Three Year Budget – Oakland County is the first and only county in the nation to adopt a balanced three-year, rolling, line-item budget. Because of its long-term budgeting practices, Oakland County has garnered a AAA bond rating which has saved taxpayers millions of dollars on capital projects.
Emerging Sectors – In 2004, Brooks created Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors Initiative to identify the top 10 sectors that will attract and retain sustainable, high-paying jobs to Oakland County in the 21st Century. Companies in these emerging sectors are involved in such leading-edge technologies as biotechnology, nanotechnology, wireless communications and alternative energy. By the end of 2012, 201 high-tech companies have invested nearly $2 billion creating 27,000 jobs and retaining more than 12,000 jobs since its inception.
Medical Main Street – With 100,000 jobs, health care and life sciences is the largest Emerging Sector in Oakland County. Medical Main Street markets this burgeoning sector and Oakland County as a destination for world-class health care and medical device manufacturing. More individuals work in health care, life science research, and medical device manufacturing in the Oakland County region than the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic areas combined.
Automation Alley – In his 1997 State of the County speech, Brooks launched Automation Alley – a consortium of high tech companies, government entities and educational institutions to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128 and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Today, Automation Alley has more than 1,000 members spanning eight counties. The results are astounding. The 2011 Technology Industry Report says southeast Michigan has the highest number of advanced automotive industry jobs in the U.S.; is positioned ahead of Boston, Seattle and Austin in almost every measure analyzed; and is second only to San Jose’s Silicon Valley region in the number of people working in architectural and engineering occupations.
Oakland County International Airport “Green” Terminal – Brooks opened the nation’s first LEED-certified general aviation airport terminal at Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) in 2011. The 15,000 square foot terminal building features leading-edge green technologies such as a living wall of tropical rain forest plants that clean the air inside the building; wind and solar generation of electricity; a solar hot water heater; geothermal heating and cooling; highly efficient fluorescent and LED lighting; and electric car charging stations, among others. The new terminal was paid for solely by user fees and State of Michigan and federal grants. In the course of a year, nearly every Fortune 500 company flies through OCIA. It has an annual economic impact of $175 million on the region.
Technology – Oakland County is consistently ranked among the most digitally advanced counties by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). By embracing technology, Oakland County is able to reduce its costs while delivering services more efficiently to its customers.
The Brooksie Way - Brooks established The Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5K Race as a quality of life event to encourage residents to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle. It attracted more than 6,000 participants in its fifth year on September 30, 2012 at Oakland University in Rochester. The race is named in honor of his son, Brooks Stuart Patterson, who was killed in a snowmobiling accident. The private proceeds from the race fund Brooksie Way Minigrants which are awarded to Oakland County organizations promoting healthy and active lifestyles for its members. By the end of 2012, at least 80 organizations had received $90,000 in minigrants.
Cloud Computing – Oakland County is positioning its IT applications out in cyber space so that local governments can use them on an as-needed basis. The county has been providing technologies to governments within the region for years. This next evolution in the county’s technology is a real budget saver for local cities, villages and townships. They don’t need to buy software or pay for the servers to host the applications. They simply pay Oakland County a nominal user fee which is a revenue enhancer for the county.
Health Care Cost Containment Initiative – Under Brooks’ leadership, Oakland County is the first county in America to have fully funded employee and retiree health care while saving taxpayers over $150 million. Plus, new hires no longer receive lifetime retiree health care but Health Savings Accounts to help supplement their retirement medical costs.
Redefining Retirement – In 1994, Brooks moved county employees from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan, much like a private-sector 401(k). The old plan is fully funded for those who remain in that retirement system. That means no more Oakland County general fund dollars are paying for the pension plan. Since the switch, taxpayers have saved tens of millions of dollars.
Main Street Oakland County - Oakland County is the first county in the United States to operate a full-fledged county-wide Main Street program for the 32 distinct, historic downtowns in Oakland County. The county program was formed in 2000. Since its inception, more than $560 million has been invested in MSOC communities, establishing 551 new businesses and creating more than 5,100 jobs.
Economic Growth Alliance – Oakland County is the first county in the United States to operate a full-fledged county-wide Main Street program for the 32 distinct, historic downtowns in Oakland County. The county program was formed in 2000. Since its inception, more than $560 million has been invested in MSOC communities, establishing 551 new businesses and creating more than 5,100 jobs.
Mandarin Chinese – Brooks, noting the challenges presented by China’s emergence as a world economic power, called for Oakland County to be the first county in America to teach Mandarin Chinese in just about every public school district. Educators responded and today the Mandarin Chinese language, history and culture are being taught in school districts throughout Oakland County.
Count Your Steps - A pedometer walking program to target childhood obesity that involves providing pedometers to 30,000 third and fourth grade students in Oakland County’s public, private and charter schools. Students compete one month every spring to see who walks the most steps. All money is raised through private donations; no taxpayer’s funds are involved. Since its inception, Oakland County’s third and fourth graders have walked 17 billion steps or more than 300 times around the earth.
OakFit – Oakland County’s wellness program, OakFit, is “bending the trend” on health care costs. The county currently pays $38 million for its employee health care. Without OakFit, among other cost containment initiatives, the county would be paying $50 million today. OakFit, which has been featured on Fox News and USA Today, includes health screenings for early detection of chronic health issues and lunchtime healthy lifestyle activities for employees.