Skip to main content

Focus Macomb - October 2023

Message from Mark

Mark Hackel

Greetings Focus Macomb readers! When you receive this message, we’ll be near the end of October, and close to wrapping our ‘Fall in Love with Macomb’ campaign. I hope you’ve seen our messaging and that it has inspired you to get out and explore all the autumnal activities our community has to offer. From apple orchards to haunted houses, we’ve got all kinds of seasonal fun across our 27 municipalities. And even though the month is coming to a close, there’s still time to enjoy these attractions. Visit our ‘Fall in Love with Macomb’ website to plan your next weekend outing. I’m certain you’ll find something special. 

Now, looking ahead, we’ve got a busy few weeks on the horizon. Veterans Day is just around the corner and we have two events planned where we’ll honor and recognize the brave men and women who defend our country and protect our freedoms and rights as Americans. On November 9, we will have our Macomb County Employee Veteran celebration and on November 10, we’re taking part in a live Veterans Day remote broadcast with Paul W. Smith hosted at Gather + Grounds. Please stop by. We’d love to see you there. 

I am grateful to all who have served, including the more than 44,000 veterans who make Macomb their home. And please know, our Office of Veterans Services is available to help every veteran and their families. We have a friendly, knowledgeable team that can work one-on-one with individuals to navigate the complexities of veterans benefits. We know how challenging it can be, but we can be a partner through it all, as our goal is to serve those who served us. Visit to learn more. 

Later in November, our Department of Planning and Economic Development will launch the 2023 Shop Local Macomb campaign, an initiative which promotes shopping at independently owned and operated retailers during the holidays. Big prizes are up for grabs, so stay tuned for additional details, and remember, when we shop local, your money stays local. So please join us in supporting our mom-and-pop shops this year. They are just one more reason why Macomb is a great place to call home. 

Thank you and take care,


Macomb County submits responsible 2024 budget

For the 13th consecutive year, Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel has prepared a structurally balanced budget. The County’s proposed 2024 budget totals $1.1 billion, and ensures that all expenditures are covered by anticipated revenue sources. The proposed budget prioritizes strategic increases in operational expenses based on the needs of the community and addresses the collective challenges all employers face with recruiting and retaining talent. The Executive’s budget priorities will now move to the Board of Commissioners for legislative review.

“With a sound financial foundation Macomb County is in a position to invest in our future with transformational projects and emerging programs,” said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “With the leadership of our Finance Department and support from our countywide elected officials and department heads,we developed a practical spending plan that has real benefit to county residents. From embarking on the County’s new central intake and assessment center project focused on a mindful approach to mental health and substance abuse to stabilizing our community action networks, we are investing in our people and the programs that will have a lasting impact on our County.”   

The 2024 budget document itemizes all revenues and expenditures of the County’s operations and includes a three-year financial projection. The spending plan is focused on protecting core programs, people and partnerships. The budget recommends resourceful compensation increases for employees to ensure that the County can remain competitive in this volatile labor market. The County is also focused on embarking on its historic new central intake and assessment center project and continuing technology upgrades to make services more accessible.     

“The proposed 2024 budget allows the County to be financially sound and administratively responsible,” said Macomb County Finance Director Stephen Smigiel. “We have fulfilled all our statutory requirements in developing this spending plan and provided a viable path to invest in emerging programs.”

Macomb County’s financial best practices and history of balanced budgets has helped it preserve fund balances and maintain a highly coveted AA+ bond rating. The 2024 recommended budget can be found here.

Items requiring special attention throughout the fiscal year will be examined and initiated by the Office of the County Executive and administered through charter mandated budget amendment process. 

I4.0 workshop recap: Cybersecurity keeps the bad guys out

Macomb Next Workshop on Cybersecurity

Written by Don Gardner, communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

When Michelle Matte was a child, she said her grandma kept a Lousville Slugger baseball bat by the side of her bed.

She could never understand it, because, while her grandpa loved baseball, her grandma hated it.

One day, she summoned up the courage to ask why her grandma kept the baseball bat at her bedside, even though she hated the game.

“Security,” grandma said. 

Confused, young Michelle told her grandma that she’d never seen her use the bat.

Grandma stopped what she was doing, turned to Michelle and said, “I’d rather have security and not need it rather than desperately need it and not have it.”

Hopefully, Grandma never had to swing that baseball bat in the name of security. But the message she shared with Matte has stuck with her to this day and seemingly pointed her to a future career path. Matte is now an information systems security engineer with the U.S. Army CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center. She is a cybersecurity expert, dealing with compliance and governance. She’s swinging away at bad guys, not with a piece of maple but with powerful technology and a desire to stay ahead of the game.

Matte was the keynote speaker Oct. 19 for the Macomb Next Industry 4.0 cybersecurity workshop, presented by the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development and the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights.

“That message from my grandma stayed with me to this day,” Matte said. “I’ve applied it to my career, and I’ve applied it to my life.”

Matte’s message to a packed crowd of businesspeople, cybersecurity students and other stakeholders was that cybersecurity is essential in today’s world, and there is no excuse to not have it. 

And she’s heard all of the excuses – it’s too expensive, my company is too small to be attacked, and it’s all too confusing and difficult to implement.

But Matte said no excuse is good enough, because the threat of cyberattack is everywhere, from external forces and internal ones. 

“Hollywood has done a great job of portraying hackers as shadowy figures in a dark room with a hoodie over their head. But they don’t always look like that,” Matte said. 

Hackers can be external but also internal, Matte added. Some are wearing black hats – malicious people trying to steal information or money for their own personal gain. But others are wearing white hats – they have good intentions, trying to make sure no one gets into their organization’s network.

Read more on Michelle Matte’s tips to combat cyber threats in the blog below:

Cybersecurity expert tells Industry 4.0 workshop attendees ‘we can’t let the bad guys in’

Macomb County MSU Extension to offer free Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund application assistance

Macomb County MSU Extension will host two events to provide homeowners with free MIHAF application assistance. MIHAF, which stands for the Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund, is a program run by the State of Michigan that offers eligible homeowners who have experienced a COVID-19 related hardship financial assistance of up to $25,000. 

Homeowners approved by MIHAF are awarded funds that are then applied toward delinquent household expenses such as property taxes, mortgages, utilities, condo or homeowner association fees, land contract payments or homeowner’s insurance. 

The first application assistance event will take place Monday, October 30 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Max Thompson Family Resource Center in Warren (11370 Hupp Street). The second event will be held on Friday, December 1 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the VerKuilen Building on Dunham Road in Clinton Township.

Interested individuals will need to bring the following documents for all adults (18-years-old and above) residing in the household:

•    Current proof of identification (driver’s license, passport or picture government ID)

•    Social Security Number (card or tax form)

•    Proof of income (a month of recent pay stubs, Social Security award letter, income statement)

•    Proof of delinquency (past due bills/statements)

Appointments are suggested but not required.  To register call (586) 469-6430.

Note: As defined by the state, a COVID hardship is a decrease in income and/or an increase in expenses due to COVID. Individuals do not have to have had COVID to apply.

To learn more about MSU Extension, visit

Macomb County hosts Senior Fun Fest

Senior Fun Fest 2023

Hundreds of local seniors turned out for the 32nd annual Macomb County Senior Fun Festival on Friday, September 29. The event, which was held at the Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College, was hosted by the Macomb County Office of Senior Services and the Office of the County Executive.

“The Senior Fun Fest is a huge event in our community,” said Sheila Cote, director of Senior Services. “Caregivers and seniors have access to information from senior care providers throughout the County. As our population ages, there is a greater need for resources.”

Attendees took part in photo booths, giveaways and raffles. They also got to enjoy live entertainment and a balloon artist. 

“We look forward to the Senior Fun Fest every year,” said Executive Mark Hackel. “This event illustrates our County’s commitment to engaging and caring for seniors. All seniors from across our community were welcome to come and explore the trusted programs and partners dedicated to helping them each day here in Macomb.”

Notable vendors were also on site, including the Area Agency on Aging 1B, the Macomb County Health Department and the Detroit Institute of Arts. These organizations had experts on hand to provide resources and information about programming and support services available for seniors and caregivers.

“Our goal is to help Macomb County residents age in place,” said Nicole Urban, program manager for Senior Services. “So often having just one or two services can make an impact for a senior to remain in their own home. Services such as Meals on Wheels, home care or transportation services, can make a world of difference for both the senior and their caregiver.”

Senior Fun Fest was made possible through the support of several sponsors, including: Heiritage Law, Wilfinger Health & Life, American House East 1, East 2, Sterling Woods and Sterling Meadows, How to Help Mom, Relevar Home Care/ Alivity Care Advocates, Henry Ford Health, and Macomb County Veteran Services.

Child care survey closing soon, responses still needed

Seeking to gain a better understanding of how child care impacts the region, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) is studying the issue with a goal of developing a set of recommendations that addresses concerns raised by families, employers and providers.

“We know that finding child care can be an incredible challenge for families,” said Vicky Rowinski, director, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. “We also know that when care isn’t available, our workforce is impacted and this has a negative effect on employers. So our goal with this survey is to find out what the barriers to child care are and why they exist so we can work on a local level to remove them. It is therefore important that anyone dealing with these issues provide feedback so we can have an accurate picture of care in Macomb County.”

Funded by a grant provided through the Michigan Department of Education, MCPED formed the Macomb County Child Care Coalition in early summer to gain perspective from impacted  stakeholders. Currently, the roster includes more than 60 individuals representing families, providers, employers, municipalities and other agencies. 

The next step is to gain input through surveys designed for families, child care providers and employers. Each survey should take no more than ten minutes and individuals are encouraged to complete more than one, if appropriate, as a parent or guardian of a child, as the owner or manager of a child care program or as an employer whose workforce is impacted by child care issues.

Results of the surveys will be shared with the coalition who will work together to build a report that describes the current child care system and develop a set of recommendations that seeks to alleviate concerns identified by all stakeholders. 

However, the survey closes soon. We ask that if you haven't taken it yet, please do so..

To take the survey and learn more about the Macomb County Child Care Coalition, please visit the link:

Administered by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, MCPED is one of 16 statewide recipients of a Regional Child Care Planning Project grant. The grant is supported by funding provided from the Michigan Department of Education utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As a means of developing a statewide strategy that addresses the needs of families, child care providers and employers, the 16 regional coalitions will convene to share results and develop statewide solutions that may pertain to access, affordability, quality, workforce needs and more with an overall goals of addressing Michigan’s pressing need for high-quality, affordable child care.

Save the Date

Veterans Day Broadcast


Veteran's Day Broadcast

Friday, November 10, 2023

WJR 760 AM








Shop Local Macomb Flyer 2023
Shop Local Macomb

November 24 - December 3, 2023








For more happenings throughout the county, visit Make Macomb Your Home eventsand stay up to date with the Make Macomb Your Home official Facebook page.

Department:Planning and Economic Development