Business Advocate Header
Issue No. 7
March 2018
The Business Advocate
A Letter from Veronica Horn
Senior Director, Government Affairs

Of the three core promises we make to you ... Connect, Communicate, Influence ... it's our promise of Influence that really becomes important in an election year, and 2018 may turn out to be another election of great change in Michigan and Saginaw County!

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce endorses candidates for state, county and Saginaw City Council positions. We support candidates who share our free-market philosophy and who work to create an economic environment that helps businesses prosper.

This year, our Ad Hoc Screening and Endorsement Committee will review questionnaires and interview candidates for Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives, Saginaw County Board of Commissioners and Saginaw City Council. In addition, the Committee will review proposals that will be on both the August and November ballots. These include as many as 8-10 statewide and several local/countywide ballot proposals.

If you are interested in serving on our Screening and Endorsement Committee, please contact me at or call the Chamber at 989-752-7161. You can have input into candidate endorsements and/or ballot questions. We're always looking for issue experts who can provide information about the issues facing voters.

There are many good things happening in Saginaw County. Know that we will continue to advocate on your behalf and will partner with organizations like Saginaw Future Inc., the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, other Chambers across the state, and business organizations that share our vision.

Our Board of Directors believes that the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce has a responsibility to our members and our community to advocate for issues and elected officials that will make this community a better place to conduct business, generate jobs and build careers.

Veronica Horn
Senior Director, Government Affairs
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce

Saginaw River Deep Water Feasibility Study
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce continues to work with partners from Saginaw Future, Saginaw County (official non-federal sponsors of the study), and the Saginaw River Alliance (dock owners) to move the Saginaw River Deep Water Feasibility Study forward.

Currently, the Saginaw River requires dredging about every 10 years. Dredging is required more often if there is a rainy season that causes silt to plug the shipping channel..

Keeping the Saginaw River deepened to a consistent depth will allow for full-weight cargo ships to enter the shipping channel and would provide opportunities for increased shipping and additional economic development along the 17.5 mile channel.

Now in the fourth year of a study to determine the return on investment if the Saginaw River was deepened to a consistent depth, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is studying depths of 22, 24, 25, and 26 feet.

The study partnership group is leading efforts to keep the study moving forward and identifying funds that are required to match federal dollars spent on the study. To date, the group has already matched $500,000 and is working on an additional $100,000 in submitted requests. They continue to be optimistic that the study will show a great return on investment, a strong potential to increase shipping, and provide an adequate port navigation depth for current shippers.
Legislative Events

Medical and Recreational Marijuana in Michigan 
In January, the Saginaw County Chamber, in partnership with Saginaw Future, Saginaw Valley State University, and the Bay, Midland and Mt. Pleasant Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations, hosted an event to provide facts to the business community and municipal leaders from throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region related to medical marijuana and the possibility of recreational marijuana being legalized in Michigan.

Experts from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Michigan Municipal League (MML), Consumers Energy, the City of Kalamazoo attorney, and Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) presented fact-based statistics gathered from other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana. This candid forum was put on to help municipal leaders decide whether to opt in their communities to allow the growing and sale of marijuana.

Over 200 attendees joined the robust discussion about the issue.

Gubernatorial Town Hall Event

On February 5th, the Saginaw County and Bay Area Chambers of Commerce along with Saginaw Valley State University held a Town Hall event featuring three of the four Republican candidates for Governor. Participants were Lt. Governor Brian Calley, State Senator Patrick Colbeck and Saginaw Doctor Jim Hines, M.D.

The welcome was given by SVSU President Don Bachand and SVSU Director of the Center for Public Policy and Service John Kaczynski. Almost 100 participants attended the event which was moderated by Ryan Tarrant, President & CEO of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and Veronica Horn, Sr. Director of Government Affairs for the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce.

a part of the Chamber's 2018 Public Policy Bites Series

On Friday, April 27th, the chamber will host Focal Point, an event that takes a deep dive into an issue important to Chamber members.

This year, the event will provide both sides of a potential ballot initiative that would repeal Michigan's Prevailing Wage Laws. The Chamber has adopted a neutral position on the issue which has Chamber members on both sides.

Presenting arguments opposed to Prevailing Wage Laws will be Jeff Wiggins, State Director of Associated Builders and Contractors and Attorney Kraig Schutter, ABC, Greater Michigan.

Presenting arguments in favor of existing Prevailing Wage Laws will be Damian Hill, President of Associated General Contractors and Attorney, Patrick Devlin, Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council.

The event will be moderated by WSGW Talk Show Host Art Lewis.

The event, which will be held at Four Points by Sheraton, is open to Chamber members and reservations are required. Register under events at or call the Chamber office 989-752-7161.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of all things legislative, policy and political. Please  feel free to contact Bob Van Deventer, President & CEO at 989-752-7161 or email him at .
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This year, voters will replace 26 of the 38 Michigan Senators due to term limits, and will vote on all 110 House of Representatives seats.

Combine that with the possibility of a number of ballot proposals, and you will begin to see how busy this election year will be. As part of the Chamber mission to Communicate, Connect and Influence, we work hard to provide all the information members need in order to make informed voting decisions on candidates and issues on the August or November ballots. 

Candidate Screening & Endorsements
During election years (even number years), the Chamber enlists the help of our board and other community leaders to serve on our Screening and Endorsement Committee.

Questionnaires are sent to candidates and responses are reviewed by the Committee. Those who complete and return their questionnaires are then invited to participate in f ace-to-face interviews for possible endorsement.

The committee focuses on the following races for possible endorsement:

  • Michigan State Senate Seat, 32nd District (Incumbent Ken Horn (R), Frankenmuth)
  • State Representative, 94th District - Open Seat
  • State Representative,95th District (Incumbent Vanessa Guerra (D), Bridgeport
  • State Representative, 98th District (Incumbent Ben Frederick (R), Western Saginaw County)
  • Saginaw County Board of Commissioners; Districts 1-11
  • Saginaw City Council (4 seats open)

Ballot Proposals
Each election year, the Chamber identifies ballot proposals, from state level issues to local millage questions, that have the potential to impact member business.

Traditionally, Michigan has more ballot questions than any other state in the union. During the 2018 election cycle, potential ballot proposals include:
  • Elimination of Prevailing Wage
  • Increased Minimum Wage
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Legalization of Recreational Marijuana
  • Shut Down of Line 5
  • Voters Not Politicians (Gerrymandering)
  • Part-Time Legislature

Local ballot/millage questions:
  • 911 Funding
  • Animal Control Millage (Asking for .45 mills - in August election)
  • Career Technical Education (CTE) Millage (Asking for 1 mill)
  • Castle Museum Millage
  • Tax Cap Removal (City of Saginaw)
In addition to recommendations for candidate endorsement, the Chamber's Screening and Endorsement Committee will also make a recommendation to the full Board of Directors on whether to support, oppose or stay neutral on millage requests and ballot proposals. The final decision is then determined by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.

Small Cell Legislation

Legislation introduced in the Senate would allow for small cell wireless technology to be installed in the municipal right-of-way.

This legislation is needed because of the strain put on our communications infrastructure due to the inundation of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices.

 A macrocell is a cell in a mobile phone network that provides radio coverage served by a high power cell site such as a tower, antenna or mast.

Small cells, in comparison, are low-powered cellular radio access nodes that operate in both the licensed and unlicensed spectrum. They have a range of 10 meters to a few kilometers and are considered "small" compared to a mobile macrocell, partly because they have a shorter range and partly because they typically handle fewer concurrent calls or sessions.

Small cells make the best use of available spectrum by re-using the same frequencies many times within a geographical area. With fewer new macrocell sites being built, larger numbers of small cells are recognized as an important method of increasing cellular network capacity, quality and resilience.

Small cell technology is a major infrastructure investment in Michigan; boosting the state's competitiveness for current businesses and attraction efforts. It is the first step towards the next generation of wireless technology; including connected and automated vehicles.

The Saginaw County Chamber was pleased to support and to testify on behalf of our members for passage of this critical legislation.