Mayor shares local innovation with Rochester Hills residents in State of City Address

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett welcomed his town to a crowded Emagine theatre as he delivered his seventh State of the City Address centered on innovation Wednesday night.

“I’m incredibly excited about the news tonight because we have a really great story to tell,” Barnett said prior to the event.

And that story is one of low city unemployment rates—5 percent compared to Michigan’s 8.9 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, second lowest in the state—as well as high residential growth and a healthy business endeavor on the horizon.

“There are just some all around great things happening here in terms of growth and new development, so I’m excited about that,” Barnett said.

With residential growth on the rise, an estimated two new families are moving in each week. And in the past year, the average home sale cost has also risen while the number of foreclosed homes has dropped from 364 homes in 2010 to 144 homes in 2012.

But new residents aren’t the only ones moving in.

Rochester Hills has become a hub for business growth and that’s partially due to the lowest tax rate in Oakland County, Barnett said.

“No where else can you operate a business and pay less taxes than here.”

The city also saw $105 M of residential and commercial construction investments in 2012.

And plans continue to look up for 2013 as blueprints to open a new community park roll out.

Barnett’s team recently secured a donor—the Vivian and Steve Stolaruk Foundation—for the city’s latest project, an eco-friendly community park to support a wholesome and healthy lifestyle.

Lawrence Technological University students crafted concepts for the outdoor initiative, named River Bend Park. The next step is to work with the planning commission to “really make this a community park,” Barnett said, “We’re excited about that process.”

The 70-acre park will be located in the Southwestern part of the city and as spring nears, there are plans to open it as soon as possible.

“It’s very rare and we’re very blessed to have a donor step up in that kind of fashion to help us deliver a new park for our residents,” Barnett said.

The park will be the first to open in the south side of town since the 80s, he said.

Also upcoming this planting season we will see the first Community Garden blossom as it brings generations together cultivating local produce for all.

Amid eco-friendly news, two local schools—Long Meadow Elementary and University Hills Elementary—were recognized for reaching their recycling point project goals, earning $10,000 toward education.

Barnett also applauded the city’s RecycleBank program noting that now 80 percent of residents participate and the program has diverted 50 M pounds of what would otherwise be landfill waste.

Through his all-around positive news, the mayor also showcased a new marketing video for the city.

A video that will be produced in seven languages but “all saying ‘welcome,’” Barnett said with the slogan of “Innovative by nature.”

“I have a creative team that helps me put (everything) together,” Barnett said. “We’re proud of what we’ve done as a community and we look forward to telling our story to our residents and really all of Southeastern Michigan.”

Barnett wrapped up the evening with the results of a community survey revealing that 97 percent of Rochester Hills’ residents are happy.

“We are a great community because of the people that live here,” he said.

About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at

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