Leadership In Action
Leadership comes in various forms.
L. Brooks Patterson's innovative leadership has made Oakland County the best in the country. His vision to be the first county in the United States with a balanced, three-year budget along with his deep dive into the knowledge-based economy attracting sustainable, high-paying jobs has made Oakland County the standard by which all other counties are measured. Whether promoting healthy and active lifestyles to boost quality of life or using technology to improve customer service, Brooks is leading Oakland County into the 21st Century. To learn more about his proven leadership, click on the tabs.
In his 1997 State of the County speech, Brooks launched Automation Alley – a consortium of high tech companies, government entities and educational institutions to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128 and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Today, Automation Alley has more than 1,000 members spanning eight counties. The results are astounding. Southeast Michigan has the highest number of advanced automotive industry jobs in the U.S.; is positioned ahead of Boston, Seattle and Austin in almost every measure analyzed; and is second only to San Jose’s Silicon Valley region in the number of people working in architectural and engineering occupations.
Harnessing the power of more than 2,000 Information Technology companies in Oakland County, Brooks launched Tech 248 to attract investment from around the world in the fastest growing and second largest Emerging Sector. Tech248 helps tech companies collaborate and attract, develop and retain talent while promoting Oakland County as a global technology hub.
In 2004, Brooks created Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors Initiative to identify the top 10 sectors that will attract and retain sustainable, high-paying jobs to Oakland County in the 21st Century. Companies in these emerging sectors are involved in such leading-edge technologies as biotechnology, nanotechnology, wireless communications and alternative energy. More than 355 high-tech companies have invested more than $3.2 billion creating more than 36,000 jobs and retaining nearly 21,000 jobs since its inception.
4Medical Main Street
With well over 100,000 jobs, health care and life sciences is the largest Emerging Sector in Oakland County. Medical Main Street markets this burgeoning sector and Oakland County as a destination for world-class health care and medical device manufacturing. More individuals work in health care, life science research, and medical device manufacturing in the Oakland County region than the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic areas combined. Since its inception, 49 Medical Main Street companies have invested nearly $1 billion creating more than 5,800 jobs and retaining about 2,400.
5Main Street Oakland County
Oakland County is the first county in the United States to operate a full-fledged county-wide Main Street program for the 32 distinct, historic downtowns in Oakland County. The county program was formed in 2000. Since its inception, nearly $668 million has been invested in MSOC communities, establishing 940 new businesses and creating nearly 6,900 jobs.
Oakland County is home to over 1,000 foreign firms from 39 countries, giving the county an international diversity that few counties or even states in the U.S. can match. It is ranked 13th nationally in total exports, with its businesses producing $14.5 billion in merchandise exports. Brooks’ administration is leveraging this strength in foreign investment by hosting the Consular Corps of Michigan office on the county’s government campus. Oakland County is also a participant in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program which encourages international investment in the United States.
Budget Balanced Through 2021
1Three Year Budget
Oakland County is the first in the United States to have adopted a balanced three-year, rolling, line-item budget. Currently, the county budget is balanced through 2021. Because of its long-term budgeting practices, Oakland County has garnered a AAA bond rating which has saved taxpayers millions of dollars on capital projects.
In 1994, Brooks moved county employees from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan, much like a private-sector 401(k). The old plan is fully funded for those who remain in that retirement system. That means no more Oakland County general fund dollars are paying for the pension plan. Since the switch, taxpayers have saved $100 million.
3Health Care Cost Containment Initiative
Under Brooks’ leadership, Oakland County is the first county in America to have fully funded employee and retiree health care while saving taxpayers over $150 million. Plus, new hires no longer receive lifetime retiree health care but Health Savings Accounts to help supplement their retirement medical costs. The use of HSAs I projected to save the county $400 million.
4Employee Suggestion Program
Brook’s Employee Suggestion Program has generated more than $5 million worth of taxpayer savings since 1993 while his Casual Day Program has distributed more than a half million dollars to local charities (neither involves taxpayer funds).
Promoting active and healthy lifestyles
1The Brooksie Way
Brooks established The Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5k Race as a quality of life event to encourage residents to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle. It attracted more than 6,000 participants in its seventh year in September of 2014 at Oakland University in Rochester. The race is named in honor of his son, Brooks Stuart Patterson, who was killed in a snowmobiling accident. The private proceeds from the race fund Brooksie Way Minigrants which are awarded to Oakland County organizations promoting healthy and active lifestyles for its members. By the end of 2014, Over 125 organizations had received $130,000 in minigrants.
2Count Your Steps
A pedometer walking program to target childhood obesity that involves providing pedometers to 30,000 third and fourth grade students in Oakland County’s public, private and charter schools. Students compete one month every spring to see who walks the most steps. All money is raised through private donations; no taxpayer’s funds are involved. Since its inception, 188,000 third- and fourth-graders have walked 17 billion steps or 341 times around the earth. This program has now evolved into advocating and helping schools adopt the Fuel Up To Play 60 initiative by the National Dairy Council and National Football League.
Oakland County’s wellness program, OakFit, is “bending the trend” on health care costs. OakFit has enabled the county to avoid more than $24 million in additional employee health care costs. OakFit, which has been featured on Fox News and USA Today, includes health screenings for early detection of chronic health issues and lunchtime healthy lifestyle activities for employees.
Digitally advanced county
Oakland County is positioning its IT applications in the cloud so that local governments can use them on an as-needed basis. Through its G2G Cloud Solutions and G2G Market Place, Oakland County is enabling other governments to improve services while reducing costs to taxpayers throughout Michigan. The county has been providing technologies to governments within the region for years. This next evolution in the county’s technology is a real budget saver for local cities, villages and townships. They don’t need to buy software or pay for the servers to host the applications. They simply pay Oakland County a nominal user fee which is a revenue enhancer for the county.
2Oakland County International Airport Terminal
Brooks opened the nation’s first LEED-certified general aviation airport terminal at Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) in 2011. The 15,000 square foot terminal building features leading-edge green technologies such as a living wall of tropical rain forest plants that clean the air inside the building; wind and solar generation of electricity; a solar hot water heater; geothermal heating and cooling; highly efficient fluorescent and LED lighting; and electric car charging stations, among others. The new terminal was paid for solely by user fees and State of Michigan and federal grants. In the course of a year, nearly every Fortune 500 company flies through OCIA. It has an annual economic impact of $175 million on the region.
Oakland County is consistently ranked among the most digitally advanced counties by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). The county develops and utilizes leading-edge software to improve the delivery of services to its customers while reducing costs. In 2014, the Center for Digital Government said Oakland County has the best county government website in the United States.
"Firsts" Under Brooks Leadership
1Economic Growth Alliance
Brooks established the Economic Growth Alliance in 2009 as a multi-county initiative to collaborate on key legislative, economic development, planning, and promotional initiatives. The seven-county group includes Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Shiawassee, and St. Clair counties. The alliance represents nearly three million residents and more than 73,000 businesses. EGA works together to expand business opportunities for the region by promoting area assets including Bishop International Airport, the Blue Water Bridge, the corridors of I-69, I-94, US-23 and M-59 as well as the focused economic efforts of each county.
Brooks, noting the challenges presented by China’s emergence as a world economic power, called for Oakland County to be the first county in America to teach Mandarin Chinese in just about every public school district. Educators responded and today the Mandarin Chinese language, history and culture are being taught in school districts throughout Oakland County.
3Arts, Beats & Eats
In 1998, Brooks founded Arts, Beats & Eats. The four-day family-oriented fun-fest in downtown Royal Oak features great food, wonderful music and extraordinary art. The event, ranks as one of the top 10 Art Fairs in America and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities.