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Issue No. 2
June 2016
The Business Advocate

The Michigan Legislative Spring Session is a wrap, producing a balanced budget for the 6th straight year.  This is great news and one of Governor Snyder's key goals.
Producing a budget (and a balanced budget) by June 1st as opposed to the all-night sessions on September 30, as was the case for many years in the "lost decade", provides certainty and is critical for the business community.

Producing a balanced budget on time helps Michigan to put its best face forward to retaining and attracting business and shows that there is stability in state government.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce was working on several community projects that were successful - and one not - in this legislative session. In this edition of the Business Advocate, we'll provide you with an overview of each of the projects we've been working on and the results of each.


Senior Director of Government Relations
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber at Work

Saginaw River Deep Water Port Study

The US Army Corp of Engineers (USACOE) is in year two of a study to determine whether the Saginaw River and Bay (17 miles) is appropriate for economic growth if transformed into a deep water port.  With the history of shipping on the Saginaw River, the USACOE believes that the Saginaw River is an excellent location for shipping.

To qualify as a deep water port, the river would need to be deepened. The study is looking at depths of between 22' - 27' and will review what challenges the various depths would pose (cost, contaminants, economic development opportunities, etc.)

The Saginaw County Government is a partner in this effort and is required to match federal funding for the study.  Last year, we successfully obtained the matching money ($260,000) through the efforts of Senator Roger Kahn.
Along with Saginaw County Government, the Chamber worked with Saginaw Future, USACOE, and dock owners in Saginaw and Bay Counties on this project.

The Saginaw River Deepening Feasibility Study has increased in cost, due mostly to the need to capture more data. We have determined that we will need an additional $500,000 total ($250,000 from Saginaw).

We are working with Senator Ken Horn, who was able to get $50,000 in the current appropriations budget, and will continue working with his office to get the remaining $200,000 in the Fall Legislative Session.


Delta College Downtown Saginaw Campus

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce and Saginaw Future Inc. continue to work with Delta College as it plans for a downtown Saginaw campus.

The plan is to build a 35,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that will provide the flexibility to teach general education, skilled trades, healthcare and classes offering an entry point to career options.  It will include high-level technology, special use training rooms, 8 to 10 classrooms and basic science and computer labs, strengthening Delta's ability to deliver the highest caliber of college education and work force training.

Delta College's application to the Capital Outlay Committee was ranked in the top 2-3 applications for funding. One of the application's strengths was Delta College's fiscal health.

The total project cost is $12.7 million.  Delta was required to match the cost 50%; its share totaling $6.4 million.

The Delta College Project was included in the Joint Capital Outlay Committee and the construction authorization was included in the overall budget that passed in June. This means that the project can move ahead.  

It is anticipated that the site for the Delta College Downtown Saginaw Campus will be announced after Delta College's Board of Trustees meets this fall.

The Chamber worked to bring leading legislators on tours of the Delta College Campus and showed them many potential sites. In addition, the Chamber worked with the legislators to answer their questions and to show the positive impact that the new campus will have on training residents from throughout the region for the job market.

FirstMerit Bank Event Park

Quality of life assets are one of the most important things a community can offer residents in and around the Great Lakes Bay Region, and the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce continues to partner with The Dow Event Center and the FirstMerit Bank Event Park staff to assist in improving the venues we have in Saginaw County.

The FirstMerit Bank Event Park is a first-class outdoor venue, built in 2013.  It has attracted national events and continues to provide family entertainment to this region and beyond.  Festival and concert attendees have come from virtually every county in Michigan. This facility has exceeded all expectations.

In order to accommodate national acts, some improvements are needed to enhance the performer's and the attendee's experience.

The FirstMerit Bank Event Park staff have applied for a grant in the amount of $82,500 as their portion of a 50/50 match in order to improve the amenities at the park. The funds would allow the facility to construct more public restrooms, a third dressing room, as well as a 24' x 40' platform for corporate sponsors.  This platform will help increase revenue to attract even larger acts.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce has helped gather letters of support for the grant and are working with the regional legislative delegation to support the grant request.

The Chamber is optimistic that we can help secure the funding needed for this great community venue.


As you see, the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of all things legislative, policy and political. We strive to work for you, our members, to support legislation and candidates who will work to create an environment that will help your business grow and thrive!

As always, please feel free to contact Bob VanDeventer, President & CEO at 989-752-7161 or email him at

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Looking Ahead to the Fall Legislative Session

Election year 2016 is already proving to be one of the most unpredictable in U.S. History.  With an open seat for president, the US Senate and House of Representatives in the balance, a Supreme Court vacancy and many state and local races, the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce will be following races and endorsing candidates and ballot proposals.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce has a long history of endorsing candidates at the state, county and local levels of government; it's where we know we can have the most impact to help elect those candidates that reflect the pro-business views of the Chamber and its membership.

Offices we will consider for an endorsement include:

  • State Representative 94th District (Incumbent Tim Kelly (R), Saginaw Township
  • State Representative 95th District (Incumbent Vanessa Guerra (D), Bridgeport
  • State Representative 98th District (Open Seat - Western Saginaw County)
  • Saginaw County Board of Commissioners;
    Districts 1 - 11
  • Saginaw County Sheriff
  • Saginaw County Prosecutor
  • Saginaw County Treasurer
  • Saginaw County Clerk
  • Saginaw County Register of Deeds
  • Saginaw County Public Works Director
  • Saginaw City Council (4 seats open)
Here's the process:
The Screening & Endorsement Committee is comprised of Saginaw County Chamber Board Members and issue experts who align with the Chamber's position on legislative issues.  This Ad Hoc committee meets to review issues and candidates and makes recommendations for endorsement to the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce's Executive and Full Board for ratification.
  1. We contacted each candidate by US Mail using the address the candidate lists on file with either the Saginaw County Clerk's Office or Michigan Secretary of State Offices.
  2. We include a questionnaire; the questions are prepared for the respective office they are seeking.
  3. If the candidate completes the questionnaire and returns it to the Chamber within the deadline, they are offered a face-to-face interview with the Chamber's Screening and Endorsement Committee.
The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce does not endorse in a primary election as we believe this is a party function. Once the party's nominee is selected (in August), we will interview the remaining candidates running in the general election.
When a candidate receives the endorsement of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce, we notify the candidate, the Chamber Board of Directors and our members.  We issue a press release and the endorsed candidates are invited to Chamber events.  Our members are encouraged to support our endorsed candidates and vote for them in the general election.
Ballot Proposals/Millages

In addition to candidate endorsements, the Screening & Endorsement Committee will review ballot proposals/millage requests if they have qualified to be listed on the ballots.  We bring in experts on both sides of the issue and determine a chamber position.
This year, Saginaw County voters will face only one ballot proposal.  This proposal combines two public safety Millages that currently exist: the Saginaw County Sheriff Services millage, which levied 1.000 mill from 2011 - 2015 and the Saginaw County Law Enforcement Road Patrol millage, which could levy up to 0.3394 mills and expires in 2016.
It's important to note that there is no increase requested in the combined millages and, if passed, the County would not levy the last year of the Saginaw County Law Enforcement Road Patrol Millage.
The wording you will see on the August 2, 2016 ballot is:
Saginaw County Proposal #1
Sheriff Services Millage
Shall the County of Saginaw, Michigan ("County") impose an increase in its levy of general ad valorem taxes which may be imposed for all purposes upon real and personal property in the County, as provided in Article 9, Section 6 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, as amended, which will result in an increase of up to 1.3394 mills ($1.3394 per $1,000) of taxable valuation of such property as finally equalized, for levy in years 2016 through 2020, both inclusive, which increased levy is estimated to raise up to $6,437,491.25 in the first year, for the purposes of county-wide law enforcement, road patrol services and continuing operations of the Saginaw County Sheriff Department and jail facility within Saginaw County?
The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors has voted to endorse a YES vote on Saginaw County Proposal #1.