Community and business leaders join together for $150 million vision to Innovate Mound Road

Innovate Mound is an initiative to rebuild one of the most important corridors in Southeast Michigan: Mound Road. The vision of the partnership behind this effort is a roadway that incorporates the future of mobility and technology through transforming nine miles of Mound Road into a state-of-the-art corridor. Designed to be an inclusive process and transformation, Innovate Mound is a collaborative effort between Macomb County, the city of Sterling Heights and the city of Warren.

DSC_0662.JPGGaining strong stakeholder support for the project is crucial for securing funding. The group kicked off its public visioning by hosting a stakeholders’ session yesterday, which brought together more than 100 business and community leaders to discuss the possibilities and provide feedback.

Rebuilding Mound Road is critical for many reasons. Most obviously, the road is currently in poor condition. However, instead of simply repaving the road, it benefits the long-term needs of local businesses to have a corridor that matches the level of innovation and technology in the area.

The design considerations that are tentatively in place for this project include complete roadway surface reconstruction, widening north of 17 Mile Road, landscaping, lighting, signs, driveway controls, additions of non-motorized facilities, 10-foot-wide safety path along the bike trail or corridor, connections to trail network and improvements to transit stops.

Mound Road could also be equipped with smart street technology to include computerized traffic signal systems, real-time traffic speed monitoring, cameras, communications to signals and more. This technology would be able to increase emergency management and enhance safety and mobility.

Whatever ideas emerge from visioning, the need to act is urgent. The average life expectancy of a roadway in Michigan is about 25 years. The selected portion of Mound Road is nearly 30 years old and in poor condition. Each year, Macomb County spends between $3 to $4 million solely on maintenance and patching this section in Band-Aid-style fixes.

The estimated investment needed to truly innovate one of Macomb County’s key corridors is expected to be approximately $150 million. To raise these funds, Innovate Mound has identified several federal sources which could help to fund project costs.  These sources include Macomb County, new state infrastructure funds, TIFA (Corridor Improvement Authority), private funding, grants and new federal funds. Specific grants being considered are the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) and Defense Access Road (DAR).

Collaboration will be key to the project’s success.  To become a part of the transformation or for more information on the Innovate Mound project, visit InnovateMound.org. You can also follow on Twitter @InnovateMound and join the conversation with #InnovateMound.

rea-john-paulJohn Paul Rea, AICP, is the director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

 

Spotlight on big investments at annual State of the County Address

2016 was a major year for business investment in Macomb County. Last night 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.

Macomb County is in the midst of seven straight years of job growth. The number of people working in Macomb County has swelled by roughly 55,000 to more than 410,000, which is the most in 15 years and near our historic high watermark.

These job gains have been fueled by Macomb County’s standing as a world-class advanced manufacturing hub. Since 2010, the mobility industry has directly invested more than $6 billion in Macomb County. This year alone in Macomb County, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles committed $1.4 billion to the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant; General Motors located their autonomous vehicle development team at the GM Tech Center; and Ford has tripled its autonomous vehicle fleet and is currently testing its Ford Fusion hybrids in Bruce Township at the Michigan Proving Grounds. Macomb County government has done its part and stepped up, expanding our intelligent transportation infrastructure at COMTEC. These investments have made Macomb County better positioned, more than any other county in the nation in fact, to deploy connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The same kind of transformation is happening in our other key targeted industries of defense, information technology, aerospace and agriculture.

In defense, our military installations and network of more than 600 prime defense contractors continue to push the limits of innovation. This past year, Macomb County companies were awarded more than $1.4 billion in defense contacts. TARDEC teamed up with General Motors to develop the hydrogen-powered Chevy Colorado Z-H-2. This futuristic military-concept vehicle was created right here in Macomb County and went from contract to concept in less than a year. TACOM continues to be an integral piece of our Army’s command.

Our information technology (IT) and cybersecurity sectors are undergoing massive expansions. Macomb County is now home to nearly 400 IT firms, which employ approximately 9,000 individuals. Over the past five years, the county has experienced a 116 percent increase in our IT employment which, when compared to a national average of less than 12 percent, shows our tremendous progress. Macomb is also leading the way in cybersecurity with the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range opening. We continue to look for ways to deepen our workforce talent pool and have been bringing industry experts together with MADCAT to continue to find innovative ways to prepare for future needs.

Macomb County is also making impressive gains in aerospace. The world’s largest aerospace companies are now doing business within our borders. Names like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and NASA are working with an ever growing number of prime suppliers. Contract after contract, they are flocking to Macomb County because of our advanced precision tooling and adaptable workforce.

Even agriculture and food processing are being transformed. Lipari Foods just announced a new $36 million state-of-the-art food processing facility in Warren, which will incorporate some of the most advanced food processing capabilities in the state. Century-old orchards such as Blake’s, Miller’s Big Red and Westview are also making big investments, transforming themselves in to wineries and family entertainment centers. Several craft brewers are making Macomb their home, including the $1.3 million investment at Kuhnhenn’s Brewery in Clinton Township.

Our business investments are also greatly improving our quality of life. This past year saw the opening of the much anticipated Jimmy John’s Field and the start of play for the United Shore Professional Baseball League. The ballpark’s first season was a huge success: Most of the games were sellouts, attendance averaged 3,100 over the 75 game schedule, and eight players were picked up by major league organizations. The league has announced expansion plans to add a fourth team next year.

All of these developments are telling us the same story – Macomb County is a preferred destination for transformational economic investment.

This all contributed to what was a successful 2016 for our department. I’m very proud of the dedicated staff that make up our team of professionals who were able to help these businesses grow and thrive in Macomb County this year. Our staff was responsible for the following investments within the county this year:

2016-econ-impact

I am very proud Executive Hackel recognized our department for our efforts in a significant way in front of such a large and influential audience. If you’re a business thinking about starting, locating or growing in Macomb County, we want to help you. Please contact our department, and together we can help you be the focus for next year’s event!

rea-john-paulJohn Paul Rea, AICP, is the director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Macomb County Planning & Economic Development recognized at MIBB Ambassador Awards

I had the privilege of attending the Michigan Israel Business Bridge (MIBB) Ambassador Awards this week at the Westin Southfield. This awards dinner honors those who have made significant contributions toward building bridges between Michigan and Israel. At this event, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development was honored as an economic development partner.

20161104_153808.jpgOur department has had a longstanding relationship with MIBB. We have partnered on international trade missions to Israel as well as delegation visits with foreign companies and other dignitaries.

Our ties to Israel and MIBB are strengthened through the emergence of information technology and cybersecurity growth in Israel. Also, with the county’s position as a major leader in defense and homeland security, our communities are connecting on a number of economic development opportunities associated with the defense industry.

MIBB has provide our department with an engaging partner who has opened up the international market to our economic development opportunities in Macomb County. I want to thank MIBB for their continued partnership, and I look forward to many new opportunities to grow our respective economies.

rea-john-paulJohn Paul Rea, AICP, is the director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.