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Community Foundation team builds bridges at Mackinac Policy Conference

June 5th, 2024 Back to Browse Stories

Last week, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan attended the 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference, hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. Over four days, our team had the opportunity to connect with some of the state’s most influential leaders, share ideas and discuss Michigan’s economic future.

This year’s focus was on “bridging the future together.” It encouraged attendees to inspire radical collaboration and build bridges regardless of political party, industry, or geographic location.

During the opening session, investment banker Suzanne Shank, who chaired the 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference, noted that despite deep divisions in our nation, we all want the same things – to take care of our families, be financially secure and live in safe, thriving communities. To propel our state toward these goals, Michiganders must collaborate, cooperate and compromise, she said.

“This state is really the epicenter of American commerce in countless ways, so it’s imperative that we team up to push for real, transformative solutions that will bring more jobs, businesses, and population within our borders,” Shank said. “Getting there won’t be through bickering or vilifying. Instead, it will necessitate listening, connecting, (and) expanding. It will require building bridges.”

The Community Foundation-hosted panel “Business-Led Approaches to Solving the Talent Crisis” echoed that notion. Jayme Powell, executive director of the Detroit Regional Workforce Partnership at the Community Foundation, moderated the conversation, which brought together voices from the health care sector and the Detroit Regional Chamber. The panel discussed steps we must take to solve some of the structural barriers to employment in our region. These include inequitable access to child care, transportation, and educational opportunities. Powell and the #MPC24 panelists agreed: Regionalized, employed-led solutions to the talent crisis will transform southeast Michigan for the better. You can watch the full panel discussion here.

At the conference, our team made new connections, explored opportunities for partnerships and learned from other organizations working toward a better future for our state. We advocated for strategies to promote civic engagement, efforts to foster an inclusive small business ecosystem in our region, and opportunities to reform the criminal legal system and promote the dignity of returning citizens.

Leaders at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference also discussed Senate Bill 127 and House Bill 4531, aiming to reinstate a vital state tax credit. This move will significantly boost local philanthropic efforts, aiding nonprofits in continuing their essential work. The legislation plays a crucial role in fostering a culture of giving and supporting a stronger, more vibrant Michigan. Let’s unite to make a difference for our communities.

Only by integrating our efforts toward building a more prosperous region, can we strengthen our communities, our workforce and our families.

“The Detroit Regional Chamber put on a great event that is always an incredible experience. From insightful sessions on the future of our economy to engaging discussions on public policy, it’s been a whirlwind of learning and networking,” Wafa Dinaro, executive director of the New Economy Initiative at the Community Foundation, said as the conference wrapped up. “Looking forward to bringing these insights back to my work and continuing the conversations we started here. Here’s to driving positive change and making a difference together!”

To view recordings from the 2024 conference sessions, click here.