This political address was notably different than the ones you see from other public officials. The podium? Cast aside to the corner. Center stage was Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive, who was definitely aiming to channel more Steve Jobs than the typical robotic politician.
Walking across the stage he spoke to about 950 people Wednesday evening (December 8) at Macomb Community College’s Center for the Performing Arts.
As many leaders are dealing with fiscal crisis and strife, they might want to look at Macomb County for a few ideas. As one of less than 70 counties in the nation with a AAA bond rating, it was able to not only balance its 2013 budget but do it without tapping into the rainy day fund or by raising taxes.
“Here in Macomb County, consolidation isn’t just a buzzword … it’s action,” said Hackel.
Macomb’s new Integral Communications Center is an example of this consolidation. It lets all 27 communities in the county join together and create a centralized emergency response dispatch, road staff and IT department. The biggest city, Sterling Heights, has already signed on.
Hackel continued to list some of the notable accomplishments.
- 44,000 new healthcare jobs
- 7,400 additional jobs in the auto sector
- More than 40,000 students enrolled in higher education programs in the county
- Population growth of more than 52,000 in the last10 years
- $2.6-billion investment in the last 11 months by the automotive, defense and advanced manufacturing segments
- 10,000 new defense contracts for Macomb County businesses
Macomb County goal is to become the “defense capital of the world,” Hackel said.
The Freedom Hill amphitheater was closed a few years ago, which was a disheartening punch at the time. It will be reopen next summer and the first act of the season will be Grammy award winning Lady Antebellum.
“It’s been a very positive turn for the county since Mark has become executive,” said Ron Current, vice president of the Sterling Heights Chamber of Commerce.
Green and blue economy?
Most people are focusing on a green economy, but Macomb County is adding the term “Blue Economy Initiative.” It includes more than 50 projects designed to increase access to all the water assets in the county and will help increase economic activity such as kayaking, bass fishing competitions and much more.
“The lake is our livelihood … it’s very important to us. It’s something that everybody is looking forward to,” said Jack Swiatkowski, Harrison Township trustee.
Long-lasting stability for Macomb County is good for the region as is regional cooperation. Hackel gave a shout out Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing for working with Macomb County to find ways to compete as a region.