Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager
Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.
City Manager, Auburn Hills, MI
Two billion of anything is a lot. Two billion dollars is too.
Last night I was able to attend a Two Billion Dollar party, no, the party didn’t cost $2 billion. This was a celebration marking over $2 billion investment by private companies in the Emerging Sectors program.
County Executive L. Brooks Patterson started the Emerging Sectors program years ago to start recruiting and attracting a more diversified employment base for the county. We have now gone by that $2 billion investment mark, and to celebrate this milestone Brooks hosted about 700 people on the floor of the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The biggest surprise for me was what a neat setting the Palace was for the event. I have been in the Palace many times over the past 30 years but the layout, the lighting and the entire setting was really cool. I’ll have to keep that in mind when people are inquiring about space for events…always think outside the box of what you see.
So, it was a very good night in Auburn Hills, right in the center of Oakland County, still positioned well and poised for more growth. It was great to see and speak with business leaders in the county and see people all with a little more hop in their step…
They actually showed a video of some of these businesses (yes AH was well represented). After the video a few people came up and said they should have shown the Auburn Hills video from a few years back, ah yes I had to go back and watch it again this morning and you can too by clicking here (http://vimeo.com/58724229 ).
Now, go take on the day!
We had a very active City Council meeting last night. There was a lot on the agenda and some topics needed healthy discussion.
We approved the parts of the processes to remove an obsolete vacant movie theatre that’s been sitting in a sea of an asphalt parking lot for over a decade, then you will see a great looking structure going up over the next year (and then an additional building after that).
We also welcomed a new company that has ground breaking technology that will aid in improving diesel fuel mileage and efficiencies. This company is planning on hiring about 377 new employees, also filling up a vacant building (our inventory of buildings is getting slimmer every month).
Then we were presented with our annual audit. This is always an interesting process and council members get to inquire with our auditors on where we stand financially, and if we are keeping up with the financial standards and methodologies to give a true picture of the organization’s finances.
Maybe not the most complicated topics, but very important, were the parking changes that the City Council approved last night for our downtown district. The decision to honor the request of the downtown business owners and move to angle parking from parallel parking in this district will double the amount of parking spaces and reduce the traffic lanes to one lane each way (therefore slowing traffic) was a very healthy discussion. The discussion about complete street designs also lead to adding “sharrows” that highlight the duel use of the roadway with motor vehicles and bicycles. The City Council also wanted to tweak our local traffic ordinances to codify that vehicles have to stop for pedestrians in the cross walks. This will be valuable for the mid-block crosswalk where there is no traffic signal.
So, a lot of variety last night and a lot of neat things happening in Auburn Hills.
I was reading the Oakland Press and saw where The School District for the City of Pontiac escaped dissolution as a bill worked its way through the legislative process. Kind of ironic they used the word escape; it conjures up the image of someone avoiding something. The hero in this latest twist and ongoing saga, ISD Superintendent Vickie Markavitch, who advocated that intermediate school districts take over systems in financial emergency for three to six years until they are back on their feet financially and academically.
Excuse me, but I have not heard one other reasonable person say that this district can even pay their own bills let alone get back on their feet in 3-6 years. I just wish she laid out the plan on the table so we could all be amazed together.
The district has shrunk from somewhere around 21,000 students to around 5,000. I think it’s time we work on saving the other 5,000 children and quit playing politics with their lives. It should not be seen as some saving grace that a ceiling of 2,500 students made it into the legislation, but me thinks it begs other questions that no one will be able to ask or answer.
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
I know I have said it before but life does not slow down in the City of Auburn Hills. While the everyday work is being done, regularly scheduled meetings occur and the high level of customer service is being offered, there are new projects popping up, brainstorming sessions going on, ribbon cuttings and other events being planned. Not to mention the last minute urgent matters that must be dealt with at any given moment. I think all of these examples are why I love my job. There is rarely a dull moment and there is so much to keep up with and know.
It is nice when the occasion of a ribbon cutting occurs. It is a time to stop and appreciate that businesses want to be here in our City. Each time there is a ribbon cutting it creates conversation about the business and what it “brings to the table” for our community. There is definitely a sense of pride because of the hard work involved, on behalf of the business and the employees at the City. I personally think it is important to take a minute to acknowledge the accomplishments happening as we continue on this fast paced roller coaster called life.
Yesterday, a moment such as that occurred at Munetrix. The company was incorporated in April 2010 and went live in production in April 2011 with SEMCOG as the first customer. The business was run out of a converted garage in Keego Harbor until December 2012. The partners/co founders are Bob Kittle and Buzz Brown. They currently have 3 full time and 5 part time employees. Growth will add 3-4 more full time positions between now and the end of 2014. Munetrix partners with many outstanding organizations and associations and has discovered a way to standardize local government financial reporting regardless of the state or type of government, something that has been pursued for years with very limited success.
Congratulations to Mr. Kittle, Mr. Brown and their staff!
As part of my job I occasionally get those interesting last minute calls. Today was one of those days. One of our companies was welcoming a new employee and they asked if I could come up and help make them feel welcomed to the community.
Of course you know by reading this blog we, here in Auburn Hills, will do almost anything to help businesses located here. So I had to say yes.
It was a very good press conference as the Pistons introduced Maurice Cheeks as the next Head Basketball Coach at The Palace of Auburn Hills today. It was also good to see the other members of the Palace team too, but this was an introduction to the coach.
So, first impressions on the coach:
First impressions are good; I know he was a competitor on the floor when I watched him as a youth. He led Portland to consecutive playoffs and guided the lowly 76ers to the playoffs, plus was an assistant with Oklahoma.
Wow, he’s got work to do now, get his staff together, analyze and evaluate current talent and get ready for the draft that is just around the corner. I can’t wait to see what happens this year, maybe I’ll see you up at the Palace…
You may have noticed no new post on this here blog for about a week. Well it is not that everything stopped in our city, but for the fact where our blog is hosted was shut down. Hope you missed us, we missed you.
Sometimes it takes an incident where we miss something to understand the value of said item. I guess the other side of that coin is maybe people will forget about checking this site. I hope not. We are up to about 750,000 hits on this blog in a year. Wouldn’t it be neat to get to that million hit milestone in a year. I think that’s a new goal to strive for.
So, sorry the site was not updated, we are still here, plugging away. More news soon….
Today I was ready to put on my cheerleading uniform and shout about some great business developments within our fine community. Our team has worked hard to assist others meet their goals and deadlines so they (and we in turn) continue to grow and prosper. But then I was stopped in my tracks when I realize that it was 69 years ago today that an event changed the world.
This event by far overshadows all the great accomplishments of our community’s accomplishments. Today is the day, the longest day if you will; today Allied troops waded ashore in Normandy, France as part of Operation Overlord. This invasion some still call D-Day, and I fear that our next generation(s) will forget the true grit, the unwillingness to fail, the American resolve for good to triumph over evil. And oh yes, I fear they might forget about those who are no longer with us for they did not make it off the beach.
The battle was a decisive part of our victory. It was at a heavy cost, and those who paid the price should not be forgotten.
So, there will be no bragging today about our team or those who are growing their businesses in Auburn Hills. Instead, I pause for a moment of thanks and gratitude for those who are not with us any longer and those families who also lost something that can’t be replaced, because of them we can always continue to tell our story on another day.
Part of my responsibilities in our organization is to ensure we hire the right people. Therefore, I sit in on the final interview to full time hires. This does take some time, but in my opinion, is well worth the investment to get the right people on the Auburn Hills bus. These decisions are not always so easy. We get our share of outstanding applicants.
We also have a process in place that has served us well. Not only do we review the resumes and applications, but applicants also go through our in-house assessment center where we look for the characteristics and traits of great employees. These folks are then interviewed by a team that looks for a certain fit that will work in our environment. Some even get a ride-a-long or job shadow to ensure they know of the standards we have and what will be expected.
By the time the Department Head and I sit down with these prospects, they should know something about our organization and what makes us different.
I love seeing the excitement and passion that new hires bring to the table. The people we hire will have the opportunity of bright futures and endless possibilities.
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
Entertaining children can be a challenge and expensive, or so I thought.
When I have my nieces and nephew visit, I try to spend quality time with them. They dislike leaving the cell phones and iPods behind when we venture out on a walk, but they know that’s the rule. Once they get engaged with fishing at the lake or playing at the park, I think they forget all about the phones. But we can only go to the lake or the park so many times before I get the dreaded look of boredom from them.
The Summer Reading 2013 Kick Off Event will be held on Saturday, June 15th from 2-4pm. Remember “Where the Wild Things Are”? Special Guest Martina Hahn, a speed painter (video), will present a family program about it.
Join us at the Auburn Hills Public Library for popcorn, punch, ice cream, henna tattoos, face painting and books, lots and lots of books. I know two young ladies that are going to have a blast that day and I will enjoy not breaking the budget.
Back from a few days on Mackinac Island with 2,000 business folks and some state and federal legislators. Again, the newer style of conference with no time in-between sessions made it tougher for me to ice down the swollen knee, but adversity is an opportunity for improvising and I made it through okay.
A lot of the conversation was about gaining the employment base back, a kind of twist from years past. Most businesses were looking for employees and ways to recruit people from around the globe. I even met some people who heard about our listing as the 5th hottest city market in the US for hiring engineers.
Still a lot of conversation of educating our youth and what is the best practice. Met some finance and investment folks too, they were real interested in what makes our organization “different”. Yes, sometimes different is good. It is going to be election year coming up so there was the share of elected people or people hoping to be on this trip. Fortunately I don’t have to deal with all that “stuff”, but it makes for good people watching.
We were able to speak to some key people on different policy objectives that may help us resolve some of the issues we face. But the best part is telling the Auburn Hills story. Some people said it couldn’t be done, others say it can’t last…Oh but I love our position and chances at proving the folks wrong.
Biggest surprise on the trip was two suitcases committing suicide on the ferryboat ride back, yup; they jumped right off the top of the luggage rack and into the choppy waters of the Straights of Mackinac …not a happy ending for two passengers.