Mayors Share Successes in Madison Heights/Hazel Park State of the Cities Address
(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 3, 2019)
Madison Heights, Hazel Park, MI- The Mayors of Madison Heights and Hazel Park captivated an audience of local business people and community leaders Friday morning with stories of community success.
The annual State of the Cities Address is hosted by the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce.  Each year it alternates between the two cities. This year it was held at Shelving Inc. at 29275 Stephenson Hwy.  Framed by stacks of bright orange beams with the whir of forklifts and the glow of warehouse lighting adding to the industrial ambiance, the guests enjoyed a breakfast catered by Lamphere Schools.  They also got to learn more about their communities.
Hazel Park Mayor Mike Webb shared a video that included business owners like Kevin Cuza of Box Design Furniture who touted the city’s convenient location close to Woodward Avenue and I-75, and staff such as Recreation Director Sareen Papakhian who announced a new playground structure coming to Tuski Park.
The video also included a segment by Kayla Smith of the Hazel Park Promise Zone, a group that raises money to fund two years of community college for any qualifying Hazel Park School District students.  Their goal is to increase this to four years.  This year they’ve added an additional service to the students – the funding of a full time success coach who “works one on one with students and graduates to help them be successful,” Smith said.
Mayor Webb is proud of the declining crime rates in the community.  “Our Police Department did a remarkable job in 2018. Our crime is as low as it has ever been. We showed a marked decline in your crime statistics last year. The stats show that robberies are down 23%, breaking and entering is down 37%, destruction of property is down 30% and retail fraud is down 32%,” he said.
“Our Fire Department continued to excel as well. In 2018, the Fire Department responded to over 3,000 calls. This is an all-time record for the City of Hazel Park. I want to take this opportunity to thank our Police and fire departments for protecting and caring for our City.”
Property values were another point of pride.  “Already in 2019, our residential home values rose over 13%, one of the highest increases in Oakland County.
Mayor Webb talked about other initiatives, such as the Master Plan and Recreation Plan for the city being updated, road repairs on John R and 9 Mile Roads, and the planting of 15 trees at Scout Park thanks to a grant.  He also welcomed new businesses including Civitas (a coffee shop), Youngbloods (barbershop w/apparel), Ink (art studios), the refurbished Doug’s Delight, and Latido at Joe Bar.  He also announced a new partnership with Build Institute, an organization that provides education, assistance and networking to potential local start-ups.
“I am proud to be part of this innovative city and community that truly is the hero of its own story,” Mayor Webb said.
Madison Heights Mayor Brian Hartwell thanked the council and members of staff, highlighting the city’s new City Manager Melissa Marsh.  “Melissa was hired by City Council after a nationwide search, actually, an international search. Melissa is no stranger to Madison Heights. She has served our residents for 13 years. When we asked her to step up, she rose to the challenge.
“Melissa immediately put in motion transformational change. For the first time in years, morale at city hall is off the charts, thanks to Melissa’s cooperative approach with our 150 full time and 150 part time employees. Melissa interacts with the public with such grace, confidence, and sincerity unseen in other city managers, that I believe city hall has become a more welcoming, accessible institution.
“Also important, Melissa designed a new Strategic Planning process, a “Blueprint for our Future” that allows us to make fiscally smart decisions. Over the next three to five years, you will see this strategic plan come to life with a focus on 5 areas: Economic Development, Public Safety, Quality of Life, Infrastructure, and Financial Sustainability. The 5 pillars of progress. Please join me in thanking City Manager Melissa Marsh.”
The Mayor also talked about economic prosperity, recognizing expansions and development by Madison Heights companies like Tygrus, Brasco International, Design Fabrication, and AMS Steel.  In the past year 144 companies have invested $18.5 million in development and improvements.
Among those was Shelving Inc. who moved from Auburn Hills to Madison Heights during the past year, investing $1.8 million in the building where the Friday morning speech was held.  The move brought 40 new jobs to the city.  “Our city’s new policy to be development ready was the key to closing this deal,” Mayor Hartwell said. Vivmax Media and Edward Duffy & Company were also included int he speech.  Vimax is a food marking company that produced branded social media food content, and Edward Duffy & Company makes mechanical tubing and pipe.  Coming soon to Madison Heights are a new Kia dealership on 14 Mile, and a BJ’s Warehouse Club store at 12 Mile and John R.
Another area of business that will soon grow in the community is that of medical marijuana.  Mayor Hartwell explained the city’s plans. “Our new ordinance makes several compromises based on input from residents. First, we will allow only two dispensaries. The other 12 businesses will be nondescript industrial and office uses including grows, processors, transporters, and scientific testing labs. You won’t know they exist but for the hundreds of new jobs they create. Second, the new businesses must be 500 feet away from a residential district, school, church, or child care home….Medical marijuana in Madison Heights will benefit patients, rehabilitate derelict industrial sites, create hundreds of new jobs, and pay for itself through fees and increased property values.”
Mayor Hartwell also announced the creation of two new awards.
The first went to Kymm Clark who co-owns Clark’s Fabrication.  Clark recently helped organize a popup marker’s exhibition that featured 15 artists, makers, and collectors. The show brought 250 visitors and raised over $1,000 for the Madison Heights Arts Board to fund a mural.  “This award shall be given to a dreamer in Madison Heights who wakes up and takes action to build their vision of a better community,” Mayor Hartwell said.
The Mayor’s Cooperation Award went to “someone who has spent years building relationships that benefit Madison Heights,” the mayor said.  “The recipient is Emily Rohrbach. Emily’s passion is helping and training women to enter leadership roles whether they are in government or business. She has helped launch the careers of countless leaders. She also mentors children to help them explore futures in government by making it relevant to them. Emily has built a network of powerful people that trust her. Please join me in thanking Emily for her unsung service to our community.”
Hartwell recognized efforts made in every department, and spoke of bright plans for the future.  “This upcoming year will be busy and exciting as we consider a Master Plan update, formalize an Economic Development marketing plan, and develop a citywide branding platform. We will be enhancing our community image through public relations and citizen engagement events. We recently applied for membership into the Main Street Oakland program through Oakland County, which will help us create a sense of place.”
Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner also addressed the audience, reminding them that April 1 is the deadline to prevent foreclosure by contacting the Oakland County Treasurer’s Office.  He also spoke about resources for business owners provided by Oakland County, including workshops and loan programs.
Lean more about the Madison Heights Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce at www.madisonheightschamber.com.