Dick Blouse was once asked how he felt when he first arrived in Detroit to take the reins of the organization then known as the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce, "I was overwhelmed, to be honest," he responded with his usual candor. "There were so many issues, so many challenges and so many opportunities."
That was nearly 16 years ago. Since then, momentous events have reshaped our community, our slate, our country and our world. As president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Dick played a remarkable leadership role during this turbulent period, and his legacy in Southeast Michigan will be a lasting one.
It would take a volume much thicker than this magazine to detail the chamber's achievements during Diek's tenure, but here are a few that exemplify his hands-on approach to turning challenges into opportunities and opportunities into success:
Creating the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership. By marketing the Detroit region throughout the world through trade missions and other initiatives, this public/private collaboration is responsible for helping hundreds of companies either locate or expand in the Detroit region, creating thousands of new jobs, since it was launched in 1996. The Partnership was ahead of the curve when, in 2006, it co-hosted the first - of five to date -trade missions to India, one of the world's fastest-growing economics.
Becoming the largest metropolitan chamber of commerce in the United States. As the voice of business in Southeast Michigan, today's Detroit Regional Chamber numbers more than 20,000 members.
Developing collaborative partnerships with eight diversity partners: American Arab Chamber of Commerce, Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce, Booker T. Washington Business Association, Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Business Alliance, Indo American Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Women Business Owners.
Mobilizing an international task force after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and securing much-needed improvements at the northern border. The work of the Northern Border for Economic Security and Trade (NBEST) rescued the Detroit-Windsor region - the world's busiest trade crossing - from chaos and developed a workable blueprint to promote the economic security of the United States and its No. 1 trading partner, Canada.
Launching TransLinkeD, a coalition of Detroit Regional Chamber and Detroit Regional Economic Partnership members to plan Southeast Michigan's future logistics and mobility resources. This strategic initiative will enable the region to create a comprehensive transportation vision with prime access to North American and global trade.
As a firm believer in the power of collaboration and cooperation, Dick would be the first to insist that these and other achievements during his tenure were the product of talented, creative and dedicated people coming together to work for the greater good. But it takes an outstanding leader to marshal the human resources of a region as large and complex as Southeast Michigan, and Dick fit this role perfectly.
As a tribute to Dick on his upcoming retirement, the Detroiter asked seven of the Detroit region's top leaders to share their thoughts on working with him on key initiatives over the years.
Dickinson Wright PLLC Chairman
Dennis W Archer PLLC
The Search Committee chose well when it selected Richard Blouse to be the new president and CEO of our chamber. From Greensboro, S.C., by way of Lancaster, Pa., Dick was full of energy and fresh, new ideas. He had a broad vision for a brighter future for Detroit and its region.
Dick had a talent for implementing new ideas from board members like...