Macomb: Connecting Our Brand

Trending upward on the shoulders of a re-energized automotive industry, Southeast Michigan has plotted a fresh move forward. What does this forward movement mean to each of the communities and are we truly connected as a region? How do all of our individual strengths come together for an even stronger combined unit? Macomb County is a proud member of the Detroit Region and has stepped up its game as a critical piece of the region’s economic ecosystem. Reinvigorating its own identity, Macomb has made itself more competitive with a greater focus on manufacturing capabilities, enhanced quality of life and making sure that our institutions are educating the workforce of today and tomorrow. This has been instrumental in a much-welcomed upsurge in economic, social, and environmental activities in Southeast Michigan.

Communities can be successful operating separately, but operating in concert with other entities creates more leverage, a bigger brand and better opportunities across the board. Cohesiveness adds more efficiency and effectiveness by utilizing fewer resources and increasing the diversity of inputs. A single brand for our region makes manufacturing stronger, our automotive industry base stronger and our total economy stronger. Together, there is not another place in the world that has the collective capability we have in manufacturing, mobility, automotive, production technology and – an affordable quality of life for our residents.

This region has a long history of resiliency, transforming itself with each transition in industrial advances. The current evolution of technology and manufacturing has brought on another rebirth. Tech and human thinking have transformed how we learn, how we live, what the market demands are, and how we create products for that market. The resiliency in Metro Detroit comes from a variety of factors. It’s the ubiquitous culture of rolling up our sleeves and working harder and smarter. It is also the diversity of our population and communities – ranging from urban to rural – that yields variegated perspectives and new ways to approach success. While the connection of industry and a central geography brings us together, we still need to deliver our unique diversity under a single brand.

The numbers give a clear view of where we are now. Southeastern Michigan Economy Gaining Strength, a recent article from Drawing Detroit, shows the region’s economic health in raw metrics. These numbers are giving us reason to be excited about the future. The Purchasing Manager’s Index tells us that the economy in Metro Detroit is not only doing well, but in fact surging ahead.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) provides a great view because it uses five indicators of economic activity: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories. A PMI above 50 is indicative of an economy that is expanding. Southeast Michigan’s PMI is considered strong due to a 67.2 reading in October of 2016. This reading is an increase of seven points from the prior month. It has remained above 50 since June of 2014 demonstrating the resurgence of the auto sector in the region.

As further evidence, according to the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metro Statistical Area, the average price of single–family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $109,660 in August 2016. This is an increase from $103,750 in August of 2015, which was also an increase from $98,720 in August of 2014.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget employment figures show another strong indicator – employment. Between September of 2015 and September of 2016, there was a total increase of 10,012 employed City of Detroit residents. In Macomb and Oakland, employment levels are the highest they have been in fifteen years. People are busy and working with new energy and a fresh mindset.

Metro Detroit has adopted a permanent focus on sustainability. It has developed an increasingly diversified portfolio of emerging industries that include many of the biggest blue chip companies known worldwide along with an exciting startup culture. From the massive redevelopment of downtown Detroit to the continued growth along the Woodward corridor, from the new energy and vitality in local neighborhoods to the double-down investments in Macomb in automotive and defense.

Dan Gilbert has said, “Momentum breeds momentum and that’s what we’ve got going here, I think the best stuff is still to come.” There’s a new energy downtown that reverberates throughout the region. It’s not just the companies that are rethinking their position in this local, regional, and growing global economic neighborhood. It’s the communities themselves that are engaging on a daily basis with each other and with employers. They are going through repurposing and revitalization to become better partners with each other. These economic dividends of connectivity are real and are the bricks that will build our bridge to the future.

With the goal of creating a new benchmark, it all equates to economic success, inclusion and quality of life in Macomb’s local communities.

Although we are proud of the strength that Macomb County can bring to the table, we know that this strength should cultivate greater importance and weight in a regional context. As with each of our regional neighbors, Macomb County is anchored by a robust infrastructure and a surging capable workforce with innovative companies in the mobility, aerospace, defense, and tech industries. Macomb offers attractive community characteristics that establish it as a globally-critical location for engineering, research and development and advanced manufacturing businesses. With over 18,000 businesses, Macomb is also home to a tremendously motivated and potent entrepreneurial spirit.

A strong presence and accessibility of technical educational programs support the manufacturing sector and its associated industries – automotive, defense, robotics, materials production and medical devices. Seated at the center of the county, Macomb Community College is a partner that leads by advising, nurturing, and educating its surrounding communities and beyond.

According to Professor Jonathan Silberman, Economics and Director of Southeast Michigan Economic Data Center at Oakland University, “The Southeastern Michigan economy in 2016 continues its economic advance, growing at an annual rate of 2% led by the automotive industry.  The labor market in Macomb County showed sustained strength in December 2016.  Employment is up 4.1% from a year ago, and the unemployment rate of 4.8% is the lowest rate since March 2001.  The employment gains are widespread across Macomb County with all cities in the county experiencing gains in 2016 with Sterling Heights and Warren both registering employment gains over 2,000.”

As Christopher Leinberger, non-resident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and former professor and founder of University of Michigan’s graduate real estate development program says in Urbanizing Metro Detroit’s Suburbia, “The concept of city versus suburbs: drop it. It’s obsolete,” followed by “We need a new lexicon.” Further equating it to a baseball team, “The idea that if Northville prospers it will hurt downtown Detroit, it’s counter-productive,” he says. “You’re wasting energy. There will be the occasional pop balls that either the shortstop or the pitcher could get, but you need to offer both kinds of products for the team to succeed.”

Embracing a more connected global economy starts locally. The gains in Macomb, progress in Detroit and new developments in Oakland are stronger leveraged under a single brand or a single economic snapshot.   That is our commitment – a better Macomb County that yields better things to come at home and across the region.

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