Tim Herman, CEO
May 18, 2016
In today’s blogpost, I want to share with our members some of the ways that we are out working on your behalf.
First, in the months following the onset of the water crisis, the Flint & Genesee Chamber has increased its partnership with public and private sectors. Our goal is to provide economic development programs and funding aimed at boosting the Flint economy, and relief to businesses and residents of the city and surrounding area.
Second, we have an exciting new initiative called Moving Flint Forward. It was established to address immediate and long-term business development needs arising out of, or magnified by, the Flint water emergency. The cornerstone of the initiative is the charitable fund, through which affected businesses can apply for MFF grant funds. To date, 469 business representatives have attended six orientation sessions to learn about the funds and how to apply. The applications are in review and will be announced soon.
Third, due to the broad-brushed news coverage of the water crisis and Flint area, there’s an immediate need to change the narrative. And over time, shift the perception of Flint. We are working with our agency partners on this and advocacy efforts. Our focus is on positive messaging about the region’s strengths and assets, and helping to restore Flint’s reputation as a vibrant place to do business, live and visit.
Fourth, we’re engaged directly with the Michigan Legislature. The Chamber convened two meetings with Senators Jim Stamas and Jim Ananich, as well as Representative Ed McBroom, whom represent the Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency. Business, education and faith-based leaders had the opportunity to share how they’ve been impacted by the water crisis and their concerns about the future.
As a result of input from the Chamber members and others, Senate committee members of the committee lobbied the Senate for $148 million supplemental to the state budget. The Senate approved the recommendation and the $148 million is in the budget and has been sent to the House. The interaction with our members was a vital part of convincing the legislature to act immediately to propose emergency funding.
Just last week, we hosted face-to-face meetings with Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Mission Flint Chief of Staff, Kevin Weise. Mission Flint, is an interagency coordinating committee created by Governor Rick Snyder, which includes representatives from city, county and state water experts and health officials. There was a great exchange of information that both groups could not have gathered otherwise
We’re going to continue to keep the lines of communication open and ensure that we act as a conduit for forward progress. And, we are and will continue to show the world that Flint is open for business!