Advocating for the public good

Tim Herman — Guest columnist

Tim Herman — Guest columnist

With the local election season upon us (Tuesday was the primary election for mayoral races in Flint and Burton, along with millage proposals in the Byron and Fenton school districts), now is a good time to reflect on the virtues of civic engagement for the public good. It is my belief that that responsibility extends to organizations such as ours.

Public policy is a strategic focus area for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce because it allows us to engage in conversations and advocate for policies that are pro-business and support quality-of-life initiatives. Operationally, our business advocacy is addressed through our Public Policy Committee (PPC).

The PPC, which is comprised of local leaders from business, government, education as well as the Flint & Genesee Chamber, is focused on four key areas: business; people and place; talent and education; and infrastructure; and, partnerships and collaboration are central to how we execute our strategy.

Recently, we joined with other business organizations statewide to highlight the critical need to invest in improving the condition of our roads. The Flint & Genesee Chamber was a co-signer along with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Michigan Realtors Association, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and the Midland Business Alliance on a statement regarding the ongoing road-funding negotiations in Lansing. The statement reads:

“As budget negotiations continue, job providers are clear that fixing Michigan’s worstin the-nation transportation infrastructure is a top priority. As the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission and other reports illustrate, solving this problem will require a multi-year investment of billions of new dollars. We acknowledge there are differences of opinion regarding how to secure $2 to $2.5 billion annually, but the need is not in question.

“Michigan’s economic competitiveness is harmed by our failing infrastructure and we expect our elected leaders to work cooperatively to dramatically improve roads and bridges across the state. The window of opportunity that exists in this nonelection year must not be wasted, and we strongly believe meaningful progress needs to be achieved prior to recessing for the summer.”

Flint and Genesee County have shown remarkable growth in recent years, much like the state itself, as the economy has rebounded. Moreover, good roads remain a path forward while also serving to help bind us together as an attractive place to live, work and play.

But the job is too big for one community to act alone. Progress in these and other areas requires collective action. The Flint & Genesee Chamber will continue to do its part in the area of civic engagement. I encourage you to do likewise.

Tim Herman is CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.