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OU retains gold status ranking among veteran-friendly schools in Michigan

For the second straight year, Oakland University was awarded the highest possible ranking for veteran-friendliness by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The organization recently published its 2017-2018 list of Veteran Friendly Schools, which recognizes institutions of higher learning for dedication to student veterans and dependents utilizing their G.I. Bill and other educational benefits. 
“The continued growth of MVAA’s Veteran-Friendly School Program demonstrates the dedication our state’s academic institutions have to the success of our student veteran population,” said MVAA Director James Robert Redford in a release. “Michigan is fortunate to have top quality educational institutions that maintain high standards of support and services for our growing population of veterans and their families. The program makes it easy for students to identify which schools are invested in their success, and we greatly appreciate the commitment of this year’s participants.”
Based on a variety of factors, the 70 schools on this year’s list were grouped into bronze, silver and gold levels of recognition. Oakland was one of 41 schools to earn a gold-level designation and one of 28 schools that fulfilled all seven evaluation criteria, listed below.
  • Established process for identification of current student veterans
  • Veteran-specific website
  • Active student-operated veterans club or association
  • Veteran-specific career services, resources, advising and/or outcome monitoring
  • On-campus veteran’s coordinator and/or designated staff point of contact
  • System to evaluate and award credit based on prior military training and experience
  • Monitoring and evaluation of student veteran academic retention, transfer and graduation rates
 “This is a great honor for Oakland University, and I am humbled to be able to play a part in receiving this well-deserved recognition,” said Eric Wuestenberg, coordinator of Oakland’s Office of Veterans Support Services. “Earning the MVAA's Gold Level status for another year signifies that we continue to provide support to our students at the highest level possible, and they deserve nothing less.”
To learn more about veteran support services at Oakland, visit oakland.edu/veterans or call (248) 370-2010.

National program to connect 500 high school students with 35 advanced manufacturing companies

High school students from Oakland Schools’ four technical campuses and other local schools will tour 35 high-tech manufacturing locations in the county October 6 as part of National Manufacturing Day.

Students will see firsthand the state-of-the-art technologies used in today’s manufacturing and discuss the processes with the highly skilled professionals during facility tours scheduled throughout Oakland County during the morning-long event.

“The goal of our third annual Manufacturing Day in Oakland County is to inspire our young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and the skilled trades,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “There are a lot of great, in-demand jobs available in our region and this event helps introduce them to these opportunities. It’s an exciting day for all those who participate – the students, their teachers and the manufacturers who host the tours.”

Oakland County Manufacturing Day is organized by the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, in partnership with Oakland Schools, Oakland Community College, the Oakland County Business Roundtable’s Oakland NEXT committee and Oakland County Michigan Works! Event’s sponsors include Magna International, Lawrence Technological University, Kelly Services, FCA – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Automation Alley, Wenzel and Oakland Community College.

Nationally, the U.S. manufacturing sector supports more than 18.5 million jobs, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The manufacturing sector accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product annually, according to NIST data.

Southfield-based automotive supplier Comau is hosting students at three locations in Oakland County. Mark Bologna, head of manufacturing at Comau-NAFTA, said the increase in automation and digital factories has made it critical to have a highly skilled manufacturing workforce and Manufacturing Day introduces a new generation of potential employees to the company.

“The opportunities in today’s manufacturing environment are exciting and varied, offering a wide variety of interesting challenges to people just entering the workforce,” Bologna said. “Manufacturing Day is a great opportunity for students looking at possible career choices to learn firsthand about Comau’s advanced technologies and types of jobs required to design, manufacture and launch automation systems within a digital environment.”

Other Oakland County manufacturers hosting students include AAM – Auburn Hills Manufacturing, ABB Inc., Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems LLC, Automation & Modular Components, BEHCO-MRM, Berkley Machine Products, Brose North America, Cosma Body Assembly Michigan, DASI Solutions, DENSO, Encore Automation, Fata Automation Inc., Ferndale Laboratories Inc., Garden Fresh Gourmet, General Motors Global Propulsion Systems – Pontiac Engineering Center, GKN, Gonzalez Production Systems, Hirata Corporation of America, Hirotec America Inc., High-Tech Mold & Engineering, Inductoheat Inc., Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc., Lear Corp., Mahindra Automotive North America, Moeller Aerospace, Moeller Precision Tool, MPD Welding Inc., Roechling Automotive, Total Door and Wenzel America Ltd.

As with any event, volunteers play a key role, with two adults accompanying students to each tour site.

Paul Galbenski, dean of the Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northeast in Pontiac, said Manufacturing Day is an important component of career development and planning for high school students. There are four technical campuses: Clarkston, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Wixom. They provide students with both technical skills in a variety of fields and the required academic credits to graduate. The opportunity to bring education and industry together during Manufacturing Day is a win-win situation for everyone, he said.

“Our students win as they are able to visualize how the technical training they are receiving from us opens doors for them to career options in manufacturing and skilled trades,” Galbenski said. “It’s a win for our business and industry partners as they have potential future employees in their facilities to show them the multitude of high wage, high demand and high skills careers available in Michigan and around the globe.”

In addition to the tours, students will participate in an interactive presentation on in-demand skills and advanced manufacturing jobs throughout Metro Detroit by representatives from Troy-based Kelly Services. Topics include the value of building a professional network, how to leverage social media to find employment and the importance of gaining new skills throughout their working lives to adapt to the rapid pace of change in the workplace.

National Manufacturing Day is increasing positive perceptions of manufacturing with students. According to a survey of 1,400 Manufacturing Day 2016 participants from across the country, sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte:
  • 90 percent thought the Manufacturing Day activities were interesting and engaging
  • 84 percent said that they were now more aware of manufacturing jobs in their communities
  • 81 percent thought manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding
  • 62 percent were more motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing
For more information on Oakland County Manufacturing Day, visit OakGov.com/MFGDay. Other websites include ManufactureMyFuture.comMfgDay.com and MITradeSchool.org.

On social media, connect to the event using #MfgDay17 and #MfgOak.

Tech248 member MatchRX revolutionizing surplus prescription drug industry


Check out this cool Tech248 member company MatchRX a private web-based inter-pharmacy marketplace to buy and sell small quantities of non-controlled, non-expired overstocked prescription drugs and drugs in short supply to satisfy a specific patient need or declared public health emergency.

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Kids showcase creativity at Pontiac Business Fair

The 377 Center in Pontiac was abuzz with energy August 19, as at least 50 people crammed into the small space to attend a business fair featuring 14 local businesses. However, this wasn’t the typical business fair, as the entrepreneurs behind the booths were only between the ages of six and twelve.
Nonprofit Young Entrepreneurs Squad hosted the first annual Pontiac Children’s Business Fair, which showcased various businesses operated by children in the metro Detroit area.
Founded in 2016, the organization provides services such as coaching, mentoring, entrepreneurial training, and workforce development to children, parents, schools, and universities.
Founder Mary Evans drew inspiration for YES and ultimately the business fair from her grandson, Amari. When he was five years old, Amari began expressing an interest in having his own business. Evans didn’t think much about Amari becoming an entrepreneur until he set up a lemonade stand last year, making $120 in six hours. Now 7, Amari is the president of the for-profit division of YES where he sells T-shirts.
Evans found the 14 young entrepreneurs for the fair online, as applicants registered on the organization’s website. Social media also helped spread the word.
“Social media is awesome,” Evans says. “Our Facebook post was shared over 1,000 times through support from individuals in the community.”
Various types of businesses showcased their wares at the fair, including jewelry, hair accessories, beauty products, and desserts. One of the businesses selling sweets was Bella’s Organic Ice Cream, which is run by 12-year-old Isabella Henson, her 8-year-old brother, Miles, and their cousin Grace, 11. Grace said the three of them started their business six months ago after Isabella discovered she had an intolerance to cane sugar.
While the Hensons would not disclose any of the ingredients they use in their ice cream, maple syrup is one component, says Isabella. Bella's Organic Ice Cream comes in vanilla and chocolate, costing $2.50 each. The Pontiac Children’s Fair marks the first time the family members have sold their product.
“It’s fun, and we wanted to share with other people that ice cream doesn’t have to be bad for you,” says Grace.
At the table next to them was the business, 2 Chocolate Sisters and a Mister. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and bow ties in vibrant colors and prints lined the table. The owners of the jewelry and accessory company are siblings Sydnee, 11, Jeremiah, 9, and Danyelle McCray, 8. Their mother, Moneece Borders, remembers when Sydnee became interested having a business.
“She made me some earrings for my birthday, and she made them out of old jeans I had,” Borders says, smiling. “And she said we have a name for our business, and I’m like, ‘What business?’ Then she said, ‘Two Chocolate Sisters and a Mister,’ and I just fell out because it was so cute.”
The siblings began making crafts in 2015 and made their business official on Christmas Day of last year when Borders registered their name with Oakland County. The McCray siblings usually sell their items at school or at Border’s home daycare in Pontiac. The fair is the first event they have attended to sell their products.
Sydnee says she enjoys running a business with her brother and sister.
“It’s really fun, and if we’re ever bored, we can sit together, talk, and make jewelry.”
On the other side of the room, 8-year-old Christen Elliott was busy selling her line of lip balm. The Detroit entrepreneur is the owner of Polished Puckers by Devani, which has lip balm in a variety of flavors such as “Sizzlin’ Strawberry” and “Coolin’ Coconut.”
Elliot’s mother, LaToya Lathan, says they began the business last October to help children get rid of chapped lips, a problem her daughter once had.
“Christen suffered from chapped lips, especially during the winter, so we were spending money on a lot of lip balm that wasn’t working,” Lathan says. “So we started using stuff around the house, and it was working. But I knew I couldn’t send her to school with a jar of coconut oil or a tube of shea butter. So I presented to her, ‘Hey, how do you feel about starting a lip balm business and helping others that suffer from chapped lips?’ And from that day, she was excited. She got a journal, we sat down and came up with a name and started coming up with flavors.”
Since then, the mother and daughter have been busy promoting Polished Puckers. The first event Elliot showcased her products was at the Think Pink cheerleading competition at Cass Technical High School, which was then followed by a fashion show held by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation at Motor City Casino and Hotel. The Pontiac fair marks the tenth event Elliot has attended as a vendor.
In addition to events, Elliot and Lathan are active on social media, as they have Facebook and Instagram accounts for the business. Shoppers can make orders by email, with the item shipped to their house. Customers will soon be able to shop on the Polished Puckers website when it launches later this month, says Lathan.
In addition, the two have recently created a unisex lip balm line and label to broaden their audience, and Elliot is in the process of launching a surprise product for the company’s one year anniversary.
Elliott says she likes running her own business because helping others makes her “feel good.”
“The response we have been getting has been amazing,” says Lathan. “So far, we have been doing really well.”

Automation Alley Swiss tenant company APAG Cosyst opens office in Madison Heights

With assistance from Automation Alley, Michigan’s leading technology and manufacturing business association, another international company is setting up shop in Southeast Michigan. APAG Cosyst of Switzerland has moved out of Automation Alley’s International Business Center in Troy, Mich. and into a facility in Madison Heights, Mich. The company is expected to hire 13 employees for the new location, which will serve as a customer support office. In addition to the Madison Heights office, the company is also seeking a location for a manufacturing site that will eventually house 150 employees.
“We are pleased to see another one of our international tenant companies find a home in Southeast Michigan,” said Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of International Business Services. “By attracting foreign companies to our region, introducing them to potential business partners and assisting in site selection, we are driving local economic growth and helping to create new jobs in our region.”
APAG Cosyst, manufacturers and designers of electronic applications for Tier 1 and industrial customers worldwide, came to Automation Alley looking to grow their business in North America, specifically in Michigan.
“We were recently awarded a design program with a major automotive company and saw an opportunity to grow our U.S. design team quickly, which will require more people and space to accommodate them,” said Dan McGregor, APAG Cosyst vice president of sales. “APAG CoSyst LLC is extraordinarily thankful for all the support from the Automation Alley team and specifically from the International Business Center. We have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, all the perks of being an Automaton Alley member."
Automation Alley’s International Business Center, located inside Automation Alley Headquarters in Troy, Mich. provides up to 90 days of soft landing space for international companies to use as a home base while exploring opportunities to do business in Southeast Michigan.
Since 2011, Automation Alley has assisted 20 foreign companies in establishing their operations in Southeast Michigan, which has created 694 well-paying, high-value jobs for the region.
Automation Alley’s 3,200-square-foot International Business Center includes three meeting rooms with communications technology, three private offices, an open office area and convenient access to Automation Alley’s International Business Services staff.
In addition to temporary office space, tenants of the International Business Center receive assistance with site selection and introductions to potential business partners, clients and employees to jump-start their business. 
For more information about Automation Alley’s International Business Center, contact Automation Alley at 800-427-5100 or info@automationalley.com.

Highland Raw, what a deal


How did a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and a theatrical prop master find themselves starting a business in Highland, making a very special dog food? It’s complicated, but a growing family and a German Shepherd named Sascha are important to their story.

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Gonna need more thread: Downtown Pontiac sewing factory expands to bigger building

Detroit Sewn, the full-service sewing factory in downtown Pontiac, is growing. As the company recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, this summer it also achieved another significant milestone: A move from its original location to a larger facility.

The 5,000 sq. ft. space at 67 N. Saginaw St. affords Detroit Sewn the ability to meet the growing sewing and production needs of the region, giving the company room for more machines and more services. Originally offering services like product development, pattern and sample making, and cutting and sewing, Detroit Sewn has expanded to offer spot and full dye sublimation, direct-to-garment printing, and blank apparel orders.

The former editor of the StyleLine magazine, Detroit Sewn owner Karen Buscemi has spent more than 20 years in the fashion industry. She founded the non-profit Detroit Garment Group in 2012 and is helping to establish Detroit's Garment District.

Buscemi started Detroit Sewn as a response to inquiries made by metro Detroit's fashion community. She wanted to build something locally and see if was sustainable.

And sustain it she has.

"There's been a lot more need for this type of business than I ever imagined," says Buscemi. "I thought I had a handle on the size of our community, but it's way bigger than I thought."

The company receives inquiries every day, she says, and mostly from in-state residents -- a good sign for Michigan's fashion industry. "It's exciting to see that many people following their passion."

And it's not only the fashion industry that requires Buscemi's services. Just this week, Detroit Sewn sent out an order for another local company, Rochester's Seatsational, a maker of seat covers for theaters, sports venues, airplanes, and more.

Where there's a need, there's an opportunity.

"We need to show that this kind of manufacturing can be done here and be successful here if we ever want manufacturers to come from other states," Buscemi says.

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

At Home opens third Detroit-area home decor superstore in Wixom

At Home Group Inc. (NYSE: HOME), one of the fastest-growing retailers in the nation, opens its newest location in Wixom, Michigan, today at 10800 Assembly Park Drive. The new store is the third in the Detroit area and the eighth in the state, with other locations in Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Jenison, Utica, Dearborn and Bloomfield Hills.
The new 100,000-square-foot store offers more than 50,000 home décor items from furniture, mirrors, rugs, art and housewares to tabletop, patio and seasonal, including more than 100 different artificial Christmas tree varieties.  
“At Home has the widest selection of home décor items to fit any budget or style, from modern to farmhouse, boho to elegant,” said At Home Store Director Rachel Carrillo. “We welcome everyone to come in, explore our newest store and find decorating inspiration to turn any house into a home.”
Shoppers will find style ideas throughout the store, with room vignettes that are continually updated to showcase the latest trends and seasonal items. More than 400 new products are brought in each week to provide fresh inspiration.
Opening events include a ribbon-cutting at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22, with the Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, followed by a grand opening celebration Saturday, Sept. 23, beginning at 9 a.m., with mystery gift card giveaways valued at $20-$200 for the first 50 people in line.
The Wixom At Home is one of more than 25 new store openings across the U.S. this year for the home décor chain and will bring 25 jobs to the area.
At Home (NYSE: HOME), the home décor superstore, offers more than 50,000 on-trend home products to fit any budget or style, from sofas, dining sets, mattresses and patio furniture to lamps, pillows, kitchenware, rugs and more, plus seasonal décor that includes yard displays, lights and Christmas trees. At Home is headquartered in Plano, Texas, and currently operates 141 stores in 33 states. For more information, visit the company online http://www.athome.com or find us on Facebook (AtHomeStores), Instagram (AtHomeStores) or Pinterest (AtHomeStores).

Farmington Hills manufacturer teams with OU to turn water into electricity

A Farmington Hills-based company believes it has a developed a game-changing product for the clean energy industry. And a unique partnership with Oakland University has helped convince them and many others that they've done just that.

It's called the Oscillo Drive, a device developed and patented by Wave Water Works, LLC. Basically, the Oscillo Drive is placed in water and uses the motion of waves to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The device produces energy, which is then moved to a generator, converting that energy into electrical energy. It is quiet, renewable, and sheds no pollution.

"And the amazing thing is, the damn thing works," says Wave Water Works project director and general manager Chuck Keys.

Another seemingly amazing part of the story is that the Oscillo Drive had been sitting on the shelf for three decades before its inventor, Phil Padula, president and CEO of Wave Water Works, hired Keys in 2013 to bring the product to market. Keys has been talking to interested parties as near as Macomb County and as far as Israel and India.

The Oscillo Drive is going into production this winter and the company will have projects in the water the following spring.

The company enrolled in the Oakland University INC business incubator program last year, gaining access to important equipment and help from engineering faculty and 43 students. Keys estimates that Wave Water Works received $1.5 million in professional engineering services as a result of the partnership.

"We needed to be able to test the device," he says. "We knew it worked but we needed to be able to measure it. At OU, we were able to run it through a battery of tests."

Wave Water Works is also readying an Oscillo Drive that works in rivers. A desalination device is also nearing production.

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

Free or low-cost business classes in September/October at the Oakland County One Stop Shop

Business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking for assistance are encouraged to attend high-value, low- or no-cost business workshops offered by the experts at the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center.

Unless otherwise noted, all programs are held at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, west of Telegraph, in Waterford. For pre-registration and a location map, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/businessworkshops or call 248-858-0783.

September/October Workshops:
Starting a Business
Sept. 7 | 9-11:30 a.m.
Oct. 5 | 9-11:30 a.m.
This workshop is designed for those who want to start a business. It will help aspiring entrepreneurs assess their abilities to lead and manage a company as well as evaluate market and sales potential for their products and services. Topics like startup costs, financing options and business planning are introduced, along with the necessary steps to getting started. If you are ready to start your business this workshop is for you.
Cost: Free | Registration Required

CEED Lending Small Business Loan Orientation
Sept. 13 | 9-11 a.m.
Oct. 11 | 9-11 a.m.
Have a need for alternative financing for your business and it’s located in Oakland County? Consider learning more about the CEED Lending Small Business Loan Program. Discover how to apply for and obtain a small business loan. If you are interested in alternative financing for your Oakland County small business, then the CEED Lending Small Business Orientation is for you. CEED Lending is an initiative of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council. 
Cost: Free | Registration Required

Women’s Business Enterprise Certification Orientation (WBE)
Sept. 21 | 9-11 a.m.
Attention Women Entrepreneurs: Consider becoming a Certified Women Owned Business. Learn the benefits of joining the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). WBE certification benefits include accessing procurement opportunities with national companies looking to do business with women- and minority-owned companies. If you are ready to take your women-owned business to the next level, this workshop is for you.
Cost: $25 per person | Registration Required

Avoiding Costly Real Estate Mistakes
Sept. 21 | 9-10:30 a.m.
Did you know your lease for commercial space could be time bomb waiting to explode?
When looking for commercial space most people focus on the base rent, not realizing terms in the lease could cost them even more. Many people don’t realize that office, industrial and retail leases typically have different ways of charging for expenses. Are you signing a pure gross lease or not?
Do you have a relocation clause in your lease? Should you care?
Lynn Drake, president and founder of Compass Commercial, leads the discussion.
Cost: $25 per person | Registration Required

October Workshops
Five Steps to Networking Mastery
Oct. 4 | 9-11:30 a.m.
We have all heard it’s not what you know but whom you know. BARNACLES! It's all about how you are known. This brief, impactful training will teach you how to become the preferred choice for business referrals.
You will learn…
  • Why networking works
  • How to be ready to network anywhere anytime 
  • Which online sites are worth your time
  • How to identify your ideal referral partners
  • The components of a solid ask
Consider attending if you are frustrated with the results of your current networking; uncomfortable networking but know you need to do it more; or have a new position and want to increase your pipeline. The better we are at networking, the better our networking will be. Speaker: Terry Bean, founder of Networked Inc. and Motor City Connect
Cost: $40 per person | Registration Required

Market Research Basics
Oct. 10 | 9-11:30 a.m.
Ready to grow your business? Our Market Research Basics workshop helps you discover ways to find your ideal customers, identify competitors, perform competitive analysis, identify new site locations, target direct mail campaigns, reveal untapped markets and expand to new and appropriate markets. If you are ready to grow your business, the Market Research Basics workshop is for you.
Cost: Free | Registration Required

Team SBA Financing Roundtable
Oct. 31 | 9 a.m.-noon
Need the inside scoop on how to obtain a business loan? Attend the Team SBA Financing Roundtable to find out how banks evaluate your application. Learn how to improve your chances for a business loan and how SBA loan guarantee programs can help you get financing. This workshop is best suited to those with good credit, a solid business idea, and funds of their own to invest in the business. If you want to improve your chances of obtaining a business loan, then this workshop is for you.
Note: Because the SBA does not provide loan guarantees to real estate investment firms, including purchasing and rehabbing houses for resale, this type of financing is not discussed at the roundtable.
Cost: Free | Registration Required

Walk-in Start Up Thursdays in Waterford and Novi
WalkIn-StartUp Small Business Counseling
Sept. 7 | 9:30 a.m. – Noon | 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 | 9:30 a.m. – Noon | 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
In Waterford: One Stop Shop Business Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford
In Novi: Novi Civic Center - Community Development Center Room, 45175 Ten Mile Road, Novi
Whether you opened a business or you’re thinking about it, the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center has resources to help you. We provide confidential small business counseling, one-on-one advice from an experienced business consultant. No appointment necessary. Consultants answer questions about startups, suggest next steps and provide guidance on business planning tools. These no-cost sessions are limited to 15 minutes and first-come, first-served.

Delphi Partners with Innoviz Technologies on advanced LiDAR solutions for autonomous vehicles


Delphi Automotive, a global technology company that operates its North American headquarters in Troy, has announced a commercial partnership agreement with Innoviz Technologies, an Israeli company developing LiDAR technology for the mass commercialization of autonomous vehicles.

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Hobby Lobby opens for business, Ulta before year's end


Hobby Lobby, a privately held national retail chain of craft and home décor stores, officially opened for business in White Lake.

An announcement from Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. states the store opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and official grand opening celebration at 9 a.m. on Monday, August 21.

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LG Electronics to establish U.S. factory for electric vehicle components in Michigan

LG Electronics Inc. announced plans to establish a U.S. factory for advanced electric vehicle (EV) components in Michigan. The 250,000-square-foot facility, in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, Mich., will produce EV components starting in 2018. The project will mean at least 292 new Michigan jobs, including factory workers in Hazel Park and engineers at the expanded LG R&D Center in Troy, Mich.
Representing an LG investment of about $25 million, the project is supported by a $2.9 million capital grant under the Michigan Business Development Program over the next four years, as announced today by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. LG also will receive hiring and training assistance from the state, including MI Works support in cooperation with local community colleges, and from the cities of Hazel Park and Troy.
“When leading global companies like LG invest in Michigan and create hundreds of good, high-paying jobs here, it speaks volumes about the strong business and mobility climate in the state today,” Governor Rick Snyder said. “LG’s great technological advancements and our outstanding workforce will help pave the way for the vehicles of the future right here in Michigan.”
Ken Chang, LG Electronics USA senior vice president and head of the LG Vehicle Components North American Business Center, said, “LG’s initiative to develop and produce world-class EV components in the United States represents a key pillar of our strategy to be the best technology partner to U.S. automakers.”

Vehicle components represent the fastest-growing business of global technology leader LG Electronics. LG’s first-half 2017 global revenues for vehicle components were more than $1.5 billion, a 43 percent increase from the same period last year, thanks in large part to the successful collaboration with General Motors on the popular Chevrolet Bolt EV. Honored by GM as a global supplier of the year, LG Electronics received the coveted 2017 GM Innovation Award.

LG’s jobs and investment commitment in Michigan coincides with two other major LG projects in the United States. The company will soon begin construction on the world’s most advanced production plant for washing machines in Clarksville, Tenn. This $250-million factory will create 600 new U.S jobs by 2019. In addition, construction is under way on the new LG North American Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a $300-million project that is expected to increase LG’s local employment there from 500 today to more than 1,000 by 2019. 

Baker College receives NSF grant to boost Michigan's photonics education

Baker College has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of nearly $512,000 to advance photonics and laser education at Baker College and in Michigan through June 2020.

The goal, according to Anca Sala, Ph.D., Baker College dean of the College of Engineering, is to educate more students to become qualified photonics, laser and fiber optics technicians to meet industry need – in southeast Michigan and nationally.

The NSF grant supports development of curricula for educational institutions, expands Baker College’s photonics laboratory at the Flint Township campus, establishes laboratories at Baker College campuses in Auburn Hills and Jackson, and enables multiple information sharing events that involve educators, manufacturers and employers. 

"We are working to get photonics – the science and technology of light – into the mainstream of science and technical education at all levels,” Sala said. “This will draw more young people into the field early on. The Baker College photonics and laser technology associate program allows students to enter the rapidly growing and well-paid field of photonics with low education expenses.”

Starting salaries for graduates of two-year photonics programs range from $40,000 to $50,000, according to OP-TEC, The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education. It’s not unusual for recent graduates to have multiple job offers. OP-TEC, funded by the NSF, works to increase the number of qualified photonics technicians in the U.S. by building and strengthening two-year photonics programs.

“Scientists discover, engineers design, and technicians are the geniuses in the laboratory and masters of the equipment,” is how Dan Hull, OP-TEC executive director, relates the job of a photonics technician to others in the field.

Photonics education expansion in Michigan
The NSF grant allows Baker College to add the photonics and laser technology program to rosters at the Auburn Hills and Jackson campuses. It’s now offered at the Flint Township campus. New course modules will focus on photonics applications in emerging areas such as autonomous driving, integrated photonics and high-power lasers in manufacturing.

Photonics curriculum will be shared with other higher education institutions and K-12 educators as well as NSF Advanced Technological Education Centers located throughout the country. Important goals of the grant are to introduce photonics as a field of study in Michigan Career and Technical Education programs, develop pathways from high school to two- and four-year degree programs, and showcase available career opportunities.

Annual photonics symposiums are on tap, beginning early 2018, as well as workshops to introduce photonics to K-12 teachers and faculty at higher education institutions.

Sala said information sharing is extremely important, especially for students, parents, teachers and career guidance counselors, and groups such as veterans and displaced workers with industry and business potential.

“When those who are considering careers realize photonics are in numerous everyday technologies like cellular networks, flat-screen TVs and fiber-optic communications, I believe interest in these degrees will increase,” Sala said.

Photonics Phridays
To introduce middle and high school students, teachers and parents to the new science of photonics and lasers, Sala will be holding ‘Photonics Phriday’ events at Baker College’s Flint Township campus throughout the academic year. They will include a lab tour, age-appropriate demonstrations, simple experiments and fun, hands-on activities that illustrate the magic of photonics.

Strong demand for photonics technicians
Baker College received a previous NSF grant of approximately $200,000 in 2013 to help establish the photonics and laser technology associate program at the Flint Township campus. The program was the first in the state and one of a handful in the country. All graduates of the program have found rewarding employment with photonics companies in the state, and the companies are looking for more graduates to hire.

The Baker College program was in response to the urgent need for trained photonics technicians by employers. There were jobs in southeast Michigan that went unfilled. The need is still great. A 2016 Department of Labor O*NET report estimates 17,100 photonics, laser and fiber optics technicians will be needed between 2014 and 2024. That’s 1,710 per year, yet today two-year programs produce fewer than 400 qualified graduates annually, according to OP-TEC.

“Expanding photonics education is critical to Michigan’s manufacturing as well as health care, national security and defense, and other sectors,” Sala said. “Photonics and lasers are literally the cutting edge of science and technology in most everything.”

Sala encourages anyone interested in the associate degree program or about upcoming photonics and laser events to contact her, at 810.766.4111 or anca.sala@baker.edu, or contact Nicole Chirco in the admissions office at nicole.chirco@baker.edu or 248.340.0600. Information about the photonics and laser technology program is as www.baker.edu.

The largest private college in Michigan, Baker College is a not-for-profit higher education institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1911, Baker College grants doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as certificates in diverse academic fields including applied technology, business, education, engineering, health science, information technology and social science. Baker College has on-ground campuses throughout Michigan and offers online programs that can be completed 100 percent online without ever visiting a campus. In 2016, the Online Learning Consortium recognized Baker College Online with the OLC Quality Scorecard Exemplary Endorsement, the highest ranking for online higher education programs. For information, visit www.baker.edu or follow Baker College on Twitter, @bakercollege, or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/bakercollege.

Apprenticeships could help fill vacant tech jobs for employers

Tech employers who struggle to fill vacant information technology positions could get some insight into solving their employment challenges Aug. 23 at a Tech248 meetup.

IT Apprenticeships is the focus of the gathering at Goldner Walsh Garden and Home, 559 Orchard Lake Road in Pontiac. It runs from 2-4 p.m. There is no charge to attend but advanced registration is required at AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com.

“Oakland County has more than 2,000 tech companies and Tech248 is connecting half of them,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Many of them face staffing challenges, trying to find qualified workers to fill job vacancies. This meetup provides creative ways for these companies to help fill their employment needs.”

The meetup features presentations from U.S. Department of Labor, Michigan Works! and Oakland County Workforce Development experts as well as local educators who will discuss apprenticeships and how to find talent. Copies of the county’s 2017 Apprenticeship Guide will be available. The guide contains job descriptions, job opening forecasts for particular vocations, contact information and average salaries for 60 different apprenticeship opportunities in the area ranging from auto body repair and bricklayer to various health care and technology professions.

More than 4,000 copies of the guide have been distributed to K-12 schools, community colleges and Oakland County Michigan Works! centers as well as other agencies throughout the state.

The guide can be found at the county’s website, www.AdvantageOakland.com, by clicking on the icon labeled, “Apprenticeship Directory.” Hard copies are also available by contacting Oakland County Workforce Development at 248-858-5520.

Tech248 is a networking initiative for the county’s 2,000 tech companies. It focuses on talent, connectivity and branding. Meetups are held monthly. More information is available at Tech248.com or by calling 248-858-0734.
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