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News & Press: FOCUS

Important Choices on the November Ballot

Thursday, October 5, 2017  
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By Tim Daman, President and CEO

Our region has made great progress in becoming a competitive and attractive place for businesses to invest and grow. Even more, our region has succeeded in diversifying its economic foundation.

This year’s City of Lansing elections matter because maintaining and building on our success will require electing leaders who not only recognize the importance of Lansing’s financial health, but share the vision of the city as an anchor for the entire region’s economic strength.

The City of Lansing faces serious threats to its fiscal future as the result of retiree pension and health care obligations. This $600 million liability will be a top priority facing the new administration and council. It is something that the Chamber is watching closely. The City of East Lansing also faces severe fiscal challenges, which are being worked on by its own Financial Health Team.

This November’s local elections offer our region the opportunity to chart our course as we move the region forward towards a brighter future. It is critical to have leaders who will face the tough issues and adopt policies that create a fiscally sustainable environment conducive to supporting jobs, growth and investment.

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (LRC-PAC) has endorsed four candidates in the City of Lansing that we believe will work together to address these serious challenges. We feel State Representative Andy Schor’s blend of experience in county government and in the state legislature makes him the best person to be the next Mayor of Lansing. City Council incumbents Kathie Dunbar and Tina Houghton have demonstrated a willingness to work in a collaborative manner to move the city forward and deserve reelection. Peter Spadafore has shown strong leadership during his time on the Lansing Public Schools Board of Education and will make an outstanding addition as a member of the Lansing City Council.

An equally important vote will be cast on November 7th by voters in the City of East Lansing, when they determine the fate of a proposed income tax. A poll of 400 East Lansing voters, conducted in August by the Chamber, shows that only 41 percent of voters support the proposal while only 10 percent of voters said they strongly supported the tax proposal. We believe this is the wrong approach to dealing with East Lansing’s fiscal challenges and will only serve to hamper business investment and talent attraction efforts in our region.

We want every community within our region to be the kind of place where business is welcomed and wants to be. That means we need to put aside any parochial approach to community and economic development. City leaders next year will serve the city and surrounding communities well by maintaining a regulatory approach that makes investing in and doing business in Lansing and East Lansing just as attractive as doing so in Grand Rapids, Indianapolis or Austin.

A healthy business landscape is rooted in a positive economic climate where business can succeed and grow. Elected leaders at every level play an important role in maintaining the climate that attracts business, or doesn’t. On November 7, we must choose wisely.

Click here to download the October issue of FOCUS.

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