After a sluggish start, we are now at the mid-point of a Pure Michigan summer and from all reports coming into our Lansing-based “world headquarters” it’s been favorable for many of our members. Our retail index is showing strong numbers and the reports that we’ve heard from various parts of the state are good. Of course, retail is going through a major evolution and the growing segment of online sales is adversely affecting many stores, while others are enjoying growth due to an expanded customer base. Surrounded by our beautiful Great Lakes, we do have one major advantage over other landlocked states. Michigan will always be a destination vacation spot for tourists, which is a wonderful insulator to our economy.
While all eyes are focused on the activities in Washington D.C., Lansing is fairly quiet as the legislature is on summer break. However, a significant debate is brewing. The chatter is about a ballot initiative led by Lt. Governor Calley to move from a full-time legislature to a part-time legislature. The issue is complex and we will do our best to present both sides as the signatures are gathered. Like most major public policy issues, simplicity is never part of the equation.
Forty-two years ago, on yes, Friday the thirteenth, I walked my bride down the aisle in a church in Portsmouth, Ohio. This year we decided to celebrate with a cruise down the Rhine. The trip fulfilled one of our items on our “bucket list”. Beautiful countryside and friendly people greeted us at every stop. The trip is also memorable as half way through the trip, our oldest daughter decided to have her third child a month early. Both are doing fine, but it did create a bit of anxiety. Thank goodness for cell phones. If you’re counting, we now have seven grandchildren, two of which arrived this summer. Four boys and three girls make up the expanding tribe. And of course, just to keep things lively, we added a new puppy to the family. Winston is his name.
June 30 marks the end of our fiscal year, and it was a terrific year. Together we attained record sales in merchant processing and a net gain in membership, experienced tremendous growth in our Michigan-based Retailers Insurance Company, welcomed hardware retailers into our membership, sold our ancillary properties, invested heavily in cutting edge technology and scored significant legislative victories such as prohibiting local units of government from taxing or banning the use of plastic bags. As we start our next fiscal year, we have many exciting opportunities on the horizon and we look forward to sharing those with you as they develop.