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.