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Planning and Economic Development

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eMacomb - Progress through Partnerships, summer 2017


Landing the F35s

Macomb County goes all out to bring new jets to Selfridge Air National Guard Base

F-35 Support.jpg

Officials at Selfridge learned in early spring that the base was a finalist to beddown the next generation fighter jet. The F35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft that is capable of air defense and ground attacks. It is designed to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions with ease.

The F-35 is developed, produced and supported by an international team of leading aerospace companies. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor.

Needless to say, the F-35 is a bit of a celebrity in the aircraft world. Officers from the base, led by Brig. Gen. John D. “Odie” Slocum, reached out to the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and the Michigan Defense Center to determine how we might work together to strengthen our chances.

A marketing strategy was quickly developed and deployed. It included the following efforts:

  • A comparative analysis of the five competing locations was commissioned. Research shows that of the five finalists, Macomb County and the surrounding region has the necessary workforce, infrastructure and experience to handle the F-35 mission most successfully.
  • The website, designed to inform and educate the public about the possibility, and associated social media outlets were created.
  • County Executive Mark A. Hackel took advantage of the opportunity to address a large and influential crowd gathered for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber in late May.
  • A letter writing campaign produced more than 30 passionate letters from municipalities, elected officials and area organizations.
  • Department staff worked directly with Slocum to produce the 140-page “Selfridge Advantage,” a magazine-style collection of data and photos designed especially to address criteria developed by the U.S. Air Force for selecting the newest home bases.

In July, a contingent of officials from the U.S. Air Force descended onto the base, checklist in hand, to evaluate base readiness to take on this challenge and responsibility. Other locations under consideration for this round include Montgomery, AL; Boise, ID; Jacksonville, FL; and Madison, WI. 

An official announcement is expected in early fall.