attracting workforce talent from outside the state. Plus, they talk about the role Michigan’s colleges and universities play in placemaking and the state’s workforce development. 

Business leaders share the strengths of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace

In recent years, a steadfast commitment to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion has been made by several organizations across industries, many of whom are recognizing the importance of creating inclusive environments that embrace diverse backgrounds and perspectives. These companies are prioritizing diversity recruitment strategies and employing innovative tactics to attract and retain a workforce that represents the rich diversity of MIchigan’s population.  

While progress is being made, challenges persist. Addressing these systemic biases requires ongoing commitment and proactive efforts. Is Michigan on the right track? And what strengths do these diversity efforts give businesses?  

One Detroit contributor Stephen Henderson hosted a panel at the 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference exploring the connection between business and equity objectives. He talks with Cynthia Bowman, chief diversity, inclusion and corporate social responsibility officer for Bank of America; Bridgewater Interiors President and CEO Ron Hall; and Peter Quigley, president and CEO of Kelly, about how diversity, equity and inclusion efforts play out in their day-to-day business practices.  

Michigan explores new horizons with EVs, equity in its emerging clean energy industry

Michigan, known as the heart of the automotive industry, is now making significant strides in clean energy. The state’s emerging clean energy industry is gaining momentum in both public and private sectors, with a strong focus on electric vehicles (EVs) and equitable development and distribution of clean energy resources.  

Recognizing the importance of equitable development, companies like DTE Energy, GS3 and Walker-Miller Energy Services are prioritizing initiatives that ensure these benefits are accessible to all communities, as well as addressing the disparities at play in low-income and marginalized communities. These companies are also working together to expand in the industry through training programs that will equip today’s workers with the skills necessary for the future green economy.  

DTE Energy President and CEO Trevor Lauer, GS3 CEO and Co-Founder Lisa Lunsford, and Walker-Miller Energy Services Founder and CEO Carla Walker-Miller joined contributor Zoe Clark, political director for Michigan Radio, at One Detroit’s 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference desk to about Michigan’s clean energy infrastructure, the future of EVs and how to approach equitable development across the state. 

Plus, they talk about the importance of having community voices around the table and government investments to help drive these new clean energy developments to completion.   

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces new council, chief growth officer to fuel population increase 

New efforts to grow Michigan’s population, a population that’s seen a significant downturn since the start of the new decade, will be underway soon with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement of the Growing Michigan Together Council and a new Chief Growth Officer for the state. 

Hilary Doe was named to the new Chief Growth Officer position, which will be the first of its kind in the nation. She will lead efforts to grow Michigan’s population, economy and reputation as the best place to live, work and play. The position will be housed under the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and work closely with the Growing Michigan Together Council to bring stakeholders together, implement recommendations, and track down funding.  

The council “will bring leaders and industry, education and government together to focus on growing Michigan’s population in a smart, strategic way,” Gov. Whitmer said in her keynote address. During her address, Gov. Whitmer shared the council’s main objectives — talent, education and infrastructure — and how they’ll begin to play out in the council’s early stages.

The state’s top universities join forces to tackle Michigan’s talent retention, population loss

A long-standing collaboration between Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan has positioned the state as a top leader in research and innovation. The University Research Corridor (URC) plays a key role in attracting new businesses, talent and startups to the state, as well as creating a vibrant economy. Still, however, the state has fallen behind recently in its ability to retain graduates from these top universities and keep its population from decreasing further. 

One Detroit’s Mackinac Policy Conference correspondent Zoe Clark, political director for Michigan Radio, sat down with two of the leaders from these top universities, University of Michigan President Santa Ono and Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff, to talk about workforce development in the state and how higher education can prepare students for the knowledge-based economy that’s to come.  

They talk about the work each university is doing individually, and collectively through the URC, to change the narrative about the opportunities Michigan’s workforce has available. They also discuss the roles East Lansing, Lansing, Ann Arbor and the entire region have in shaping talent retention in the state. Plus, President Ono talks about the opportunities for global talent retention with the universities’ large international student population.  

Dr. Nikolai Vitti confident about teacher retention ahead of Detroit Public Schools 2023-24 school year

Preparing K-12 students for success in higher education is the first step toward producing a skilled workforce for Michigan’s future. Under the helm of Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, in his 7th year, the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is looking ahead to the 2023-2024 school with a focus on the district’s budget, increasing student enrollment and meeting long-term academic goals while recovering from the pandemic. 

As the district finishes out this school year and looks to the next, Dr. Vitti joined correspondent Zoe Clark, political director for Michigan Radio, at One Detroit’s 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference desk to share his thoughts on the future of DPSCD and the success he hopes to see.  

They talk about the setbacks that came with the pandemic and how the district is working to rebound, what students need most right now, his optimistic outlook on teacher retention for the new school year and how community collaboration plays into the school district’s and students’ success. 

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban makes Mackinac Policy Conference debut

Billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference to share his insights on business best practices and the importance of collaboration, in line with the conference theme this year, “The Power of &.”  

“The greatest lessons I’ve learned were from the people who were least successful, because I learned what not to do,” Cuban told Crain Communications President and CEO KC Crain on the conference’s main stage. 

The two talk about the importance of fostering collaboration within organizations and with partner organizations to scale a business and achieve long-term success. Additionally, Cuban underscores the value of representation and having a workforce that reflects the customer base a company serves, stating that companies that follow that equation tend to outperform their peers in the long run. 

Ford Motor Company’s Bill Ford puts his bets on an EV future for Michigan

Michigan is still a long way from only seeing electric vehicles on the roads. Truthfully, that may never happen, but one thing Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford is betting on: Michigan will eventually adopt an EV future. Ford joined WDIV-Channel 4 Anchor Christy McDonald on the Mackinac Policy Conference main stage to talk about the future of EVs at his company and across the state.  

They talk about the talent attraction and workforce development that will be necessary to build an EV future, Ford’s continued investments in the state’s automotive industry, and the need for optionality for early and late-stage adopters. Plus, they talk about the company’s talent pipeline, which is providing opportunities for the state’s higher education graduates. 

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