The Oakland County Business Roundtable met for its 25th consecutive year last week at Baker College in Auburn Hills. The Oakland County Business Roundtable Annual Meeting was created by Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson, and is a partnership between business, education, community leaders, and government working together to improve the business climate and quality of life in Oakland County. The Oakland County Roundtable’s five committees are Economic Development, Workforce and Education, Oakland Next, Transportation and Mobility, and Quality of Life.
This meeting has allowed Oakland County to stay ahead of its time. From the very first meeting in 1996, the county developed an electronic information network, implemented an electronic mail system for all county businesses, and created the One Stop Shop for economic development. The Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center, Main Street Oakland County, and what has come to be known as the One Stop Ready Program, all came from The Oakland County Business Roundtable Committee’s recommendations.
This year’s 25th Annual Oakland County Business Roundtable began with a greeting from L. Brooks Patterson who introduced this year’s keynote speaker, Brigadier General John D. Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County. Slocum discussed the air base’s economic impact on our region as well as its role as an asset for public safety and workforce development.
“Selfridge is a great value for America,” said Brigadier John D. Slocum. “We provide about 1/3 of the US Air Force on roughly 10% of their budget.”
The chairs of the five Business Roundtable Committees met earlier this year to discuss key issues raised by their members and potential year-end recommendations. During those discussions, a common theme emerged from all five committees: the need for a comprehensive countywide communications & public relations campaign. This theme created the first ever joint recommendation from the Oakland County Business Roundtable.
“This joint recommendation shows the power of consensus by highlighting the importance of a complete Oakland County story,” said Mike Cooper, chair of the economic development committee.
The joint recommendation touches on how such a campaign will embrace the strength of the region and Oakland County’s position as a regional leader. It will emphasize that Oakland County is not competing with the city of Detroit, but that Detroit’s ability to function as a true urban center will enable the county to prosper. Oakland County can and will remain the heart of a vibrant region.
Al Sowers, chair of the workforce and education committee, said “Part of this joint recommendation is having a strong talent retraction strategy.”
Committee chairs spoke about the importance of telling the full story of Oakland County, including a strong and diverse business community, an AAA bond rating, superior schools, plentiful parks and recreational opportunities, walkable cities, family friendly and inclusive communities, and a commitment to safety and leading-edge technology.
“We need to get our infrastructure in place to make sure we are set up for future technologies and innovations,” said Alan Kiriluk, chair of the transportation and mobility committee.
Each committee would identify the key issues from its perspective for inclusion in the campaign. This would ensure that of all the possible stories to tell, Oakland County is telling the most important ones, the ones that will have the most impact.
The goals of implementing this recommendation are: connect all aspects of the county to create a focused and dynamic message; clearly and concisely convey the brand of Oakland County; attract new business to the county while effectively retaining existing business; and attract new residents of all generations to the county, recognizing all that it is has to offer.
Oakland NEXT Chair Susan Kruger said, “We want to reach our younger community members through personal connections, social media, and live events.”
The tactics for implementing this recommendation are: allocate funding to support this initiative; engage an outside expert to lead the county through this process; have one or two committee members help guide/manage outcomes of outside expert engagement; benchmark other successful counties adjacent to urban centers; and actively and continually tell the Oakland County story.
“Quality of life starts with that connectivity between all of us, in the church you go to, the PTA, and volunteer groups you join,” said Jennifer Radcliff, chair of quality of life committee.
At the end of the 25th Annual Business Roundtable Meeting, Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb, announced that the county will be producing a celebratory book that will include the history, challenges, accomplishments, and future initiatives it has created for Oakland County.
“It has been a good year for Oakland County,” said L. Brooks Patterson. “Our Emerging Sectors Program is on the cusp of $5 billion of total investment, the seventh class of our Elite 40 Under 40 will soon be chosen, and we hope to integrate their energy and passion into many of our programs such as Medical Main Street and Tech 248.”
The 25th Annual Business Roundtable Meeting ended with an engaged and enthusiastic conversation about Oakland County’s future and commitment to ensuring it remains a premier place in the United States to live, work, play, and raise a family.
The Oakland County Business Roundtable 2017 Annual Report can be found on the Oakland County website.
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