Published in Traverse City Record-Eagle, January 28, 2015
By, Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance
It’s good to have friends in high places.
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance looks to have an ally in Gov. Rick Snyder, who laid out an aggressive agenda for 2015 in his State of the State address in Lansing last week. The Alliance represents eight area chambers and thousands of businesses across Northern Michigan. It is fortunate that many of its 2015 legislative priorities align with the governor’s goals. The organization looks forward to working with lawmakers and our members to get these things done to keep Michigan moving forward.
The Alliance is encouraged by the governor’s strong support for more investment in talent and workforce development. That is also among our top priorities this year. More and more northern Michigan businesses are finding it difficult to find skilled workers in manufacturing, construction and other sectors — businesses that help drive the northern Michigan economy.
We’re with Snyder on efforts to keep energy reliable and affordable across Michigan, and are supportive of the all-of-the-above approach he is taking to energy generation. We also support comprehensive transportation funding for all modes of movement including roads, airports, rail and shipping. Alliance members in the coming weeks will take a hard look at the state sales tax proposal for road funding to go before voters in May.
The Alliance also is on board with Snyder’s commitment to continue expanding access to early childhood development and the Great Start Readiness program — another issue crucial to working families in northern Michigan and the businesses that employ them.
We are happy to see the Alliance and its member businesses aligned with the state’s executive branch on these important issues.
We also have other priorities that we will continue to push and that we would like to see the administration support as well. Those include closing the funding gap in K-12 per-pupil funding that’s hampering school districts across our region. We’re also fighting for improved business infrastructure in northern Michigan including expanded broadband. We’re also fighting for ongoing regulatory reform that is important to businesses large and small. The Alliance will continue advocating for the highly successful Pure Michigan tourism/business marketing effort that makes Michigan a “must see” state.
The Alliance is proud of its strong working relationship with Gov. Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, both of whom have been familiar faces in Northern Michigan. We hope to continue that working relationship and hope they will be strong advocates for northern Michigan these next four years. We will also work closely with state lawmakers across the region, our representatives in Washington and local officials to ensure the voices of the region’s business sector are heard in the halls of our decision makers.
Those connections have made Michigan a better place to do business through improved tax policy, more help for Michigan’s children and families, expanded markets for Michigan products and more.
There’s still plenty of work to be done — but the strong relationships are in place to keep making things happen.
Kent Wood is the Director of Government Relations for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.