Sandy Baruah Continues to Take Helm as Detroit Regional Chamber Head

Sandy Baruah is a leader and visionary who the Detroit Regional Chamber will keep on as president and CEO for another five years after he recently signed his new contract with the country’s third-largest chamber of commerce, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.

Baruah, 57, said in the publication that the Chamber of Commerce expressed interest early on about the decision to keep him in his role.

“The chamber was very forward-leaning and said that if I wanted to stay that they were very interested in having me stay for a while longer and potentially kind of finishing out my CEO career at the chamber,” he said in the publication. “I was happy to commit to at least another five years.”

Baruah, who oversees a staff of about 80 employees, said in the article that he is passionate about his job due to it’s heavy role with politics, policy and business.

One of his primary goals now is to zero in at the state level to “really get our economic development strategy in better shape,” he said in the article, noting progress with the continued efforts of a nine-month-old incentives account, the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund, and the 2021 selection of Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Quentin Messer Jr., per the article.

“We need a much more consistent approach. We need a much more aggressive approach, especially when it comes to next-generation mobility,” Baruah said. “If we lose that edge for next-generation mobility, Michigan is going to be in a world of hurt.”

The Chamber represents the business interests of a region comprising 5.4 million residents and 11 Fortune 500 companies, according to the Chamber’s website,

The Chamber also executes the statewide automotive and mobility cluster association, MICHauto, and hosts the nationally recognized Mackinac Policy Conference. Additionally, the Chamber leads the most comprehensive education and talent strategy in the state.

Baruah joined the Chamber in 2010 after a distinguished career in Washington, D.C. He served President George W. Bush as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In this role, he was the chief executive responsible for the SBA’s 4,000 national employees and $18 billion small business loan portfolio. Baruah was one of the senior offi shaping the federal government’s response to the 2008 credit crisis and assistance to the U.S. automotive industry.

Prior to leading the SBA, Baruah served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce. In this role, he was responsible for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), served as the senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce for the 2010 Census, and represented the U.S. government before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France.

Before serving President George W. Bush, Baruah was a corporate mergers and acquisitions consultant for the Performance Consulting Group and served both President George H. W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood. After leaving government service in 2009, he was a Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, a Washington-based think tank focused on economic competitiveness policy.

Baruah earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon and a Master of Business Administration from Willamette University. Baruah serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, U.S. Council on Competitiveness, Automotive Hall of Fame, and Detroit Economic Club, among others. He is a contributor to Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, a Leadership Circle member of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, and chairs the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition. He is also a former Advisory Board Member of Spain’s Institute on Competitiveness.

In 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Baruah as Chair of Michigan’s 21st Century Economy Commission. He is a frequent commentator on local and national media regarding political developments, automotive industry matters, and Detroit and Michigan issues.

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