Movers and Shakers Finally Meet on Mackinac Island

Annual policy conference unites business leaders and lawmakers.

The pandemic-delayed spring Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference took place this year as trees displayed fall colors on Mackinac Island.

Mitigating COVID-19 was a priority, and organizers took action to lessen the chance the conference — which brings together business leaders, state and federal lawmakers, and a collection of speakers — would become a superspreader.

“The chamber takes our responsibility for hosting Michigan’s business, civic and political leadership very seriously, which is why we developed a robust series of health and safety protocols across all elements of the conference,” said Tammy Carnrike, chief operating officer for the chamber. “Conference participants accepted and appreciated the protocols in place and provided feedback that they found the conference to be a valuable experience and were happy to be able to be back together in person.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a keynote speaker, also had the pandemic on her mind.

“I’ve been governing through a pandemic and facing down challenges that none of us could have imagined,” the governor told the audience. “Today, thanks to our effective management of the once-in-a-century virus, Michigan’s economy is poised for a once-in-a-generation recovery.”

One concern was whether participants — Michigan legislators — would attend. The deadline to approve a state budget was looming. The Legislature completed the spending plan and could still catch ferries to the island.

“It was critical that lawmakers finalize and pass a state budget, even if it limited their full participation in the conference,” Carnrike explained. “The chamber is emphasizing the importance of fully including legislators in next year’s event to ensure the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference includes a broad representation of bipartisan elected leaders.”

The next policy conference will take place in the spring.

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