News Articles


Date ArticleType
7/5/2016 Member News
Chamber Executive Michigan Intelligence Report July 5, 2016

Chamber Executive Michigan Intelligence Report July 5, 2016

Michigan West Coast Chamber news: 250 new jobs pledged with Michigan firm's $5.6M expansion

JR Automation Technologies LLC will invest $5.6 million in new equipment and create 250 new jobs in Holland Township, the company announced on Tuesday, June 28.

The 36-year-old company makes custom automation applications for a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical device, pharmaceutical, food processing and construction. The company has experienced substantial growth since 2009, according to a press release.

"West Michigan and the talented people who choose to work at JR are huge contributors to our continued success and expansion," said CEO Bryan Jones, who credited the support of state and local governments for his company's decision to expand in Ottawa County.

"Having the supporting structure of Lakeshore Advantage, MEDC, Michigan Works! and Holland Charter Township allows JR to focus on our operational business growth in Michigan," Jones said.

"West Michigan is a great place to live and raise a family and we are excited to be offering hundreds of new job opportunities to both experienced engineers and new grads. We look forward to the continued opportunities that will be generated in our community through this expansion," Jones said.

"JR Automation is a true example of a local company that started in a garage now developed into one of region's major employers," said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. "The systems developed by the JR team are sure to equip manufacturers throughout the world for efficiency and growth," she said.

"As an innovative, engineering-focused organization, JR Automation fits nicely into our local business community's sweet spot. Their continued growth and success is no surprise, as JR has grown 475 percent since 2009," said Jane Clark, president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. Read more: M LIVE

Triple Play Chamber event: Birmingham baseball buffs head east for minor league fun

You know how the song goes: “Root, root, root for the home team.”

But on June 23, the crowd will be cheering for the rivals at the old ballgame when the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers take on the Eastside Diamond Hoppers at Utica’s new Jimmy John’s Field.

The new minor league ballpark will host residents and fans from the west side for Birmingham Night, beginning at 7:25 p.m. Guests can enjoy the game and special entertainment for $14.50, which includes a grandstand ticket, a hot dog and a soft drink.

“We’re going to have the mascots running around, a hula hoop contest, a little bit of everything. There’s great food all around the park, cheap beer if you want it and craft beer if you want it,” said Brian Berryman, executive director of baseball operations with the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

Despite the fact that the field sits in downtown Utica — a location that’s been more than welcoming to the new field, said Berryman — he can’t help but feel a little out of place sometimes.

“I am a little biased because I live in Bloomfield. I’m wearing my Beavers gear right now. My wife has Beaver fever; my daughter has Beaver fever,” he said with a laugh. “I’m a west-side kid, so coming east of I-75 is a little bit difficult for me, but the community over here has been great. They love their baseball, they love the park, and they love the idea of having their hometown team represented. It’s fantastic.”

The best part, Berryman said, is the opportunity to take the whole family out for a night of baseball for less than $50 in some cases — something that’s hard to come by at that other popular baseball stadium in downtown Detroit.

“You can expect to have a lot of fun and be entertained. And you can get here and get home in 20 minutes,” he said, noting that parking is free. “It’s a great night out — it’s very fun and very affordable.”

The Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce is getting in on the action too, inviting its members out for a summer networking event July 14.

“We’re calling it the Chamber Triple Play — members of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber, Sterling Heights Regional Chamber and #YoPros will be some of the first to experience the sports enthusiast destination,” said BBC Director of Marketing and Events Andrea Foglietta in an email. “It’s geared toward professionals looking for a fun night out with business networking. You can bring a friend, family member or treat your staff. Jo Golda, owner of Jo’s Cleaning and Organizing Services in Rochester, purchased six tickets for a staff night out.”

Chamber members can enjoy a Beavers versus Hoppers game — along with a smokehouse-style barbecue buffet, two drink tickets, photo opportunities and more — for $30 per person. Contact the BBC for more information. Read more: C and G Newspapers

#FamousChamber of Commerce Quotations: Honoring Volunteers

#Be of service. Whether you make yourself available to a friend or co-worker, or you make time every month to do volunteer work, there is nothing that harvests more of a feeling of empowerment than being of service to someone in need.” Gillian Anderson - from www, 

Grand Rapids Chamber Responds to Orlando's Tragedy

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Orlando, FL on Sunday, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce extends sincere sympathies to all those affected. We are deeply grieved by the violence, loss of life, and inherent hatred and intolerance motivating such acts against fellow citizens.

In principle and practice, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce believes in the value and power of diversity and inclusion at all levels of our businesses and our community. Encouraging the diversity of our people is key to creating a community where everyone is welcome and where businesses thrive through new ideas and innovations. Without diversity and inclusion, we limit our talent, our resources and the business opportunities necessary to prosper in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Our work as a chamber will continue to focus on leading the West Michigan business community in creating an inviting and inclusive region that is welcoming to and safe for all people—whatever their socio-economic backgrounds, skin color, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, or any other identifying differences may be. We will continue to live out these values through our policies, practices, membership services, and community engagement while also serving as a resource for West Michigan’s employers and employees.

The Chamber also commends all those who work to keep our community safe every day. We remain committed to supporting local law enforcement through Silent Observer, a program of the Chamber. We encourage vigilance in our neighborhoods and always invite the public to report any anonymous tips to help fight crime by calling 616.774.2345 or visiting

Although our hearts are heavy as we continue to mourn with Orlando and the LGBT community, let us also look to the future and find ways we can work together to support a strong, diverse, and vibrant West Michigan.

Howell Area Chamber Event: 100k attend Michigan Challenge Balloonfest

The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest celebrates its 32nd anniversary this coming weekend, but that number doesn't tell the true story of its impact.

Try 100,000 people and more than $5.5 million for the event, which returns June 24-26 to the Howell High School campus at 1200 W. Grand River Ave. (There are also three new attractions.)

That's the estimated number of people expected to attend and the event's estimated financial impact for Livingston County.

"In good weather, we estimate about 100,000 people will come here," said event Michelle Tokan of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Its economic impact on Howell and surrounding areas is equally impressive.

"A very conservative estimate would be about $5-$5.5 million in a good year," said Barb Barden of the Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

That figure includes hotel bookings, food and sales achieved by on-site vendors, Barden said. Read more: Livingston Daily

#FamousChamber of Commerce Quotations: Tackle your Biggest Challenge First

If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first. --- Mark Twain

#BestChamber practices: Rochester Regional Shop Local Program Online Sign-up


ShopLocal Dollars is a regional economic development initiative to keep spending in the greater Rochester communities, promote our local businesses and offer a convenient online gift certificate program for doing so! 

How do I sign up my business?

Click here to complete the Participating Merchant formClick the Signup button and enter invitation code ROCHESTER to get started. Questions? Contact the Chamber office at (248) 651-6700. 

More information: Rochester Regional Chamber 

Michigan chambers, Business leaders ‘hungry to help’ Flint

Michigan’s top business executives are preparing to launch a major offensive on behalf of the troubled city of Flint.

In two weeks, some of the state’s top business minds will converge on the city for an intensive, firsthand look at the challenges Flint faces, and to figure out how their expertise and the resource of their companies can hasten its recovery from the water crisis.

“The business community is hungry to help,” says Mark Davidoff, chairman of the Detroit Regional Chamber, who will announce the Flint Day initiative Thursday at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. “Unless you’ve spent time there, you don’t have a full understanding of the totality of what Flint faces.”

The initiative is part of the response to critics of the annual conference who accused the chamber of ignoring Flint in putting together the agenda for this week’s gathering. When a featured speaker scheduled for Thursday canceled, a panel on Flint was added that includes Mayor Karen Weaver. The Flint Challenge had raised nearly $100,000 Wednesday afternoon in relief funds.

Davidoff, managing partner of Deloitte’s Michigan office, volunteered for a month in Flint to help Weaver with special projects related to the city’s recovery from the lead poisoning of its water system. He realized how much Flint needed beyond donations of bottled water and other relief measures.

The city needs a strategy for the long term, he says. So he’s rallying the Detroit chamber, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids chamber to join the Flint chamber on June 14 to meet with city and civic officials. Read more: Detroit News

Dearborn Area Chamber Partnership: “Special All-Stars Day” Returns, Celebrating its 5th Year and Promising Great Fun for Special Needs Children and Adults!

Dearborn, MI - Special needs children and adults will have the opportunity to participate in all of the fun and excitement of the Dearborn Homecoming at “Special All-Stars Day” on Friday, August 5th. The Dearborn Area Chamber will partner with the City of Dearborn, Dearborn Community Fund, Wade Shows, Inc. and Little Caesars Pizza-Dearborn (located at Monroe St. and Dartmouth), for this exciting event, created to give children and adults with special needs an opportunity to enjoy select rides and old fashioned summertime fun!

Volunteers will offer games, activities, a dance party, face painting and snacks from 9 AM to noon at Ford Field Park in Dearborn, on Monroe Street just north of Morley.  From 9 – 11 am “All-Stars” will be the guests of Wade Shows, Inc. and enjoy selected rides such as The Fun House, Tea Cup, Tilt-a-Whirl, Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Merry-go-round, Super Slide and the Bumble Bee free of charge.  Light refreshments will be served in the shelter next to the tennis courts. The event will feature the showing of a fire truck, provided by the Dearborn Fire Department, and a police car, courtesy of the Dearborn Police Department.

Several local groups are participating and donating their services to offer this morning of fun including Member Focus Community Credit Union, 1st Choice Urgent Care, Chief Financial Federal Credit Union, Aflac, Dearborn Goodfellows, Dearborn Kiwanis Club, Dearborn Heights Rotary Club, the Dearborn  Heights Soccer Club, Fairlane Town Center, Special Education and Behavioral Connections, STEP Services to Enhance Potential, music by Lil’ Jimmy Dearborn, Better Made Potato Chips, Sam’s Club, Yogurtown, Edible Arrangements, Del Taco, Besek Photography, DJ Mark with, Pooky the Clown and face painting, S.T.A.N.D. from Dearborn Schools and more.

Register for this free event online at or by calling 313-584-6100. 

Grand Haven Chamber partnership: City, GVSU start summer-long tourism impact study

Grand Haven’s summer tourist season has officially begun, and with it comes the start of the city’s summer tourism count.

The city, in partnership with Grand Valley State University, has started a study that aims to look at the number of seasonal visitors and the economic impact they have on the community.

“We’re ready to go,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

A team of GVSU experts and four city partners, combined with GVSU students and city interns, will participate in the research.

The GVSU team includes: Patty Janes, associate professor, Hospitality & Tourism Management, College of Community and Public Service; Paul Stephenson, department chairman and professor of statistics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Christian Glupker, professor of economics, Seidman College of Business; Paul Isley, associate dean of undergraduate programs, Seidman College of Business; Ruth Stegeman, director for the Office for Community Engagement; Robert Smart, associate provost for research administration; and Linda Chamberlain, director of technology commercialization.

Partnering with the city are the local Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Parks & Recreation Division, Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority, and the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The five groups have pledged to share the cost of the study, contributing $3,686 each. Read more: Grand Haven Tribune

Chamber partners: How Muskegon spent and planned for cruise ship's return

A cruise ship's return to what locals call Port City was the reward for a heavy investment and months of planning.

Pearl Mist, a 108-suite ocean-going cruise ship, pulled into the Muskegon Channel from Lake Michigan about 7:30 a.m. Thursday, June 9. The ship was greeted by a sheriff's safety patrol boat, a barbershop quartet, a group of local officials.

"We at the county are very excited for what opportunities this provides for Muskegon to be able to show off what we have here in Muskegon, and hopefully to be able to entice these visitors to come back and spend some more time here," said Muskegon County Board of Commissioners Chairman Terry Sabo.

During the ship's first visit in September 2015 – an unscheduled stop that reportedly took place because there wasn't docking room in nearby Holland – some locals seemed skeptical of the cruise ship's return. Commenters on Muskegon Chronicle voiced concerns about there not being enough to do in Downtown Muskegon and the city's ability to attract tourists.

But fast forward 10 months, and Muskegon has worked out the details. Pearl Seas Cruises has 10 total visits planned to the city for 2016.

Last year, the vessel drew up at the Mart Dock, an industrial facility. This year, officials invested funds into existing infrastructure at Heritage Landing, a park and outdoor event venue owned by Muskegon County at the east side of inland lake.

"Through some grants, we've put in about $350,000 worth of work here at the Heritage Landing to make sure the cruise ships could dock here," Sabo said. The work includes new section of dock, built for $243,000. The cruise ship's gangplank rested on Thursday where the concrete had been poured a few weeks ago.

Law enforcement headed up by the Muskegon County Sheriff's Marine division developed a security plan approved by the Coast Guard. On Thursday, the landing area was fenced off to the public with non-threatening plastic purple fences, and sheriff's boat patrolled the harbor.

In the scrambling visit last fall, Muskegon was just an alternative visit to Holland. During the interim, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Muskegon Now, and Muskegon Museums put together a menu activities, including "The Art of Food" at the Muskegon Museum of Art with cheese, chocolate and beer tasting. A trolley tour of downtown Muskegon was also offered, as was a shuttle service to the beach and U.S.S. Silversides Submarine Museum. Read more: M LIVE

#BestChamber Practices: Troy Chamber restaurants and Troy School District Partnership - Hamilton Elementary Wins $1,000 Cash Prize for Step Up Program; 12 K Since inception

The Program is a Partnership between Troy Chamber and Troy School District June 10, 2016 – TROY, MI — Congratulations to Hamilton Elementary School who was the winner of “Step Up to the Plate,” a partnership between Troy Chamber member restaurants and the Troy School District. The students at Hamilton took advantage of the restaurant discounts and collected the most receipts out of all the Troy schools.

As winner of the program, sponsored by Main Street Bank, Hamilton earned a $1,000 cash prize. Over the five-day period, restaurants offered diners 20% off their food purchases. Hamilton utilized their winnings from last year to add books to the fiction section in the school library.

“We are honored to sponsor this program,” said David LeVasseur, Vice President of Retail Sales at Main Street Bank. “This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and also support local businesses.”

Since its inception, Step Up to the Plate program has rewarded $12,000 in cash prizes to Troy schools, with $10,000 of that money being won by Hamilton Elementary.

The program was made possible thanks to the support of 15 local restaurants including: Bonefish Grill, Brio Tuscan Grille, Estia Greek Street Food, Shield’s Restaurant Bar Pizzeria, Papa Romano’s Pizza / Mr. Pita, Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria, Granite City Food & Brewery, Tropical Smoothie Café, Steelhouse Tavern, Mr. Kabob Xpress, La Marsa, Kruse and Muer Seafood Grille, Priya Indian Cuisine, Ridley’s Baker Café and Sy Thai.

The Step Up to the Plate program is slated to run again in November 2016. Visit or call 248-641-8151 for details about how you can participate. Contact:

Jessica Hruska, Director of Communications - 248-641-1606/

Lansing Regional Chamber, MSU, Ingham, Eaton and Clinton county leaders expected to show commitment for a regional plan that will address financial issues, other topics.

LANSING -- A regional partnership will be announced Wednesday morning that's expected to mark a first for Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.

Elected officials, business leaders and academic experts are prepared to team up so they can do a better job addressing priority issues in the Greater Lansing region. Those issues range from transportation and infrastructure improvements to joint purchasing agreements and personnel sharing.

Officials representing all three counties and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce signed a memorandum of understanding to confirm the initiative and will explain details at a press conference at the chamber's office. An announcement from the chamber also says "the Ingham, Eaton and Clinton County Boards of Commissioners have all accepted a position on the City of Lansing’s Financial Health Team." That group is lead by former Mayor David Hollister.

Hollister told the Lansing State Journal this week the next financial health team meeting with tri-county input will be held 7:30 a.m. July 21 in the Gannon Building, Room 244, at Lansing Community College. The meeting will be open to the public. Lansing State Journal

Chamber news: Report: Michigan businesses paid $14B in taxes in 2014

Michigan businesses are contributing major revenue to the government’s coffers despite projections showing the state will lose money under its main corporate tax this year, according to a new report sponsored by influential business groups.

Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing found that Michigan businesses paid a collective $14.1 billion in state and local taxes in 2014, including property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes that go beyond traditional business taxes.

“It really is the case that employers are now, and have been, and are going to be paying a significant share of the cost of schools, of fire and police and government at all levels,” said AEG founder and CEO Patrick Anderson.

Michigan scrapped its complicated and controversial Michigan Business Tax as part of a Republican-led tax code rewrite in 2012. The replacement Corporate Income Tax no longer applies to gross receipts and exempts most small businesses and other “pass through” entities whose owners pay income tax on profits.

Businesses paid $1.2 billion less in corporate income and gross receipts taxes in 2014 than they did in 2011, according to the report, but they paid a combined $6.85 billion in property taxes, $2.35 billion in general sales taxes and $1.8 billion in unemployment taxes.

The owners of small businesses and other “pass through” entities exempt from the new corporate tax paid $702 million in income taxes on their profits, according to an AEG analysis of Internal Revenue Service data, up from $464 million in 2011.

“The MBT and CIT are the frontman of the band on business taxes, but they’re less than 6, 7, 8 percent of all business taxes paid in most states,” said AEG senior consultant Alex L. Rosaen. Read more: Detroit News

Town Square Publications Chamber of Commerce Membership Directories, Community Re-Location Guides and Custom Maps

Town Square Publications, a division of the Daily Herald Media Group, is a national chamber custom publishing group that specializes in developing partnerships by producing high-quality print and digitally integrated publications along with other added value programs dedicated to creating relevancy for local chambers of commerce and other membership focused organizations interested in raising non-dues revenues. To request your publication proposal, Click here

Chamber interest: The Americans are starting to come back, says Tourism Sault Ste. Marie

By water and by rail, tourism numbers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario are up, says a local tourism authority.

Ian McMillan, executive director for Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, said over the last two years the city has been experiencing increases in registrations of American tourists for the first time since 9/11.

Drastically lower bridge crossing numbers may suggest less American tourists crossing to Sault, Ontario — but McMillan said those figures are misleading.

“With the exchange rate not in our favour, the numbers of [Canadian] residents going over has diminished a lot and that affects the bridge traffic,” said McMillan.

Tony Haller, executive director of the Sault, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said many businesses on his side of the river would like to see more Canadian tourists, but adds their city ‘never sees the highest highs or lowest lows,’ in terms of tourism dollars from Canada.

Although the ACR passenger train from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to Hearst has been out of operation since last summer, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train is still going strong. Read more: SOOToday

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Michigan Chamber 2016-2020 Strategic Plan Michigan Chamber

Ferndale Chamber of Commerce selects new executive director C and G Newspapers

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Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce 2016 Community Profile & Directory - The Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce 2016 Community Profile & Directory is available at the Plainfield Area Chamber today! Thanks to Tasha Kitson, Mari Edmondson, Vitella Barnes, Kellie Wujek and the chamber team for their help and direction putting this together!

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber: Middle school students solve problems at Michigan’s Adventure Muskegon-Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

Monroe County Chamber members learn about conscious capitalism Monroe News

#BestChamber practices: Orion Area Chamber: Hiring Teenagers

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Notable Midwest Chamber Retirements

After 15 years at the helm and a 5 Star Rating, Greater La Porte Chamber President Michael Seitz to Retire

From an Indiana Chamber legend: One of my favorite Irish blessings is: "May you never forget what is worth remembering - Nor ever remember what is best forgotten".  - Vince Griffin, on his retirement after 18 years with the Indiana chamber. So long Vince! We are all going to miss you!!! -

Belleville Executive Director John Lengerman to Retire in Summer 2016

After 29 years, WMC leader, statesman, visionary Jim Morgan to step down