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West Bloomfield : Innovation & Job News

12 West Bloomfield Articles | Page:

Out of flowers? Flour? Businesses contend with supply crises


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.

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Henry Ford to offer innovative cancer screenings for dense breasts


In a first for Michigan, the Henry Ford Cancer Institute is introducing a new and advanced molecular breast imaging system to screen women with dense breast tissue, who are at an increased risk for breast cancer.

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New center supports careers in advanced manufacturing

Oakland Community College (OCC) recently opened its doors to area businesses, students and the community to learn about high demand, high-paying jobs at the newly renovated Advanced Technology Center in Auburn Hills.

The revamped center supports careers in Advanced Manufacturing and is the first HURCO Lab in Michigan. It is designed to prepare students for successful careers in advanced manufacturing and other growing and innovative industries. With eight state-of-the-art machines for student use, the center will also function as HURCO's southeast Michigan showroom.

"Machinist jobs are in the top 50 in-demand jobs in the country and our region is at the hub of that training need. OCC's revamped Advanced Technology Center further supports our commitment to educate our future workforce and support economic growth," said Chancellor Timothy Meyer. "With the outstanding leadership and generosity from HURCO, we now have some of the finest equipment for student learning in the country."

Incoming OCC students can prepare for entry-level employment in CNC machining and earn four national industry certifications in just one semester. Upon completion, they can move into a CNC machining career and expect to earn $12-$34/hour.

According to Pure Michigan Talent Connect more than 6,700 skilled trades job openings are expected every year in Michigan through 2022.

"This tremendous partnership with HURCO reinvented the idea of bringing industry and education together.  By combining them in this state of the art showroom our students are not only learning, but they are being exposed to great companies that are coming to see them operating the machines," said Interim Dean of Engineering, Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies, Deborah Bayer.

"In addition to the HURCO training lab, OCC's Advanced Training Center robotics lab is second to none and the mechatronics program is leading the way with our fourth cohort starting this fall. We will soon be announcing new transportation, welding and other key training center additions supported through grant and partnership funding," she added.

Interested in mechatronics or information technology? Oakland Community College offers the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program that combines college-level learning with real-world experiences at a company. If you are an employer, student or parent looking for more information on the MAT2 program, please visit http://www.mitalent.org/mat2 or call OCC at (248) 232-4050.

About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, Oakland Community College offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields as well as university transfer degrees in business, science and liberal arts. The College provides academic and developmental experiences that allow each student to reach their full potential and enhance the diverse communities they serve. More than 45,000 students annually attend OCC and more than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. To learn more about OCC, visit oaklandcc.edu.

Secret pickle recipe inspires Michigan-made movie, qualifies for $500K incentive


A film created by two former Detroit advertising executives that will be produced by a pair of West Bloomfield natives has qualified for a tax incentive of nearly $500,000 from the Michigan Film Office.

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Birdhouse aims to becomes data mine for autism research

Birdhouse is wrapping up its first year of providing a mobile/web solution for parents and caregivers of autistic children.

The West Bloomfield-based start-up is creating software that tracks the behavior of autistic children and helps the loved ones of autistic children manage the disorder. It is also looking to find news ways to leverage the data it's collecting to help further the fight against autism.

"We'd like to be working with organizations from around the country to use the data Birdhouse is collecting to better understand autism, and to give us more answers and better understanding of the disorder," says Ben Chutz, founder of Birdhouse.

Chutz was inspired to start the company las year because his girlfriend has a daughter with autism, exposing him to the trials and tribulations that come with it. Chutz is now hoping the data gathered from his technology, still in private Beta until this summer, will be able to help shed some light on whether nature (barometric pressure or tides) factors into the impact of autism.

"We're looking to crowd source the idea of collecting info on kids with autism," Chutz says.

Birdhouse currently has a team of three people and is looking to add two software developers to help bring its technology to market.

Source: Ben Chutz, founder of Birdhouse
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital opens organic greenhouse, hires resident farmer

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital has hired a resident farmer to grow organic produce for patients in its new greenhouse, now open on its 160–acre campus.
The $1 million complex, including an education center was funded entirely by an anonymous donor. The greenhouse will provide clinically based educational programs for a variety of audiences, including children, to make a significant impact on the growing epidemic of obesity.
Michelle Lutz, resident farmer at the hospital, is growing a wide variety of produce in the greenhouse, including tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, peas, beans, strawberries, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, and herbs.
With more than 16 years experience, Lutz is the former co-owner of certified organic vegetable Maple Creek Farm in Yale, Michigan, a resource for Henry Ford West Bloomfield since it opened in 2009.
Building a greenhouse and hiring a resident farmer at a hospital was the brainstorm of Gerard van Grinsven, president and CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

“Our goal is to be a national model for how wellness education can improve health and reduce health care costs by providing people with resources to help them achieve optimal health,” says van Grinsven.

The produce being grown in the greenhouse is projected to reduce food costs at the hospital by more than $20,000 per year, while providing patients with healthy meals.

Lutz joined Henry Ford in November, providing input into the type of crops and how they would be grown. In June, she started planting organic seeds.

“On a typical day in the greenhouse, I’m making sure the crops receive proper nutrients, starting seeds to provide a continuous supply of lettuce, and monitoring for plant health, insects, and signs of disease.”
The greenhouse uses hydroponics – growing plants in water, instead of soil – to maximize diversity, and maintain space for patients, staff and visitors.
Lutz explains that the benefit to hydroponics is that growers have more control over plant health, with recirculating systems using only 10 percent of the water needed in soil-based farming. The grower delivers exactly what the plants need daily in organic nutrients, and risks from pests and diseases are reduced.  Beneficial insects are released when necessary to control harmful insects.  And, with no soil, there are no weeds.
“The accelerated growth that hydroponic growing promises is true,” says Lutz. “I have never seen such plant production in such a small space. Some early visitors to the greenhouse are considering trying hydroponics at their homes.”
In addition to feeding patients, the produce is used in the hospital’s 90-seat Demonstration Kitchen, where healthy cooking classes are offered to the community, and Henry’s café. They are also sold at Henry Ford West Bloomfield’s seasonal weekly farmers’ market, which is open to the public.
“I work closely with our chefs so they know what is being grown and when it will be available,” says Lutz.  ”And I am open to their suggestions as to what they would like to see grown.”
A cooler in the hospital’s kitchen has a section reserved for produce from the greenhouse.  A nearby message board lets the chefs know what is available.
From the harvest to the plate is less than 24 hours.
“I am growing crops now that enjoy warm weather,” she says. “As it gets cooler, I’ll grow produce that prefers those conditions, to grow in a sustainably responsible way all year.”
Additional plantings in the soil surrounding the greenhouse are planned.
Tours of the greenhouse are available seven days a week, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., with in-depth tours and workshops by appointment. The attached educational center will also be available for events.
Plans include a steady stream of school field trips, so that children can learn better nutrition, which can prevent childhood obesity, and many chronic diseases.

Gardening therapy will allow patients to take a role in their recovery while learning how they may prevent or manage chronic diseases through healthy growing, and eating practices.  The space will be available for physical, occupational and behavioral therapy, as well as a place of respite for staff and people visiting loved ones in the hospital.

“Food has an impact on human health, and on environmental health,” says Lutz. “This is only the beginning.”
The greenhouse will open on September 15, with an event featuring Food Network Star Ellie Krieger, who will be hosting a healthy cooking demonstration and NBA Champion and kidney transplant recipient Alonzo Mourning. Mourning will be sharing his insights with Michigan’s first Surgeon General, Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, chief wellness officer, Henry Ford Health System.  Detroit Pistons rookie Kim English will also be in attendance.

63 Oakland County businesses made Inc. 5000 list of "America's 5,000 Fastest-Growing Companies"

63 Oakland County companies made this year's list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., published by Inc. magazine this month. (Michigan had a total of 144 on the list.) At the top of the local group is SilkRoute in Troy, a retail merchandising and inventory apparatus designer whose revenue grew by 1,588% in the past three years.

Here are all of the local companies on this year's list:

229: SilkRoute, Troy
275: Mango Languages, West Bloomfield
278: PROLIM, Farmington Hills
450: PrizeLogic, Southfield
459: ProtectCell, Novi
504: Staffworks Group, Southfield
541: JobApp Network, Bloomfield Hills
618: Vigilant Technologies, Troy
693: PITSS, Troy
890: Detroit Trading, Southfield
999: Rapid Global Business Solutions, Madison Heights
1071: Kyyba, Farmington Hills
1076: MyInsuranceExpert.com, Troy
1113: Impact Management Services, Southfield
1132: Great Expressions Dental Centers, Bloomfield Hills
1199: Netlink, Madison Heights
1457: Zoup!, Southfield
1463: Nexcess.net, Southfield
1697: w3r Consulting, Southfield
1810: ICONMA, Troy
1919: Woodward Asset Capital, Southfield
2009: TTi Global, Rochester Hills
2186: Marvel Technologies, Novi
2273: Dialogue Marketing, Troy
2327: Red Level Networks, Novi
2427: Arrow Strategies, Bingham Farms
2433: National Food Group, Novi
2616: Preferred Data Systems, Farmington Hills
2638: BlueWater Technologies, Southfield
2662: Duffey Petrosky, Farmington Hills
2837: Creative Breakthroughs, Troy
2886: Diversified Industrial Staffing, Troy
3004: Alliance Technology Solutions, Orion
3128: Image One, Oak Park
3140: DGE, Rochester Hills
3206: JAWOOD, Bingham Farms
3239: Venteon, Troy
3248: i3Logic, Pontiac
3313: SunSoft Technologies, Farmington Hills
3564: Aleva Stores, Rochester Hills
3740: Portfolio Solutions, Troy
3774: ePrize, Pleasant Ridge
3792: Computerized Facility Integration, Southfield
3828: Paramount Technologies, Walled Lake
3879: Fisher/Unitech,Troy
3905: Ross Mortgage, Royal Oak
3918: One Source Talent, Troy
3962: DaySmart Software, Wixom
3873: HTC Global Services, Troy
4057: OpTech, Troy
4139: Natural Way Lawn & Tree Care, Lake Orion
4258: DSS, Southfield
4269: V2Soft, Bloomfield Hills
4290: ImageSoft, Southfield
4372: Eview 360, Farmington Hills
4391: ACE Tech, Auburn Hills
4556: PriveCo, Troy
4628: Human Capital Staffing, Bloomfield Hills
4641: McGraw Wentworth, Troy
4916: Airfoil Public Relations, Southfield
4953: Infomatics, Farmington Hills
4961: Multi-Bank Services, Southfield
4976: IdentityPR, Bingham Farms

National program offers employment training for local students who have disabilities

When Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) employee Roz Kenroy attended a Project SEARCH conference in Cincinnati, Ohio four years ago, she had no idea that the journey would connect her to professional associates back home who shared her interest in employment training opportunities for students who have disabilities.

Like Roz, they too wanted to learn more about Project SEARCH, a transition-related initiative that teaches young people with developmental disabilities to work successfully within their business communities.

“After hearing Project Search Co-founder Erin Riley speak at a Self-Determination conference, I knew that the innovative program would produce positive employment outcomes for Oakland County students who have disabilities,” explains Kenroy. “My colleagues throughout the county obviously shared my enthusiasm, because we were well represented in Cincinnati.”

Project SEARCH works by forming a collaborative effort between local school districts, businesses and Community Mental Health organizations to provide firsthand, job-training experiences for students who have developmental disabilities.

Supporting members of Oakland County’s Project Search team include: Oakland County Community Mental Health (OCCMHA), Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), Oakland Schools, New Horizons, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), Macomb Oakland Regional Center (MORC), Community Living Services (CLS), Jardon/Hazel Park Schools District, Troy School District, West Bloomfield School District, Henry Ford Health Systems West Bloomfield Campus, Beaumont Health Systems Troy Campus.

Project SEARCH is by far one of the coolest programs I’ve been involved with in my thirty years in education,” says Cathy Schmidt of Oakland County Community Schools. “It’s an opportunity for students who have participated in work based experiences through their school programs to move to the next level of training and preparation for employment.”

Students who are in their last year of school eligibility attend class within the host business. The school districts provide the teachers; MRS provides funding for the Job Coaches; JVS and New Horizons provide the job coaches; and the hospitals provide the classroom space and the internships. Students work at the site with teachers or career coaches each day to learn about jobs within the business that match their individual skills and interests.

Twenty-two students are currently participating in Project SEARCH internship trainings at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Troy Beaumont Hospital. The students began their Project Search endeavor in September, 2011, and will fulfill their commitment to the program in June 2012. At the end of the year, participating businesses have the option of hiring students who were the most successful in learning their responsibilities.

“We have seen incredible growth in confidence and maturity in the student interns. Success in the Project SEARCH program provides a giant leap in improving the employment opportunities for these young adults,” adds Schmidt.

A statewide Project SEARCH Summit to discuss and share ideas about expanding the program throughout Michigan is scheduled for June 26, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority is a public mental health system that provides services and supports to approximately 20,000 Oakland County residents, including adults and children with developmental disabilities, adults with serious mental illness, and children with serious emotional disturbance.
OCCMHA’s network of service providers include: Common Ground, Community Living Services, Community Network Services, Easter Seals Michigan, MORC, Oakland Family Services, Peer Choices, Inc., and Training and Treatments Innovations. For more information about OCCMHA call (800) 341-2003 or visit www.occmha.org.

Birdhouse techies developing apps for autism

Ben Chutz's new start-up, Birdhouse, is a little personal for him. The West Bloomfield-based company specializes in developing a mobile app and website that helps parents of autistic children better track and manage the developmental disorder.

Chutz's girlfriend has a daughter with autism, which has led to Chutz having firsthand experience of interacting with a child with the disorder and all of the trials and tribulations that come with it. That experience turned on the CFL over his head and prompted him, his girlfriend and one more close friend to start building Birdhouse last fall.

"I figured there had to be a better way to monitor the variables that needed to be tracked for autism," says Ben Chutz, founder of Birdhouse.

Chutz explains that autism at its base causes people to have an abnormal response to everyday stimuli. Parents and caregivers of autistic kids have to keep track of these interactions as they figure out the best way to help their children deal with the disorder. Birdhouse is developing software that makes tracking these interactions, aggregating that data and making sense of it easy.

"It's important to track how the child is responding to different interventions," Chutz says,

The trio is still working to develop the software, which Chutz expects will be done in the next two months. He plans to execute a soft launch of Birdhouse's software this summer and make it available to everyone by the end of this year. The start-up is also looking for funding.

Chutz is tackling Birdhouse as his full-time job now. Before that he worked for the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. Previous to that he helped ReCellular, an Ann Arbor-based cell phone recycler, build its e-commerce platform.

Source: Ben Chutz, founder of Birdhouse
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Organic leverages diverse portfolio into new hires

Organic was a large advertising firm with some big accounts from major corporate players, like Chrysler and Bank of America. Then the economy crashed in 2008 and those big contracts went up in smoke.

Fortunately for the West Bloomfield-based agency, it had already started diversifying its client base to position itself for growth while other local players in the advertising world went out of business. Today, Organic counts the likes of mid-sized corporations like Kimberly-Clark and Hilton Worldwide as top clients.

"We had been working hard to diversify before that," says James Heughens, general manager of Organic. "Those were huge wins for us."

Organic has been able to maintain its stafffing at 350 people worldwide, with a Metro Detroit staff of 150. The 12-year-old firm is aiming to get back into automotive work in order to hire more people, especially those with a technology background.

"The size and nature of that work is good for our people," Heughens says. "We're pushing hard to get back into it, both locally and with the imports."

Source: James Heughens, general manager of Organic
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Fast Co. co-founder singles out West Bloomfield's Henry Ford hospital as innovation center

Fast Co. magazine chronicles innovators, game-changers and risk-takers in the business world. And a new book by the magazine's co-founder William C. Taylor heaps some praise on the Henry Ford Health System and its new hospital in West Bloomfield.

In "Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself," Taylor spotlights the opening of the 2009 facility in West Bloomfield, calling it a remarkable chance for a hospital to re-invent how it treats patients and the role it plays in the community.


Taylor said he has been to the West Bloomfield facility twice. He toured once with the hardhats while it was under construction, and he returned a few months ago to see the finished building. He said he particularly liked the demonstration kitchen, where people can sit down and learn how to cook healthier food.

Read the rest of the story here.

W. Bloomfield man capitalizes on Internet clips with videoburst

For David Mayer, the sign that an Internet video company was viable came with the debut of YouTube. He knew it was time to start such a company, videoburst, when YouTube's popularity shot through the roof.

"Broadband reached enough people that most people watch video on the Internet now," Mayer says. "YouTube has 30 billion views per month. There wasn't even a YouTube five years ago."

That sort of success has allowed the 2-year-old videoburst to go from Mayer alone to a staff of three employees and four independent contractors. He expects to have a staff of 15 people within the next year as websites demand ever more video material.

The West Bloomfield-based company continues to fill that need, making videos for doctors, cosmetic dentists, plastic surgeons, and industrial companies. Mayer plans to hire an in-house acting troupe to create funnier, improv-style material for its clients who want to attract more traffic to their sights.

"Businesses are recognizing how video can help them enable growth," Mayer says. "It's not just cool to have a video on your website. You can use video to draw people to your website. Video is a huge distinguishing feature for a website. It increases the chances people will stay longer."

Source: David Mayer, owner of videoburst
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
12 West Bloomfield Articles | Page:
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