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Guest column - Spurring Oakland's economic growth



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February 01, 2012 - As Michigan reinvents itself, our local leaders are increasingly challenged to find ways of growing investment and building upon the assets of a community to stay in front of a changing economy.

This is burdened further by the pace at which technology has pushed even our small family businesses into a global marketplace. The Benoit College Mindset Study for the Class of 2014 reveals our young entrepreneurs believe email is too slow and it likely won't be part of their careers. The world of economic and community development has become high-tech and instant.

Throughout the country, communities are meeting this challenge by collaborating resources to streamline the way in which government reacts to growth and investment. Oakland County is no different and is actually now leading the way for the state in launching One Stop Ready, a program designed to define a community's role in the new economy and empower leaders to make knowledgeable and responsive decisions.

Last week, Oakland County announced One Stop Ready is being piloted in five local communities: Rochester, Oxford, Wixom, Ferndale and Lyon Township. Each has signed on to help Oakland County, and themselves, learn and teach best practices that will remove delays and obstacles that often frustrate positive growth in their community.

The program will help each other build tools and strategies that, when applied, excite and inform would- be entrepreneurs. The final step is working community to community to build a plan for implementation to tell the marketplace that our local leaders are "ready" for ideas and able to find a place for them in Oakland County.

One Stop Ready is not about preaching or one size fits all. It is a collaboration of the best resources at the County, the best practices of our communities and creating lasting partnerships so every idea has a chance for success.

Some may question why Lake Orion is not part of the pilot. This is in large part because it has already been through it. In 2009-10, the township began the process of changing its culture and process and, in so doing, implemented many of the concepts outlined in One Stop Ready.

During my last staff meeting before leaving my role as supervisor I reminded people, "You have the tools to continue this great rebuilding of Orion, don't be afraid to use them." Likewise, the Village of Orion, and its hard-working DDA have heard these concepts through our prior work together and many of the strategies outlined in One Stop Ready are already taking shape and making a difference. In a way, our team at the County did not want this to Abe perceived as our simply going back to where it started. The need is too important, and the economy is moving too quickly.

So watch for the changes, and the grumbling, as communities start to meet this challenge. A challenge satirically highlighted in a current cell phone commercial that quips, "That was so 20 seconds ago". If only that mantra applied to getting a building permit, what an economy we could have.

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