County Executive L. Brooks Patterson Administration
A consortium of high-tech focused companies created in 1998 to compete with the nation’s other major technology clusters such as Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128 and North Carolina’s Research Park Triangle. Today Automation Alley, with more than 1,000 members in eight counties, is Michigan’s premiere technology corridor. Former Detroit News business columnist Jim Higgins called Automation Alley “one of the most effective brand identity campaigns in the history of Michigan economic development. Automation Alley sponsored trade missions have resulted in more than $126 million in new business for small and mid-sized companies in southeast Michigan. President George W. Bush has presented Automation Alley with the Presidential “E” Award for Excellence in exporting. The award, created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, is the highest award the federal government can present to any organization or individual for contributions to increasing American exports.
A program launched in 2004 to attract high paying, sustainable, knowledge-based jobs of the future to offset the dramatic loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign competition. Since its inception, the program has more than 180 firms that have supported our local economy by committing to $1.7 billion in new investment, adding more than 24, 000 new jobs, and retaining almost 10,000 jobs in the region.
Main Street Oakland
In 2000, Oakland County became the first county in America accepted into the National Main Street Center and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Local communities that qualify for the program are provided technical assistance to revitalize their downtowns. Main Street Oakland has served as a catalyst for millions of dollars in new private and public investment in Oakland County along with hundreds of new jobs and businesses.
Medical Main Street
Oakland County, Michigan's Medical Main Street is a unique alliance of approximately 150 world-class hospitals, universities, medical device, biopharma companies and some of the country's top medical professionals creating a global center of innovation in health care, research and development, education and commercialization in the life sciences industry. Medical Main Street is part of the very successful Emerging Sectors. In 2010, six life science companies located or expanded their operations in Oakland County, generating new investment of more than $21 million and creating or retaining about 600 jobs. The 2010 investment is four times the $5.2 million investment pledged by four Medical Main Street companies in 2009. In the two years since its creation, Medical Main Street has attracted or retained 10 life science companies, generated investment of about $27 million and created or retained more than 900 jobs.
The Brooksie Way Half Marathon & 5k
The first annual Brooksie Way Half Marathon was held in 2008, named in honor of the late Brooks Stuart Patterson (Mr. Patterson's son), and has grown to become one of Oakland County's premier quality of life events. County Executive L. Brooks Patterson began the Brooksie Way races to promote Oakland County and encourage people to become more physically active. Race proceeds support programs that encourage healthy and active lifestyle and are distributed through Brooksie Way Minigrants. The program gave out $18,325 in grants in 2010.
Count Your Steps
Alarmed by the growing national epidemic of childhood obesity, Mr. Patterson launched his "Count Your Steps" pedometer walking in 2004. Annually more than 24,000 third and fourth grade students in 1,100 classrooms throughout some 200 schools in Oakland County participate in this program which stresses regular exercise and proper nutrition.
As a result of China's growing prominence in the global marketplace, Mr. Patterson in his 2007 State of the County Address called for Mandarin Chinese to be taught in all 28 public school districts in Oakland County. Today 19 school districts are teaching the Mandarin Chinese language while all 28 school districts have Mandarin Culture and History as part of their curriculums.
Since 1993 a number of county operations, including the Medical Care Facility, the Sheriff's Civil Division, Courts Summons Services and Body Shop at the Garage have all been privatized, saving taxpayers nearly $6 million annually.
AAA Bond Rating
In 1998 Wall Street's top bond rating firms, Moody's Investors Services and Standard and Poor's, awarded Oakland County the coveted AAA Bond Rating which is the highest rating possible. A Moody's vice president was quoted at the time as saying: "Everything about them (Oakland) is stellar. Their economy is high and there is a lot of growth in their tax base." "From my perspective," she went on to say, "they are not just better than most counties, they are better than all." The AAA rating saves Oakland County taxpayers an estimated $2-3 million annually on drain and infrastructure projects.
The Oakland County web site (www.oakgov.com) contains more than 22,000 individual web pages of content. Oakland County was named the most digitally advanced county in America by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties in their 2009 Digital Counties Survey and placed third in the 2010 Best of the Web County Portal Category. It won first place among more than 3,000 county governments nationwide in 2008. The Oakland County Mobile Services program was also honored with a 2010 Digital Government Achievement Award and a National Association of Counties Achievement Award.
Through the creative and innovative use of Trust Certificates Oakland County is the first county in America to fully fund employee and retiree healthcare while saving taxpayers more than $150 million.
Oakland County Business Roundtable
Established in 1993, this blue ribbon panel of some 160 volunteer representatives from business, government and education has guided Oakland County's economic future. Major recommendations enacted include "The One Stop Shop" for business development and the Export Assistance Center. Parts of the Business Roundtable have been replicated at the state level.
The Patterson administration resolved a serious budget shortfall of $24.5 million shortly after taking office in 1993 by instituting a wage and hiring freeze, an early retirement program, and the elimination of 120 budgeted positions. The County's current budget reflects a diligent and intense process of financial management in a challenging economy while delivering quality, cost-effective and needed services to residents. The balanced three-year budget for Fiscal Years 2011, 2012 and 2013 proposes no tax increases.
Employee Suggestion Program
By asking county employees to submit their best ideas for making county government more efficient and cost effective, 270 suggestions have been implemented for a savings of $5.6 million since 1993.
Casual Day Program
Employees are permitted to wear casual attire to work each Friday, but asked to contribute $1 for the privilege of doing so. Since Casual Day's inception 18 years ago, Oakland County employees have donated more than a half million dollars, touching the lives of thousands of people.
West Oakland/South Oakland Service Centers
In order to make county services more accessible to residents in the southern and western reaches of the county, two new office buildings were opened. The West Oakland Office Building gives citizens access to Health Services, Probate Court, Juvenile Probation and Veterans' Services. The South Oakland Office Building houses Circuit Court Probation, Veterans' Services, Community Corrections and Information Technology.
Wireless Oakland is an initiative launched by County Executive L. Brooks Patterson that consists of three goals. The primary goal is to create public-private partnerships to ensure that all citizens in Oakland County have access to affordable broadband and leverage access to public assets so that some level of free internet service could be provided to Oakland County residents by the private sector.
Arts, Beats and Eats
Founded in 1997 by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, this annual family-oriented music, arts and food fest, which is held over Labor Day weekend, attracts more than one million people to downtown Pontiac. Arts, Beats and Eats is recognized as one of top 20 most popular summertime festivals in the nation.
Customs Service at Oakland County International Airport
With business booming and more companies learning of Oakland County's business friendly environment, a successful effort was launched to bring full time customs service to Oakland County International Airport to handle the increasing international traffic. Among those leading the fight in Congress was Joe Knollenberg who got a law passed and signed by the president which paved the way for full time customs agents at the airport. This has made it much easier for international companies to do business in Oakland County.
Great Lakes National Cemetery
This pastoral site located in Holly began providing end of life services in 2005 to an estimated 460,000 veterans who live within a 75 mile radius of the cemetery. Great Lakes is the 122nd National Cemetery and only the second located in Michigan.
Oakland County has compiled a 50-page apprenticeship handbook which outlines in great detail the many apprenticeships available in such fields as auto body repair, brick layer, boiler operator, cement mason, dental assistant, cook, electrician, pipe fitter, etc.
In 2010 emergency preparedness in southeast Michigan reached the next level when Oakland County spearheaded the formation of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "equivalent" Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (MI-TF1), covering the City of Detroit and the counties of Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Saint Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne. This emergency volunteer task force is ready to provide essential functions at incidents where Technical Search and Rescue expertise and equipment are required. Through a federal grant, approximately $4 million has been dedicated to create this critical response capability.