Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel delivered his 9th annual State of the County address at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts. The event, which was presented by Ascension Macomb-Oakland, covered a wide-range of topics, including community metrics, economic investments and quality of life initiatives. For example, Hackel highlighted the revitalization of the Clinton River, which was once called one of the most polluted and unusable waterways in the state. Through collaborative efforts and with the help of grant funds, the river is now clean, clear and connected.
“In my first year as county executive, we made it a priority to champion our freshwater assets,” he said. “We launched the Blue Economy Initiative with the intention of improving water quality and public access. Nowhere is our success more evident than with the Clinton River.”
The waterway is now a recreational asset, with nine public launch sites for kayaks and canoes. During his address, Hackel announced plans to increase this access.
“This has been a remarkable environmental transformation, and it is often said that success breeds success,” he said. “So I am pleased to announce, with the assistance of FCA US LLC and other sponsors, we are adding two new access points in Clinton Township and Harrison Township.”
Hackel then shared how quality of life can be influenced by public safety, and how criminal justice reform must be a priority. He pointed to initiatives led by the judiciary, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and human service organizations as examples of what can be done in this arena.
“Our judges have created specialty courts focused on the unique needs of veterans and people with substance abuse or mental health challenges,” he said. “Studies show that these specialty court programs reduce recidivism rates as much as 50 percent.”
According to Hackel, several other efforts will likely add to this trend, including the recently enacted “Raise the Age” legislation, community corrections pre-trial programs that are providing treatment and monitoring alternatives to incarceration and the county’s new public defender’s office.
“The bottom line is that criminal justice reform is showing signs of improvement in Macomb County,” he said. “And it holds real promise for our future.”
Other indicators of future success include metrics around population, educational attainment, median incomes, employment, housing and financial stability. Hackel shared several positive statistics within each of those categories to demonstrate Macomb County’s growth:
- Population: Nearly 11,000 new residents made Macomb their home last year, which is the largest annual increase in more than a decade. This puts the county’s population at 875,000 individuals – an all-time high.
- Educational attainment: In just one year, Macomb County’s educational profile has added 10,000 new associate, bachelor and graduate degrees.
- Employment: Macomb County’s workforce reached an historic high, with more than 460,000 residents in the labor force. Additionally, unemployment dropped to four percent – a full percentage point lower than the state of Michigan.
- Income: Macomb’s annual median household income increased to more than $62,000. Several years ago, that amount had fallen below the state average; it is now 10 percent higher.
- Housing: This past year, the county added nearly 5,200 new housing units and the median home value increased by more than $29,000 – a 20 percent increase in just one year.
- Fiscal stability: Macomb continues to focus on financial responsibility, helping the county maintain its AA+ bond rating.
“Together, these six metrics give us an indication of community vitality,” Hackel said. “And they are all pointing in the right direction.”
Upon concluding the State of the County address, all attendees were invited to the annual Taste of Macomb in the adjacent Lorenzo Cultural Center. Featuring 26 Macomb County restaurants and food emporiums, this event has been called the “must-attend gathering of the season.”