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Planning and Economic Development



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Message from Mark


Welcome to Focus Macomb, a quarterly newsletter with relevant information about Macomb County projects and programs. I hope that you enjoy (and share) the articles that follow.

In this issue, we feature news around John Paul Rea’s work as a new deputy county executive, OneMacomb’s As Seen in Macomb scholarship photo contest and the 7th annual Macomb Business Awards.

I am also pleased to announce that Vicky Rad, former deputy director of Planning and Economic Development, has officially been named as the director of the department. Vicky is highly recognized and regarded statewide as an innovative leader for planning and economic development. Her outreach and passion for making Macomb County a welcoming place for business is a tremendous asset for the department and for the county as a whole.

Now, later this month the Mackinac Policy Conference will be held on Mackinac Island. I will be joining leaders from across the state at this annual event and my focus will be the roads. We all know that our roads are in need of repair, but Macomb County has developed an innovative system that gives us even further insight into the issue. I’ll be taking this information with me when I head north in a few weeks, so stay tuned for details and other announcements.

In closing, thanks for allowing us to check in. If my office can be of assistance to you, please call 586-469-7001 or write at My team is ready to help.


John Paul Rea applies extensive community insight to deputy county executive role


John Paul Rea is the type of person who can easily answer any question about Macomb County. So if you’re looking for information on Fiat Chrysler’s latest investment in Warren, he can provide the details. Or, if you’re wondering what the zoning regulations are for Richmond, he’s got those specifics too. Even if you’re just hoping to find the best Italian restaurants in town, you guessed it – he knows the answer.

You see, Rea’s knowledge of all things Macomb County is vast and his passion for the area runs deep. He’s spent his entire life here. Only a brief stint in West Michigan for college and grad school kept him away; but he came back and put his talents to work in the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED).

“As I was figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always felt like I needed to do it in the place that has given me so much,” he said.

Starting as an intern with MCPED, Rea worked his way up to the position of director. And now, he’s Macomb’s newest deputy county executive – a position requiring the extensive community insight that comes naturally to him.

“With planning as the foundation of my service here at the county, I will now branch out and help advocate for the Department of Roads, Health and Community Services, Workforce Development and Veterans Affairs,” Rea said. “In my short time in the new role, I have witnessed the sheer impact of these service centers and I am excited to continue to learn from my peers.”  

This teamwork mentality is something he fostered while with MCPED.

“Being the director of Planning and Economic Development has been one of the greatest professional joys of my life,” he said. “For more than 12 years I was able to work with some of my dearest friends and colleagues, and help put the county on a more prosperous path. We helped build buildings that were never here before, we helped solve problems that folks thought would never be solved and we cultivated bold visions for what our community could become.”

Building a list of all of these accomplishments might be impossible, but for Rea, there are a few that stand out.

“While I myself cannot take full credit for any one of our successes, there are several I am most proud of,” he said. “My first deal for the county, where we brought the Golden Corral restaurant and buffet to a space on M-59 and Hayes. The 1 million-square-foot Amazon facility is something I will never forget. Helping play a part in landing Jimmy John’s Field is truly special to me. And then there’s the future-focused relationship we have forged with our domestic automakers that has helped bolster billion dollar deals and develop next generation mobility strategies. The work has been diverse and certainly exciting.”

These examples reflect why Rea first started working in government. He wants to help people.

“Government all too often is viewed as the place where bureaucracy and regulation rule everything,” he said. “Yes, these things are the foundation in which we build the services we deploy, but this does not mean we can’t get creative…and that is what drew me to the public sector.  We construct master plans that look 20 years into the future, and then through our partnerships, we watch them become reality. We talk about building new roads, and then we get to work on them. We understand the needs of our community, and then we develop services that will respond to their challenges.”

Now in his new role as deputy county executive, Rea envisions an even larger impact.

“I want to ensure that whether it’s filling a pothole, serving our veterans, connecting with our senior citizens or helping someone find employment, people know that Macomb County can have a positive, lasting impact on their lives,” he said.  “I want each of the county’s 870,000 residents to know that there are dedicated professionals that work here each day and that these people are committed to helping our county grow and prosper.”

Of course, some of those residents will likely have questions for Rea along the way. But as previously described, he’ll have the answers.


OneMacomb to announce winners of As Seen in Macomb contest, award Macomb Community College scholarships 


Students from across Macomb County took part in OneMacomb’s ‘As Seen in Macomb’ scholarship photo contest last month. And now that judging has concluded, many are anxiously awaiting the announcement of who won the initiative’s prizes: three scholarships for Macomb Community College totaling $3,000.

Launched in early April, As Seen in Macomb asked current Macomb Community College students or those in 12th grade who plan to attend the college to submit original photos that capture the beauty of Macomb through the county’s art, architecture, nature, places or people. Students who submit the top three entries will be awarded scholarships that can be applied to tuition and other educational expenses at Macomb Community College. The first-place scholarship is $1,500 and funded by First State Bank. Second place is $1,000, sponsored by TheMitt.TV, and third place is $500, provided by OneMacomb. A panel with representatives from the Anton Art Center, First State Bank, Macomb Community College, OneMacomb and TheMitt.TV judged the entries.

“These photos reflect the people, places and faces of Macomb County as seen through the contestants’ lens, and we are excited to showcase each artistic expression,” said Rhonda Powell, OneMacomb co-chair and director of Macomb County Health and Human Services. “So we’re asking all amateur photographers or those who simply enjoy taking pictures on their phone to consider entering their best image of our community. Whether the focus is your neighborhood or a local park, all pictures will be considered for our significant scholarship prizes.”

Scholarship winners will be announced and their photos unveiled at an event open to the public on May 22 at Macomb Community College. The three winning images, as well as the additional top-rated 10 entries, will be featured in a First State Bank calendar.

“Macomb Community College students come from all walks of life as well as age groups,” said William Tammone, provost and vice president, Learning Unit, Macomb Community College. “This is a great opportunity for our students to reflect upon their relationship with our community and share their viewpoints on the beauty they find in Macomb County, as well as potentially gain financial support for their education.”


Macomb County observes Law Day and Loyalty Day with honor guards, speakers and awards


On May 1, Macomb County officials and the VFW Macomb County Council hosted a special ceremony to mark both Loyalty Day and Law Day, national holidays that recognize the heritage of America’s freedom and the brave men and women that protect and serve our nation. The ceremony was held at the Macomb County Administration Building and featured several notable figures and groups, including Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel; Macomb County Chief Judge James M. Biernat; John Hogan, VFW Macomb County Council; the Fraser Honor Guard; the Macomb County Sheriff’s Honor Guard; the Macomb County VFW Honor Guard; and the Van Dyke Squadron Civil Air Patrol Honor Guard.

“On Loyalty Day and Law Day, we celebrate the many freedoms granted to Americans,” said Hackel. “But of course, we must also recognize the service of the brave men and women that protect our nation and guarantee those freedoms. On behalf of Macomb County, I thank them for their service and sacrifice.”

In addition to these individuals and groups, the event featured Phil Gannia, who read a poem about the American flag, Alexander Hughes, the winner of the VFW 5th District Voice of Democracy essay contest, and Zachary Harmon, a local cadet in the Macomb Community College Police Academy. The national anthem and a closing song was performed by Lea Finley, an 8th grade student at Richards Middle School.


Executive Hackel announces winners of 7th annual Macomb Business Awards


More than 450 business leaders from across the region attended the 7th annual Macomb Business Awards on April 23 at the Sterling Inn Banquet and Conference Center in Sterling Heights. Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel joined Vicky Rad, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, to recognize the following award winners:

  • Champion of Work / Life Integration (Sponsored by MetroParent magazine): Godlan, Inc. Godlan is a leading professional manufacturing services company that has been implementing integrated technology solutions since 1984. With two locations and more than 60 employees, it successfully implements hundreds of enterprise manufacturing systems and performs countless data conversions while simultaneously committing to quality of life for each of its team members.

  • Corporate Citizen: CARE of Southeastern Michigan
    CARE of Southeastern Michigan strengthens resiliency in people and their communities through prevention, education and services that improve quality of life. CARE is a nonprofit organization with a 42-year history of serving the residents of Macomb County. Each year, the organization impacts the lives of 40,000 people in southeast Michigan by providing person-centered care that ensures each individual’s unique needs are met and their defined success is achieved.

  • Hidden Gem: Great Lakes Pickling Company
    Great Lakes Pickling Company is a family owned and operated pickle making business right out of Macomb County. Each batch uses farm-fresh cucumbers, spices and pure Michigan water that gives their product an incredible flavor with 42 percent less salt than that found in typical jars using traditional recipes.

  • Manufacturer of the Year: Drake Enterprises
    Drake Enterprises, Inc. was founded in 1952 by Benny Stemple and today is run by his two grandsons, Nathan and Keith Stemple. The company is a manufacturer of high-quality machined parts for major OEMs in the heavy truck, agriculture and automotive markets. The company specializes in torque transferring products such as gear shift levers and transmission components for the heavy-duty truck and automotive markets.

  • Model of OneMacomb: PACE Southeast Michigan
    For 25 years, PACE of Southeast Michigan has cared for low-income, chronically ill seniors by helping them remain independent and engaged in the community. It opened a center in Warren in 2015 when a study showed that Macomb County had a high concentration of seniors who could benefit from its services. By December 2017, the Warren center was at full capacity. Knowing there were more seniors to be served, it opened a center in Sterling Heights in 2019.

  • Trailblazer of Future Talent: L&L Products
    L&L Products is a technology-driven, international business with more than 1,300 global employees, 15 global locations and eight manufacturing facilities. The company actively creates opportunities for Macomb County residents through apprenticeship programs at Macomb Community College, future talent initiatives like Manufacturing Day and internship and mentorship opportunities.

  • Economic Development Partner of the Year: Macomb Intermediate School District

  • Beacon of Economic Development: Glenn Wynn, director, Shelby Township Planning and Zoning Department

  • Beacon of Economic Development: Grace Shore, former CEO, Macomb County Chamber of Commerce

Fox 2 Detroit’s Huel Perkins and Charlie Langton served as co-emcees of the Macomb Business Awards while Mark Ostach, the event’s keynote speaker, discussed digital health and well-being.

The 7th annual breakfast was sponsored by Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals, the MEDC, First State Bank, the Sterling Heights Chamber of Commerce, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, the Macomb Intermediate School District, Macomb Community College, Dominion Technologies Group, Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works!, Ascension Macomb-Oakland, KEO by ARCH Cutting Tools and Jarvis Property Restoration.

For more information, visit and for photos from the event, click here. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. See you next year!


Macomb County leaders tour FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant


On Friday, March 22, several state and community officials joined FCA leadership to view the transformation of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) and celebrate the award-winning Ram 1500. The truck, which is built at SHAP, was recently named the MotorTrend Truck of the Year. It was also chosen as the North American Truck of the Year at 2019 NAIAS.


Shout out: Drake Enterprises announces expansion


In February 2019, the MEDC shared exciting news around Drake Enterprises’ plans to expand. The company, which manufactures high-quality machined parts for major OEMs in the heavy truck, agriculture and automotive markets, was nearing capacity at its Clinton Township facility. This prompted leaders to embark on an expansion into an adjacent building. The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $18.9 million and create 125 jobs, resulting in a $750,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. 

In addition to this positive news, Drake Enterprises was recently awarded Manufacturer of the Year at the Macomb Business Awards. To read about this award, click here and to learn more about the company visit


This just in! Macomb County nets five national awards 


The National Association of Counties (NACo) has announced Macomb County as a recipient of five 2019 Achievement Awards. The annual award program, now in its 49th year, recognizes innovative, effective county government initiatives that strengthen services for residents. Awards are given in 18 different categories, including children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health and civic engagement.

Macomb County was recognized and received awards for the following work:

  • The Macomb County IT Department - School Emergency Response Services
  • The Macomb County Health Department - Move More Macomb Initiative
  • The Macomb County Health Department – An innovative and collaborative community response to the Hepatitis A outbreak
  • The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development – MADCAT (Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Awareness Team)
  • The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development - Macomb County Public Art Map

This is the 38th year that Macomb County has participated in the NACo Achievement Awards Program. In 2018, the county received six awards.


Business Calendar

May 9: Introduction to Federal Government Contracting - 101

May 16: Starting a Business

June 18: Starting Up - An Introduction to Michigan's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

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

Point of Pride

Green Macomb sells a record 20,000 trees and plants during annual sale

Macomb County Planning and Economic Development and the Blue Water Conservation District announced record sales for the Green Macomb tree and plant sale pre-order period. All told, more than 20,000 bare root trees, fruit trees and flowering shrubs were ordered as well as fruit and vegetable plants.

“With so many trees and plants purchased, we know that we are well on our way to reaching our multiple years goal of doubling the tree canopy in the county,” said Gerard Santoro, program manager for Macomb County Land and Water Resources, which administers the Green Macomb program.

Coming Soon

The 8th annual Sprint and Splash Festival of Races is Saturday, June 15. The event will feature a 5k run or walk, a duathlon and stand-up paddle events. Registration and other information is available here.