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Downtown wins state funding to pursue spot on national list

Excerpt

Downtown Oxford is finally going to get its shot at being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the state is going to pay for it.

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Birmingham countertop supply consolidation co. continues expansion with Kansas City acquisition

Excerpt

As part of its plan to actively seek new opportunities in major metro areas across the United States, Clio Holdings, a Birmingham-based consolidator of regional countertop supply and fabrication businesses, has acquired Kansas City-based Top Master. Terms of the deal, which is the company’s third acquisition since launching this year, were not disclosed.?

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Lake Norcentra Park successfully raises more than $100,000 for improvements

Improved fishing access. Bike parking and a bike repair station. Bench and hammock seating. All these features and many more are coming to Lake Norcentra Park in Rochester. The multiple improvements come as a result of a $51,201 crowdfunding campaign and a $50,000 grant.

The crowdfunding campaign was first announced this past September. It was part of the ongoing Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative, funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Because the Lake Norcentra Park project was able to raise at least $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, MEDC and MSHDA will follow on their promise of a $50,000 matching grant. The Lake Norcentra Project finished its five week-long crowdfunding campaign $1,201 over its desired target, bringing the total money raised for the park to $101,201.

"Everyone who knows Lake Norcentra Park and looks forward to what it is becoming is so thankful to the people who donated over $50,000 to this campaign," BT Irwin, project manager of the Lake Norcentra Park project, says in a statement. "Every dollar is going straight into building or repairing something in the park that everyone in the community will be able to enjoy next spring."

The park, which is located at the intersection of the Clinton River and the Clinton River Trail, has been the focus of a series of placemaking efforts first announced in February 2016. Local officials have been working to improve access and the usability of the park on the Rochester College campus. Lake Norcentra Park is open and accessible to the public.

Additional improvements include lighting, fountains, concessions, a picnic garden, green and wooded space, interpretive signage, and gathering places for outdoor learning programs and social activities. A public art project, the Rochester Community Mural, will also be installed, the winning artist having been selected in July 2016.

Royal Oak made-from-scratch bakery to open second location in Birmingham

A favorite bakery is expanding with the opening of a second location in Oakland County. Love & Buttercream, the Royal Oak bakery that opened in 2012, will be opening in Birmingham as Love & Buttercream Too.

At 6,300 sq. ft., the new Love & Buttercream is more than five times the size of the Royal Oak location. Like the original location, Love & Buttercream Too will feature hand-crafted treats made on-site and always from scratch.

There will be some differences, however, as the abundance of space allows owner Brooke Wilson Vitale the opportunity to try some new things. The Birmingham location will have a retail and seating area, including breakfast options, coffee service, and WiFi. A private events space will allow for wedding cake tastings, event planning meetings, children birthday parties, girls' night outs, bridal showers, corporate events, and baking and decorating classes.

The Birmingham location's daily offerings include five to eight varieties of cupcakes, French macarons, cake pops, sugar cookies, cakes, mini pies, whoopie pies, scones, mini donuts, and more.

"We set ourselves apart by using fresh, high-quality ingredients, and try to source organically and locally whenever possible," says Wilson Vitale. "No shortenings, preservatives, oils, or any of the fake stuff here."

Though Wilson Vitale opened Love & Buttercream in 2012, she has been baking for much longer than that. She grew up baking with her grandmother, eventually working out of her parents' basement. By 2010, she was taking cake orders and baking from home.

The Royal Oak Love & Buttercream location remains open. It's located at 3202 Crooks Rd.

Love & Buttercream Too celebrates its grand opening Wednesday, Nov. 9 and will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It's located at 746 E Maple Rd. in Birmingham.

Skateboard shop opens up in Clawson

Clawson-area skateboarders have a nine-year-old boy to thank for the Clawson Skate Shop, which is celebrating its grand opening this Friday, November 5. Well, a nine-year-old and his father.

Clawson resident Jeff Richards set out to open the Clawson Skate Shop last July and, after a series of start-and-stops due to some bureaucratic headaches, has finally done so. A soft opening last week preceded this week's grand opening.

The shop carries everything from skateboard equipment, including decks, trucks, wheels, and bearings, to safety equipment, shoes, and clothing. Notable brands include Girl, skate boardTum Yeto, SK8MAFIA, Skate1, and Alien Workshop.

Clawson Skate Shop will also serve as a community center for the skateboarding community. Richards plans on bringing in couches and a television for people to watch skateboarding videos and play video games.

Richards, a carpenter by trade, got the idea to open a skateboard shop from his nine-year-old son Mason, who Richards says was pretty persistent. Mason started skateboarding at four years old and, after putting it down for a year, picked up the skateboard in earnest, skating up to 14 hours a day.

"He's been patiently waiting but every day it's been him asking, when are we opening, when are we opening?" says Richards.

With skateboarding being added to the Olympics, Mason hopes to one day skateboard in the international competition. Mason's younger brother, Dylan, now skateboards, too.

Richards believes that with the popularity of the nearby Clawson Skate Park, the skate shop should stay pretty busy. He's already planning for the future, too, saying that he hopes to find an additional space, maybe at around 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft., to build an indoor skate park.

Clawson Skate Shop is located at 1024 W. 14 Mile Rd. in Clawson.

$1 million donation helps launch Beaumont project

Excerpt

At a groundbreaking ceremony, Beaumont Hospital-Farmington Hills announced a $1 million gift from Farmington Emergency Medicine Associates PLC, for the new construction and renovations coming to the 51-year-old campus.

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Middle Eastern restaurant Naf Naf Grill to open first Michigan location, add three more eateries

Excerpt

Naf Naf Grill, a Naperville, Ill.-based fast casual Middle Eastern chain, opened its first Michigan location on Nov. 17 in Troy. Other locations are planned for Sterling Heights, Southfield, and West Bloomfield Township. 

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UM-Dearborn's iLabs' eCities research recognizes 45 Michigan communities

Six communities across the state of Michigan have been identified for the strategies they employ to foster entrepreneurial growth and economic development, according to the annual eCities study. The study, conducted by iLabs, University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research, identified the City of Farmington Hills, City of Grant Blanc, City of Hillsdale, City of Romulus, City of Sault Ste. Marie and City of Tecumseh for their strategies, innovative programs and best practices geared toward business development.
 
“The eCities project highlights how local governments from across the state of Michigan are cultivating and supporting economic development. These communities show how local governments can work in distinct and strategic ways to energize public spaces, while investing in businesses and job development,” said Tim Davis, director, iLabs.
 
Also, an additional 40 communities are recognized as five-and four-star performers.
 
Five-Star Communities (*denotes best practice community)
 
Five-star communities have commercial constructions worth over $875 million, having issued over 2000 construction permits. They have more than $29 billion in combined real and personal properties. They have more than $21 million in additions to assets in the past year and with about 10% of the employed population being self-employed. 
 
 
Ann Arbor Charter Township Cascade Charter Township Charter Township of Meridian
City of Ann Arbor City of Coldwater City of Dexter  
City Farmington City of Grandville City of Madison Heights  
City of Marquette City of Midland City of Mount Pleasant  
City of Novi City of Oak Park City of Romulus*  
City of Sault Ste. Marie* City of Sturgis City of Wixom  
Delta Charter Township Kochville Township Pittsfield Township  
Plymouth Township    
         
 
Four-Star Communities (*denotes best practice community)
 
Four-star communities has seen over $342 million in commercial construction which account for close to 50% of the total construction value and 16% of the construction permits. Additionally, they have additions to their assets worth more than $30 million. 68% of their population is over 25 years of age and 47% have attended some college.  
 
Bath Charter Township Charter Township of West Bloomfield City of Adrian
City of Dearborn City of Farmington Hills* City of Grand Blanc*
City of Livonia City of Mason City of Mount Clemens
City of Norton Shores City of Plymouth City of Portage
City of Swartz Creek City of Tecumseh* City of Trenton
City of Ypsilanti Comstock Charter Township Flint Charter Township
Northville Charter Township Saginaw Charter Township Thomas Township
Village of Oxford Village of Quincy  

 
The eCities study surveyed 76 communities from 25 counties in Michigan that are home to more than 22 percent of Michigan residents and 28 percent with at least a bachelor degree. These communities count for nearly one-fifth of the state’s entrepreneurs who earned more than $1.9 billion self-employed income in total. About 60 percent of these communities have a local business database, more than a quarter provide business improvement grants, and over 40 percent have full-time economic development employees.
 
“Through eCities, we are able to share tools that can be adapted for use by communities throughout Michigan,” Davis said. “We now have 10 years of data on the strategies and best practices communities are using to successfully attract and retain business.”
 
The communities were honored Wednesday, November 2, at UM-Dearborn. Support for eCities is provided in part by the DTE Energy Foundation, Comcast, Plante Moran and UM-Dearborn’s College of Business.
 
The annual eCities research project, which began in 2007, uses data supplied by the participants, as well as other public records to assemble a six-factor, 32-item index of entrepreneurial activity, looking at such factors as clustering, incentives, growth, policies, community and education. The study focuses on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan’s regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation. To date, more than 200 communities across Michigan have participated in the study.
 
About University of Michigan-Dearborn?
Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The university has 9,100 students pursuing more than 100 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business, education and health programs. A top-ranked university with faculty devoted to teaching and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn is shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.

Karmanos hopes to spark Pontiac revival with tech startups

Excerpt

Tech pioneer Pete Karmanos Jr. helped jump-start the downtown Detroit revival in 2003 by moving his Compuware headquarters from the suburbs into the gleaming, new 15-story, $450-million headquarters building at Campus Martius. Now he's hoping to do something similar for downtown Pontiac.

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NNG's growth in infotainment systems leads to new facility in Orion Township

Excerpt

NNG LLC, a Hungarian-based navigation software and infotainment solutions supplier moved into its Birmingham offices last year, creating its North American headquarters inside the old post office. Working with OEMs and Tier I automotive suppliers, they anticipated that growth would eventually cause them to add office space at the Birmingham office or elsewhere.

That is definitely the case today.

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Barron Industries wins 2016 investment casting of the year

Barron Industries has received the Investment Casting Institute’s Defense Casting of the Year Award for a low-alloy steel fabrication conversion part the company makes for an armored personnel carrier. The award, presented at the Institute’s 63rd Technical Conference and Expo, recognizes manufacturers which produce parts and components that best illustrate and promote the benefits and flexibility of the investment casting process, or which demonstrate problem solving techniques for the customer.

Barron’s award-winning casting was converted from two separate welded fabrications totaling 12 pieces. It now serves as both an engine mount and an alternator mount for a power pack used on a new generation armored personnel carrier. Barron Industries also machines the casting in-house using a 5-axis CNC machining center, performing all machining in one setup.

“Barron Industries’ winning entry exemplifies the benefits offered by this specialized process,” said Joseph Fritz, Investment Casting Institute Executive Director. “Cast as a single piece component, Barron’s approach to this engine mount eliminated fabrication and assembly costs, while at the same time reducing OEM production cycle time and logistics costs, resulting in better than a 60% savings to their customer.”

“The finished casting is manufactured at 1/3 the total cost of the original fabrication,” said Bruce Barron, president and CEO of Barron Industries.

“The Barron Industries investment casting process provides distinctive advantages over sand and other casting methods,” said Barron. “Our process turns out precision castings with greater dimensional accuracy, higher consistency, superior product integrity and improved surface finish. It is often the only way a part can be manufactured economically.”

Investment casting is one of the oldest manufacturing processes in which molten metal is poured into an expendable ceramic mold. The mold is formed by using a wax pattern - a disposable piece in the shape of the desired part. The pattern is surrounded, or "invested", into ceramic slurry that hardens into the mold. Investment casting is often referred to as "lost-wax casting" because the wax pattern is melted out of the mold after it has been formed. Since the mold is destroyed during the process, parts with complex geometries and intricate details can be created.

For more information about Barron Industries go to www.barron-industries.com.
 

Par Sterile Products receives Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant

Par Sterile Products, LLC, a subsidiary of Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., located in Rochester, was recently named the recipient of a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant designated for an upgrade to the Par Sterile Products facility in order to accommodate a new line of high tech filling equipment as well as the training and qualification of its valuable workforce.  As a result, Par Sterile has committed to invest $58.4 million at the site to expand operations and to hire up to 30 new employees.
 
“This is a very exciting time for our Rochester facility and our local community,” said Mike Rutkowski, Par Sterile’s Senior Vice President and General Manager. “We want to thank the city of Rochester, Oakland County, and the state of Michigan for all of their support. We believe the grant will help us create more jobs and build a long-term sustainable business in the Rochester community, where our site has proudly operated for 108 years.”
 
For more information or career information regarding Par Sterile Products please visit http://www.parsterileproducts.com.

Oakland County launches open data initiative

Oakland County is making a rich source of information available to the public through its new Access Oakland Open Data Portal, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced. Individuals will be able to find data ranging from property information including addresses and boundaries to how to find parks and trails and locate floodplains. All data on the portal, accessoakland.oakgov.com, is free of charge and free of use restrictions.

"The county has hundreds of data sets which can become meaningful information in the hands of people," Patterson said. “When put to good use, these data sets can ultimately improve the quality of life for Oakland County residents. Making these data sets available to the public also improves government transparency.”

Oakland County maintains a mature Geographic Information System (GIS) comprised of more than 350 datasets that together with other non-spatial data provide a rich source of information that is used in the performance of its governmental duties, responsibilities, and provision of services.

Benefits of the Access Oakland Open Data Portal include:
  • Fostering civic engagement through data sharing between government agencies, residents, businesses, and other community organizations
  • Increasing the trust and improving the relationship among residents, businesses, and government agencies
  • Enabling businesses and other enterprises to make use of government data to promote economic development and increase investment
  • Reducing cost and saving time in obtaining data
"Our mission is to provide a progressive, location-based solution that promotes informed decision making, improves citizen services, and encourages collaboration across all levels of government," said Oakland County Deputy Executive & CIO Phil Bertolini. “Making these data sets widely available benefits both the private and public sector by reducing costs, reducing the time involved in obtaining the data, and providing agencies with the most accurate, up to date information for use in their business processes and decision making.”

The Open Data Portal includes ready-to-use applications that will help residents find fun locations such as cider mills or campgrounds and functional locations such as where to dispose of expired or unneeded prescription medications. Data behind key Oakland County initiatives such as Tech248 and Medical Main Street are also highlighted with interactive maps. In addition, people can dive further into the data, and explore or download it to use in their own maps or applications.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved the county’s open data policy on Oct. 6 at the request of county executive administration.

New yoga studio in Ferndale started by long-time teacher

Caren Paskel, a well-known figure in the local yoga industry, is striking out on her own with a new yoga studio in downtown Ferndale.

Paskel long held a leadership position at the local chain Yoga Shelter, which is co-owned by her brother Eric. She's calling her new venture EnSoul Yoga. It opens Saturday, October 8. An official grand opening won't be held until the first week of November, when Paskel will celebrate with DJs and vendors.

For those familiar with Paskel's style of teaching, EnSoul will be an extension of what she taught in the past. Paskel believes in a style of yoga that stretches the mind as well as the body, and not just during the class period. She says it's a yoga that keeps working well after a session is over.

Whatever nerves Paskel had when considering starting her own yoga studio have dissipated leading up to EnSoul opening. Originally planning on a now-scrapped Royal Oak location a year ago, she's since had that time to promote EnSoul as she readies the new Ferndale space. She's well known in the local yoga scene and has been offering pre-opening specials and Groupons leading up to the opening, all of which have been going fast, she says.

"We're off to a really good start," says Paskel. "This is pretty invigorating and exciting for me. It tells me I'm doing the right thing. People are coming."

She believes that the move to Ferndale has been the right thing, too. She says the downtown stretch of Nine Mile Road is very community-driven, with lots of neighboring business owners stopping in to say hello. "The vibe there is really awesome."

EnSoul Yoga is located at 210 W. Nine Mile Rd. in Ferndale.

Moceri Cos. to Invest $1.2B in senior luxury communities in Southeast Michigan

Excerpt: 

Moceri Cos., an Auburn Hills-based custom home builder, is investing more than $1.2 billion over 10 years to add new luxury living communities to The Blossom Collection — a group of living spaces across southeast Michigan for those 55 and older.

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