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Statewide business organizations announce partnership with Governor Whitmer aimed at shaping and approving “Michigan Reconnect” and “MI Opportunity Scholarship”

March 28, 2019

LANSING, March 28, 2019 – Today, four major business organizations announced key support for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s goal of increasing the percentage of Michigan’s workforce with a post-high school degree or high-value certificate to 60 percent by the year 2030. Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Chamber and the Small Business Association of Michigan expressed high level support for the Governor’s MI Opportunity and Reconnect proposals, and look forward to working together with her team and the Legislature to increase post-secondary access for high school graduates and adults, consistent with principles related to accountability for both students and colleges.

“Nearly every large employer in Michigan faces the same major challenge: talent attraction and retention,” said Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “We want to have homegrown talent sustaining our state’s productivity and continued economic growth, and to achieve that we need to boost the number of residents who attain a post-secondary degree or certification. Gov. Whitmer quickly identified this challenge and brought forth an attainable goal for us to all work toward.”  

“The Chamber was an early adopter of the goal of achieving 60 percent degree or certificate attainment by 2030 – a goal now shared by Gov. Whitmer,” said Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Our experience leading the Detroit Promise helps us provide valuable feedback to ensuring the Governor’s proposal fills the talent gap and allow businesses to succeed across the state.”

“Closing the skills gap and addressing our talent crisis is the number one issue for our members,” says Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Grand Rapids Chamber.  “To combat this issue, we need a plan to increase degree attainment, including four year and two-year degrees, as well as certificates and credentials.  We are eager to work alongside the Administration, the Legislature and other stakeholders to craft initiatives that accomplish these goals and create a sustainable and thriving workforce.”

“Michigan has come a long way in the last decade,” said Brian Calley, President of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “The lack of available talent to accommodate growth is a common challenge that businesses of all sizes face. We need a unified, comprehensive strategy to connect more people to education and opportunity. SBAM looks forward to working with the Whitmer Administration and the Legislature to reach the ambitious 60 percent degree or certificate attainment by the year 2030.”

The attached document describes principles needed to ensure effectiveness as the MI Opportunity Scholarship and Reconnect programs are developed and negotiated within the legislative process. The support of these goals should not be construed to be an endorsement of any other aspect of proposed policies or the budget.

Media Contacts:

Business Leaders for Michigan
Anna Heaton, 313.259.5400,

Detroit Regional Chamber
Kelly Weatherwax, 313.596.0360,

Grand Rapids Chamber
Andy Johnston, 616.822.1878,

Small Business Association of Michigan
Laura Biehl, 248.921.5008,

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