Appreciating Lake St. Clair

BoatLeavingMarinaCommunity leaders took to the lake on Wednesday, July 26, for the Macomb County Chamber‘s ninth annual Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day.

This invitation-only event was designed to educate and engage lawmakers, area business leaders and other interested parties about Lake St. Clair’s vitality and impact as a tourism destination, lifestyle epicenter and economic engine for Macomb County.

The program began at MacRay Harbor in Harrison Township. Participants received a presentation by Dan Heaton, former public relations director from Selfridge, on the history of neighboring Selfridge Air National Guard Base which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Boats then departed for a cruise of Lake St. Clair to Harsens Island with a stop for lunch there at the Old Club and a presentation about the island’s history.

Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel called Lake St. Clair the “heart of the Great Lakes” and remarked, “There are more boating, fishing and recreational activities here than anywhere else.”

With more than 16,000 boat wells across more than 70 marinas, the area is undeniably one of the greatest concentrations of personal watercraft in the nation.

lake st clairLake St. Clair defines much of the eastern boundary of Macomb County. It is “big water” for southeast Michigan with more than 400 square miles of recreational opportunity and one of the country’s largest freshwater wetlands.

“We are pleased to host this annual event of key decision-makers to keep them up-to-date on the important role that Lake St. Clair plays in our area’s blue economy,” said Grace Shore, CEO of the Macomb County Chamber. “We believe that once you experience Lake St. Clair, you will want to protect and promote Lake St. Clair.”

Event partners are the Macomb County Chamber, MacRay Harbor and the Macomb County Executive’s Office. Sponsors of this year’s event were Kirk, Huth, Badalamenti, and Lange; McLaren Macomb; First State Bank; and United Shore Baseball League.

Penny Carroll is with the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce.

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Landing the F-35

Macomb County is going all out in its efforts to become the home of the F-35.

What is the F-35? It’s a new fifth-generation fighter jet, capable of both air defense and ground attacks. It’s able to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions with ease, and according to the mif35.org website, its futuristic technology is “designed to defeat today’s most advanced threat systems […] as well as those expected to emerge in the decades to come.”

Needless to say, the F-35 is a bit of a celebrity in the aircraft world.

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Across the nation, five locations were chosen as finalists in the competition to house the F-35: Montgomery, AL; Boise, ID; Jacksonville, FL; Madison, WI; and Harrison Township, MI. Selfridge Air National Guard Base is the last of the five bases that will be evaluated before the winning locations are determined.

Many factors indicate that they’ve saved the best for last.

faMacomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel, alongside the Michigan Defense Center and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, commissioned a comparative analysis of the five competing locations. Research shows that of the five finalists, the metro Detroit area has the necessary workforce, infrastructure, and experience to handle the F-35 mission most successfully.

To read more on why Selfridge ANGB is the ideal location for the F-35, visit mif35.org. The winning locations are expected to be announced in mid-autumn this year.

Jenna Russell is a summer intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

 

Letters of support fly in for the F-35

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s something abuzz in Macomb County! Selfridge Air National Guard Base is one of the top five national finalists competing to house a new type of fighter jet: the F-35.

s 1And the movement to bring home the F-35 is now picking up speed, thanks to several letters of support written by leaders from around the county.

Robert J. Cannon, Clinton Township supervisor, writes, “Our community understands and appreciates the true impact that Selfridge has had on our region, our state, and our nation.” Cannon goes on to explain that Selfridge was home to the country’s first successful military relations committee, which made Mount Clemens into “a model for other military towns to follow.”

s 2Selfridge has a rich history, and it only makes sense that its history should be taken into account here. As noted by Kathleen Lomako, president of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, Selfridge was “one of the first military airfields in the nation.” During the Second World War, the base was “able to produce new bombers at the rate of one every hour, something no one thought possible at the time.” Our area has a proud tradition of being part of our nation’s air-based defense system, and, as Lomako writes, many believe that tradition “should be extended into the next century” with the housing of the F-35.

Besides its historical significance, Selfridge also offers plenty of logistical advantages, including a new jet fuel storage and delivery system. The base is also home to all five branches of the military—a unique asset compared to other bases. Additionally, as stated by Cannon, Selfridge has “over 3,000 full-time civilian and military personnel” ready to support and defend the base.

s 3Lomako adds that there are plenty of non-military factors that make Selfridge an ideal location for the F-35 as well. Selfridge is “located in one of the largest metropolitan areas of the country,” which means its employees will have access to an efficient airport and to other employment opportunities after their military careers have ended. They will also be in close proximity to a “full spectrum of educational, commercial, and recreational services, which is desirable for any personnel stationed at the base.”

To read all the letters of support from county leaders that have been published so far, click here. And to learn more about why Selfridge is a perfect fit for the F-35, visit www.mif35.org.

Jenna Russell is a summer intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

STEM education fuels Macomb County’s defense industry

“Macomb County is the defense capital. We build things to protect those who protect us.”

These are the words that Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel uses to tout the strength of the defense industry here in Macomb County. With first-class Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security installations and a robust advanced manufacturing industrial base, Macomb County has all the components necessary to be a global leader in national security.

Vital to the success of Macomb County’s defense industry is top tier STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talent. Scientific advancement and engineering prowess are what have kept and will continue to keep the U.S. Armed Forces at the forefront of conventional and unconventional military capabilities. In order to stay at the forefront, and to keep our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen safe, as well as “to provide for the common defense” as stated in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, STEM talent is of great importance.

selfridge_1With future prospects for security in mind, Selfridge Air National Guard Base hosted the second of a three-part event spanning St. Clair, Macomb and Wayne counties on May 19 called Inspiring the Next Generation. This event was designed to showcase potential career options in the defense industry for local high school STEM students.

Students had the opportunity to work with robotics controls, experience a flight simulator from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Aviation, solder wires on an F-35 Lightning II model and hear from representatives from General Dynamics Land Systems, Women in Aviation and the Misty Blues All Women Skydiving Team on what it means to work in the defense industry and aviation.

Over 500 STEM students from Anchor Bay School District, Chippewa Valley School District, Warren Woods Public Schools, Center Line Public Schools and Utica Community Schools participated in the event.

Rochon, Daniel IMG_0069Dan Rochon works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development as an associate planner in economic development services.

Website launched to ramp up support for F-35 aircraft at Selfridge

As part of Macomb County’s campaign to secure a squadron of the F-35 Lightening II at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum and County Executive Mark A. Hackel announced the launch of a new website, mif35.org.

selfridge_1The Department of Defense is currently reviewing five potential locations for the fighter aircraft and will choose two final sites. A site survey will be conducted at Selfridge in July, and a final decision by the secretary of the Air Force is expected this summer or fall.

The county is partnering with the base, the Selfridge Community Council, the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce and other community partners to promote Selfridge as the ideal location for the F-35 and to highlight the economic benefits of landing the new aircraft at the base.

The website, designed by Mount Clemens-based Hunch Free, is one of the tools being used to engage the local community and inform them about the importance of bringing the F-35 to Selfridge. In addition to featuring detailed information and supplemental videos, the website also opens a channel of communication with the public, allowing users to show their support, sign up to receive updates and submit any questions they may have about the F-35 potentially coming to Selfridge.

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According to Slocum, Selfridge has fantastic airmen and is a wonderful facility that can easily handle the F-35 aircraft. He emphasized that if the F-35 comes to Harrison Township, it will secure the future of the base for decades to come.

“This is the base that deserves the F-35,” said Hackel.

In addition to strategic location, other features will also be taken into consideration as the Department of Defense makes its decision, such as education and job opportunities as well as housing costs and more. Hackel said he will be a forceful advocate to get the F-35, and if accomplished, he has no doubt any additional employees this transition may bring will feel comfortable making Macomb their home.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.