School may be out for summer but the learning curve just began in earnest for officials from the City of Orchard Lake Village, Farmington Hills, and Madison Heights.
These officials and their communities officially became members of One Stop Ready, Oakland County’s nationally recognized economic development program. One Stop Ready is designed to help communities embrace and streamline strategies that encourage economic development processes to implement a community’s vision. The officials took part in the One Stop Ready Academy session – Back to Basics – held Wednesday at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center. The session kicked off the 2017-2018 Academy year.
“I’ve been looking for a program like this,” said Madison Heights Mayor Brian Hartwell. “When I saw One Stop Ready, I knew right away this was what our city needs.”
One Stop Ready provides local communities with the resources, tools and trainings necessary to capitalize on community strengths and refine economic development processes and implement local vision. The program focuses on the importance of aligning the vision of local boards and commissions and streamlining the development process through a customer-friendly, solutions-oriented approach. The program, which was created in 2013 by County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, was honored recently for its innovative approach to economic development by the National Association of Counties.
Since inception, it has provided formal training in development readiness to more than 750 community staff members and officials and has showcased One Stop Ready communities to more than 200 investors.
“As our county continues to grow and investment decisions become more complex, leaders need information, strategy and creative insight to help bring out the vision they have for their community,” Deputy Oakland County Executive Matthew Gibb said. “One Stop Ready gives them those tools.”
During Wednesday’s session, officials from 12 Oakland County communities were given an overview of the program in economic context, community vision, municipal management structure, best practices and how to implement them.
Khalfani Stephens, director of economic development for Farmington Hills, said the program provides continuing education for their staff as well as their elected and appointed leaders.
“From an economic development stand point, we believe the program will help us stay at the forefront of new ideas,” Stephens said. “We hope to use it as a tool of innovation to introduce us to new ideas and new prospects.”
Orchard Lake Mayor Norm Finkelstein said he hopes to gain insight into how residential development could take place in his community.
“Orchard Lake is a very small mostly residential community,” Finkelstein said. “Some of our limited commercial areas are ripe for redevelopment and we need to find ways to jump-start this process. We also wish to encourage development of some “senior friendly” housing for our residents who want to stay in Orchard Lake but don’t want to maintain their large homes. There are very limited parcels that could accommodate such housing.”
Hartwell said Madison Heights has a potential project that could mean a $10 million investment in his community. He is hopeful One Stop Ready will help his community land the project.
“It would turn a brownfield and an eye sore into something the residents could be proud of,” Hartwell said. “The city needs to move fast to make this happen.”