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Wildlife Photographer of the Year makes U.S. debut at Detroit Zoo

Britain’s foremost natural history museum has selected the Detroit Zoo as the site of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition’s U.S. debut for the 12th consecutive year. The show begins November 18, 2017, at the Ford Education Center and runs through May 13, 2018. It is free with Zoo admission.

“Words don’t do justice to this breathtaking exhibition, which showcases the most amazing images of wildlife from around the globe and raises awareness of the beauty and vulnerability of the natural world,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS).

The exhibition of winners from the 2017 competition features 100 images dramatically displayed as illuminated large-format color transparencies. The images were chosen from nearly 50,000 entries by photographers from 92 countries.

Now in its 53rd year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.
The exhibition will be open during Wild Lights, the Detroit Zoo’s spectacular holiday display featuring more than five million LED lights. Presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions, Wild Lights will be held Nov. 18-19 and 24-26 and Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 20-23 and 26-31, 2017. Visit http://www.detroitzoo.org/events/wild-lights for information and tickets.

Spread warmth this winter with Coats for the Cold

The warmth of your generosity could help those less-fortunate this winter. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is accepting donations of new or clean, used coats through November 30th as part of their 30th annual “Coats for the Cold” coat drive.

Donated coats will be sent to a variety of local charitable organizations, who in turn distribute the coats to community members most in need.



“Coats for the Cold is an easy way for the community to reach out and help someone less fortunate stay warm this winter,” Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said. “For the past 29 years, we have worked with local charitable organizations to provide free coats to those in need. The community’s generosity has been wonderful every year.”

Spotlight | Coats for the Cold Drop-Off Sites

This year’s coat drive is sponsored by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with 1-800-Self-Storage.comCOWS (Container on Wheels Mobile Storage)Real Estate OneGenisys Credit UnionAmp97 Detroit, and several other Oakland County charitable organizations.

As a special promotion this year, coat donors will receive $10 off of the cost of a pet adoption at the Oakland County Pet Adoption Center for each of the first five coats donated (limit $50).

If you’d like to know more about Coats for the Cold and other Community Outreach Initiatives of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, visit their website, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Oakland County retailers encouraged to register to win $1,000 in Small Business Saturday promo

Oakland County small businesses that hope to see green during the upcoming holiday shopping season could pocket a little green for themselves - $1,000 – just for registering for Oakland County’s Small Business Saturday to Saturday promotion.

Small Business Saturday to Saturday begins Nov. 25 – the Saturday after Thanksgiving – and runs until Dec. 2. It offers shoppers who make a purchase of any amount at any independently owned small business in Oakland County the chance to win $5,000, courtesy of North American Bancard; $2,000, courtesy of Bank of Ann Arbor; and a $500 voucher toward travel on Southwest Airlines, courtesy of Bishop International Airport in Flint.

“This is a win-win for both the small businesses and the customers,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

“Customers have this singular opportunity to do some holiday shopping, support local businesses and get a chance at an incredible payday. Business owners get the boost of having additional holiday traffic in their stores and the chance to win $1,000, just for registering.”

Shoppers must enter a picture of their receipt from a purchase made from Nov. 25- Dec. 2 at any small brick and mortar business in Oakland County to be eligible to win one of the prizes.

As an incentive to encourage small businesses to register and promote the contest to its customers, CEED Lending is offering a $1,000 American Express gift card to a randomly selected business and an additional $500 to the business employee who waits on the winning customer. There is no cost for a business to register.

Businesses may register online at www.AdvantageOakland.com/ShopSmall and are automatically entered into the $1,000 gift card drawing. Businesses will also be encouraged to remind shoppers not to forget small retailers for their holiday shopping. The program is patterned after the “Shop Small” campaign developed by American Express.

Free promotional materials are available to registered businesses at Oakland County’s One Stop Shop Business Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford. Materials can be picked up Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Meadow Brook Hall presents "Landmark in Lights" 46th annual Holiday Walk

Meadow Brook Hall’s 46th annual Holiday Walk runs November 24- December 23.  
 
Visitors can tour the grand rooms of the great estate decked in elegant holiday decor, then stroll down candy cane lane to the land of “Santa & Sweets.” The 2017 Holiday Walk is sponsored by Oakland University Credit Union.
 
New things are happening at Meadow Brook’s annual Holiday Walk from “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights” and guided candlelight tours to an interactive “Kids Candy Adventure” and more!
 
The Meadow Brook estate will shine a little brighter this holiday season during “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights.” For these special evening tours guests will experience the National Historic Landmark trimmed in lights then walk the lit path to the “Land of Santa and Sweets” located at Knole Cottage and Danny’s Cabin, where they can warm themselves by the outdoor fire while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Self-guided house tours will also be available during “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights.” Also new this year, children of all ages can participate in the “Kids Candy Adventure,” inspired by the Candy Land board game, where kids will search for treats and sweets while touring the mansion then collect their prize at Candy Cane Cottage.
 
Candlelight Tours will take place on November 26, December 10 and December 17.  Guests will enjoy an evening guided tour of The Hall complete with the ambient glow of candlelight and a champagne reception in the Ballroom. Cost to attend is $40 per person. Reservations are required. To make a reservation call (248) 364-6252 or purchase tickets online at meadowbrookhall.org.
 
Santa will be at his workshop located inside Danny’s Cabin on December 21 through December 23 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. Families are encouraged to stop in for a visit and snap a selfie with Santa! Tour admission required to visit with Santa.
Throughout the Holiday Walk, children can write a letter to Santa and drop it in his mailbox while visiting his workshop.
 
Meadow brook’s 46th annual Holiday walk, is open to the public from Friday, November 24 through Saturday, December 23, 2017. Tour hours are Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admittance at 4 p.m.), and “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights” takes place on December 11 and December 18 through December 23 from 5p.m. to 9 p.m. (last admittance at 8 p.m.). Tickets are $20 for adults, $7.50 for children 17 and under (accompanied by an adult); children age 2 and under are free. On Tuesdays, seniors age 62 and older will receive $5 off admission. All tours are self-guided and reservations are not required.

There is also a special rate for Oakland University faculty, Staff & Alumni at $15 per person and Oakland University students can participate at $5 per student with ID.

Finally, the often anticipated OU Community Night is scheduled for Monday, December 11. For more info on OU night click here: http://meadowbrookhall.org/programs/holiday-walk/ou-community-night/

Meadow Brook Hall is fully self-supporting, relying on special events such as the annual Holiday Walk for the preservation and interpretation of this National Historic Landmark. For more information about the Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Walk, call (248) 364-6200 or visit meadowbrookhall.org
 
About Meadow Brook Hall:
 
Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home built by one of the automotive aristocracy’s most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. Constructed between 1926 and 1929, Meadow Brook Hall represents one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival style architecture in America, and is especially renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square-feet. It was the center of a country estate that included 1,500 acres, numerous farm buildings, recreational facilities, several residences and formal gardens.

Named a National Historic Landmark in 2012, Meadow Brook Hall strives to preserve and interpret its architecture, landscape, and fine and decorative art so that visitors may be entertained, educated and inspired by history.

Oakland Early College hosts the Galileo-Saudi Arabia Leadership Project

Saudi Arabian counselors, principals and supervisors spent a full day immersed in Oakland Early College's (OEC) educational processes as part of the Galileo-Saudi Arabia Leadership Project at Oakland University. It is just one of the stops on their research and educational journey to rebuild Saudi Arabia's educational system.

A recognized leader for its partnership between higher education and high school, OEC staff and leadership showcased their non-traditional, hybrid model where students graduate with a dual high school diploma and Associates degree.

The November 1 visit included staff and student presentations, tours of campus and a lunch panel featuring OEC staff and students. The visiting group was eager to know more about the accreditation process, the benefits of a high school on a college campus and why students decided on OEC.

"I moved to the US from Saudi my senior year of high school. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know what I want to be in 10 years. I don't even know what I'm going to eat for lunch today. I chose OEC because it gave me an opportunity to first have more time to get involved in the American system unlike a normal high school and be able to explore more creative programs like communications," said student, Rahaf Azzam.

When asked about student support, OEC instructor Kyle Heffelbower shared, "The OCC campus is actually really good with their academic supports for early college students. They have high school tutors through National Honor Society and the College provides tutoring resources. The academic skills center can help a lot of students with math and writing webinars. These are all good things that the College provides for college-level classes that our students can access because they are, in fact, college students."

OEC Head of School Jennifer Newman shared, "If I can leave you with one thought concerning early colleges, it is this: Slowly easing your high school students into the world of college, by gradually increasing their college workload over their high school career, will make them stronger students and much more likely to be successful when they enter the university world."

Hosted through Oakland University's Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership, the Saudi group will spend the next six months living and learning in Oakland County as part of the international program. The program is dedicated to improving the learning of all students, elevating the education profession, enhancing the leadership skills of teachers, and fulfilling the vital role of public education in achieving a civil, prosperous and democratic society.

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.

OU Soundings Series to highlight importance of community engagement

Oakland University’s popular Soundings Series, which features examples of faculty successfully taking their research out of the classroom and using it to make a positive difference in the world, will return on Monday, Nov. 27 with a special presentation by Ali Woerner, associate professor of dance and co-founder of “Take Root,” a contemporary dance company-in-residence at OU.
 
The event will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. in 242 Elliott Hall. Woerner will be presenting information about Take Root’s Dance for Parkinson’s Disease Program, why it’s important and ways higher education can be used to improve the lives of others in the community. She will also be highlighting her own community engagement efforts in Oakland County.
 
“Community engagement is so important to what we’re doing,” she said. “It’s the way we started, and it’s the way we’ve survived. We let people know what’s going on. Not only that, but we get them to tell others about the program, or come to the class themselves. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting them in the room.”
 
Based on the Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Dance for PD” program, the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program at Oakland University was developed to empower those living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), as well as their caregivers, spouses and family members, to explore movement and music through a program that engages their minds and bodies in an enjoyable social environment.
 
“We try to give them a space that’s safe,” Woerner said. “That’s really important, especially for this group of people who are dealing with being vulnerable every minute of their lives. They worry about being able to cross the street in time, about getting to the phone when it rings, etc. It’s just a constant thing for them. To give them an hour where they don’t have to worry, where they can just have fun, it’s great. Sure, we talk about how the movements are going to help them physically, but we don’t harp on it. That’s not our purpose. We’re there to make them feel good.”
 
According to Woerner, the classes are currently offered in three locations in Oakland County:
  • Oakland University, 201 Meadow Brook Road, Rochester, Mich.
  • The Older Person’s Commission, 650 Letica Drive, Rochester, Mich.
  • St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, 44405 Woodward Ave., Pontiac, Mich.
 “What I think is really interesting about this work is that the basis of it is dance, but it’s also dealing with a medical issue and a neurological disease,” Woerner said. “So it really cross-pollinates because you’re dealing with education, health sciences, nurses, physical therapy, dance therapy, music, etc. It’s really exciting because you’re touching all those groups. In fact, I think that’s why we’ve been as successful as we have been with the program.”
 
For more information about the Soundings Series, contact Leanne DeVreugd, program assistant for Women in Science, Engineering and Research (WISER), at ldevreug@oakland.edu, or visit the Soundings Series website at Oakland.edu/research/soundings-series.

Work off dinner with free park entry at Oakland County Parks

EVENT NAME:    Free park entry for Thanksgiving

WHAT:                 During Oakland County Parks and Recreation Appreciation Day, visitors can enjoy free daily park entry with access to natural areas, trails, dog parks and all park amenities.                                   

WHEN:             Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2017
Park hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, or as posted at the park.

WHERE:          Six Oakland County Parks and three dog parks:

  • Addison Oaks County Park, 1480 West Romeo Road, north of Rochester
  • Highland Oaks County Park, 6555 Milford Road, Highland
  • Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, near Clarkston
  • Lyon Oaks County Park and Lyon Oaks Dog Park, 52221 Pontiac Trail, Wixom
  • Orion Oaks County Park, 2301 W. Clarkston Road, Lake Orion
  • Orion Oaks Dog Park, Joslyn Road between Clarkston and Scripps roads, Lake Orion
  • Red Oaks Dog Park, 31353 Dequidre, Madison Heights
  • Rose Oaks County Park, 10400 Fish Lake Road, near Holly


For details on upcoming events and activities, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Get social with Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Southfield rec center renovations on track to be completed in January 2018

Renovations are underway at Southfield's Beech Woods Recreation Center. And while the improvements being made should make a better experience for everyone, the renovations will especially improve access for those residents making use of wheelchairs and other devices.

Among the improvements being made is the installation of a new elevator, significant because Beech Woods is the home of the southeast Michigan Jr. wheelchair basketball program. A second phase of renovations will see the repair of a handicap-accessible ramp, providing access to the Beech Woods picnic area. That picnic area is also scheduled to be improved.

Access, however, is just part of the renovation budget. Also included in the updates is a new floor for the gymnasium, updated locker room, and a renovated office space and lobby. The wellness center will also be expanded.

"The extensive renovations taking place at Beech Woods will provide residents with a vastly improved facility and amenities," Parks & Recreation Director Terry Fields said in a statement. "We’re very excited about the upgrades that will be made to the wellness center, gymnasium, office space, lobby and other improvements that will make Beech Woods more user-friendly and customer focused."

As a result of the renovations, the Parks & Recreation department's programs and offices have been moved to the John Grace Community Center, 21030 Indian St. For those voting in Precincts 34 and 35 in the Nov. 7, 2017, general election, polling stations have been temporarily moved to the Beech Woods Pro Shop, which is located on the original Beech Woods campus.

In January 2017, Southfield City Council approved a $2.5 million budgets for the renovations, which are scheduled to be completed in January 2018. Construction began in September 2017. Phase two of the project, which includes access to and improvement of the Beech Woods picnic area is funded in part by a Recreation Passport Grant, which itself is funded by the state's sale of recreation passports.

Beech Woods Recreation Center is located at 22200 Beech Rd. in Southfield.

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

Corporate Eagle debuts business jet that can reach Europe or Southern Hemisphere nonstop

Excerpt

Looking to reach Berlin, London, Paris, or the Southern Hemisphere nonstop in a private business jet? Corporate Eagle, based out of Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, has just received delivery of a Dassault Falcon 2000EX jet, which recently underwent a $2.5-million renovation.

Read more

New lighthouse on Dixie

Excerpt: 

Lighthouse Clarkston celebrated the opening of their new, centralized location at 5850 Dixie Highway with a ribbon cutting.

“I hope it gets the word out to all of Oakland County that we’re here, and I just love the Clarkston community, all of Independence Township and Clarkston,” said Lighthouse Clarkston Manager Michele Robinson.

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Avon Players "A Christmas Story" opens Nov. 24

Excerpt

For many, the characters are as familiar as old friends at an annual reunion, and the exploits of the Parker clan are as vivid as an oft-told family legend. This holiday season, laugh along with your own near and dear as your favorite moments come to life on Avon Players' stage: the double dog dare that goes awry, the unfortunate pajamas, and the presence of a very distinctive lamp are just some of the reasons why audiences of all ages will enjoy A Christmas Story, running Nov. 24 - Dec. 9.

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Oakland's information security program grabs two national awards

Oakland County’s Information Security Program is capturing national attention with two cybersecurity awards from the Center for Digital Government at its seventh annual Cybersecurity Leadership and Innovation Awards program, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced.

“The two awards from the Center for Digital Government highlight just how innovative Oakland County’s cybersecurity team is under the leadership of Deputy County Executive/CIO Phil Bertolini and Chief Information Security Officer Chris Burrows,” Patterson said.

The Center for Digital Government bestowed its Cybersecurity Leadership and Innovation Award upon the county’s Information Security Program. It has delivered projects in governance, formalized program documentation, technical solutions, incident response, asset management, data management and improved patching process time (from three weeks to one week). The program has a dedicated team for monitoring and response, does outreach to local businesses, and offers the CySAFE self-assessment template and advisory assistance to all U.S. counties.

“Cybersecurity threats are on the rise, and as stewards of some of the public’s most important and sensitive data, it’s more critical than ever that we recognize the government, education and healthcare organizations that are raising the bar when it comes to the best ways to protect that information,” said Teri Takai, executive director of the Center for Digital Government.

The Center for Digital Government also honored CISO Burrows with an individual Cybersecurity Leadership and Innovation Award for his leadership in putting the Information Security Program together.

“I’m proud we were able to come up with solutions that will work,” Burrows said. “We have been able to secure highly sophisticated systems in a short amount of time, and I’m proud that people were open and worked really hard to secure this. It’s a team effort.”

Bertolini said the Information Security Program has changed how the county looks upon information security.

“We live in a world where cybersecurity threats are evolving faster than the technology to safeguard information,” Bertolini said. “Working in collaboration on those security threats helps keep the costs down while staying on the leading edge of new developments.”

Find the perfect Halloween outing with Oakland County's interactive map

Excerpt

With so many fantastic Halloween events and activities in Oakland County, it can be difficult to keep track. That’s why Oakland County’s award-winning GIS team has developed a custom map to bring you all of Halloween’s fun and fright in one easy-to-use package.

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Five charities receive $50,000

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and local philanthropist Rick Frazier, founder of Others First, awarded five charitable organizations a total of $50,000 today to help veterans and children. Others First, a car donation charity, raised the funds. Frazier then asked Patterson to identify the organizations to each receive $10,000.

“Others First is a phenomenal program that helps members of our community who are in need, such as veterans and children,” Patterson said. “I was delighted to work with my staff to name the recipient organizations.”

Those organizations are Fisher House Michigan, Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council, Oakland County Veterans’ Services, The Rainbow Connection, and Yellow Ribbon Fund Inc.

“Others First is pleased to support these five outstanding charities as well as hundreds of other worthy organizations and are grateful to our generous car donors who make donations like this possible,” Frazier said.

About the recipient organizations
  • Fisher House Michigan in Ann Arbor: Fisher House is a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $320 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. www.fisherhousemichigan.org/
     
  • Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council in Holly: The Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council supports volunteer veteran service organization units that provide the rifle volleys in support of the Department of Defense funeral honors team. www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/greatlakes.asp
     
  • Oakland County Veterans Services in Pontiac and Troy: Oakland County Veterans Services has been providing Oakland County’s 70,000+ veterans and their families with professional veterans’ benefits advocacy and assistance for over 60 years. It has a staff of highly trained and accredited veterans' benefits counselors who are dedicated to ensuring that the sacrifices of veterans are recognized, and that they and their families receive all veterans’ benefits to which they are entitled. www.oakgov.com/veterans/
     
  • The Rainbow Connection in Rochester: The Rainbow Connection, founded by Patterson, has fulfilled the dreams of thousands of Michigan children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. The Rainbow Connection has never turned a child away and depends on the generosity of the Michigan community to make dreams come true for these brave children. The Rainbow Connection also addresses the special needs of its wish families. The Special Response Program assists families with financial difficulties such as rent, utilities and even funeral expenses brought on by having a child with a catastrophic illness.www.rainbowconnection.org/
     
  • Yellow Ribbon Fund Inc.: The Yellow Ribbon Fund Inc. provides practical support to injured service members and their families while they’re at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, and after they return to their hometowns. Since its beginning, more than 80 cents of every dollar spent has gone directly to programs and services, thanks in part to its small staff and a volunteer force that has grown to more than 1,300. www.yellowribbonfund.org/
About Others First
Others First is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to making a difference in the community by providing funding and support to a wide range of charitable causes. It supports various veterans’ organizations, children's programs, cancer research, animal groups, and many other worthwhile programs. Through its vehicle donation programs, Others First has raised millions of dollars to provide much needed services to the less fortunate. Its mission is to make a difference in as many lives as physically and financially possible. www.othersfirst.org/

Flagstar Bank launches small business development funding in Pontiac

Flagstar Bank announced the first disbursement—$500,000—of its $2.5 million investment in small business development in Pontiac. This small business initiative is part of Flagstar’s five-year, $10 million commitment to help revitalize the city.

“We’re happy to have partnered with Flagstar to bring this $10 million commitment to Pontiac,” said Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman. “Small businesses are the backbone of any economic revitalization, and this funding from Flagstar gives a welcome boost to our community.”

Flagstar’s initial disbursement of $500,000 will be leveraged through a partnership with CEED Lending, a Small Business Administration lender. Although the program will offer direct grants and loans, most of the disbursements are expected to be a combination of SBA loans and Flagstar grants to achieve maximum leverage. By blending grants with loans, Flagstar is able to add collateral and security to loan requests, thus making the loans more creditworthy, providing more capital to borrowers, and lowering the repayment amount.

“This kind of funding can be a lifeline for struggling businesses that need a little help to thrive,” said Beverly Meek, CRA director for Flagstar. “One small business in Pontiac has already been approved for a loan/grant combination in the pilot phase, and another is awaiting CEED loan approval.”

Meek said funding also will be used to support manufacturing in Pontiac, non-SBA loans, and grant opportunities identified by Pontiac Main Street Advisory Council.

“Everything we’re doing, we’re doing with input from the community,” Meek said. “It was the community who told us small businesses—especially micro-businesses—needed grant money to help them qualify for SBA loans. Zero percent loans and grants was what we heard from the community.

“Another thing the community wanted was a one-stop website where small businesses could find everything they needed to start and do business in Pontiac. And Flagstar responded with a $10,000 grant to build a web portal for the city.”

CEED Lending, an initiative of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, provides small business loans to start-up and existing enterprises in nine counties in Southeast Michigan. CEED is the lender for the SBA loans associated with the program.

“The partnership with Flagstar is a great opportunity to move the needle on small business lending in Pontiac,” said Michelle Richards, executive director of CEED Lending. “We’re looking for good things to happen in Pontiac with CEED’s expertise in SBA lending enhanced by small business grants from Flagstar.”
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