As we venture into 2019 at ACG Detroit I want to take a moment and share some proud accomplishments from the past year, and also provide an update on where our chapter is headed in the coming months.
2018 proved to be another example of world-class programming and networking for our chapter. More significant than the number of events we hosted last year- 35 events with over 4,500 total attendees- we continue to build momentum in both the quality of our programming and the attendance of our events by membership and sponsors alike. Many thanks go to our Program Committee, led by Andrew MacLeod and Dan Ellis, which year-in and year-out continues to deliver programs that are considered amongst the best throughout the ACG universe.
In addition to offerings from our Program Committee, we have also seen a significant increase in the number of events facilitated by our NextGen and Women’s Forum initiatives. Once a small part of our organization, these efforts now constitute over 31% of our total membership. Led by Danielle Bass and Tracy Arceci respectively, these women are focused on building the momentum of these initiatives which has shown us all the diverse and impressive talent that exists across our organization. If you are aware of young professionals or women in our community interested in getting plugged into these efforts please be sure they get connected with us in 2019.
On our sponsorship front; ACG Detroit continues to deliver a valuable platform for the firms who partner with our organization. Our sponsorship offerings are in high demand with almost all of our various packages sold out last year. We have also seen record attendance by our sponsors at our events. To those of you who financially support ACG Detroit- We are deeply grateful for your loyal partnership. Much appreciation is due to Bill Goodhue for his efforts in communicating the value of ACG Detroit to our various sponsors.
Mike Kulka, Kim Easterle Mattes, and Larry Gardner have continued to develop ACG Detroit’s brand messaging, with a special focus on increasing our public visibility and our online presence. Through our newly established partnership with IdentityPR, we have made numerous inroads building out our social media footprint. The results have been significant. Last year our social media presence as a whole generated 371 new followers, 141,700 impressions and 3,300 interactions with middle market professionals in Detroit. This has led to a 77% year over year traffic increase to our website, of which 89% were new users. If you haven’t seen or shared our numerous posts, I would encourage you to find our chapter on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and join our growing online community.
Our Corporate Development initiative has gained some noteworthy traction over the last number of months. For many years the “CorpDev” space has been underserved in the Detroit market and we intend to change that. Under the leadership of Kurt Harvey, this effort has created a platform for local corporate development professionals to both share experiences and best practices. If you know of any CorpDev professionals that would like to participate in our 2019 event calendar, please be sure to let us know and we will connect them in.
Throughout 2018, our ACG Detroit Cares Committee supported the needs of HAVEN- a domestic violence and sexual assault non-profit located in Pontiac. Many of you donated a lot of time teaching and mentoring both women and children who rely on HAVEN’s services. I am grateful to Doug LaLone, Andrew Dickow, Tracy Arceci and Jennifer Jennings for their leadership in this generous effort. Moving forward we will continue our partnership with HAVEN and also align with 2019 Mingle Bells charity winner “Heart 2 Hart”, a non-profit dedicated to the needs of homeless in Detroit. If you are looking for ways to give back to our community in the coming year, consider joining this special part of our organization.
I am very excited to share with you our new partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. Over the past 18 months we have been hard at work finding ways to broaden the reach of ACG Detroit with other elite business organizations in our city. This effort has culminated in a new joint ACG Detroit/Detroit Regional Chamber series called the “Middle Market Forum”. This quarterly collaboration will bring together middle market thought leaders to speak about issues important to our community. Last month we had our first Middle Market Forum gathering. George Corona, CEO of Kelly Services, presented his middle market employment views on the regional and national economy. I am excited to build this partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber as we continue into 2019.
Each year over 1,200 ACG members from across the country travel to the Midwest to participate in the Great Lakes ACG Capital Connection. In September 2019, it will be Detroit’s turn to host and it’s our plan for this GLCC to be the very best yet. The Westin Book Cadillac and Cobo Center are already reserved and our talented GLCC' 19 committee- led by Heather Madland, Danielle Bass, and Dan Ellis- has been hard at work developing an agenda that will show the best of ACG Detroit and place a special emphasis on our city’s resurgence. There are many exciting details that can’t be shared quite yet, but I can say this will be an event you won’t want to miss! Be sure to save the date- September 4-5, 2019.
During this past board election cycle you may have noticed that a handful of long serving board members were no longer on our slate. These retiring board members have been the archetype of what it means to be a dedicated, selfless and loyal member of ACG Detroit and their contribution to our chapter over the years is impossible to quantify. In my short time as president I have learned how essential these special leaders are to the success of our organization. It is because of this, we have created a new award within our chapter that gives recognition to exceptional members who have served the mission of ACG Detroit in a truly extraordinary way. It is appropriately named “The Legend Award”. In the coming year we will be honoring Jay Hansen, Ron Hingst, Ron Schlaupitz, and Bill Sigler for their outstanding involvement. Collectively these men have served ACG Detroit for more than 74 years! Please join me in both congratulating and thanking these “Legends” for their leadership to our organization.
As we head into the 35th year of ACG Detroit, I am grateful for all of you who have given so much to make the past 12 months a success. To our dedicated board members, committee leaders, loyal sponsors, and tireless volunteers thank you for making our chapter one of the best in the world. I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the 22 years of commitment and professionalism of our executive director Sharon Kimble- I am so deeply appreciative of her support.
Here’s to a year ahead of “Diving Middle Market Growth” in a way that only Detroit can.
All the best,
Christopher T.R. Letts