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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.

In Franklin, women are leading a small business revolution

Lisa Dunn has her finger on the fashion pulse. When Dunn opened her up-cycle clothing store, Déjà Vu, in Franklin in 2007, consignment stores had not yet become the trend they are today.

“At the time, ‘resale’ was not as in vogue as it is now,” Dunn explains, “but I sensed an opportunity coming and decided to open a luxury consignment boutique as opposed to a ‘thrift/ second-hand store’ that most shoppers were used to.”

Dunn is not the only woman ahead of the business curve in Franklin. With a downtown that is dominated by women-owned stores and service providers, the historic village is leading the way in entrepreneur trends. Mary Ann Liut and Monica George own lifestyle boutique Zieben Mare, Amy Regal runs beauty bar Glamour Puss, and Jacqueline Drake has recently opened a new gallery. The movement is not just about women in retail either, but also behind essential service businesses. Elina Costello owns a dental office in the village (Smile Builders of Franklin), and Pam Migliore is part owner of the village’s Marathon gas station.

Costello established her dental practice 15 years ago and says that the women driving Franklin’s downtown are here to stay. “I do think, having known the women in business here, that they are serious, long-term strategists,” she says.

Village President Pam Hansen believes Franklin is following a national increase in women in business. Over the past 20 years the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114 percent in the U.S.A., and according to a 2017 report, women-owned businesses generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenue. “We just happen to be a place where the scale of the businesses and the kind of businesses have been attractive to women entrepreneurs,” Hansen says.

Dunn says part of the appeal is working where you live. “Being a resident and business owner in Franklin is an awesome combination,” she says. “I have a great clientele not only from Franklin but from all over Michigan and beyond.” Her store has been so successful that four years ago she launched an online shop to reach a national market.

It’s not all thanks to girl-power only though. “The women business owners are working together to support each other,” Hansen says, “but so are the men.” Dunn agrees that diversity is key and working together is the way forward. “As women continue to dominate as owners of the shops downtown, we also welcome new business with male influences to balance the shopping experience.”

 
 

From a Ferndale basement, startup promotes area music scene

What started as a basement project between two friends has since blossomed into something that has attracted interest from musicians from Saginaw to Ohio, and all the way to Los Angeles.

It’s called The Ferndale Set, a music video production group started by Quicken Loans officemates Mike Steciuk and Norman Huang. Steciuk acts as the sound engineer while Huang takes on the videography side of things. What results is The Ferndale Set, an online video series that captures local musicians in their natural habitats, singing their songs in venues throughout metro Detroit.

The goal is to bring more exposure to the region’s burgeoning music scene, both to the musicians and the venues that host them. The duo takes their inspiration from national outfits like KEXP and Audiotree.

"We’ve learned that metro Detroit wants to support its local musicians," Steciuk says. "If you bring the opportunities to them, they’re quick to sign up."

The Ferndale Set began in its namesake town, in the basement of Steciuk. Over the course of a jam session amongst friends, Steciuk’s officemate Huang filmed and edited the party into a short video. The Ferndale Set grew from there.

Steciuk outfitted his basement with curtains and lighting, creating a set where bands could play. But it was the birth of his second child that pushed the group out of the basement and into area venues. It’s a move that has benefited all involved. Now promoting area venues like PJ’s Lager House in Detroit and Common Grace Coffee Company in Dearborn has become part of The Ferndale Set’s mission, too.

"We want to focus on Michigan musicians. A lot of artists create really cool stuff, but don’t have the ability to share it," Huang says.

"We want to create quality videos while also promoting local businesses as venues. You kill two birds with one stone."

Click here to visit The Ferndale Set’s YouTube channel.

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


Michigan releases Hot 50 jobs outlook through 2026, includes annual wage projections

Excerpt: 

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget Wednesday released the latest long-term employment projections, which includes information about careers that are expected to be in the highest demand through 2026 in Michigan.

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Manufacturing Day highlights vibrancy of Michigan's advanced industry

"I want to come work here!"

That's a quote from a high school student who toured Shelby Township's Cosworth Powertrain, U.S. during Manufacturing Day in October 2017, and it was music to general manager Ken Gembel's ears.

Gembel says the girl, just 16, was not yet old enough to work for Cosworth, but he was pleased both by the girl's keen interest in the company's coordinate measuring machine and by the overall participation of students.

"The students were excited and we were excited to see their enthusiasm," Gembel says. "It was the first opportunity for a lot of these kids to see that the new face of manufacturing isn't dirty, dingy, or dumpy. We got to show them our state-of-the-art facility that's almost hospital clean, with the most robust computers with advanced controls and precision tooling."

Last year was the first time Cosworth Powertrain participated in Manufacturing Day, and Gembel says he thinks the event "will help influence the younger generation" to consider manufacturing as a career path.

Manufacturing Day events in southeast Michigan are part of a national "celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers." School systems and local governments set up their own programs to celebrate Manufacturing Day, with Macomb County now coming up on its seventh year and Oakland County on its fourth.

The main message of Manufacturing Day in southeast Michigan is that manufacturing is still a vibrant industry in Michigan and that jobs don't have to be dreary or dirty but can involve contributing to areas ranging from robotics to connected and autonomous vehicles.

Manufacturing remains strong in southeast Michigan

While other rust belt states are losing manufacturing jobs, advanced manufacturing is still strong in Michigan, in part because advanced manufacturing is a key support industry to the blossoming mobility sector springing up around connected and autonomous vehicles.

John Paul Rea, director of Planning & Economic Development in Macomb County, says southeast Michigan is at an "amazing intersection of this great legacy of producing things and technological innovation."

"The world-class cluster of manufacturing assets in southeast Michigan rivals anywhere across the globe," Rea says. "Macomb has 1,600 manufacturing firms employing over 75,000. We have a global tech center, the most advanced aerospace companies the world has ever seen, and the folks working on advanced composites are reshaping the way things are built."

Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Workforce Development for Oakland County, says that southeast Michigan needs to take advantage of the infrastructure, skill sets, drive, and knowledge that are already ingrained in the economy and the workforce of the region.

"We're born and raised on the impact of advanced manufacturing in southeast Michigan," she says. "There's real value in that. As advanced manufacturing is shifting to more robotics, more automation, and virtual reality, the scope of advanced manufacturing tech is changing, but… priding ourselves on making great, innovative things is still a part of our core mission."

While more high-tech, high-wage jobs are available in southeast Michigan, the talent pipeline hasn't caught up yet.

Positive trends in Macomb county include increasing wages and the highest educational attainment figures that county has ever seen, but the downside is that county officials believe there are 17,000 unfilled jobs in the county. That situation requires creativity in creating new talent pipelines for high-tech jobs in the county.

"We need to develop creative partnerships and connect the classroom to careers," Rea says. "One of the most rewarding things for me is talking in local school districts and showing students that there are opportunities right in our own backyard. Your career path could take you all over the country or even the world, but some of the world's most advanced technological capability in manufacturing is happening right where you are growing up."

Inspiring students to explore advanced manufacturing careers

Rea says that Macomb's sponsorship of Manufacturing Day is an "organic, community-driven solution to the talent issues we face."

Llewellyn notes that while an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent in Oakland County sounds great, it also means that manufacturing companies need to be "more innovative and more aggressive in creating a pipeline of talent."

Manufacturing Day is one of those creative ways of encouraging more young people to pursue manufacturing careers, and it’s good exposure for participating companies as well.
"It gives them an opportunity to open the door to young people and gives the company visibility," she says. "It sticks with young people when they get to have a great tour of GKN or GM or DASI Solutions. For the company, it's a good chance to connect with young people and increase awareness of the industry as whole."

Manufacturing Day works roughly the same way in Macomb and Oakland counties, with students being paired with nearby companies that match their interests for a half-day tour.

In Oakland, the day has mainly been aimed at students already pursuing training in skilled trades such as welding or machining, but there's a push to offer Manufacturing Day tours to all students, including ones who have never thought of manufacturing as a viable job.

Oakland has also expanded on the Manufacturing Day concept to create an entire Manufacturing Week that includes information sessions and tours for parents, teachers, and administrators as well, according to Jarrad Grandy, executive director of student services for Oakland Schools, the intermediate school district serving Oakland County.

Grandy says manufacturing has gotten "a bad rap" and Manufacturing Day is a way to improve the industry's image.

"Parents and kids have seen a decade of lost jobs and consider manufacturing dirty, and all these stereotypes," he says. "Manufacturing Day is really about providing awareness and inspiration opportunities for students in Oakland schools about these high wage, high tech jobs in manufacturing."

Grandy notes that Oakland County is "on the cutting edge," leading the world in research and development for the automotive industry.

"When it comes to automation and robotics, we're leaders in the world, and on the K-12 education side, we have the best robotics teams in the world here," he says. "It takes more than one day to move the needle, but Manufacturing Day is an important day that highlights opportunities for kids and gets some energy around it for schools and employers."
Greg Lovell, instructor and software design engineer at KUKA Systems North America, has his own classroom inside KUKA's facilities where he trains engineering graduates to be the engineers of the future. They come in with advanced engineering degrees, and then Lovell trains them in controls engineering and prepares them to hit the ground running in their positions at KUKA.

He brings that love of education to the Manufacturing Day site tours he helps coordinate.

Students stop at several areas of KUKA, including Lovell's engineering classroom. Lovell says he isn't looking at the event as a recruiting opportunity but more as a way KUKA can give back to the community.

"We are exposing the students to our facilities, varied fields of profession, projects, and our effort to educate our new employees," Lovell says. "The efforts we make for the Manufacturing Day tour show the southeast Michigan community that we are motivated to create the best mass production equipment for manufacturing our customers' products, as well as nurturing our young staff to succeed and be the future of manufacturing and engineering. We hope the Manufacturing Day tours encourage southeast Michigan youth to pursue a professional career in manufacturing here at KUKA."

Both Oakland and Macomb are still recruiting companies to be site partners for Manufacturing Day on Oct. 5, 2018. Macomb companies interested in participating can find more details and contact info at the Macomb Business website. Oakland companies can find more information, including a tour host commitment form at the Advantage Oakland website.

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

Main Street Eye Care: Neighborhood optometry for every family member

Excerpt

In the newly remodeled Royal Oak office on Main Street between 11 Mile and 12 Mile Roads that he shares with Dr. David Chorney, Ray Salerno of Main Street Eye Care talks about his practice and his recent move to Royal Oak from his previous location in Bingham Farms.

Read more. 

Rochester's Oakland University to turn bed and breakfast into living learning community

Excerpt

The former Cobblestone Manor Bed and Breakfast in Auburn Hills will be leased to Oakland University in Rochester for Honors College students as part of an agreement between the Moceri family and the university, officials announced.

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Business pitch contest to be held in Pontiac with $25,000 available in cash prizes

It’s the third annual Pitch ’N Pontiac contest and the prizes are bigger than ever.

This year’s contestants can win up to $15,000 in cash prizes in the competition, which pits entrepreneurs against each other for a total of $25,000 in cash prizes and additional pro bono consulting services. Eligible businesses must be located in Pontiac or in the process of moving to the Oakland County city.

Pitch ’N Pontiac is organized by CEED Lending and supported by Chemical Bank, Oakland County Business Finance Corporation, and Oakland County’s One Stop Shop Business Center.

"We want to make business owners aware that there are resources available to them, that they’re not in this by themselves," says CEED Lending’s Oakland County & City of Detroit Loan Officer Belinda Turner-DuBois.

"Many entrepreneurs think that they’re an island but there is a community here to help."

In addition to the city of Pontiac requirement, eligible businesses must be in the food, lifestyle, healthy living, IT, technology, or "other" industries. Non-profits, L3Cs, and franchises are ineligible to compete.

There is a July 31 deadline for applications, which are available online.

Five finalists will be announced on Friday, Aug. 10. Following that announcement, the finalists will take part in a number of pitch prep workshops, designed to help the entrepreneurs perfect their business pitches for the final event.

On Thursday, Aug. 30, the finalists will each give a five minute pitch to the audience and a panel of judges, followed by five minute Q&A sessions. There is a $10,000 first place prize in the startup category, a $10,000 first place prize in the existing business category, and, new to this year’s competition, a $5,000 people’s choice prize. The winner of the people’s choice can be one of the first place winners, bringing that prize total to $15,000.

"This is about helping to stabilize and create and welcome entrepreneurship in Pontiac," Turner-DuBois says.

More information on Pitch ’N Pontiac is available on the CEED Lending website.

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


Clean transportation nonprofit Calstart to open office in Troy

Excerpt: 

Calstart, a national nonprofit organization based in California that focuses on growing the clean transportation technology industry, has announced it is opening an office in Troy.

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Capture 3D innovation conference coming to Troy in October

Excerpt

Capture 3D, a technology company specializing in 3-D measurement, inspection, and digitization solutions, will hold its Innovation Conference and Expo Oct. 2-4 at the Marriott Hotel in Troy. The biennial event focuses on how optical noncontact 3-D metrology can be used to quickly solve quality issues, eliminate unforeseen costs, optimize the manufacturing process, and improve product quality.

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Detroit's Folkteller Publishing and Intensify Digital partner to launch multimedia fantasy series

Excerpt: 

Folkteller Publishing in Detroit announced it has partnered with Intensify Digital in Detroit to launch a new media fantasy series, Excerpts from an Unknown Guide Book.

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Highland Township glass fabricators to expand facilities and services, add jobs

A Michigan-based glass fabricating company has passed over a competing site in Kentucky to instead expand its current facilities in Oakland County’s Highland Township. The move has resulted in a state-backed grant for the company, all the while creating more jobs and millions in capital investment from the glass fabricator.

The family-owned Midwest Glass Fabricators, Inc. has announced plans to build an expansion onto its Highland Township facilities, complete with new equipment. The project is expected to create 62 jobs and generate $4.7 million in total capital investment.

Because of this decision, the company will receive a $186,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, as announced by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Highland Township has also offered incentives for the company’s growth: A 50 percent tax abatement in support of the project.

"This expansion is the next phase in our development as a company," owner and chief operating officer Pat Iaquinto said in a statement. "Our investment in Michigan will continue to grow as will our commitment to serve our partners with locally sourced products that meet their needs."

The expansion comes as the company experiences increased demand for its fabricated glass products and custom metal fabrication services. The 53,000 sq. ft. addition to its already 50,000 sq. ft. facility will allow the company to build a glass laminating line for safety and security glass.

Midwest Glass Fabricators was founded in 1989.

"Adding laminate to our line-up of products is a step towards providing safety to buildings nationwide at an affordable price without compromising security," said Midwest Glass owner and chief executive officer Jim Iaquinto.

"Building an addition to our existing plant will allow us to bring in local R&D and help establish Michigan as a leader in the arena of safeguarding the public."

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


Lawrence Tech business incubator wins NEI grant, looks toward expansion

The LTU Collaboratory, Lawrence Technological University’s business incubator and accelerator, is planning to expand its business and technology-based mentorship services, workshops, and events. The move is made possible thanks to a one-year $40,000 grant from the New Economy Initiative. It’s the first time NEI has awarded a grant to the Southfield-based university.

Small manufacturers and emerging hardware startups in Southeast Michigan stand to benefit most from the grant. The money will also be used to engage more high schoolers, college students, and young adults in product and manufacturing-related innovation challenges.

"As a leading resource to small and start-up companies developing innovative, engineered products, the LTU Collaboratory can now provide additional key resources for these companies to grow and scale up their operations, thanks to this NEI grant," said Mark Brucki, executive director of community and corporate partnerships at LTU.

"We are looking forward to getting more students involved in manufacturing as well."

It’s another improvement for the LTU Collaboratory. LTU is planning on a new 6,300 sq. ft. accelerator space for its Southfield campus by spring 2019.

NEI Senior Program Officer Maria LaLonde cites Southeast Michigan’s abundance of engineering talent, manufacturing expertise, patent research initiatives, and export activity in praising the deal.

"We are very excited to be partnering with LTU to offer small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs critical resources to keep them on the leading edge of innovation and growth," said LaLonde.

"As a university-based accelerator program, LTU is also a key partner to engage and develop the next generation of design, engineering and manufacturing talent in Michigan."

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

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