Quick Start For “One Stop Ready” Hutchinson HQ Project

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The City of Auburn Hills has been working closely with General Development Company to help facilitate their construction of Hutchinson’s new 60,502 square foot corporate office building on property located west of Cross Creek Parkway, south of University Drive.  The smooth start for the $8 million project is a testament to both the City’s intense focus on customer service and the developer’s expertise in construction.

Tree clearing is underway on the Hutchinson HQ project

Staff began review of the project’s site plan in late March and the City Council authorized construction on April 24th.  Tree clearing began in early May and will soon be complete.  Mass grading of the site is scheduled for next week and the erection of steel is anticipated to begin in August.  This pace is crazy fast and efficient when benchmarked against other municipalities across the nation, which is a source of pride for both our community and Oakland County.

The property is situated within the Oakland Technology Park, just south of the Delphi building.

Auburn Hills is part of Oakland County’s One Stop Ready Program, which is a proactive initiative aimed at streamlining the development approval processes in communities throughout the County.  The program was created after the Great Recession in an effort to better recruit and retain businesses, which in return brings more jobs and a stronger tax base.  This project is an excellent real world example of the program in action as it kept over 200 jobs in our town.

General Development Company anticipates the building will be ready for occupancy by June 2018.  We will be sure to report back with updates as construction progresses.

Radical Hospitality

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

What is a One Stop Ready Community?

It’s a town that focuses on the customer.  Whether someone is building a business headquarters or an addition to their home, their needs and schedules come first.  One Stop Ready is an Oakland County initiative that aims to educate its communities in best practices for economic development.

This past Wednesday night, City Manager Pete Auger was invited by County leaders to share the Auburn Hills’ approach to fostering development.  Something we like to call “Radical Hospitality.”

The audience he spoke to consisted of six other Oakland County communities that are also dedicated to improving their own development processes.

Pete Auger speaking at the One Stop Ready workshop this past Wednesday

Pete Auger speaking at the One Stop Ready workshop this past Wednesday

Pete’s advice?

  • Focus on what you are.  Communities have different strengths, so identify your assets and promote them.
  • Utilize available resources and keep the public well-informed.
  • Develop a streamlined, flexible process and guide customers through it according to their timelines.
  • Meet with customers before they apply and make it mandatory that key staff attend those meetings to immediately answer questions and problem solve.
  • Empower your staff to make decisions and give them the resources to do so.

Pete encouraged the audience to be deliberate and diligent in all these efforts.  It is this process that has made Auburn Hills successful.

Great job representing us, Pete.

Are We The Best?

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

It was an awkward question to ask.  You could tell by looking at the expressions of some folks in attendance that they did not appreciate what it implied.

Yes, we strive to be the best we can be.

Yes, we strive to be the best we can be.

We were simply asked a Yes or No question:  Would you consider your community the “best” at facilitating economic development?  How do you answer that question in front of your peers without sounding cocky?

Honestly, I wished for a second that our City Manager Pete Auger was there to stand up and eloquently offer his views.  His leadership and influence on our organization has galvanized us from top to bottom on one common purpose.  We call it “Radical Hospitality.”  But, Pete couldn’t attend, so we answered collectively and unequivocally … Yes!  However, that’s not the whole story.

As a little background, several leaders from the City of Auburn Hills, along with members of six other communities, attended an educational workshop held by Oakland County yesterday for its One Stop Ready Program.  One Stop Ready is a proactive initiative aimed at streamlining the development approval processes in municipalities throughout the County.

Why is this important?  A ton of jobs and tax revenue have been lost in Michigan since 2005, which has created a gaping hole in our budgets of lost money needed to provide the public services people have come to expect.  Thus, we need to do a better job as a region to recruit and retain businesses.  We must let companies know that they are wanted.  Perhaps, first say “Thank You” when someone decides to invest millions of dollars into your community and then work side-by-side to help them do it.

The impetus behind the County’s question was to foster friendly competition between the communities to motivate them to do better.  Their message was ground in the reality that if you don’t want to hustle to recruit or keep businesses, others will – whether in the town next door, or in North Carolina, or in another country – and you will lose.

It has become common place in Auburn Hills to see the world through the “eyes of a developer.”  We have found that they are not evil (most are very nice people) and that they create jobs and pay a lot of taxes, which helps us keep police officers on the street.   Over the years, we have collaborated with hundreds of businesses to make a better community for everyone.  It’s a smart game plan.

However, it’s not just the competition that motivates us to work our butts off on a consistent basis.  Trust me, we are very competitive and like to do well.   But, it’s the love and passion we have for the City of Auburn Hills and the legacy that we wish to leave behind that inspires us.  We have a discernible vision for serving the customer in a unique way, along with a strong emphasis on excellence and quality.  It’s the ethics of our organization.  So, gaining additional tax revenue is simply one of many important bottom lines – a by-product of our desire to serve others.

Author C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Pride is essentially competitive.  Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”

Are we the best?  Yes, with the caveat that we’re not good enough and must work everyday to get better.  Our focus is not centered on pride, but on building a better mousetrap.  We’re driven out of the interest of excellence and service to people, not to put ourselves in a position to look down on others.  In my humble opinion, an intentional focus on this type of radical hospitality, if fully embraced, can help Oakland County grow for many generations to come.

The Snow Will Not Hinder Them

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

An inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City reads: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  Well, you can expect the same from your Planning Commission.

Despite reports of perhaps the 3rd storm of the century anticipated for this winter, the group still plans to meet tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Robert W. Grusnick Public Safety Building.

It will be an interesting session as the Planning Commission will tackle a wide variety of topics.  Such as,

  • Talk to representatives from Oakland County about their One Stop Ready Program, as Auburn Hills is anticipated to become a leader in the initiative.  The program encourages Oakland County municipalities to be ready for development in terms of ease of project review and transparency, so that our region can out perform places like Silicon Valley in Northern California or the Research Triangle in North Carolina.  The key is to serve the customer.  Hey, that’s what we’re all about!
  • Hold a public hearing and provide a recommendation to the City Council on allowing taller building heights in our industrial districts.  As one of Michigan’s premier industrial employment centers, Auburn Hills is working proactively to address the growing demand in the marketplace for manufacturing and warehouse facilities with higher ceilings.
  • Roll-up their sleeves and work through the framework of developing a Complete Streets Policy.  The policy will help guide future decisions on how to plan for all modes of transportation (e.g., cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and transit) within our roadways.
  • Continue their work with Planning for the Aging Population in our town.

As you can see, the Auburn Hills Planning Commission is little too busy to let a few inches of snow slow them down.  Luckily, we can trust that our Department of Public Services will always have the roads clear and safe.

snowplow51

So, we hope you can brave the elements and attend.  The meeting will be an interactive one, so that you will have the opportunity to participate with one of the most innovative planning groups you’ll ever see in government.