Hackel touts wide arc of achievement

Ursula Watson
The Detroit News

Clinton Township — Diversity, jobs and quality of life are a few reasons an increasing number of people are now calling Macomb their home, County Executive Mark Hackel said Wednesday evening.

The county is becoming one of the fastest growing in Michigan, he said, with 16 new residents daily. Growth is bringing diversity, he said during his State of the County address, with 10 percent of its 864,000 residents born outside the United States.

The county's diversity also can be seen in its schools, where more 100 languages are spoken.

He ticked off pluses: A nearly 40 percent growth in manufacturing jobs, increase in exports to $41 billion, growing investment within Macomb's defense corridor, and support of TACOM and Selfridge Air National Guard.

He also touted GM adding 1,750 jobs at the Tech Center and investment of $240 million in Warren Transmission.

Fiscally, his office tweeted Wednesday night, "we eliminated $60M in budget shortfalls, added $26M to our fund balance, and we possess a fully transparent budget process a fully transparent budget process."

"Fiscal integrity," another tweet said, "has become a mainstay of Macomb County government 4 consecutive years of balanced budgets."

Hackel cited the importance of Sterling Heights as an automotive hub and the Macomb-OU INCubator within the Technology Advancement SmartZone. He also remembered its former mayor, Richard Notte, who died Oct. 28.

Invited to the speech at the Macomb Center for Performing Arts were Wayne County Executive-elect Warren Evans; outgoing Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano; Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson; David Flynn, county board of commissioner chair; and Detroit Deputy Mayor Isaiah McKinnon.

Early in the speech, Hackel called Patterson "a mentor," and cited their county collaboration. Both county executives appeared in a commercial urging residents to support the SMART millage, which passed in August. When it aired, Hackel said people remarked how refreshing it was to see a positive commercial in a election year with its share of negative campaigns. "People were saying, 'It is so nice to see you do such a positive commercial with ... your grandpa,'" he joked, drawing a laugh.

Macomb is enjoying a boom in its agricultural section, with more than 500 farms in the county producing $70 million in annual sales, he said.

Audience member Helen Springer said she was a Hackel fan when he was county sheriff. She's equally impressed with him as an administrator.

"He has lofty goals for the county and this is a county executive that works for his county and the people of the county," said Springer.