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New microbrewery in downtown Oxford ready for grand opening

HomeGrown Brewing Company is set to officially open its doors on Wednesday, April 12 in downtown Oxford.

The brewery will have several beers on tap, and will also carry a number of ciders and wines. Beers include an Australian-hopped IPA, a nutty Brown, and the Whamber, HomeGrown's unique Amber-and-Wheat ale hybrid. A 15- to 20-item food menu featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients is also planned.

HomeGrown is run by the Powers family, with each member assuming roles suited to their strengths. John Powers is Brewmaster while his wife Marie handles interior design duties. Eldest son Joe is Brewer and Production Manager and his wife Kate serves as Media Liaison. In the middle is Jeff, front-of-house General Manager who also oversees Brand Design. And youngest sibling Katie takes on the task of promoting the brewery on social media.

For Jeff, spring is the perfect time to open HomeGrown. The Powers family took the time to make sure the brewery was done right, overhauling a former VFW and Township Hall. Drop ceilings and beige walls have been removed to reveal brick and warm accents. 

They've also used pieces of their family farm throughout the brewery, which contributes to a down-to-earth feeling. Barn doors have been used to create the bar facade. Even grandma's old furniture has been reupholstered.

"You watch so many people open breweries, and one thing I've learned is that you can't discount atmosphere. And we have it," says Jeff. "It's rustic. It's approachable. Down-to-earth is kind of our motto."

HomeGrown Brewing Company is located at 28 N. Washington St. in downtown Oxford.

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

Home Builders Association: Single-family permits down 10 percent, multi-family construction surges

Excerpt

Based on residential permit data compiled by the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan (HBA) in Farmington Hills, a total of 315 single-family permits were issued for new home construction in Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties in February. Additionally, 110 multi-family permits were issued last month, all in Oakland County.

Single family permits were down 10 percent from February 2016 (352), and only up 1 percent from the revised total of 311 permits issued in January of this year, following late reports by some municipalities. With the revision, the combined January-February total of 626 permits is the second highest since 2006, trailing only 2016, which has 634.

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Futuris Group acquires Kongsberg Automotive's North American headrest business

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Oak Park-based auto body supplier Futuris Group today announced it has completed the acquisition of Kongsberg Automotive’s North American headrest and armrest business, expanding their presence in Italy and the European market.

Futuris is a leading automotive tier 1 global JIT seating and interiors supplier with complete design, development, and production capabilities. The company has operations in the United States, Mexico, China, Thailand, and Australia, and overall it operates more than 25 facilities and employs 5,600 associates worldwide.

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HopCat Royal Oak opens May 20 with free crack fries

Excerpt

The opening of a new HopCat beer bar is usually a big to-do, and the debut of the Royal Oak restaurant next month will be no exception.

The renovated space at 208 W. Fifth is the sixth Michigan HopCat and the 13th nationwide, and is expected to open May 20 at 11 a.m.

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Downtown Pontiac's Riker Building celebrates first major tenant: MadDog Technology

The redevelopment team of the historic Riker Building in downtown Pontiac is taking a top-down approach. The ten-story building, opened in 1928, welcomed prominent Michigan public officials and business leaders this past Wednesday, March 22 for a luncheon and open house celebrating the building's first major tenant, MadDog Technology.

From the top floor of the Riker, a group that included the building's developer Tim Shepard, MadDog Technology co-founders Pete Karmanos, Jr. and Mark Hillman, Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman, and Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley, among many others, gathered for the grand opening of MadDog Technology.

The venture capital firm MadDog has moved four technology startups into the 6,000 sq. ft. space on the building's tenth floor. Redevelopment of the building is happening one floor at a time, from the tenth floor on down to the first.

The overall theme of the celebration was one of rejuvenation, not just of the prominent downtown office tower but of the city as a whole. Speakers forecasted a pending technology boom for the city, encouraging the audience to invest in Pontiac.

Mark Adams, Senior Business Development Representative for Oakland County's Economic Development & Community Affairs department says that Michigan nearly lost MadDog to another state, but work at the city and state levels, including a state grant, helped convince MadDog to stay in Michigan.

Adams says he expects 100 IT workers to be hired over the next few years, and that MadDog's move to the Riker, "will be a catalyst for more businesses coming to the city of Pontiac."

Mayor Waterman believes MadDog will help establish Pontiac as a technology hub, saying that the city has the largest unused fiber optic network east of the Mississippi River.

"We want to change the narrative of what Pontiac is," says the mayor. "We're at the center of Oakland County."

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

Q&A with the owners of joebar, Hazel Park's newest bar and restaurant

With the relatively recent openings of notable drinking and dining establishments Cellarmen's and Mabel Gray, Hazel Park is increasingly becoming a go-to spot for a night on the town. Here is our conversation with Joseph and Cari Vaughn, owners of the newest joint to open on John R Road, joebar.

Q: If you were on vacation in a foreign land, how would you describe joebar to a stranger at the bar? 

A: Super chill neighborhood spot to drink, eat, and meet up with friends. Like your living room, but with a bartender and someone to make really good food. 

Q:  In coming up with the concept for joebar, what was it that you set out to do? 

A: Create a food community for our friends, clients, and colleagues--sans any pretentious energy. 

Q: What's the story with the restaurant within joebar, Frame? 

A: Peter at (revolver) knows how to create dinner experiences. We are both connected to the local and national chef scene. Creating an anti-popup residency for chefs is a perfect complement to joebar. When Katoi had their fire, we decided to put Frame into beta mode and give them a home. We are happy to smell lemongrass and ginger every day when we walk in.

Q: What's your relationship with Mabel Gray like? 

A: If you moved in next door to your cool sister that did everything right, made sure you didn't mess up, and let you hang with her hot friends, that's Mabel Gray to joebar. James, Sam, Paul, and Rachel have been godsends in the process. We love them!

Q: What is it about your location that made it the right spot for joebar

A: Hazel Park is the forgotten Main Street. We love it here. It's the small town that makes you feel like you've lived here your whole life. We're home.

joebar is located at 23839 John R Rd. in Hazel Park

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

Comau to launch new products at Automate 2017

Comau will exhibit at Automate 2017, held at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, from April 3-6, where it will unveil its newest automation solutions. Comau’s booth (#1650) will feature several robotic applications, including the innovative AURA collaborative robot, the Rebel-S SCARA robot, the Racer5 robot, and a large palletizing robot. Each robot will demonstrate unique capabilities that can be applied to a variety of industries. Visitors will not only have the opportunity to witness these industrial robots in action, they will also discover new enhanced technologies of the Comau product portfolio. 
  
Automate is held once every two years in the United States, and is the broadest automation solutions event in North America with an overview of the entire industry. Event participants can explore the ever-changing future of automation in a number of different trades. The event features the latest in cutting-edge robotics, motion control and other related technologies from around the world. Attendees will have the chance to be admitted to co-located ProMat 2017, North America’s leading exposition for manufacturing, distribution and supply chain professionals. 
 
Come see what Comau has to offer in Booth #1650.

About Comau
Comau, a company part of FCA Group, is the worldwide leader in manufacturing flexible, automatic systems and integrating products, processes and services that increase efficiency while lowering overall costs. Headquartered in Turin, Italy, with an international network that spans 17 countries that employ more than 12,600 employees, Comau uses the latest technology and processes to deliver advanced turnkey systems that consistently exceed the expectations of its customers. Comau specializes in body joining & assembly, powertrain machining & assembly, robotics and maintenance, as well as advanced production systems and environmental services for a wide range of industrial sectors. The continuous development of its products and services enables Comau to lead the automation industry in meeting the unique requirements of each customer, and through all phases of the project - from design, implementation and installation, to production start-up and maintenance services.
www.comau.com

OU INC hosting nationally acclaimed MEDTECH+ intensive workshop

Calling All Technology-Based Entrepreneurs - OU INC is hosting an intensive workshop for public and university entrepreneurs April 7-9.  

This program, MEDTECH+, has been featured by the National Science Foundation and at leading tech centers around the world and has served over 2,000 teams. 
 
“This weekend event is equally valuable to growth companies looking to tighten their go to market strategy as well as teach researchers, students, and innovators looking to learn, create, or even join a new technology startup,” said Neil Sheridan, Principle of SVPI and creator of the program.  “I am excited to team up with OU INC and its partners to bring this program to the region”. 
 
The three-day innovation workshop weekend is designed for researchers, students, and innovators starting a new tech-focused company or growing an existing one.  The skills also apply to those people developing innovation within their companies. 
 
The agenda includes developing a workable business model, attracting talent to the company and making effective investor and customer presentations. The participants will work with expert business and technology coaches learning to sell technology solutions, conduct market research and act on customer feedback with many hands-on activities.
 
The weekend will culminate with teams pitching their ideas to guest judges. There will be in-kind services available for the winning presentation.  Judges, coaches, and stakeholders in the medical and technology fields will join the participants in a reception after the pitches.
 
“This program is a continuation of several key activities this year in commercializing medical device and digital health technologies.  The skills also apply to other technology-based companies.  We are offering this opportunity to attract the many talented people in the area with the ability to create innovations,” said Amy Butler, the executive director of OU INC. “Our program will help attendees understand how to reduce their risk, speed up their launch and make important network connections.”
 
Irene Spanos, director of Economic Development & Community Affairs for Oakland County said, “Programs like this exist to help our growing Medical Device Cluster here in Southeast Michigan known as Medical Main Street. With over 4,300 life science businesses in Oakland County, these boot camps allow them to get the knowledge they need to compete globally.” 
 
“With funding support by the New Economy Initiative, we’re offering this startup accelerator program for free because we want to reach out to more potential innovators and founders in our region and strengthen the innovation ecosystem,” Butler added. “A program of this caliber typically costs as much as $1,500. We also want to be able to give participants real feedback and an opportunity to meet companies and stakeholders.”
 
"Helping new startups launch and expand is a great example of how OU INC helps support entrepreneurs with access to key resources and expertise," said Maria LaLonde, a senior program officer at the New Economy Initiative. "With the new Innovation Weekend, local companies can build a successful path to growth as suppliers and employers within our region.”
 
Partners contributing to this opportunity include: New Economy Initiative; Medical Main Street Powered by Oakland County; the MedHealth Cluster; the Small Business Association of Michigan; JKY Legal, and SVP, LLC. 
 
Participants can register for the event at medtechplus.eventbrite.com where a full program schedule and a welcome video explain the content of the event.  Meals are included in the weekend.
 
About OU INC
OU INC is a Smartzone Business Incubator and Innovation Center, in collaboration with the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and strategic industry partners. With a focus on the medtech, energy, mobility, and information technology sectors, OU INC provides entrepreneurial resources and strategic business solutions for developing business ventures and accelerating ideas to market. OU INC is a designated Soft Landing Facility through the International Business Association for international companies. For more information go to http://www.oakland.edu/ouinc.

Fresh fruits and vegetables store opens in Pontiac

It's only been a few weeks since Sprout Fresh Food Store opened in Pontiac--Jan. 26, to be exact--and co-owners Bethany Blackburn and Coleman Yoakum are quickly learning about their neighbors and customers.

They're starting to learn about people's families, about their lives. They're learning about people's buying habits, too; Sprout can't keep enough grapes and bananas in stock, they're flying off the shelves so quickly. But that's part of Sprout's mission, says Blackburn. Not only did they want to provide fresh vegetables and fruit to a neighborhood slim on such options, but they wanted to become a part of that neighborhood, too.

"Everything's been really well received," says Blackburn. "It's not that we didn't think we wouldn't be, but people are visibly excited when they come in."

The nearest grocery store is two miles away, which is a problem for neighbors with limited transportation options, she says. And the nearby party stores and gas stations don't exactly carry a wide range of fresh produce, either.

Sprout makes an effort to keep prices low and affordable for its neighbors. The co-owners volunteer at community gardens and farms in places like White Lake, Oakland Township, and Romulus in exchange for free and low-cost produce. They also have their own two-acre garden in the neighborhood.

Blackburn says they just found out they've been approved to accept Bridge Cards and SNAP benefits.

Yoakum first moved to Pontiac for an internship, eventually deciding to stay and start Micah 6, a community development non-profit. He reconnected with his old friend Blackburn, who moved to the neighborhood from Arkansas to help run the produce shop. Sprout, she says, is just one avenue of community outreach that Micah 6 has planned.

"This next year is all about building relationships with our neighbors and opening our arms to the rest of Pontiac," says Blackburn.

Sprout is hoping to throw a grand opening party in the next several weeks, and more information on that can be found on their Facebook page as plans develop.

Sprout Fresh Food Store is located at 580 W. Huron St. in Pontiac. They are open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

Troy company aids development of UK energy storage plants

Excerpt

Troy-based chemical company LG Chem Power Inc. first began manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in 1998, and is one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturers with a significant market share in consumer, automotive, and stationary applications. As energy companies around the world work towards increased energy savings, environmental responsibility, and sustainability, LG Chem Power has created a robust mass production system for their battery technology and now supplies cells to major international companies, becoming one of the world’s principal battery manufacturers across several industries.

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Duluth Trading Company opening first store in Oakland County, second in Michigan

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Duluth Trading Company is opening its second Michigan store right here in Oakland County.

The Wixom Planning Commission approved the Minnesota-based company’s site plans. The goal is to open the store later this year.

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Royal Oak approves redevelopment plan for closed Northwood Shopping Center

Excerpt

Beaumont Health has received final approval from the Royal Oak City Commission on a zoning change that clears the way for redevelopment of the former Northwood Shopping Center at the southwest corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road.

Groundbreaking for a new 183,000-square-foot commercial retail development on the 15-acre property is expected to take place this summer. Demolition, abatement, and soil remediation of the former shopping center buildings and townhouses on the property is currently underway. The plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

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Valeo to grow in Auburn Hills, Troy, add 290 jobs

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Valeo North America Inc. plans to create 290 jobs as it builds a low-speed test track and new building in Auburn Hills, and also improve its Troy headquarters, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. said.

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Birmingham's Soaring Pine Capital acquires aerospace and DoD provider ETI Tech Inc.

Excerpt

Birmingham-based Soaring Pine Capital, a Simon Group Holdings company, announced it has acquired ETI Tech Inc. in Dayton, Ohio.

Founded in 1996, ETI is a leading provider of more than 200 flight hardware parts for military aircraft and ground support equipment for the aerospace defense industry, including fixed and rotary wing aircrafts and unmanned aerial vehicles such as the F-35, C-130, F-16, and C-5B.

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New Fillmore 13 Brewery coming to downtown Pontiac

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Fillmore 13 Brewery LLC is set to open in downtown Pontiac in the next two weeks with about 20 beers on tap in the location which was previously the Oakland Arts Center at 7 North Saginaw St.

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