Bon voyage: We’re off to Mackinac

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Most of Detroit’s business and civic leaders will decamp today for Mackinac Island to attend the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference.

It can be a big ol’ party, for sure. And speaking of that, if you’re attending the conference, stop by the Bourbon Night I’m co-hosting with Stephen Henderson, sponsored by our publishing partner,, Thursday in the big tent at the Grand Hotel. It’s always epic.

But the week is a lot more than cocktails and sausages on toothpicks. Often there’s shrimp, too.

Actually, the MPC, among other things, helps build a cohesive leadership community in Detroit. Both in the formal sessions and more casual get-togethers, the people committed to making Metro Detroit a better place to live and work will be having productive discussions on how to come together to meet that goal.

Problems do get solved here. And as a region we still have a boatload of them.

This year, the MPC will focus on three main pillars:

■Civility in politics. That may be the challenge of our age. The rage and resentment that erupted during the presidential election is not abating. Americans are screaming at each other instead of talking out their differences. Tolerance of other views is an obsolete value. By the way, that’s one of the things Bourbon Night is all about: bringing people from all political viewpoints together to demonstrate they can find common ground, even if it’s just an appreciation of fine corn liquor.

■Connectivity. The pace of technological disruption is accelerating. The things the internet can do beyond sharing gossip on Facebook or hooking up on Tinder will change the way we all live and work. There’s money to be made from the so-called internet of things, and we need to be the ones making it. The impact on industries ranging from automotive to health care is a big part of the conference agenda.

■Closing the economic gap. America can not be economically healthy as long as it has a permanent underclass. Fixing education and putting in place training programs to prepare the workforce for both existing and future jobs are essential elements to creating a self-sufficient population. Economic empowerment cures a lot of ills, and that starts with education.

We won’t leave the island with all the answers. But hopefully everyone will come back home thinking about their individual role in finding them.