Driving Pontiac: Future Takes Shape in County Seat

The Flagstar Strand Theatre is among Pontiac’s newest assets. (Photo courtesy of Flagstar Strand Theatre)

When United Shore Financial Services outgrew its headquarters in Troy, the wholesale mortgage lender decided to relocate a bit farther north — to Pontiac. The move brought more than 2,100 employees to the city.

United Shore isn’t the only company moving into the county seat. Many other businesses have relocated to Pontiac or set up shop there. And it’s all building momentum that’s shaping the city’s future.

Flagstar Bank invested in Pontiac with mortgage initiatives for residents and the renovation of the Flagstar Strand Theatre downtown.

Like its neighbors, the former Pontiac Central High School also has undergone a revival — this time as a machinery repair facility owned by Edward Lee of Lee Industrial Contracting. Lee also bought a former General Motors Co. building in Pontiac to house his company’s 200 employees.

Microbrewery Fillmore 13 is busy during lunch and dinner. Menagerie Lounge is attracting clientele for its Southern cuisine, photography and music. And local businesses such as American Made Performance, a fishing and resort apparel company, offers products only made in the USA.

But the city’s revitalization isn’t just the work of businesses. A variety of organizations are playing a role.

Coleman Yoakum moved to Pontiac in 2012 with the desire to make it a better place. He and his friends bought a home in the city, built community gardens, started a small church congregation and opened a business, Sprout Fresh Food Store.

“I am passionate about this place because it is a city where a person can actually make a difference,” says Yoakum, who founded Micah6 Community, a nonprofit focused on developing Pontiac.

For Pontiac natives like Chris Jackson, the city’s revitalization is encouraging. Jackson is the site coordinator and community liaison for Accent Pontiac, a nonprofit that helps children achieve their full potential through access to quality music instruction.

“Our city is ripe with talent and opportunity,” Jackson says. “As we work to funnel resources in the right areas, anyone that misses out on Pontiac’s resurgence will regret it later.”

This article, written by Michelle Martin, first appeared in the 2019 Oakland County Prosper magazine.