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Posted on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

A2Y Chamber's annual policy forum to highlight role Washtenaw County is playing in Lansing

By Ryan J. Stanton

Washtenaw County's growing influence on public policy in Michigan will be the theme of this year's Impact forum hosted by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber.

Several state-level policymakers are confirmed to participate at the chamber’s annual public policy forum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Sheraton Ann Arbor.

From education and legislative initiatives to economic development, leaders from Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County are playing key roles in making decisions in Lansing, said Andy LaBarre, the chamber's vice president of government relations.


Andy LaBarre

"The focus is really Washtenaw's effect or impact on Lansing. All these folks are playing big roles and they all have the common theme of being from Washtenaw," LaBarre said. "So folks will get value from hearing about what these people are doing — sort of what's happened and what's ahead, and how their Washtenaw experience is shaping that paradigm."

Chamber officials say the day-long program is intended to further knowledge of public policy issues affecting the community, as well as provide an opportunity for attendees to meet and mingle with local decision makers and each other.

The program will include an education policy and initiatives update featuring State Board of Education President John Austin, an Ann Arbor resident and lecturer at the University of Michigan. Austin and Eileen Weiser, a fellow State Board of Education member, will participate in an education panel following Austin's remarks.

Following will be a legislative forum fearing Washtenaw County's entire delegation in the Michigan Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor; and state Reps. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township; Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; David Rutledge, D-Superior Township; and Rick Olson, R-York Township.

Attendees also will hear from a special executive panel featuring former Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Michael Finney, who now is CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and David Behen, chief information officer for the state of Michigan.

Behen, co-founder of a fast-growing information technology startup in Ann Arbor, was Washtenaw County's deputy administrator up until 2009.

The program will be moderated by Tim Skubick, anchor and producer of the weekly public television series “Off the Record.”

LaBarre said the chamber is expecting about 150 to 200 people to attend and there still are tickets available. Gov. Rick Snyder, an Ann Arbor venture capitalist before being elected last year, was invited but is not expected to attend.

Tickets are $60 for chamber members or $75 for non-members and may be purchased through the chamber's website or by phone at 734-214-0105.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

Is that Potsy from Happy days

Silent Majority

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

@ Cette- No, I know someone who works there they are separate orgs with separate policy positions. They are just a local chamber.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

Is this Chamber part of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the crowd blocking autism insurance reform for autistic kids as we read? The Michigan Chamber is advocating against effective insurance reform for autism What is this group's position on the pending legislation for autism insurance? Are they their own people, and are they community minded for real, or just their bottom line. Please AA.Com can you find out?