Finding our legislative voice

One of the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s brand pillars is “we provide a powerful legislative voice for programs and policies that strengthen our regional economy.” It is about making connections, building relationships and leveraging all of that to benefit Marquette County.

At the LSCP, we take that very seriously, by including a strategy around purposeful built networking that is specifically aimed at retaining and growing the relationships that matter. Our relationship with the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a perfect example of this, and we were excited to have our shared lobbyist, Doug DeYoung, in Marquette earlier this month to give our partners the pulse on Lansing happenings.

The partnership of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance was established based on the premise that many legislative issues impact the upper peninsula and northern lower peninsula in similar ways. These issues should be addressed regionally to maximize the political influence of this 14-county alliance and it’s over 6,500 members. The alliance of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Benzie County Chamber of Commerce, Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce, Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Superior Community Partnership, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce and Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce have identified legislative areas that should be monitored and advocated to elected officials on the local, state, and federal levels.

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance uses guiding principles to determine their legislative priorities. They include:

Make it easier for businesses in Northern Michigan to be profitable

Help strong business sectors remain strong in our region

Make sure we have a workforce educated and prepared for the future needs of Northern Michigan businesses

Promote investment in our public transportation and business infrastructure

The top legislative priorities for 2013 are:

Education – Equitable funding for Northern Michigan Schools and continued reforms in curriculum. We also believe additional funding and access to workforce training based on our company’s needs.

Infrastructure Investment – Energy generation and transmission to make our region have access to reliable and affordable energy. We also will advocate for continued road funding along with expansion of our regions broad band connectivity.

Regulatory Reforms – Regulators and Legislators need to finish the recommendations made by the committees set up by of the Office of Regulatory Reform. The biggest changes still involved regulations on Liquor Control and DEQ permitting timing and approval process.

Adding to our legislative tool box, we also have an affiliation with the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition. These chambers are calling for significant short term and long term investment and new policy initiatives in five strategic areas:

Federal transportation infrastructure funding and policy

A 21st century border with Canada

Energy development

Immigration of high-skilled talent

Water quality in the Great Lakes

This group is building on the work of the Great Lakes Commission and other regional groups. The chambers are recommending federal adoption of a strategic cluster of projects that will put thousands of people immediately back to work and will also fuel the region’s longer term economic transformation.

For more information on the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, visit the LSCP’s website,

Editor’s note: Amy Clickner is CEO?of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.