- Message from Mark
- Winner of the first-ever Mac Madness: Best Mac in the Mac contest announced
- Macomb County helps Ford House with restoration of Lake St. Clair shoreline and wildlife habitats
- Virtual restaurant job fair in the works
- Macomb County EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant funding now available
- Macomb County, MISD work to keep students safe during the pandemic
- Department of Roads promotes work zone safety, announces construction schedule
- Support offered through the Office of Senior Services
- Macomb Business Shoutout
- Macomb in the News, Macomb Business Blog, Event Calendar, Business Calendar, Point of Pride and Coming Soon
Message from Mark
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Focus Macomb, a joint newsletter from the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development and the Office of the County Executive.
It’s been some time since we last sent out a Focus Macomb, as in this last year, we have directed a majority of our content efforts to our weekly COVID-19 newsletter (which you can subscribe to here). But now we are ready to revisit this important communication and to share some recent news and updates.
Below please find features on the county’s COVID-19 response, as well as articles on PED’s Brownfield Assessment Grant Program, the restoration of Lake St. Clair shoreline at Ford Cove and the search to find Macomb’s best restaurant-made macaroni and cheese. Stay tuned for future editions too, as we will continue to share relevant and interesting local stories.
And finally, please visit macombgov.org for the latest news and updates from the county. From details on programs for seniors, to articles on grant funding for businesses, our website is the number one source of information for the community.
Thank you and take care,
Mark A. Hackel
Macomb County Executive
Winner of the first-ever Mac Madness: Best Mac in the Mac contest announced
After a week of bracket-style voting by the public, Sherwood Brewing Company was announced as the winner of the first-ever Mac Madness: Best Mac in the Mac contest. The initiative, which was organized by Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED), sought to highlight housemade macaroni and cheese at locally owned and operated restaurants. Sixteen establishments went head-to-head in the competition, with Sherwood Brewing Company coming out on top.
“We are so excited to announce Sherwood Brewing Company as the winner of our first-ever macaroni and cheese competition,” said Vicky Rowinski, director, MCPED. “Our goal from the outset of this initiative was to highlight and support our great Macomb County restaurants. So we hope that people who either voted or simply saw the contest were inspired to get out and try some of the best mac and cheese dishes in Macomb County.”
Sherwood Brewing Company is located at 45689 Hayes Rd in Shelby Township. Boasting “Good times, great food and obnoxiously unpretentious beers,” Ray and Lisa Sherwood run this welcoming, friendly neighborhood pub. Their winning baked mac ‘n cheese features cavatappi noodles tossed in a four cheese blend and baked for $11.99 (add shrimp for $4.99). Pictures of their made-from-scratch dish can be found here.
“In addition to from scratch food and beverages, Sherwood Brewing Company prides itself on community interaction and support,” said Lisa. “This contest is a perfect example of how hard our regulars rally for our product, our employees and their home away from home. Macomb County government has provided a variety of support this past year to local businesses and we couldn’t be more appreciative.”
As the winner of the Best Mac in the Mac contest, Sherwood Brewing Company receives:
- A $2,500 grant from Macomb County
- One week of free advertising on a digital billboard, donated by 5 Star Outdoor
- The Mac Madness: Best Mac in the Mac plaque
Grants will also be awarded to the runners-up - including:
- A $1,000 grant for the second place restaurant Simple Palate, located at 27380 Van Dyke Ave in Warren.
- A $500 grant to the third place restaurant Jayell Smoke House, located at 1/2, 221 N. Bailey Street in Romeo.
- A $500 grant to the fourth place restaurant Bistro Orleans, located at 11528 East 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.
While the contest has concluded, the public is encouraged to get out and taste test entries from all of the restaurants that participated. Find those restaurants, and additional details and information, at https://living.macombgov.org/Living-Mac-Madness.
“We hope this will inspire the public to dine-in or carry-out from a new restaurant,” Rowinski said. “It’s just one small way we can all do our part to help them survive as we get through the pandemic.”
Macomb County helps Ford House with restoration of Lake St. Clair shoreline and wildlife habitats
Ford House, the historic estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford, has teamed up with the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a project to restore disappearing wildlife habitats along the shoreline of Ford Cove on Lake St. Clair -- part of Michigan’s Great Lakes waterway. Dubbed the Ford Cove Shoreline and Coastal Wetland Restoration Project, the goal is to transform Ford House’s lake shore back to its natural state.
The Ford Cove restoration will span roughly a mile of Lake St. Clair’s coastline and more than 17 acres of the surrounding coastal marsh, nearshore habitat and adjacent forested wetlands. The plan includes removing hard, non-natural coastal features like broken concrete and seawalls and reintroducing native plant species and softer shorelines. This will reduce the heavy waves that disrupt vital habitats that local fish, waterfowl, mussels, turtles, snakes and other wildlife need to raise their young, find cover and forage for food -- all supporting the lake’s greater ecosystem.
The project kicks off this spring with an initial feasibility study to evaluate the plan put together by Ford House and the GLC, along with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division, and Macomb County’s Planning and Economic Development Department, Parks and Natural Resources Division.
“Ninety-nine percent of Lake St. Clair’s shoreline is not in its original condition, so Ford House will be recreating the natural world, and that’s an exciting process. After the study is complete, we will get to make Ford House’s shores and wetlands a more functional part of the natural community,” said Kevin Drotos, Ford House Invasive Species and Woodland Specialist.
Ford Cove presents a uniquely ideal location for a shoreline restoration of this scale, as a large swath of continuous shoreline privately owned by Ford House. Natural habitats along the shoreline in Macomb County have nearly disappeared because of industry and significant development of lakefront property. The 31 1/2 miles of shoreline in the county hold 10,000 boat slips and 50 marinas, leaving only 2,140 linear feet of natural shores.
“Roughly 200 species of birds use Ford Cove and the land around it. When we restore the shoreline, the birds can have access to the native plants we add, and the insects that live on them. The fish and other aquatic species will be able to thrive,” Drotos said. “All these things benefit the ecosystem. Ford House is taking an interest in the health of the environment, hand-in-hand with caring for the estate’s history and landscapes.”
The current step of the project, the feasibility study, will include detailed baseline chemical, geotechnical, and ecological evaluations, preliminary hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and produce conceptual plans with estimated costs and restoration recommendations. These measures will determine if the plan will be able to effectively reach its restoration goals.
For more information on the project, visit https://www.fordhouse.org/.
(Photo via the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House/John F Martin Photography, Inc.)
Virtual restaurant job fair in the works
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for every industry, but it has perhaps hit the restaurant sector the hardest. With closures and other safety measures, restaurants have had an uphill battle this year. And while many have reopened, some are facing another issue: Staffing.
As part of Macomb County's ongoing efforts to aid restaurants throughout the pandemic, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development is partnering with Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! and Michigan Rehabilitative Services to host a virtual job fair for the restaurant industry on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Two sessions will be offered from 9 a.m.- Noon and from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. The goal - to connect restaurants with potential workers.
Currently organizers are looking for restaurants to sign up for a virtual booth, where they can offer information about open positions with an option to engage with all job seekers. Training for the virtual booth will be available and there is no cost to participate. Those interested in participating can sign up here and those interested in attending the job fair and applying for the variety of available positions can click here to learn more and to register.
Macomb County EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant funding now available
In late 2020, the Macomb County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Brownfield Assessment Grant, which will be administered by the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, provides funding to inventory, characterize, assess and identify cleanup, planning and community involvement activities for sites across the county. The goal is to use the funds to assess brownfield sites where redevelopment will support environmental improvement initiatives, foster economic growth and enhance the quality of life for residents.
"This is a great opportunity for Macomb County to turn idled property back into productive use," said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. "Working in partnership with our local communities, this EPA grant will help us attract investment for properties with the highest potential for positive economic impact."
The county is currently accepting applications for environmental site assessments for projects that are shovel-ready, located within economically distressed areas, have known or suspected contamination and have the potential to create economic growth.
“The awarding of EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant funds allows Macomb County to directly support projects that involve the reuse of properties suspected of being contaminated from prior uses. The assessment of these brownfield sites is a first step toward their restoration into economically impactful redevelopments that attract private investment into the County’s urban centers, create jobs, and increase local tax revenues,” said Ryan Higuchi, brownfield and economic incentives project consultant at PM Environmental, the leading environmental risk management firm which was selected as the grant’s environmental services consultant.
Grant funding will be used to provide assistance to conduct Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), Baseline Environmental Assessments (BEAs), Documentation of Due Care Compliance (DDCC), and Lead and Asbestos Surveys in support of brownfield redevelopment projects throughout the County.
Macomb County, MISD work to keep students safe during the pandemic
One of the major challenges of the last year has been educating young people while also keeping them safe from COVID-19. From remote learning to hybrid models, school districts across the country have implemented a variety of strategies to ensure students receive the education they deserve.
Macomb County’s MISD is no different. From the start of the pandemic, the district worked alongside the county to create a system that could meet the needs of the community.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, along with Deputy County Executive John Paul Rea and Health Department directors Bill Ridella and now Andrew Cox, have met at least once a week with Mike DeVault, superintendent of the Macomb Intermediate School District, to interpret and implement state and federal guidelines as they became available. Macomb County officials also met regularly with the superintendents of all 21 public school districts to keep them informed, discuss policy issues and respond to requests for assistance.
Notably, Macomb County also used a portion of federal CARES Act funding to provide roughly $4.2 million in PPE to the MISD and another $7 million for technology that could aid in remote learning.
This type of collaborative relationship existed prior to the pandemic and it will continue to benefit the community in the months and years ahead.
Department of Roads promotes work zone safety, announces construction schedule
Between state, county and local projects, there will be hundreds of work zones throughout Macomb County this year. In advance of National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which will take place April 26-30, the Macomb County Department of Roads (MCDR) reminds drivers to remain alert and practice extreme caution to keep themselves and road workers safe.
“Construction season is underway and we strongly encourage drivers to obey traffic laws and speed limits in work zones,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “While road crews perform essential work to keep our roads safe, it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure we all get home safely.”
Last year was a sober reminder of the dangers road workers face while performing their duties. In 2020, there were five fatal construction related incidents in Michigan including one in Macomb County that resulted in the loss of a MCDR road crew member – Zach Morisette.
MCDR’s goal is to keep the roads as safe as possible with the support of the motoring public. Drivers are strongly encouraged to practice these driving tips:
- Plan ahead. Expect delays, plan for them, and leave early to reach your destination on time. When you can, avoid work zones altogether by using alternate routes.
- Obey road crews and signs. When approaching a work zone, watch for cones, barrels, signs, large vehicles, or workers in bright-colored vests to warn you and direct you where to go.
- Slow down. Look for signs indicating the speed limit through the work zone. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you and follow the posted speed limit.
- Move over. Most state move-over laws apply when passing work crews and official vehicles parked on the shoulder with flashing warning lights.
- Avoid distractions. Keep your eyes on the road and off your phone at all times.
- Watch for sudden stoppages. Don’t make sudden lane changes in front of trucks that are trying to slow down.
The Department of Roads annual construction and maintenance operations are underway and the department has released its 2021 road and bridge project schedule, which includes significant work across the region.
“We have more than $100 million in substantial road and bridge improvements planned that will strengthen and enhance Macomb County’s infrastructure and transportation network,” said MCDR Director Bryan Santo. “Through our construction and maintenance programs and community partnerships, we are committed to improving Macomb County's infrastructure to deliver quality roads and bridges.”
The 2021 construction schedule includes 14 primary and local road projects, six bridges and large culverts, in addition to more than 25 asphalt resurfacing and concrete pavement repair projects as part of MCDR’s county-wide pavement preservation program. Work planned also includes four township residential streets as part of MCDR’s subdivision reconstruction assistance program, various maintenance projects, and traffic technology and communication network modernizations.
Among work slated for 2021, is the multi-year $217 million Innovate Mound project with work phased over four construction seasons. When completed, the project will reconstruct approximately nine miles of the Mound Road corridor. The innovations include enhanced connectivity by incorporating state-of-the-art design and smart technology to create a modern corridor. Innovate Mound, a partnership between MCDR and the cities of Warren and Sterling Heights, will include new pavement, drainage, curbs and driveways, traffic signal optimization, roadway widening, connected vehicle and fiber optic communications technology, enhanced non-motorized facilities, and energy-efficient lighting to create a corridor that will continue to serve the community for decades to come.
To help Macomb County motorists navigate local construction work, click here to find a map of specific locations where primary and local road and bridge projects will occur in 2021.
For a complete list of 2021 projects, maps and information, visit roads.macombgov.org. You can also sign up to receive email and text alerts for construction and traffic updates. For more information regarding work zone safety and NWZAW, visit nwzaw.org.
Support offered through the Office of Senior Services
County Executive Mark Hackel has always made the safety and well-being of senior citizens a top priority. This has been especially true since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, when the Macomb County Office of Senior Services sprang into action to serve the area’s most vulnerable population.
Through several strategic pivots, the office went from utilizing volunteers to redeploying county staff to ensure the Meals on Wheels program - which provides nutritional meals to homebound individuals - never missed a meal. When the office learned that seniors were having trouble getting essential PPE or basic supplies, it organized and delivered care packages to more than 2,000 households. And perhaps most notably, the office orchestrated a partnership with the Shipt grocery delivery service that gives anyone over the age of 55 a free membership to the program.
Other available services include:
Home Delivered Meals - available to homebound seniors, delivered Monday-Friday.
Dining Senior Style - lunchtime meal available at 20 locations, Monday-Friday. Due to COVID, meals currently provided to go.
Handy Helpers - carpet cleaning, replace lightbulbs & door locks, replace washers & faucets, weather stripping, pest control, and limited, heavy duty cleaning.
Friendly Caller - volunteers call weekly to check-in and have friendly conversation.
Community Liaison - a trained advocate will help refer for resources, assist with medicare enrollment and other benefit applications.
Dementia Adult Day Care - Specialized respite day program for individuals with dementia.
To learn more, click here or call the Office of Senior Services 586-469-5228.
Macomb Business Shoutout
Have you heard? Macomb County Planning and Economic Development is highlighting local leading industries through a yearlong series of workshops, roundtables and blogs to showcase the areas with the greatest potential to create prosperity. Make sure to follow along on the Macomb Business blog and Facebook to see which sectors get the spotlight.
Senior Community COVID-19 Town Hall; Thursday, April 29 at 1 p.m.
To air on Executive Hackel's Facebook page
Save the Date! Saturday, September 25, 2021
Macomb County is hosting Meet Me on the Trail Day to celebrate local parks and natural resources! More details coming soon.
Click here for more events near you.
Detroit Regional Chamber's Employer Forum: Building Vaccine Confidence Within Your Workplace; Thursday, May 6 from 1 to 2 p.m.
APACC's Happy Hour with Supplier Diversity Team from Ford Motor Company; Friday, May 7 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
SBDC's Starting a Business - Webinar; Monday, May 10 from 11 a.m. to noon
Click here for more business events.
Point of Pride
Macomb County has reached an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19 by administering more than 172,000 doses of the vaccine!
COVID-19 resources for businesses are still available. Click here to learn more.