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Planning and Economic Development

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eMacomb - Department News, Summer 2016

Staff Updates

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After 25 years with our department, Carol Pihaylic retired in April. As one of our graphics technicians, she served as a valued photographer and instrumental designer, creating countless banners, posters, flyers, brochures, advertisements and other promotional items for many Macomb County departments. In addition to her work responsibilities, Carol also coordinated a work weight loss club as well as all of our staff luncheons, making every celebration special. Carol remains a part of the Planning & Economic Development team, and we wish her much happiness and laughter as she spends time with her family.

Our department is a little fuller this summer with the addition of several new interns. Jenna Russell, a junior at Oakland University, returns for a second summer to support our Business Outreach and Communications Group. She has written many delightful blogs, put hours of research into multiple projects and contributed greatly to updating the Make Macomb Your Home website. 

We also welcome Chris Kovie as our graphics technician intern. Chris recently completed Specs GFX, a Specs Howard program that focuses on graphic design, digital media promotions and Web development. “I am loving the positive environment here, as well as the career growth and network potential offered as a county associate,” said Chris. “I could not be happier as a recent graduate to land such a meaningful and transformative position.”

Another new intern is Becca Brewster. She supports the Green Macomb Urban Forest Partnership which is spearheaded by our Land and Water Resources Group in collaboration with Six Rivers Land Conservancy with funding through ITC Holdings and a Michigan DNR Urban and Community Forestry Grant. She reviews ordinances, zoning codes and city documents to compile information relevant to green infrastructure and urban forestry. She is a University of Michigan graduate with a double major in environmental science and ecology and evolutionary biology.

Mike Sobieski is the coordinator for the Lake. St. Clair CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area). This newly-created position is housed in our office and funded by a grant awarded to the Stewardship Network through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program. With a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Oakland University, Mike works with our Land and Water Resources Group and other partners to develop a plan to fight invasive species – phragmites in particular.

We bid a fond adieu to Senior Economic Development Specialist Alyssa Tracey who has accepted a position with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) as a business development manager for Oakland County.  We wish her well.

Department Happenings

At the end of April, Deputy Director Vicky Rad flew to Germany to take part in Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade fair. She worked to attract growing companies to Macomb County, citing our strong workforce in advanced manufacturing for the automotive, aerospace and defense industries.

We extend our hearty congratulations to Associate Planner John Culcasi with our Planning and Mapping Services Group! In early May, John earned his master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University.

Director John Paul Rea and Vicky attended the Mackinac Policy Conference May 31 – June 3. While on the island, they promoted Macomb County’s connectivity to the automotive and defense industries and our growing cybersecurity ecosystem, of which MADCAT (Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Assurance Team) is a part.

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June 5 marked the 5th Annual Sprint and Splash Festival of Races at Lake St. Clair Metropark. Senior Planner Amanda Minaudo organized the athletic event. Despite the stormy forecast, 240 people participated. Proceeds support the Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative. Click here for more pictures of the event.

Vicky attended ITS America 2016 June 12 - 16 in San Jose, California along with representatives from the MEDC, MDOT and the Macomb County Department of Roads’ Traffic Operations Center. Planet M was presented, inviting companies interested in conducting mobility pilot projects and being in the forefront of the latest technology to consider locating in our area.

Senior Economic Development Specialist Jack Johns traveled to Washington, D.C. June 19 - 21 for the SelectUSA Investment Summit. He met with other economic development service providers to learn about programs that have successfully led to business investment and also met one-on-one with a number of companies to explain what Macomb County has to offer.

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Program Manager Jeff Schroeder completed Leadership Macomb XIX. Through the program, Jeff was able to meet people from many different fields, putting faces to the organizations our department has worked with and supported over the years. “I would recommend this program to anyone who is able to do it. It goes over every element it takes to have a functioning county,” said Jeff.

Program Manager Maria Zardis, Project Coordinator James Ahee and Jack were enrolled in the seven-week Michigan Citizen Planner course offered by Michigan State University Extension and received a certificate of completion. Through the program, they learned about topics such as smart growth, the master plan process, zoning, site plans and green development.

The department, along with the Detroit Regional Chamber, Oakland County and MEDC, invited a half dozen national site selectors to southeast Michigan to explore investment opportunities and strategic development locations. This joint effort allowed us the opportunity to showcase our region's capacity to onboard major economic development projects. As a result, we have established new relationships with key decision makers with the hope that our region is top of mind when new projects cross their desks.

Earlier this month, the GIS/Mapping Services Group attended the 2016 ESRI User Conference in California. The team participated in continuing education sessions and GIS product workshops to fine tune and update their skills. 

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In partnership with the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority and the city of Mount Clemens, our department supported the Macomb Food Collaborative’s first-ever Beats and Street Eats 2016 event. Hundreds of people attended this food truck rally which took place in downtown Mount Clemens. Funds were raised for the 2017 Farm to Fork conference. Click here for more pictures of the event.