The remarkable power of Macomb County’s economic growth

Spanning across terms of presidents, governors and a transition to an executive form of government, Macomb County’s economy continues to shine, adding new jobs and higher wages for nine straight years.

Macomb County’s population is currently 871,375. For perspective, this is bigger than 5 U.S. states and larger than major U.S. cities like Seattle, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston and Miami. What some may describe as “just a suburb of Detroit” is actually an economic powerhouse.

Having an economy as large as Macomb’s and growing it consistently and strongly over a long period of time requires careful planning from the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. Our region’s success is due in part to our team’s ability to help existing companies grow, attract companies from outside our region and create an environment that is favorable for starting a business.

How we measure progress

When we say that Macomb County’s economy is strong and that there has been nine straight years of growth, what does that actually mean? Well, there are several key barometers that can measure economic health. One indicator – if you weren’t working before and are now, that is progress. Another – if you were working before, but make more money now, that is also progress. There are other signs too – for instance, how easy is it to find a job?

To talk about the growth in the county requires starting from the lowest point in the recession. By the numbers, the county’s economy officially bottomed out in June of 2009, when our unemployment was a staggering 18.3 percent. Nearly one out of five people could not find a job and there were 78,498 people unemployed. To put that another way, the county had a labor force that was 429,356 strong, but only 350,858 people were employed. For those who had jobs, wages were falling and the inflation rate was negative. The two largest employers in the largest industry in the county were in bankruptcy (General Motors & Chrysler), and a national financial crisis was wreaking havoc across all of the other industries. The future was bleak.

Looking at today’s numbers: unemployment in Macomb County for May of 2018 is at 3.5 percent. There are 424,851 people working and only 15,272 people are unemployed. These numbers represent a growth of 73,993 new jobs. For scale, that amounts to a new job for every single person at a sold out Comerica Park, Little Ceasars Arena, Jimmy John’s Field and Freedom Hill. Combined. In only nine years.

Wages in the county are rising as well. In 2009, the average weekly take-home wage across all private sector professions was $853. In 2017 (2018 data is not out yet!) average wages have grown a very robust 22 percent to $1,045 per week.

Since the peak of the recession in 2009, the county has experienced nine straight years of job growth. Nearly 75,000 more people are working, and while that number looks great on paper, it also means 75,000 more families and households can sleep better at night worrying less about making mortgage payments and putting food on the table.

This growth in wages and in the number of new jobs is having an extremely profound impact on the spending power in the county. Total countywide wages in 2009 were $10,325,458,011 ($10.3 billion!).  In 2017, that number grew more than 50 percent to a total of $15,915,245,824 ($15.9 billion!). This is fantastic news for those of us looking to spend money and for those of us in the business of selling goods and services.

While 2009 may seem like a distant past – the fact that we emerged is an accomplishment to be celebrated.

A deeper dive into key industries

Economic development may be a voodoo pseudo-science to some, but in Macomb County data drives the decision making. Looking at the economy through the data already mentioned and through deeper metrics like location quotients, we can identify nine targeted industries as the driving industries in the county.

These industries are selected on their power to not only spur growth in their sectors, but to also drive growth across industry borders. They represent some of the highest wages and earnings potential in the county. They also represent the future for our workforce. For instance:

  • The number of jobs in the IT and Cybersecurity fields within the county has more than doubled since 2010.
  • Since 2009, Macomb County has nearly doubled its number of Professional Services workers, growing from 12,000 to 23,000. This is triple the state average and more than six times the nation’s rate of growth!
  • Manufacturing jobs continue to be the foundation of the county’s economy and are some of the most lucrative career opportunities available.
  • Because of our manufacturing superiority and strategic location near a major international border in the Midwest, logistics and warehousing – the industry of storing and moving goods – is also a major economic sector within the county.

map 1

Right now, there are more than 20,000 unique jobs available in the county. Anyone looking for work can connect with these jobs by going to the Michigan Talent Bank. They may also seek career counseling or assistance by reaching out to a local Michigan Works! office.

map 2

For the full details, check out the reports on each of these industries on the county’s website.

Why this matters

The perks of becoming employed after a period of unemployment, or getting a raise, are obvious. However, even if your job or salary have not changed, you are benefiting from this stronger Macomb County economy. The community benefits gained by a healthy economy are massive. Tangible effects include:

  • Reduction in poverty. With fewer people unemployed and wages rising, there are fewer people living in poverty. Less people in poverty is obviously a good thing. Whether you’re feeling the direct impact (as a person formerly of poverty that no longer lives in poverty) or enjoying the social impacts of lower poverty – lower crime, less blight, fewer foreclosures – the benefits to the community are very real.
  • Improved public services. As more of us earn wages, and as our collective average wages grow, state and local governments are seeing their bottom lines improve. For instance, Macomb County’s economic growth is leading to higher tax revenues. This allows the government to provide better services that lead to a higher quality of life – such as improving parks and offering more services in the community. It also helps the government invest in our economy – with funding for schools and roads. (BONUS perk: As government fiscal health continues to rebound, issuing bonds to pay for these services becomes even cheaper, allowing for even more to get done!)

Looking Ahead

Macomb County is on solid ground. Looking ahead to the future, regardless of where you shop for groceries (a term coined by Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director John Paul Rea on finding sources of economic data) the future is bright. Macomb County can, at least for the foreseeable future, expect continued job and wage growth.

The county is also undertaking a massive effort to make sure that it is ready for jobs of the future. Current estimates say that that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. And of course, these jobs will need candidates with advanced skill sets. Macomb County is prepping hard for this. With facilities such as Macomb Community College and its M-TEC program, Wayne State’s Advanced Technology Education Center and Romeo’s Ford Next Generation Learning facility, and with groups like MADCAT preparing folks for cyber careers, and with events such as Manufacturing Day  – the future in the county is extremely bright.

How this can benefit you

Are you a company in Macomb County? Now is a great time to reach out to our department. We have a team of experts that can offer free and confidential services to connect your company with the resources you need to grow. Our team can help incentivize growth in your physical space, connect you with hiring resources and access to workforce development and provide business development solutions. Our toolbox is sharp and honed by the dozens of service partners we work closely with to make sure your business has what it needs.

Are you someone looking for a job or to advance in your career? Companies in Macomb County right now are competing hard to find you. We can pair you with the job opportunities that are on the market right now or help connect you with the training to take your career to the next level. If you have been on the fence about taking the next step – now is absolutely the right time to do so.

Nick Posavetz is an economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, reach out to the department at or 586-469-5285.

Macomb County has strong presence at annual economic developer conference

Every summer, economic developers in Michigan gather for three days to share knowledge and strengthen their toolbox at a conference hosted by the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA), a group with nearly 500 members in the economic development profession statewide. The location of the conference varies by year, a good way to expose economic development professionals to diverse communities throughout Michigan. This year’s conference was in Frankenmuth and was the organization’s largest attended annual event.


Macomb County is at the forefront of key issues impacting economic development in the state and was represented strongly in the agenda for the conference, presenting on topics that are at the core of economic and community planning issues.

The county’s Planning and Economic Development Director John Paul Rea joined Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley, to discuss Industry 4.0 and how government and industry organizations are working collaboratively to equip companies for the latest industrial revolution. Using Macomb County as an example, the pair presented on equipping local production facilities with the tools and skillsets needed to compete in a global environment – something that will be essential to our region’s ability to compete moving forward.

jp at meda
Pictured: John Paul Rea

John Abraham, of the Macomb County Department of Roads, presented alongside Kirk Steudle, director for the Michigan Department of Transportation, on traffic and public safety with connected and autonomous vehicles. Macomb County was chosen as a local partner to present alongside the state’s top transportation official because of our county’s strong mobility infrastructure. Together they covered how Macomb County and Michigan are working to position the state as the country’s leader in mobility; a place that is safe and attractive for new companies looking to test their equipment and run their business.

Autonomous vehicles was also the topic for a panel moderated by Nick Posavetz, economic development specialist for the county. The discussion featured several leaders in the mobility industry, including Craig Hoff, dean for the College of Engineering at Kettering University, Michele Mueller, sr. project manager for connected and automated vehicles at the Michigan Department of Transportation and Trevor Pawl, group vice president for PlanetM at Pure Michigan Business Connect and MEDC International Trade team. The panel shared how the state is working to ensure that Michigan remains a leader in the automotive industry as vehicle and transportation technologies continue to change. They also discussed how local communities can get involved.

In all, the conference spanned three days and offered nearly 30 sessions, panels and events – each with opportunities to learn from subject matter experts in their field. Our county’s participation and the knowledge we gained will certainly benefit our region in the future.

Nick Posavetz is an economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, reach out to him at

Macomb County moves forward with Mound Road transformation effort

County Executive Mark A. Hackel yesterday joined Senator Debbie Stabenow, Representative Sander Levin, Representative Paul Mitchell, Mayor Jim Fouts and Mayor Michael Taylor to share progress in the effort to rebuild Mound Road, one of the most important roadways in southeast Michigan. The focus of the afternoon was the Innovate Mound project and its receipt of a $97.8 million U.S. Department of Transportation Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant. Announced in June, the grant required a 90 day congressional review period. That period is now complete and the grant has moved on to the next phase of obligating funds and negotiating contracts.

Yesterday’s gathering, held at the Gazebo Banquet Center in Warren, offered community leaders the opportunity to reflect on the hard work that went into the grant process while also forecasting the construction and changes ahead for Mound Road. Most importantly perhaps, the occasion allowed the leaders to discuss what the future Mound Road will look like and how it will be a model roadway for cities around the nation.

Innovate Mound 8.6.18 v2“In 2016, more than 100 business and community leaders gathered to learn how we could work together to fix the mess that is Mound Road,” said County Executive Mark Hackel. “Together, we educated ourselves about how to transform this critical corridor and to advocate for change. Our efforts enabled us to receive funding that will not only completely rebuild the road, but also equip it with a smart infrastructure network while improving traffic flow, sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and wayfinding. When it’s complete, Mound Road will be a shining example of the future of our roads nationwide. It will go from the worst stretch of road to one that will be recognized around the nation.”

The construction effort is slated to begin in 20 months and will tackle a critical nine-mile, eight-lane connection between I-696 and M-59. All told, the entire project will cost about $184.6 million. The grant will cover more than half of that, while additional funding will come through matches made by Macomb County, Sterling Heights and Warren. This cooperation and collaboration was highlighted by everyone who spoke today, including Senator Debbie Stabenow.

“I have worked closely with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and local officials to urge Secretary Chao to provide the funding that is needed to repair this road,” she said. “Our efforts demonstrate, once again, that when we work together, we can get things done for Michigan families.”

Another major theme of yesterday’s gathering – how vital Mound Road is to the economic health of our region. Mound is home to more than 81,000 jobs in the manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and defense sectors and is responsible for billions of dollars of output. That’s one major reason why this project was such a high-priority for everyone involved and something all speakers, including Rep. Sander Levin, Rep. Paul Mitchell, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor and Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, mentioned in their remarks.

Innovate Mound 8.6.18
“This is a major industrial corridor,” said Mayor Fouts. “With GM, Chrysler, Ford, General Dynamics, TARDEC and TACOM – it’s a high-tech hot spot.”

Before closing the event, Hackel shared several details around maintenance on Mound Road that will occur ahead of the grant-funded construction. He directed all attendees to for information on this and other work related to the roadway.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

How Macomb County is preparing today’s talent for tomorrow’s opportunity

The world around us is changing. Every day we see new technologies, automation and artificial intelligence influencing the economy, and businesses have to adapt to keep pace. With this evolution, we see the workforce changing too. And in late 2017, we began to see the rise of the “new collar” worker.

What is a new collar worker?
We’ve all heard the terms blue-collar job or white-collar job. Today, a new classification of worker is emerging that combines professional knowledge with technical skills. The need is becoming so great that last year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty coined the term “new collar” worker to describe a role that is between a professional career and a skilled trade. These workers have technical skills and knowledge rooted in higher education. The roles they fill are in areas like cybersecurity, data science and artificial intelligence, but some roles have yet to be created. It is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergartners will have job titles that do not exist today. All told, a big shift is coming and our young people need to be ready to leave high school career and college ready.

MC-New Collar Panel - 2191-14-x 48 (1)

Macomb County is fueling the talent pipeline
To ready our region for this shift and fuel the talent pipeline, Macomb County is engaging directly with businesses and the next generation of our workforce. We work one-on-one with area employers to connect them to resources and learn about their talent needs. We also collaborate with partners to develop and support initiatives that expose students to career possibilities and point them to educational pathways that lead to meaningful employment. This work includes:

  • The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development partners with the Macomb Intermediate School District, along with an active planning committee and generous sponsors, to coordinate one of the nation’s largest celebrations of Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). Since 2014, more than 6,500 students have visited a nearby plant to see industry in action and learn about career possibilities.
  • The Department has also partnered with Romeo Community Schools as they work towards becoming Michigan’s first Ford Next Generation Learning community. The newly established Academies of Romeo will enable students to choose a thematic course of study – such as engineering, health care or information technology – and learn in a relevant, hands-on environment. Students learn math, science, English and social studies within the theme they choose.
  • Macomb Community College hosts AUTO Steam Days, a two-day hands-on opportunity for students to explore careers in automotive design, robotics, manufacturing and technology.
  • The Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) partners with academia and area U.S. Department of Defense assets to develop a career pathway for high school and college students in cybersecurity.
  • MiCareerQuest Southeast – Michigan Works! offices from across the region host an event for 10,000 students at the Novi Suburban Showplace. This event provides hands-on activities related to career exploration in four quadrants: construction, information technology, advanced manufacturing and health sciences. Involved employers will provide hands-on experiences and sponsorship.

Those are just a few examples of the many programs and partnerships Macomb County is pursuing to fuel our talent pipeline and prepare the next generation workforce for new collar work. Through these efforts, we hope to ensure economic stability in our region for many years to come. But ultimately, our goal is to give our young people the tools they need to succeed and connect their passion with opportunity.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Year in Review: Macomb Business’ biggest and best blogs in 2016

Are you finding it hard to believe another year is in the books?

2016 was a big year for business in Macomb County. As a department, we hosted numerous major events, had clients directly invest nearly a quarter billion dollars, created thousands of jobs and saw overall employment in Macomb County rise by roughly 17,000 while continuing a seven-year streak that has brought 55,000 total new jobs to the county.

In other words, we were busy! Trying to keep up with everything we were doing was no easy task. We here at the Macomb Business Blog had 53 (now 54!) blogs hot off the presses for you this year. In case you missed any, we want to recap the biggest business news in Macomb in 2016:

Auto show fever grips Macomb County in January! With more than $5 billion in auto investment since 2010, the department had a big presence at the North American International Auto Show.

Macomb County brakes for positive effects from auto show

The big event to celebrate Macomb County’s business accomplishments is the annual Macomb Business Awards. This year marked the fifth annual celebration, and more than 400 turned out at Fern Hill Country Club to see who would take home the coveted awards.

What awaits at the Macomb Business Awards

What do Yahoo, the Democratic National Party, Target and LinkedIn have in common? If you answered all were victims of sophisticated cyberattacks, you’re right! Cybersecurity is a legitimate risk we all face. The new Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range offers classes to help companies defend their technologies against these threats.

Velocity Hub grand opening highlights new cybersecurity asset

Do you have a fond remembrance of the good old days? Well those days are back in Macomb County, economically speaking. In April, Macomb County’s economic recovery pushed the county back to near historic highs. How did we get there? We take a look at the path.

Macomb then and now

Small businesses are the backbone of a healthy economy. Ninety-five percent of the businesses in Macomb County are defined as a small business. Every day, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development (MCPED) works to help these businesses grow and assists entrepreneurs in starting their own small businesses. The department hosts officials from the Michigan Small Business Development Center in our offices to assist departmental clients with their small business needs. New resources are being added all the time; read on to learn about the focus on digital tools available to small businesses across all industries.

Helping Macomb County small businesses succeed

On the heels of the Mackinac Policy Conference the last weekend in May, Gov. Rick Snyder introduced the state’s new Planet M initiative, which focuses on branding Michigan’s mobility assets, especially autonomous and connected vehicle technology. In Macomb County, this means jobs, investment and a lot more! Find out how much more:

Connected technologies take root in Macomb

Job growth in Macomb County has been on a steady upswing for the past six years, but in July, those numbers jumped even higher than expected. The only thing rising higher than the mercury in the thermometers this summer was the number of those who were able to find work.

Job growth picking up steam in Macomb

Nearly 400 companies make up Macomb County’s network of IT and cybersecurity businesses. Collectively, they employ more than 8,000 workers (and growing!). These companies are utilizing sophisticated software systems and the latest in technology to revolutionize security. The department’s focus on MADCAT, Planet M and other cybersecurity initiatives is paying dividends for Macomb County’s IT industry.

IT jobs growing in Macomb County

Entrepreneurs drive economic growth. Macomb County has roughly 23,000 self-employed individuals across all industries. These combined with stage one businesses in the county comprise a significant chunk of the growth potential available. The department has been working hard to provide this group with the resources they need to sustain and grow their operations.

New business portal gives entrepreneurs resources to succeed

Manufacturing is one of Macomb County’s most important industries. Overall, more than 1,600 companies throughout the county have an annual economic impact of $13.4 billion. These firms employ almost one fifth of our workforce. And, the average salary in the industry is nearly $75,000 annually. The department hosted more than 2,000 students at more than 40 manufacturing locations all across the county as part of a nationwide celebration of Manufacturing Day.

MFG matters in Macomb County!

This year, as a way to encourage residents and visitors to shop the county’s independent retailers, Macomb County made it easier than ever to support local businesses. The department created an online interactive resource for shoppers to find and connect with the more than 1,600 independently-owned retail stores located within the county.

Macomb County encourages you to shop small this Saturday

2016 was a major year for business investment in Macomb County. At the sixth annual State of the County, the continued and remarkable economic rebound in Macomb County was a central theme for County Executive Mark Hackel during his address. We recap what he had to say and all of the department’s accomplishments for 2016!

Spotlight on big investments at annual State of the County Address

As you can see, 2016 was indeed a big year! This is a great time to thank the people who help make this blog possible: MCPED Director John Paul Rea, MCPED Communications and Business Outreach Program Manager Maria Zardis and county communications experts Caitlin Gerds-Habermas and Sarah Cormier for not only being frequent contributors, but also for making sure every blog was proofread and reviewed. We would also like to thank our outside partners who contributed their time and content to the blog this year!

The goal of the Macomb Business Blog is to keep you informed. Do you have news or an idea to share with us for 2017? Reach out to me at We want to hear from you.

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is a senior planner for Macomb County, providing content for the Macomb Business and Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts.

“Macomb2Macomb” event at Macomb Community College highlights career opportunities

Tonight our department will be represented at Macomb Community College’s “Macomb2Macomb” event at the University Center in Clinton Township.

Coordinated by the college’s Career Services Office, our purpose is to interact with students about future job possibilities here within our department.

We will bring copies of the brand-new Macomb Momentum magazine and talk about how it represents a portion of our efforts to promote Macomb County as a great place to live, play and work.  We’ll also have lots of Lake St. Clair “Circle the Lake Tour” maps to distribute as well as to talk about our efforts to move the Macomb County Blue Economy Initiative forward.

A big map of Macomb County on an easel will help us talk with students about our work to help communities develop and update master plans, attract new businesses (like Jimmy John’s Field) and the types of services our Geographic Information System (GIS) group provides to others.

We are also going to bring copies of some of our targeted industry reports covering the sectors of advanced manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, defense and blue economy.  Not only will these publications help us describe our work to understand what drives our economy, but also as a way that we can describe some of the many great companies that there are to work for in Macomb County.

We are looking forward to networking with the other county departments that will be there to represent the careers they offer.  More importantly, we are glad to be involved in inspiring the next generation to be excited about the career opportunities that await them here in Macomb County.

If you are a Macomb Community College student planning to attend, please be sure to stop by the Department of Planning & Economic Development table and say hello!

Zardis, Maria IMG_0089Maria Zardis is the program manager for the Business Outreach and Communications Group for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.


New websites showcase Macomb County

Promoting the best of Macomb County has been a priority of the County Executive since the new form of county government was implemented. Bringing new visitors and investment to Macomb, as well as building community pride are a focus of county government. Each month, thousands of people visit two of Macomb County’s websites, and Both websites offer great information about resources available in Macomb County and now both are sporting a new look to better showcase the best the county has to offer:

MMYH HomepageMake Macomb Your Home

The Make Macomb Your Home website is the centerpiece of the award-winning Make Macomb Your Home campaign, which includes television commercials, active social media accounts, billboards, digital and print advertising. The website is a robust resource of interactive content that shows off the great quality of life ready to be enjoyed in Macomb County.

Visitors to the new site will find enhanced content featuring great information covering everything from Macomb County’s golf courses, breweries, orchards and outdoor activities. Information about these resources is paired with dynamic content provided by the community in the Make Macomb Your Home blog (Have an idea that would make a great blog? Get started by visiting!blogsubmit/cwcs) and integrates with social media.

In addition to information, the new website provides tools such as the home finder, blog, ideas for winter fun, a busy calendar of upcoming events and information about the many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Check it out and discover something new about Macomb that you will enjoy!

MacombBizHomepageMacomb Business

Capping off a successful 2014 which saw clients of the department of Planning & Economic Development invest of $216.8 million and have an impact of 3,331 jobs, the county has refreshed its main business portal,

Serving as both an attraction and a retention resource, business owners and entrepreneurs can find information about how to start, locate or grow their business in Macomb. The county’s Department of Planning & Economic Development offers great resources from site selection, information, financing and incentives. Visitors to the new site will also find a calendar of upcoming educational and business networking events, information about department news and links to the department’s social media accounts.

Know someone who could use our resources? Visit our site & share!

Nick Posavetz is a Senior Planner for Macomb County, often providing content for the Macomb Business & Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts. If you have something you’d like to feature, reach out to him at