WATERFORD — More than 200 businesses were honored and thanked by Oakland County L. Brooks Patterson on June 18 in recognition of their combined investment in the county’s Emerging Sectors business development program which now tops $2.5 billion.
Patterson hosted the invitation-only “What goes into $2 Billion?” celebration at The Palace of Auburn Hills to recognize the significant investment the companies have made in Oakland County. More than 700 people, including members of the Oakland County Business Roundtable, the county Board of Commissioners, the Consuls General Corps from the Detroit region, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. were among the invited guests.
The county’s Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs also used the event as a business recruitment opportunity, inviting several companies who are considering Oakland County as a potential business location.
“We brought together over 700 business leaders to underscore the success of the Emerging Sectors program,” Patterson said. “The significance of this celebration cannot be overstated: we are changing the face of the Oakland County economy forever.”
The companies were honored with a custom-designed framed poster in the shape of an oak tree that incorporated icons from all of the sectors. The posters were signed by Patterson. The celebration was paid for largely by sponsorships from Miller Canfield; Level One Bank; Clayton & McKervey; Palace Sports & Entertainment; Crain’s Detroit Business; ITC Holdings Corp.; and Oakland County Business Finance Corp.
Patterson launched Emerging Sectors in 2004 to help diversify the county economy in an effort to replace lost manufacturing jobs. Health care and the life sciences, advanced manufacturing, advanced electronics, alternative energy, communications and information technology, and homeland security were among the focus areas.
The health care sector, which includes the county’s branding initiative called Medical Main Street, has been the most successful of the Emerging Sectors, with total investment of $851.7 million, followed by communications and information technology at $565.7 million.
A smaller celebration was held in 2008 when Emerging Sectors reached the $1billion milestone.
Patterson noted that the celebration, which he announced earlier in the year during his state of the county address, had outgrown its original “What goes into $2 Billion” moniker. A strong May report has pushed the program to total investment of $2.5 billion, created or retained more than 42,000 jobs and generated nearly $64 million in taxes.
“We are moving quickly into the knowledge-based economy that will provide the high paying, high quality and sustainable employment of the future,” Patterson said. “Will it guarantee that Oakland County will be immune from future recessions similar to the one from which we just emerged? No. But it will make Oakland County recession resistant for years to come.”
Images from the event will be available on Twitter. Search for #Brooks2B.