Arthur A. Havlicek
Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
What Does Your Company/Organization Do?
The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber is a member-driven organization working to achieve economic prosperity throughout the region.
I’ve spent the last decade working in the political arena where I rose through the ranks of my field by managing and winning dozens of campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. My expertise even enabled me to create my own small business – a full-service political consulting firm dedicated to electing good people to public office.
Of my time in politics, I’m most proud of my work as staff in the Michigan House of Representatives. As Legislative Director for the 79th State House District (northern Berrien County), I helped guide seven pieces of legislation into law, helped craft two $1.5 billion budgets to fund Michigan’s 15 Public Universities, and played a key staff role in implementing first-in-the-nation sexual assault prevention reforms aimed at bringing more transparency and accountability to college campuses across the state. I also served as the Speaker of the House’s advisor to eleven West Michigan Legislators where I helped them to outline their priorities and advised them on how to leverage resources and relationships around the Capitol to improve their respective communities.
At twenty-seven years old, I became the President and CEO of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber. Despite starting just prior to the pandemic and being one of the youngest Chamber presidents in the country, I’ve already led our organization to a number of notable accomplishments. We created both the Buy Local Berrien Facebook Group and the Southwest Michigan Safe Initiative. We were key partners in the Berrien ReOpens collaborative and spearheaded the See St. Joseph virtual downtown initiative. We launched new virtual networking events and leveraged my Lansing experience to bring our advocacy efforts to the state-level. I’m proud of each and every effort to make my community and state better, and there’s plenty more to come.
What else do you hope to accomplish by the age of 40?
Personally, I want to start a family and travel more. Professionally, I want to help Southwest Michigan become a nationally competitive and economically diverse destination for talented individuals to live, work, and raise a family.
I graduated from Lake Michigan Catholic High School in St. Joseph. From there, I attended Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration.
St. Joseph Township, MI
Where were you born?
What was your first job?
My first job was covering newspaper routes for my mom who worked as a circulation manager at the Herald Palladium. I also worked as a caddy at Point O’ Woods and as a grocery clerk at Martin’s Supermarkets in St. Joseph.
Best advice you ever got?
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – President Theodore Roosevelt
Who inspires you most?
My father, who passed away this July. He lived by example and taught me everything I know about life, faith, family, and service. Not a day will go by where I don’t try to honor his legacy by leaving this world a little better than I found it.
That one thing about you we’d be most surprised to learn.
I love to work with my hands. Growing up on four acres in Bridgman, I was constantly helping my dad with yard work, home improvement projects, and breathing life into broken vehicles. To this day, it’s that kind of work that I find the most relaxing. Now, I take care of both the Bridgman property and my new home in St. Joseph. There’s no shortage of projects to be done.
What do you love to do in your downtime?
When I’m not working on projects for work or home, I’m most likely spending quality time with my family.
What book are you reading now?
Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal. Given to me by a great friend, the book describes a new leadership method that allows organizations to adapt and innovate nimbly in a complex world.
Volunteer activity you love the most.
Being an advocate and resource for families who care for a loved one with Parkinson’s and/or Lewy Body Dementia. Nothing brings me more fulfillment than making the experience easier for others.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
My family moved us from Chicago to Bridgman when I was eight-years-old because they knew Southwest Michigan was a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Giving back is my way to honor my family’s journey, thank my community for all it has given me, and ensure future generations of families have the chance at a better life here just like I did.
What Superpower would you most love to have?
What has been the most eye-opening thing about the coronavirus pandemic for you, personally?
How unevenly the pandemic has affected different communities and industries. It really drives home the need for a more sustainable and resilient Southwest Michigan economy.
What does the honor of being named to the 40 Under 40 most mean to you?
From advocating for Southwest Michigan as staff in the state Legislature to fighting for it as President of the Chamber, I’ve only ever strived to make a positive impact on the community I love. Receiving this award is an incredible honor because it means the work I have done has made a difference.