Come and Discover Our New Beginnings

It’s a new year and we are thrilled to start it off  in our new offices!  A new year brings hopes and promises of change for the better, while cherishing and utilizing our memories to create even more success in the future.  Our new offices are filled with as much anticipation for future growth as the sunshine that now flows through our offices.(them?  the windows? Into our space?)  The new offices, located in the Atria Park Business Center, is the perfect location for our members, staff and the community to easily connect and create even more business opportunities to our region.


We hope you will join us at our upcoming Open House, on February 9th, to tour our new offices and experience the joy and excitement that is inspiring our staff to make 2017 the year of new growth and positive change for all of the residents of Washtenaw county.


Please RSVP at

A2Y Chamber takes positions on statewide ballot proposals

Last week the Chamber announced its positions on several local ballot issues coming before voters in November. As the premiere public policy advocate for business in Washtenaw County, and a significant voice in southeast Michigan, the Chamber has also taken stances on critical ballot issues at the state level, and sent a questionnaire to specific candidates for federal, state and local office. The questionnaire looks for candidates’ views on issues that affect the business community and individual voters. Candidate responses are listed below.

Statewide Proposals

Proposal 12-1 (Prop. 1)
The A2Y Regional Chamber supports Proposal One. Passage of this proposal would reinstate the Public Act (PA) 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. Public Act 4, commonly known as the “Emergency Manager Law,” is not without controversy. Proponents believe PA 4 provides needed tools to aide local units of government in dire fiscal situations, while at the same time ensuring the State of Michigan can protect its credit rating. Opponents refer to it as an overreach and an abandonment of the democratic process by, in some cases, eliminating local governmental control. However, the Chamber feels the law was passed through the legislative process in both the Michigan House and Senate. It deserves a chance to be implemented and remain in place long enough to sufficiently judge its effectiveness. A yes vote on Proposal One allows for that chance.

Proposals 2-6
The A2Y Regional Chamber opposes the constitutional amendments appearing on the November 2012 ballot (Proposals 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) because it believes the broad, complex, and critical issues in these proposals are best left to be addressed by the Michigan Legislature. Although arguments can be made for the substance of each proposal, the chamber believes that to enshrine them in the constitution is too permanent a solution because it removes the ability of elected legislators to create, change test, and modify laws of such great importance. The A2Y Chamber calls for these important issues to be addressed through future legislative action.

Candidate Questionnaire Responses

In early October the Chamber sent a questionnaire to candidates for:

U.S. Senate
Pete Hoekstra
Debbie Stabenow

U.S. House of Representatives (District 7 and District 12)
John Dingell
Kurt Richard Haskell
Cynthia J. Kallgren
Tim Walberg

Michigan House of Representatives (Districts 52, 53, 54 and 55)
Gretchen Driskell
Bill Emmerich
Jeff Irwin
Mark Ouimet
David Rutledge
John Spisak
Adam Zemke

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners (All Districts)

Joe Baublis
Felicia Brabec
John Floyd
Alicia Ping
Rob Turner

Ann Arbor City Council (All Wards)
Stuart Berry
Sally Hart Petersen
Margie Teall
Chuck Warpehoski

Ypsilanti City Council (All Wards)
Lois E. Allen Richardson

Candidates for Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer in Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, Scio, Superior and Ypsilanti townships
William McFarlane
David Phillips

All responses

The Chamber is only publicizing responses from candidates who replied to the questionnaire. If a candidate is not listed they did not reply or did not provide sufficient information in their response.

A full listing of candidates can be accessed at the following sites:

Federal, State and County candidates

Local candidates

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.

Young professionals give feedback on transit plan at A2Y Converge forum

Young professionals give feedback on transit plan at A2Y Converge forum

Public transportation can transform our community, our environment, and our economy, according to TheRide CEO Michael Ford.

“It’s more than just getting you from one point to another; It’s an important part of the community,” Ford said.

Because it is important to discuss proposed changes in public transportation, A2Y Converge hosted a Local Transit Forum with TheRide on July 12th to discuss possible improvements to local transit, including a change from serving only the Ann Arbor area to serving all of Washtenaw County.

At the forum, representatives for The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) received community feedback from the Chamber’s young professionals. This is in addition to input from thousands of community members and more than 70 public meetings that have helped TheRide’s board create a new 30-year vision.

The forum revolved around TheRide’s Five-Year Transit Program, which includes the following as a way to begin the changes involved with the new 30-year vision:

  • Increase service frequency to every 15 minutes on major corridors
  • Extend hours of operation on weekdays and weekends
  • Make routes more direct
  • Make travel times faster (more real time information and signals to get buses through traffic faster)
  • Connect to local nearby cities, townships, and villages to reduce Ann Arbor’s congestion and need for extra parking.

Ford explained in more detail at the forum that the 30-year vision, or the Smart Growth Transit Master Plan, would expand services to connect Washtenaw communities rather than just covering the Ann Arbor area. Eight transit districts have been created throughout the county as a new structure for this plan, which can be viewed along with their governance system at

               Five-year plan map
After questions from attendees, funding for the expansion was not discussed in detail at the fourm, as Ford said the framework of the plan has not been fully approved yet. After possible approval at the August 1 Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting, funding options could be sought based on recommendations from TheRide’s Financial Task Force. The county commissioner is the last of four parties who have been involved in the decision. The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti city councils as well as the AATA have given their approval.


Justin Fenwick, Business Transportation Coordinator at TheRide, spoke at the forum about the more immediate changes in service happening as a part of this plan.

Converge members who attended were excited to learn about the new programs TheRide has that go beyond basic city transportation. This includes NightRide for after hours transportation, ExpressRide for a faster commute between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, AirRide for shuttles to the Detroit Metro Airport, and VanRide for a car pooling system.Attendees were especially interested in NightRide and VanRide for local work-related benefits.

NightRide, more specifically, is a late-night, shared-ride taxi service with Blue Cab. TheRide initiated it in response to the community’s need for safe, low-cost transportation late at night by complimenting TheRide’s bus service and providing round-the-clock, public transportation within the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area, even on holidays. Attendees at the forum said they think flexibility and extended hours are important improvements.

VanRide allows a minimum of five people to ride to and from work each day in a seven passenger van provided by TheRide. A monthly fee includes the vehicle, insurance and maintenance. The designated driver rides for free and has personal use of the van for up to 200 miles per month. VanRide is available to anyone commuting to or within Washtenaw County. More information is available at

Attendees also expressed some of their concerns with service, such as using public transportation in relation to commuting to work. This included conflicts with timing of the buses differing from what time someone would need to arrive at work. The location of parking lots provided by TheRide for people to park and take the bus was also a concern as the locations aren’t convenient for everyone. As one attendee said, he was unsure of how safe he would feel leaving his car in some of the parking locations.


Fenwick said they are working on expanding services such as convenient parking and faster communication for real time information about the location of buses. Fenwick said he has not owned a car for more than five years, providing perspective on the ways people can depend on local transit, even if it is just for a ride to work.


He asked that employees talk to their places of business about whether the businesses have considered the benefits of public transportation for employees, especially with the new services offered in the area by TheRide.

TheRide is still seeking feedback on the plan from local young professionals. Even if you weren’t able to make the forum, you can still contact Justin Fenwick at with any suggestions or questions. More information on the proposed plan is available at

A2Y Converge is always looking for opportunities for young professionals to have their say on what’s happening in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area. We will be hosting Downtown Development Fourm with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Wednesday, August 29 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm in the Celtic Room at Conor O’Neill’s. Join us to hear more about the Connecting Williams Street project and let the DDA know what you think.