ALLIANCE APPLAUDS STATE CHILDCARE INITIATIVES

Says access to care is critical to attracting and retaining talent

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance joined legislative leaders and the governor to unveil a package of childcare initiatives inside the Michigan State Capitol. Childcare is one of the Alliance’s top policy priorities because of its impact on the region’s availability of talent. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from across northern Michigan.  

“There is a clear business case and sense of urgency in addressing access to quality childcare,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses continually cite the availability of quality childcare as a barrier for their employees. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, and we applaud our decision-makers for listening to our region’s business community.”

The announcement included a package of eight bills addressing both regulatory reform and supply building to support providers and increase their capacity and strength. Many of the proposals are the product of a work group consisting of legislators, child-care providers, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, and leadership from the Alliance. Legislation includes giving providers time to comply with new health and safety rules by allowing a 90-day grace period for implementation; ensuring documentation for each provider is easily accessible for three years, rather than varying retention periods; helping expand and support family childcare provider supports by creating Family Child Care Networks; and more.

The House bill sponsored by State representative John Roth helps providers co-locate where families live and work by giving childcare providers a safe path to locate in multi-use buildings. This legislation is inspired by the Commongrounds development in Traverse City, where efforts to locate childcare near families encountered hurdles.   

“Commongrounds is excited to see the introduction of a bill that simultaneously ensures childcare is provided in a safe environment that protects children, while also reducing unnecessary barriers to locating childcare in the neighborhoods where parents work and live,” said Kate Redman, Commongrounds Project Director. “This change is essential to help communities and projects like ours take action to invest in long-term childcare solutions that meet the urgent needs of their communities.”

The Alliance has partnered with the Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay to ensure policy solutions meet the needs of northern Michigan and have the intended effect of increasing access to quality childcare.

“Childcare is a critical part of our economy, and in short supply in many communities,” said Mary Manner, coordinator of the Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay. “With greater co-location of childcare facilities in multi-use buildings, we envision thriving communities where childcare is so well integrated into our downtowns, suburban office parks, and industrial complexes, and such an everyday part of life, that we won’t remember a time when we struggled to find care for our babies.”

About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including 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, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy.

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ALLIANCE APPLAUDS AGREEMENT TO RESCIND RULES

Michigan joins growing list of states open for business

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance applauded Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth for working on an agreement to rescind the proposed permanent Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules that would have implemented continued COVID-19 protocols beyond the expiration of the emergency rules currently in place. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from across northern Michigan.  

“We commend our decision-makers for listening to the voice of the northern Michigan business community and agreeing to rescind the proposed permanent MIOSHA rules,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “This action shows that collective advocacy works, and today we have real results for our businesses.”

Under the agreement, the administration rescinds MIOSHA’s draft permanent rules and cancels the public hearing scheduled for May 26. In addition, now that the state has reached the 55% vaccination threshold, and in accordance with the governor’s MI Vacc to Normal plan, MIOSHA will remove the requirement that employers create a “policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.” MIOSHA will also be updating other aspects of the emergency rules to reflect recent guidance from the CDC and MDHHS, which will take effect May 24.  

“With the proposed permanent MIOSHA rules out of the way, Michigan can now join the growing list of states open for business,” said Sarah Hagen, vice-chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. “The Alliance will continue to support our businesses in navigating our recovery from this pandemic.”

The Alliance urges everyone who is ready to get vaccinated to find a walk-in clinic or talk to their health provider so northern Michigan, and our state, can continue down the path of economic recovery.

About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including 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, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy. More information on the Alliance’s latest work can be found at nmichiganbusiness.com.

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ALLIANCE REACTS TO REOPENING PLAN (updated 4/29/21 – 4:38 pm)

Regionalism rewards communities

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance responded to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan, tying reopening to vaccination targets. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from across northern Michigan.  

After this morning’s announcement, the Alliance expressed optimism and stressed the need for community involvement in meeting the plan’s benchmarks. “We are cautiously optimistic that we now have metrics and a path to a full reopening. Our businesses are already serving as trusted leaders within our communities in encouraging employees and residents to be safe and will continue to do so,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It needs to be recognized that vaccination rates are not within the control of businesses alone – this is really a community-wide and statewide problem to solve. We encourage everyone who is ready to get vaccinated to find a walk-in clinic or talk to their health provider so we can continue our economic recovery.”

The Alliance also highlighted that some communities show more progress than others when it comes to vaccination rates. Northern Michigan, preparedness regions 7 and 8, according to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard April 29 data, has a 53.7 percent vaccine initiation rate, compared to the state’s 49.6 percent average. The initiation rate includes Michigan residents who have received either one or more doses of any vaccine, including Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J.

“We realize some communities are already working together and ensuring their residents have the information they need to feel comfortable getting vaccinated,” said Sarah Hagen, vice-chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. “Let’s reward those communities that are working together and revisit a regional reopening approach.”

Northern Michigan successfully navigated the 2020 summer tourism season and kept residents and visitors safe. The Alliance is advocating a return to a regional approach that recognizes community vaccination efforts.

The Alliance shared that their chambers and economic development organizations have been active within their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring businesses and residents have trusted information. They will continue serving as resources for their businesses and communities.

About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including 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, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy. More information on the Alliance’s latest work can be found at nmichiganbusiness.com.

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