Navigating state legislative and regulatory matters can be a difficult task for any manufacturer at any time. However, add the unique challenges posed by 2020, and issues get even more complicated. It’s times like these that proven counsel with connections to state and local agencies can help solve challenging issues within the state regulatory environment to help ensure long-term competitiveness.
Enter Honigman, a Midwest-based law firm serving Michigan manufacturers locally, nationally and internationally for more than 70 years across more than 60 areas of legal practice — 15 of which are ranked nationally by U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms.”
“We help clients face well-funded adversaries,” says Peter Ruddell, Partner and Co-leader, Government Relations and Regulatory Practice Group. “We make sure their voices are heard and that they are able to achieve public policy successes that allow their businesses to grow consistent with market conditions.”
Working out of Honigman’s Lansing office, much of Ruddell’s efforts involve interacting with state policy makers as an advocate for his clients. This includes helping Michigan manufacturers understand and manage state regulations and protocols — both of which have been tested by COVID-19.
“We need to figure out the balance between a declaration of emergency with a state agency having great control over business operations vs. a more certain regulatory environment where businesses know how they need to operate,” explains Ruddell.
Ruddell points out that small manufacturers have an extra obstacle to overcome: “Large, global enterprises have experience with viruses (Swine, H1N1, MERS, etc.) in other parts of the world. But this is new to Michigan and our smaller manufacturers. So, we need to learn from the past seven months to create a new regulatory framework with the certainty they need to succeed moving forward.”
However, adhering to new and evolving regulations and protocols is just one of many COVID-era challenges facing Michigan businesses. Attracting and retaining skilled workers is also an issue. Virus-induced fear, anxiety, lost income, remote learning at home and more have all taken their toll.
This is one of the many reasons why Honigman is so involved with educational and workforce development agencies, including the Michigan Works! Association.
“The No. 1 driving issue for manufacturing is attracting talented people,” says Ruddell. “It’s why our firm works hard to help manufacturers upskill existing workers, which then gives them the opportunity to hire entry-level positions.”
Indeed, if there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught every Michigan manufacturer, it’s the importance of their employees.
Ruddell agrees, adding, “Businesses need to take greater ownership and control over workforce training. They also need to ensure their most vulnerable people have access to safety net resources and social services such as childcare and transportation.”
Those manufacturers who have partnered with resource networks to help their employees have reduced attrition and improved profits.
Push Peter Ruddell further on this topic and he’ll tell you that manufacturers need to get back to operating like a family, making sure employees have everything they need to be successful in life beyond the workday.
That sounds like counsel we can all get behind.
Honigman LLP is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since January 1990. Visit online: honigman.com.