Hackel gives fifth State of County address

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published December 3, 2015

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MACOMB COUNTY — Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel filled the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts with positive vibes as he presented his fifth State of the County address on Dec. 2.

Hackel, standing in front of a large video screen that flashed photos, videos and impressive stats throughout the 45-minute address, delved into the county’s achievements in recent years and its thrilling future.

“Every chance we’ve had, we let people know about the incredible transformations happening right here in Macomb County,” Hackel said. “Macomb County is trending in a positive direction.”

Hackel started his address with a clip from President Barack Obama’s September visit to Macomb Community College, where he spoke about promoting education at community colleges and announced a $175 million Department of Labor grant that will be awarded to 46 public-private partnerships nationwide, including MCC and metro Detroit’s Focus: HOPE. The grants will support collaborative efforts among employers, organized labor, nonprofits, local units of government and educational institutions to expand apprenticeship programs in high-growth and high-tech industries.

This led to Hackel voicing his feelings of pride in the county’s thriving manufacturing industry. He said the county has had tremendous successes in improving economic development goals in the areas of automotive, defense, aerospace and advanced manufacturing in recent years, and approximately 1,600 manufacturing firms in Macomb County employ 75,000 people for an annual $13 billion economic impact on the area.

As a result, of the 3,100 counties in the U.S., Macomb County ranks third in the nation in manufacturing growth, Hackel said. He added that the unemployment rate in the area has fallen to 5 percent.

He went on to speak of larger firms committing to “making Macomb their home,” followed by Macomb County becoming Michigan’s leader in defense, as well as the U.S. Navy’s decision to postpone retiring the A-10 fighter fleet at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, the county’s solid financial condition (it has an AA+ bond rating) and its exponential growth in population and housing.

“Macomb is a place that is on the move. But the foundation of our progress is people,” Hackel said. “We want Macomb County to be a place for everybody.”

He said that with the population now at 870,000, Macomb County has averaged 19 new residents a day since 2010.

In addition, diversity within the population is increasing, with “immigrants settling in Macomb County in hopes of a better life.” Hackel said one in every 10 Macomb County residents is foreign born.

Also up in the county are home values, at 20 percent in the past three years.

Hackel went on to highlight some new developments and future programs for 2016, including a $5 million expansion at C.J. Barrymore’s on Hall Road that will include a roller coaster and zip lines, a Cabela’s superstore that is slated to open in Chesterfield Township, and Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township will add a $1 million playscape and sandy beach.

Also in the near future, Hackel announced a new jail initiative called “Intake 48” to address any substance abuse and mental health needs of incoming inmates at the Macomb County Jail and provide necessary service where needed.

Hackel went on to tout recent enhancements at COMTEC, the county’s Communications and Technology Center, including a $9.6 million investment in a radio enhancement — a project that he said will improve the communication of emergency services countywide — as well as a recent $20 million commitment from the Environmental Protection Agency for major Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects in the Clinton River Area of Concern, and Lake St. Clair, the nation’s busiest freshwater lake, where world-class tournaments like the Plano Bassmaster Elite are held and ultimately shine a spotlight on Macomb County.

“Population, housing, diversity, employment, income and educational attainment are all heading in a positive direction,” Hackel said. “Macomb County is a great place to live, work and play.”

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