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Macomb County

State of the County 2014

'Exciting things' coming to Macomb County

It's important for the metro Detroit region to come together and compete with other regions.

That was a key message from Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel tonight during his annual state of the county address, saying "our borders should not be lines or divisions."

"We recognize Macomb adds value to the region and the region adds value to Macomb," he told the invitation-only crowd of about 1,200, including regional leaders, at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township. "There are some exciting things that are happening that will benefit Macomb County."

One of the new "Make Macomb Your Home" videos that debuted during the address has regional flair.

The video, which Hackel narrates, mentions Detroit, Warren, Pontiac and Port Huron and includes pictures of downtown Detroit sports and arts attractions.

Hackel said Macomb County has "come a long way in a short time."

He said the county, one of the fastest growing in the region with 864,000 residents, is becoming more diverse and welcoming, is seeing a growing economy with hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in investments, including in the important sectors of manufacturing, autos and defense. He said there are growth possibilities in the areas of food and retail.

Hackel touted the county's schools, particularly its expanding higher education facilities; its multiple health-care systems, and its growing parks and recreation opportunities — including a new ballpark slated for Utica and a proposed downtown area in Harrison Township along Lake St. Clair.

Hackel also announced a bass tournament next year on Lake St. Clair. He joked that "we have some bad ass bass," showing a graphic of a fish that drew smiles.

Hackel reiterated other accomplishments: Four years of a balanced county budget, an effort to tackle millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, and support for Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, which has an annual impact of $825 million. The U.S. House is to consider an act Thursday that would protect the A-10 aircraft used by the National Guard, including those stationed at Selfridge.

Hackel also drew a round of applause to honor late Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte, who died in October after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Last month, Hackel he was elected to serve a second four-year term as county executive.

Regional dignitaries in attendance included Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Wayne County Executive-Elect Warren Evans, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and St. Clair County Commission Chairman Jeff Bohm in addition to elected officials and judges from Macomb County.

Hackel said he hoped the audience "left tonight with a greater sense of pride."

by Christina Hall: