At the fifth annual State of the County, the economic rebound in Macomb County was a major theme for County Executive Mark Hackel during his address.
We have a lot to be proud of recently. Frequently used during the speech was the “b word”: billion. Three major global players have all recently announced plans to invest more than a billion dollars each in separate projects in Macomb County. General Motors is investing $1 billion in its Warren Tech Center that will include new design studios, upgraded R&D efforts and improve the infrastructure in their 600-acre campus, adding 2,600 new jobs. Ford is planning to invest a billion dollars into its two Sterling Heights facilities. Fiat Chrysler is also investing $1 billion into its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.
It’s not just automotive. In 2014, defense contractors in Macomb County won more than $1.6 billion in contracts from the federal government.
These are some other great projects that the county executive mentioned:
- The Paslin Company creating 200 full-time jobs with their investment in a new $20 million manufacturing and engineering center
- Fori Automation investing in a new $12 million manufacturing and business operations facility in Shelby Township
- Faurecia investing $8 million to upgrade its Sterling Heights plant
- Axalta Coating Systems modernizing their Mount Clemens plant, which now employs more than 700 workers and is viewed as a global leader in liquid and powder coating
- KUKA Systems North America investing $14 million in their Clinton Township facility
- Triumph Gear Systems spending $15 million to double their facility size
- $200 million for research overseen by TARDEC in Warren
- BAE Systems receiving a $100 million contract to provide engineering and program management for a new Marine combat vehicle
Aerospace is also expanding its footprint in Macomb County. Companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and NASA are actively engaged with Macomb County suppliers.
Many of our department’s initiatives were also highlighted in the county executive’s speech.
Professional baseball is coming to Macomb County. The first pitch will be thrown out in June at Jimmy John’s Field when the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, the Eastside Diamond Hoppers and the Utica Unicorns launch the new United Shore Professional Baseball League at a brand new 4,000-seat stadium in Utica. Jimmy John’s Field will be much more than a place to play ball; it will host a wide variety of community and regional events.
Another point raised by the county executive was the performance of our defense industry. Macomb County is actively involved in virtually every major defense initiative in the state. Our department was instrumental in securing a $6 million grant from the Department of Defense to support the Advance Michigan Defense Collaborative. This initiative will be co-chaired by our Planning and Economic Development Department and the Michigan Defense Center, and Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! will be the fiscal agent responsible for this grant. This collaborative effort spans 13 counties in southeast Michigan.
Another of our major initiatives highlighted during the address was the Blue Economy. The goal of the Blue Economy is to enhance both water quality and water access, which in turn will produce financial benefits as well as enhance the quality of life of residents. The county executive made point of new canoe and kayak liveries on the Clinton River and our ability to attract world-class fishing tournaments on Lake St. Clair. More people than ever before are accessing our waterways. This year’s Bassmaster event held on Lake St. Clair was televised worldwide on ESPN and gave unprecedented exposure to our Blue Economy, while adding $3 million to our local economy.
It’s not just big investments. Our department is working hard to improve the workforce. Referred to in his speech as “our most creative accomplishment” was our department’s efforts in helping to fill the skills gap with Manufacturing Day. This innovative program addresses some common misconceptions about manufacturing. Macomb County had one of the largest coordinated events in the nation – with the support of local school districts, we connected nearly 1,800 students to over 40 local manufacturing businesses.
I speak for our entire department when I say that we are very proud – and humbled – to be recognized for our efforts in front of such a large and influential audience.
Stephen N. Cassin, AICP is the director of Planning & Economic Development for Macomb County. Cassin has over 40 years of experience in land use planning, community development and economic development. He is a past president of the Michigan Society of Planners. He also is an adjunct instructor at Oakland University.