React from Impact


Andy LaBarre

(734) 214-0101


If you missed Impact 2015 last Friday you missed a great discussion and a wonderful morning.


The theme of the day was the A2Y Business Community’s response to economic inequality in Washtenaw County. Our opening presentation from The University of Michigan’s Ginsberg Center Director Mary Jo Callan laid out the data of our economic disparities. It was concise and clear, and proved why this is an item our business community needs to discuss. The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation’s Neel Hajra did an excellent job formulating questions, moderating both panels, and engaging the audience.


Our first panel made plain the case for increased corporate leadership in our non-profit community. Old National’s Todd Clark and Charles Reinhart Company’s Dave Lutton, provided valuable insight on building a culture of involvement in their businesses and making sure community impact is part of thier business plan. Dave Benedict shared the Toyota Company’s unique approach to integrating staff with the community through service. Amy Emberling gave us Zingerman’s experience with directly taking on the issue through employee compensation. Her powerful remarks were met with spontaneous applause from our audience. Robin Damschroder laid out the innovative ways in which St. Joseph Mercy has successfully incorporated the concept of broader community improvement into its business model.


Panel two heard from leaders about their vision for a more equitable community. Nutshell’s Joe Malcoun spoke passionately about the need for increased transit options and Duo Security’s Dug Song covered the need for improved quality of life and the necessary political will to address our current disparities. Maura Thomson did an excellent job in providing experience from her own life to highlight the need for transit and accessible services while also highlighting the unique role small businesses like those in the Main Street Area Association will play in our community. Finally, Bank of Ann Arbor’s Tim Marshal spoke movingly about the need for greater financial and workplace literacy, and made the call for a Washtenaw Promise to provide greater educational options to our children.


The day wrapped up with the highlight keynote speech from McKinley’s CEO, Albert Berriz. Mr. Berriz resoundingly made the case for why our community needs and must have more affordable workforce housing, highlighting how it will not only help us address equity issues, but will itself show to be a wise and profitable choice for our local economy.


Impact 2015 was exceptional because it involved exceptional people!


Please see recaps from The Ann Arbor News and WEMU, and look out for coverage in Concentrate Media. You can also access the presentations on the Chamber’s website.