Oakland County has been an economic leader in Michigan, often outpacing state and national averages in educational attainment, median household income, and labor force participation. Thanks in large part to its concentration of jobs in the professional services and healthcare sectors, the county managed to rebound from the job losses experienced in the Great Recession. By comparison, the Detroit region experienced a long recovery period, with disproportionate negative consequences for Black and African American residents. Coupled with the economic fallout from COVID-19, these groups continue to be locked out of economic opportunity. As Oakland County aims to become a leader in the Midwest and beyond, the county’s fate will also rest with the success of the Detroit region overall.
TIP Strategies was engaged by Oakland County to develop a five-year strategy for the Economic Development and Community Affairs department (EDCA). The purpose of the plan was to enable the EDCA to better anticipate, respond to, and evolve with changes affecting the economic success of residents and businesses. Economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which swept the globe in the first quarter of 2020, only reinforced the need to bring a strategic focus to the county’s economic development and workforce development efforts. Following an extensive stakeholder engagement process and comprehensive economic assessment, the plan was built around three major pillars: business vitality and diversification, community development and placemaking, and talent attraction and retention. The strategies and actions identified under each pillar provided a roadmap to organize the EDCA’s programs and bolster the county’s economy during the pandemic and associated economic crisis, and in the coming years. In addition to insulating the county’s economic base from future shocks, the plan was built on a vision of the EDCA as a catalyst for innovation and economic vitality in the region through more coordinated partnerships and a more equitable and inclusive focus on economically distressed communities.