L. Brooks Patterson is transforming Oakland County and Southeast Michigan with his 21st Century vision and no-nonsense leadership. His mission is to make Oakland County one of the best places to live, work, play and raise a family as he moves toward a seventh term as chief executive officer of one of America’s most affluent and progressive counties.
Oakland County has reached full employment - under five percent unemployment – because of Brooks’ successful job growth and retention strategies in the knowledge-based economy. His Emerging Sectors, Medical Main Street, and Tech 248 initiatives have attracted $3.6 billion in private investment creating or retaining 62,100 jobs. Oakland County’s economy also has a global reach with more than 1,050 firms from 39 foreign countries operating inside its borders.
Under Brooks’ 24 years of leadership, Oakland County continues to retain its coveted AAA bond rating. Investment ratings firms recognize Brooks’ administration as the best among counties in the United States because of its multi-year budget - which is balanced through 2021 - and innovation in transitioning employees from a defined benefit to a defined contribution retirement saving taxpayers well over $100 million.
Oakland County is also the premiere dining, entertainment, and shopping destination for Southeast Michigan. Brooks’ Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) program supports development in the county’s 32 downtown areas while preserving the unique and historic character of each destination. Under MSOC, Oakland County’s downtowns have seen more than $706 million in investment which has launched 971 new businesses creating about 7,100 jobs.
Brooks presides over an $854 million annual budget for Fiscal Year 2017 and a county workforce of nearly 4,300 full and part time benefit eligible employees.
Innovative programs Brooks has launched include:
Three Year Budget - Oakland County is the first in the United States to have adopted a balanced three-year, rolling, line-item budget with a five-year outlook. Currently, the county budget is balanced through 2021. Because of its long-term budgeting practices, Oakland County has garnered a AAA bond rating since 1998 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. Approximately 400 high-tech companies have invested $3.5 billion creating more than 38,700 jobs and retaining 23,400 jobs since its inception.
Medical Main Street - With well over 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. Since its inception, 53 Medical Main Street companies have invested $1 billion creating more than 6,100 jobs and retaining about 2,600.
Tech 248 - Harnessing the power of more than 2,000 Information Technology companies in Oakland County, Brooks launched Tech 248 to attract investment from around the world in the fastest growing and second largest Emerging Sector. Tech248 helps tech companies collaborate and attract, develop and retain talent while promoting Oakland County as a global technology hub.
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. 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.
Global Oakland - Oakland County is home to over 1,050 foreign firms from 39 countries, giving the county an international diversity that few counties or even states in the U.S. can match. It is ranked 13th nationally in total exports, with its businesses producing $14.5 billion in merchandise exports. Brooks’ administration is leveraging this strength in foreign investment by hosting the Consular Corps of Michigan office on the county’s government campus. Oakland County is also a participant in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program which encourages international investment in the United States.
Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force - Leveraging the strength of Oakland County’s automotive technology corridor, Brooks formed the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force in 2014. The task force’s mission is to work with companies in our automotive technology corridor and other stakeholders to create a business model for investing in connected vehicle technology and connected vehicle infrastructure. Its long-term vision is for Oakland County to be the first county in the United States with a countywide connected vehicle ecosystem.
I-75 Modernization - Brooks reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation to modernize I-75 from 8 Mile Road to I-75 beginning in 2016. The 14-year project will replace all the lanes on I-75 in that stretch for the first time in 60 years. Plus, it will add a fourth HOV lane, improve interchanges, replace bridges, and add infrastructure to make I-75 a connected freeway. The $1 billion project will be paid mostly with federal highway funds.
Oakland County International Airport 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). The county develops and utilizes leading-edge software to improve the delivery of services to its customers while reducing costs. In 2014, the Center for Digital Government said Oakland County has the best county government website in the United States.
Cloud Computing - Oakland County is positioning its IT applications in the cloud so that local governments can use them on an as-needed basis. Through its G2G Cloud Solutions and G2G Market Place, Oakland County is enabling other governments to improve services while reducing costs to taxpayers throughout Michigan. 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.
CLEMIS - Brooks helped launch what is today one of the largest law enforcement information sharing systems in the country. The Courts Law Enforcement Management and Information System (CLEMIS) has more than 100 agencies in Southeast Michigan collaborating through technology to fight crime and make our neighborhoods safer. This includes a countywide radio system that enables agencies throughout the county to communicate with each other. In addition, Brooks proposed in his 2017 budget recommendation to implement Enhanced 911 throughout Oakland County, enabling individuals to text 911 operators.
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. The use of HSAs is projected to save the county $400 million.
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 $100 million.
Reducing Taxes - Oakland County has among the lowest county operating millage in Michigan thanks to Brooks’ tax cuts. Over his six terms as County Executive, the county millage rate has dropped from 4.4805 mills to 4.0400 mills, saving taxpayers $70 million.
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, over $706 million has been invested in MSOC communities, establishing 971 new businesses and creating nearly 7,100 jobs.
Economic Growth Alliance - Brooks established the Economic Growth Alliance in 2009 as a multi-county initiative to collaborate on key legislative, economic development, planning, and promotional initiatives. The seven-county group includes Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Shiawassee, and St. Clair counties. The alliance represents nearly three million residents and more than 73,000 businesses. EGA works together to expand business opportunities for the region by promoting area assets including Bishop International Airport, the Blue Water Bridge, the corridors of I-69, I-94, US-23 and M-59 as well as the focused economic efforts of each county.
Regional Safeguards - Brooks is a very tough bargainer on regional issues. While establishing the Cobo Authority and the Great Lakes Water Authority, he ensured Oakland County could exercise a veto on any decisions that adversely impacted Oakland County taxpayers. In addition, he is bringing Oakland County’s best practices to these organizations with open and transparent bidding on all contracts.
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.
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 eighth year in September of 2015 at Oakland University in Rochester Hills. 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. Well over 125 organizations have received $150,000 in minigrants.
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, 188,000 third- and fourth-graders have walked 17 billion steps or 341 times around the earth. This program has now evolved into advocating and helping schools adopt the Fuel Up To Play 60 initiative by the National Dairy Council and National Football League.
OakFit - Oakland County’s wellness program, OakFit, is “bending the trend” on health care costs. OakFit has enabled the county to avoid more than $24 million in additional employee health care costs. 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.
Brook’s Employee Suggestion Program has generated more than $5 million worth of taxpayer savings since 1993 while his Casual Day Program has distributed more than a half million dollars to local charities (neither involves taxpayer funds).
In 1998, Brooks founded Arts, Beats & Eats. The four-day family-oriented fun-fest in downtown Royal Oak features great food, wonderful music and extraordinary art. The event, ranks as one of the top 10 Art Fairs in America which has raised over $4.5 million for local charities.
In addition, during the 1980’s Brooks established The Rainbow Connection which grants wishes to terminally ill children. To date, the organization has granted more than 3,000 wishes. Brooks serves as president of the organization.
Brooks’ administration has earned more than 350 awards and honors during his tenure as County Executive. Ones awarded to Brooks directly include:
- 2015 - Patriot of the Year by Patriot Week Inc.
- 2014 - Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year
- 2013 - 124th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner Max Fisher Achievement Award
- 2013 - Excellence in Leadership Award from Rochester Hills, Mich.
- 2013 - College of Osteopathic Medicine Walter F. Patenge Medal of Public Service
- 2013 - Brain Injury Association Protecting Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Award
- 2013 CPAN Public Conscience Award
- 2012 Metro Detroit Youth Day Appreciation Award
- 2012 Quality People/Quality County Award
- 2011 Michigan Emerging Catalyst Award for his job attraction initiatives
- 2011 Civic Leadership Award from the Twilight Benefit Association
- 2011 Achievement Award for Excellence from Wolverine Human Services
- 2011 Distinguished Arts & Culture Award from the Paint Creek Center for the Arts
- 2011 Art Van Hope Award
- 2010 Government Official of the Year Award from the Woodward Avenue Action Association
- 2010 University of Detroit Mercy College of Liberal Arts Hall of Honor
- 2010 Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award
- 2010 Main Street Oakland County Spirit Award
- 2010 U.S. Census Valued Partner Award
- 2009 Wayne County Commission Appreciation of Contribution to Tri-County Summit Award
- 2009 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Central Michigan University
- 2009 American Arab Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Circle Award of Excellence
- 2008 Public Official Award from the Arc of Oakland County
- 2008 MIRA Gold Key Award
- 2007 Rotary Foundation of Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow
- 2007 Optimist International Club of West Bloomfield Community Service Award
- 2007 Michigan Chamber of Commerce Service and Leadership Award
- 2006 Child Abuse and Neglect Council Kaleidoscope Award
- 2006 Detroit Regional Chamber World Trader Award
- 2006 One of Government Technology Magazine’s Top 25 individuals in America “pushing the boundaries of government as usual.”
- 2006 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kettering University
- 2005 Visionary Award from the Michigan Department of Information Technology for leadership support of technology initiatives
- 2005 “World Trader of the Year” by the Detroit Regional Chamber
- 2005 Champion for Children Award from Region 9 (Oakland, Wayne and Macomb Counties) of the Michigan Association of School Administrators
- 2004 Lighthouse of Oakland County Humanitarian Award
- 2003 Automation Alley CEO Legend of the Year
- 2001 Automation Alley Founders Award sponsored by General Motors
- 2000 Corp! Magazine Man of the Decade
2100 Pontiac Lake Road
Executive Office Building - 41W
Waterford, MI 48328