The Strand Theatre in Downtown Pontiac Hosted L. Brooks Patterson’s 2018 State of the County

Highlights and Rochester Area Mentions

Oakland County’s economic strength was front and center in L. Brooks Patterson’s 2018 State of the County speech Wednesday night at the Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Pontiac.

Patterson seated on stage with American flags and plants on stage and a screen behind and above him with the words state of the county address on it

2018 State of the County with L. Brooks Patterson – Photo by Michael Dwyer

Patterson began the speech announcing record investment in the county this past year. “Well, let’s talk about a record number, $1.2 billion – that’s “B” as in Brooks. That’s the amount 62 companies invested in Oakland County in 2017, setting a record for investment in the county in one year here in the county. That means more than one company per week located or expanded in Oakland County,” Patterson said.

  • It means 9,500 new jobs and 8,400 retained for a total of 17,900 jobs affected.
  • Twenty-seven international companies from 13 countries showed great confidence in Oakland County by investing $305 million in new operations or expanded facilities.
  • Countries such as Brazil, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, and South Korea invested in Oakland County. That’s a big exclamation point since these countries represent some of the largest economies in the world who chose to invest with us here in Oakland County.
  • The Emerging Sectors program, as many of you know, is our initiative to diversify the economy into 10 growing, knowledge-based sectors. Just over $1 billion of that sum was invested in the Emerging Sectors, creating or retaining 15,500 jobs.


Photo of a seated L. Brooks Patterson with his hands out in front of his body to make a point

L. Brooks Patterson – Photo by Michael Dwyer

“Did you know Southeast Michigan has the highest number of robots in commercial use than any place in the world,” said Patterson, “Such a market creates demand for robot manufacturing companies to locate here. More than two-thirds of Michigan’s robotics companies are in Oakland County, that’s more than over 85 companies employing 4,400 individuals … then there’s Fanuc Robotics America headquartered in Rochester Hills.”

“I’ve been told that as you seek to enter college, if your resume shows that you have been a member of a competitive robotics team, you are granted immediate admission to any university in the United States. That’s how powerful that reference is.”

Skilled Trades

Patterson also highlighted a successful year in filling the skilled trades gap. The Oakland County Workforce Development Division administered $2.1 million in grants to 86 Oakland County companies providing skilled trades training to 1,500 existing employees and 1,600 new hires. As part of the continued effort to fill the skilled trades training gap, Patterson featured Oakland Schools Technical Campuses which train high school students in the skilled trades.

“These four campuses – one in each quadrant of the county – are where students can receive real-life training from instructors who actually work in their respective fields with state-of-the-art equipment that is currently in use in their industries,” Patterson said. “Today’s campuses teach hands-on innovation approaches to talented students. I encourage both parents and universities to take a closer look at our professional career campuses here in Oakland County.” The bottom line, “We have many skilled trades jobs to fill here in Michigan. Because of the demand, these jobs are paying high wages that enable those who work hard in these particular fields to live the American dream, And Oakland Schools is one of the paths to get them there.” said Patterson, “One other benefit: How about graduating without a smothering college debt?”

Patterson Recognizes Phil Bertolini

“I want to tell you about the person who leads our nationally-recognized and award-winning Information Technology team to solutions that are helping all of the county departments achieve success. I’m speaking of my Deputy County Executive and Chief Information Officer Phil Bertolini,” said Patterson, “I’m very proud of all my employees in the departments, but I’ve got to say, that Phil has really a job that forces him to travel more than even Mayor Bryan Barnett in Rochester Hills.”

Mayor Barnett stands with four women at the state of the county address

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, Dr. Sara Whedon of A Place to Grow Chiropractic, Cheryl Boodram of Chief Financial Credit Union, and Maria Willett of the City of Rochester Hills – Photo by Michael Dwyer

Tribute to Deputy Overall and Deputy Hack

Patterson paid tribute to Deputy Eric Overall who died in the line of duty early Thanksgiving morning when a fleeing felon ran him down. “Deputy Overall died protecting all of us – you, me, and for that matter, everyone who lives in Oakland County, from a dangerous felon. My intention tonight, is not to depress you with a story about his untimely death in the line of duty. Rather, I want you to be inspired by how Deputy Eric Overall lived his life,” said Patterson. About two dozen of Overall’s loved ones who were in attendance stood to be recognized as the audience applauded them.

The county executive also acknowledged Deputy David Hack who was catastrophically injured the morning of January 4 after a vehicle struck him while he worked the scene of an accident in Rochester Hills. “He suffered a brain injury and multiple broken bones in his neck, upper back, shoulders, face, and head. In the days following this tragic accident, Deputy Hack’s wife Christine, posted on Facebook her gratefulness to a supporting public,” expressed Patterson, “We wish, obviously Deputy Hack, a complete recovery.”

Off-Road Vehicle Park and Pet Adoption Center

Patterson introduced Southeast Michigan’s first off-road vehicle (ORV) in Oakland County. The Oakland County Parks & Recreation Commission is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to open the 235-acre park in Groveland Township this fall. Patterson also showed off the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center which opened in October on the county government campus in Pontiac. “I invite you to come see our new shelter anytime. In fact, while you’re there, take home a furry friend,” encouraged Patterson.

Patterson seated with a slide projected of the nine op-out communities

Regional Transit Authority op-out communities – Photo by Michael Dwyer

Regional Transit

“Now, in November of 2016, regional voters, you may recall, rejected a new tax proposal offered by the RTA, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), called Proposal A. Now, there is a new plan being floated for the 2018 election. A transportation plan that would be funded by a 1.56 mill property tax increase to be voted on by those communities that are in the tax area,” said Patterson, “A request was made that I force those opt-out communities into the plan, over their will. These communities include Novi, Waterford, Lake Angelus, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, Orchard Lake, and Bloomfield Hills. If those communities were included in the plan, along with the current opt-in communities, Oakland taxpayers, over the next 20 years, would pay an estimated $1.69 billion, more of course, than any other county in the plan.”

Patterson spoke a few minutes about the RTA and said, “I want you to know that as long as I’m the Oakland County Executive, I will respect the wishes of the voters of the those nine Oakland County opt-out communities. I will not force them against their will, into a tax machine from which they can expect little or no return on their investment.”

Patterson conclude the State of the County with many thanks and positive outlook for 2018. Watch the whole address here:

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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