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Auburn Hills-based Continental debuts fifth-generation radar sensors for autonomous driving

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Auburn Hills-based automotive technology supplier Continental today announced the fifth generation of its short and long range radar sensors, which will enter series production in 2019. The sensors cater to vehicle manufacturers’ varying requirements and electrical-electronic architectures for emerging autonomous vehicle technologies.

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Denso in Southfield, Symbio collaborate on Finnish innovation center

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Denso, an automotive component manufacturer with a North American headquarters in Southfield, today announced a plan to open a joint innovation center in Finland with software company Symbio.

The facility will be based in Symbio’s premises in Espoo and activities will begin this year following a letter of intent to establish the innovation center signed on Oct. 24.

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Hart Marx Advisors opens new office in Bloomfield Hills

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Hart Marx Advisors, a consulting firm that assists buys and sellers in the automotive and heavy-duty industries, has opened a new office in Bloomfield Hills, next to its sister company, Marx Group, a full-service marketing communications agency specializing in the automotive and trucking industries.

The new 2,800 square-foot space will offer the company maximum exposure to automotive and commercial vehicle suppliers as the business continues to expand.

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Orion Twp. completes phase 1 of Clarkston Road Safety Path

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Orion Township is a mile closer to connecting the Paint Creek and Polly Ann trails with the completion of a portion of the Clarkston Road safety path.

Bikers and pedestrians can now use the path, which consists of an elevated wooden boardwalk along the north side of Clarkston Road near Camp Agawam.

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Popularity of beards has metro Detroiters looking for relief with balm

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It started with an itch and grew into an enterprise that sells products to make beards more bearable.

"When you start growing a beard, you get itchy and irritable," said Steve Henes, who this summer purchased Detroit Grooming, a Ferndale-based company, with a business partner, Victor Simon. "So the founders developed this oil, shared it with other people, and they said, 'You've got something that works!' "

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13 acres in Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge to be redeveloped into residential, retail, and office space

A large redevelopment project that straddles the cities of Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge is one step closer to reality, thanks to the recent approval of brownfield tax credits from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

In an area more recognizable for its industrial past, a 13-acre site anchored by the vacant building at 660 E. 10 Mile Rd. will be transformed into a mixed-use campus featuring a marketplace, brewery, beer garden, and more.

Five remaining buildings on-site will also be rehabilitated, featuring office space, retail space, fitness center, and, in keeping in the spirit of the site's past light industrial life, a fire suppression company.

The project will also feature the construction of 75 new residential units.

"Iron Ridge is an exciting project that transforms a contaminated, defunct site into a shared gathering place for two communities -- Ferndale and our neighbors in Pleasant Ridge," says Jordan Twardy, Ferndale's Community and Economic Development Director.

"The mix of uses creates a sense of place that connects residents with unique places to dine and shop, and given its location near I-696, it will function as a unique gateway destination to both communities."

The development team behind the mixed-use campus, Iron Ridge Holdings LLC, was able to secure $3,531,500 in local and school tax capture for the alleviation of brownfield conditions at the site. Announcement of the County of Oakland Brownfield Redevelopment Authority receiving MSF approval for the brownfield tax credit was announced Tuesday, Oct. 24.

According to officials from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Iron Ridge redevelopment will, "Reactivate a group of vacant or underutilized industrial and residential parcels into a vibrant mixed-use campus, bring new housing to the city of Ferndale and will increase density and economic activity in the area."

Officials expect the project to create 200 new jobs and generate a total capital investment of $32 million.

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

Autoliv breaks ground at new Southfield location

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Autoliv has broken ground in Southfield for their new 180,000 square foot Electronics Technical Center.

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First Tesla Michigan gallery opens at Somerset

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Silicon Valley-based Tesla Inc. opened its first stand-alone gallery space in Michigan in the Somerset Collection mall off of Big Beaver Road. The gallery is located next to the Apple Store which opened in 2002 and has been an inspiration for the luxury carmaker’s direct-to-consumer, shopping-center marketing.

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Ferndale restaurateur and DDA chief not content to rest on laurels: Dean Bach of Dino's, M-Brew

They told him that it couldn't be done. They said he was crazy for building a nice bar in turn-of-the-century downtown Ferndale. And to the naysayers' credit, when Dean Bach opened Dino's Lounge in August 2002, Ferndale didn't anywhere nearly resemble the trendy hub that it's become today. Bach says that downtown was more known for empty storefronts than it was condos, more for busted "massage parlors" than hip nightspots.

But with Dino's, Bach took an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach. A patron of the nearby Post Bar, he was starting to age out of the "plastic cups and sweaty bodies bumping into each other" phase of his nightlife. As he transitioned out of his early 30s, Bach wanted to build a bar where you could feel like a grown-up but still young, too; a place that was upscale but not uptight.

It's fifteen years later and Bach has been proven right on his gamble on the old Rialto Cafe building on Woodward Avenue. His enthusiasm for the community early on, like appearing on local TV spots and acting as a booster for the city as much as for his restaurant, helped establish Ferndale's downtown as a destination. So it's no wonder he's since become chairperson of the Ferndale Downtown Development Association. 
 
Today, development in Ferndale is going both up and out, with taller buildings being built and downtown's fashionable footprint beginning to stretch east of Woodward and down Nine Mile Road toward I-75.

"There's nothing wrong with putting a nice place somewhere that doesn't have many nice places. I thought, It'll catch up to me. And the next thing you know, people were passing me by and now there's a lot nicer places all around me," says Bach. "That's why we've done all these renovations. Because now I have to go back and catch up to the people that have passed me up while I sat here for fifteen years enjoying the fruits of the original labor."

Bach recently shut down his restaurant for a two-week-long renovation blitza risky move for any business owner. Most of the work was performed by Bach, his wife, family, friends, and employees, determined to re-open as soon as possible.

Garage doors open up to the city sidewalk. The mustard yellow walls have been painted over in shades of grey and white, with most of the posters and knick knacks removed for a cleaner, modern look. Reclaimed wood covers many of the walls and pillars. Bach hired a former employee with her own furniture business to build tables and chairs out of reclaimed wood from a 300 year old Grosse Ile building. The giant mirror has been refurbished, and Edison bulbs punctuate the room.

Rebuilt bathrooms, new kitchen equipment, and more gives Dino's a fresh feel, one Bach contends is necessary after fifteen years in businesswhich is 50 years in restaurant years, he says. Bach even got rid of three of the five TVs and, he says proudly, not a single person has complained.

The menu, too, has been updated. It's smaller with more focus, centering on foods that don't require a fork but lend themselves to creative and easily modifiable recipes, including sandwiches, loaded fries and poutine, mini-shish kabobs, and chicken wings. One thing that has remained, of course, is the famous Dino's brunch.

In 2014, Bach partnered on another bar in town, M-Brew. It's a Michigan-themed bar in an old VFW hall converted to feel like a northern Michigan lake house, complete with a fireplace and wrap-around porch. Bach personally drives around northern Michigan, happily searching out hard-to-find small batch beers to bring back to Ferndale.

Bach's enjoyed that last pursuit so much that he's ready to announce yet another restaurant: the Belle Iron Grill in the northern Michigan town of Gaylord, tentatively scheduled to open in July 2018. Bach is bringing the Dino's "Funday" Brunch concept to Gaylord, a trend they've yet to catch on to, he says. If M-Brew is his chance to bring northern Michigan to Ferndale, than the Belle Iron Grill will be his chance to bring Ferndale to northern Michigan.

"This has become a kind of utopia of friendliness," says Bach. "Ferndale is a very special city. It's become this bright and shiny piece of Woodward where everybody says hello to you when you're walking down the street."

"This is a special town."

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

April Wagner's epiphany studios opens downtown Detroit pop-up, plans Pontiac headquarters expansion

April Wagner's epiphany studios, the Pontiac-based hot glass studio and gallery is growing.

Since Sept. 15, Wagner has been selling pieces from her line of functional and decorative glasswork art at the historic Guardian Building in downtown Detroit. It's a perfect fit for a company that's in the business of art and craftsmanship; the Guardian Building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of Art Deco skyscraper architecture in the world.

"Being in the Guardian has been inspirational. I feel like the role of the craftsperson hasn't changed over the years, even with technology," says Wagner. "Well-crafted things will always be important."

For now, the epiphany studios gallery at the Guardian is a pop-up, though Wagner says that if things go well enough, she'll consider keeping a permanent space there. She'll stay open at least through next year's North American International Auto Show in January.

She currently occupies a 300 sq. ft. gallery-type space in the building's promenade level. The downtown Detroit epiphany studios offer a good representation of Wagner's pieces, from the functional bowls and cups to the more decorative and artistic sculptures. Holiday pieces, too, are a theme, including glass pumpkins for the fall and planned Christmas ornaments for later in the season.

In addition to Wagner's newfound presence in downtown Detroit, the artist is also preparing to expand her Pontiac studio, nearly doubling its size. Wagner's 4,000 sq. ft. Pontiac headquarters serves mainly as a studio, with 3,000 sq. ft. dedicated to machinery, workspace, and shipping. She's planning on building a 3,000 sq. ft. addition on the building, and expects to complete it within the next three years.

One of the things that spurred on the expansion is a current project, a chandelier that is 9.5 ft. tall. Constricted by space, Wagner has to work on the chandelier in pieces. The new expansion will feature a two-story open space that will allow the artist to work on such large projects as one piece.

The epiphany studios gallery at the Guardian Building is open Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and also by appointment.

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

Continental in Auburn Hills develops control element for automated driving

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As autonomous and connected vehicles move closer to commercialization, Auburn Hills-based global automotive supplier Continental announced The Smart Control, an input device that is transparently and intuitively designed to aid the driver’s transition from operator to user of automated driving functions.

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ArborOakland Group celebrates 50 years

1967 was a quite a memorable year in which to start a company. Things were heating up in a little known place called Vietnam with 475,000 troops serving in the remote country. The first Super Bowl was played between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs (Packers won). Thurgood Marshall became the first black justice on the Supreme Court. The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine was released. Race riots broke out in a number of cities across the United States. Detroit, being one of the cities, made for a particularly tense summer. Unfazed, brothers, Ralph and Ed Garabedian, started Arbor Press in Detroit on October 1st of 1967.

For an industry so greatly impacted by the digital age, it is instructive to look at a company which has grown during a time when many printing companies have gotten smaller or closed. President of ArborOakand Group, Don Kirkland said "In many ways the company encapsulates the history of an industry through its many acquisitions and mergers. In the past 5 years alone, ArborOakland Group has acquired North American Reproductions, Tri-Color, Nu-Tech Graphics, Muir Print & Marketing and most recently, Utley Brothers Printing which itself brought recently acquired companies, Atlantic Press, Sterling Printing and Graphics Factory. While evolving through acquisitions, we have also grown organically through expanded sales initiatives and capabilities."

ArborOakland Group really is a group. Over the years, with each merger and acquisition, ArborOakland Group has enriched the company's legacy and reach into new markets and capabilities. For example, the acquisition of Tri-Color 5 years ago, catapulted the company into the world of large format printing. The acquisition of North American Reproductions a month later helped round out finishing capabilities for a fast-growing on-demand digital production department. The recent acquisition of Utley Brothers Printing brought ArborOakland into a production world that exceeds 2.5 million business cards per week.

As printing companies have closed over the years, the flexibility and stability that ArborOakland Group has provided has proven to be a place for companies and individuals to safely "land", get their feet under them, and begin again in a competitive industry.  More recently, the company has made additionally investments in new technology and facilities with the build out of its Specialty Print Center and installation of the Oce VarioPrint i300 inkjet press.

"Looking ahead, we remain excited for the future and the opportunities for both our customers and our organization. We will continue to invest in new capabilities, our facilities, and acquisitions as part of our larger goal of being a valuable partner to our growing customer base.  It is our privilege to pause and celebrate the history and legacy of so many different people and companies that got us to our 50th anniversary!" remarked Kirkland. http://arboroakland.com

ArborOakland Group, one of Southeast Michigan's leading printing companies since 1967, is proud to call the Motor City its home, and with wide-ranging print capability help the world Speak Visually!

Medical Main Street to debut expanded supply chain directory

Medical Main Street has doubled the size of its medical device directory to help global manufacturers find suppliers in Oakland County and Michigan.

The 50-page Michigan Medical Device Manufacturers Directory will be distributed to attendees at the Medical Main Street annual meeting and networking event Nov. 3 at Oakland Community College’s Highland Lake Campus student center.

“We make things here: cars, products for the defense industry and a range of consumer products,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The infrastructure to support that manufacturing and the supply chain is all here. If you’re in the medical device industry, you need to be here designing and making those products. We can help you do that.”

The free directory will also be made available Nov. 3 online at MedicalMainStreet.com. It includes an alphabetical listing of 136 companies, with websites for each company. Sixty of the companies have locations in Oakland County. County staff can connect interested people directly to those companies. It has easy-to-read charts that identify companies by manufacturing processes such as injection molding, machining, engineering or precision cutting. It follows the inaugural directory that was created seven years ago. It was compiled with research done by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and is the only directory of its kind in the state, said Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development.

The event will be held at OCC’s Highland Lakes Campus is at 7350 Cooley Lake Road in Waterford and runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon. There is no charge to attend but registration is required at MedicalMainStreet.com. A panel will discuss “Insights into the Health Care/Life Science Ecosystem.”

Medical Main Street is an alliance of world-class hospitals and health systems, universities, medical device, biopharma companies and some of the country’s leading medical professionals creating a global center of innovation in health care, research and development, education and commercialization in the life science industry.

Restaurant veterans to open southern-inspired Menagerie Lounge in Pontiac

A new restaurant is being planned for downtown Pontiac, and it comes from a few familiar faces in the city's dining scene.

James and April Forbes, the couple responsible for the pop-up kitchen and incubator Menagerie, are planning on opening a restaurant of their own. Dubbed Menagerie Lounge, the restaurant will feature southern-inspired fare, live entertainment, and design work and art from local Pontiac artists. The couple, who won the Food Network's Cupcake Wars in 2012, will also carry their own award-winning desserts.

Scheduled for a February 2018 opening, Menagerie Lounge will be located at 155 N. Saginaw St. in downtown Pontiac.

"When we go out to eat, we've been in the service industry for so long that we have a different lens that we view the experience through. We're more forgiving, but we also know how we want our staff to treat our customers," April says. "The customer service will be top notch because people work hard for their money."

The build-out of the restaurant is being funded, in part, by a recently announced $25,000 grant from Flagstar Bank and a $35,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) loan from Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED). The grant is part of $2.5 million that Flagstar is scheduled to invest in small business development in Pontiac.

"We're super excited about the loan and grant opportunity. It's not often that a small restaurant gets this type of opportunity at all," says James. "We're excited about the direction the city is heading in."

April recommends that businesses interested in applying for the loans and grants be prepared and have their business plans ready. Oakland County's One Stop Shop Business Center, she says, was a big help in preparing Menagerie's business plan.

Menagerie, which got its start as a pop-up kitchen in 2015, moved to Lafayette Market earlier this year, where they facilitate the pop-up kitchen and restaurant incubator programs. The couple says that they will continue to work on the incubator program, even after their own restaurant opens.

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

Flagstar Bank launches small business development funding in Pontiac

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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.”

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