By Epiphany Communications & Coaching*
Born and raised in Macomb County, Michigan, Mark A. Hackel is a proud graduate of Warren Consolidated Schools where he never missed a day of classes. He holds an associate degree from Macomb Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University.
He began his career in law enforcement in 1981 as a dispatcher with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department. Over the next 20 years he worked his way through every rank and was ultimately elected sheriff in 2000.
As sheriff, he was recognized for his innovative law enforcement practices and his fiscal discipline. Hackel was elected to serve as Macomb’s first-ever county executive in November 2010, finishing first in every voting precinct in the county. During his time as executive, he has transformed county government by making it more economical, efficient, and ethical.
As chief executive officer of Michigan’s third largest county, Hackel is aggressively focusing on both economic and community development. He created an award-winning marketing and branding campaign “Make Macomb Your Home’ that has raised the profile of Macomb County. Executive Hackel actively promotes the county’s strong defense, automotive and advanced manufacturing capacity.
He is also championing the “Blue Economy” initiative, which supports clean water, tourism, recreation and economic development of Lake St. Clair and the Clinton River. Hackel is a forceful advocate for Macomb County on key regional issues and has been an effective voice with Macomb’s elected delegation in Lansing and Washington D.C. He is committed to providing innovative leadership for the region, while delivering services citizens and businesses expect.
MIRA President and CEO, Bill Wild, has had a long-time professional relationship with the Macomb County Executive and the two recently caught up with each other at the Mackinac Policy Conference. We share this month’s CEO-to-CEO.
You have been a long-time public servant, what attracted you to public office and what keeps you interested?
I was drawn to public service early in my career. It all began when I took on a job as a dispatcher, where I quickly realized my passion for helping others and making a positive impact on the community, which has grown stronger over the years.
My experiences with police work played a crucial role in exposing me to the multifaceted nature of public service. Through my service in law enforcement, I witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by our society and the importance of effective governance and leadership. This exposure motivated me to contribute on a larger scale and pursue a career in public office.
What keeps me interested in public service is the ability to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Every day presents an opportunity to address critical issues, improve public safety, enhance community well-being, and promote positive change.
How important are your public/private relationships?
Public/private relationships are essential in helping our communities thrive. These relationships serve as a vital bridge between government entities and private sector organizations, enabling dynamic collaboration and community driven solutions.
Public/private partnerships allow us to use the reach of government with the creativity of business. By fostering partnerships with private businesses, community organizations, and other stakeholders, we can tap into diverse expertise, resources, and perspectives that make our communities stronger.
Overall, the importance of public/private relationships cannot be overstated. That is the difference maker. That is how things get done.
You have been attending the Mackinac Policy Conference for several years, why is it important and how has networking on the island benefited Macomb County?
I have been attending the Mackinac Policy Conference for several years because it holds great importance for both Macomb County and myself. This annual event provides a unique opportunity to connect with chief decision-makers, bringing together leaders from various sectors and regions.
The significance of the conference lies in its ability to serve as a platform for highlighting the impact Macomb County has on the larger region and the state as a whole. It allows us to showcase the vital contributions, accomplishments, and potential of our county, shedding light on our economic strengths, innovative initiatives, and community-driven projects.
Overall, the Mackinac Policy Conference offers a dynamic environment where we can engage with influential leaders, strengthen ties with our counterparts, and collectively address the challenges and opportunities facing Macomb County. It helps us amplify our voice, showcase our strengths, and forge partnerships that benefit not only our county but also the broader region and the state as a whole.
How can MIRA members and our association best engage you and Macomb County?
MIRA members and your partner networks can best engage with Macomb County through our planning and economic development team. This dedicated team is responsible for driving growth, fostering economic opportunities, and enhancing the overall quality of life in our county.
Connecting with our planning and economic development team, MIRA members can explore potential collaborations, share ideas, and discuss opportunities for partnership. Our team is well-versed in the unique strengths and needs of Macomb County, and they can provide valuable insights and guidance to support your association’s initiatives.
More information can be found at
You have been a big advocate for small business, tell us how you have engaged with the business community over the years?
Engaging with the business community has been a top priority for me over the years, as I strongly believe in the importance of supporting and advocating for small businesses. As the county executive, I and my team have been dedicated to fostering an environment where businesses can thrive.
To engage with the business community, we have taken several measures to provide support and resources tailored to the unique needs of businesses at every stage of growth. We have established a range of services and programs designed to assist small businesses in Macomb County.
So, whether you’re a startup, an established business, or anywhere in between, we are your business partner here to support your growth and success.
What are the top issues you are addressing today in Macomb County?
Currently, in Macomb County, we are actively addressing two top issues that are of critical importance to our community: Mental Health and Infrastructure.
In recent years, there has been an increase in advocacy, awareness and understanding of mental health, but many communities and individuals still face significant barriers to accessing mental health services. Many times, people in crisis end up in jails instead of in the care of trained professionals, who are prepared to deal with and treat a wide variety of concerns. This cycle escalated when a number of state facilities, and facilities across the country, began to be decommissioned in the 1960s. Through its new jail intake center, Macomb County plans to address this decades-long gap in care.
The proposed new jail intake facility is projected to cost $228 million and will be paid for utilizing both county and state funding.
We understand that being in contact with law enforcement can be an overwhelming and stressful experience, especially for individuals who may be struggling with mental health issues. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment where individuals can receive the appropriate care and resources they need, rather than just being locked up.
The new planned intake process includes a comprehensive mental health assessment to ensure that every individual receives the proper care and support they require. We work with a team of experienced mental health professionals who can provide clinical assessments and ensure that individuals are connected with the appropriate resources and services, such as counseling and therapy.
Macomb County is committed to advocating for improved mental health care for individuals in the community and will continue to partner with stakeholders to achieve this goal, including the experts at Macomb County Community Mental Health (MCCMH).
We want to provide a safe, supportive, and compassionate environment for everyone who comes through our doors. We recognize that mental health support and resources are crucial to help individuals thrive and reach their full potential.
Infrastructure is another key issue we continue to prioritize in Macomb County. From the roads that we travel each day to the utilities that serve our homes and places of business, our nation, state and local communities continue to face generational challenges to invest in these assets.
Here in Macomb, we have continued to develop modern tools and programs that can ensure we have the strategies in place to enhance our infrastructure network. From our asset management program examining real time road conditions to our capital investment plans with Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, we are committed to investing in these foundational community building blocks. As with every community asset it always comes down to funding. There isn’t one road or bridge that we couldn’t fix if we had the funding. We have engaged our legislative counterparts at the federal, state, and local level to help advocate for more resources in these areas. We will continue to champion for more infrastructure dollars, which in turn will help our communities prosper.
We are dedicated to engaging with stakeholders, leveraging partnerships, and utilizing data-driven strategies to effectively tackle these top issues and make a positive impact in Macomb County.
What else would you like our MIRA members to know about the work you are doing in Macomb County?
In addition to what has already been mentioned, talent retention, building vibrant communities, and the welcoming nature of Macomb County, there are several other aspects of our work that I would like MIRA members to know about.
Talent retention is a critical priority for us. We recognize the importance of attracting and retaining skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovators in our county. We currently have strong partnerships with Ford Next Generation Learning, Macomb Community College as well as our Macomb Intermediate School District that we see continuing to strengthen with current and new relationships in the business community.
Building vibrant communities is another key focus area. We understand that vibrant communities are the heart of Macomb County. We work to create spaces that offer a high quality of life, with access to amenities, cultural events, recreational activities, and social opportunities.
The welcoming nature of Macomb County is also a core value. We celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity throughout our community. We believe that embracing different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures strengthens the fabric of our county.
By focusing on talent retention, building vibrant communities, and promoting the welcoming nature of Macomb County, we are committed to creating an environment that attracts businesses, nurtures innovation, and enhances the overall well-being of our community.
*Writers with Epiphany Communications and Coaching are content creators for Bottom Line.