Northern Michigan Policy Conference – Agenda & Keynote Speakers

Northern Michigan Policy Conference

Are you into business policy? Ready to have a regional impact?
Join us for the Chamber Alliance’s 2019 Northern Michigan Policy Conference.

Northern Michigan Policy Conference
December 2, 2019
9:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
NMC Hagerty Center
715 E. Front Street
Traverse City, MI

$30 per person
(includes lunch and networking event)

Special Hotel Room Rate

West Bay Beach Resort
Call: 231-947-3700, press 1 for reservations.
Ask for the “Northern Michigan Policy Conference” Rate

Rate: $85.00 per night plus 11% tax per room, per night.
Rooms at this rate will be available Nov 29-Dec 4.

*Tax-exempt? Please present a tax exemption letter at check-in. The tax-exempt organization will need to be listed on the form of payment. The exemption includes the  6% state sales tax, but not the 5% occupancy tax.

Northern Michigan Policy Conference

**Keynote Speaker Bios

Amy Clickner, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership

Welcome from Presenting Sponsor
Doug DeYoung, Community Affairs Manager, Consumers Energy

Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance Update
Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

“Promoting a Rural Agenda for Economic Development and Technological Advancement in Michigan”
Jean Hardy, PhC, MIS
University of Michigan

Quick Update
Sarah Hubbard, Acuitas, LLC – “Legislative Update 101”

“The many roles in rural development: from billionaires to non-profits”
Chris Uhl
Executive Director – IFF


Lunch Keynote
“Combatting the Challenges of Rural talent development and attraction”
Christine Quinn
Regional Administrator, US Department of Labor

Quick Update
Rural Partners of Michigan – “A Bridge between leaders and communities to revitalize rural Michigan”

“Move Over Buffalos: Help Your Community Become Growth Obsessed”
Penny Lewandowski
Principal, Change at the Edges

Quick Update
Warren Call, Traverse Connect – “Tracking Regional Growth Metrics”

“A RAAD Concept that can Change the Narrative”
Marty Fittante
CEO, InvestUP


Quick Update
Housing North – “A New Leader in Rural Housing”

Keynote Panel: Developing Quality and Affordable Rural Child Care Options
Dawne Bell
CEO, Early Childhood Investment Corporation


Senator Ken Sikkema
Senior Advisor, Public Sector Consultants
(former Michigan Senate Majority Leader)

*Moderated by Tom Kramer, Anchor, TV 7&4

Recap & Action Plan
Kent Wood, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

Hagerty Center, 5:00-7:30pm

**Keynote Speaker Bios

What Is The Northern Michigan Policy Conference?

The Northern Michigan Policy Conference is a regional economic development conference led by the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance – a partnership of Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations throughout northern Michigan and the upper peninsula.

Now in its second year as a policy conference, the event is designed to leverage diverse strategies to enhance northern Michigan region’s standing as a world-class place for business, residents, visitors, and students of all ages. High-value growth in existing and new businesses, thriving public and private educational institutions, and flourishing communities and downtowns will make Northern Michigan a national model for quality and sustainable rural development.

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance’s “Four Pillars of Rural Prosperity” was created with the participation of numerous business leaders and regional stakeholders. Ultimately, changing state of Michigan policy to be a catalyst for successful rural job and wealth-creation efforts will be the result of a collaborative, unified implementation effort.

The Northern Michigan Policy Conference is designed to be the preeminent way for business and community leaders to have input into solution-oriented ways to address the Four Pillars of Rural Prosperity.


Rural Business Development
Attracting Talent to Rural Areas
Rural and Small City Housing Development
Access to Quality Child Care

Presented by


Presenting Sponsor


Northern Michigan Policy Conference Registration Opening Soon

Northern Michigan Policy Conference Registration Opening Soon

The Northern Michigan Policy Conference is the preeminent way for business and community leaders to have input into solution oriented ways to address:

  • Rural Business Development
  • Attracting Talent to Rural Areas
  • Rural and Small City Housing Development
  • Access to Quality Child Care

The Conference is a gathering of leaders from Chamber and Economic Development Institutions across northern Michigan, as well as policymakers and topical experts. The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance spans nine partner organizations and six associate partners, covering Marquette and the eastern upper peninsula, the northeast, northwest, and central lower peninsula. Local partners include organizations in Petoskey, Charlevoix, Marquette, Alpena, Manistee, Gaylord, Traverse City, Cadillac and Benzie. The group is focused on these legislative priorities and they that are unique to the rural businesses and communities in Northern Michigan.

The 2019 Conference will be held on Monday, December 2 from 9:30am – 7:30pm and will be held at The Hagerty Center. Registration will be opening soon.

Embracing A RAADical Concept For State Government

Image result for rural michigan

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and InvestUP are teaming up to push a concept they have termed the Rural Affairs and Development Department (RAAD for short) within the state of Michigan.

In December 2018, the New York Times, almost dismissively, authored a News Analysis which asked, “Can Rural America Be Saved?”

That article led University of Michigan Professor Jean Hardy to author an answer to that Analysis that essentially said the Times is asking the wrong question and that their “insistence that no one out there knows how to solve problems of the rural economy is a false and misleading one.”

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and InvestUP came together with him to try to develop some prospective policy solutions to answer the Times question.

From that, we have come to believe that one policy solution that Michigan can immediately implement is to create a new State Department or cabinet-level position that is charged with looking at how issues impact and advance opportunity for rural Michigan.

By embracing a cabinet-level Department, Michigan has the opportunity to be a progressive leader in addressing the undoubted and unique challenges that rural communities are facing, setting a precedent, as no other state in the Country has embraced such an approach.

That is the very reason we are now asking for support from rural, business, and community interests across the state. We believe that this concept will permit, for the first time, a singular focus on issues, challenges, and opportunities as they relate to the work and interests in rural Michigan.

Some of those challenges are highlighted in the attached White Paper which Professor Hardy authored to promote and advance the discussion on this concept.


Interested? You can support this concept and our coalition’s efforts in the future by contacting:

Kent Wood, Alliance Director of Government Relations,

Amy Clickner, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership,


%d bloggers like this: