Flint-native Kevin Conroy, CEO and president of Exact Sciences, delivered keynote address
The Flint & Genesee Group today reported on how it reimagined, reinvented and reset in 2021 to create a stronger, more inclusive economy for Flint and Genesee County.
The annual meeting, held before more than 300 attendees at Flint’s Capitol Theatre, also spotlighted the Group’s broad-based efforts to help the business community meet its workforce needs related to pandemic-related challenges, such as the Great Resignation, and the out-migration occurring in the region.
“Our environment continued to be unpredictable last year, with the pandemic impacting how we work, the needs of our members and clients, and our staff,” said Group CEO Tim Herman. “But amid the uncertainties, we continued to grow and expand our capabilities to serve our customers and deliver value.
“In fact, I would say that 2021 was a reset year for the Flint & Genesee Group. It was a year of introspection. A year spent reimagining and, in some cases reinventing our programs, partnerships and services. We also honed our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and firmed up our strategy for talent development, retention and attraction.”
Flint-native Kevin Conroy, CEO and president of Exact Sciences, delivered the meeting’s keynote address. He stressed the importance of early cancer screening and how his company is addressing the need head-on by introducing and commercializing innovative methods of cancer detection. Exact Sciences manufactures the noninvasive colorectal cancer screening test Cologuard®. Conroy, born and raised in Flint, also recalled his years of growing up in Flint and Genesee County.
The organization completed a major rebranding that includes four divisions – Flint & Genesee Economic, Flint & Genesee Chamber, Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, Explore Flint & Genesee – with the Group as the parent organization. The divisions are charged with executing the Group’s mission to advance economic and community growth. Additionally, the Group sharpened its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace, including expanding its governing structure to include Board seats for representatives from each of the divisions’ advisory committees. The advisory committees are comprised of industry and community professionals who can provide insights that inform division strategies.
“We now have a DEI Committee that includes me, members of my executive team and other leaders,” said Herman. “This group drives the work that ensures our decision-making reflects diversity of all types and leads to an inclusive culture within our workplace.”
A central focus of 2021 continued to be supporting recovery efforts for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The Group partnered with key stakeholders in delivering financial relief, including:
- The Moving Flint Forward Small Business Grants program, an initiative funded by General Motors and administered by the Economic Alliance, awarded $150,000 to 15 small businesses in Flint.
- Administered the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Small Business Small Business Survival Grant Program for Region 6, which awarded $4.1 million to 291 small businesses. Of that, $1.4 million was awarded to 96 Genesee County businesses.
- Delivered more than 4,000 care package and 450 school supplies distributed to YouthQuest students and families.
- Worked collaboratively to host the Flint & Genesee Career Expo, which featured over 120 companies, with over 1,900 jobs available and 400+ job seekers attending the event. Also co-hosted the Genesee County Manufacturing Career Fair and the Genesee County Hospitality Career Fair.
- Launched the Flintern Experience, a professional development series that aimed to help college students make the most of their summer internships with Genesee County employers. The program’s goal is to get students to consider Flint & Genesee as a place to start and grow their careers after graduation.
Following are 2021 accomplishments that summarize the work of the Group’s divisions in the areas of economic development; business advocacy and professional development; talent and education; and tourism:
- Supported nearly $123 million in private investment
- 7 investment projects helped to create 773 new jobs
- Talent Connection Services helped connect job seekers with 603 job opportunities
- Launched the Small Business Help Desk to strengthen the support system for small businesses
- 422 meetings with business owners and entrepreneurs
- 3,377 PTAC contacts awarded, valued at more than $82.5 million
- Nearly $250,000 in revenue generated by 40+ Chamber member businesses through the Consumers Energy-sponsored Our Town Gift Card Match Program
- 615 participants in 23 professional development workshops; 114 employers represented
- 72 new Chamber members
- 9 participants in the seventh cohort of Lead Now Flint & Genesee leadership development program.
Talent & Education
- 2,222 student received academic and enrichment programming via YouthQuest
- 179 teens graduated from TeenQuest via a virtual ceremony
- 218 teens employed through the Summer Youth Initiative/Michigan DNR partnership
- 101 Flint Promise Scholarship students enrolled in local colleges and universities
- Contracted 5,664 hotel-room nights in Genesee County
- 7 percent average occupancy rate approached the pre-pandemic rate of 57.9 percent in 2019, after dipping to 46.6 percent in 2020.)
- Average Daily Rate of $80.91 and total hotel revenue of $40.2 million surpassed the pre-pandemic figures of $75.95 and $37.7 million, respectively.
- Partnered with Bishop International Airport to help persuade Allegiant to invest $75 million to establish a base of operations at Bishop and create at least 89 high-wage jobs
- Partnered with the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village to bring the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament back to Flint after a 20-year absence
- Tournament hosted 137 teams with 549 players from Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Las Vegas and Oregon. Nearly 1,500 people per day attended the two-day event.
“As we move forward in 2022, we will continue our focus on key strategies, such as attracting and retaining talent, being more inclusive to small and minority-owned businesses, and driving economic growth under our new, strengthened identity,” said Herman.
A full copy of the Group’s Annual Report is available online at annualreport.flintandgenesee.org/.