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Innovation & Job News

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IoT TechConnect conference in Troy to increase awareness of opportunities, threats posed by Internet


The Internet of Things (IoT) TechConnect conference, to be held on April 4 at the Troy Marriott, will provide attendees with a greater understanding of the opportunities and threats posed by IoT. As more devices connect to the internet, there are more opportunities for hackers to get into computer systems. The event will focus on IoT companies, experts, and training in Michigan.

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Criminal Justice Department offers OCC's first complete online degree program

Oakland Community College (OCC) has expanded its reach and is now offering its first fully-accredited, completely online degree program in Criminal Justice.

The Criminal Justice-Generalist Associate of Applied Science degree was chosen for online delivery based on the versatility of the degree. The degree can be applied to a four-year university transfer or to those students electing to obtain a two-year degree and become a police officer. Students who endeavor to become a police officer in the State of Michigan need to have an associate degree for admission to a police academy if they will be self-sponsored while attending the academy, explains Ken Aud, OCC Criminal Justice Faculty and Department Chair. 

“With family or work obligations, many of our students want the convenience of accomplishing their academic and career goals with a personalized schedule. These students want to obtain a degree, but the traditional face-to-face classes often do not work with their many demands outside of the classroom or for those who are challenged by transportation issues or simply geography,” says Aud. “This online program allows us the ability to offer quality educational experiences and competencies to a diverse population and fill a growing need for public service and public safety professionals in our community.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of protective service occupations (such as police, corrections, and security) is projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations, which will result in about 158,200 new jobs.

While this is a fully online degree program, many Criminal Justice-Generalist courses are cross-listed with the College’s other three Criminal Justice degree options, including Corrections, Law Enforcement, and Police Evidence and Technology. Students who enroll in one of these other degree programs can also take advantage of these accredited online classes.

Students interested in online learning at OCC must successfully complete a free, one-time, mandatory Online Learning Readiness Course. The three-hour course offers students a hands-on experience of the online learning tool and addresses topics such as time management and technology skills designed to ensure students are prepared for both the rigor and flexibility of online learning.

For more information on online learning and the Criminal Justice programs, visit www.oaklandcc.edu/programs/crj.

About OCC

With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields as well as university transfer degrees in business, science and liberal arts. The College provides academic and developmental experiences allowing each student to reach their full potential and enhance the communities they serve.  More than 45,000 students annually attend OCC; more than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

Southfield debuts online toolbox to increase odds of success for small business

A healthy small business community is vital to any city's success. With the announcement of a new online interactive toolbox for small business owners and entrepreneurs, the city of Southfield hopes that its newest investment in small business will further nurture along existing businesses while also help to attract new ones.

It's called the Business Catalyst, and it provides local business owners and would-be entrepreneurs with several data sets to help them inform their decision-making and succeed. Data includes information on business climate, industry trends, customers, competition, local opportunities, zoning controls, workforce, and available properties.

According to Southfield’s business and economic development director Rochelle Freeman, the Business Catalyst is a resource designed to help business owners thrive in Southfield. The online toolbox will be kept up-to-date and easily accessible.

"It can be challenging for new businesses and entrepreneurs to find the correct resources and information they need to create effective business plans," Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver said in a statement. "The Southfield Business Catalyst will address these challenges by providing the most current data available in one convenient place. We’re excited to offer this toolbox and want entrepreneurs to know that Southfield is open for business!"

The Business Catalyst website also serves as a promotional tool for the city itself. The online portal touts the benefits of Southfield's infrastructure, access to high-speed fiber optics, broadband, and satellite services, as well as its central location within the metro Detroit region.

Interested entrepreneurs and businesses can access the Southfield Business Catalyst online.

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

The University Center: An International Education Destination


The University Center (UC), located in Downtown Auburn Hills at 3350 Auburn Road, is a local public-private partnership that has blossomed into something greater, even worldwide in recent years.

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The future is now: A glimpse into metro Detroit's mobility ecosystem

If automobiles were biological species, Metro Detroit would be their native biome. And when it comes to mobility technology, the metaphor continues.

Viewed separately, Ann Arbor, the City of Detroit, Macomb County and Oakland County, and each area of the larger Southeast Michigan region may appear to be working separately, even competing in the development of connected and autonomous transportation, each building next-generation mobility technology in individual landscapes.

But a look at the whole picture reveals how each regions’ initiatives join to form a single, complete mobility ecosystem, densely populated with an interconnected web of assets, industries, innovations, and transportation expertise. Together, they are moving people, goods, and services more intelligently and efficiently than ever before.

Metro Detroit’s cohesive mobility landscape is evolving, here in the space where the auto industry began. We wanted to better understand how that's happening across the region, so we took a “hike” across the mobility ecosystem of Southeast Michigan to see what's developing in each individual landscape.

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WIN unveils innovative data hub with free, real-time job market data for southeast Michigan

A high volume of job postings year after year in southeast Michigan means that employers are hiring, but without a skilled workforce, they cannot fill these jobs. To aid workforce and education partners in developing necessary training and education opportunities to fill these in-demand jobs with skilled workers, the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) created a comprehensive FREE, online Data Dashboard providing users access to real-time job market data such as employer demand, preferred credentials, labor force fluctuations, and more. By having access to this data, workforce partners can work collaboratively to create awareness about in-demand career pathways and help educate and train workers.

The WIN Data Dashboard allows users to select a customized region from counties including Genesee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne, as well as the City of Detroit. After selecting a region, users select one or more occupation groups from eleven major occupation groups and the WIN Data Dashboard uses this information to produce customized charts, graphs, numbers, and more, all showing job demand data for the user’s preferences and allowing users to download and share the data.

“The WIN Data Dashboard was created as a complimentary service and resource to organizations such as community colleges, Michigan Works! agencies, foundations, and corporations with an interest in providing critical skills development training opportunities to support the region’s in-demand jobs,” said Michele Economou Ureste, WIN’s Executive Director. “In addition to helping connect employers and workforce partners, WIN aims to assist in developing talent that will eliminate the skills gap and provide sustainable careers for Michigan residents.”

With over 611,000 jobs posted in the WIN region in 2017, there is a talent shortage for in-demand occupations in Michigan. The WIN Data Dashboard provides free labor market data resource to anyone interested, allowing all stakeholders to create opportunities to help train a ready workforce to meet the needs of employers.

“WIN’s data and research provides Michigan Works! Southeast and similar organizations with a comprehensive understanding of the region’s labor market,” said Bill Sleight, Director of Michigan Works! Southeast and WIN board member. “My organization uses this resource to help job seekers make informed career decisions so they can become the next generation of skilled workers in Michigan.”

The WIN Data Dashboard can be accessed at WINDataDashboard.org.

WIN also produces customized data and highly detailed reports such as its Cybersecurity Skills Gap Analysis report, the Connected and Automated Vehicles Skills Gap Analysis report, and other high-level research for employers and workforce organizations in Michigan. For more information about the Data Dashboard or to request custom data, please contact research@WINintelligence.org.

Meet LTU life sciences talent at second annual Science & Technology Showcase April 4

Lawrence Technological University will host its second annual Science & Technology Showcase of student talent for area employers Wednesday, April 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture and Life Sciences Complex, 21000 W. 10 Mile Road, Southfield (see www.ltu.edu/map). 

The event is being organized by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development and Community Affairs. Participating will be two of the department’s business networks – Medical Main Street for life science businesses, and Tech248 for technology-based businesses. 

The networking event will allow the region’s employers to network with LTU faculty and students studying science, technology, telehealth, robotics, and more. Employers will be able to introduce their companies and share the skills they are seeking with future talent. They’ll also get a first-hand look at student research projects and presentations, get updates from faculty on the curriculum, and network with other innovative companies from the Medical Main Street and Tech248 networks. 

The event will begin at 3 p.m. with a welcome from LTU President Virinder Moudgil. It will continue with updates from:
  • Jeffrey Morrissette, assistant professor of natural sciences and LTU’s pre-medicine advisor
  • Yawen Li, associate professor of biomedical engineering
  • Margaret “Peg” Pierce, LTU director of career services
  • Sibrina Collins, executive director, LTU Marburger STEM Center
  • Chelsea Schutz, program manager, Medical Main Street
The event will continue with an employer panel discussion at 3:30 p.m., followed by student and employer exhibits and a reception. 

The event is free, but registration is required. For further information, contact Schutz at schutzc@oakgov.com or call her at (248) 858-0789. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/tech248-lawrence-technological-university-showcase-registration-42438260981

Bosch Group in Farmington Hills establishes SEG Automotive, independent company for hybrid tech


The starter motor and generator division of the Bosch Group in Farmington Hills has announced its completed transition to an independent company, SEG Automotive. The new company is owned by Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery Group Co., and has established its headquarters in Novi, which will employ 60 people.

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New apprenticeship program launches in Michigan, aims to boost employment


The Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) in Detroit launched MIApprenticeship.org as part of the Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (AMCAI) initiative — a $4 million U.S. Department of Labor grant aimed at fostering and strengthening the registered apprenticeship network in southeast Michigan.

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Michigan Strategic Fund continues support of TechTown, Automation Alley and state SmartZones

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has approved funding extensions totaling more than $1.7 million for five grants across the state supporting entrepreneurial collaboration resources, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced. The grant extensions, supporting integral members of Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, represent the MEDC’s continued commitment to building entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth across the entire state.
The approved programs receiving additional funding include:
·         TechTown’s Detroit Technology Exchange (DTX) Business Incubator ($250,000)
·         Automation Alley’s Business Incubator (7Cs) ($500,000)
·         Lawrence Technological University’s Gatekeeper Business Incubator ($100,000)
·         2015 Business Incubator-Gatekeeper ($574,338)
·         2016 Business Incubator-Gatekeeper ($299,961)
“Collaboration resources such as those available through Automation Alley, TechTown and SmartZones across Michigan are essential in providing our state’s entrepreneurs the necessary support needed to spark innovation and spur the business economy,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, MEDC, the state’s chief marketing and business attraction arm that administers programs and performs due diligence on behalf of the MSF. “The continued funding of these programs demonstrates their impact in not only building and growing startups in Michigan, but in attracting out-of-state talent.” 
TechTown, Detroit’s entrepreneurship hub working with businesses at all stages, helps startup, emerging and established companies develop, launch and grow. TechTown’s DTX program supports a startup accelerator for students, an entrepreneur-in-residence placement program and integrated ecosystem services. Since its inception, DTX has helped 33 new companies form, assisted 42 companies in expanding, created 165 new jobs, helped companies raise over $11.4 million in follow-on-funding and $88.7 million in new sales, and served 397 technology based companies.
Automation Alley is Michigan’s leading nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association. Its 7Cs program is aimed at accelerating the growth of small businesses and startups across Michigan, with a specific emphasis on advanced manufacturing startups. Since the beginning of the 7Cs program grant, Automation Alley has supported the formation of 14 new companies, created 51 new jobs, and assisted companies in raising over $14.7 million in follow-on-funding.  
The additional approved funding extensions include the Gatekeeper Business Incubator grant for Lawrence Technological University and the 2015 and 2016 Business Incubator Gatekeeper grants for the following SmartZones:
·         Ann Arbor SPARK East, Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone
·         Central Michigan University Research Corporation, Mt. Pleasant SmartZone
·         Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Lansing Regional SmartZone
·         Macomb-Oakland University Incubator, Sterling Heights SmartZone
·         Muskegon Innovation Hub, Muskegon SmartZone
·         Midland Tomorrow Innovation Center, Midland SmartZone
·         Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMU Med), Kalamazoo SmartZone
·         Innovate Marquette Enterprise Corporation (IMQT), Marquette SmartZone
·         Lakeshore Advantage, Holland SmartZone
·         Lenawee Now, Adrian and Tecumseh SmartZone
·         Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC), Houghton and Hancock SmartZone
·         SSMart-Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste Marie SmartZone
Michigan SmartZones provide distinct geographical locations where technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers receive access to business accelerator services, including business development mentoring, incubator and wet lab space, technology assessments, market analysis, product development and entrepreneurial training. The gatekeeper position is responsible for assisting companies in navigating the entrepreneurial ecosystem and accessing the various services and programs provided by SmartZones. Under the grants they’ve previously received, these SmartZones have helped 231 companies form, served 1,695 companies, created 730 jobs, retained 4,223 jobs, and assisted companies in raising over $286 million with an additional $125 million in sales.

"With its abundant resources and commitment to innovation, Michigan remains a fertile environment for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and to start and grow a business,” said Marilyn Clark, CEO at MTEC SmartZone. “Today’s approval of additional funding reinforces that commitment, while acknowledging the tremendous impact entrepreneurs have on the state’s economic growth."
MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech start-up companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more on MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation, visit michiganbusiness.org.
For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit MichiganBusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org. Michigan residents interested in seeking employment with any of Michigan’s growing companies should check mitalent.org, where more than 98,000 jobs are currently available in a variety of industries.

Oakland County Michigan Works! agency to consolidate two offices to improve services

A $12.7 million reduction in federal and state funding in the past five years – coupled with projected future budget reductions – prompted the Oakland County Michigan Works! Agency to consolidate two of its eight service centers.

The decision to close the Ferndale Service Center and consolidate it with the Oak Park Service Center was based on a recommendation from the Oakland County Michigan Works! Task Force. The task force evaluated operations, performance indicators, demographics and population data and proposed recommendations to improve overall efficiency and operations at the county’s eight centers. The closure is expected to take place within the next nine months. The Ferndale Service Center is operated in partnership between Oakland County Michigan Works! and the Ferndale School District.

“Since 2011, the Oakland County Michigan Works! Agency has faced $12.7 million in reductions to our formula allocation of federal workforce funds,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Workforce Development. “Unfortunately, we are a victim of our own success. As Oakland County’s economy continues to grow and add jobs, our portion of workforce funds decreases. While we still have high demand for services from our businesses and many job seekers, the resources have become more limited. We remain committed to finding new, innovative strategies and technologies to deliver our services to businesses and residents.”

Llewellyn said the decision to close the center was based on budget and not a reflection on the center employees.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the entire Ferndale staff and will be working with them to secure new positions within the Oakland County Michigan Works! network and the Ferndale School District,” Llewellyn said. “We expect the transition of services to the Oak Park office will be seamless and accessible to both businesses and job seekers.”

Oakland County has more service centers than any other county in the state. The task force was comprised of workforce development and business professionals and managed by EdEn Inc., a Rochester-based economic and workforce development consulting firm. It concluded after an extensive review there was a significant overlap of services in southeast Oakland County and that with persistent budget cuts, the current system could not be sustained with reduced funding.

The task force recommended the remaining seven Michigan Works! offices in Oakland County – Highland, Novi, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy and Waterford, as well as Oak Park – should rely more on technology to provide expanded services to clientele, which could include delivering more services virtually and social media, Llewellyn said.

Oakland County Michigan Works! helps more than 45,000 job seekers prepare for careers and conduct job searches each year. The Agency also provides services to businesses, including talent recruiting and retaining support, training support and labor market information. The agency has an administrative staff of four full-time staff, with a Michigan Works! service staff of approximately 103 people.

LTU hosts game development marathon


About 30 software coders, artists and others with an interest in game development spent the weekend at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield during the second annual Game Jam on campus.

The event was part of Global Game Jam, a worldwide celebration of art and creativity in game development.

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BMS STEM program OK'd for 2018-2019


On Jan. 15, the Brandon Board of Education OK’d a middle school STEM, science, technology, enginering and math program titled Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

“Project Lead the Way Gateway is a middle school STEM integrated elective that any 6th, 7th or 8th grade student can take during the course of the school day,” said Debbie Brauher, K-8 director of instruction for Brandon schools.

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Novi's Morrison Industries aims to hire 100 employees over two years

Morrison Industries, which makes steel shipping containers for the manufacturing industry and custom shipping racks for automakers, is growing, and opening a second manufacturing plant in Novi. 

Production at the 50,000-square-foot Morrison Industries North is on track to begin in January. The goal is to start production with 15 to 20 employees and aim for 100 employees "over the next 24 months," the company says. It'll be looking to hire in the following jobs: welder, fabricator, maintenance and general office staff.

"The central location in the metro area allows us to provide the most convenient access to our customers, with locations in both the northern and southern regions," the company says.

Morrison Industries, founded in 1979, is based in Morrison, Tennessee, and counts GM, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Toyota as some of its clients.

"We're not a stranger to growth and expansion," CEO Jacob Wilson says in a memo posted on Morrison Industries' website. "Over the last 25 years, our family-owned company has grown to be one of the most trusted names in auto-rack manufacturing. We are excited to better position ourselves to serve both current and new customers."

Pontiac's Catherine Johnson on how G.I.R.D.L.E. helps women build self-esteem

Pontiac resident Catherine Johnson knows the value of valuing oneself.
“I realized, through my own experience, that when your self-esteem is not high, it causes you to make bad decisions sometimes and then you're not able to reach your full potential,” she says. “I’ve overcome it by reading a lot, affirmations and just by doing self-talk that I am who I was created to be and I can fulfill my purpose and that I don't have to compare myself to someone else.”
And since 2013, Johnson has been actively helping other women in her community to believe in themselves through G.I.R.D.L.E (God Is Raising Devoted Ladies For Excellence), a support group for women aged 12 and older who live in Oakland County. The groups are designed to help them see their value.
“We help women by addressing topics that let us know whether or not we have issues with self-esteem,” she says. “We talk about our thinking patterns; first you have to change your mindset and then your actions, and then your behavior will change.”
The organization takes on topics like depression and self-care, issues that are particularly important to women, according to Johnson. Currently, the organization is funded through donations and an annual fashion show, and Johnson says more is needed. She sees the need in the community for expanded services; she'd like to find a permanent physical location for the organization as well as funding staff a nurse and a counselor.
“Women tend to have more of an issue with self-esteem than men,” she says. “From a young age, usually around 10 or 11, women start having issues with self-esteem, and there is no real help for us. Because of the things that I went through in my life, I want to be able to help at least one person overcome those barriers.”
The group has helped one woman realize a dream of publishing her book, and another to face and overcome the trauma of rape. The groups meet every other month and decide what topics to cover based on their needs and interests.
Johnson says the idea for G.I.R.D.L.E. came to her during Bible study.
“There was a scripture that said, ‘Gird up your loins,’ and we know a girdle shapes and supports us and that's what G.I.R.D.L.E. wants to do,” she says. “We want to shape women and to give them the support they need, so they can reach their full potential, that they can be who they were created to be.”
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