Moving Greater Lansing Forward
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) is the voice of business on legislative issues impacting our region. With consumer optimism at its highest level since 2001 and business optimism increasing, the projected economic outlook is extremely positive.
What can we expect from the state legislature in 2017? A pressing issue is addressing the financial health of local municipalities throughout Michigan; with more than $13 billion in unfunded liabilities such as pension and retiree health care costs, this is an important issue for the future of our region and state’s economic prosperity.
The greater Lansing region has municipalities that are struggling to address these costs while others have made significant progress. Legacy costs have been a priority for the Chamber and we are pleased to see the state legislature making this a top agenda item in 2017 as well. Make no mistake, there’s no silver bullet for this issue. It’s going to take everyone, especially business leaders, working together on a viable solution while ensuring financial stability for the future.
In 2016, the Chamber was a partner in an insurance sector economic impact study conducted by the Anderson Economic Group that showed Lansing accounts for nearly 20 percent of the insurance jobs in the state of Michigan, with approximately 7,300 people directly employed by the insurance sector. That number grows to more than 10,000 jobs when combined with financial services. Among the major insurance companies headquartered in the region are AF Group, Auto-Owners Insurance Co., Delta Dental, Farm Bureau Insurance Co., Jackson National Life and Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance.
Although this is great news for the greater Lansing region’s economy, Michigan drivers continue to pay some of the highest insurance rates in the nation. The state legislature will be working on insurance reforms to bring down the costs for all Michigan drivers. Speaker of the House Tom Leonard (R-Dewitt) has made reforming Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance one of his top priorities in 2017. This will require the insurance industry, hospitals and consumer groups to work together to find solutions that make auto insurance affordable for all Michigan drivers.
In 2017, the Chamber will be highlighting and recognizing local insurance agents and the impact they make on our local communities. My father, Don Japinga, was a successful independent insurance agent. I know firsthand the importance of insurance agents and the positive impact they have on local businesses and communities.
Another issue we will be monitoring closely is business regulatory streamlining. At the Chamber, we continuously hear from members, big and small, that government regulations are making it harder and harder to do business. We must create a friendly environment for our local businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in our region. While this will be one of the top priorities for the Trump administration at the federal level, Michigan has cut more than 2,000 burdensome and unnecessary regulations since 2010. We are confident the state legislature will continue to improve Michigan’s business climate and make us an even more competitive and attractive place to do business.
Beyond supporting pro-business and pro-growth federal and state regulations, it’s also imperative that local units of government in greater Lansing continue to create an environment for businesses to grow. Our region has seen incredible economic growth, investment and job creation, but there are still challenges to overcome. There have been efforts by local elected officials to implement unnecessary regulations that would hinder our momentum. The Chamber has and will continue to advocate for pro-growth and pro-business policies that create a positive economic climate.
We look forward to keeping you in the know on issues facing our region and state. Here’s to a great year!