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Mt. Clemens : Innovation & Job News

95 Mt. Clemens Articles | Page: | Show All

StatClash creates 8 new jobs in downtown Mt. Clemens

Online fantasy sports (think fantasy baseball or football leagues) is a relatively new yet proven industry in the few years it has been around. A downtown Mt. Clemens-based start-up hopes to take that industry to the next level by focusing on improving the user experience.

StatClash is developing an online gaming system that provides new ways for millions of fantasy sports fans to play. For instance, they can elect to join on a daily basis mid-season instead of making a season-long commitment that includes tens of hours of work in drafts, trades, etc.

"The industry is huge but there are only a handful of players that are doing the fantasy games well," says Dan Wimpari, marketing director for StatClash. "We want to wed ourselves into them by distinguishing ourselves through user interface and a better user experience."

The daily fantasy sports site was launched a year ago by Anoop Patel and John Pelak. It now employs a team of eight people and offers fantasy league options from traditional favorites like Major League Baseball and the National Football League. It also offers some new options, such as U.S. Major League Soccer and the English Premier League.

"We see room to bring other in other sports, like NASCAR and tennis," Patel says. "We want to bring in more sports pretty soon."

Source: Anoop Patel and John Pelak, co-founders of StatClash, and Dan Wimpari, marketing director for StatClash
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Downtown Mt. Clemens welcomes software firm eyeWyre

Downtown Mt. Clemens is welcoming another new economy tech firm as eyeWyre Software Studios makes the move from Shelby Township to the seat of Macomb County.

The 13-year-old firm is moving into an old firehouse (circa 1908) that has been newly refurbished into a creative office space. The company is bringing nine employees and an intern with it. It had looked at other downtown spaces across the region, including Royal Oak, Ferndale and Detroit, but saw downtown Mt. Clemens as the best fit.

"We are a very creative company," says Matt Chartier, president & director of product development for eyeWyre Software Studios. "We want to have an urban experience and a cool environment. ... We saw a lot of new things happening here. This new growth was pretty cool for us."

The software company offers both consulting and software services for everything from desktop to mobile platforms. It has also produced its own software and tech products, including robotics and micro-controller simulators and games for the desktop and mobile platforms.

Mobile has become a growing part of eyeWyre Software Studios' business. It has hired three people over the last year, and they have all been software engineers.

Source: Matt Chartier, president & director of product development for eyeWyre Software Studios
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Hunch Free hires 7 in Mt. Clemens on double-digit growth

Hunch Free's growth has become increasingly certain in its first five years.

The downtown Mt. Clemens-based digital marketing agency watched its revenue jump by double-digits year after year and adding more and more hires. It has hired seven people in the last year thanks to spike in revenue of 28 percent.

"We have grown every year from an employee standpoint and a revenue standpoint," says Jimmy Gwizdala, CEO of Hunch Free.

Hunch Free specializes in all facets of digital marketing, including social media and search engine optimization. Its three most recent hires have been specialists in both of those areas. The company is looking to continue its growth as it transition more into creating its own software, allowing it to easily scale its business.

"Our retention rate is 95 percent," Gwizdala says. "We get a lot of referral business and we have a lot of organic growth."

Source: Jimmy Gwizdala, CEO of Hunch Free
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

GroupGolfer becomes golf's Groupon in downtown Mt. Clemens

The self-proclaimed "Groupon of golf", GroupGolfer.com, calls downtown Mt. Clemens home.

The one-year-old start-up applies the online discount formula made famous by Groupon for golf courses, letting golf enthusiasts buy discounted passes to golf games.

"The benefit to the course is exposure," says Bobby Staszak, director of business development for GroupGolfer.com. "Plus, they're buying now and playing later, so courses get that instant revenue."

GroupGolfer.com started in July 2010 with three co-founders trying to gain traction in the Metro Detroit market. It has now gone statewide and is opening up in other large markets in California and Florida. It is aiming to open in more markets in the Midwest and South over the next year, while continuing to add to its staff.

"We started with three people and we're now at 20," Staszak says. "It's a great thing to see."

Source: Bobby Staszak, director of business development for GroupGolfer.com
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Level One Bank opens up $100M for local small biz loans

Level One Bank is making a pool of $100 million worth of loans available to local small businesses.

The Farmington Hills-based bank will consider working capital loans and owner-occupied real estate mortgages of up to $10 million. Real-estate investment loans are not included. It considers businesses with less than $50 million in revenues to be small businesses and eligible for this new pool of money.

"The lending will be focused on the businesses in our area," says Patrick Fehring, president & CEO of Level One Bank.

The three-year-old bank has been growing at an exponential rate in its first few years. It now has branches in Ferndale, Birmingham, Northville, Clinton Township, and two in Farmington Hills. It employs 86 people after adding 32 positions year-to-date.

"We're hiring fast and furious," Fehring says.

For information on the loans, please contact Jeff Taliscka at (248) 737-3154 or jtalicska@levelonebank.com.

Source: Patrick Fehring, president & CEO of Level One Bank
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

TGM Skateboards moves to larger HQ, doubles staff

Steve Kynaston opened TGM Skateboards a decade ago as a skateboarding supply shop and quickly realized he also had the makings of an Internet retailer.

TGM Skateboards also did some product design work in the beginning. That evolved into the creation of its own brand and product sales on eBay. Today, the downtown Mt. Clemens-based business sells 99 percent of its products outside of Michigan and employs 22 people.

"We're selling hundreds of skateboards a day now," says Kynaston, general manager of TGM Skateboards. "We just want to give them a high-quality option over the garbage that is sold in big-box stores."

TGM Skateboards recently acquired a competitor and now has a wholesale distribution channel, Keystone Skate Supply. The retailer also moved into a much bigger facility last year, the 32,000-square-foot Dopp Furniture Building. That allowed the company to double its staff and push its sales up 20 percent. Kynaston believes his shop is now the largest skateboard shop in the Midwest.

Source: Steve Kynaston, general manager of TGM Skateboards
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

XFX Studio brings mobile, web work to downtown Mt. Clemens

XFX Studio Web Development's specialty is a bit of a conundrum. The downtown Mt. Clemens-based firm's focus is on graphically rich websites and applications, but its secret sauce is making these websites functional and interactive.

"That way it becomes a functional part of the business instead of just an informational piece," says Dan Wimpari, president of XFX Studio Web Development. He co-founded the company with Jeremy Giannosa. "The functionality has become our bread and butter."

The 10-year-old firm has grown to four employees and a few independent contractors, primarily working on software for the Internet. It merged with Web Solutions in 2008, another Web development firm. Today XFX Studio Web Development is working on a lot of custom mobile applications for other businesses.

One of its largest projects is creating an iPad app for a large heating-and-cooling company. The app would digitize the paperwork for the firm, making information more readily accessible and eliminating the triplicate of paperwork that it normally produces on calls today.

"It's not just the glamorous public side," Wimpari says. "We help companies do what they need to do on the Web."

Source: Dan Wimpari, president of XFX Studio Web Development
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Macomb Community College lands $428K grant to grow defense industry

Macomb Community College has received a $428,000 grant from the New Economy Initiative to help spearhead growth of the defense industry in Metro Detroit.

The new initiative will coordinate regional stakeholders in both the federal and local governments with local employers and educational institutions, like Macomb Community College. The bottom line is to continue to grow the defense industry in its Macomb County base and develop the local workforce so it can fill the new jobs created.

"To date we have put 220 people to work," says Rick Bradley, the grant administrator at Macomb Community College in charge of this grant. "A lot of those jobs have been in machining or welding. Not all positions are knowledge workers."

The new initiative will be steered by the Defense Industry Strategy Task Force. The task force will hold monthly meetings to identify, prioritize, and develop strategies designed to position the southeast Michigan defense sector for growth.

Source: Rick Bradley, a grant administrator at Macomb Community College
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Healthcare providers team up on blood clot prevention

A group of prominent healthcare organizations are partnering to cut the occurrence of blood clots by as much as 50 percent over the next two years in a coordinated effort to improve patient care and reduce medical costs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, and the University of Michigan Medical Center are leading the effort with 16 hospitals from across the state, including Beaumont and Oakwood healthcare systems. The idea is that this collaboration, part of Value Partnerships, will expand its focus.

"The expectation is the collaboration will take on other things as the years go by," says Tom Leyden, manager of clinical program development for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

For now, the new initiative will focus on getting the state's major hospitals to reduce the risk of blood clots, a common problem that causes further sickness or even death. The new consortium will work in unison to study, benchmark, and implement best practices to eliminate preventable blood clots.

Just about all patients who are hospitalized are at risk of suffering adverse effects from clotting, some of which are often as serious as death. A double-digit reduction would be a seen as a big step forward.

"It's not perfect," says Scott Flanders, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center and the project director for this initiative. "We're never going to be able to get rid of these things."

Sources: Scott Flanders, professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center; Tom Leyden, manager of clinical program development for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

Macomb-OU INCubator, Automation Alley sign on for regional alliance

Automation Alley and Macomb-OU INCubator are making up the core of a new regional alliance for economic development - the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan.

The new collaboration brings together Metro Detroit's four major business accelerators - Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator, Ann Arbor SPARK, and TechTown - so they can share resources and strategy. The idea is to work together in order to more effectively play the hands they're dealt and to grow local start-ups and small businesses.

"For southeast Michigan to be great, we need to embrace the notion that we need to grow our own," says David Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative, which is supporting the network with a $3 million grant over three years.

The business accelerators have already been quite successful on their own. They have invested $18 million in 339 start-up companies that have created more than 1,000 jobs and have helped secure more than $101.2 million in additional capital for local businesses.

"That's one year," Egner says. "That's not even our best year. I think more will be coming."

Enabling such collaboration is nothing new. Other major metropolitan regions have utilized regional partnerships to reinvent their economies and images. For instance, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance harnesses the economic strengths of the entire 10-county area in the southwest section of Pennsylvania to continually create new businesses and jobs. The Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan hopes to mimic that success.

"To me this is a perfect example of regional cooperation," says Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley.

As one of the Top 10 technology organizations in the U.S., Automation Alley is the big dog in this group. It could stand alone, but its leadership looks forward to utilizing the resources of fellow organizations to save on time and money spent on developing its own. The Macomb-OU INCubator, which is just getting started, sees this as a big hand up in building its organization.

"By all means, it's about the businesses," says David Spencer, executive director of the Macomb OU INCubator. "It's about the people they hire."

Source: David Egner, executive Director of the New Economy Initiative; Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley; and David Spencer, executive director of the Macomb OU INCubator
Writer: Jon Zemke

Yoga Shelter plans to expand into Ann Arbor, Macomb County

Yoga is not exclusive. That's the idea Steve Feldman and his partners had in mind when they started the Yoga Shelter in West Bloomfield in 2004.

They deemed
a lot of yoga houses unfriendly to the neophyte. Places that read directions only in Sanskrit or practiced in ways only yoga snobs appreciated. The partners did the opposite, including offering the first week free to make newcomers feel comfortable.

"It was really about making yoga accessible to all," Feldman says.

It has worked. The company welcomes about 650 new students each month. That has allowed it to expand to five studios, including Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and Studio City, California, where one of the partners is expanding the brand. There are also plans to open new locations in Ann Arbor and a yet-to-be-determined place in Macomb County later this year.

After starting with a crew of eight, the West Bloomfield-based firm now employs about 50 people. It expects to expand its staff to 65-70 when the new locations open by the end of the year.

Source: Steve Feldman, co-founder of the Yoga Shelter
Writer: Jon Zemke

Macomb Comm. College, Wayne State split $5M federal stimulus grant

Wayne State University and Macomb Community College are splitting a $5 million federal stimulus grant to help further research and development of electrical vehicles.

The new electric drive vehicle engineering program known as E3 - Electrifying the Economy, Educating the Workforce is in accordance with President Obama's goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

The program will develop advanced educational programs in electric drive vehicles at both institutions of higher learning. These degrees will feature a master's in electric drive vehicle engineering and a bachelor's in electric transportation technology. National workshops and outreach programs to secondary education classes will also be offered.

E3 received the grant last fall and just formed its executive advisory committee. It expects to begin kicking the program into high gear later this year.

Source: Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke

$6.6M in grants for Macomb County and LTU defense industry projects

Macomb and Oakland counties are really raking in the cash to grow their defense industry firms, with Macomb Community College and Lawrence Technological University taking in millions of dollars.

Macomb Community College recently received $5 million (mostly from the federal stimulus package) to help grow and develop its defense and homeland security industry. Much of that money will be spent providing technical training to local residents so they can enter the defense industry workforce.

This money (and training) will prepare people for knowledge-based jobs, such as logistics, engineering and advanced technology. It is part of Macomb County's growing defense industry economy and its budding relationship with the U.S. Dept. of Defense's Defense Acquisition University.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us to work with our partners," says Holger Ekanger, WCE director
of engineering and advanced technology at Macomb Community College.

Lawrence Tech received a $1.6 million federal grant to develop and test stronger and lighter armor made of composite materials for military vehicles. This will be done through Lawrence Tech's Center for Innovative Materials Research and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center. The funding comes from the 2010 defense appropriations legislation.

Source:
Holger Ekanger, WCE director of engineering and advanced technology at Macomb Community College and Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Macomb starts FastTrac entrepreneur classes

Green job and entrepreneurial programs are sprouting up around Metro Detroit now that Macomb County is trying to grow more entrepreneurs and Henry Ford Community College is harvesting $1.3 million in federal workforce grants.

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the grant to help train people for 'green' jobs over the next two years. The money is part of the $150 million federal Pathways Out of Poverty program that comes courtesy of the federal stimulus. Henry Ford is partnering with Southwest Housing Solutions and a member of the Southwest Detroit Consortium for Green Jobs to help retrain the metro area's workforce for the sustainable jobs of the 21st Century.

TechTown's New Economy Initiative is spreading its wings to Macomb County, which is starting to employ its FastTrac program for entrepreneurs.

The program focuses on helping laid-off and displaced workers pursue dreams of being their own boss. That could mean anything from helping them turn a skill into a business or a hobby into a career or even buy into a franchise business.

"The idea is to develop a business plan that will assess their concept and develop a strategy to implement it," says Don Morandini, regional director for the Macomb Small Business and Technology Development Center.

The 10-week program requires participants to attend one three-hour class each week. There they learn the basics about pursuing a business and making it successful. Normal class size ranges from 15-25 people and the next session begins on Feb. 1.

The New Economy Initiative is partnering with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to create the three-year program based out of Detroit's TechTown business incubator. The New Economy Initiative is making $9.25 million in direct cash investment available while the Kauffman Foundation will provide expertise to help the transition, such as staff, materials, and its FastTrac and Urban Entrepreneurship Partnership programs.

FastTrac is a 15-year-old business development program that helps unemployed or underemployed people transition into entrepreneurship through an intensive 3-10 week training program.

Source: Don Morandini, regional director for the Macomb Small Business and Technology Development Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

New strategy leads to growth, 7 hires for Bluewater

A new outlook on life is leading to new growth at Bluewater.

The 8-year-old firm specialized in advising national commercial lenders and borrowers until about a year ago. It has since divided the company into three tribes and expanded its staff from nine people last year to 16 plus a few independent contractors today.

"I think we sat back and realized that there were a lot of opportunities that weren't being realized," says David Vermeesch, director of marketing communications for Bluewater.

The three new divisions include Lender Analytics, Consulting, and Bluewater Horizons. Lender Analytics serves large commercial lenders with collateral evaluation. The Consulting group leads fraud investigation, regulatory compliance, and forensic accounting. The Horizons group is a venture capital practice.

"We want to do several new ventures in the Bluewater Horizons," Vermeesch says.

The company is also planning to move its Warren headquarters to downtown Mt. Clemens, where it plans to occupy part of the Station 65 redevelopment.

Source: David Vermeesch, director of marketing communications for Bluewater
Writer: Jon Zemke
95 Mt. Clemens Articles | Page: | Show All
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