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Planning and Economic Development
 

 

 

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Message from Mark 

 

Thanks for subscribing to Focus Macomb. I appreciate the opportunity to catch you up on a few of the great things happening in Macomb County and hope that you enjoy (and share) the articles that follow.

In this issue, we feature a winter update from our Department of Roads, information on how you can get involved in the new Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center and details around shopping local at our 1,600 independently owned and operated retailers. Also included is a recap of my recent State of the County address, where I highlighted some of the transformative work being performed by county agencies and departments. Needless to say, it was a remarkable year, with incredible progress.

In closing, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. And if my office can be of assistance to you, please call 586-469-7001 or write to executive@macombgov.org. My team is ready to help.

 

 Progress, growth and new initiatives highlighted at 9th annual State of Macomb County

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel delivered his 9th annual State of the County address at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The event, which was presented by Ascension Macomb-Oakland, covered a wide-range of topics, including community metrics, economic investments and quality of life initiatives. For example, Hackel highlighted the revitalization of the Clinton River, which was once called one of the most polluted and unusable waterways in the state. Through collaborative efforts and with the help of grant funds, the river is now clean, clear and connected. 

“In my first year as county executive, we made it a priority to champion our freshwater assets,” he said. “We launched the Blue Economy Initiative with the intention of improving water quality and public access. Nowhere is our success more evident than with the Clinton River.”

The waterway is now a recreational asset, with nine public launch sites for kayaks and canoes. During his address, Hackel announced plans to increase this access.

“This has been a remarkable environmental transformation, and it is often said that success breeds success,” he said. “So I am pleased to announce, with the assistance of FCA US LLC and other sponsors, we are adding two new access points in Clinton Township and Harrison Township.”

Hackel then shared how quality of life can be influenced by public safety, and how criminal justice reform must be a priority. He pointed to initiatives led by the judiciary, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office and human service organizations as examples of what can be done in this arena. 

“Our judges have created specialty courts focused on the unique needs of veterans and people with substance abuse or mental health challenges,” he said. “Studies show that these specialty court programs reduce recidivism rates as much as 50 percent.”

According to Hackel, several other efforts will likely add to this trend, including the recently enacted “Raise the Age” legislation, community corrections pre-trial programs that are providing treatment and monitoring alternatives to incarceration and the county’s new public defender’s office. 

“The bottom line is that criminal justice reform is showing signs of improvement in Macomb County,” he said. “And it holds real promise for our future.”                                                                     

Other indicators of future success include metrics around population, educational attainment, median incomes, employment, housing and financial stability. Hackel shared several positive statistics within each of those categories to demonstrate Macomb County’s growth:

  • Population: Nearly 11,000 new residents made Macomb their home last year, which is the largest annual increase in more than a decade. This puts the county’s population at 875,000 individuals - an all-time high.

  • Educational attainment: In just one year, Macomb County’s educational profile has added 10,000 new associate, bachelor and graduate degrees.

  • Employment: Macomb County’s workforce reached an historic high, with more than 460,000 residents in the labor force. Additionally, unemployment dropped to four percent - a full percentage point lower than the state of Michigan. 

  • Income: Macomb’s annual median household income increased to more than $62,000. Several years ago, that amount had fallen below the state average; it is now 10 percent higher.

  • Housing: This past year, the county added nearly 5,200 new housing units and the median home value increased by more than $29,000 - a 20 percent increase in just one year.

  • Fiscal stability: Macomb continues to focus on financial responsibility, helping the county maintain its AA+ bond rating.

“Together, these six metrics give us an indication of community vitality,” Hackel said. “And they are all pointing in the right direction.”

To watch the entire State of the County address, click here.

 

Shop Local Macomb: Support small business this holiday season

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping! And there’s still time to shop local right here in Macomb County.

“Macomb County has more than 1,600 independently owned and operated retailers,” said County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “These businesses help create a distinct sense of place in each of our 27 communities, and we would like to encourage residents to support them by shopping locally this holiday season.”

 

This sentiment inspired the creation of Shop Local Macomb, an initiative that features a social media photo contest where five winners each receive a $500 gift card donated by First State Bank. Macomb County Planning and Economic Development leads the campaign and support is provided by the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce, the Romeo-Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce and the Anchor Bay Chamber of Commerce.

This year, Shop Local Macomb received 500 entries for the social media contest - a record number of submissions! Winners were randomly selected and announced on Facebook live on Monday, Dec. 9. But even with the contest over, there’s still plenty of reasons to shop local in our community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, independently owned and operated stores contribute to a community's overall economic health including:

  • Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local nonprofits, schools and sports teams as compared to national chain stores.
  • In all, a dollar spent at a small store returns three times more money to the local economy than one spent at a big box store.
  • Independent retailers employ more people directly per dollar of revenue.

So - are you planning to shop small this weekend? Make sure to check out our locally owned and operated business map here before you go!

 

Digital publication features region’s leadership in next generation mobility

The Detroit region is an 11-county area with a population of more than 5.4 million people and more than 300,000 businesses. Home to innovative technology, a growing mobility startup and venture capital ecosystem, and numerous connected and automated vehicle research projects and initiatives. Detroit is the global leader in next-generation mobility and is well-positioned to change the way the world moves people, goods and services into the future.

 

Driven, a digital publication, chronicles that story by sharing the talent, investment, innovation and emerging assets that are shaping our mobility future. No one moves the world like Detroit, and no one tells the story like Driven.

Driven is sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber, Ann Arbor SPARK, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Macomb County, MICHauto, Oakland County and Issue Media Group. Articles are regularly published by several contributors. Recent features include a piece on Ann Arbor’s record-breaking connected vehicle deployment, the mobility research center at Kettering University and autonomous vehicle services that will be available at the 2020 NAIAS.

We recommend subscribing to Driven to stay up-to-date on all things mobility in southeast Michigan. If you’d like to subscribe, visit at http://www.detroitdriven.us/.

Another great way to stay on top of all the stories that make Macomb County unique is to subscribe to our daily BizClips, a collection of local news.

 

Macomb County Department of Roads ready for winter; new painted plow unveiled

 

The Macomb County Department of Roads is gearing up for winter operations with the addition of new winter maintenance equipment.

“Michigan’s unpredictable weather impacts our roads, residents and community. Road safety and winter readiness are top priorities for the department,” said MCDR Director Bryan Santo. “We work relentlessly to ensure our snow and ice removal operations maintain a drivable road system for all Macomb County motorists.”

There are more than 4,045 miles of roadway in Macomb County. MCDR is responsible for the maintenance of 1,773 miles and more than 1,100 miles of subdivision roads. The department’s goal is to keep these areas as safe as possible. The following facts demonstrate how:

  • MCDR has 101 snowplows, salt trucks and graders in its fleet
  • MCDR has 129 maintenance employees dedicated to keeping the roads clear
  • On average, MCDR uses more than 57,000 tons of salt each winter
  • In 2018, MCDR spent $8,624,909.93 on winter maintenance for primary, local and state roads

 

To meet the demand for the winter season, MCDR purchased several tandem axle, single axle and semi-trucks that will be delivered to Macomb County’s service centers in Washington Township, New Haven, Clinton Township and Shelby Township. It also partnered with Switzer Elementary School and Utica Community Schools to paint one of the department’s snowplows. Fifth and sixth grade art students from Switzer Elementary submitted designs to paint the plow in the fall. The winning design was unveiled in November by Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel; Bryan E. Santo, director of the Department of Roads; Dr. Christine M. Johns, superintendent of Utica Community Schools; and students from Switzer Elementary.

For the latest news from the Department of Roads, follow MCDR on Facebook and sign up to receive email and text alerts for construction and traffic updates at roads.macombgov.org.

 

Volunteers help with Sterling Relief Drain transformation

 

On November 1, county and Sterling Heights officials joined volunteers from Fiat-Chrysler and Re-Leaf in planting more than 80 trees at the Sterling Relief Drain, a drain that serves more than 25,000 Sterling Heights residents and hundreds of businesses between 15 Mile Road and Metropolitan Parkway.

The effort was led by the Macomb County Public Works Office and Green Macomb, an initiative of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. Together, they are working on the Sterling Relief Drain Habitat Restoration and Butterfly Flyway project - a $1.82 million transformation that is completely funded through grants. The goal is to improve the area with a significant amount of trees and retrofit it to dramatically improve stormwater solutions, as the drain channels stormwater away from the city of Sterling Heights toward the Red Run Drain, the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

Most of the work on the drain is now complete, with some additional plantings scheduled for the spring. When the project is finished, the Sterling Relief Drain area will begin experiencing the benefits of an extensive and well-managed urban forest. These include cleaner air and water, flood control, reduction in energy usage, improvements to public health, aesthetics, increased property values and a better quality of life.

 

Outside of this urban forest setting, we know that trees can be an incredible resource; especially for homeowners. For instance:

  • Homes with trees sell two days faster and for up to 15 percent more
  • A tree is the only asset that increases in value with age, as homeowners get a 109 percent return on investment
  • Urban nature reduces mental fatigue in children, increasing academic success
  • Increasing community trees can have health benefits equivalent to a $10,000 annual increase in income
  • Trees can reduce dangerous air pollutants in the ozone by 15 percent, sulfur dioxide by 14 percent and nitrogen dioxide by 8 percent
  • A mature pin oak in your yard can intercept 5,500 gallons of rainfall per year, which is equal to 200 loads of laundry
  • Three properly placed trees can reduce annual air conditioning costs by 56 percent
  • Trees can reduce home heating bills by 10 percent, as they serve as a windbreak from winter winds

All of these examples showcase why the Sterling Relief Drain project, and planting trees in general, is important. For more information on the initiative, click here.

 

Become a Robotics Center Champion

 

The Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center is moving full steam ahead to position southeast Michigan as a leader in robotics and keep it competitive for the next generation of engineering firms and manufacturers. 

“The Center offers significant potential to connect our students and faculty to industry leaders and equip the next generation for fulfilling careers that positively impact this region,” said James O. Sawyer IV, Ed. D., president of Macomb Community College.

Earlier this year, the Center, which is housed at Velocity in Sterling Heights, formed its founding board of directors and filed paperwork to become an independent, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. An informal advisory team of FIRST Robotics, government, education and industry stakeholders from the region provides guidance.

The Center seeks to raise an initial $1.5 million from government, philanthropic and corporate partners for a successful start-up. Early support from the City of Sterling Heights; AT&T; the Michigan Defense Center; and Steve Arwood, former CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, demonstrates the enthusiasm for the Center from a broad spectrum of the community. 

A mix of large and small financial and in-kind donations will support the Center’s development over the next three years and cultivate a state-of-the-art facility with talented leadership and robust programming and equipment. To find out how you can contribute to the Center’s growth, contact Vicky Rad at Vicky.rad@macombgov.org or 586-469-5065 to discuss Center needs and your interests.

 

Shoutout: Mettle Ops awarded $20 million defense contract focused on soldier survivability 

 

Just six years after its founding, Sterling Heights-based Mettle Ops has been awarded a $20 million contract by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center (formerly known as TARDEC). The contract targets survivability efforts by supplying military personnel with equipment designed to better protect them in wartime conditions. It will provide both virtual and physical prototypes of advanced survivability and protection technologies for tracked and wheeled ground vehicles, specifically the Abrams Main Battle Tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Next Generation Combat Vehicle.

It is a meaningful project for Katie Bigelow, a veteran and the president of Mettle Ops.

“We are soldiers at heart,” she said in a recent interview with Momentum magazine. “We are committed to achieving more survivability for our military.”

 

Business Calendar

Michigan Resources for Defense Exporting
Thursday, January 9, 2020; 9 a.m.

Introduction to Federal Government Contracting 101 Thursday, January 16; 9 a.m.

Supervisory Survival Skills
Thursday, February 13; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To find more business events in Macomb County, visit Macomb County’s Planning and Economic Development calendar here.

Point of Pride

 

 

The American Society of Employers recently recognized Andrew McKinnon, human resources and labor relations director for Macomb County, as one of its Michigan HR Executives of the Year for 2019. McKinnon was one of four honorees. He was named in the “Non-Profit Organization - Small Employer” category.

Coming Soon

Save the date for the 8th annual Macomb Business Awards on April 21, 2020! Nominations will open soon. Stay tuned to MacombBusiness.com for more information.