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Beaumont, Royal Oak earns prestigious nursing redesignation for the 4th consecutive time

Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak has once again achieved the highest honor for nursing excellence through the Magnet recognition program of the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association. Only about 8 percent of the hospitals across the country have earned Magnet status.

“Achieving Magnet status is a tremendous accomplishment in its own right. To sustain that level of excellence through four consecutive redesignation periods validates the hard work of the entire team at Royal Oak and a commitment to quality and safety that is second to none,” Susan Grant, RN, Beaumont Health executive vice president and chief nursing officer, said.

Magnet was created in 1994 to recognize health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. In 2004, Beaumont, Royal Oak became the first hospital in Michigan to achieve the milestone.
Next month, the redesignation will be presented to Beaumont staff at the 2018 ANCC National Magnet Conference in Denver, Colorado.

“It’s an honor to receive this Magnet redesignation. Our entire team is thrilled,” said Maureen Bowman, RN, Beaumont, Royal Oak’s chief nursing officer. “We empower our nurses and admire the way they serve our patients and families every day.”

Hospital President Rosanna Morris echoed Bowman’s sentiment. “We are proud of our nurses and the entire team at Beaumont, Royal Oak. It is a complete team effort to receive this redesignation,” Morris said.
During a recent visit to the hospital, surveyors reported:
  • Beaumont, Royal Oak demonstrated strong leadership throughout the hospital.
  • The surveyors said nurse-driven efforts to improve patient care, throughout the hospital, is extraordinary.
  • Beaumont, Royal Oak promotes a non-punitive environment to improve safety and outcomes for patients.
  • Beaumont, Royal Oak’s overall elder care environment, including the way the team cares for and connects with geriatric patients, is exemplary. They were impressed with innovative initiatives, including the ACE Unit/Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders program and the virtual dementia tour, which provides first-hand experience to families and patients about what it is like to have dementia.
Beaumont Hospital, Troy earned Magnet recognition in 2009. Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe achieved Magnet status in March.

Talent Investment Agency receives $3.2 million grant from U.S. Department of Labor

Wanda M. Stokes, director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA), announced that the agency has been awarded a $3.2 million Trade and Economic Transition National Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG) by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).

The grant will fund a two-year project, in conjunction with the 16 Michigan Works! Agencies across the state, to serve individuals who have been dislocated by a reduction in the number of retail stores and the realignment of the banking industry.

According to the State of Michigan’s labor market information data, the state retail industry’s projected overall growth for the next ten years is -11.1%. 

“The grant money will be used to train displaced retail workers in high-demand areas,” Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of TIA’s Workforce Development Agency, said. “Transitioning these workers to high-growth opportunities will improve Michigan’s long-term economic and workforce health as well as allow the state to deliver workforce development services in response to a changing workforce trend.”

Given wage levels and seasonal fluctuations in work hours, it is anticipated there will be a need for a variety of supportive services, including transportation, child care, work clothing and training-related expenses.  Dislocated workers supported by grant funding will receive a full array of services provided through the Michigan Works! Agencies.

“This grant provides a great opportunity to reach out to those individuals who have been laid off and promote the services available through Michigan Works! and encourage them to pursue careers in high-demand fields,” Beckhorn said. “There are many work-based learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and classroom training available that will result in increasing rapid re-employment in high-demand careers.”

The high-demand fields the grant money will be focused on include: information technology, healthcare, business, advanced manufacturing, and professional trades.  The customer service skills that the displaced workers obtained from their former retail employment translate well to many of these fields. 

Additionally, TIA will use $300,000 of the grant money to partner with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, to develop a proactive predictive analytics tool to provide the Michigan Works! agencies with customized information about employment prospects and the effectiveness of services. The tool will help streamline the delivery of employment-related programs and meet the needs of job seekers and employers more effectively, creating the capacity to handle future job loss in a more effective manner. It will also help Michigan Works! staff more quickly assess and target customer needs through fast analysis of labor market needs, resulting in quicker re-employment.

Oakland County Michigan Works! submitted a letter of support and commitment with the grant application, as their community has lost over 500 retail employee jobs in 2018 thus far from major store closures.

“Segments of the retail industry in Oakland County have been especially hard hit, with generational retailers scaling back or going out of business altogether,” Jennifer Llewellyn, Director of Oakland County Michigan Works!, said. “This grant allows us to target these displaced workers and provide them with the necessary training to upgrade their skills and transition to high-demand occupations.”

Topgolf to begin hiring for 500 jobs at new Auburn Hills location


High-tech driving range Topgolf is hiring 500 workers for its new $12.5 million facility in Auburn Hills – the sports entertainment company's first Michigan location.

Jobs looking to be filled include servers, bartenders, kitchen, maintenance, guest services staff and many more.

Read more

Kelly Services in Troy invests in business talent group to advance the gig economy


Troy-based Kelly Services, a large workforce solutions company, announced it has made an equity investment in Business Talent Group (BTG), a leading market place?for on-demand consultants, experts, and executives. 

Read more

Speaker series examines both how to get better jobs and how to provide them

A speaking event for employees and the companies that employ them is taking place at Lawrence Technological University this month.

It’s a result of radio station WWJ Newsradio 950 and Lawrence Technological University partnering for another year of their Leaders and Innovators business speaker series.

This year’s programming, which runs through mid-April, kicks off with the Your Next Job event on Thursday, Sept. 20. Your Next Job will examine both how employees can improve their chances of landing better jobs but also how employers can better retain employees, thus dissuading them from leaving for competitors.

According to a release, a recent study shows that six out of 10 employees would leave their current company for better pay and/or benefits.

Murray Feldman, business editor for WWJ Newsradio 950, will moderate the event. The panel will include Pete Davis, president of Impact Management Services, an employee recruitment and personnel consulting firm with offices in Southfield, Chesterfield Township, Chicago, and Appleton, Wisconsin.

Additional events include:

  • Thursday, Oct. 18: Weed in the Workplace
  • Thursday, Nov. 15: Crash Course: Financial Fitness in the Workplace
  • Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019: Business and Taxation
  • Thursday, March 21, 2019: Women Entrepreneurs
  • Thursday, April 18, 2019: Topic to be determined

The first event in the Leaders and Innovators business speaker series, Your Next Job, is on Thursday, Sept. 20 at the University Technology and Learning Center Gallery at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. A continental breakfast and networking sessions begin at 7:30 a.m. The program runs from 8 to 9 a.m.

Visit the event online for ticket information.

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

Oakland County consultants foster corporate parenting experience

It was a snow day, and Karen Evans and Brooke Miller got together for a playdate. While they watched the kids frolic, the two mothers started discussing the challenges of being a working parent. By the time the day was over, they’d agreed to launch a company dedicated to making the process run more smoothly for both parents and employers.

“We decided to pool our talents,” said Evans, who lives in Royal Oak. She’s an attorney, business consultant and adjunct professor at Lawrence Tech, while Miller, a Berkley resident, is a licensed psychotherapist and the founder of Honey Space for Moms, a boutique wellness and co-working space in Ferndale.

Each is the mother of two small children and knew all too well the struggles of balancing work and family life.

The idea behind SIX Corporate Parent Experience Consulting is simple, and, some would say, obvious: It’s possible – and beneficial for everyone involved – to be both a present parent and a productive employee. But that is often not the case.

“I did a deep dive into all the academic literature from around the world two years ago, and found that very few workplaces are thinking about this,” Evans said. “It’s such a missed opportunity.”

Companies that don’t support parents are losing out on talent, deep institutional knowledge, time, and money, she said.

“Women and men have been invested in a lot by their employers before entering the parenthood journey, and they are still ready to deliver results for their company. They may just need a little more flexibility, support and understanding,” Evans said. “In exchange, companies receive loyal employees, get a return on their investment and become an overall better workplace.”

It’s not, she stressed, about giving parents more benefits or special treatment, but simply recognizing that their lives have changed and that it benefits everyone to accommodate that reality.

Helping companies support new parents

Among workers, new parents are the most likely to leave their jobs, Evans said, and it costs a company 11 percent of an employee’s salary to replace them, a hassle and expense companies can easily avoid by making a few accommodations.
“Supporting parent employees in the workplace is a win-win proposition,” she said.

Often, Evans said, that can be as simple as improving communications between the human resources department and employees. “Surveys show that even HR leaders who understand that they have wonderful benefits are so often not communicating them well, so the employees don’t even know they exist.”

SIX, which did a soft a launch over the summer, offers three services: on-site consulting, an HR Certificate program, and presentations at conferences and workshops.

The consulting aspect focuses on a company’s existing programs and communications and looks for ways they can improve.
“We always start with an audit of the corporate parent experience, what you are doing well and how to leverage your strength and existing culture,” Evans said.

The HR Certificate program includes a full-day seminar that includes legal updates, understanding maternal mental health, handling difficult conversations, leading and working with purpose and creating and implementing sustainable work-from-home procedures. There will be one on November 8 in Metro Detroit, followed by seminars in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Chicago.

The women also speak at conferences and workshops on topics that range from bringing mothers back to work, to establishing successful work-from-home policies.

Their recommendations include supporting a mother’s need to nurse by providing appropriate space, hiring an onsite lactation consultant for those experiencing challenges, and implementing ways to transport breast milk if a nursing mother must travel for business.

They suggest teaching managers about the challenges of coming back to work after becoming a parent, and offering parent support groups led by a trained leader, perhaps during lunch hours.

“Some managers are afraid to have any conversation at all because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing,” Evans noted.
Other solutions include offering onsite daycare and/or medical care, providing subsidies for offsite daycare, and hiring professionals to take care of sick children so their parents can still work.

What companies are looking for...but struggle to find

Not everyone is convinced of the need to acknowledge working parents, Evans admitted. “There are segments of people across the board who are worried there is too much of a push to being too politically correct or giving too much to women and minorities. And there can be pushback from non-parents who think the parents are getting special treatment. This is a real concern that we don’t take lightly.”

Nevertheless, she said, many corporations, like client Quicken Loans, are open to the message.

“We have been really surprised at the type of recognition we have received. After our soft launch, we were immediately reached by some pretty large organizations throughout the country who said that this is what they’ve been looking for but hadn’t been able to find,” Evans said. “Change does come slow but we are really excited and see a lot of opportunity to make a difference.”

Chariot provides mobility solutions to Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge residents

The city of Ferndale has partnered with Chariot, Ford Mobility’s app-based microtransit shuttle service, to improve mobility issues within the city.

A six- to nine-month pilot program launched on Thursday, Sept. 20.

A sneak peek was held over the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2, connecting users from Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge to the Arts Beats & Eats festival in neighboring downtown Royal Oak.

Chariot is a shuttle service that allows users to tap an app to reserve a seat on the distinctive gray and teal seven-passenger, wheelchair-accessible shuttle, and travel where they need to go. In select U.S. cities, Chariot operates either publicly for commuters, privately for companies to shuttle employees around, or both.

Ferndale’s Chariot service will connect the city’s downtown and Livernois business districts, the neighboring city of Pleasant Ridge, and high-profile events.

The partnership between Ferndale and Chariot is a result of the city's plan to shut down a major parking lot in the city’s downtown. The parking lot on Troy Street will be closed while a multi-level parking deck is built.

While city officials weren’t ready to disclose when construction of the parking deck begins, the Chariot service will launch prior to the closing of the parking lot in order to familiarize riders with the service.

Though the partnership results from a direct need, it’s also part of the city’s larger plans to improve overall mobility conditions.

“It’s another way for people to access downtown during the construction of the parking garage, which is a big priority for us,” says Jordan Twardy, community and economic development director for Ferndale.

“We also want to create a modern mobility ecosystem where we improve connectivity and solve that last mile mobility issue.”

Ford Mobility was founded by Ford Motor Company in 2016. The San Francisco-based startup Chariot was acquired later that year, Ford Mobility’s first acquisition.

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

Record number of high school students and companies to participate in 2018 Manufacturing Day

Nearly 1,000 Oakland County high school students and 43 companies will take part in Manufacturing Day in Oakland County – the largest local participation in the program ever.

The event, which showcases advanced manufacturing to students and careers that are available, is set for Oct. 5 at 43 advanced manufacturers throughout Oakland County. This is the county’s fourth year of involvement in the national celebration that takes students into the facilities to see first-hand the opportunities that await them.

“Manufacturing Day in Oakland County has grown each year,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “It’s encouraging to see the increased numbers of students going on tours and the large number of Oakland County companies interested in hosting students. We expect the event to inspire our young people to consider pursuing a career in advanced manufacturing or the skilled trades, which are both so important to the future of our county and virtually all of our companies and communities.”

Oakland Schools Technical campuses in Clarkston, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Wixom are sending a total of 650 students on tours. In addition, 16 school districts are sending a combined 350 students on tours.
Patterson plans to attend the kick-off activities at the Northeast Technical Campus in Pontiac as will other state and local government officials.

“With nearly 110,000 manufacturing career openings through 2024, exposing students to opportunities in this high-demand, high-wage field is extremely important for Michigan’s continued economic success,” said Workforce Development Agency Director Stephanie Beckhorn. “Manufacturing Day events held not only in Oakland County but around Michigan play an important role in helping students learn about the vast opportunities available in professional trades careers like manufacturing.”

Students will spend the morning getting a behind-the-scenes look at a wide range of technologies and careers in advanced manufacturing. They will interact with employees about what they do each day and the skills required to be successful.

Among the tour hosts is Encore Automation of Auburn Hills. President Steven Becroft said his company is especially interested in prospective employees with a fundamental knowledge of controls, robotics, vision and sensors, and manufacturing processes.

“There is a shortage of candidates with this background for us and other companies in this area,” Becroft said. “Manufacturing Day provides a window for students into these areas, to show them there are lucrative and fulfilling careers available to those who are interested and motivated to engage in the excellent training and lab experiences from vocational-tech schools and colleges in Oakland County.”

Manufacturing Day in Oakland County is organized by Oakland County Michigan Works!, the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, Oakland Schools and Oakland Community College.

The event’s platinum sponsor is Magna International; gold level sponsors include Automation Alley, Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering, Kelly Services, Lawrence Technological University and Oakland Community College. NLB Corp. is a silver sponsor and Hirotec, MPD Welding and WENZEL are bronze sponsors.

“Oakland County Manufacturing Day could not take place without the generous support of our organizing bodies and sponsors,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Workforce Development. “Interest in the event is at an all-time high. In fact, we have secured a record number of sponsors to help fund the event and ensure its success.”

For more information on Oakland County Manufacturing Day, visit OakGov.com/MfgDay.

  • AAM-Auburn Hills Manufacturing, Auburn Hills
  • ABB Inc., Auburn Hills
  • American Axle, Royal Oak
  • Ascent Aerospace - Odyssey Industries, Lake Orion
  • Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems, Auburn Hills
  • Automation & Modular Component, Inc., Davisburg
  • Behco-MRM, Madison Heights
  • Berkley Screw Machine Products, Rochester Hills
  • Brose North America, Inc., Auburn Hills
  • Comau LLC, Novi
  • DASI Solutions, Pontiac
  • DENSO, Southfield
  • Deshler Group | UniBond, Ferndale
  • Eaton Steel Bar Company Inc., Oak Park
  • Encore Automation, Auburn Hills
  • Esys Automation, Auburn Hills
  • FATA Automation, Inc., Auburn Hills
  • Ferndale Laboratories, Inc., Ferndale
  • FRIMO Inc., Wixom
  • Garden Fresh Gourmet, Ferndale
  • General Motors Global Propulsion Systems, Pontiac
  • General Motors Company - Orion Assembly Plant, Orion Township
  • GKN Driveline, Auburn Hills
  • Gonzalez Production Systems, Pontiac
  • Hirata Corporation of America, New Hudson
  • HIROTEC America, Inc., Auburn Hills
  • Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering, Rochester Hills
  • INDUCTOHEAT INC., Madison Heights
  • Kawasaki Robotics (USA), Inc., Wixom
  • K-Tec Systems, Ferndale
  • Lear Corporation, Rochester Hills
  • Magna International, Troy
  • Magna: Cosma Body Assembly Michigan, New Hudson
  • Mahindra, Auburn Hills
  • Makino Inc., Auburn Hills
  • Moeller Precision Tool, Wixom
  • MPD Welding Inc., Lake Orion
  • NLB Corp., Wixom
  • Precision Coatings, Inc., Walled Lake
  • Tectonics, Auburn Hills
  • Visioneering, Inc., Auburn Hills
  • WENZEL America, Wixom
  • Witzenmann USA, Troy

MiCareerQuest Southeast nearly sold out as more than 9,000 students registered for inaugural event

More than 9,000 high school students from nearly 100 southeast Michigan schools have registered for MiCareerQuest Southeast, the region’s largest-ever career exploration event, which takes place November 28.

The huge response has shattered event organizer expectations, who anticipate the 10,000-student limit will be reached much sooner than planned. Once the limit is reached, schools will be placed on a waiting list, as each school’s registration numbers and arrival schedule are confirmed in early October.

“The strong response to MiCareerQuest Southeast is very exciting,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “I think everyone recognizes this is not your typical job fair, and they want their students to be part of it. We’re connecting working professionals eager to demonstrate what they do on the job with young people who want to learn as much as they can about the career opportunities before them. We have room for less than 1,000 more students. If your school has not registered yet, do it now. I would hate for an interested student to miss out on this singular event.”

High schools interested in registering should visit OakGov.com/MiCareerQuestSE. The school registration period will close on October 1, or when all the available student slots are filled.

Event organizers started communicating with public and private schools in February. Notices were sent to all public high schools by the Intermediate School Districts in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston and Monroe counties.

More than 90 companies, trade associations, labor organizations, universities, community colleges and vocational schools are participating in the event, with new ones committing each day. They are preparing hands-on, interactive demonstrations to showcase the skills and education needed to compete for today’s most in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences and information technology. The event will feature a minimum of 20 occupations in each of the four career quadrants. The current list of participating exhibitors can be found at OakGov.com/MiCareerQuestSE.

“Our exhibitors are putting a lot of thought and energy into this event so they can grab the attention and imaginations of students, many of whom are considering their career options for the first time,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, Oakland County manager of workforce development and one of the lead planners of MiCareerQuest Southeast. “Our ultimate goal is to feed the long-term talent pipeline in southeast Michigan, a challenge shared by virtually all of our employers.”

MiCareerQuest Southeast is being organized by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs and Michigan Works! The Michigan Talent Investment Agency is presenting sponsor. Platinum sponsors include Beaumont Health (health sciences quadrant) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (advanced manufacturing quadrant). In addition, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council and MUST (Management and Unions Serving Together) have joined together for the platinum sponsorship in the construction quadrant.

Event organizers are still seeking a platinum sponsor for the information technology quadrant. Additional major sponsors include Oakland Community College and Automation Alley. There also are more than 20 smaller sponsors, representing their respective career quadrants. The full list of sponsors is available at the event website. Organizations interested in a sponsorship should contact Beth Tomaszewski at tomaszewskie@oakgov.com.

Lawrence Tech President's Symposium to cover future of transportation, self-driving cars


Communities and society are profoundly affected by how efficiently, effectively, and safely people and goods move. But what are the proper roles of society and industry in designing future transportation systems?

In the 2018 installment of the President’s Symposium Series at Lawrence Technological University on Thursday, Oct. 11, a panel of experts will discuss those roles, and explore the full-scale implementation of autonomous and advanced driver-assist technologies.

Read more.

Lawrence Tech President's Symposium to cover future of transportation, self-driving cars

Communities and society are profoundly affected by how efficiently, effectively, and safely people and goods move. But what are the proper roles of society and industry in designing future transportation systems?

In the 2018 installment of the President’s Symposium Series at Lawrence Technological University on Thursday, Oct. 11, a panel of experts will discuss those roles, and explore the full-scale implementation of autonomous and advanced driver-assist technologies.

The event is titled “Accessibility, Mobility, and Connectivity: The Edge of Future Transportation Systems.” Moderating the panel discussion will be Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle, PE, a 1987 Lawrence Tech engineering alumnus, who recently announced his retirement after 31 years with the state agency. Panelists for the event are to include:

  • Carla Bailo, president and CEO, Center for Automotive Research, a non-profit organization in Ann Arbor that conducts research and analysis to educate and advise stakeholders, policy makers, and the general public on critical issues facing the auto industry, and the industry's impact on the U.S. economy and society.
  • Soraya Kim, chief innovation officer, American Center for Mobility, a non-profit testing and product development center for connected and automated vehicle technology, located on the former Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township.
  • Alisyn Malek, chief operating officer and co-founder, May Mobility Inc., an Ann Arbor-based  developer of autonomous vehicles, funded by BMW and Toyota, among others.
  • Douglas Patton, senior technical advisor, DENSO International America Inc., the Southfield-based U.S. headquarters of the Japanese auto supplier.
  • Jeremy Tuggle, engineering manager, systems engineering and testing, Continental Corp., Auburn Hills, the U.S. headquarters of the German auto supplier Continental AG.

The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m. The venue is the Mary E. Marburger Auditorium, Room S100, Science Building, LTU, 21000 W. 10 Mile Road, Southfield, MI, 48075 (see www.ltu.edu/map). The event is sponsored by LTU’s College of Engineering.

“This event will feature people who are at the top of their field, discussing state-of-the-art technology in mobility,” said Nabil Grace, dean of the College of Engineering at Lawrence Tech. “These technologies, in transportation and infrastructure, represent the future of Michigan. Students and young people in particular should be interested in this program, because these are the technologies they will be working on in their future careers.”

LTU’s President’s Symposium is an annual presentation series created by Virinder Moudgil, the university’s president since 2012, focusing on technology and its applications to improve the quality of life.

The President’s Symposium is free and open to the public. For further information, contact Tamara Botzen, administrative assistant, Office of the Dean, College of Engineering, at tbotzen@ltu.edu or (248) 204-2500.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

Pontiac's Deliver My Ride launches online car-buying platform


Pontiac-based Deliver My Ride, an online car buying service launched by Birmingham’s MadDog Technology, has announced the introduction of its newly enhanced platform.

Read more

New coworking space aims to appeal to the Ferndale spirit

A new coworking space is opening in Ferndale, and it's been created with the city itself in mind.

Co-owners Lisa Schmidt and Ben Long want PatchWork Collective to represent the city and all its unique charm. The coworking space and short-term office facility were developed to appeal to the individual and creative community of Ferndale, says Schmidt.

There are the weekly yoga sessions. An acupuncturist is one of the tenants. There is a shower for those that bike to work.

"We have the standard tables and desks but also beanbag chairs and couches. You can find the workspace that you need so you can focus," says Schmidt.

"PatchWork is a coworking space with the heart of Ferndale, not some stuffy office from the 80s."

And Schmidt and Long should know something about Ferndale. The Ferndale residents are both board members on the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce.

PatchWork came from Schmidt and Long’s own needs. Both of them are attorneys, and the duo formed the Schmidt & Long law firm in 2016. PatchWork was borne from their frustrations in finding the perfect office for their new law firm.

After searching throughout Ferndale, Schmidt and Long found a 4,500 sq. ft. space at the corner of Woodward and Marshall. PatchWork has taken over two-thirds of the old InkAddict space, and that company has down-sized to the back third of the building.

The duo also decided to expand their vision from a law office to a co-working space, recognizing the trend of freelancers working remotely.

The facilities include a large open office space, a conference room, and a series of smaller private offices, the latter of which can be rented by the hour or on a more permanent basis.

PatchWork Collective is located at 22007 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

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

Tech248 connects Oakland County tech businesses the old fashioned way

As marketing manager with Bingham Farms-based custom app developer jacapps, Jacquelyn Smith recognizes the value of spending time with other professionals in the tech industry. And when that connection can be made the old-school, in-person way, all the better.

It seems that tech-based businesses across Oakland County agree, given the attendance of monthly meetups of a program called Tech248, an initiative of Oakland County’s economic development department. Each month in a different location, tech businesses gather to share ideas.

“We really think Tech248 is a great place for like-minded tech businesses to network and meet new partners and clients,” says Smith. “We are always looking to join more local groups, and this has been a great starting point for us.”

This summer, jacapps hosted a unique meetup at their offices on Telegraph Road. Their format offered three separate simultaneous presentations that attendees could rotate through, with networking time in between. The short presentations allowed 80 participants gather information, ask questions, and connect with new people each time.

For jacapps, the format was an experiment.

“It’s the first time we have hosted here, and we approached it as a trial and error,” says Smith, who brainstormed with Oakland County to come up with an appropriate format for a larger crowd. Like most companies, space is limited for jacapps, and Tech248 has about 1,358 members who could, in theory, attend any event.

“We thought of a way to incorporate more space, so we could fit a larger group of people. We created segmented areas so people could spread out. Our team was excited to speak in front of the group,” she says.

Sharing tech solutions

The event was a way for jacapps to educate fellow Tech248 members about mobile technology, and about their specific services. In one room, business development director Sari Zalesin talked about the rise of smart speakers, and custom marketing solutions for companies to leverage the 100 percent increase in smart speaker ownership between 2017 and 2018.

“With open architecture for Google and Amazon smart speakers, anyone can create tools called skills,” says Zalesin. “Invoking a skill requires saying the right command, and the invocation must be well branded and marketable.” Many industries, including automotive and healthcare, are researching ways to fold natural voice commands into their products and services, Zalesin says.

In an adjacent room, jacapps president Paul Jacobs shared the results of recently-published research about how people are using technology in their daily lives. With smartphone ownership at 90 percent, Jacobs says the only person who doesn’t have this technology “is Aunt Mildred, if she is over 90 years old.” Like Zalesin, Jacobs shared the explosion of voice-controlled tech.

“Voice will change the way we do business,” Jacobs says. “You will talk to your fridge, and you will talk to your car. There is a major revolution going on with the way we communicate. We are being trained by the wave of voice.”

In a final presentation, jacapps chief operating officer Bob Kernen talked about how custom mobile apps can change the way companies do business. Given that most adults own a smartphone, companies can leverage that already present hardware investment with apps that allow employees to work smarter.

Kernen shared a success story about an app jacapps developed for a Michigan-based limestone company that helped streamline logistics, making operations more efficient.

“It only has about 300 downloads, but they are the right 300 downloads,” Kernen says. A surprising byproduct of this mobile app is the interest it has piqued from potential employees from the millennial generation, an age group he says is moving away from construction in favor of other industries.

“We all work in businesses where efficiency is critical,” Kernen says. “With mobile apps, there are so many different, interesting, innovative ways to drive sales, coordinate teams, and create efficiency.”

LTU Self-driving champs

Lawrence Technological University has once again established itself as a leader in the field of autonomous vehicles.

The Southfield-based university won the Self-Drive Challenge contest at the 26th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), which was held June 1 through 4 at Oakland University in Rochester. It’s the second year in a row that LTU has won the contest.

The team of LTU students created ACTor, or Autonomous Campus Transport/Taxi, a self-driving campus shuttle bus. The vehicle was judged on a range of tasks, including lane-following and -changing, obstacle avoidance, reading traffic signs, detecting potholes and avoiding them, and more.

C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU and the winning team leader, says that contests like the IGVC both prepares students for the workforce while simultaneously advancing the fields of technology. Students are solving real-world problems while applying lessons learned.

“Driving at night, or in the fog--there are so many unknown environments that self-driving cars can be driving in,” Chung says.

“To be a real product, reliability needs to be 100 percent.”

The contest allowed companies the ability to get a sneak peek of what’s coming down the talent pipeline. It’s a talented future workforce, says Chung, and one upon which the industry relies.

Since winning the competition, students are now reprogramming ACTor to serve as an actual autonomous taxi on the LTU campus.

LTU’s competitors in the contest included University, the University of Detroit Mercy, the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, and New York University. The winning team received $3,000 and a plaque.

“Detroit is the automotive hub. We should work hard to be the leader in this industry of self-driving vehicles, as well,” says Chung.

“Universities need to provide a talented workforce in order to do that.”

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