I just returned from the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. (#MPC14) This was my second year at the event and my first as a guest at the wonderful Grand Hotel. The weather was picture-perfect and the energy level was high.
It isn’t possible to summarize the entire conference in the space of a short blog post, but believe me, there is great optimism about the future of Detroit and the state of Michigan.
I am not actively engaged in state or local politics. For me, in addition to meeting with current clients, the policy conference was an opportunity to connect with business people we hope to work with at some point in the future. Similarly, it was great to sit in on the keynote and work sessions. I could say they were “nice” but that wouldn’t cut it at this conference. Governor Snyder made it very clear he doesn’t like – and we don’t have time for – nice meetings. We need to get things done and not be afraid of meetings with some tension and strong points of view.
The people who made the trip to Mackinac are dedicated and enthusiastic about advancing our state. The negative definitely took a back seat to the positive. (I was reminded that when riding a horse carriage it’s also best to take the back seat.)
Beyond the half pound of fudge I consumed, the following are a few tasty highlights of the conference:
While running the island loop a woman passed me running the other direction and she was having an animated conversation on her cellphone. These conference participants take connection seriously. On that same run I caught up with a gentleman I’d never met before. Turns out we live near each other and he runs one of the state’s largest law firms. Everywhere I turned was seemingly a bright spot.
Mayor Duggan spoke about how he’s working to rebuild Detroit. Not by tearing it down but by fixing up abandoned homes and making serious headway by installing 500 streetlights each and every week through 2015. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel when Mayor Duggan speaks.
Master storyteller Malcolm Gladwell addressed transformation and was honest by admitting right upfront that we Michiganders know more about the subject. Gladwell had the audience gripped with his global examples of the concept of transformation. Gladwell stressed, “the only advantage the underdog has is to out hustle the competition. It’s not about being perfect, but about getting things done.”
If you haven’t attended the Mackinac Policy Conference and are considering it the thing to know is don’t leave right before the Bourbon Night event. I did and from the looks on Twitter maybe I made a mistake. Oh, something to look forward to next year.
I must sign off with kudos to the tireless Grand team who make it look easy hosting a three-day event for over 1,700 people. Wonderful work, all!