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LTU wins first, third place in national competition for assistive design

Two teams from Lawrence Technological University took first and third place in the SourceAmerica Design Challenge, a national competition to design workplace products that improve the employability of people with disabilities.

An LTU team won first place for its Cube XL Assembly, which nearly doubled the assembly output of employees assembling equipment to fasten pipes to interior surfaces on buildings. The device allows people who have the use of only one hand to perform the task.

Finishing in third place was another LTU team’s Clip Assembly Device, which allows people with limited hand function to assemble a clip used in automotive headrests.

Lawrence Tech’s sophomore-year engineering design studio class has been working for two years to develop products like these for Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), a Dearborn-based charity that works to boost employment prospects for people with disabilities.

“It’s incredibly valuable to us,” Steve Slayton, STEP’s director of business development, said of LTU’s assistance. “Both of the designs this year made big impacts for our clients. The tools that the students create allow our clients to do jobs that they were not able to do before, and allow our clients to really increase their productivity.”

More than 120 teams of high school and college students in STEM programs across the country competed in the challenge. Three collegiate and five high school teams were selected for the finals competition, held in early April in Washington, D.C.

A member of the first place team, Bram Ligon, called the competition “a pretty eye opening experience.” The sophomore mechanical engineering major from Rochester Hills said it was “really awesome, getting to work with the various subject matter experts and hear their stories about how other teams have developed assistive technologies for people with disabilities.” Ligon said the teams made their presentations in a conference setting with about 150 people present, before a panel of judges that included current and former staffers with IBM, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Academy of Engineering.

A member of the third place team, Victoria Pellerito, a junior mechanical engineering major from Macomb Township, added: “Beginning to end, it was amazing. The moments leading up to the presentation were nerve-wracking, but once we got up there and started presenting, it was great. You knew everyone there genuinely cared.”

John Bowen, a member of the first-place team and a sophomore double major in biomedical engineering and molecular and cell biology from Williamston, said the event featured a packed schedule of workshops and discussions daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., “and then we’d practice our presentations until midnight.” The teams also met with staffers of U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell.

The faculty teaching the sophomore engineering design class said the SourceAmerica and STEP relationships have truly brought home design thinking concepts for the engineering students.

“The relationship with STEP has made all the difference in the level of student engagement and ownership within the design studio,” said Cristi Bell-Huff, director of LTU’s Studio for Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (SEED). “Having real customers to empathize with and really create value for has made a lasting impact on our students’ professional and personal development as engineers. Serving customers with disabilities in particular helps our students get outside the classroom and outside of their own perspectives in order to solve a real world problem that will make a big difference in someone's life. “

Added Heidi Morano, SEED project engineer: “The value of customer engagement is two-fold; first, the ability to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is a critical skill for engineers in this day and age. Secondly, that the student teams are able to see directly the impact that their design can have on someone’s life really seems to resonate and leaves a lasting impression.”

SourceAmerica, a national nonprofit with a mission to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities, hosts the Design Challenge annually. The contest is designed to bring greater awareness of the need and the impact of assistive technology in the workplace and encourage upcoming generations to develop an inclusive mindset.

Pellerito said her hope is that more can be done to help millions of disabled Americans find jobs. Only 17.9 percent of Americans with disabilities were employed in 2016, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 65.3 percent of Americans without disabilities. She also said she hopes more colleges and universities can be convinced to compete in the SourceAmerica Design Challenge.

More on the competition at http://www.sourceamerica.org/design-challenge. Stories about individual finalists’ projects may be found at http://www.sourceamerica.org/news.

Oakland Schools' Bob Moore named as Business Official of the Year

Robert Moore, deputy superintendent of Finance & Operations for Oakland Schools, has recently been honored with the 2018 School Business Official of the Year Award from the 3,000-member Michigan School Business Officials (MSBO), a nonprofit corporation which works to serve many interests related to public education.
 
Oakland Schools is an intermediate school district which provides regional services to all 28 school districts in Oakland County. In his current role, Moore manages Finance; Facility Maintenance and Operations; Capital Construction, Business Services; Government & Community Services; Legal Affairs; Event Management; and other auxiliary services such as Student Transportation and Nutrition Services. 
 
Moore is also the director of the School Finance Research Collaborative, a group of business and school leaders who recently completed extensive research to determine the cost of student achievement for all Michigan pk-12 students. 
 
The School Business Official of the Year Award recognizes MSBO members who exemplify professionalism, leadership and innovation in the field of school business management throughout the year. Moore was honored at a ceremony on April 18 in Detroit where he received a crystal award and a $1,500 professional development scholarship to attend the 2018 Association of School Business Officials International Annual Conference in September in Florida.  
 
Last year, Moore was also honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the MSBO. This award is given to those who have put forth extraordinary effort, provided unique service and have completed accomplishments that serve as an inspiration for others. Moore is the first business official in Michigan to have been awarded both MSBO honors.
 
“To receive the Distinguished Service Award by the MSBO last year was already an honor. So to now be served with the 2018 Business Official of the Year Award is just tremendous for both myself and the entire Oakland Schools’ team,” said Moore. “Public education is my passion and it is nice to be recognized for something I truly value.”
 
Prior to joining Oakland Schools in 2005, Moore was senior deputy chief executive officer for Detroit Public Schools where he oversaw Facility Maintenance, Capital Improvement Programs; Contracting, Real Estate and Urban Planning; Transportation; Food Service; Security; Print Production; Environmental Health and Safety; Warehouse Operations; Financial Functions; and State Legislative Affairs. Before he worked in Detroit, Moore held a variety of executive-level school positions in large school districts in Colorado and also served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for a $4 billion local government investment pool. He also served for 11 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and for seven years as a general foreman at a large steel mill.
 
Moore earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Colorado in 1988 and a Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1974.

Oakland University to recognize prestigious nurses at 30th Annual Nightingale Awards

Oakland University’s School of Nursing and its Board of Visitors are celebrating 30 years of honoring Michigan’s top nurses at its annual Nightingale Awards for Nursing Excellence.®
 
The only event of its kind in the state, this prestigious awards ceremony will be held on May 10, 2018 at the San Marino Club in Troy. The awards were created to spotlight nurses from a variety of clinical roles who go above and beyond in their care for their patients and their families. 
 
More than 700 nurses, physicians and administrators, as well as family members and nursing supporters will attend this year’s awards ceremony. This esteemed event includes an elegant sit down dinner and fish-bowl style raffle. Raffle winners have the opportunity go home with a 40” Smart TV, golf and spa certificates, a trip to Chicago and other unique packages. Fox 2 News anchors Roop Raj and Amy Andrews will once again co-emcee this year’s awards ceremony.
 
Each of ten winning recipients receives a check for $1,000, a solid bronze statue of Florence Nightingale and a special Nightingale ceremonial pin. Runners-up each receive a commemorative plaque and Nightingale ceremonial pin. Nominees were nominated by their peers, supervisors, friends and patients in recognition for their superior service and expertise.
 
The 2018 Nightingale Awards for Nursing Excellence® is presented by Beaumont Health.  Other sponsors include: Ascension Health, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, Detroit Medical Center, St. John Providence Medical Staff, Nexteer Automotive, McLaren Oakland & McLaren Macomb and PSJ Anesthesia. 
 
For more information, or for tickets to the event, please contact August Gunderson in the School of Nursing at (248) 364-8725, via email at nightingale@oakalnd.edu or visit oakland.edu/nursing/nightingale.

2018 Award Winners
 
Advanced Nurse Practice & Research
Winner: Mary Jo Smith, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor
Runner Up: Makenzie Thimm, Ascension Michigan – St. John Providence

Distinguished Alumni
Winner: Kristen R. McGrath, Beaumont Health – Royal Oak
Runner Up: Katie Hoxie, Beaumont Health – Royal Oak

Excellence in Education
Winner: Kino Xandro Anuddin, Ascension Michigan – St. John Providence 
Runner Up: Antionette A. Trevino, Beaumont Health

Emerging Nurse Leader 
Winner: Michele Rausch, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland 
Runner Up: Faith Aven Straton, Ascension Michigan – St. John Providence

Executive Administration
Winner: Marilyn S. Begle, Beaumont Home Health Services
Runner Up: Kathy M. Brubaker, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea
 
Nursing in the Community
Winner: Diane Zalecki Bertalan, HAVEN of Oakland County
Runner Up: Mary Ann Ryan, HOPE Recuperative Care Center
 
Post-Acute Care & Specialty Nursing
Winner: Pamela Laszewski, Karmanos Cancer Center
Runner Up: Marla Clausen, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
 
Staff Nurse (2)
Winner:  Sabrina M. Zott, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland 
Winner:  Deborah White, McLaren Oakland 
Runner-Up:  Maria Borri, Beaumont Health – Royal Oak 
Runner-Up:  Lisa M. Hill, Ascension Michigan – St. John Providence 
 
People’s Choice Award
Winner:  Leesa J. Jones, Ascension Michigan – St. John Providence
Runner-Up:  Krystal L. McNamee, Henry Ford Health System – Detroit

Out of flowers? Flour? Businesses contend with supply crises

Excerpt

When heavy rain pelted Central America, Shane Pliska couldn’t get shipments of taupe-colored roses he needed for clients’ weddings.

“Of course, this was the season when everyone wanted champagne- and gold-themed weddings, and the champagne part was all taupe roses,” said Pliska, owner of Planterra, a commercial florist and owner of a wedding venue where the decor is all about flowers and plants.

Read more

Belgian auto supplier to build headquarters in Metro Detroit, adding 87 jobs

Excerpt: 

A global technology and service provider for commercial vehicles is building its North American headquarters in Auburn Hills. 

Belgium-based WABCO Holdings, Inc. is building a 102,000-square-foot facility with plans to add 87 new jobs in the next three years, the company announced. The facility would house about 200 employees in total.

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Pitch Club, for entrepreneurs and startups, will be hosted at University of Michigan Law School

Kyyba Innovations, Bodman PLC and TiE Detroit are hosting Pitch Club on Wednesday, April  18, 2018 at University of Michigan Law School. Pitch Club is a mentoring and funding program aimed at connecting the various ecosystems and smart zones throughout Michigan. Pitch Club has ongoing monthly events that provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors. The events are meant to educate, network, inspire and provide valuable experiences for being investable. As part of the events, 3 lucky entrepreneurs will receive the opportunity to practice their pitch and discuss business plan with funding experts, giving them a better understanding the mindset of an investor. Events are hosted monthly on Wednesday evenings in Michigan cities including: Ann Arbor, Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. 
 
The April 18th event at University of Michigan Law School will include 3 startup presentations, a pool of judges, and a special guest “Founder & CEO” keynote speaker. 
 
Registration and application can be found at: www.PitchClubMI.com

Keynote
Hannan Lis , CEO, Lis Ventures
 
Judges
Sridhar Lakshmanan, Educator, Entrepreneur, Mentor, University of Michigan, Dearborn
Robi Mitra, CEO, K&A Resource Group
Jim Tenzillo, Senior Associate, Invest Michigan
Lorne Zalesin, Vice President Sales and Marketing, DroneView Technologies LLC
Michael Godwin, Founder/Managing Director, Resonant Venture Partners
Dave Feidner, President, Crestone Summits, LLC
 
Agenda
5:00pm – 5:25pm Registration
5:25pm – 5:30 pm Opening Remarks
5:30pm-6:30pm Company Presentations
6:30pm-6:35pm – Introduction of Keynote
6:35pm-6:55pm –Keynote
6:55pm – 7:10 pm – Q&A with Audience
7:10 pm – 7:30 pm Networking
 
Thank you to our sponsorsCheck out the entire calendar and get registerd here: http://kyybaxcelerator.com/calendar-registration.php
 
The select pool of the companies chosen to pitch at the monthly Pitch Club events will be provided investment opportunities in the form of presenting to the investment team of Kyyba Innovations and TiE Detroit Angels during their quarterly Angels meeting. Investment opportunities will range from $25,000 to $100,000. TiE Detroit Angels funded companies, if qualifications are met, also could have the chance to present to the TiE Global Angel Alliance (TGAA). TGAA is a global platform for funding that exposes startups to a broader investment pool and opportunities to raise additional funds much larger than any single TiE Chapter or local Angel Group. TGAA recently invested $395,000 in Zeto, and $450,000 for Hemex Health from the TiE Global network.

Testimonials
 
“Pitch Club provides a tremendous opportunity for cross-pollination and increased deal flow across Michigan, something that currently is not at the level it should be. This program will be very valuable for both the startup entrepreneurs and investors and will hopefully create a meaningful dialogue, as well as a technological and economic impact for the entire region,” said Tel Ganesan, Managing Director, Kyyba Innovations“In order to make this initiative even more successful, I encourage seasoned entrepreneurs in each of these areas to join us by serving as a mentor.”
 
“From the elevator pitch to the public pitch to the investor pitch, the more successful entrepreneurs are pitching, the more integral this will become to their success. We are pleased to partner with Kyyba Innovations to help entrepreneurs to gain exposure, insights and support that will help them truly move the needle,” said Paul Riser, Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit.

"Access to investors and the opportunities to pitch without having to travel are signs of a healthy startup ecosystem,” said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK. "We are excited to have the Ann Arbor region included in Pitch Club; this new avenue for connecting startups and potential funders is a terrific addition to the existing ways entrepreneurs are able to attract capital as well as the investors already interested in what's happening here."

About Kyyba Innovations:
Kyyba Innovations is a global accelerator and collaboration eco-system that provides innovators and entrepreneurs the environment to enable their ideas to become reality. We provide services that allow startups to scale to the next level. We do this by investing in businesses and leveraging our network to empower your organization to accelerate your mission forward. 
 
About Bodman PLC:
With more than 150 attorneys in offices throughout Michigan, Bodman PLC has delivered extraordinary results to our clients for more than 85 years. Our attorneys provide savvy business counsel to some of the region's most successful companies and individuals on a broad range of issues, and we provide clients with the personal attention of a small firm with the talent and skill expected of the nation’s leading law firms.
 
About TiE:
The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals with roots in the Indus region. There are currently 13,000 members, including over 2,500 charter members in 61 chapters across 18 countries. TiE’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship globally through mentoring, networking, education, incubating, and funding. Dedicated to the virtuous cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community, TiE’s focus is on generating and nurturing our next generation of entrepreneurs.

Lawrence Tech receives $75,000 from Siemens to bolster industrial engineering programs

Lawrence Technological University and its industrial engineering programs are celebrating a $75,000 gift from Siemens Corporation, the United States subsidiary of the German industrial automation giant Siemens AG. The $75,000 is being awarded in the form of cash, hardware, and software.

According to Raj Batra, president of Siemens Digital Factory, U.S., the donation is intended to address growing workforce skills gaps in the industrial engineering and high-tech manufacturing sectors. The investment in LTU is also designed to help forge new pathways to the middle class for manufacturing workers.

Batra is an LTU alumnus, graduating from Lawrence Tech with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1990.

"Siemens’ donations will help establish an industrial engineering and manufacturing lab at LTU’s campus, and help establish a semi-automated mini assembly line using Siemens Digital Factory tools," Ahad Ali, associate professor and director of LTU’s Bachelor and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering programs, said in a statement. "It will be a great learning experience for our students, and help prepare a skilled workforce in the industrial and manufacturing sectors."

This is not the first time Siemens has contributed to the Southfield-based technological university. Siemens has awarded LTU two in-kind software grants since 2013. The Siemens PLM software, which includes NX, Teamcenter, Technomatrix, and Solid Eagle, is commercially valued at more than $200 million.

LTU is recognizing the $75,000 donation from Siemens at two events: A March 13 event on the Lawrence Tech campus, and a formal presentation at the Manufacturing in America conference and exhibition at Ford Field in Detroit on March 14. The conference and exhibition is a forum designed to get students interested in careers in high-tech manufacturing.

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

By supporting FIRST, Bosch helps build the mobility workforce


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

The way Charlie Ackerman sees it, government, industry, and educators must work together toward a common goal to build a supply line of talent. As senior vice president of human resources, North America, at Robert Bosch L.L.C., Ackerman has witnessed the power of supporting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives in preparing young people to succeed in the technical workforce.

For the majority of his 23 years with Bosch, Ackerman has been a staunch supporter of FIRST, the international team robotics club for students. When Detroit was deep in the Great Recession, Ackerman recognized the significant impact FIRST could have as the the region recovered economically.

With more than 400 teams, Michigan is the largest FIRST state in the country, and Detroit will host the FIRST Championship at Cobo Center April 25-28.

“The FIRST concept is all about balancing the attention of our society around education and the development of people,” says Ackerman. He questions how society can replicate the energy dedicated to college and professional sports toward education, given the percentage of student athletes who succeed in pro sports versus those who aspire to STEM careers.

“Every associate that participates in FIRST gets a job. There is no loss,” he says.

Skills learned through FIRST, and other STEM education initiatives like SAE’s K-grade 8 AWIM, including collaboration, project management, leadership, business planning, fundraising, and account management are valuable to Bosch. That’s why they have 72 formal mentors representing Bosch in 21 FIRST teams in the U.S., impacting 1,000 students each year in communities where Bosch has a presence, including Charleston, Charlotte, Palo Alto, and cities in Illinois and Michigan.

“We literally put our leaders inside these teams and they build the talent and develop relationships,” says Ackerman. “We involve them in internship programs, we track them and put them into our targeted colleges through scholarships.”

As many as 1,000 students intern yearly with Bosch, with up to 350 placed between Farmington Hills and Plymouth. More than half eventually become Bosch employees. While Bosch focuses on strategic workforce development from the high school level, kids can participate in age-appropriate FIRST activities as early as age six.

And Ackerman says this strategy is working.

“If you look at computer software development in Detroit, and start thinking of skilled workers in this space, there is no unemployment. So if you can’t buy the talent, you have to build it.”

Trainee first responders learn to save lives through mobility


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

When first responders are on their way to an emergency, nothing is more important than information, because data learned in advance can save time and lives.

Critical information can tell first reponders if the the road ahead is clear, the size of the building on fire, if people are inside, and what kind of fire suppression system exists in the building.

With smart infrastructure enabling the new world of smart mobility, EMTs could have access to this information, and much more. They’ll also need to be trained to use new tools to gather this potentially life-saving data. That's why a number of companies, including Lear Corp., have helped install an array of new sensor technology into the Combined Regional Emergency Services Training (CREST) mini-city at Oakland Community College.

In addition to Lear’s roadside unit (RSU) sensors, HAAS Alert provided consumer alert applications, Mobile Data Holdings provided real-time video, and TracksUS provided in-vehicle diagnostics.

Running the show is Elaina Farnsworth, thought leader in the autonomous and intelligent transportation industry, and Mobile Comply CEO, says the sensors should be in place by this spring, allowing first responder trainees to test them in a real-world environment. Some of the connections will run through traffic lights, and some radios will be equipped with DSRC (dedicated short-range communication) devices to see if the safety messaging channel can be more effective.

"It really allows us to be very clear and targeted around new technologies that could aid and help these emergency responders in a controlled environment," Farnsworth says.

Mobile Comply was founded in 2010 to provide education and certification work for professionals who wanted to get into connected technology. She says the CREST project is the perfect next step in both educating the next generation of first responders and testing the sensors.

"We started talking about how nice it would be if we could have a conglomerate of different companies that would contribute something to be able to start training our emergency responders how to use some of these connected vehicle technologies," she says. "How can it make their jobs easier? How can it make saving lives faster?

Eventually, she hopes to incorporate drone technology, too, into the array of sensors getting real-time data from the scene of an emergency.

Douglas Smith, executive director for workforce development at Oakland Community College, says Lear has placed the sensors in the buildings and testing will wait until the weather clears up in the springtime. From there, they'll develop training modules for emergency workers.

TEALS growth in Michigan

Computer science is a vital driver in today’s global innovation economy, but most U.S. high schools are unable to offer rigorous CS courses. Without CS in high schools, our students are missing out on essential computational skills that will help them succeed in any career they wish to pursue, and professional skills that could lead to an economically secure future. The TEALS program seeks to change that reality.

Our volunteers work directly with classroom teachers to help them build and grow their CS teaching capacity through yearlong support and training to inspire the next generation of computer scientists.

If you’re interested in the opportunity to help shape students’ career opportunities – all while having fun – TEALS is the right fit for you.

Applications are open now at tealsk12.org/volunteers.

Together, we can help build CS programs at high schools across the U.S. to empower the next generation of innovators. Here are a few ways you can sign up to volunteer with TEALS today and help change lives:If you have more questions, please contact me us at http://tealsk12.org/contact/ for more information. We’re eager to have more volunteers and happy to answer any remaining questions you may have!

TEALS has had 15 schools apply for our program in the Detroit area and 26 schools state. 

Contact:
Andrew Spiece, Regional Manager
(810) 813-0363

12-year-old Michigan girl gets candy product into Walmart

Excerpt

Alina Morse, the 12-year-old founder of Zolli Candy, The After You Eat Treat, announced that she has expanded her 250k Smiles Program to 1 Million Smiles as her line expanded into 4,000 plus Walmart stores. A resident of Wolverine Lake, Michigan, Morse made the announcement on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) live on CNN, Feb. 27.

Read more

SS Digital Media wins Platinum Award from the Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit

SS Digital Media, a nationally recognized, integrated marketing agency, has won the Platinum Award from the Marketing and Sales Sales Executives of Detroit (MSED).

First bestowed in 1993, the Platinum Award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves by helping their companies achieve critical business success. Two awards are given annually. This year’s Evening of Excellence gala will be held at the Gem Theatre on March 27.

“It has been a privilege to build an amazing team of digital strategists and experts for the last ten years,” says Nick Skislak, SS Digital Media CEO, who will accept the award. “By focusing on the customer journey, we have been able to achieve stellar results for our clients, and that’s really what it’s all about.”

The company is a finalist in three categories for the upcoming Interactive Marketing Awards and winner of the Best of Michigan Business award, as well as the IABC Renaissance Award and the PRSA Diamond Award.

600 jobs created and 2,200 jobs retained in Pontiac mortgage company deal

Six hundred new jobs have been added in the financial services sector in Pontiac, thanks to the Michigan Strategic Fund's approval of the Oakland County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority's $1,900,145 in local and school tax capture. The news also means the city will retain 2,200 existing jobs, says the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The mortgage company United Shore Financial Services and Pontiac Center Investment are responsible for the expansion project. United Shore announced a move of its corporate headquarters from Troy to the Hewlett Packard Enterprise building at 585 South Blvd. in Pontiac in June 2017.

An existing building will receive extensive renovations, which will serve as a corporate headquarters for the company. Also planned is the construction of a new outdoor recreation center and amphitheater. Surface parking lots will be renovated, as well as added.

The MEDC, the state organization that administers programs and performs due diligence on behalf of the MSF, expects the United Shore project to generate a total capital investment of $69 million in addition to the 2,800 jobs created and retained. The $1,900,145 in local and school tax capture will help in brownfield remediation, demolition, asbestos abatement, site prep, and improvements to infrastructure.

"We appreciate the opportunity to support the investment and job creation being made by United Shore at this brownfield site in Pontiac," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, said in a statement. "We are fortunate that a building of this size and stature was available for United Shore for its continued expansion in Oakland County."

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

Oakland County taking steps to retool its mobility workforce

There’s nothing like a challenge to get Oakland County fired up.

The challenge came in the form of a 2017 Connected Mobility Skills Needs Assessment conducted by Oakland County and the Michigan Talent Investment Agency.

The report said that if Oakland County is going to remain competitive in the coming connected mobility revolution, it needs to do a better job of developing and attracting a workforce with the right balance of engineering skills and automotive knowledge.

So local colleges and business groups are rising to meet the goal, by using this report to make improvements or changes to curricula.

Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Workforce Development, says the report surveyed 50 area employers that serve the connected mobility industry, asking them what knowledge, abilities, and skills they look for in potential hires. The report was presented to educational institutions, professional organizations, and business groups around the region.

"Our goal is to ensure Oakland County’s talent pool has the required knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to meet employer demand," Llewellyn says.

The assessment, the fourth in a series of surveys in emerging technology sectors since 2009, is frank in its conclusion that eight major areas need to be addressed before Oakland County can compete with other regions in developing a mobility workforce.

The top area of concern is an "insufficient pipeline of qualified workers." There's not enough local talent with advanced degrees, and those who do, lack experience in the automotive field. This leaves many local companies with no choice but to try to poach workers from other regions. The problem is that Southeast Michigan is still perceived as a region with an outdated manufacturing base, making it harder to compete with other metropolitan areas.

Other problems identified by the survey include educational institutions offering outdated engineering degrees, visa restrictions, deficient connected mobility training programs, and a general antiquated perception of the automotive industry.

The report, while frank in its conclusions, is being used by local institutions to make improvements.

"Oakland University used the data to help shape the curriculum for their Master’s in Systems Engineering," Llewellyn says. "Other entities are reviewing the report and using it to shape future curriculum in the connected mobility space."

Lawrence Tech-based business incubator receives state grant to continue fostering innovation, growth

Small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs throughout the southeastern Michigan region could be better equipped for success, at least up until March 31, 2019, as it's been announced that the Lawrence Technological University Collaboratory Gatekeeper Business Incubator has received further funding.

The Michigan Strategic Fund has granted the business incubator a $100,000 extension as part of its total of $1.7 million in grants awarded to foster entrepreneurial support throughout the state.

This marks the third such grant for the LTU business incubator, allowing it to continue helping small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs in their scale-up efforts. The focus of the incubator remains on early-stage technology companies in the product design, engineering, and prototyping and manufacturing sectors.

"Collaboration resources such as those available through Automation Alley, TechTown and SmartZones across Michigan are essential in providing our state’s entrepreneurs the necessary support needed to spark innovation and spur the business economy," Fred Molnar, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said in a statement. "The continued funding of these programs demonstrates their impact in not only building and growing startups in Michigan, but in attracting out-of-state talent."

The LTU incubator falls under the city of Southfield's SmartZone, a state program that fosters the growth of tech businesses and jobs by connecting universities, research facilities, and industry to one another, building a network of growth. The business incubator itself connects business leaders with everyone from mentors to college students, from workshops to workspace.

Visit the LTU Collaboratory online to learn more about its programs.

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