SWCRC stands with area businesses in time of need

Ron HinrichsSWCRC President

The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber remains committed to the health and safety of our region as we look toward safely and effectively reopening our economy while protecting the wellbeing of our entire population. 

I remain optimistic that we as a united community will accomplish this mission and overcome the challenge of our day. 

Within the past few weeks, the Chamber and Downriver Community Conference’s Economic Recovery Task Force virtually met with several of our state and federal representation, advocating on behalf of our Downriver job providers and municipalities and sharing critical information to assist our elected leadership in establishing policy that will positively impact our community. 

Our discussions involved many topics including the need to move forward with a plan to safely reopen economic activity with clear guidance based on CDC and OSHA guidelines for businesses and the workforce. 

The CDC recently released documents to be used by businesses as tools to help guide them as they safely reopen. The SWCRC further discussed the critical need for common sense, temporary liability protections for employers who are following federal and state guidelines in good faith to protect their workforce. 

Employers acting in good faith must have protections from COVID-related lawsuits as they work to reopen safely and sustainably, while “bad actors” must be held accountable under the law. It is also a reality in the current economic pain that many employers could find it difficult to meet tax deadlines as they face revenue shortages resulting from closures. 

The SWCRC expressed that deadline extensions may be necessary for the most severely impacted businesses while it is also critical to secure emergency relief funding for local and state governments (particularly smaller communities throughout Downriver) in a phase 4 federal bill. 

I was encouraged at the time of writing this article that the Michigan House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance unanimously approved House Bill 5766 out of committee, which would extend the May 31 deadline for commercial and industrial personal property tax appeals to Aug. 31, giving taxpayers an additional three months to prepare an appeal. 

Additionally, the legislation would move the deadline to file residential appeals from July 31 to Aug. 31. It is said that Governor Whitmer is planning to issue an executive order for the same reason, with additional provisions to the property tax calendar. As this article was written in mid May, there will most likely be updates at the time of this publication. 

 Further, we believe that there is a need to codify the Governor’s Executive Order allowing unemployment compensation benefits paid resulting from COVID-19 related leaves to not be charged against an employer’s experience rating for unemployment insurance tax calculations, allowing for continued relief for our region’s employers at this critical time.

Additionally, the need to provide funding for the Pure Michigan campaign and Going Pro Talent Fund is critical, providing vital resources for job and skills training throughout our region. And, funding to assist small businesses in purchasing personal protection equipment (PPE) to protect their workforce is among the most important needs at this time. 

The SWCRC continues to encourage our membership to contact your elected representation to share your needs as they work to develop policy regarding the current situation. 

The SWCRC remains committed to working with our elected leadership to ensure that our membership and region is provided with the opportunity and resources needed, and we will continue to provide up-to-date information as we navigate through the current uncertain times as one united region.

In addition to the economic and health crisis, I believe that we as a community must focus on our mental health as well. 

I was discussing this recently with one of our community’s great rotarians, who shared with me some excellent points about the impact the current situation is having on our mental health. 

Like the virus, mental health is something that can affect us all, and a united effort to confront this challenge is critical. We have so many organizations throughout our region that tackle this challenge on a daily basis, and who are making great things happen for our region.

One in particular that I want to thank is The Guidance Center, based in Southgate, and the continued support we receive from Kari Walker, CEO, and Al Sebastian, a board member of the SWCRC and someone who so many of us know and work closely with. 

It is so important that we remain positive despite all the negative news. We will overcome as a united region, and optimism, empathy and the ability to listen and understand each other is needed at this time. Please take time to enjoy life, take a walk, spend time with your loved ones, and make your mental health a priority as we battle through the current crisis as one united Downriver family.

Speaking of positive leadership, our great friend and late Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack is someone who we all loved, respected and admired tremendously. This year, the SWCRC named our Leadership Award as a part of the Women of Achievement Awards ceremony presented by Beaumont in her honor. 

Kyle was a friend to all of us, and I often think of her leadership and ability to unite us for the great cause. Kyle’s policy and leadership helped to enhance and drive our local economy and provided great benefits for our region’s job providers and entrepreneurs. She was not only an amazing visionary, but a true leader who rolled up her sleeves, brought people together and accomplished great things. Kyle was a leader who showed us all love and great friendship. Kyle always encouraged, and supported the Chamber’s programs, policy and initiatives. She fought for our region’s entrepreneurs, and provided for a strong and thriving partnership between government and business. 

Kyle Stack will forever be in the hearts of Downriver’s residents, entrepreneurs and job providers.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to announce the 2020 nominees of the Women of Achievement Awards. 

Kyle F. Stack Leadership Award: Terey DeLisle of Services to Enhance Potential; Congresswoman Debbie Dingell; Joann Gonyea of the City of Trenton; Rose Angela Gronda of First Merchants Bank; Heather Grybel of the Trenton Trib; and Laura Huot of The Guidance Center. 

Entrepreneur Award: Tammie Bachran of A Serendipity Cakery; Mary Culbertson of Alormar Industries; Patty Henderson of the Henderson Realty Team; Ayana King of Maximum Communication; Michelle Saward of the Saward Realty Team; and Janelle Rose of Willow Tree.

Unsung Heroine Award: Karen Depriest of Christy’s Legacy of Hope; Barb Duran of Send Out Cards and the Kiwanis Club; Beth Imes of the Trenton Trib; Kris Jordan of The PAWS Clinic; Kimberly O’Farrell of Grosse Ile Township; Debbie Petri of ChristNet Services; and Carrie Tittle of Tittle Brothers Construction.

Distinguished Young Woman Award: Alyssa Angellotti of Expert Heating and Cooling; Chelsea Fell of Advantage One Credit Union; Melanie Hojnowski of Second Step Advertising; and Stephanie McNees of the Southgate DDA. 

Congratulations ladies and well done! 

The selection committee will be meeting over the next few weeks, and will be faced with the difficult decision of determining this year’s recipients. The selection committee is made up of volunteers and SWCRC staff and administration are not participating or influencing the voting in any way. 

The nominations will be judged blindly, and based solely on the content of the submitted answers to the nomination form questions. Each nominee’s name and business/organization will be taken off of the nomination form to maintain the integrity of the selection process. We plan to announce the recipients in early Summer and look forward to celebrating this October!

Stay safe Downriver and stay positive! We will get through this together.


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