Mackinac conference lessons

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

-John F. Kennedy

I can’t tell you how many times I have used this particular quote throughout my tenure at the Lake Superior Community Partnership, in particular when talking about collaborating across our county and the Upper Peninsula. While at the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference last week, however, it really struckme how this is true for the entire state of Michigan. Why are we being called the “comeback state?” Some reasons include:

– First on the list of states that recovered most from the Great Recession

– Economy grew 2.3 percent in 2011, sixth best growth rate in the U.S.

– Corporate tax ranks seventh, up from 49

– Home sales up 10 percent in 2012

– Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s revised Michigan’s outlook to “positive”

– Fitch Ratings improved Michigan general obligation bonds from AA- to AA

While all good news, we have a long road ahead and cannot be complacent in all areas of Michigan, from urban to rural, north to south, east to west.

This year’s conference vision was “work collaboratively to create a globally competitive, financially attractive business environment in Michigan” and the agenda/speakers nailed it. There was no way you could have left this conference, put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber, and not been fired up to keep making a difference in Michigan.

There were three main pillars that made up the backbone of the agenda.

Cultural change – Collaboratively pursuing common goals, inspiring innovation and embracing new ways of thinking and adapting to the realities and opportunities of a rapidly changing world.

Education – Drive Michigan’s future prosperity and standard of living by raising academic standards and inspiring individuals to pursue a higher education in order to meet the needs of 21st century job creators.

21st Century Global Market – Expand Michigan’s understanding of, and success in, the global marketplace and positioning the state as a premiere destination for international talent and investment.

These are pillars that I believe we can all get behind no matter which community we hail from. Speaker and panelists over the two and a half day conference spoke to these issues with compliments on advances Michigan has made, surrounded by advice on how Michigan can take each to the next level.

But no one likes a conference that is all talk, no action; this conference didn’t disappoint. The conference organizers took what was shared and discussed at the event and createdan aggressive “to do list” for the year whose outcomes will be reviewed in 2014. Some of those items included:

1.Convene businesses and community colleges to better link the talent needs of employers with community college program offerings.

2.Expand upon the cyber security lessons learned by developing and executing efforts that help inform the business community of 21st century cyber threats.

3.Coalesce the regional business community to support comprehensive immigration reform that helps drive economic growth and a pilot program in Michigan.

4.Commit to celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit its successes and its failures.

Now I am sure you are already wondering how you can play a role in making Michigan and Marquette County the best place it can be! There just happens to be a program, announced by the Governor at the conference, where residents can become ambassadors for the state by “promoting positive news, volunteering and mentoring.”

Getting involved is simple, text “action” to 25827 or sign up at Go ahead, get involved, make a difference.

For more information on the policy conference go to To contact the LSCP, call 906-226-6591, or visit

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.