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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Royal Oak Tribune: Troy Chamber of Commerce to foster diversity

Since the mayor is incapable of rescuing the city's image from the horrible statements she and her friends have made, the Chamber is going to try to do the right thing.

Troy Chamber of Commerce to foster diversity
Published: Friday, February 17, 2012
TROY — A recent stretch of negative press has prompted the city's chamber of commerce to alter its course.
"Diversity in Troy has always been a given, and certainly an important value of ours as an organization," Michele Hodges, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, said.
"Of late, however, we have seen that reputation challenged, and that concerns us, because we do not believe that is the real Troy."
Troy Mayor Janice Daniels came under fire shortly after taking office in November. She has twice been accused of speaking out against homosexuality and has aired an argument with Troy City Manager John Szerlag in public by reading a position letter into the record during a city council meeting. She now is the target of a recall campaign, though organizers of that campaign's political action committee have yet to speak to the press.
Recognizing that those issues present challenges the city has not had to deal with in the recent past, the Troy Chamber of Commerce has teamed with the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion to announce "several strategic steps to further foster and encourage diversity in our city."
Hodges said those strategic steps are a "direct response" to recent headlines involving Daniels, who first came under fire in December for a Facebook posting against gay marriage, in which she called gay people "queers."
She made headlines again last month, when it was reported that Daniels told the Troy High School Gay Straight Alliance that homosexuality was a mental disease. She was later quoted as denying that she said homosexuality was a mental disease, but had called the homosexual lifestyle "dangerous."
Hodges said those incidents have forced the Chamber of Commerce to alter its strategy.
"Diversity has always been a given in terms of how we see ourselves as an organization," she said. "To actually highlight it as a part of our strategic plan or something would have been silly, quite frankly."
The move to highlight diversity is "a direct response to what we have been seeing in the community," Hodges said. "We pledged to the community when the situation (involving Daniels) was at a climax that we would proactively deal with this and would address it in a substantive manner, so this is the fulfillment of our promise to the community."
Diversity is good for the economy, Hodges said.
"Our goal as an organization, and of course our core value, is to create an investment-friendly environment here in Troy — one that is open to all forms of investment and the retention of investment as well."
One aspect the chamber is currently focusing on is gathering and compiling data that demonstrates how a diverse community "can propel a thriving marketplace."
For instance, Hodges noted that the LGBT community, statistically, "has some of the highest credit ratings of all population groups."
"Just staying focused on the business aspect, they're an important customer base here in Troy."

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