My weekly column, “Is This The Best Macomb County Can Do?”
lit up my blog – nearly 200 hits in the first hour after it was posted on Monday -- 1,100 hits for the day. Much of that online traffic was due to The
Huffington Post-Detroit web page picking it up and offering this slightly odd
headline: “Fed-Up Macomb Daily Columnist Begs Residents To Stop Loving Jobbie
Nooner And Big Boy Restaurants.”
I received lots of compliments about the column but one
reader who was in the distinct minority was County Executive Mark Hackel. I was
told he was furious after reading my piece. Apparently it took him two days to
calm down because he waited until today to release a letter to the editor (soon to be printed in The Macomb Daily) that
rebuts my column.
Here’s Hackel’s response in its entirety:
June 27, 2012
I’m sure most
Macomb County residents and business owners share my disappointment over
Sunday column headlined, “Is this the best Macomb County can do?”
criticizes readers and advertisers of the Macomb Daily for the choices they
made in the
of the Best” contest, in which readers ranked their favorite restaurants and
winning selections aren’t highbrow enough for Mr. Selweski, who contends that
supposed lack of
sophistication hampers our ability to attract business investment.
The fact that Mr.
Selweski degraded readers because they gave high marks to Big Boy, a restaurant
chain headquartered right here in Macomb County, is an embarrassing “gaffe” on
The column made
many misguided statements about economic development in Macomb County. Mr.
job-creation statistics I cited at a recent public event, implying our
faulty. Our claim
that Macomb County employers have added 1,100 jobs per month is based on
from the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show our County has added 16,801 jobs between
2011 and March 2012
– an average of 1,120 jobs per month.
It’s Mr. Selweski’s
job as a journalist to challenge our numbers. But it’s also his obligation to
his own facts are
straight before he takes us to task over ours.
It’s foolish for
Mr. Selweski to suggest my administration’s emphasis on marketing the defense
may prove futile in
light of potential budget cuts in Washington. Should we just sit back and
the foundation that
has been built here in Macomb over the past 100 years because of cyclical
in the Defense
Department’s budget? We will never surrender a foundation that includes more
that employ more than 10,000 workers. We will instead continue to aggressively
industry along with our other world class manufacturing capabilities while
working with our
delegation to sustain and expand what we have.
further claims Macomb County is “not engaged in the globalization of the world
economy” because only 50
foreign-owned firms are based in Macomb (the number is actually 65 and growing).
He makes quite a leap
and postulates that this means Macomb County will be unable to engage in
Michigan’s $51 billion export market.
I wish Mr. Selweski
would focus on the major international investment Macomb has secured during 2012: BAE Systems
(United Kingdom) spent $54.4 million to open a new building in Sterling
Heights, KUKA Robotics
(Germany) invested $3 million to move their North American headquarters into
Shelby Township, and AGS
Automotive (Canada) will spend $21 million to renovate a vacant building in Sterling Heights.
It seems odd that a
county with $1.2 billion in new automotive investment, eight Big 3 facilities
and over 50,000 automotive
employees somehow managed to shy away from the export market. According to the International Trade
Administration, “The state's largest merchandise export category is
transportation equipment, which
accounted for $25 billion of Michigan's total merchandise exports in 2011.”
referring to bicycles, but I’m guessing it’s the cars the men and women of this
county have been building over
the last century.
His column also
takes issue with Jobbie Nooner and my comments about the event. I understand
event is not to his
liking, and I respect his position. This opinion however chooses to ignore the
$500,000 that area
marinas, gas docks, deli counters and party stores realized from the event last
It appears the only
thing Mr. Selweski did get right is that Macomb County has “a lot to offer.” In partnership with
the private sector, our “Make Macomb Your Home’ initiative is designed to tell
the region and the
world about the great things we do offer – excellent neighborhoods and school
recreational offerings, world-class shopping options and an outstanding
workforce and work
The reality is that
Macomb is now part of the regional dialogue. People are excited about Macomb.
media outlets, including WXYZ-TV, WJR radio and the Macomb Daily, have embraced the Stars &
Stripes event coming up this weekend. And our economic development department
is actively meeting and working
with several companies interested in expanding in our county.
My passion for
promoting Macomb County will not be deterred by Chad Selweski’s desire to
As for Big Boy, the
readers of YOUR newspaper are on to something. You should really try their delicious buffet
sometime, Mr. Selweski.
Mark A. Hackel
The County Exec also put out a press release today:
builds economic momentum, helps lead Michigan's comeback
News analysts have rated Michigan as one of the fastest growing economies in
2011 and 2012 -- and Macomb County is playing a vital role in helping to drive
The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development reports that
the County’s economy realized an average of 1,120 new jobs per month spanning
January 2011 to March 2012.
The 1,120 jobs per month are based on facts provided by the United States
Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January of 2011, the agency reported there were
343,083 employed workers in Macomb County. As of March 2012, there were
359,884. In those 15 months of January 2011 to March 2012, the County gained
16,801 jobs, which is an average of 1,120 per month.
"As the economic outlook continues to improve nationally, our talented
labor force is in high demand, and that is driving a faster recovery in
Michigan,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
dispute a number of Hackel’s assertions, particularly on jobs figures and
exports, but I wanted to give him his say. As for his statement about the Big
Boy buffet, I suspect he’s playing to his political base.
(If you want to read the column that stirred all this up, check out the list of previous posts on the right side of this page.)