Inside and outside of Oakland

State of Oakland County: Economy top issue

The economy — and its recovery — was the focus of Republican L. Brooks Patterson's annual State of the County address Wednesday in Pontiac.

The five-term county executive, up for re-election this year to a sixth four-year term, outlined programs he has instituted in the past 20 years to either grow jobs or mitigate their losses in a down economy.

"The overriding issue facing all of us in this room, in this region, and in this state is, of course, the economy," Patterson said in his invitation-only address to about 400 people at the Centerpoint Marriott.


Patterson's speech was livestreamed at www.theoaklandpress.com and it can be viewed later at www.oakgov.com/exec.

Oakland County, like much of Michigan, was hammered the past several years by the "Great Recession," which also resulted in the bankruptcy of two of the county's largest taxpayers — General Motors and Chrysler.

Patterson said a combination of county initiatives — Emerging Sectors, Main Street Oakland, Medical Main Street, and Automation Alley — has generated $4.4 billion in investment, created 66,451 new jobs and retained 18,397 other jobs within the county.

"Sure, we lost jobs during the Great Recession — 147,203 by our count since 2002 — but we are on a furious pace to replace those jobs with high-paying sustainable new jobs."

Patterson pointed to an annual report from University of Michigan economists that noted: “From the end of 2008 to the end of 2009, the County lost 58,000 jobs; from the end of 2009 to the end of 2010, they created 13,000 jobs — a remarkable turnaround by any standard.”

He also noted a new medical school at Oakland University, when finally "ramped up," will have a local economic impact of $3 billion.

Patterson also touted the county government's balanced budget, AAA bond rating, and green-energy Oakland County International Airport.
In his opening remarks, Patterson thanked neighboring executives for attending — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and "low-profile" Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

For the first time, Patterson also announced his "Elite 40 under 40," selected from several hundred nominations.

"We feel they represent where Oakland County is headed tomorrow: Charging into the knowledge-based economy, providing strong leadership, and engaged in improving the quality of life in our region," Patterson said.

Being an election year, Patterson also sought voter support: "If you like what you’ve seen these past 19 years and appreciate the leadership from me and my team, then I would ask you for your support as I seek re-election this year."

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