Oakland County Executive office's response to WJBK editorial

WJBK-TV General Manager Mike Renda’s editorial regarding Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s position on 23 CEOs attempting to take over economic development in the region is misinformed and clearly lacked any effort to gather facts.

There are numerous reasons to oppose unaccountable millionaires and billionaires taking over economic development in Southeast Michigan.

One, they aren’t accountable to voters. What is the remedy if residents and taxpayers don’t like the direction or performance of the economic development? None.

Two, there are no statutory guarantees that Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Detroit will have equal access to economic development tools in the region. 

Three, who acts as the neutral party to ensure economic development remains competitive and fair rather than favoring a bunch of one-percenters? 

Four, if the Dan Gilbert cartel is serious about regionalism and true economic development, then it begs the question: Why do they poach jobs from the suburbs? It defies the definition of regionalism because there is no new job creation. 

Oakland County works on job attraction from outside the state of Michigan. Just last month, the county’s economic development team had five international successes from China, Japan, and India. These successes added a couple hundred new jobs to the region. 

Oakland County’s economy, which produces 30% of the new jobs in Michigan every year, is built on attracting businesses from outside of Michigan and the United States. Patterson has launched several economic diversity initiatives aimed at the knowledge-based economy such as Emerging Sectors, Medical Main Street, Tech 248, and Automation Alley – all geared at promoting high-tech job growth in the region. 

Since 2004, these programs have attracted nearly $5 billion in private investment creating or retaining over 86,000 jobs without raiding our neighbors’ companies. In addition, there’s been $3.25 billion in traditional investments creating or retaining nearly 40,000 jobs in that same period.

Renda expected more outrage at Patterson but was surprised there was not. Perhaps it’s because many Oakland County residents and taxpayers agree with his position not to have one-percenter CEOs determine which communities should get economic development and which should not. After all, Oakland County taxpayers foot 40% of the region’s tab for Cobo, the Detroit Zoo, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and regional transit.  

Bill Mullan
Media & Communications Officer for Oakland County

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