Leadership In Action

L. Brooks Patterson has spent the better part of the last two decades developing initiatives that have helped move Oakland County forward.

There’s a lot more to managing the County than just keeping the books balanced. It takes ingenuity and forward-thinking to develop initiatives which will help the safety, healthcare, and welfare of the County’s residents.

This is why there are nearly 20 different initiatives that have been created during L. Brooks Patterson’s tenure as Oakland County Executive. Brooks’ ability to create partnerships and foster innovation is why Oakland County is consistently ranked as one of the top Counties in America.


Oakland County reached full employment – under five percent unemployment – because of Brooks’ successful job growth and retention strategies in the knowledge-based economy. His Emerging Sectors®, Medical Main Street®, and Tech248® initiatives have attracted more than $5.2 billion in private investment creating or retaining over 91,000 jobs. Oakland County’s economy also has a global reach with more than 1,100 firms from 39 foreign countries operating inside its borders.

Emerging Sectors

Emerging Sectors – 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 470 high-tech companies have invested $5.3 billion creating or retaining more than 91,000 jobs.

Global Oakland

Global Oakland – Oakland County is home to over 1,100 foreign firms from 39 countries, giving the county an international diversity that few counties or even states in the U.S. can match. Foreign direct investment in Oakland County for the past four years totaled more than $1.1 billion as international companies continue to boost Oakland County’s economy. International companies have generated investment of more than $800,000 per day in Oakland County. 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.

Medical Main Street

Medical Main Street – With over 110,000 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, over five dozen Medical Main Street companies have invested $1.2 billion creating more than 8,500 jobs and retaining about 5,000.


Tech248 – Harnessing the power of more than 2,000 Information Technology companies in Oakland County, Brooks launched Tech248 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.

Main Street Oakland County

Main 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, over $706 million has been invested in MSOC communities, establishing 971 new businesses and creating nearly 7,100 jobs.

Automation Alley

Automation Alley – 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.


Under Brooks’ 26 years of leadership, Oakland County continues to retain its coveted AAA bond rating. Investment ratings firms recognize Brooks’ administration as the best among counties in the United States because of its multi-year budget – which is balanced through 2024 – and innovation in transitioning employees from a defined benefit to a defined contribution retirement saving taxpayers well over $650 million.

Three-Year Balanced Budget

Three Year Budget – Oakland County is the first in the United States to have adopted a balanced three-year, rolling, line-item budget with a five-year outlook. Currently, the county budget is balanced through 2024. Because of its long-term budgeting practices, Oakland County has garnered a AAA bond rating since 1998 which has saved taxpayers millions of dollars on capital projects.

Redefining Retirement

Redefining Retirement – 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.

Health Care Cost Containment

Health 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 is projected to save the county $400 million.

Reducing Taxes

Reducing Taxes – Oakland County has among the lowest county operating millage in Michigan thanks to Brooks’ tax cuts. Over his six terms as County Executive, the county millage rate has dropped from 4.4805 mills to 4.0400 mills, saving taxpayers $70 million.

Employee Suggestion Program & Casual Day Fund

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 $850,000 to local charities (neither involves taxpayer funds).


Under Brooks’ leadership, Oakland County is consistently ranked the best digital experience for customers among all county governments in the United States. The Government Experience Awards recognize the achievements and best practices of states, cities and counties that go above and beyond to improve the experience of government, and delivery of services, for its residents and businesses.

G2G Cloud Solutions & G2G Market Place

Cloud Computing – Under Brooks’ leadership, 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.

Oakland County International Airport

Oakland 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 $650 million on the region.

Technology & Digital Awards

Technology – 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 2017 and 2018, the county was ranked the best digital experience for customers among all county governments in the United States at the Center for Digital Government’s 2nd annual Government Experience Awards.

Connected Vehicle Task Force

Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force – Leveraging the strength of Oakland County’s automotive technology corridor, Brooks formed the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force in 2014. The task force’s mission is 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. Its long-term vision is for Oakland County to be the first county in the United States with a countywide connected vehicle ecosystem.


Brooks is a very tough bargainer on regional issues. While establishing the Cobo Authority and the Great Lakes Water Authority, he ensured Oakland County could exercise a veto on any decisions that adversely impacted Oakland County taxpayers. In addition, he is bringing Oakland County’s best practices to these organizations with open and transparent bidding on all contracts.


CLEMIS – Brooks helped launch what is today one of the largest law enforcement information sharing systems in the country. The Courts Law Enforcement Management and Information System (CLEMIS) has more than 100 agencies in Southeast Michigan collaborating through technology to fight crime and make our neighborhoods safer. This includes a countywide radio system that enables agencies throughout the county to communicate with each other. In addition, Brooks proposed in his 2017 budget recommendation to implement Enhanced 911 throughout Oakland County, enabling individuals to text 911 operators.

Great Lakes Water Authority

Great Lakes Water Authority – Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Detroit, Wayne and Macomb counties, and the State of Michigan that recommends the creation of a regional water authority. The proposed regional water authority will have the protections Patterson and other regional leaders sought for rate and taxpayers.

Economic Growth Alliance

Economic 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.

I-75 Modernization

I-75 Modernization – Brooks reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation to modernize I-75 from 8 Mile Road to I-75 beginning in 2016. The project will replace all the lanes on I-75 in that stretch for the first time in 60 years. Plus, it will add a fourth HOV lane, improve interchanges, replace bridges, and add infrastructure to make I-75 a connected freeway. The $1 billion project will be paid mostly with federal highway funds. The modernization of the freeway is expected to be completed in 2022.

Repealing the Michigan Single Business Tax

Repeal of Michigan’s Single Business Tax – Brooks single-handedly lead the charge for the repeal of Michigan’s onerous Single Business Tax. In 1975, the Michigan Legislature passed the “Single business tax act,” to collect taxes on business activity in Michigan. In 2006, after a successful campaign by Brooks, the Michigan Legislature repealed the tax and encouraged lawmakers to adopt a tax that is less burdensome to employers, stimulating job creation and investment.


Enhancing the quality of life in Oakland County takes a shared vision of improving the health of all residents. His goal of the quality of life initiatives is to encourage residents to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle. Brooks has formed partnerships with businesses, government officials, schools, and community members who collaborate to make the county among the healthiest places to live, work, and play.

The Brooksie Way

The Brooksie Way – Brooks established The Brooksie Way family of races includes a half-marathon, 10k, 5k and fun run in 2008. It attracts thousands of participants to Oakland University in Rochester Hills every year. 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, a non-profit 501(c)(3) since 2011, fund Brooksie Way Minigrants which are awarded to Oakland County organizations promoting healthy and active lifestyles for its members. Nearly 150 organizations have received more than $250,000 in minigrants.

OakFit Employee Wellness Program

OakFit – 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.

Making a Healthier Oakland County

Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland (ECHO) – The ECHO partnership is focused on achieving a community where every person who lives, works, attends school, worships, or plays in Oakland County is a healthy person. ECHO partners are assessing health, aligning efforts, and expanding successful practices to improve health. ECHO engages partners from businesses, local governments, education, veterans’ services, parks and recreation, environmental, emergency response, public health, health care, mental health, vulnerable populations, and human service organizations.

Fire & Ice Festival

Fire & Ice Festival – Brooks founded this family-friendly event, which is hosted by Oakland County, Oakland County Parks, and Downtown Rochester. The three-day festival is held the last weekend of January in Rochester and draws an estimated 50,000 people for a host of winter activities including dog sled rides, ice skating, a tubing hill, ice sculptures and fireworks, all provided at no charge. The Chill at the Mills 5K race is a feature of the festival and race participation has increased each year.

Arts, 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 which has raised over $4.5 million for local charities.

Count Your Steps

Count 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.