by James P. Hallan, MRA President and Chief Executive Officer
Please note our announcement that the Michigan Grocers Association will become a division of Michigan Retailers on January 1, 2018. This is very exciting news, as our collective retail voice becomes stronger. Last year, we welcomed the Michigan Retail Hardware Association into our membership and we are now delighted to welcome the grocers. Michigan Retailers and Michigan Grocers have worked extremely well together over the years on a number of key issues. Our long-time good friend, Linda Gobler, current President of Michigan Grocers for 32 years, has decided to retire at the end of the year and that, along with a changing landscape, prompted the conversation to join forces. However, we are not going to let Linda go silently into the night: She has agreed to be a consultant for the next year. Two grocers will also be added to the Michigan Retailers board of directors and MGA employees will migrate to MRA for a seamless transition.
Early in my career, I served as general counsel to the Michigan Food Dealers Association, which eventually became the Michigan Grocers, and I have a strong affinity to the industry. They will blend in well with the culture at Michigan Retailers.
Thoughts and prayers
Hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism attacks and the Mandalay Bay tragedy have created a summer unlike any that I can recall. Our hearts go out to those that have, and are continuing to endure, unbelievable suffering.
You’ve probably heard the radio ads or seen the TV ads and billboards recognizing 60 years of smiles provided by Delta Dental of Michigan. They are a terrific organization and Michigan Retailers has had the pleasure of working with them for many years. We are smiling with them and congratulate them on 60 years of tremendous growth and for providing countless individuals the opportunity to enjoy better dental health.
Thanks to all of you who participated in our fifth Buy Nearby weekend. Everybody loves the Buy Nearby Guy and the campaign to keep dollars in the Mitten. The program was the brainchild of Barb Stein. Barb is past chair of the MRA board and the owner of the Great Northern Trading Company in Rockford. Her idea has blossomed into a program that is not only well-liked in Michigan but is now receiving national recognition by other state retail associations.
The Wall Street Journal just ran a story highlighting the “Michigan Comeback Story” and the economic leadership of Gov. Rick Snyder. I couldn’t agree more. He was the right person at the right time. The article is worth the read, and provides many examples of how Michigan has made a comeback. I’ll note a couple of items. When Governor Snyder took office in 2011 the unemployment rate was 10.9 percent. Today it is 3.9 percent and Michigan leads the Great Lakes region in economic activity. And let’s not forget, he signed some very important legislation for the retail community including pricing modernization, Main Street Fairness and an organized retail crime statute along with a number of pre-emption bills that prohibit local jurisdictions from passing a patchwork of different labor and regulatory standards. Be sure to read his column in this issue of the Retailer.