A2Y Chamber takes positions on local ballot measures

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti (A2Y) Regional Chamber seeks to be the premiere public policy organization to advocate for business in Washtenaw County and a significant voice in southeast Michigan. To this end the Chamber has taken positions on some of the critical ballot issues at the local and statewide levels. The A2Y Chamber will also publicize responses to a questionnaire it sent to candidates for federal, state and local office. The Chamber’s positions on the local ballot questions are listed below. Positions on statewide ballot issues and the responses to our candidate questionnaire will be released on Monday, October 29, 2012.


Local Proposals

Ann Arbor Proposal B- Ann Arbor City Charter Amendment Tax for Art in Public Places
The A2Y Chamber takes no position on Ann Arbor Proposal B. While there are arguments both in favor of and againstthe current process to publicly fund art, the question of process continues to be a difficult one. With that in mind, the A2Y Chamber appreciates the proponents of Proposal B for having the foresight to bring this question before the voters for a direct vote. This proposal’s fate at the ballot box will give policy makers a clearer picture of the citizens’ desire to specifically fund public art. The Chamber appreciates this major opportunity for direct citizen input.

Ann Arbor District Library Proposal- Ann Arbor District Library Downtown Building Proposal
The A2Y Chamber endorses the Ann Arbor District Library’s millage proposal appearing on the November 2012 ballot.  While we recognize there may be concerns regarding the timing and magnitude of the proposal, we believe that the Library has made a reasonable and valid case for its proposal. For instance, while building on the current site creates a number of issues, due to the unique legal restrictions on that property vis-à-vis the school district, relocating the main library is not feasible. Further, the building is antiquated and not conducive to providing the types of services and resources demanded of a library in the 21st Century and particularly in our community which has proven a need and desire for a main branch providing modern services.  Refitting the current building would entail considerable costs and not provide long-term solutions. In addition, and at least as significantly as the other reasons, the Library Board has proven itself to be a responsible steward of the public’s money.  They have built first class branches without incurring debt, and for many years have voluntarily chosen to levy less than the full amount of taxes which it could otherwise levy.  And finally, having a modern downtown main library reinforces our community’s image and commitment to this resource, and the plans for the new facility will be a destination for many and an asset to the overall business and community climate.

Willow Run Community Schools (WRCS) and Ypsilanti Public Schools (YPS)

(Note: There are two identical ballot proposals coming before voters in the WRCS and YPS jurisdictions.)

Proposal-School District Consolidation Proposal
Earlier this year, the A2Y Chamber came out in support of the consolidation of WRCS and YPS. We reiterate our support and endorse this proposal citing our previous statement’s case for the merger.

Operating Millage Proposal
The A2Y Chamber supports this companion proposal to the School District Consolidation Proposal.  The chamber believes the failure of this proposal would be severely detrimental to the newly created entity (resulting from the WRCS-YPS merger). The operating millage is not a tax increase, but simply keeps in place the existing operating millage that is already levied in each district. If this proposal fails, the consolidation (if passed by voters) would still move forward and this proposal would need to be placed on the February 2013 ballot since the State of Michigan expects each district to levy the 18 mills on non-homestead parcels. Failure to approve the millage will result in an $8.9 million (estimated) shortfall in revenue which will further exacerbate the financial challenges of the new district and make it highly unlikely that the new school district could survive given that it will already be facing a roughly $11.6 million deficit. Failure to approve this millage proposal has the potential for the imposition of an emergency manager being appointed to run the district. For these reasons, the Chamber believes that the passage of this operating millage is essential for the success of the newly created entity and for the educational prospects of the children it will serve.

A2Y Regional Chamber supports economic development with new Ypsilanti office, collaboration with SPARK

You might have heard by now that The A2Y Regional Chamber is open in both Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor with a new office space in downtown Ypsilanti at SPARK East and the previously established main office in downtown Ann Arbor. The current collaboration with SPARK East Business Incubator allows the Chamber to support SPARK’s efforts to strengthen economic development in the Ypsilanti area. Downtown businesses such as Red Rock Downtown Barbecue and B-24s Coffee Shop are some of the newest members joining recently as the Chamber continues its commitment to Ypsilanti. The Ypsilanti office is open Mondays from 9 am to 5 pm and is staffed with Chamber employees including membership and sales staff. Appointments can also be made to meet Chamber employees at either location. The Ann Arbor office is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

SPARK East’s building includes 12 cubicles with short- or long- term leases, two conference rooms, nearby free parking and several other common office supplies for those renting the space. It is located in the Eastside Innovation Campus downtown, which is what SPARK calls an array of incubator services from educational programs, business and development centers, networking opportunities and expert assistance with research, marketing and strategy.

The previous A2Y Regional Chamber Ypsilanti-based office was located in the KeyBank building across from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business on Michigan Avenue, just yards to the east of SPARK East.

After the merger of the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Area Chambers, more than two years ago, the large space at the KeyBank building in Ypsilanti was not being used to its full potential. Before the merger the Ypsilanti Area Chamber occupied that building for nearly two decades.

Now with office hours at SPARK East on Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti, as well as main office operations on West Huron Street in downtown Ann Arbor, the Chamber is excited to strengthen its advocacy for businesses throughout the region.

Having resources in both Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor creates a bond between the two cities, allowing for a bigger pool of resources and a wider range of nearby members to network with. This includes the Chamber’s efforts to host a variety of events in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, as well as its involvement with activities in both areas, including the upcoming Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.

The Chamber is excited to encourage local business in Ypsilanti with this new satellite location and collaboration with SPARK, as well as to get more involved in activities in the Ypsilanti area.

Attend our Ypsilanti office grand opening!
Coffee Connect: A2Y Regional Chamber Ypsilanti Office Grand Opening

To know more about the Chamber and to explore the new Ypsilanti office, we invite you to come to the Grand Opening of the Ypsilanti office to enjoy our August Coffee Connect. You can meet other Chamber Members, the Chamber Staff, and A2Y Regional Chamber Board Members and let us know what local issues are affecting your business in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

August 22, 2012, 10 am – 11 am

A2Y Regional Chamber Ypsilanti Office

Mondays from 9 am to 5 pm (closed for lunch between noon and 1 p.m.) and by appointment
215 W. Michigan Avenue, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

A2Y Regional Chamber Ann Arbor Office
Monday-Friday 9 am to 5 pm
115 West Huron Street, 3rd Floor, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Contact 734-665-4433