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DFCU Financial breaks ground on Plymouth branch

DFCU Financial, Michigan's largest credit union, is opening a new branch in Plymouth.

Ground was broken in late August on a 4,583-square-foot facility that will open in the first quarter of 2015 at Ann Arbor Road and Main Street.

The branch will be the 25th for the credit union that formed in 1950, started by seven Ford Motor Co. engineering employees. President and CEO Mark Shobe says the Plymouth location will serve more than 4,000 families.

The branch, which will sit on about one acre of land, will have two drive-through teller lanes, a drive up ATM and full services inside.

DFCU currently has branches in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Source: Peggy Richard, spokesperson, DFCU Financial
Writer: Kim North Shine


Brass Aluminum Forging embarks on $8.6M rehab of Ferndale brownfield

A vacant industrial site in Ferndale will be cleaned up and returned to the tax rolls after a growing local business renovates the property and brings new jobs to the site.

Brass Aluminum Forging's plan to re-use the building at 965 Wanda will come with an $8.6-million investment. The project got the go-ahead this week when the Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved a local and school tax capture of nearly $718,000, money that will help cover the cost of renovations.

The building will be shared by Brass Aluminum Forging and other tenants that lease space.

The company, which makes valve bodies, weapon components, air and hydraulic fittings, and architectural details and provides items that can be forged as well as other processes and products, expects to hire 50 new employees to work at the new site. Building tenants are expected to hire another 50 employees.

The city of Ferndale's Brownfield Development Authority requested the 965 Wanda site be a recipient of the the MEDC's Michigan Strategic Fund's economic development and community revitalization projects.

Source: Kathy Fagan, spokesperson, MEDC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Metro Work Space adds co-working office in downtown Farmington

In a sign that co-working is  more than a passing trend, Metro Work Space is opening a second location in downtown Farmington next week.

The furniture and supplies are being moved into the 100-year-old, historic building with wood floors, high tin ceilings and "overall charm" this week, says Todd Luhtanen, who owns and operates Metro Work Space with wife Bev Luhtanan.

The 2,500-square-foot office at 33316 Grand River is in the heart of downtown Farmington and offers a different feel and will serve a different clientele than the original Metro Work Space at 8 Mile and Merriman in Livonia, he says.

"We see the demand, but we also different markets. The Livonia office is ideal for people who are meeting across metro Detroit. It's close to highways, central," he says. "Downtown Farmington is completely different. It's a downtown community with all the things happening, people working, restaurants, stores.

"In Farmington we're really targeting people who are already in Farmington and want an office," he says. "There really isn't anything affordable."

Both offices provide a workspace, wi-fi, equipment, supplies and services for the cost of a membership that also brings with it access to networking and business management that will schedule conference rooms and meet other needs, even coffee.

"Some people are seeing it as a cheap alternative when they first sign up," he says, "but once they see it and work here they realize there's additional value."

Metro Work Space is one of about 10 co-working spaces in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Their clients are the growing number of mobile and at-home workers, whether employed by a company or self-employed.
According to DeskMag, co-working has increased 117 percent globally in the last year, and Luhtnanen cites Michigan's strong entrepreneurial culture as a reason for co-working to grow. Nearly 20 percent of graduates from Wayne State and Michigan State universities and the University of Michigan have started their own businesses.

"We're really excited about our own growth, plus the overall growth in co-working," he says. Co-working is still in its infancy in the Midwest, while out west or on the East Coast it's a given way to work.

"People here are [finally] seeing the value of a co-working space. We're here in michigan as opposed to silicon valley or somewhere out west where people really get the co-working.

"People are seeing they can get the feeling of a coffee shop, the getting out into the community, the being around human beings, but without all the negatives of a coffee shop."

Source: Todd Luhtanen, founder and owner, Metro Work Space
Writer: Kim North Shine

E7 Solutions sets up tech shop in Auburn Hills

E7 Solutions, a software and consulting firm, has opened an office in downtown Auburn Hills.

The five-year-old company has  been steadily hiring since moving to 3344 Auburn Road last month.

The company's founder is Edmond Delude, who is bringing 15 years of experience from Chrysler, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mercedes and Land Rover, managing the development of engineering software applications and development of diagnostic communication protocol specifications.

E7 specializes in software development, data management, project management and in generally finding solutions for businesses. It also has expertise in Atlassian JIRA software for managing product launches.

Source: Darren Darge, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Atlas Copco expands U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills

Swedish-based Atlas Copco's upward trajectory of sales and growth is benefiting Auburn Hills, which will be home to the company's expanded U.S. headquarters.

Demand for the products provided by the U.S. arm of the company, Atlas Copco Tools & Assembly Systems in Auburn Hills, led to a decision to double its facility by building a $15-million, 120,000-square-foot headquarters in the Oakland Technology Park. It's where the company will supply other businesses with handheld electric and pneumatic tools, assembly systems, software and heavy industrial vehicles.

Atlas, which is a multi-national with offices around the country and the world, also supplies construction and mining equipment, compressed air and gas and other industrial and manufacturing products.

The new Auburn Hills facility will initially employ about 225 people. Ground was broken last month and the construction should be completed summer of 2014.

Source: Shawn Keenan, city of Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine

Food Truck grants heat up business plans

Two metro Detroit food trucks are sharing in state economic development grants meant to support a burgeoning industry in Michigan.

The $77,775 in grants awarded by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which predicts food truck businesses will be a $2.7-billion industry by 2017, went to Southfield-based Detroit Pommes Frites and Plain and Fancy Food from Pontiac.

With matching grants from each winner, a total of $144,246 is being invested in the 10 food trucks.

The grants are part of the 2013 Mobile Cuisine Startup Program, which is designed to help new or growing businesses that "offer easily accessible and unique food options to patrons in public spaces and contribute to the local economy by working with other local businesses and farms. The intent of this program is to assist with community and economic development by increasing pedestrian traffic in downtowns and traditional commercial cores," according to the MEDC announcement of the winners.

MEDC president and CEO Michael Finney says "today's grants will help food entrepreneurs from around the state launch their business ideas, grow, and create jobs in Michigan."

Other winners included MI Fresh Start in Traverse City, The Organic Gypsy in Kalamazoo, Roaming Harvest in Interlochen, Dia De Los Tacos in Marquette, Taco Now in Flint and Pure F2T in East Lansing.

Source: Kathy Fagan, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Detroit Regional Aerotropolis takes off again with new name and new leader

Goodbye, Detroit Regional Aerotropolis. Hello, VantagePort.

The economic development effort to attract transportation-centered companies and industries to developable land between Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run airports is taking off with the naming of its first CEO and the launches of a new rebranding strategy and marketing plan.

The new name, VantagePort, and the new CEO, Tim Keyes, will carry on the work -- and successes -- of what was the Detroit Regional Aerotropolis, which formed in 2006 and in the nearly seven years since claims to have facilitated nearly 2,500 new jobs and more than $300,000 million in investment by small and large businesses.  While economic development has materialized, much of the work by the Aerotropolis board, including Wayne and Washtenaw County and state officials, has focused on information gathering, planning and preparation to achieve the goal of creating as many as 60,000 jobs and $10 billion in investment in 25 years. 

The goal is to shape 100,000-plus acres of land in, around and between the two airports into a global logistics hub by spreading the word about the area's convenient, potentially money-saving access to air, water, rail and highway and to make clear the benefits that might be reaped by companies needing these things to move their products, people and information all over the world.

Keyes,the new CEO and former director of economic development for the city of Romulus, has been a part of Detroit Regional Aerotropolis since the beginning and is charged with executing a new strategic and marketing plan that was written by Greyhill Advisors, a global site selection and and economic development consultant from New York, and the rebranding that was the work of Applied Storytelling, which has offices in Detroit and Oakland, Calif.

Metromode took a look at the plans and the concept of airport-centered economic development, in this 2011 story.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kelly Chesney, Business Leaders for Michigan

State grants available for food trucks & farmers markets

Farmers market organizers and food truck operators have a chance to get some green -- $10,000 to $50,000 -- from the state if they can prove their business is unique, innovative and will be successful at making their communities a place with a special vibe and feel.

The state and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation wants to promote food entrepreneurship as a means to promote a sense of place in Michigan communities by awarding matching grants through the Farmers Market Grant Program and the Mobile Cuisine Start-Up Program.

“Farmers markets and food trucks improve our downtowns and bring vitality and economic growth to our communities,” says MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney in a statement announcing the grants. “These grants will support food entrepreneurs and local markets, strengthen communities and create jobs in our state.”  

The state will award up to $200,000 in grants to farmers' markets and up to $100,000 to food trucks.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kathy Fagan, communication specialist at Michigan Deparment of Economic Development

Downtown Birmingham's First Thursdays offer nighttime shopping

Birmingham's business development officials have been studying shoppers and retail trends for many months now, trying to figure out how to improve on downtown Birmingham as a shopping and free-time destination.

One question asked: When do you want to shop? The answer: evenings, after work or school.

That's when many downtown shops are closed. So in the interest of finding out if nighttime shopping will actually generate traffic, about 45 downtown stores will stay open until 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, says John Heiney, director of Birmingham's Principal Shopping District.

The response will show if a mostly daytime downtown -- other than restaurants and movies -- will fly.

First Thursdays will run through September during the summer months, when strolling store to store at night is more likely. There will be a theme each month along with sales and special events and activities in stores and around downtown to promote First Thursdays.

Birmingham's Principal Shopping District, which is made up of downtown businesses and employs a retail consultant to keep downtown thriving, is hosting the event and "wants to get shoppers thinking about shopping in the evening," Heiney says.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: John Heiney, director, Birmingham Principal Shopping District

Grove Street to get $1.1M makeover in downtown Farmington

Construction started this week on a project to turn a beat up, outdated main street in downtown Farmington into a boulevard streetscape of greenery, decorative lighting and stamped walkways.

The $1.1-million Grove Street Reconstruction Project will also add parking to downtown and make over a tired strip retail center as well as connect it to a major pedestrian crosswalk that will lead to another shopping center.

Water mains will also be replaced and a plaza space with seating will be part of the new downtown layout.

The goal of city officials and the Downtown Development Authority is to make downtown more attractive, walkable, and busy as well as match it to a streetscape already redone. The plans call for turning a swath of pavement into a boulevard separated by a center island with angled parking along parts of it.

Mayor Tom Buck says the project is as much about attracting families to downtown as it is attracting small businesses and boosting the local economy.

The project will completely remove and replace Grove Street from Grand River to Main Street. The work was delayed in 2009 due to the costs. It is expected to be completed in two phases over a 10-week period and ready to use sometime in July.

Writer: Kim North  Shine
Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority

Oakland County opens business center for entrepreneurs

Oakland County is trying to make starting a business or taking it to the next level easier for entrepreneurs by offering free, walk-in business counseling.

The One Stop Shop Business Center at the Oakland County Executive Office building, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, in Waterford will open May 9 and offer regular walk-in hours after that. The hours for May 9 are 9:30-noon and 1:30-4:30. The business center is on the first floor of Building 41W.

“We usually operate on an appointment-only basis but many entrepreneurs walk into our One Stop Shop with questions on how to get started with their business idea,” says Greg Doyle, supervisor of the One Stop Shop Business Center. “By designating special walk-in days, we hope to reach more entrepreneurs and help them understand their next steps as well as present the resources we can make available to them. Our aim is to get them started quickly in a way that makes the most sense to their unique situation.”

Counselors at the business center can answer specific questions, suggest planning tools and give direction on where to go to solve problems or achieve goals. All sessions are confidential. The counselors have expertise in business development, community planning, financing and market research.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Greg Doyle, supervisor, One Stop Shop Business Center

Bozeman Watch Company coming to downtown Birmingham

The Bozeman Watch Company's speciality, limited edition watches and accessories will soon fill a downtown Birmingham store, importing a Michigan native's high-end goods from the Montana and Wyoming showrooms where they're now sold.

Its handmade time pieces are known for their rugged styling -- the B1 Hellcat, Smokejumper GMT and Sidewinder are a few styles that convey manly man adventure. The company is also known for its hand-tooled leather luggage and handbags.

Christopher Wardle, a former Michigan resident started the company in Montana and is expanding from three stores in Bozeman and Whitefish, Montana and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The Birmingham store opens May 1 on Pierce Street in the spot formerly occupied by Stacy Leuliette home accessories, says Ed Nakfoor, spokesman for the Birmingham Principal Shopping District.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Ed Nakfoor, spokesman, Birmingham Principal Shopping District

Faurecia building N. American HQ in Auburn Hills

Automotive supplier Faurecia will build its North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, combining some of its Oakland County offices into the new location at the Oakland Technology Park.

The 278,000-square-foot, three story building near I-75 and University Drive will bring two Auburn Hills offices and a Troy technical center into one spot, employing about as many as 700 employees once it opens in early 2014.

Another Auburn Hills office will remain open with more than 300 employees.

Faurecia, which supplies automotive seating, emission control technology, interior systems and automotive exteriors, will be neighbors to other auto-related companies that are not only surviving but thriving the auto industry lull. Faurecia employs 94,000 people in 34 countries.

Also operating from the Oakland Technology is US Farathane’s world headquarters. It makes plastic injection molding, and Henniges Automotive, a supplier of anti-vibration systems, will operate a world headquarters and research and design center.

“Auburn Hills is thrilled to add Faurecia’s North American headquarters to our roster of leading national and international manufacturers headquartered here,” says City Manger Pete Auger. “Companies like Faurecia, Henniges and USFarathane are terrific corporate citizens and bring tremendous value to Auburn Hills, solidifying our reputation as the premier global manufacturing address in the Midwest.”

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Stephanie Carroll, Pete Auger, city of Auburn Hills

Northwood University expands Troy campus

Midland-based Northwood University has renovated a Troy office building into a new campus that will be a hub for metro Detroit. The renovations provided more space, updated technology and programs and planned-for opportunities for business collaborations with students.

Dr. Matthew Bennett, director of admissions for Nothwood University's adult degree program, says enrollment and interest in the Troy and other southeast Michigan campuses and their business programs have steadily increased and the new, updated campus is a response to that.

It is located at 1500 West Big Beaver Road, just down the road from the old campus.

Classes, meeting areas and event space fill 8,000 square feet on the first floor of an office building where the Rehmann Group operates on the second floor.

"There's an openness here, and more opportunities for engagement with students," he says. "It's as high-tech a facility as you can imagine."

The Troy campus will offer several adult degree programs and be a hub for the DeVos School of Management. It will also serve as a regional admission center and offer advising for traditional students.

"The new Troy campus is a response to market demand for business leadership and to our state's need for business leadership," he says. "Northwood's mission is to develop the future leaders of a global free enterprise society. The goal is to be very entrepreneurial, very capitalistic, but student centered."

Classes officially began in mid-January. A grand opening and ribbon cutting is planned for March 21.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Matthew Bennett, spokesperson, Northwood University

Walsh College creates mini Wall Street on campus

Going to Wall Street each day is out of the question for finance students at Walsh College -- or any college for that matter -- so Walsh has built a miniature version of the stock exchange right on its Troy campus.

The 1,400-square-foot, glass-walled finance lab comes with a dozen Bloomberg terminals, several large, flat-screened TVs tuned to financial reports, and an LED ticker that runs along the top of the wall, giving real-time readings of financial reports and financial news.

Inside, students have a number of ways to learn the principle of market structure, including software that drives the marketplace. The lab goes hand in hand with courses in investment, portfolios, financial markets, international finance, financial management and economics. It will also be used for public events such as financial planning seminars and private investment programs.

"Walsh College’s interactive finance lab will change the way we teach financial courses,” Walsh College Professor Linda Wiechowski, chair of the finance and economics department, says in a statement about the last week's lab opening. “Our new lab will provide students with the knowledge and tools they need to fine-tune their skills and increase their marketability.”

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Lindsay Karpinskas, Airfoil public relations
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