Patterson looks toward economic recovery

State of the County Address focuses on finances

By: Linda Shepard | C&G Newspapers | Published February 12, 2013

Home values rose in Oakland County by 1 percent in 2012, signaling an upturn in the economy, said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

“That is a modest increase, but it is an arrow up for the first time in six years,” Patterson said during his State of the County address at Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills Feb. 7.

He credited “innovation and diversification” for Oakland County’s per capita income levels, which are the “highest in Michigan.”

Patterson walked on stage with the aid of his son-in-law and stepson, and sat in a leather chair to address an audience of about 400 that delivered a standing ovation. Patterson is recovering from serious injuries sustained in an August car accident. “Personally, I think standing is overrated,” Patterson quipped.

Since 2004, 230 companies have set up shop in Oakland County; 27,000 new jobs have been created; and 12,700 jobs were retained, Patterson said. “All created in the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression.

“The future of Oakland County and America is active participation of a highly trained, highly motivated and highly educated workforce,” Patterson said. “The key word is diversification.”

Patterson said skilled trades are often overlooked as a career option for a solid middle-class wage. He urged students to visit the county’s new website,, for information about training opportunities.

A global economy has resulted in a successful working relationship between Oakland County and China, Patterson noted. “We have 33 Chinese firms in Oakland County,” he said. “By 2016, China will overtake the U.S. as the world largest economy. They have exploding expansion.”

Oakland County’s cloud computing system has delivered a software library for other counties around the country to use. “It is government helping government,” Patterson said. “We have been recognized as the most digitally advanced county in the nation,” he said.

County events like Arts, Beats and Eats, the Woodward Dream Cruise, Quake on the Lake, the Fire and Ice Festival, and the Brooksie Way Half Marathon have been “unqualified successes,” he said.

“The quality of life in Oakland County is built on an economic team that is the best in the state,” he said.

Patterson talked about his recovery from the crash and thanked Oakland County Deputy County Executive Jerry Poisson for seeing that “operations continued seamlessly” during the months after the accident. He also thanked his staff, his doctors and his family. “The love of family trumps everything,” he said.

“The road to recovery has been a challenge,” Patterson said. “At the next State of the County, I will walk out here and I will stand behind the podium.” He asked for prayers for his close friend and driver James Cram, who was seriously injured in the crash. “Get him in a wheelchair,” Patterson said.

“Brooks is the emotional leader of Oakland County,” said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett. “After difficult times, the county is booming. Brooks and his team are responsible. He has done a fantastic job, and Oakland County residents should be proud.”

“He has created a super-highway of change,” said Erica Coulston, who heads Patterson’s Elite 40 Under 40 Program list of young Oakland County innovators. “Brooks has led the charge and cemented a legacy of compassion. He has inspired me to live my life in the same way.”