Emerging Sectors Business Attraction Program tops $4 billion total investment milestone

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson Monday announced the Emerging Sectors® business attraction and retention strategy he created in 2004 to diversify the county’s economy has surpassed $4 billion of total investment.

The strategy had four successes in June totaling $367 million of new investment, resulting in more than 1,700 new and retained jobs. When combined with figures since inception in 2004, the program has 450 business successes resulting in total investment of $4.3 billion; 44,562 new jobs and 29,920 retained jobs. A success is a company that is either new to Oakland County or expanded here when it considered moving to another state or country. Patterson said the strategy is responsible for new investment in the county, on average, of $915,000 every day for 13 years.

“The Emerging Sectors program has been an incredible success,” Patterson said. “It has changed the face of Oakland County’s economy.”

The milestone was reached 13 years after Patterson introduced the program to diversify Oakland County’s economy which had been heavily dependent on the automotive industry. The strategy targets international companies that show an interest in expanding operations into North America and North American companies that identified Oakland County as a possible business location. The targeted sectors include advanced electronics, advanced materials, medical technology, information technology/communications, aerospace and defense/homeland security.

“I wanted to wean us off our reliance on automotive, for which we paid such a heavy price during the Great Recession,” Patterson said. “I tried to balance my expectation with some realism about our likely success but I had no idea we would move so quickly.”

The most successful sectors have been health care/life science (Medical Main Street) at $1.1 billion of total investment, and IT/communications (Tech 248), at $801 million.

The companies that put Emerging Sectors over the top in June, including country of origin if not U.S.-based, business sector and location of Oakland County facility, are:

• Elektrobit: Germany, advanced electronics, Farmington Hills.
• Autoliv Electronics America: Sweden, advanced electronics, Southfield.
• Williams International: aerospace, Pontiac.
• Cynerge Consulting: communications/ information technology, Pontiac.

Oakland County aggressively seeks international investment, with about 1,100 foreign-owned firms from 39 countries having business locations here. The county attracted $371 million of foreign direct investment in 2016 – about 38 percent of the county’s known private investment of nearly $900 million for the year. Through June, 18 international companies from seven countries announced new investment totaling $162 million and more than 4,700 new and retained jobs.

Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb accompanied Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on a trade mission to Europe last month in an effort to attract companies to Oakland County. At the same time, Economic Development Director Irene Spanos was in Washington, D.C. at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The event attracted company representatives from more than 40 countries interested in establishing operations in the U.S.

Patterson lauded Gibb, Spanos, and their team for attracting the new investment.

“Since coming together as a team less than five years ago, Matt and Irene have grown investment in the program by nearly $3 billion – a feat unmatched in the state,” Patterson said.

The success of the Emerging Sectors program has increased as it has matured. In 2008, Patterson hosted a celebration at the Cranbrook Institute of Science to honor the first 70 Emerging Sector companies whose total investment surpassed $1 billion. With the Great Recession at its peak, it took until 2013 for the program to reach $2 billion in total investment. More than 500 representatives from Emerging Sector companies and other guests were invited to a “What Goes into $2 Billion?” celebration on the arena floor at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The program reached $3 billion in 2015, which was marked by a celebration at Pentastar Aviation in an airport hangar at Oakland County International Airport. All of the celebrations were privately funded by sponsors.

Patterson said he would hold out until the program reaches $5 billion for the next celebration.

“This came on us too quickly,” he said.