Rochester will be at the forefront of a new economic development strategy that Oakland County will use to encourage business development and retention.
County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on Thursday identified the five communities chosen for the program, called "One Stop Ready." In addition to Rochester, the communities of Ferndale, Oxford, Lyon Township and Wixom are taking part in the program.
One Stop Ready aims to streamline the process of moving a business project from concept to reality. In a world of young entrepreneurs wanting to send a text message to close a deal, Patterson explained, communities need to be ready to respond quickly to innovation and business pitches.
"We're not here to dictate or tell you how to do business," Patterson said. "We're here to help the whole county be ready to seal the business deal. This is designed to help cut the red tape. The shorter we can make the process, the better it is for the local economy."
One Stop Ready will provide the communities with certain tools and strategies. One such strategy may be a fast-track planned unit development process or a 48-hour permit approval for specific business requests.
More than anything, it will allow the communities to share ideas and learn from one another's experiences.
"We don't want the response to a business to be 'We've never done that before, so let us get back to you,' " said Matt Gibb, deputy county executive for economic development.
Nik Banda, Rochester's deputy city manager for economic development, said he was excited for the city to be chosen to participate in the program.
Last year, Rochester boasted a 97 percent retail occupancy rate and a more than 90 percent overall business occupancy rate.
"The city of Rochester hired me because they get it — they realize the importance of business and even though we are a small town, we're out there. This isn't a competition, we will all learn together."
Patterson said the state of Michigan is looking at One Stop Ready.
"We want to be out front," he said. "I like the opportunity to be the first one through the door."
Patterson said that since 2002 the county has lost about 146,000 jobs. But since that time, they have replaced 68,000 jobs, too.
"We're not where we want to be, but it's a running start. This is just another arrow in our quiver," he said.