MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ) – Hundreds of Michigan’s top business and government leaders will head up north to the Grand Hotel this week for the 34th Annual Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference.

The Chamber says this year’s Conference will focus on three key areas:

  • Entrepreneurship: Encouraging a culture of innovation through forward-thinking policy, capital infusion, and talent availability to ensure entrepreneurs are a core component of Michigan’s DNA;
  • STEM Education: Driving job growth by focusing on progressive curriculum for 21st Century jobs, including STEM education and advanced skilled trades, to ensure Michigan employers have access to a broad talent pool;
  • Impact:  Leading  economic transformation in Michigan and Detroit, as a catalyst for other states to follow, by boldly confronting real problems with innovative state policy, precedent setting financial turnaround measures and building a government structure to attract new investment and jobs.
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[View A Copy Of The Agenda]

While some have panned the three-day meeting as a waste of time and money, others find great value in the event.

That includes Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan— an organization of the top executives of the largest companies in the state.

“It does give an opportunity for groups like ours and others to really be able to share with attending leaders what are the top priorities that really need to be addressed in the state, and get people, as much as possible, on the same page towards trying to address them,” Rothwell said.

Key speakers at this year’s conference will include Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, and New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell.

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Topping Rothwell’s agenda, though, are the one-on-ones.

“I think that the value is really not in the speakers as much as the networking that you get to (take part in) there in a very condensed, short period of time. It does give you the ability to get a lot of business done that would take you weeks or months to do, otherwise,” Rothwell said.

Rothwell said he doesn’t think the conference should be judged on whether or not a specific policy was adopted or a specific program was implemented as a result of the event.

“I think it’s success, really, is in building the cohesive of decision makers in Michigan toward acting as one toward getting our agenda accomplished,” Rothwell said.

“I don’t think that Michigan would have been turning around its economy as quickly if we didn’t have a conference like the Mackinac conference that allowed key decision-makers, stakeholders to get together and be able to have  the relationships that are cultivated up there to get some of these difficult things that we’ve gotten done accomplished.”

Following registration and a dinner on Tuesday, the conference begins Wednesday, May 28. The wraps up Friday, May 30, at 11 a.m.  Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and for complete coverage.

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What critical issues would you like to see Michigan leaders address at the conference? Comment below.