Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Growing Macomb County With Manufacturing, Concise Messaging, ‘Badass Bass’

Growing Macomb County With Manufacturing, Concise Messaging, ‘Badass Bass’

January 12, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The state’s defense industry is now estimated to be worth $31 billion. 
  • The online advertisement campaign for the county’s career opportunities webpage has received over a million impressions since its launch. 
  • Lake St. Clair is becoming a billion-dollar asset due to “world-class” smallmouth bass fishing. 

View the session recording below.

During the 2024 Detroit Policy Conference, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Deputy County Executive John Paul Rea took to the stage to talk about the county’s more unique strategies to increase their economic development, which often included showcasing what’s cool and fun through unapologetic branding. 

Improving the Student-Grad-Talent Pipeline

Macomb County has many manufacturing-related opportunities now, but nearly 15 years ago, the county was challenged with factories shutting down and jobs disappearing. Hackel and Rea realized they needed extra attention to bring the factories and the jobs back to the county, so they went to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for help. As a result of “incredible support,” the county helped bring “Manufacturing Day” to Michigan and enabled companies and educational institutions showcase careers to students, parents, teachers, and community leaders. 

“It’s taking that [industry] legacy and [getting] people to explore it,” Rea explained, who later mentioned that Macomb’s school district has the second-highest participation rate in the country, following a Florida school district. 

Further, Macomb County also recognized its tremendous economic impact of “making things for those who protect us,” being a part of Michigan’s $31 billion defense industry. This includes successfully using concise messaging through online advertisements to target postsecondary students nationwide who are looking for related work. 

Rea concurred, adding, “In the first four weeks [of the campaign], we had a million impressions – that’s tens of thousands of job seekers…students who are trying to see where they’re going next.” 

Related: A Look at the Vital Defense Industry

Reinventing the Wheel Is Not Always Necessary; Have Fun With Branding

Macomb County did not just want to keep people in town only in a 9-to-5 fashion. They wanted folks to consider them an option for after work, too. In 2012, when Rea was still a part of the county’s planning department, the county was trying to find the best way to advertise it as a great option for people to live in. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the county office created a “sub-brand” of the State of Michigan’s “Pure Michigan” campaigns to create “Make Macomb Your Home.” 

“We recognize that we fit ‘hand in glove’ when we talk about Pure Michigan and Make Macomb Your Home. We talk about the assets we have,” Hackel said. “When people are looking for [a job] on our website. It’s not just about the job. Quality of life is a huge one for us in the state of Michigan, and we have an abundance here.” 

Part of Michigan’s “abundance” is fresh water. But did you know Lake St. Clair is widely considered one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the country by the fishing community? The fishing community has had so much impact on the county as well as the greater Detroit Region that the Executive’s office decided to have a little tongue-in-cheek fun with it. 

“So, I let people know that in Macomb County, we have some ‘badass bass’ in Macomb County,” Hackel joked. “But it’s not just in Macomb County thing, you talk about from the Detroit River … out to Lake Huron, this is an asset for Wayne County and St. Clair County and even Oakland County [for bait].” 

Be All in Like Macomb County

In closing, the Executive’s office stressed that while this keynote was only talking about Macomb County, they are not exclusive to just Macomb County’s objectives. 

“Put aside your difference…quit trying to make things fail. Let’s make things happen,” Hackel concluded. “And let’s do it together because Macomb is all in … let’s make it in Michigan by growing Michigan together.”