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Emerging Sectors : Development News

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Two companies invest combined $5.9 million in Auburn Hills and Southfield

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Two companies are expanding their footprint in Oakland County with a combined $5.9 million investment. 

Alpine Electronics of America, Inc., a company that manufactures high-performance mobile electronics, announced recently that it will invest $5.1 million, and create 100 jobs, by expanding its operations in Auburn Hills.

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Auto supplier BorgWarner in Auburn Hills partners with Silicon Valley's Plug and Play accelerator

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BorgWarner, a large automotive supplier in Auburn Hills, announced it is increasing its exposure to emerging technologies and innovation in the mobility sector by partnering with Plug and Play, an accelerator ecosystem for startup companies, and Franklin Venture Partners, a specialized investment team within Franklin Templeton Investments.

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Gongos moves 130+ employees to new Royal Oak facility

Gongos, Inc. officially opened the doors to its newly built 20,000 square-foot headquarters in the vibrant, downtown community of Royal Oak on Tuesday, August 28th.  This relocation marks the culmination of the company’s 2020 vision to deliver on “decision intelligence” for Fortune 500 corporations. As an early occupant of Royal Oak’s #RethinkRO initiative, Gongos’ new space was designed in collaboration with local partners to foster the kind of customer-centric culture it aims to help its clients create.
 
“Our growth and evolution made it clear that we needed to create an environment that fit the company we were rapidly becoming,” said president & CEO, Camille Nicita.  “In early 2018, we recalibrated our people system to adopt a more agile approach to serve our clients’ continuously expanding needs.”
 
Having integrated the disciplines of data science, information design, customer experience, and change management into its already strong consumer insights heritage, Gongos’ new people system was architected to offer equal footing among all disciplines. The progressive design further fuels collaboration, camaraderie and a people-first philosophy, while offering fresh perspectives on its clients’ consumer-minded business challenges.
 
Experiencing 13% organic revenue growth in 2017, Gongos ranks #42 among the largest market research organizations in the U.S.  Although its clients span the globe, Gongos is committed to remaining a Metro Detroit-based company. With 144 employees, it was just recognized as a Crain’s2018 “Cool Places to Work” and is among Corp! Magazine’s and the Detroit Free Press’ lists of companies recognized for top cultures and best practices.
    
As a decision intelligence company, Gongos, Inc. brings a consultative approach in developing growth strategies grounded in operationalizing customer centricity. Partnering with insights, analytics, marketing, strategy and CX groups, Gongos serves as a translator to help cross-functional teams fuel the competency to gain and apply consumer wisdom, transform decisions into action, and navigate organizational change. Coalescing enterprise data with primary research and curating insights for multiple audiences ensures information is designed to influence actions and behaviors from executives to the frontline.
 
Gongos partners with clients across multiple industries including Mars Wrigley, Kraft Heinz, Kellogg’s, FedEx, U.S. Bank, UnitedHealthcare and GM. In 2007, the company was first named to the Inc. 5000 list of “The Fastest Growing Companies in America” and is among the AMA Gold Top 50 U.S. market research organizations. For further insight into Gongos, visit the newly redesigned gongos.com.  

Southfield tech company offers better cloud connections for business

In an effort to better connect businesses and their cloud services, the Southfield-based data center, network, and voice infrastructure services provider 123Net is now providing high-speed connections between the parties.

Dubbed Cloud Connect, the service securely connects businesses and cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and more. Doing so via Ethernet, the Cloud Connect service avoids the public Internet, not only bolstering security but also improving network performance issues.

"Over the past couple years, hundreds of Michigan businesses have migrated their data to the cloud," Chuck Irvin, director of network development at 123Net, said in release.

"Our Cloud Connect service will give these organizations dependable, high-capacity connectivity to cloud service providers. Proving a private, dedicated pipe assures our customers that they will fully leverage next generation’s cloud-based applications."

Three of the 123Net data centers are located in Southfield, with the fourth being located in Byron Center.

123Net celebrated the hiring of its 100th employee in December 2017. The company has previously stated that it plans on growing its employee base by 30 percent every year.

123Net is headquartered at 24700 Northwestern Hwy. in Southfield.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Troy's NAI to open manufacturing facility in China

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NAI, a Troy-based manufacturer of global connectivity solutions for high-performance systems used in the industrial technology, telecom, and medical industries, announced the opening of a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China. 

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New housing permits in May keep 2018 on-track to second-best year since 2006

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May helped push the year-to-date total of new housing permits to 2,028, maintaining the second-best start to a year since 2006, according to residential permit data compiled by the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan.

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Oak Park in the news: City attracts new R&D HQ, named 'Redevelopment Ready' by Michigan

The city of Oak Park has been making its way through the offices of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently, with not one but two big announcements to come out of the state’s business development and marketing arm.

First, it was recently announced that electric vehicle manufacturer Bordrin Motor Corporation will be opening a new research and development center in the city. The Chinese company has four locations worldwide.

The Oak Park location will serve as Bordrin’s new North American headquarters. The development is expected to create 62 jobs and generate a total capital investment of $3.4 million. As a result, the MEDC has approved a $496,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for the company.

"I’m excited Bordrin Automotive is expanding its high-tech presence in Oak Park," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a statement. "Much of the innovation and development of the electric vehicle happens in Oakland County and Bordrin is a key player in that global market.

"They are an important part of our international business community and join other Chinese companies who have chosen to make their North American homes in Oakland County."

That’s not all. It was also recently announced that the city of Oak Park has been certified as a Redevelopment Ready Community. According to the MEDC website, becoming a Redevelopment Ready Community formally recognizes that a city has both a vision for its future and a plan for how to get there. It demonstrates to the outside world that the community is worthy of private investment.

"Like a handful of other inner-ring suburbs, Oak Park is experiencing a revitalization, in part, because of our commitment to planning, pro-active zoning and community engagement," says Oak Park Mayor Marian McClellan.

"The best practices provided through the Redevelopment Ready Communities program have promoted economic development and renewed interest in our community as a great place for investment, and an exciting place for families to grow."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Autonomous commercial vehicle leader WABCO Selects Auburn Hills for headquarters

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We’re pleased to report that WABCO Holdings Inc., a leading global supplier of technologies that improve the safety, efficiency, and connectivity of commercial vehicles, announced that it will locate its new Americas headquarters in the City of Auburn Hills. The $19.7 million facility is currently under construction at 1220 Pacific Drive and is expected to open in October.

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Exhibit maker Tectonics picks Auburn Hills for corporate headquarters

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We’re pleased to report that Tectonics has selected the City of Auburn Hills to position their new corporate headquarters and grow their business.

Tectonics’ new headquarters will be located at 1681 Harmon Road, which was once occupied by RECARO Child Seating.

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Wixom augmented reality company opens European headquarters in Czech Republic

A Wixom-based augmented reality company is expanding its international presence with the opening of its European headquarters in the Czech Republic. OPS Solutions celebrated the grand opening earlier this month.

OPS Solutions is the maker of Light Guide Systems, an augmented reality tool used to improve manual assembly and manufacturing processes through error reduction. The company’s Light Guide Systems Classic, for example, projects a digital operating canvas onto the work surface and then provides audio and visual prompts, guidance, pacing, and direction in assembling products.

In addition to the Light Guide Systems Classic is the Light Guide Systems Pro, ideal for smaller assemblies.

Founder and president of OPS Solutions Paul Ryznar and company believe that the new European headquarters in Prague will help OPS Solutions branch out and connect with companies throughout Europe, including companies in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. The anticipated result will be more business partnerships and higher sales.

"In the last several years, we have experienced an increase in the demand for our AR technology for manufacturers across Europe and Asia," Ryznar said.

"The time is right to further expand our global presence and become a permanent part of the manufacturing landscape in Europe. We look forward to growing our partnerships with powerful manufacturers around the world to make factory floors smarter and safer with technology."

OPS Solutions and its Light Guide Systems technology are applicable to any number of industries, including aerospace, agriculture, automotive, energy, heavy equipment, and medical.

OPS Solutions is located at 48443 Alpha Dr. in Wixom. Its new European headquarters is located in Prague, Czech Republic.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Altran expands to Detroit, brings passive safety solutions to U.S.


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

Pedestrian passive safety is a concept that means little to the average American, yet it’s been part of vehicle safety development in Europe for nearly a decade.

Altran, the largest global, multi-industry engineering, research, and development powerhouse, with $3 billion in revenue and 45,000 employees in 20 countries--but relative newcomer to the Detroit region--has deep expertise in pedestrian passive safety. Altran’s skilled workforce has been testing pedestrian passive safety solutions, as well as airbags and vehicle interiors, in its World Class Passive Safety Center in Wixom since opening in November, 2107. The center joins others of its kind operated by Altran in Austria, Germany, Canada, and France.

Known as active bonnet or active hood, these passive safety systems work to decrease injury to pedestrians in the case of impact, and in some cases, the need for these systems can drive the design of the vehicle. Manufacturers that export vehicles to Europe know all about active bonnet systems, but it’s just a matter of time before domestic vehicle models will be required to incorporate this type of safety technology, says Sebastian Wipfler, manager of the Altran’s World Class Center in Wixom.

“If you are driving a car, you can work to prevent an accident, but if there is an accident, the car has to be developed to give the pedestrian the highest chance to survive,” says Wipfler. European regulations require testing to prove that vehicles will do minimal damage to pedestrians on impact.

Here in the U.S., there were 5,376 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, an increase from the previous year.

“The automotive industry is continually working to make cars safer, and one of the critical elements of making a car driverless is managing the safety,” says Mohan Raju, Altran head of automotive North America."We all work to prevent collision using active safety, or maneuvering the car using technology, and this is essentially the work going on in the autonomous vehicle space.”

Until driverless vehicles are mainstream in the market, passive safety measures that minimize or eliminate injury to pedestrians and passengers are an important part of future automotive safety regulations in the U.S.

“Europe is ahead of the U.S. in passive safety, particularly in pedestrian safety,” Raju says.

Expanding to the U.S.

While Altran could have located its center in several locations here in the U.S., the Detroit region’s dense population of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, robust global automotive leadership, and automotive engineering talent made Michigan the most attractive and smartest choice.

Altran clients, including OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, were seeking a local presence of expertise, and Altran recognized the market opportunity. The scouting process began in 2016, when the head of the Altran World Class Center in Graz, Austria met informally with members of the Destination Detroit team of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and asked some smart questions.

Detroit’s automotive reputation solidified Altran’s decision quickly. While it may make sense for startups to consider the west coast, every automotive resource has a presence in the Detroit region.

“Where is the best place to be for automotive? You always end up in the Detroit area,” says Wipfler. “Even west coast companies, most of them now have offices here. The Tier 1s are here. Everyone needs to be present in the Detroit area. That’s what we saw.”

When Altran was ready to focus in and select a location for its testing facility, it returned to the connection it had made with the Destination Detroit team.

“From our conversations, we learned Detroit is where they wanted to be. For automotive engineering and R&D, this is the hub, and the customers they were looking for and the leadership in the auto industry are all here,” says Will Butler, business development representative with the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Butler and his team took a deep dive and learned that Altran needed a site on a moderate parcel of land that could accommodate a 500-foot straight track for testing, and be enclosed by fencing to maintain client confidentiality. They researched dozens of locations, and brought on board a real estate expert to find just the right building, in an appropriate location, that could accommodate customization on a tight schedule.

“It was a little bit like a puzzle, and certainly an interesting challenge,” says Butler. “As economic developers, we want projects to be easy and quick, and we worked hard to help Altran find just what they needed. Speed to market is the name of the game.”

Support on the ground

Assuming the quarterback role, the Destination Detroit team kept the project on track and moving forward by tapping into a deep network of experts, including county and city departments that responded quickly and worked to provide approval for the site’s specific needs.

Ultimately, Altran’s successful expansion into the Detroit region--and into the United States-- was a collaborative effort between Destination Detroit, Oakland County, and the city of Wixom. Destination Detroit’s long standing experience in the needs of advanced automotive industries helped Altran meet its goals for growth.

“The people at Destination Detroit were very helpful all along,” says Raju. “Once we chose our building, it needed special approvals from the city of Wixom to be built to our needs, and the Detroit Regional Chamber helped us coordinate with the city to get the approvals.”

Now In operation with about eight employees in Wixom, Altran plans to grow to a staff of 25 within a couple of years.

“Altran has a very large global presence, but we are relatively new to the North American market. For us to get entry into this region as a service provider to any of the OEMs or Tier1s, we have to be ahead of the game, and better at something that not many other providers can offer,” says Raju. “One of our entry strategies was to bring in the World Class Center for Passive Safety in Detroit, and expand into offering each OEM all the other services we can provide. We have some of the best facilities in Europe, and this is a footprint for us to expand our offerings to the North American market.”

With mobility as a key area of expertise, Altran is poised to provide a diverse portfolio of services to its clients from its World Class Center in Wixom.

“We are working to focus on a combination of local delivery with Austrian expertise and Indian engineering capability to provide cost effective, highly skilled solutions in the area of passive safety to clients in the Detroit area, and across the U.S. in general," Raju says.

“Our strategy is to enter with a high level of expertise, drive cost efficiency, and engage for the long term.”

Visit Driven and learn how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.
 

Esys Automation breaks ground on new building

Esys Automation began a new chapter in its history this week by breaking ground on a new building located on Brown Rd., just east of Joslyn Rd. in Auburn Hills, MI. A groundbreaking ceremony was held, which included a majority of the Esys team and representatives from the developer JB Donaldson, the State of Michigan, Oakland County and the City of Auburn Hills.

“We are very pleased to be able to expand and stay in our home city of Auburn Hills,” said Dave Valentine, president of Esys Automation. “A very special thanks to the City of Auburn Hills, Oakland County and the State of Michigan for supporting our efforts and providing significant incentives to remain here.”

The new 125,000  square-foot facility will allow Esys to consolidate its current two Auburn Hills locations into one space. The new facility will have 40,000 square-feet of office space and 85,000 square-feet of shop space, allowing Esys to continue its significant growth. Construction is set to complete late fall 2018.

About Esys Automation 
Esys Automation is a leading full-service automation solutions provider to the automotive industry. Esys provides automation design, simulation, and machine building, including advanced robotic systems and industry-specific software solutions. Esys specializes in vehicle assembly applications in areas such as press, powertrain, plastics, body assembly, paint, sealer, final assembly, and tire & wheel. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Esys Automation operates globally. Learn more about Esys Automation at esysautomation.com.

Israeli manufacturer opens first U.S. office in Troy's Automation Alley

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Eilor Magnetic Cores, an Israeli company that manufactures blocks and tape-wound magnetic cores, has opened its first location in the United States in Troy.

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Royal Oak-based Vectorform and Microsoft Partner to expand HoloLens technology for automotive design

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Royal Oak’s Vectorform, a digital product and experiences company with capabilities in mixed reality design and engineering, announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corp. to innovate vehicle design and the prototyping processes for the automotive industry.

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Metro Detroit cities prepare for autonomous vehicles with smart infrastructure

Last spring, Terry Croad started attending quarterly meetings of the Michigan Connected and Automated Vehicle Working Group. As Southfield’s director of planning, he hoped to stay abreast of the latest technology advancements as well as regulatory, financial, security, and other issues tied to the rapidly advancing ecosystem of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Often, he’d be the only planner in a room full of engineers, computer programmers, transportation experts, economic development leaders, and security and defense officials.

Southfield is getting a head start on the inevitable infrastructure changes mobility will require. “We’re already starting to tweak a little bit our land-use pattern and our regulation, and I think as this becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, it’s going to have a significant impact on the way we park and use cars,” Croad says.

All Metro Detroit cities could look a lot different in the not-so-distant future thanks to the advent of autonomous vehicles and innovative mobility services.

Features we now take for granted, like 10- to 12-foot-wide driving lanes and expansive parking lots, could be rendered unnecessary in areas where people use connected, driverless cars, or ride-sharing platforms to get from point A to point B.

That’s why it’s crucial for local government officials to stay on top of the latest developments in connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology and adjust their infrastructure and land-use plans accordingly, says Croad.

Experts estimate that autonomous vehicles will be commonplace within 15 to 20 years. “As a [planning] profession, we need to be embracing this earlier than later ... The earlier we start talking about it and getting our elected officials at least aware that this is coming, better off we’re all going to be,” he says.

Southfield even included a section on “innovative transportation opportunities” in the master plan it updated in 2016. It stressed the need to be proactive to understand the impacts of such advancements so it could better plan and invest for the future.

That kind of awareness is one of the biggest things communities can do to prepare for CAVs, says Valerie Sathe Brugeman, senior project manager at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research. Brugeman recently co-authored a “Future Cities” report commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) on the potential benefits and challenges of CAV technology to communities.

At this point she hasn’t seen Michigan communities drastically change their roads, intersections or pedestrian walkways, but she said big changes could be needed as more people use autonomous or shared vehicles.

Intelligent use of space

Since CAVs should be able to stay in their lanes better than vehicles with drivers, roads of the future could have narrower lanes, allowing more space for pedestrian paths, drop-off lanes or other uses. There’s a possibility these technologies could result in fewer vehicles on the road, meaning fewer lanes would be needed. Or it could have the opposite effect, and result in increased vehicle miles traveled with more people opting to commute further to work or using autonomous cars that drive around with no occupants after drop-offs, Brugeman says.

Parking needs also are expected to change. A driverless car could drop passengers off at their destination and then either park itself off-site, or continue driving to pick up different passengers. That would reduce the need for parking spots in prime locations as well as shrink individual parking space sizes. Autonomous vehicles can park closer together if there are no passengers who need to open doors.

As cities build new parking structures, they should consider making them retrofittable so they could be transformed for office space or recreational use as parking needs decrease, says Brugeman. Communities also could change zoning regulations to dictate the maximum number of parking spots instead of minimum number of spots for particular developments.
Southfield recently conducted an overhaul of its parking standards to take these trends into consideration. Croad wants to reduce the parking ratios required for certain land uses and shrink the space between aisles.

Future planning for Michigan cities

While Southfield is considered ahead of the pack in acknowledging the potential impacts of CAVs and other mobility advancements, it’s not the only Metro Detroit community taking action. Last year the City of Detroit created the Office of Mobility Innovation and named Mark de la Vergne its chief.

“The fact that they now have a chief of mobility innovation is telling of the value they place on the topic and the technologies surrounding it,” Brugeman says.

Detroit recently won a nearly $2.2 million federal grant to deploy vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication and detection technologies at intersections in high-traffic areas in Southwest Detroit, the Riverfront, Corktown, and the Livernois-McNichols corridor. De la Vergne says the connected corridors should improve traffic safety and reduce emergency response times.

The grant will be a jumping off point to understand how and if the city could scale the technology, and what kind of infrastructure it would require.

“Knowing technology is changing a lot, I think that’s the challenge we all face, but at the same time, we want to be able to start getting some of this stuff in the ground so that we can start learning,” de la Vergne says.

Michigan is a national leader when it comes to developing, testing and promoting CAV technology. There are at least 115 dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) roadside units installed throughout the state for vehicle and infrastructure connectivity, according to the Future Cities report. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is partnering with local and state entities to work on several CAV projects, such as allowing transit signal priority to SMART buses in Macomb County with the goal of improving efficiency and reliability.

“We have all these physical assets here that really make this area unique to other parts of the country,” Brugeman says, noting that one of Michigan’s biggest advantages is the collaboration between MDOT and the MEDC in concert with the auto industry, universities and other entities.

“They recognize the need to remain a leader, because there are a lot of other communities that are vying for a leadership position in this race for CAVs,” she says.
 
185 Emerging Sectors Articles | Page: | Show All
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