ANN ARBOR – Ken Rogers, the longtime executive director of Troy-based Automation Alley and former deputy Oakland County executive, passed in February. Rogers was a deputy Oakland County executive, working under then Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, when Patterson founded Automation Alley in Oakland County and put Rogers in charge.

Both hoped to stem the outflow of thousands of auto-related jobs from Oakland County while also creating better training for high-tech workers. Rogers rapidly built up the industry and high-tech promotion group, at first focusing on county job growth, but soon networking throughout southeast Michigan.

By 2014, Automation Alley had become so effective at bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs to metro Detroit that Patterson cut Rogers loose from any remaining obligations to Oakland County government. That meant Rogers could work full-time at running what he’d groomed to be a self-sustaining membership group.