Mackinac Island Policy Conference fosters collaborative discussion on education
by Emma Kinery
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — The luxury of the Grand Hotel, carriage rides to the stables for dinner, lunch with live music, yoga on the longest porch in the world and cocktail hours created a facade for the work done at the 35th annual Michigan Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.
In his opening remarks Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) enthusiastically announced unemployment rates in Michigan have recently met the national average for the first time in 15 years. Seeing this and other feats over the previous year as evidence that Michigan is the “comeback state,” Snyder urged policy makers to take advantage of this time for collaboration.
“This is an important event and it’s a real chance to have one-stop shopping for real discussion on not just Detroit or metro Detroit, but our entire state, and that’s an opportunity we don’t have often,” Snyder said. “So as we spend these next two or three days, please use time wisely. This isn’t just a chance to talk about what’s going on with the family, but it’s a chance to talk about the real issues in front of us.”
Snyder recommended attendees to speak to one another with the respect and consideration they would with their families at the kitchen table in an effort to mitigate any heated debates.
“We know we’re a great state and can only get better if we have these wonderful opportunities of revitalization,” Snyder said. “Yet, we still have difficult issues to address, we do: transportation, schools. Let’s use the kitchen table test to show cohesion on how we can do great things together.”
More than 1,600 individuals attended, including politicians, leaders, entrepreneurs and students, convening to chart the future of the state policy. This year, conference organizers from the Detroit Regional Chamber made an effort to include more young people than in previous years.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) said she was looking forward to members of Congress collaborating with one another and finding common ground on important issues.
“It’s always great when you bring everyone together to talk about issues we all care about and look for common ground,” Dingell said. “I’ve been coming to this for years, and it is a time to connect with people and talk about things you care about.”
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D–Mich.), like Dingell, said he was ready to embrace the opportunity to discuss issues with other representatives.
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