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Waymo to convert Chrysler Pacificas into automated taxis

When customers hail a cab run by Waymo software, odds are they'll be climbing into the comfort of a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan built in Auburn Hills.
And that's all well and good, except when it comes time to tip the driver. These cabs will be driverless.
Waymo is, of course, Google's subsidiary in charge of making cars drive themselves, and Fiat Chrysler just announced that it'll send thousands of Pacifica's for Waymo's fleet of self-driving taxis. This is in addition to about 600 of them that Waymo has already converted.
“To move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders,” says FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne in a statement. “Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology.”
Deliveries will begin at the end of 2018. The self-driving variety of these cars have been tested in 25 cities in the United States, including Detroit, Atlanta, San Francisco and Phoenix.
"With the world's first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we've moved from research and development to operations and deployment," says Waymo CEO John Krafcik. "The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale."
Waymo and FCA engineers worked together in designing mass-produced self-driving vehicles. In November, Waymo test-drove a fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. They were the first vehicles to achieve Level 4 autonomy. The Society of Automotive Engineers classification system runs from 1-5. Level 4 vehicles perform all safety functions and monitor road conditions for an entire trip.
Waymo will test its ride-hailing service this year in Phoenix. The new Pacificas will be used when the service expands to more cities across the country.

Oakland County extends deadline for companies to bid on development of autonomous vehicle pilot

Providers who have the ability to plan, build, deploy and maintain a pilot connected autonomous vehicle network that would ultimately make driving safer have until Feb. 15 to submit proposals to Oakland County.

The county extended the deadline for interested providers – either individually or as a collaboration – to present a system including signals, equipment and software. The system would enhance traffic safety by sending instantaneous electronic messages to vehicles, warning motorists of potentially dangerous driving situations such as a vehicle running a red light or stop sign or dangerous road conditions ahead. The county, with support from the Road Commission for Oakland County, is seeking bids that would provide this service at no cost to taxpayers.

This first-of-its-kind request for proposal was issued in December but was extended because of the complexity of the request and to give interested companies additional time to complete their bids, said Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development and community affairs.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson created the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force to make recommendations on how to deploy the world’s first countywide connected mobility system. Connected vehicle are able to transmit data about the vehicle and its location to other vehicles and to road infrastructure.

The 16-page request for proposal spells out in detail what is required of potential bidders. It challenges interested providers to create a system of dedicated short-range communication that can be easily adopted throughout the United States and other jurisdictions. Oakland County has more than 5,600 miles of roadway and 2,000 intersections that would use the system. Nearly 75 percent of the automotive industry has research and development operations in Oakland County.

The deadline to submit a proposal is Feb. 15, at 2 p.m. Potential bidders with questions about the request for proposal should contact Scott Guzzy of the county’s Purchasing Division at 248-858-5484 or guzzys@oakgov.com.

Allegiant increases summer flights to 126 nonstop flights in 2018, up from 52 in 2017

Allegiant is adding flights to Flint for the third time since they started serving the airport in April of 2016. Starting in May, the “sun and fun” airline will increase their ultra-low cost flights to Florida. Their summer flying from Flint will more than double year-over-year, from 52 in 2017 to 126 in 2018. Most flights will be flown on beautiful A320 aircraft.

On a weekly basis, the schedule will be:

                 Destination                            Flights per Week

  • Orlando/Sanford                                 5
  • Tampa Bay/St. Pete                            4
  • Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda                       2

“Allegiant has really become a part of the fiber of our airport,” stated Airport Director, Craig Williams.  “We couldn’t be more delighted to be able to offer the passengers of Southeast Michigan additional ultra-low cost, nonstop jet service to Florida.  Bishop Airport has a long history of providing the region with amazing access to top leisure destinations. We couldn’t be happier to continue growing that tradition with Allegiant."

Tickets are on sale now.  Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at Allegiant.com. Allegiant offers a unique option to travelers with low base fares and savings on rental cars and hotels. Travelers can book their entire vacation with Allegiant for less.

Corporate Eagle debuts business jet that can reach Europe or Southern Hemisphere nonstop


Looking to reach Berlin, London, Paris, or the Southern Hemisphere nonstop in a private business jet? Corporate Eagle, based out of Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, has just received delivery of a Dassault Falcon 2000EX jet, which recently underwent a $2.5-million renovation.

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Aeronautics commission names VanderVeen chair again

The members of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission have elected Oakland County Central Services Director J. David VanderVeen as their chairperson for the second time. He first served in this role in 2012. VanderVeen has managed Oakland County airports for more than four decades.

“It’s a great honor to be asked to lead the aeronautics commission again,” VanderVeen said. “We will promote Michigan’s aviation businesses and airports with an eye on growth and safety.”

Earlier this year, the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame inducted VanderVeen into its 2017 class of honorees.

“There’s a reason this has been a banner year for Dave. His aviation peers recognize that Dave’s knowledge and experience in aviation and managing airports is second to none,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

Gov. Rick Snyder appointed VanderVeen to the aeronautics commission in June of 2011. VanderVeen oversees Oakland County’s three airports – Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) in Waterford, Michigan’s second busiest airport; Oakland Troy Airport in Troy; and Southwest Oakland Airport in New Hudson. The nation’s first LEED Gold-certified airport terminal at OCIA opened in August of 2011 under Patterson’s and VanderVeen’s leadership. The new terminal at OCIA features wind, solar and geothermal energy; advanced insulation; LED lighting; a living wall; and other energy efficiencies.

VanderVeen holds a private pilot license and is a member of the board of directors for the Michigan Business Aviation Association. He lives in Clarkston with his wife, Shelagh. The Michigan Aeronautics Commission encourages, fosters and participates in the development of aeronautics within the State of Michigan. It also makes rules and regulations for airports, flight schools, and other aeronautics activities.

Five Oakland County alternative transportation projects receive part of $9.2 million in funding


The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is helping fund five county alternative transportation projects. 

The council’s annual Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is providing $9.2 million in funding for 22 projects across the region during Fiscal Year 2018, which begins Oct. 1.

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OCC partners with Secretary of State for motorcycle safety courses

Ready to experience the open road on two wheels? Oakland Community College (OCC) and Michigan Secretary of State are offering three Motorcycle Safety programs through June.  A motorcycle endorsement is required to drive on public roads; the motorcycle safety course is required for teens.

Basic Rider Course- Web Enhanced: Designed for someone who has minimal experience operating a motorcycle, this course focuses on the development of basic riding skills. 3 hours of online preparation is to be completed prior to class start date. This course is offered Apr. 22-23; Apr. 29-May 1; May13-15; June 3-5; June 10-12 and June 24-26.

Basic Rider Course- Traditional: Same content and course duration as the Basic Rider Course-Web Enhanced, however this is all in-person instruction. Available May 20 –May 22.

Returning Rider Course: A one-day course designed for the experienced but unlicensed rider to become licensed and legal. Many experienced, licensed riders use this course as a refresher and skills tune up. This session takes place May 7 or June 18.

Courses will be held at OCC's Auburn Hills campus at 2900 Featherstone Road. Full details on each course are available here or contact the office at (248) 232-4167.

To obtain an endorsement, drivers must successfully pass a motorcycle safety course, OR pass a written and vision test at a Secretary of State office, obtain a motorcycle temporary instruction permit which allows drivers to practice riding legally on the streets, pass a motorcycle skills test at a third-party testing organization like OCC, and present your skills test certificate at a branch office.

Michigan has 488,765 residents with a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license and 249,547 registered motorcycles.

Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy Country Drive Car Tour

Six Rivers is hosting a classic car tour highlighting the natural beauty of the region on two lane, paved roads through the northern portion of the Detroit metro region on Sunday, May 7, 2017. The tour will be for classic cars, vintage sports cars, and exotic cars, giving people an opportunity to spend a nostalgic day touring the beautiful backroads of the region with their friends and other car enthusiasts.

The tour will begin at M1 Concourse in Pontiac with check-in, a continental breakfast, and a parade lap around the track to kick off the tour. Cars will follow a route of approximately 85 miles, ending at Miller’s Big Red Farms in Washington. Afterglow activities at Miller’s will include libations, delicious food, and a preview tour of their new distillery, dining, and agricultural-based family recreation activities.  The purpose of the event is to introduce participants to Six Rivers Land Conservancy and its work to preserve the natural and agricultural landscapes that are part of the region’s rich heritage. This exclusive tour is limited to 100 cars, so register today to ensure your place in the Country Drive Car Tour! (Final approval of vehicle models is left to the discretion of the event committee.)

Register today! Click here for the registration form. You can email the completed form (click here), fax it to 248-601-0106, or call in and register over the phone at 248-601-2816.

Interested in sponsoring this unique event? Click here to learn about our sponsorship opportunities!

If you have any questions regarding registration or sponsorship, please contact Angela Wilhelm, Development Director, by email or at 248-601-2816.

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Lawrence Tech named a Bicycle Friendly University

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Lawrence Technological University with a bronze Bicycle Friendly University award. Lawrence Tech is the only university in the tri-county Detroit area with the designation, which is good for four years.
The league named 51 new and renewing BFUs in 25 states this week. The organization has now named a total of 164 BFUs in 44 states and Washington, D.C. “We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike,” said Bill Nesper, program director for the league.
In recent years, Lawrence Tech has added bike lanes, bicycle signage, and bicycle racks around campus, including at new buildings like the A Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex, and at the university’s new outdoor athletic field. Lawrence Tech also provides a free bicycle repair station and bicycle pumps at its Don Ridler Field House, and offers free winter bicycle storage to students. The university’s campus safety department has also been trained in bicycle safety, and the university’s Tech Transit student transportation system is now bicycle-friendly.
“We have more and more students living on campus now, and becoming more bicycle-friendly is part of the ongoing physical transformation of a commuter campus into a residential campus,” said Philip Lucas, Lawrence Tech student engagement coordinator.
Lucas thanked Lawrence Tech alumnus Mike Darga, BSCE’85, and his wife, Nancy, for a gift that made pursuing the award possible. And Lucas said the city of Southfield has also been instrumental in the designation. He said the city’s recent street improvement projects “have tied in the campus with the Southfield City Centre area, making it easier for students and staff to use bicycles to get from campus to other areas in the city.”
Darga said he and his wife made a five-year pledge to the university to improve its bike-friendliness. “I had been involved in Tour de Troit, which holds bicycle rides all through the city, and I ran into LTU folks there, including Professor Constance Bodurow,” said Darga, a senior project manager at Giffels Webster, a Detroit-based engineering firm. “We decided to do what we could to encourage biking on LTU’s campus. It’s a way to tie the campus to the community without the need for motorized transportation.” Bodurow is associate professor of architecture at LTU and founding director of studio[Ci], a multidisciplinary research team within LTU’s College of Architecture and Design. (More at http://studio-ci.net.)
With the BFU designation, Lawrence Tech will have access to tools and technical assistance from the league to become even more bicycle-friendly.
To apply or learn more about the BFU program, visit www.bikeleague.org/university. The league also offers Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly Business programs.
Lawrence Tech joins Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan-Flint, as having the designation in Michigan.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

300 businesses in region receive job survey to Create Profiles for employment in autonomous vehicles

Businesses in Southeast Michigan this week are being asked to identify the skills and abilities employers require of potential hires wanting jobs in the rapidly evolving connected/autonomous vehicle industry.

About 300 employers from Oakland County and surrounding counties in Southeast Michigan were sent the Skills Needs Assessment Project (SNAP) Connected Mobility survey to help determine what knowledge, skills and abilities – from the employer’s perspective – are necessary for job seekers to succeed in the industry. Original equipment manufacturers, suppliers and information technology are among the companies being surveyed.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said information gleaned from the survey will be used to create customized job profiles for educators to help develop curriculum and content, give real-time employer-driven information to students and adults to help them make important career decisions and to create a pipeline of qualified job applicants for employers. Businesses have until Nov. 30 to complete the survey.

“This is a highly technical and rapidly changing field and we’re asking these employers what they are looking for when hiring instead of us guessing what they might need,” Patterson said. “This survey – the first of its kind in the nation – is creating the framework to define the jobs that are not yet defined, the jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.”

The SNAP Connected Mobility survey is the fourth in a series of employer job surveys commissioned by Oakland County and the Oakland County Workforce Development Board. SNAP began in 2009 with a study of skills and knowledge required for jobs in the Emerging Sectors®, which identifies top growth sectors in the region such as medical, communications, information technology and advanced materials. A second study was completed in 2013 on advanced manufacturing. The most recent was completed in 2014 identified the challenges and job opportunities facing area health systems. The first three reports are available online at under the BUSINESS section of www.AdvantageOakland.com.

Oakland County has been at the forefront of the movement towards connected car/autonomous vehicles. Patterson’s connected vehicle task force is beginning to implement a countywide connected vehicle ecosystem that will act as a pilot for the entire region. The county is home to dozens of major research and development facilities for many of the global companies operating in mobility including Autoliv, Continental, Denso, Delphi, Google, Lear, Nissan, P3 and Valeo.

“The technology and the workforce for the future of mobility are all right here,” said Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb. “The study results will give us real-time employer-driven information to keep Oakland County and Michigan in the driver’s seat.”

The survey is being conducted by EdEn Inc., a Rochester-based research firm which produced the first three surveys. The project emanated from a recommendation of the Oakland County Business Roundtable Workforce & Education Committee and is funded by Oakland County, the Oakland County Workforce Development Board/Oakland County Michigan Works! through a grant from Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The survey results are expected in early 2017, said Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of the Oakland County Michigan Works! division. Employers who did not receive the survey but wish to participate can do so at www.OaklandCountySkillsSurvey.com. Those with questions about the project should contact Llewellyn at llewellynj@oakgov.com.

Orion Township auto plant ranked eighth in nation for renewable energy usage

Workers at the General Motors Orion Assembly plant are readying the Chevrolet Bolt EV for its debut, and they're doing so in one of the nation's top facilities for renewable energy usage.
Orion Assembly was recently ranked eighth among users of renewable energy generated onsite among a group formed by the U.S. EPA, the Green Power Partners. It's news that fits for the Bolt EV, GM's new all-electric vehicle.

According to the company, 54 percent of the General Motors Orion Assembly plant is powered by clean energy. GM accomplishes this by capturing and using the methane gas emitted from a nearby landfill, turning the decomposing garbage into energy. Renewable energy accounts for $1 million in savings a year for the plant in Orion Township.

In addition to utilizing methane gas from a nearby landfill, Orion Assembly also sends energy back to the grid with its 350-kilowatt solar array. While it has a goal of promoting using 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, the company says it will have already exceeded that goal before the end of 2016.

The plant also cuts down energy costs through its three-wet process, where three layers of paint are applied before running the Bolt EV for just one trip through the drying oven, rather than three. 

"EPA applauds Orion Assembly for its innovation in generating green power from an onsite landfill gas energy system and for taking a leadership position on the environment," says James Critchfield, manager of the Green Power Partnership.

The Green Power Partnership is a program launched by the EPA in 2001, encouraging companies to embrace renewable electricity through technical assistance and recognition. According to the EPA, green power is that of the highest environmental benefit.

In 2013, Orion Assembly met the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry when it lowered its energy intensity by 67 percent, avoiding 42,758 tons of CO2 emissions.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Valeo Innovative Electric Supercharger and Water-cooled Condenser win 2016 Automotive News PACE Awar

Valeo has won 2016 Automotive News PACE (Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contribution to Excellence) Awards for its Electric Supercharger and its Water-cooled Condenser. 
The Electric Supercharger is driven by an electric motor that allows faster response time and eliminates the lag effect associated with turbocharging. It is the first electric-driven compressor that will be in mass production and it is designed for 12-volt and 48-volt systems.
The Valeo Water-cooled Condenser uses water instead of air to condensate the conditioning refrigerant vapor. In comparison with conventional condensers, it reduces pressure fluctuations of the refrigerant in the air conditioning system thanks to the inertia of the liquid. Ultra compact, it does not need to be located in front of the radiator allowing free space for additional components, and reducing fan system electrical consumption, while minimizing refrigerant quantity in the air conditioning loop.
Additionally, Ichikoh, a lighting provider based in Japan, in which Valeo Group holds a stake, won a PACE Award for its innovative LED Light Source Module, which fits into a standardized socket, lowering cost and allowing the replacement of the LED alone.
Valeo accepted the honors at the 2016 Automotive News PACE Awards ceremony on April 11, at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit. For more than 20 years, the Automotive News PACE Awards have honored superior innovation, technological advancement and business performance among automotive suppliers. This prestigious award is recognized around the world as the industry benchmark for innovation.
In the past, Valeo has won PACE Awards in 2015 for its EG Efficiency Alternator, 2014 for its Back-Over Protection System, 2013 for its Air Intake Module, 2012 for its VisioBlade® wiper system, 2008 for its Park4U® park assist system, 2007 for its Multi-Beam Radar (MBR) blind spot detection system, 2006 for its StARS micro-hybrid system and 2005 for its LaneVue™ lane departure warning system.

Valeo is an automotive supplier, partner to all automakers worldwide. As a technology company, Valeo proposes innovative products and systems that contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions and to the development of intuitive driving.
In 2015, the Group generated sales of 14.5 billion euros and invested over 10% of its original equipment sales in research and development. Valeo has 134 plants, 17 research centers, 35 development centers and 15 distribution platforms, and employs 82,800 people in 30 countries worldwide. Valeo is listed on Euronext Paris and is a member of the CAC 40 index. For more information about the Valeo Group and its activities, please visit our website, www.valeo.com.

Bicyclists in Birmingham to enjoy neighborhood connector route


The city of Birmingham is putting the final touches on designing a neighborhood connector route for bicyclists.

The project is a recommendation of the Multi-Modal Transportation Plan, which was created in 2013 to redesign public roads so they’re accessible to different modes of transportation. The biggest project to date has been the improvements along Lincoln Avenue.

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Patterson touts I-75 modernization in speech

The modernization of Interstate 75 will improve commerce and the quality of life in Oakland County, said County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in his 2016 State of the County speech Wednesday night.

“Adding a lane north and southbound on I-75 from Eight Mile to M-59 will have a significant impact on commerce and driver convenience,” Patterson said. “Companies along I-75, like Fiat Chrysler, that support I-75’s modernization, will see their employees in a safer commute; it will give companies along I-75 the ability to move goods more quickly through that corridor; and certainly improve the quality of life by easing some of the worst traffic congestion in our area.”

Phase one of adding a lane to I-75 will begin this summer in the Square Lake Road area. 

Patterson delivered these comments at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac to an audience of 600 attendees just a couple hours after the Michigan Department of Transportation sent out a press release announcing the project. If one were to draw a line three miles east and three miles west of I-75 from Eight Mile Road to Lapeer Road, it would encompass over 23,000 business – more than half of all the businesses in Oakland County – and 339,000 employees, about half the county’s workforce.

The widening of I-75 in Oakland County presents a tremendous opportunity for Patterson’s Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force too. MDOT is researching the possibility of making that stretch of I-75 a connected freeway, which means installing infrastructure that will communicate with automobiles. 

“From the point of view of the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force, we are excited about the possibilities if I-75 were to become a connected freeway through our county,” Patterson said. “We know the auto companies and suppliers would utilize it as a test bed to advance their connected vehicle programs. And it would be happening right here in the heart of Oakland County.”

Patterson cautioned, however, that there are a number of hurdles to clear for I-75 to become a connected freeway. The task force is at the table hoping to find the most feasible way forward. 

Oakland County’s economy has reached what economists call full employment, at or below 5.0 percent unemployment. With an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, Oakland County’s unemployment rate is better than the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.

“The state of the Oakland County is strong! Amazingly strong. Vibrant,” Patterson said.

Patterson cited his administration’s economic diversification accomplishments as contributing to the robust economy. His economic initiatives have reached a total of about $7.8 billion in investment since the inceptions of key programs:
  • Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors® initiative, which attracts companies in the knowledge-based economy, has seen 371 successful business attractions with a total investment of more than $3.3 billion creating 37,000 jobs and retaining 21,000, a total of 58,000 jobs.
  • Since the launch of Emerging Sectors in 2004, Oakland County has also aggressively pursued traditional companies representing 243 traditional successes for a total investment of over $2.3 billion creating 13,700 jobs and retaining over 19,200 jobs, a total of 33,100 jobs.
  • In the first four years of the recovery from the Great Recession, Oakland County gained back over 79,000 jobs, most of which are in the medium to high-wage category. University of Michigan economists Dr. George Fulton and Donald Grimes conservatively forecasted an additional 49,000 jobs through the end of 2017. 
  • The Oakland County Economic Development Corporation and the Oakland County Business Finance Corporation which has helped finance 648 small businesses over 35 years for a total investment of $1.5 billion creating over 26,500 jobs.   
  • Main Street Oakland County, the first countywide Main Street program in North America serving Oakland County’s 32 downtowns has seen 940 businesses invest $668 million creating 7,000 jobs since inception in 2000.
With a budget balanced through 2021 and a AAA bond rating retained since 1998, Oakland County has transitioned to investing for sustainability.

“When we saw the Perfect Storm of the Great Recession on the horizon in the 2000’s, thanks to our multi-year budgeting practices, we quickly reduced and reorganized county government between 2008 and 2011. That enabled us to absorb the greatest percentage loss of property value of any county in Michigan,” Patterson said. 

“From 2012 to 2015, we transitioned to maintaining and stabilizing our budget. Our ‘thoughtful management versus crisis management’ approach helped us weather the storm of the Great Recession and we began to see skies clearing on the fiscal horizon,” Patterson said.

Now Oakland County is investing for sustainability to attract new employees and improve the government campus to better serve customers. Those investments will include six weeks of paid parental leave for new mothers and fathers who work for the county.

“I will propose that Oakland County move forward with a program that offers paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers. The final design of the plan will be determined in partnership with the Board of Commissioners. The goal will be to provide six weeks of paid leave for both parents. For birth mothers, the leave will be in addition to any maternity disability benefits currently provided,” Patterson said.

“Paid parental leave is a benefit current and future employees look for. It is a benefit for a new parent that provides a real advantage to families. It is a benefit that can significantly increase the personal and economic well-being of families,” Patterson said.

Other investments for sustainability include:
  • Children’s Village, whose staff care for some of Oakland County’s most vulnerable children, has collaborated with the Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network to open a medical clinic on site staffed by doctors and nurses. It is the only juvenile care center in Michigan that now provides a fulltime medical clinic for kids. The doctors in this clinic provide preventative medical care instead of merely being on call for emergencies.
  • Oakland County will build a new animal control and pet adoption center slated to open in 2017 on its main campus in Pontiac. It will enhance the care Animal Control Division gives to the more than 5,000 pets that come through its doors every year and optimize the likelihood of adoption.
  • Oakland County’s Information Technology Department will install a new Unified Communications and Wireless System to replace an aging phone and messaging system. This new system should improve county employees’ ability to communicate externally with the public internally with each other. The new system looks to address the need to communicate and do business with a more technically savvy public.
Patterson also announced that Oakland County is looking ahead and preparing to respond should the mosquito carrying the Zika virus make it to Michigan. He outlined what Oakland County Health Division has accomplished so far which includes:
  • Posting Zika virus travel advisory information to the county’s webpage.
  • Sharing what is known about the Zika virus, the mosquito that carries it, testing protocol for pregnant women who visited any of the infected countries, and EPA approved repellants with the local public health, emergency preparedness and medical communities.
  • Tracking phone calls concerned about the Zika Virus that come into the Health Division each day.
“I am not waiting for the Zika virus to be identified in Michigan,” Patterson said. “Proactively, Oakland County will utilize a portion of its West Nile Virus budget to also combat the Zika virus. I am pleased to announce tonight we are bolstering our mosquito response budget by $160,000, bringing it up to a total of $350,000. Oakland County is and will be ready.”

Oakland County Health Division has developed a program that will be a model for the rest of Michigan and county health departments around the U.S.  The Health Division launched an initiative called ECHO which stands for Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland. Over the past year, Oakland County and its public health partners have conducted a comprehensive countywide assessment of residents and businesses to get the big picture of health practices in the county and the health status of residents. This is the first time that such a survey has been done on this scale in Michigan. The Health Division looked at 11 core categories which included health resource availability, behavioral risk factors, maternal and child health, and environmental health.

“We will utilize this data to reshape the focus of our public health policies and initiatives in a way that will have the greatest impact on improving the overall health of our residents and thereby improving the quality of life in the county,” Patterson said.

In June, Oakland County and its 32 health partners in this effort will announce a Community Health Improvement Plan based on the ECHO survey. Patterson will ask Oakland County businesses and organizations to align their wellness strategies with ECHO.

“If we are able to get the buy-in we are seeking from Oakland County companies, we will move the needle on public health forward in Oakland County,” Patterson said.

In September, Oakland County International Airport hosted the state’s first Air Transportation Expo with the Michigan Business Aviation Association (MBAA). As robust as our recovery has been, it hasn’t been so for general aviation. The task of the expo was to educate corporate decision makers about Oakland County International Airport and its modern facilities, the aviation businesses that are based there, and what utilizing them means for the corporate bottom line.

“Michigan’s first Air Transportation Expo was a resounding success. Our expo visitors were so delighted with the outcome… that they asked us to hold another one in 2016. I’m pleased to announce tonight that we will host Oakland’s second Air Transportation Expo on Sept. 22,” Patterson said.

Patterson concluded his State of the County speech optimistic about the future.

“I hope when you leave here tonight, that you are buoyed with the confidence that Oakland County is doing very, very well. With a budget balanced through 2021 and an economic diversification program that has helped us reach full employment, you can tell why I am proud of what we accomplished and enthusiastic about the direction in which the county is headed,” Patterson said.

Flint ranked #1 in Michigan by Travelmath Airport Rankings

We are proud to announce that Travelmath Airport Rankings named Flint number one for travel, overall, in the state of Michigan, and 75th in the country!
Airport Director, Craig Williams:  “As I travel around the region promoting our airport, I hear over and over again how easy we are to use, how friendly our staff is and how great our airlines and TSA are.  Lists like this are a great perspective builder, reminding us how fortunate we are to have this great facility serving the Southeast Michigan region”.
When it comes to travel, the quality of the airports you take flight from and touch down at can have a big impact on your trip overall. Flight delays, cancellations, lost baggage claims, fare prices – these types of experiences can make or break your trip. Travelmath ranks the airports themselves to give you an inside look into the nation’s best and worst options. Using information collected from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics throughout 2015 so far, they ranked 322 airports across the United States based on their results in each category.
State Rank
Cancelled Flights %
Delays %
Avg. Delay (mins)
Taxi Time (mins)
Avg. Fare
TSA Claims
75 1 Flint 2.27 14.49 4.2 10.7 $376 5
104 2 Lansing 2.34 18.48 6.2 11.95 $427 0
219 3 Traverse City 3.32 17.45 5.7 13.05 $574 5
238 4 Grand Rapids 2.61 18.83 8 12.05 $440 13
245 5 Saginaw 3.87 20.23 6.9 13.3 $538 1
249 6 Detroit 1.31 19.76 10 12.65 $430 74
256 7 Kalamazoo 6.28 21.5 4.4 13.5 $570 1
The 2015 Travelmath.com Airport Rankings were determined from data gathered from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Airport data was gathered from January 1 to August 31, 2015. To determine the overall ranking, they ranked the airports in each of the six categories listed in the table. Next, they assigned an overall rank based on the sum of all categories. If more than one airport had the same overall rank, it was deemed a tie and consequently given the same rank.
A flight is considered delayed if its departure is 15 or more minutes past its scheduled time.
If a negative value is indicated for the category of "Avg. Flight Delay (mins)" that means that the airport is ahead of schedule, on average.
The "Cxld" abbreviation means "Cancelled".
The 2015 Travelmath.com Airport Top 10 Lists graphic was created by filtering the overall rank by flight volume.
Flint Bishop International Airport (FNT) is “The smart way to fly.” Flint offers the lowest average airfares in Michigan, making “Pure Michigan Purely Affordable. We also guarantee you all of the destination options of a larger airport, while flying from the comfort of a relaxing and beautiful facility. Flint features all-jet service, with flights provided by Allegiant, Southwest Airlines, United, Delta Air Lines and American. Our airlines provide many nonstop flights to popular destinations across the country that will also connect you around the world. Bishop airport where jet-setters journeys begin. For reservations and flight information from Flint, visit our web site at bishopairport.org.
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