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Painting With a Twist expands in Ferndale

Painting With a Twist, where customers are encouraged to BYOB and pick up a brush to learn from artists how to paint, is expanding, moving into a new space in downtown Ferndale.

The move down the road on 9 Mile will almost double the space for Painting With a Twist Ferndale, which is a franchise of Corks n Canvas.

The new 3,000-square-foot space is being renovated inside the former Dollar Castle on 9 Mile. Dollar Castle closed in October and is being divided for three tenants. Modern Natural Baby is moving is moving into 5,000 square feet of the building, adding to its inventory and building parts of the business it previously didn't have the space to do.

At Painting With A Twist Ferndale, birthday parties are celebrated, charity events are held, and girls' nights out are common, as are outings for artists just wanting to paint.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Chris Hughes, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority

Craft Beer Expo in Lake Orion a shout out to Michigan's craft beer industry

A metro Detroit distributor of craft beers and other alcoholic beverages is hosting a Craft Beer Expo May 15 as a celebration of American Craft Beer Week and Michigan's standing as a state that's home to accomplished craft brewers.

The hope is to make the expo an annual event. Host Power Distributors, an Orion Township company that employs over 200 people, will feature beers from 17 breweries, including six from Michigan, as well as a strolling dinner and raffles at the expo, which runs from 6 - 9 p.m. at Canterbury Village in Lake Orion.

“Craft beer is exploding in popularity,” says Gary Thompson, chief operating officer of Powers Distributing. “Michigan is the fifth-largest craft beer state in the country. Our breweries are experiencing fantastic development and the state offers an amazing selection of both local and national beers to craft beer drinkers. To celebrate this, we created a local beer event. American Craft Beer Week seemed to be the perfect time to invite the public to learn more about this 4,000-year-old beverage and how wonderfully it pairs with cuisine.”

The expo also has a philanthropic angle with $5 of each $15 ticket purchased going to Rock STAR Warriors, a Michigan nonprofit that helps Michigan veterans find work and land careers. The STAR in the name stands for Sustainable Talent And Retention.

The breweries represented at the expo: Cheboygan Brewing Company, Dragonmead Brewing Company, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, North Peak Brewing Company, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Uncle John's Cider, Oskar Blues Brewery, Blue Moon Brewing Company, Tenth & Blake Beer Company, Samuel Adams – The Boston Beer Company, Magic Hat Brewing Company, Vermont Hard Cider Company (Woodchuck), Brooklyn Brewery, Boulder Beer Company, Tommyknocker Brewing Company, Spoetzl Brewery (Shiner), and Anchor Brewing Company.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Jim Miller, publicist, Franco Public Relations Group; and Gary Thompson, COO, Powers Distributing


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

Macomb Children's Hands-On Museum moves forward

With architectural plans drawn up and the first round of fundraising done, the Macomb Children's Hands-On Museum is closer to opening its doors.

The target date for opening what would be Macomb County's first children's museum -- and a metro Detroit region tourist attraction -- is early 2015, in Mount Clemens.

The project was announced in 2010 and has the support of benefactors Gebran and Suzanne Anton, who donated a two-story downtown building with a rooftop garden and parking.

During a fundraising phase that lasted a little more than a year, nearly $60,000 was raised, almost $20,000 more than the target. As much as $14 million will be needed to build and open it.

Virginia Beach Architects iN Design completed a proposed design. The project leader is William Greaves, who brings a record of designing children's museums and creative art centers around the U.S.

"As Macomb County looks to educate its children, attract and retain an educated workforce, and promote travel and tourism," says Monika Rittner, a board member for the proposed museum, "the establishment of the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum is a must for the region to remain competitive in the 21st century."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Arthur Mullen, spokesperson, and Monika Rittner, board member, Macomb Children's Hands-On Museum

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

Oakland County adds fresh foods market to downtown Pontiac

An effort to increase Pontiac residents' access to fresh, healthy foods is spreading in Oakland County with the opening of a third goverment-run market.

The newest market will operate one day a week on Tuesdays and sell fresh fruits and vegetables at a low cost.

The markets are a project of the Healthy Pontiac We Can! Coalition and the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency.

Two other markets sell on Fridays and Saturdays, and all three share recipes for meals using fresh foods, lead cooking demonstrations and offer free samples.

"This market is a part of Oakland County's strategy to improve the quality of life of our residents through healthier lifestyles," says Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Health Division manager and health officer. "Consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Health Division

Local 212 spotlights local foods options in downtown Royal Oak

The menu at a new restaurant in Royal Oak is striving to show that what it serves can come from close to home and not from a box.

Local 212 -- the 212 comes from its address on Fifth Avenue in downtown Royal Oak -- opened just over a week ago and the reception to the shrimp from Okemos (there's a farm there), the Northern Michigan boar, Michigan chestnuts on a baby spinach salad and grilled cheese on Detroit Avalon bread has been hearty.

When the Royal Oak Farmers Market opens veggies will come from there and other farmers. All the sausage and bacon is made in house at Local 212 and the slider patties are ground in the kitchen too.

The meats served at Local 212 come from local farmers through Sparrow's Market in Ann Arbor. Local 212 also serves beer and wine, many made locally and around the state, as well as from places around the world.

While there are plenty of ingredients not from Michigan, none are processed.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Jenna Goudrea, general manager, Local 212

500-plus student housing complex coming to OU

Oakland University broke ground today on a $30-million student housing complex that is expected to open by August 2014 and sleep more than 500 students, a development that will further the school's move away from commuter-based to full-time campus life experience.

The freshmen and sophomore living spaces will come with a cafe, meeting rooms and study areas as well as be home to OU's Honors College.

"By investing in our students' academic and campus experience with projects like the new housing complex, we are creating a total campus community," OU president Gary Russi says, "a community that our students will remember as their home and their foundation for success."

The complex, which will be built to LEED energy efficiency standards, is the most significant of several developments changing the Auburn Hills campus, which has seen a 37-percent increase in enrollment during the last 15 years and an increasing demand for on-campus housing.

Also this week, ground will be broken for construction of a 151-foot carillon tower that's being paid for by longtime benefactors of the school, Hugh and Nancy Elliott.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: David Groves, spokesperson, Oakland University and OU president Gary Russi

Downtown Rochester wins 2013 National Main Street award

Downtown Rochester is one of three cities in America to be named a Great American Main Street.

The 2013 Great American Main Street Award given by the National Trust For Historic Preservation recognized the Oakland County city for its success at preserving history while promoting economic revitalization and a strong relationship with the community. The announcement of the award, which was given in New Orleans April 11, described the Trust's reasoning for picking Rochester out of hundreds of historic Main Streets across the country.

"The Rochester DDA has succeeded in transforming a mill town that had fallen on hard times into a thriving suburb of Detroit built around a strong sense of place and community. A robust mix of public events, creative use of social media and a broad spectrum of volunteer involvement has attracted a loyal following to downtown Rochester," it says. "The DDA's Big Bright Light Show, for example draws 1 million visitors each holiday season to enjoy 1.5 million lights-lighting up merchants' cash registers in the process"

Other winners were H Street Main Street in Washington, D.C. and Ocean Springs Main Street in Mississippi.

In picking Rochester, Valecia Crisafulli, acting director at the National Main Street Center, says, "The Rochester DDA is a true innovator in marketing and small business assistance, and has the vibrant downtown to prove it. At a time when many municipalities are losing population, Rochester has experienced a 20-percent increase in population. With a 4-percent vacancy rate downtown and 132 new businesses since adopting the Main Street Approach, the DDA can take great pride in creating an inviting place for people to live, shop and open businesses."

Kristi Trevarrow, executive director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority, says it goes without saying that it's an honor and recognition of much hard work and devotion from volunteers, business owners and city and county officials.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kristi Trevarrow, executive director, Rochester Downtown Development Authority and Erica Steward, spokesperson, National Trust For Historic Preservation

Metro Detroit towns, groups get grants for tree plantings

About 15 metro Detroit cities, schools and community groups are sharing in tree-planting grants awarded by DTE and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A total of 34 grants were awarded statewide. The amount of grants totaled $75,610 and will lead to the planting of more than 1,000 trees. Locally, communities such as Lincoln Park, Warren, Grosse Pointe Park and Pleasant Ridge will plant trees in the fall and spring.

Schools such as Commerce Elementary in Oakland County and Romeo Community Schools in Macomb County, as well as community groups such as the International Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson East Business Association and Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education, all in Wayne County, are also receiving grants.

The program is intended to increase the number of proper tree species and encourage properly planted trees and to also help reverse the loss of tree canopy in urban areas.

In the 15 years since the Michigan program began more than 20 million trees have been planted throughout the state, according to the DNR.

“The trees planted through this program will help to improve public areas in communities throughout the state,” said Kevin Sayers, coordinator of the DNR’s Urban Forestry Program. “This program also helps raise awareness about the importance of planting the right tree in the right location to avoid utility and tree conflicts.”

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Scott Simons, DTE Energy and Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority

Stefana Boutique opening in downtown Northville

The owner of the new Stefana Boutique in downtown Northville is basing her business on offering something different than mall-based stores, selling at prices that won't induce buyers' remorse and in stocking styles that are age-appropriate but still with it.

Stephanie Fermanis Stojanovski opened the boutique at 122 W. Main Street this week and is excited to be selling clothing, jewelry and other accessories she picked up at Fashion Week in Las Vegas.

"I have clothes from New York, California, sunglasses from Texas," she says. "There things that you won't find in just any store."

She chose Northville, where she moved to 13 years ago, simply because she loves the city.

"This is a really beautiful location on Main Street. There's a lot of traffic and and the historic downtown is very beautiful, very quaint," she says.

She also says Northville's events such as First Fridays, where galleries and shops stay open later and bring more visitors downtown, are expected to be good for business and good for getting to know customers, something she's already seeing as the best part of being a business owner.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Stephanie Fermanis Stojanovski, owner, Stefana Boutique

Francesca's boutique to open in downtown Birmingham

Francesca's, a women's clothing store chain with differently-themed stores around the country, will open its first on-the-street, Main Street location in Michigan in downtown Birmingham.

Francesca's is expected to open by mid-April at 115 S. Woodward Avenue and become the fifth store in metro Detroit and the 10th in Michigan. All of the others are in shopping centers and malls.

Houston-based Francesca's is moving into a spot previously occupied by Ann Taylor Loft and will bring a very different approach than the Loft with its all-the-same-style stores.

At Francesca's, store managers are given creative control over store design, giving each store its own identity. One thing that carries through to all stores is a unique, "treasure hunt" feel created by offering only a few pieces of the same merchandise. Francesca's is known for an always changing, trendy, mostly affordable selection of clothing and accessories

Birmingham's Principal Shopping District recruiters are seeking out companies such as Francesca's as part of a push to attract younger shoppers to the city, says PSD spokesperson Ed Nakfoor.

"Recruiting a retailer like Francesca’s is part of the PSD tenant recruitment strategy of targeting fashion merchants reaching a younger demographic," he says. "The average age of the PSD core shopper was 39 in 2012 compared to 41 in 2006."

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

Woodward Ave Complete Streets project called largest in the nation

A plan to turn a busy 27-mile, automobile-loving stretch of Woodward Avenue into a road that's safe and welcoming for all forms of transportation is rolling along with a series of public planning events to begin soon.

The changes -- part of the Complete Streets approach that's happening in cities around Michigan and across the country -- would move Woodward away from a wide-swath of auto-centered roadway to one that's inviting and safe for bicyclists, pedestrians, disabled users, bus riders -- and, if it comes to pass, light rail passengers.

The Woodward Avenue Action Association, WA3, is heading up the effort in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff. Working with them are reps and policy makers from 11 Wayne and Oakland county municipalities that have Woodward running through them. The Michigan Department of Transportation, M1 Rail, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments are also part of the project that's been in the works since August 2011 and has $752,000 in federal funding to work with.

The next step is to host five interactive public events, a design charrette, in several of the Woodward-connected communities. From those meetings could come a master plan that will determine what changes and updates are needed to accommodate public transit, pedestrians, bicyclists and, ideally, economic development.

“We want to create a street that truly works for everyone. Imagine a corridor that accommodates people of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, seniors, mobility-challenged individuals, transit riders and motorists,” says Jason Fowler, WA3 and Woodward Complete Streets program manager. “By engaging the residents and businesses along the corridor, as well as industry experts in this visioning process, we can develop a wide variety of innovative solutions and create a successful master plan.”

The first meetings, a three-day event, will focus on north Woodward in Detroit from McNichols to 8 Mile and Ferndale and be held at St. James Catholic Church, 241 Pearson Street in Ferndale, April 17-19.

During the meetings in Ferndale, Dan Burden, a walkability expert from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, will present a walking audit of Woodward and explain what lies ahead for a re-design he says "could be the single largest Complete Streets planning effort ever undertaken in North America.”

Other meetings will be held in Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills, May 20-22; in Bloomfield Township/Pontiac, June 3-5; Pleasant Ridge through Berkley, June 10-12; and in downtown Detroit/Highland Park, June 17-19.

Click on www.transformwoodward.com for exact locations, times and topics to be discussed.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Lori Ella Miller, spokesperson, Woodward Avenue Action Association

Downtown Ferndale to add new 12-bike rack on Woodward

Ferndale is showing more love to bicyclists by offering another on-street bike rack, this one on Woodward Avenue, the busiest street in town and a location that state transportation officials see as a model for other cities to follow.

The 12-bike rack will be installed by the end of May on the east side of Woodward, just north of 9 Mile, making it the city's sixth on-street bike rack but its most significant given its location on a major state road.

This same time last year, the city's first on-street rack and a piece of bike-related art were installed, and since then four others have been added to less busy streets. Over the last four years, about 35 bike racks were added to sidewalks around Ferndale.

"Many of our residents prefer the ease of riding their bike to town, enjoying an extra bit of exercise, avoiding traffic jams and reducing their carbon footprint," says Cristina Sheppard Decius, executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority. "The DDA is committed to doing what it can to make that mantra work.“

The new rack will be protected from 35-mph traffic along Woodward by Michigan Department of Transportation barriers and be bright yellow.

“One on-street bike rack can accommodate the transportation of 12 or more people,” says Sheppard-Decius. “We have an ideal situation for making that kind of trade-off." 

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority

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
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