Welcome to the Recent Activities page of the Chamber of Commerce. This platform serves as a hub for discovering the Chamber's recent endeavors, as well as accessing the latest news and updates about upcoming initiatives.
Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of our accomplishments and commitments, keeping you informed and engaged with the dynamic landscape of our business community.
Make sure you take a look at our 2023 Events Schedule for a full picture of the year's plans:
SMCC Political Action Coalition* Announces
Warren Endorsements at September Luncheon
*The Southeast Michigan Chamber of Commerce is not an official body of the Chamber. Chamber members that have interest in the local political apparatus meet informally to initiate support for highly qualified candidates for public office.
Mayoral: George Dimas
Council: Donna Caumartin
Council: Dan Bozek
Council: Brittani Tringali
Council: David Dwyer
Council: Adam Sawka
Council: Gary Boike
Council: Charles Perry
Here’s what happened at the June luncheon:
Outgoing Warren Mayor James Fouts has been a longtime friend of this chamber. Over the years, he has been a reliable speaker at our luncheons and a strong advocate within the city for the initiatives we champion. CEO John Johnson has his roots in Macomb County politics as a longtime campaign manager, and Mayor Fouts has been a close personal friend of Johnson since their early days.
With the formation of the Warren Community Foundation some seven years ago, this chamber has generated thousands and thousands of dollars for Warren nonprofits through Cruisin' 53, our 5K run and serving as an arm for altruistic business owners and community members to find them and give. Much of this has been possible due to the support of Mayor Fouts and this chamber owes him for his involvement.
With all this in mind, we welcomed Mayor Fouts to Andiamo on June 22 to deliver his farewell remarks to the city of Warren as he leaves office after this term. Fouts took the opportunity to share with the membership his feelings surrounding the conditions of this term limit, his plans to keep serving the citizenry moving forward, and his recommendations for the continued development of the third largest city in Michigan. The press generated by the Mayor's scheduled remarks drew even more attendees to our monthly luncheon, which has already been growing at a strong pace month-to-month.
Here’s what happened at the May luncheon:
The Chamber’s monthly luncheons continue to be a resounding success. The Southeast Michigan Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate, the Gratiot Avenue Chamber of Commerce, welcomed over 300 attendees to Zuccaro’s in Chesterfield to share valuable insights and fortify the connections and shared goals of our business community .
What does this mean?
There has never been a better time to use the full value of your Chamber membership.
Hundreds of attendees mixed and mingled. Photographers were on the scene. Bonds between small business and local government were strengthened. Deserving members got much needed face time with those who can help advance their goals.
And we were graced with the presence of TWO guest speakers this month: Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini and Treasurer Lawrence Rocca.
Anthony Forlini, Macomb County Clerk
Lawrence Rocca, Macomb County Treasurer
To begin the guest speaker portion of our luncheon program, we were honored to first welcome Macomb County Treasurer Lawrence Rocca to the podium.
Rocca and CEO John Johnson have been close friends for quite some time and Johnson was quick to point out Rocca's status as a U.S. Veteran who served in Vietnam after Rocca honored all Veterans in attendance in observance of Memorial Day which would be the following Monday.
Rocca spoke often about the openness of the department to go to great lengths to assist homeowners in Macomb struggling to keep up with their payments or property taxes. The priority of the Treasury is to make sure people stay in their homes. Rocca stated that as long as you contribute to an established payment plan, even if it is as little as $50 a month, you can rest assured that you will keep your home.
He offered pride in the following statistic: less than 3% of homes have been foreclosed on in 2023. Even more, during the pandemic the department froze foreclosures and he iterated how many citizens were able to stay safe and housed because of it.
Rocca also provided details about the investments of the Treasury. Over $800M is invested in across 12 different banks. Less than 5% of capital is invested in each bank to ensure financial security in the event of a regional bank collapse, which have become more prevalent. The investments are safe ones that build steady interest for Macomb; mostly CDs, treasures and bonds.
After Rocca was joined onstage by Johnson to offer comments of mutual respect, the next guest speaker was brought to the stage: Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini.
Johnson met Forlini a few years back and was immediately struck by how universally well-liked he was. You can imagine how rare and important this is for the county election official in a time of mistrust in election integrity nationwide.
In fact, Forlini backed up this reputation with detailed evidence in a slideshow presentation packed with photo and statistical content. When he took office, the previous officeholders and staff had very important records stacked indiscriminately in musty, unfit environments -- unable to be located properly and at great risk of damage. He led an effort to reclaim, file and organize those records and they are now secure and awaiting the finalization of finding a new climate-controlled location for permanent housing.
Forlini comes from the private sector and believed his office could run with the efficiency of a private business. He empowered his tech wiz employee Jennifer Walker to modernize the office with a digital-first mindset. This led to a remarkable increase in efficiency across all services provided. Examples include:
Requests turned around within 24 hours
150,000 transactions per year
Before: 1-2 weeks just to get an appointment
Now: Same day issuing and fingerprinting
50 CPLs issued per day on average by 2 employees
Acquired within 5 minutes at a self-service portal
Elected Officials in Attendance
Rocca and Forlini were hardly the only elected officials in attendance. As always, the SMCC welcomed a who's who of local officials from both political parties to break bread and build relationships with the business community.
Anthony Forlini, Macomb County Clerk
Bob Cannon, Clinton Township Supervisor
Brad Kersten Chesterfield Supervisor
Cindy Berry, Chesterfield Township Clerk
Don VanSyckel, Macomb County Commissioner
Eric Castiglia, Chairman of Brighter Michigan PAC
Florence Hayman, New Baltimore City Councilwoman
George Dimas, Candidate for Warren Mayor
John Vermeulen, Shelby Township Trustee
Kathy Elliott, Chesterfield Township Treasurer
Kerry Jantz, Representing Michigan State Rep Joe Aragona
Kim Meltzer, Chesterfield Township Clerk
Laura Szymanski, New Baltimore City Councilwoman
Lawrence Rocca, Macomb County Treasurer
Marcia Shinska, New Baltimore Clerk
Mike Fillbrook, Bruce Township Supervisor
Michelle Nard, Candidate for Warren Mayor
Phil Road (representing Rep. John James, U.S. 10th)
Richard Stathakis, Shelby Township Supervisor
Ron Papandrea, Warren City Councilman
Ron Trombly, New Baltimore City Manager
Sam Previti, Washington Township Supervisor
Stephanie Mittelstedt, Harrison Township Deputy Supervisor
Tammy Patton, Clinton Township Trustee
Thomas Semaan, Mayor New Baltimore
Tom Bommarito, Warren DDA Director
MCREST Men’s Shelter + Ellanore’s House
Since its inception, a main priority of the Chamber has been direct support of the homeless community in Macomb County. As many of you surely know by now, our CEO John Johnson serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for MCREST and much of the money raised through our subsidiary nonprofits go towards this worthy organization.
The Chamber was integral in fundraising efforts towards the opening of the Women and Children's Shelter in Mt. Clemens (the first permanent shelter in MCREST's over 30 year existence). And now we join them in their goal of opening of Men's Shelter on the property next door! The land and existing structure has been purchased and is now owned by MCREST. The interior and exterior blueprints have been drawn by our Corporate Sponsor Partners in Architecture and the building process is underway.
After seeing many homeless individuals choose to spend the night on the street since shelters would not accept their beloved dogs, John Johnson and MCREST have committed to adding a kennel to the Men's Shelter to be named Ellanore's House. MCREST is partnering with Chamber Corporate Sponsor Detroit Pit Crew on the specifics of the kennel and they have generously offered to provide onsite medical care for the dogs.
To find out how you can donate or otherwise assist the cause, please contact:
April L. Fidler
CEO, MCREST (Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team)