What is the Mackinac Policy Conference and why should you care?

2019 Mackinac Policy Conference kicks off May 28

Michigan's annual Mackinac Policy Conference takes place this week on Mackinac Island.

The conference takes place every year after Memorial Day, bringing political figures, business leaders and innovators from all walks of life, political backgrounds and ideologies together for days of discussion.

It's the premier political event of the year in Michigan. It's watched by political junkies around the country.

Who goes to the Mackinac Policy Conference?

It changes from year-to-year, but in most years you can expect to hear from the governor, mayors of major cities in the state, CEOs from Michigan's largest industries and politicians from the city, state and sometimes federal level.

It's also filled with media. Local television, newspapers and other media flock to the island to cover important issues being talked about.

The conference itself doesn't always generate huge news headlines. Although, back in 2015, the political director for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign claimed that he was punched in the face by the campaign manager for competitor Sen. Marco Rubio at a bar on Mackinac Island.

Where is the conference held?

The conference is held at The Grand Hotel. It's totally haunted

What is talked about at the conference?

Again, it changes year-to-year. But main themes include the future of the state, growing industries -- and presentations on what's working in local governments and businesses. 

There's also debates on issues - and in political years, debates between candidates.

At the 2018 conference, discussion topics included the automotive industry's move towards mobility, infrastructure, the future of education and women in the workplace.

In 2019, focuses will be on talent growth and development in Michigan, along with infrastructure and other topics like recreational marijuana, gerrymandering and more.

It will also be Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's first Mackinac keynote address since taking office.

Why should anyone care?

The fact is, a lot of what happens at Mackinac doesn't matter. It's a lot of talk about important issues, but not all of it is entirely actionable in any way. 

That being said, the people at Mackinac have a heavy influence on the state's well-being, whether it be a politician you voted for, a CEO for a business or industry you work in, or a group that is fighting for or against something you believe in. 

You may not find every tidbit of information from the conference to be of interest, but in a way, it's more important to know what politicians, business leaders and other powerful figures are saying among each other than it is in a very public setting.

In the end, your tax dollars, votes and hard work make the Mackinac Policy Conference an event worth watching. The information is at your fingertips - it's up to you to use it. 

How can I watch it?

ClickOnDetroit will live stream most of the programming at the conference from May 28 to May 30. You can find the full streaming agenda here.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.