Prosper Spotlight: L. Brooks Patterson On Medical Mainstreet

Oakland County’s Medical Main Street is County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s most ambitious initiative under the Emerging Sectors® business development strategy. It is a unique alliance of world-class hospitals, universities, medical device and BioPharma companies creating a global center of innovation in health care, research and development, education and commercialization in the life science industries.

Two independent studies – one from the respected Anderson Economic Group of Lansing and the other from noted University of Michigan researchers George Fulton and Donald Grimes – concluded that Oakland County has significant and marketable life science assets that could mean 45,000 new jobs and billions of dollars of investment over the next decade if the assets are properly leveraged, making it one of the largest employment sectors in the county. Central to Medical Main Street is its five-point strategy: branding, commercialization, workforce development, business attraction and government and foundation support.

Patterson spoke to Prosper recently about the program.

Question: Why did you create Medical Main Street?
Answer: Emerging Sectors is our long-range attempt to diversify Oakland County’s employment base. After four and a half years and total investment of $1.2 billion, we’ve seen one sector pull away from the others and that is in health care. We took a deep dive and with Pat Anderson’s research found that we have 93,000 jobs in health care now and we could add another 45,000 in the next six to eight years. That told me we needed to assemble the health care assets in the county and market them nationally and internationally. This will contribute significantly to job creation in our county.
Q: Many areas across the state and even the country want to do the same thing Oakland County is doing. Why do you think Oakland County will rise above the rest?
A: We have a significant head start on the competition. According to the CEOs of the five hospital systems in Medical Main Street – those that I personally queried – we have the capability to challenge the quality of health care at the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic. My job is to draw them together and market them. That’s what Medical Main Street is all about.

Q: The hospitals that you gotten involved – Beaumont Hospitals, St. John’s Providence Park, McLaren Health Care Corp., Henry Ford Health Systems and Trinity Health – are all very competitive. How did you get them to agree to be a part of Medical Main Street?
A: I would have made Henry Kissinger proud. We talked about establishing a center of excellence in Oakland County and how they would benefit. One by one, they all came to the table. Admittedly, it was a round table. But our strength is working together.

Q: Health care has proven it is not immune to the poor economy. Are you concerned that the timing may not be right for this?
A: This is a way out for us. We have had all of our eggs in one basket for a long time and we’ve been paying for it. We’ve identified the fast growth, high-paying jobs of the future. This is a way out of that dependency. I really do believe it will work. The road may get bumpy – certainly depending on the fate of the auto companies – but I’m very upbeat, very optimistic. Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.