Jacobs delivers final economic forecast, projects growth

After 34 years of delivering the Macomb Economic Forecast, Macomb Community College President Jim Jacobs, Ph.D., delivered his final forecast presentation last week. The event was presented by the Chamber Alliance of Macomb County, and Wayne State University was the premier sponsor, as they have been for the past 10 years.

The overall message was that while Macomb County is still recovering from the recession, it is well positioned to continue its path of progress.

The county is seeing remarkable automotive investments, many of which are in areas of the automotive industry that will continue to see growth, such as research and development for autonomous vehicles. Manufacturing also continues to be an important part of what Macomb County does. Jacobs marveled how over the span of his career, this industry has transformed from bending steel to software.

Macomb’s defense industry is also robust, not only including major assets such as TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, TARDEC and Selfridge Air National Guard Base, but also the private sector which is winning significant contracts. Another industry growing in importance is cybersecurity, as is evidenced by yet another cybersecurity lab opening in the county next week at the Wayne State Advanced Technology Education Center in Warren.

The county continues to attract population growth, in particular new immigrants. As such, Jacobs said the county needs to position itself as welcoming. He also predicts a new suburban ecosystem that emphasizes the importance of recreation, education, health care and the environment.

Jacobs said regional transit would make the county more attractive and is essential to economic growth. He cited the success of Jimmy John’s Field as valuable family entertainment that also spills over to other local businesses. Greening projects like the Green Macomb Urban Forest Partnership are also making Macomb more attractive.

Jacobs called for more organizations like Advancing Macomb and Leadership Macomb, which he credited for getting citizens involved in the community and not simply looking to elected officials to lead the way.

The county also has challenges to overcome. These include providing residents more opportunities for growth, continuing to diversify the economic base and expanding civic infrastructure to complement and support the private sector.

According to Jacobs, the continued growth of Macomb County will depend on how well we protect and grow our defense assets, how we handle infrastructure issues and adapt to new needs such as broadband and autonomous sensors on roadways, and how we overcome disparity throughout the county.

At the conclusion of the event, Jacobs received a standing ovation. The chambers thanked him and revealed that he has agreed to play a role in future economic forecasts after he steps down as president of Macomb Community College later this year.

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

Macomb County has most employed since March 2001

It’s not just the thermometers that have been rising all summer. The most recent jobs update from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Macomb County gained 3,286 jobs last month and 15,036 total so far in 2016.

Under the new executive form of government, since County Executive Mark Hackel took office in January 2011, Macomb County has gained 54,138 jobs. This is the highest number of people employed in Macomb County in more than 15 years, dating back to March 2001 when 412,364 people were employed.

“Exciting new sectors of mobility, aerospace, life sciences, information technology, defense and homeland security have emerged alongside our energized manufacturing industry,” said Executive Hackel. “These record-breaking numbers not only look great on paper but are essential to the vitality of our families in our communities.”

The updated job numbers continue the streak of seven continuous years of job growth in Macomb County. More jobs have been added every year since the height of the recession in 2009, when 350,776 people in the county were working. The county peaked in job numbers in May 1999, when 437,251 were employed. At that time, unemployment was at a mere 2.7 percent.

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Are you a company looking to tap into Macomb County’s highly skilled labor force? We can help. Reach out to the Department of Planning & Economic Development today!

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is a senior planner for Macomb County, often providing content for the Macomb Business and Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts. If you have something you’d like to feature, reach out to him at posavetz@macombgov.org.