I want to thank the nearly 400 business and community leaders who attended our recent Annual Meeting and helped celebrate the progress made in 2016 by the region and the Flint & Genesee Chamber.

Our theme for the meeting was “2020: Building the Future”. It reflects a clear vision of what can be accomplished leading up to the year 2020. And, that the region is comprised of forward thinkers and doers who are working to make our vision a reality.

During the meeting, I shared some of the improvements the region made last year on key economic indicators, such as improved earnings, employment, unemployment rate and housing. I also shared that despite the challenges we faced last year – and still face – the private sector continued to invest and create jobs – yielding over $503 million in business investment and government contract value. And tourism activity generated over $131 million in economic impact. This is evidence that we have great momentum, and we have every intention of keeping it going.

I also shared other progress that we envision will occur between now and the year 2020. First, let’s imagine a convergence of advanced manufacturing with health care, technology, life sciences and higher education, along with improved quality of life. With this type of collaboration in place, now envision:

  • 5,000 underemployed workers moving up the earnings ladder.
  • More and better jobs through the growth of export products and services.
  • 1,000 teens being hired by private sector and nonprofit employers.
  • Becoming ground zero for autonomous vehicle production through Kettering’s GM Mobility Research Center – putting Flint at the forefront of the development of next generation technology.
  • More craft businesses, such as welding, woodworkers, makers, organic foods and breweries.
  • The Flint water infrastructure has been addressed.
  • Two new, full-service grocery stores in north Flint.
  • New, mixed income modern housing.
  • Increased bike rental locations throughout local parks.
  • Additional hotels to provide more space for meetings and events, and enrich visitors’ experiences.
  • The Flint River sheds its notoriety and becomes a community asset again -- increasing the quality of life for residents and non-residents alike.
  • The University Avenue Corridor plan is fully realized, anchored by two universities and new businesses

These are highly impactful projects that can go a long way to change the trajectory of the region’s economic growth, not to mention public perception.

In fact, some of the projects are hallmarks of cities and regions that have great turn around stories. Whether you realize it or not, we are well on our way.

Today, I want to thank our Chamber members and others who have worked to move Flint & Genesee forward. Tomorrow, I may be calling you to help realize some of the projects mentioned above. I hope that you’ll pick up the phone.