4 things to know about the state of Oakland County

Oakland County's "best accomplishments lay before us."

That's according to L.Brooks Patterson, who delivered his annual State of the County Address on Wednesday, September 8 at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint in  Pontiac. Patterson, who has served as county executive since 1992, outlined a bevy of ongoing projects and new initiatives in an effort to continue to "raise the bar higher and higher" for county government.

Here are four things to know about the state of Oakland County:

L. Brooks PattersonAdvanced vehicle technology: Oakland County is keen on developing a talent pipeline for the advanced vehicle technology field. Patterson points to recent announcements by Uber and Google to locate R&D and testing facilities within the county as evidence of the county's early success in this area.  He noted that Oakland County spearheads an Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force to "work with companies in our automotive technology corridor and other stakeholders to create a business model for investing in connected vehicle technology and connected vehicle infrastructure." The county is also working to identify gaps in that talent pipeline. A skills needs assessment in connected mobility conducted by the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs revealed a lack of training in integrated, systems-approach thinking.

Millennials: The Oakland County Business Roundtable's "Oakland Next" committee launched just over a year ago with the mission of identifying ways to attract and retain young talent to the county, with members all younger than 40. So far, the group has recommended a multimedia campaign to highlight county assets that appeal to the younger generation

Pontiac: Patterson reports a litany of new developments in Pontiac, including the newly reopened Flagstar Strand Theater, Pete Karmanos' Lenderful (an online mortgage company that is investing $1.75 million in downtown Pontiac and creating 52 jobs), 100+-year old construction management firm Auch’s new 20,000 square-foot corporate headquarters going up on on University Drive near Woodward in downtown Pontiac, the M1 Concourse "car condo" development, the purchase and repurposing of Wisner School, Wisner Stadium, and the former Pontiac Central High School by city booster and businessman Ed Lee, and new life for the infamous Bloomfield Park development, now re-christened "Bloomfield Village."

Bringing back shop class: Not everyone is college material, Patterson says, referencing his late son Brooksie as an example of the kind of kid who was better at starting a business than going to college. He calls on Oakland Schools to "return to the basics such as shop class where ultimately the jobs are plentiful, good-paying, and you graduate without a college debt." The county-launched MITradeSchool.org will be emulated by the State of Michigan, and 50 Oakland County companies received more than $1.2 million from the state’s Skilled Trades Training Fund with the help of Oakland County Workforce Development Division last year.
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