Chamber Blog

A Message from Chamber President & CEO Rick Baker

Local Advocacy: City of Grand Rapids approves budget - Considering medical marijuana.

The Grand Rapids Chamber is known as one of the most influential business organizations in Michigan. Our influence comes in part from our engagement in the difficult and controversial work of endorsing candidates. We intentionally engage in this work to advance our West Michigan business community priorities.  As we do this, we are leading a diverse business community, with equally diverse political views, and we will often disagree on the best way to accomplish our goals.

We have heard the response to our recent GR Chamber PAC endorsement of Bill Schuette for Governor and the frustration and disappointment from members of our business community, particularly as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.

We understand our endorsement decisions do not take place in a vacuum and we are open to dialogue to understand the impact of our decisions.

The Chamber remains committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to actively advocate for expansion of the Elliott Larsen Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as one of our key advocacy priorities. We believe everyone should be able to show up as their whole person in all aspects of their life.

Our endorsement process is very robust and member driven. The PAC does not use any Chamber member funds and is entirely funded by PAC donors. Each candidate is evaluated against the business policy agenda developed for and by our members. We rarely, if ever, agree with every candidate on all the issues. We select the candidates who we feel will support our polices most often. We announced our endorsement of Bill Schuette for Governor because he aligns most closely with our business-friendly policies and all candidates are aware that an advocacy priority for the Chamber is expansion of the Elliott Larsen Act.

We believe we can be most effective in influencing the business environment by being involved in the process of researching, interviewing and endorsing candidates based on our Chamber priorities. We view these candidates as allies we can engage in pushing our priorities forward and being part of the process gives our members a voice.

If you would like to reach out directly, please connect with myself or Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs. We appreciate your engagement as we continue to build muscle in integrating DEI into everything we do, including our endorsement process, and advocating for our members.


Rick Baker
President & CEO




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