There was a great opportunity for network development with local government officials and business owners alike, record attendance and a delicious lunch provided by Cherry Creek Golf Club & Banquet Center.
Congressman Sander Levin gave brief remarks acknowledging the approaching retirement of City of Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan and Chamber President and CEO Wayne Oehmke. Gary Beaulac, Executive Vice President and COO of Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals, delivered an informative presentation on cholesterol as our presenting sponsor.
Our panel was comprised of four major community leaders: Mayor Jacqueline Noonan (City of Utica), Mayor Michael Taylor (City of Sterling Heights), Supervisor Richard Stathakis (Charter Township of Shelby) and Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns (Utica Community Schools). The panel was moderated by Chair of the Board Mike Kramer (Moceri & Company, P.C.).
The leaders were asked to discuss their successes of their communities from 2015, their plans for 2016 and the biggest challenges they face as leaders.
Here are the highlights:
Utica: Utica’s two biggest accomplishments in 2015 included the addition of the $14M Utica Ballpark as well as the grand opening of the Clinton River Hike and Bike Trail – a vital segment to Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. What worries Mayor Noonan the most is finance! She called for urgent action and for the Michigan government to reform their financial plans as cities, townships and schools have seen a significant decrease in funding from the State of Michigan. The biggest challenge Mayor Noonan expects in 2016 is her approaching retirement!
Sterling Heights: The biggest accomplishments for Sterling Heights in 2015 included the opening of the Dodge Park Farmers Market and the Van Dyke construction being complete! Mayor Taylor worries about business, costs, revenue and hiring talented, hard-working people once the current employees retire. The difficulties ahead for Sterling Heights include transitioning into new Leadership roles, improving infrastructure and also improving the Parks and Recreation department.
Shelby Township: The biggest accomplishment for Shelby Township for 2015 is that 24 Mile Road is 95% complete! The roads, however, continue to be a challenge because of very high expectations from those who live, work and play in Shelby Township. Shelby Township will be hiring more police officers in 2016 as well as (hopefully) building the much-needed Fire Station #5. We can also expect some changes and upgrades coming to the Shelby Community Center this year!
Utica Community Schools: 2015 was a great year for UCS – with a 90% graduation rate, students also excelled on their ACT. Utica Schools continues to prepare each and every student for their futures, acknowledging that a High School Diploma is no longer enough. Employers want to see associates degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certifications in skilled trades. Ensuring the success of each and every student is something that keeps Dr. Johns up at night (along with the pressure of calling a snow day!). The biggest challenges Dr. Johns faces is the stagnant funding for schools from the State, as well as the declining birth rates. Less and less children are entering kindergarten which cuts additional funding for the school district.
Overall, this was a very informative, upbeat and positive update from our community leaders. We received great feedback from this event and look forward to hosting it again in the coming years!
This event was sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals, Chamber Champion First State Bank, Legal Strategies, P.C., Rizzo Environmental Services, St. John Providence Health System, C&G Newspapers, The Macomb Daily and Sterling Printing & Graphics. Without your support, our events would not be possible (or as nearly cost effective for our attendees!) and we thank you for your generosity.