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Level One Bank hires 18, grows assets 25 percent

Level One Bank is well on its way to the next level, thanks to a spike in its asset size and staff.

The Farmington Hills-based bank’s assets have grown 25 percent over the last year, topping out at $630 million. Its deposits also stand at $545 million. That has allowed the company to grow its staff to 145 people at its seven branches across the region. It has hired 18 people over the last year, mostly in lending. The bank currently has four open positions.

"Our primary businesses are focused on commercial loans," says Patrick Fehring, president & CEO of Level One Bank. "We're seeing a lot of action in our loans to entrepreneurs. We're also seeing an increase in our residential mortgage loans."

Fehring expects his bank to grow another 15 percent this year. He sees Level One Bank's status as a local bank as a key ingredient to its success at a time when an increasing number of people don’t trust large financial institutions.

"We think that gives us a distinct competitive advantage," Fehring says. "It's easier to connect with a decision maker at Level One Bank."

Source: Patrick Fehring, president & CEO of Level One Bank
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Telegration expands cloud computing services offerings

Cloud services are becoming an increasingly important part of Telegration's bottom line and its growth prospects for tomorrow.

The Clawson-based firm specializes in technology consulting. It services a broad range of organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to local government agencies. The 24-year-old company’s products include local, long-distance and Internet services, and it's expanding into cloud computing this year.

"We are adding more products and services to our portfolio," says Rayon Treadwell, marketing administrator for Telegration. "Our customers are clamoring for cloud services."

Telegration is still in the process of fleshing out its cloud computing experiences, which it expects to complete this year. The company is also ramping up its marketing.

"We're starting to increase the visibility of our cloud services," Treadwell says.

Telegration has continued to grow its company as it expands the services it offers. It has hired five people over the last year and now has a staff of 50 employees and two interns. Among its recent hires are a channel support manager, sales engineer, finance specialist and customer service professionals.

Source: Rayon Treadwell, marketing administrator for Telegration
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

AltaFlux adds 12 staff on demand for cloud computing services

Cloud computing is taking tech firms like AltaFlux to higher places these days.

The Troy-based firm has hired 12 people over the last year, thanks largely to the increasing demand for its cloud computing services. The company now employs 30 people with most of its new hires consisting of IT consultants.

"We have been growing steadily," says Vijay Nachimuthu, CEO of AltaFlux. "Quarter over quarter we have seen double-digit growth."

AltaFlux specializes in technology consulting services. It offers cloud applications and data and integration technology services. Many of AltaFlux’s customers have been leveraging its cloud computing services, specifically to get on board with the latest trend in tech, and also to create cost savings by optimizing existing operations and talent.

"Businesses are warming up to a lot of things they have ignored over the last five years," Nachimuthu says.

Source: Vijay Nachimuthu, CEO of AltaFlux
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Gale in Farmington Hills adds 400 consumer e-books to offerings

The recent addition of more than 400 e-books from John Wiley & Sons Inc. to the Gale Virtual Reference Library online service signifies a new direction for the Farmington Hills-based publisher, part of Cengage Learning, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.

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Versicor launches ideas to action contest, awarding $250,000 to support technology companies

Versicor, an electronics, software and controls development company is thrilled to launch its inaugural Ideas to Action award  (I2A) contest. This exciting new program is designed to help technology entrepreneurs transform their medical, clean-tech, or transportation project ideas into products. Versicor will provide a total of $250,000 worth of electronics, controls and software development services to award recipients.
 
Versicor’s Ideas to Action award provides an opportunity for businesses - large and small - to accelerate their products. Selected winners will gain access to Versicor’s team of engineers as well as its unique platform. Aligned with the company’s mission to support growth in the medical, clean-tech and transportation industries, the award competition is an example of yet another avenue in which Versicor attempts to break down barriers to provide easy access to innovation by providing technical support and resources.
 
“We are thrilled to launch the Ideas to Action program that helps a company’s ideas come to life,” says Christie Coplen, President of Versicor. “Through this award, our goal is to recognize product ideas in their infancy so we can better assess and deliver tangible products that embody their full potential.”
 
The Ideas to Action awards program holds two application rounds. The first round opens May 1, 2014 and applications will be accepted through August 15, 2014. Winners will be announced on August 30, 2014. For more information, visit http://goversicor.com/ideas-2-action/.
 
About Versicor
Dedicated to revolutionizing the way products are developed, Versicor is an electronics and controls platform that simplifies new product development, decreases risk and increases speed to market. With its unique offering of a validated, proven and robust hardware platform in conjunction with intuitive model-based software, Versicor is able to optimize product development for both new and established companies in the medical, clean-tech and transportation industries. Versicor is located in Royal Oak, MI. For more information, visit www.goversicor.com.

Blackstone LaunchPad grows Make It Better competition

The Make It Better business competition enjoyed its broadest participation yet, attracting high school students from across the state.

The Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad event encourages students to redesign an existing product or service or develop a new one. This year it doubled the number of participants, attracting students from Frankenmuth High School, Troy High School and Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores.

"We needed to get the work out to the high schools, and the right people at the high schools, before they developed their curriculum for the year," says Carol Glynn, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College.

This is the third Make it Better competition, which is held on an annual basis. Winners received as much as $500 for their ideas to help improve the quality of people’s lives or make their community a better place to live.

Among the winners were a Frankenmuth High School student who took first place for her idea of a Furry Friend Finder that tracks pets and reports on their location and physical condition. Second place went to a Troy High School student for a mobile application programmed to find recipes based on existing home food supplies.

"They're already asking us if we are doing this again next year," Glynn says. She adds, "I am hoping to get the funding next year so we can do it."

Source: Carol Glynn, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Southfield-based PublicCity PR continues adding to clientele

Michigan-based is an important word in the world of PublicCity PR. The boutique public relations firm got its start doing work for small businesses in the Great Lakes State, and continues to grow because of those same sorts of clients.

PublicCity PR has landed a handful of new clients, all based in Michigan, over the last three months. Some of those firms include construction company Barton Malow (Southfield), Medical Weight Loss Clinic (Southfield), and the new Life Time Athletic in Bloomfield Township.

"These are recognizable brands, Michigan-based companies that are reaching out to us," says Jason Brown, principal of PublicCity PR. "This is all word of mouth organic growth."

This has allowed the 5-year-old business to grow out of Brown's kitchen table and into its own office. It also added a new employee to its team over the last year, expanding its staff to four people.

PublicCity PR has also been able to grow its practice to a level of comfort where Brown doesn't have to chase down every lead for new business or say yes to every opportunity to keep the lights on now.

"We take it as it comes," Brown says. "We are at a good level of clients."

Source: Jason Brown, principal of PublicCity PR
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Saphran Solutions launches CapacityBase software platform

Data is everywhere. Often it's in random places, jumbled together in a slop of 1s and 0s that doesn't make much sense to the casual observer. Saphran Solutions is creating software that puts all of that data into proper perspective.

The Franklin-based business creates software platforms that help automotive suppliers and other manufacturers achieve efficiencies by narrowing the gap between business planning and performance.

Its newest proprietary software program, CapacityBase, does that by simulating and evaluating multiple product-demand scenarios to map out the user's short- and long-term capital investment plans to maximize returns. Think of it as a system that enables manufacturers to more effectively manage assets, avoid future risk and reduce costs.

"Essentially we connect the information the company already has and use it to streamline its operations to meet capacity," says Don Stilwell, vice president of sales & business development for Saphran Solutions.

The 10-year-old company employs 20 people. That team will work to aggressively market this new software platform to manufacturers.

"We are looking at adding additional people as we ramp up," Stilwell says.

Source: Don Stilwell, vice president of sales & business development for Saphran Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Registration opens for Demonstration Alley at Medical Main Street's INNO-VENTION 2014

Registration is now open for life science and health care companies who want to showcase their innovative products and technologies at Demonstration Alley as part of INNO-VENTION 2014 – a Medical Main Street Conference.

Conference organizers have expanded Demonstration Alley for the 2014 health care and life science event. They are looking for exhibits that have a demonstrable “wow” factor. INNO-VENTION 2014 is set for Oct. 21-22 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Information on the conference can be found at MedicalMainStreet.org.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for companies to introduce the technology that can change the world to the Medical Main Street community,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Demonstration Alley has been one of the most popular features of our past conferences and I expect the 2014 edition will be the best we’ve ever had.”

Product evaluation criteria for the demonstration area includes: health care-related products that are new-to-market, visual, and award-winning. Interactive live demonstrations are preferred. Companies wishing to be considered for space on Demonstration Alley should apply online at MedicalMainStreet.com. Submissions must be received by Sept. 5.

The fee to participate in Demonstration Alley is $500, which includes exhibit space and one complimentary conference registration. Questions may be directed to Leslie Smith, CMP at 248-353-0735, ext. 152 or lsmith@esd.org. Those selected will be notified by email by Sept. 12.

Patterson created Medical Main Street in 2008 with the area's leaders in health care, research and development, education and industry.  INNO-VENTION 2013 attracted more than 600 health professionals, clinicians, investors and suppliers. A global audience of more than 95,000 people was reached through social media in the United States, Europe, Asia and Canada.
This year’s conference includes:
  • Expanded Commercialization Competition
  • Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Pure Michigan Business Connect - matchmaking with purchasing agents from major health care providers
  • Concurrent industry break-out sessions on Oct. 22 
  • Returning will be a networking reception on Oct. 21
  • The INNOVATOR of the Year Award luncheon
The Medical Main Street board includes Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Beaumont Health System, Beckman Coulter Molecular Diagnostics, Crittenton Hospital, DMC Huron Valley Hospital, Ferndale Laboratories, Henry Ford Health Systems, Housey Pharmaceuticals, McLaren Health Care, MichBio, State Rep. Gail Haines, R-Waterford, Oakland Community College, Oakland University, Oxus Inc., Rockwell Medical Technologies, St. John Providence Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.

For more information on how to get involved, conference sponsorships and programming from INNO-VENTION 2014, visit MedicalMainStreet.com.

Automation Alley welcomes four new companies to its International Business Center

Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, recently welcomed four new companies to its International Business Center. The companies – from Germany, France and Canada – are expected to create about 80 new jobs for the region.

Tenants of Automation Alley’s International Business Center can use the Troy facility as a home base for up to 90 days while exploring opportunities to do business in Southeast Michigan. Since 2011, Automation Alley has assisted 11 foreign companies in establishing their operations in Southeast Michigan, creating 433 jobs for the region.

Peter-Lacke USA, a Germany-based company specializing in the development and manufacture of coatings for plastic, glass and wood, is one of the four new tenant companies. Joe Sanchez, accounting manager at Peter-Lacke USA, said the purchase of a building in the Detroit area will provide the infrastructure to support paint customers both locally and throughout the U.S.

“Additionally, this will provide excellent proximity to North American OEMs (original equipment manufacturers),” Sanchez said. “The staff at Automation Alley has provided fantastic service and support.”

Paul Lester, president of North American operations for new tenant company Bmax, agreed.

“Our U.S. startup has been made easier with the assistance received from the Oakland County economic development team, the state of Michigan and Automation Alley. We look forward to exciting and sustained growth in the U.S,” Lester said.

Bmax is based in France and is a world-leading provider of magnetic pulse systems for metal processing.

“Our expansion into the U.S. is a vital step to our worldwide strategy of introducing clean, highly efficient and groundbreaking technologies to established as well as emerging industries,” Lester added.

Automation Alley’s 3,200-square-foot International Business Center includes three meeting rooms with state-of-the-art communications technology, three private offices, an open office area and convenient access to Automation Alley’s International Business Services staff.
 
In addition to temporary office space, tenants of the International Business Center receive assistance with site selection and introductions to potential business partners, clients and employees to jump-start their business.

“Automation Alley has a track record for attracting technology and manufacturing companies from around the globe to our region, helping to diversify our economy and create jobs,” said Automation Alley Executive Director Ken Rogers. “On behalf of our association, I’d like to welcome our new international tenants and wish them the best of luck as they seek permanent locations in Southeast Michigan.”

For more information about Automation Alley’s International Business Center, contact the Automation Alley Resource Center at 800-427-5100 or info@automationalley.com.

About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a technology business association and business accelerator dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan and enhancing the region’s reputation around the world. Automation Alley offers talent and business development programs and services to tech-focused businesses of all sizes — from startups to large corporations — to help them grow and prosper.

Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley’s membership has grown to include nearly 1,000 businesses, educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations from the city of Detroit and the surrounding eight-county region.

Automation Alley provides a variety of exclusive benefits to its members to help them succeed, including networking opportunities, meeting space and public relations tools. Automation Alley also serves the general business community in five key areas: entrepreneurial services, talent development, international business services, product lifecycle management and defense and manufacturing.

Automation Alley collaborates with regional partners to provide its members and clients with the best business resources available, to drive local economic growth, and to positively influence the stories being told around the globe about the people and businesses of Greater Detroit.

For more information, visit automationalley.com.

Song of Duo Security named Leader & Innovator of the Year by Lawrence Tech and WWJ

Dug Song, the founder and CEO of Duo Security based in Ann Arbor, has been named the Leader & Innovator of the Year by Lawrence Technological University and WWJ Newsradio 950.
 
The award was announced at a May 15 reception at Lawrence Tech. Song was chosen from nearly 50 nominees profiled during the past 12 months in the WWJ Newsradio 950 Technology Report.
 
The Leaders & Innovators program was developed in 2005 by Lawrence Tech to recognize Michigan business executives who are engaged in cutting-edge professions and industries expected to be key to Michigan’s economic future.
 
Song has a history of leading successful products and companies to solve pressing Internet security problems. He spent seven years as founding chief security architect at Arbor Networks, protecting 80 percent of the world’s Internet service providers, and growing annual revenue to $120 million before its acquisition by Danaher.
 
Before Arbor Networks, Song built the first commercial network anomaly detection system – subsequently acquired by NFR/Check Point – and managed security in the world’s largest production Kerberos environment at the University of Michigan.
 
Song’s contributions to the security community include popular open-source security, distributed filesystem, and operating system projects. He co-founded the USENIX Workshop On Offensive Technologies (also called WOOT).
 
His firm’s hosted, two-factor authentication service brings strong, scalable security to organizations of any size. The unique, high-availability architecture provides centralized management, self-service enrollment, and interactive secondary login through an intuitive web interface, eliminating the high costs, complexity, and confusion associated with traditional two-factor systems. Every day, over 1,000 organizations in over 80 countries around the world rely on Duo for their security.
 
Duo Security is a privately held company whose investors include Google Ventures, True Ventures, Resonant Venture Partners, and Radar Partners.  
 
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for return on undergraduate tuition investment, and highest in the Detroit metropolitan area.  Lawrence Tech is also listed in the top tier of Midwestern universities by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student clubs and organizations and a growing roster of NAIA varsity sports.

Grow your business - become a 10k Small Business Scholar

Oakland Community College is hosting a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10kSB) information session for small business owners wishing to gain a competitive edge and boost their business’s performance.
 
The information session is 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 3, in the Student Center, G Building, Room 240, at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills Campus, 2900 Featherstone Road, one mile east of the Pontiac Silverdome.
 
“OCC is proud to host the 10kSB information session to help local entrepreneurs grow their business and create jobs in our community,” says Julie Jurmo, OCC Business Services Manager and the liaison between OCC and the Detroit 10kSB team.
 
Across the U.S., 10,000 Small Businesses graduates are increasing their revenues and creating new jobs in their communities:
·         63% of participants reported an increase in revenues
·         47% reported creating new jobs
·         76% are doing business with each other
·         The program also has a 99% completion rate
  
As a 10kSB scholar, business owners will be given access to the tools and resources to develop a strategic and customized growth plan for their business. The curriculum was designed by Babson College, one of the country’s top-ranked schools for business and entrepreneurship. It is available at no cost to selected applicants. To qualify, participants must be the owner or co-owner of a business in operation for at least two years, have a minimum of two employees and show revenue of more than $100,000 in the most recent fiscal year.
 
Current Detroit-area 10kSB scholars will discuss how the curriculum has impacted their businesses. Attendees will have the opportunity to register for the fall 10kSB training program, which begins in October. OCC partnered with Goldman Sachs, Babson College, the Initiative for Competitive Inner City (ICIC), Wayne State University and Macomb Community College to bring the 10kSB program to Detroit. Space is limited and reservations are encouraged at wfdev@oaklandcc.edu. Light appetizers will be provided. 
 
With five campuses throughout Oakland County OCC is the largest community college in Michigan and the 25th largest in the nation. OCC offers degrees and certificates in more than 160 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. Nearly a million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965. To learn more about OCC, visit www.oaklandcc.edu.

ITC establishes power-engineering scholarship at Lawrence Tech

ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company, based in Novi, has donated $250,000 to Lawrence Technological University to establish the ITC Power Engineering Endowed Scholarship in LTU’s College of Engineering. 
 
It will provide a fulltime student with half tuition each year. ITC will also offer a paid internship each year to the student who is awarded the scholarship as a way to increase the recipient’s hands-on experience.  
 
Power engineers develop, maintain, and modernize “the Grid,” the vast network of transformers, generators, motors and electronics that supply electrical power. 
 
“This expanded relationship with ITC will benefit our students and help us develop the top talent that the power industry requires,” said Phil Olivier, chair of LTU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
 
The new scholarship fund expands the ITC-LTU partnership. “As a corporation, we’re also hoping to engage with Lawrence Tech in areas like academic programs, research initiatives, and industry collaboration as we look to provide students with real-world experience,” said Joe Welch, chairman, president and CEO of ITC, who recently joined the board of trustees at Lawrence Tech. “A highly skilled workforce is the cornerstone of America’s economic competitiveness today, and engineers comprise a significant segment of our industry and ITC’s workforce. Supporting and encouraging top students to pursue power engineering as a career will only serve to strengthen and improve our company and our industry.”
 
ITC invests in the electric transmission grid to improve system reliability, expand access to markets, lower the overall cost of delivered energy and allow new generating resources to interconnect to its transmission systems. ITC’s regulated operating subsidiaries include ITCTransmission, Michigan Electric Transmission Company, ITC Midwest and ITC Great Plains. ITC also has been a leader in preparing more American students to pursue STEM degrees to build the 21st century economy.  
 
The ITC Endowed Scholarship adds to the financial aid at LTU for qualified students pursuing degrees in electrical and power engineering. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, LTU also offers 10 scholarships of up to $10,000 per year for two years to community college graduates to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a power engineering concentration.
 
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for return on undergraduate tuition investment, and highest in the Detroit metropolitan area.  Lawrence Tech is also listed in the top tier of Midwestern universities by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student clubs and organizations and a growing roster of NAIA varsity sports.

Novi Business Briefs: Job fair for female veterans planned for OCC on May 16

The Women’s Advisory Board for Oakland County will hold a free Women Veterans Job and Networking Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 16, at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus.

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'ISRA 88' approved for Michigan film incentive

The Michigan Film Office announced the feature film ISRA 88 has been approved for a film incentive from the state. The project will film in Oxford and Romeo, Michigan and is a sci-fi thriller that reaches to the ends of the universe.

ISRA 88 will showcase Michigan locations, while harnessing technology that producer Larry Zellen first encountered working in the automotive industry,” said Margaret O’Riley, director of the Michigan Film Office. “This project is also tapping into studio space here in Michigan and is committed to hiring the talent we have here in the state.”

ISRA 88 was awarded an incentive of $110,357 on $392,971 of projected in-state expenditures. The project is expected to hire 49 Michigan workers with a full time equivalent of four jobs.

The film follows scientist Abe Anderson after he volunteers for a high profile mission aboard the ISRA-88 to reach the end of the universe. After leaving behind his family and his responsibilities to pursue fame and glory, Abe’s journey becomes seemingly endless, taking a toll on his belief in the mission itself. When the ship crashes through the end of the universe, Abe is forced to perpetually relive his 13 year mission. Carrying only a subconscious memory of his past travels, Abe must find a way to stop the cycle and return home.

The project will be directed by Thomas Zellen, and co-produced by Lawrence Zellen and Thomas Zellen.

“Even early in the writing process, co-writer Jordan Champine and I really wanted to capitalize on what Michigan has to offer,” said Thomas Zellen.  “The movie was scripted around who is available right here in Detroit. We have the ability to make amazing films in fantastic worlds, that’s why all these big Hollywood films come back to Michigan year in and year out.”

In Fiscal Year 2014, nine projects have been awarded $43,307,528 on $162,389,029 of approved production expenditures for the year. These projects are expected to create 1,017 hires with a full time equivalent of 825 jobs.

The Michigan Film Office was created in 1979 to assist and attract incoming production companies and promote the growth of Michigan’s own film industry. The Film Office also administers the incentive program for film, television and other digitial media production in Michigan. For more on the Michigan Film Office, visit: MichiganFilmOffice.org
 
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