By Chad Halcom
Making Woodward Avenue cool — presumably more than it is already to muscle car fans and pub-crawling millennials — could revitalize Pontiac, diversify the economy into the technology sector and even reverse brain drain, a committee of the Oakland County Business Roundtable has determined.
The “Coolest Corridor” initiative, proposed by the roundtable’s Economic Development Committee at the annual roundtable meeting today at the Troy Marriott, calls for convening a task force to determine how to support business growth trends and attract and retain tech companies.
The task force would consist of members from the economic development committee, co-chaired by Russ Shelton of Shelton Pontiac-Buick-GMC in Rochester Hills and Mike Cooper of Harley Ellis Devereaux in Southfield, along with its other three committees to develop a retention and business development strategy.
The committee proposes that the task force would promote the Woodward Corridor brand and support redevelopment of communities along the corridor, much like the Woodward Avenue Action Association in Royal Oak, but also enhance public safety and “extend the corridor from Pontiac to downtown Detroit,” according to the business roundable’s 2013 annual report.
“Woodward Avenue does not stop at the boundary of Oakland County, providing an opportunity to connect with edgy communities within Detroit,” the report states. “The Coolest Corridor initiative would promote a vibrant mix of social gathering where commerce, culture, recreation, entertainment, education and inspiration meet.”
In other notable recommendations Wednesday, a subcommittee of the quality of life committee has completed a market study for a proposed pilot project in Clawson to help promote downtown business districts to the county’s older residents. The committee also recommended implementing an economic development action plan to promote downtowns based on the results of that program, and promoting the county as a possible “retirement destination of choice,” to retain and attract retirees.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who attended Wednesday’s roundtable meeting, hears reports and policy recommendations from its four committees: workforce and education, economic development, quality of life and transportation. He and his staff have said the county generally adopts about 80 percent of the roundtable’s recommendations each year.