By Tim Herman, Chamber CEO

Public policy advocacy is an important part of our leadership in Flint and Genesee County.  As the region’s lead business and economic development organization, it’s important for you to know the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce stands up for our members. We address issues that affect job providers, and engage in the legislative and political process.

Our Public Policy Committee is comprised of local leaders from business, government and education as well as representatives from the Chamber.  For 2013, the committee, chaired by Steve Landaal, President of Landaal Packaging Systems has identified four key areas of focus: the new water pipeline; education; roads; and nurturing relationships with elected officials.

Under the last category – nurturing relationships, the committee has finalized plans for a legislative luncheon this month to interact with elected officials and our Regional Leadership Council members. During this event, elected officials will have an opportunity to express their positions on key issues and answer questions that are of interest to business owners. This provides a great opportunity to hear directly where they stand and the type of support they need from the business community; and it also allows them to learn more about the role that the Chamber plays in the legislative process.

In recent weeks, several issues were brought forward to the committee including the Senate Bill 283. This Bill aims to reduce the administrative burdens that the current annual affirmation and consent process creates for contributions made by employees for political purposes. We reviewed the Bill and have expressed our support. We applaud the bi-partisan leadership taken to address these concerns facing the business community.

We also support the new water pipeline (KWA) that will be used by the counties of Genesee, Lapeer and Sanilac as well as the cities of Flint and Lapeer. We are supportive because the new water source will provide the region with more economic independence. Also, the inclusion of raw water availability means the potential for industrial and agricultural growth along the I-69 International Trade Corridor.

In addition, we have expressed support for a natural gas generating plant to be constructed in Thetford Township on land owned by Consumers Energy where existing natural gas and electric facilities are located. Why do we support this? Because the $750 million plant will create more than 600 jobs over the next four years, enhance the quality of life for the surrounding region and diversify the economic base.

Throughout the year we will keep you informed of public policy issues that matter when it comes to running a business and employing people in Genesee County. We’ll share our opinions and encourage you to share yours; and when it’s important that we raise our voices together, you’ll be the first to know. On the other hand, if there are legislative discussions that you believe the Chamber should be engaged in or you would like to know our position on a particular issue, I’d really like to hear from you at Until then, take care and stay optimistic! Our economy is moving in the right direction and good things are happening!