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NOVI,MI-Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson recently extolled increased development of high-tech businesses in the county, and made a case in comparing the area to Silicon Valley in a recent speech at the Information Technology Event. In his remarks, he bragged about the success of his creation, Automation Alley.

Patterson first introduced the concept of Automation Alley in 1998, when he pointed out in a county address that Oakland doesn’t compete with neighboring counties, but rather against California’s Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 128.

Automation Alley began that year with a nucleus of 45 companies in the general proximity of the I-75 and I-696 freeways. However, the geographical landscape has since been extended beyond the borders of Oakland County and the number of companies belonging to Automation Alley has now increased to nearly 320.

Automation Alley competes for new businesses by offering lower median housing prices and cost of living and a higher per capita income than either of the other two high-tech regions, according to Patterson.

“We also compare favorably with them in terms of unemployment rate, job growth, professional salaries, the number of universities and colleges located nearby and commute time,” Patterson says.

He also says he wants to attract Covisint, an automotive business-to-business Internet portal with an estimated $250 billion to $750 billion in annual purchasing power. Company president Kevin English says the new firm’s permanent home will be in Southeast Michigan. Its temporary home is Southfield.

Patterson says it only makes sense to bring Covisint to Oakland.”Their customers are located here,” the executive says. “An independent study conducted by the Anderson Economic Group of Lansing found that 42 of the top 100 suppliers to the North American auto industry have their headquarters within 10 miles of our Automation Alley. As the report states, ‘No other location in North America comes close to this concentration of assembly plants and suppliers.’”

The power marketing of Automation Alley will continue in order to bring in more and more companies that will want to build and develop their businesses in Oakland, he adds.

“My confidence level is high that some day soon we will be recognized globally as one of the premier technology centers, where innovation and imagination go hand in hand to create the most technologically advanced products and services available anywhere in the world,” Patterson says.

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