The 2016 Oakland County State of the County Address created an air of excitement and positivity throughout the night. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson spoke to an audience of 600 attendees last week, exclaiming that, “The state of the Oakland County is strong! Amazingly strong. Vibrant,” and that he is enthusiastic about the direction in which the county is headed.
Highlights from the 2016 State of the County Address included:
Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2016 Introduction
- Ali Woerner, Associate Professor of Dance at Oakland University was unveiled as the winner of the Elite 40 Class of 2016 and had the honor to introduce Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson.
- The entire Elite 40 under 40 Class of 2016 was recognized during the evening.
- This is the 5th class of Elite 40 Under 40, for a total of 200 members of the best and brightest leaders in Oakland County; alumni in attendance were also recognized.
- Oakland County will work with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to add a fourth lane to I-75 starting at Eight Mile Road all the way to M- 59; and three lanes each direction from M-59 to the Genesee County line.
- 23,000 businesses are located along that stretch, employing 339,000 individuals – or about half of the county workforce.
- MDOT is researching making I-75 a connected freeway through Oakland County with encouragement from the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force.
- 1-75 carries more cars than any other expressway in Michigan – 120,000 a day.
Attracting Younger Workers & Paid Parental Leave
- Millennials now outnumber baby boomers, making up 34.4 percent of the workforce in Oakland County.
- To remain competitive in the knowledge based economy and private sector, Oakland County will attract younger workers with new initiatives and benefits:
- A fifth committee, consisting of millennials will be joining the Business Roundtable to help county administration stay informed and initiate policies that will attract younger adults.
- A proposed Paid Parental Leave program will provide both mothers and fathers six weeks of paid leave, in addition to birth mothers’ current maternity disability benefits.
Investing for Sustainability
With a balanced budget through 2021 and a AAA bond rating retained since 1998, Oakland County is investing for sustainability. In addition to Paid Parental Leave and Tuition Reimbursement, other investments include:
- Children’s Village, in collaboration with the Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network, is now the only juvenile care center in Michigan with a medical clinic on site staffed by doctors and nurses to provide preventative and emergency medical care.
- The Information Technology Department will install a new Unified Communications and Wireless System to replace aging technology, improving county employees’ internal and external communication with a more technically savvy public.
- A new animal control and pet adoption center will be built on the County’s main campus and open in 2017 to enhance the care Animal Control Division gives to over 5,000 pets a year, increasing their likelihood of adoption.
Preparing for Zika Virus
- Proactively, Oakland County Health Division is preparing to respond should the mosquito that carries the Zika virus arrive in Michigan by:
- Sharing what is known about the Zika virus, the mosquito that carries it, testing protocol for pregnant women, and EPA approved repellents.
- Posting Zika virus travel advisory information on the Oakland County Website.
- Tracking phone calls we receive each day and reporting to the Health administration.
- Utilizing a portion of the West Nile Virus budget and bolstering the mosquito response budget by $160,000, to a new total of $350,000.
Economic Diversification Initiative Updates
- The Emerging Sectors® initiative has attracted 371 companies in the knowledge-based economy for a total investment of more than $3.3 billion while creating 37,000 jobs and retaining 21,000 jobs.
- The Economic Development Corporation and the Business Finance Corporation have helped finance 648 small businesses, for a total investment of $1.5 billion, and the creation of over 26,500 jobs.
- Traditional sector companies also represent 243 successes, investing over $2.3 billion while creating 13,700 jobs and retaining over 19,200 jobs.
- Main Street Oakland County, the first countywide Main Street program in North America, has seen 940 businesses invest $668 million and create 7,000 jobs.
ECHO- Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland
- Oakland County’s Health Division and its public health partners conducted the ECHO survey, a comprehensive countywide assessment of residents and businesses, to better understand the current health status and practices in the County.
- A Community Health Improvement Plan will be announced in June to ask businesses and organizations to align their wellness strategies with ECHO.
- Oakland County is home to 72,000 veterans.
- Oakland County Veterans’ Services Division has two full-time offices open to veterans without appointment, staffed with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accredited benefits counselors.
- Over 5,600 applications for veterans benefits and over 8,400 other benefit-related forms were completed in 2015.
- Since 2014, 160 homeless veterans have found housing through Oakland County Veterans’ Services and partner organizations.
- Oakland County’s economy has reached “Full Employment” at 4.2%; and is better than the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.9%.
- In the first four years of recovery from the Great Recession, the County has gained back over 79,000 jobs.
- University of Michigan economists conservatively forecast that an additional 49,000 jobs will be gained through 2017, recovering at least 78% of the jobs lost in the first decade of the new millennium.
Air Transportation Expo
- Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) hosted the state’s first Air Transportation Expo in 2015, and will host the second Air Transportation Expo on September 22, 2016.
- The expo educated corporate decision makers about Oakland County International Airport’s modern facilities, aviation businesses based there, and what utilizing them means for the corporate bottom line.
Patterson concluded the speech thanking attendees, partners and everyone who works hard to keep the county moving forward. “I hope when you leave here tonight, that you are buoyed with the confidence that Oakland County is doing very, very well. With a budget balanced through 2021 and an economic diversification program that has helped us reach full employment, you can tell why I am proud of what we accomplished and enthusiastic about the direction in which the county is headed,” Patterson said.
Watch the entire Oakland County 2016 State of the County Address here:
To read the entire speech and associated press release, visit the Oakland County Executive website.
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