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Giffels Webster helps communities obtain $3.5M in grant funds

Giffels Webster may have moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit a few years ago, but the civil engineering firm isn’t leaving the rest of Metro Detroit behind.

The 62-year-old firm has helped three suburban communities in Metro Detroit score $3.5 million in grants from the state of Michigan over the last year. Those grants include $2 million for the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District to complete a wastewater asset management plan, $994,410 for Washington Township to a create a wastewater assessment management plan, and $515,700 for Lyon Township to design the township’s wastewater treatment plant expansion.

"That $3.5 million is more than what we normally get for communities in a year," says Jason Mayer, senior project manager at Giffels Webster.

Giffels Webster employs 69 people, including 22 in its Macomb office and 18 in its Birmingham office. The remainder are in the company's headquarters in downtown Detroit. The firm has hired 18 people over the last year, with a dozen of them working in the offices in Macomb and Oakland counties.

Source: Jason Mayer, senior project manager at Giffels Webster
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Telemus Capital adds 4 positions, $100M in new clients

Telemus Capital isn't trying to make its clients rich. It's trying to keep them wealthy. That’s part of the reason why the Southfield-based financial management firm has been growing so much in the past year.

The 9-year-old firm has watched its revenue increase by 20 percent over the last year. That’s due in part to strong performances from stock markets. It also is due to an infusion of new customers.

"Our new clients that have come to us have exceeded our expectations," says Lyle Wolberg, partner & senior adviser at Telemus Capital. "We have brought in $100 million in new clients to the firm in the last year."

Telemus Capital acquired Concentratic Capital in Los Angeles earlier this year. The new acquisition will serve as Telemus Capital’s new LA office. Telemus Capital has also hired four new people, including a new partner and a few research analysts.

"We have done quite a bit of hiring," Wolberg says.

Source: Lyle Wolberg, partner & senior adviser at Telemus Capital
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Walsh College launches online program for aspiring entrepreneurs

Walsh College has always prided itself on being a friend of small business through education, but now its Troy campus is trying to make that help easier to access.

The Walsh Institute is debuting its new Business Launch program, an online guide focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into reality.

"We took everything we do and centralized it," says Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute. "We put it online and put it out there."

Business Launch can walk budding businesspersons through the steps of growing their ideas and give them access to Walsh College's resources, mentors and faculty. The idea is to streamline the business-creation process so new entrepreneurs go through less of a learning curve.

It costs $195 per idea to use the program, which includes filling out a questionnaire and receiving customized feedback. Users of the program will have access to a variety of business resources, including articles, blogs and case studies featuring small- and family-owned business success stories.

"It just makes more sense," Miceli says. "We want to give the real-time answers to what a business needs at that time."

Source: Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Michigan First Credit Union aims to add 17 jobs

Michigan First Credit Union is in the process of hiring another 17 people right now, including a new spokester for its Young & Free Michigan program.

The Lathrup Village-based credit union currently employs 247 people across six stand-alone branches, plus three more in Meijer stores. It is replacing a branch on Gratiot Avenue, which is expected to open this fall. Michigan First Credit Union has hired 17 people over the last year. Its new positions range from IT professionals to branch operations. For information on those jobs, click here.

Among the new positions is the credit union’s spokester job for its Young & Free Michigan program. The 3-year-old program employs one college student for a year, making the person the credit union’s spokester. The spokester engages local college students through social media, community events, blog posts and online videos. The idea is to encourage smart financial behavior and help attract more young people to the credit union.

"The year goes by so fast," says Vicky Goldwater, young & free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union. She worked as a waitress and studied communications at Macomb Community College before taking the position. "The experience was awesome."

Michigan First Credit Union is taking applications for this year's spokester. The position comes with paid gas and insurance. Applicants are expected to make a video when applying. More info can be found here.

"Have fun with the video," Goldwater says. "Be yourself."

Michigan First Credit Union has about 94,300 members in Michigan, which is up more than 4,000 since the beginning of 2013. It has added $30 million in assets in the last year, totaling $674 million.

Source: Vicky Goldwater, Young & Free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

May 2014 business workshops offered by Oakland County

Business owners and entrepreneurs who need assistance are encouraged to attend seminars offered by the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center. Unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, west of Telegraph in Waterford. For pre-registration and location map, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/expand or call 248-858-0783.


Get a Grip on Your Business | EOS Workshop
May 1, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
If you are the owner, leader or manager of an entrepreneurial organization who wants to see your business consistently run better and grow faster, Mike Kotsis, a professional EOS implementer, can help you and your team simplify, clarify and achieve your vision. You will walk away with a focused action plan using the EOS workbook containing the tools that will help you to gain more traction in your business. Don’t let the company run you – Get a Grip on Your Business.
Fee: $40 per person, pre-registration is required.

Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion

May 7, 9 a.m. to noon
Thinking of starting a business and want to research your business idea? Do you want to identify market trends and opportunities to grow your sales? Are you looking for new customers or to diversify your market base? Business research shows you ways to find your ideal customers, your competitors, perform competitive analysis and more. This is presented by the Oakland County Business Center, Oakland County Market Research Department and an Oakland County Public Library business reference librarian.
Fee: This workshop is free, but pre-registration is required.

Know Your Numbers: Five Keys to Using Financial Statements

May 13, 9 a.m. to noon
Who Should Attend: Business owners and key staff who want to have a better understanding of how to use their financial statements. The ideal participant will have two-to-three years of financial history and be pursuing financing or having challenges with cash flow. Topics include how to use your balance sheet and income statement in managing your business, use break even analysis to improve your decision-making, find the source of your cash flow problems, increase your company’s cash flow, and get the banker on your side.
Fee: $25, pre-registration is required.

CEED Microloan Orientation

May 14, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Many small businesses face obstacles when trying to obtain a business loan. The recognition of the serious need for working capital for existing businesses, start-up or expansion, equipment purchases, and job creation is not the priority it once was. If you have a need for alternative financing consider the Microloan Program. Discover the requirements and process necessary to apply and obtain a microloan.
Fee: This workshop is free, but pre-registration is required.

QuickBooks® for Business Owners

May 15, 9 a.m. to noon
Join ATD Solutions as we explore the possibilities within QuickBooks. Our QuickBooks for Business Owners class is recommended for owners and financial decision makers who would like to explore the options available within QuickBooks. ATD Solutions will review best practices to limit your exposure to embezzlement or fraud within your company, the best version to use, and which industry specific reports to use to make great business decisions. Further resources will be presented to help you after this introductory class.
Fee: $40 per person, pre-registration is required.

Break the Rules, Close More Sales

May 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A business development workshop for business owners, company Presidents/CEO's and professional service firms and sales people; in two short hours, you'll learn how to establish trust with your prospects, prospect more efficiently, shorten the sales cycle, eliminate stalls and objection, take control of the sales process, and differentiate your company.
Fee: $40 per person, pre-registration is required.

Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification Orientation

May 21, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Learn about the benefits and process of becoming a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). Benefits include certification to private sector WBE's and access to procurement opportunities with major national companies.
Fee: $25 per person, pre-registration is required.

Team SBA Financing Roundtable

May 22, 9 a.m. to noon
Before you apply for a business loan, we recommend that you first attend the Small Business Association Forum on Small Business Lending. This is a free loan orientation conducted by a business banker, a business consultant from the SBA’s network of Small Business Development Centers, and an SBA representative. During the roundtable, we’ll debunk the myths and demystify the process of small business financing. You'll learn how the lending process works and what is expected of you and you'll understand how the SBA can assist with our SBA Guaranteed Loan Program. This session is best suited to those who have good credit, a solid business idea, and some money to invest in their business. Because the SBA does not provide loan guarantees to real estate investment firms, including purchasing and rehabbing houses for sale, this type of financing is not discussed at the roundtables.
Fee: This workshop is free, but pre-registration is required.

EB-5 Immigration Investment Opportunities for Michigan Conference

The Detroit Chinese Business Association (DCBA), a leading Michigan-based, nonprofit trade association for relationships between American and Chinese businesses, is hosting the EB-5 Immigration Investment Opportunities for Michigan Conference. Sponsored by Global Detroit and Aspire Lending, the event will take place from 3-6 p.m. April 23 at the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
 
“We’re excited about this event,” said DCBA’s President Jerry Xu. “It brings together the best of both the public and private sector to discuss how we can continue to bring top talent and foreign direct investment into the State of Michigan.”
 
The conference will feature dynamic speakers, including Bing Goei, director of Michigan’s Office for New Americans, Joe Borgstrom, director of the State of Michigan’s EB-5 Regional Center at the Michigan Community Development Corporation, and representatives from Civitas Capital Group, a leading public-private partner for the EB-5 program.
 
“Events like this are great mediums to exchange ideas and information about how we can continue to bring highly skilled, job-creating immigrants to the State of Michigan,” Goei noted. “This is a key pillar of our state’s economic growth plan and we’re working diligently to move the right policies forward to support this initiative along with creating a welcoming community and culture for immigrants.”
 
Borgstrom said the State of Michigan has taken a proactive approach to attract foreign investors through the utilization of the EB-5 visa.
 
“With decades of housing and development experience in Michigan, we’re optimistic about the role EB-5 capital can play in the revitalization of our cities as well as potentially retaining existing foreign national students and new immigrants,” Borgstrom said.
 
Civitas Capital Group Chief Executive Officer Dan Healy added that he is looking forward to the event, the dialogue it will generate and the opportunity to deepen relationships with key stakeholders across the state.
 
“Our full-service asset management approach for global investors and unique expertise with public-private partnerships have created thousands of jobs at zero cost to American taxpayers. This model is a great fit for the comeback taking place in Michigan,” Healy said. “We want to play an influential role in the state’s efforts to marry high-quality investment opportunities with the appropriate risk-return profile of global institutions and individuals.”
 
Seating is limited and tickets are $50 in advance or $75 at the door (if available), which includes dinner, beverages and a cash bar.  Please register online at www.dcba.com or call +1-248-918-0391.
 
About Detroit Chinese Business Association
 
Founded in 1995, the Detroit Chinese Business Association (DCBA) is a Michigan-based, non-profit organization. Its primary goal is to advocate, educate and form business relationships between American and Chinese companies. For more information about DCBA, please visit www.dcba.com.

Walsh College launches online program for aspiring entrepreneurs

Walsh College has always prided itself on being a friend of small business through education, but now its Troy campus is trying to make that help easier to access.

The Walsh Institute is debuting its new Business Launch program, an online guide focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into reality.

"We took everything we do and centralized it," says Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute. "We put it online and put it out there."

Business Launch can walk budding businesspersons through the steps of growing their ideas and give them access to Walsh College's resources, mentors and faculty. The idea is to streamline the business-creation process so new entrepreneurs go through less of a learning curve.

It costs $195 per idea to use the program, which includes filling out a questionnaire and receiving customized feedback. Users of the program will have access to a variety of business resources, including articles, blogs and case studies featuring small- and family-owned business success stories.

"It just makes more sense," Miceli says. "We want to give the real-time answers to what a business needs at that time."

Source: Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Carbon Media Group hires 30, expands outdoor-related digital content focus

Carbon Media Group is not trying to keep its growth slow and steady. The digital media firm is in the midst of taking a couple of big steps forward.

The Bingham Farms-based company has hired 30 people since the beginning of 2013, more than doubling its staff to 56 employees. It is looking to add some interns this summer. Many of the new jobs included positions in software development, account management, business development, sales, content writing and editing.

"We're getting ready for a big growth year in 2014," says Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group.

For most of its first seven years, Carbon Media Group focused on digital advertising. Think banner ads, aimed at outdoors enthusiasts. It has since expanded its scope to include agriculture and action sports, like snowboarding or rock climbing. It is now working to become the largest digital content producer for the outdoor sporting world.

"It's really a growth in the breadth of the business," Chaudhary says.

Carbon Media Group now helps coordinate advertising and content creation for more than 600 websites for fans of the outdoors, agriculture and action sports/events/activities. It also has an extensive network of outdoor-related YouTube channels and its own CarbonTV outlet for online videos about the outdoors.

That expansion has allowed Carbon Media Group to grow its revenue by 33 percent in 2013. It is on track to hit its goal of 60-percent revenue growth this year, an expansion that should allow the firm to continuing hiring at a brisk pace.

Source: Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Warner Norcross & Judd staffs up IP practice in Southfield

Intellectual property work is becoming a bigger part of Warner Norcross & Judd's law practice in Southfield.

The Grand Rapids-based law firm, the third-largest in the state, has had a sizable office in Southfield for the last decade. That office has handled mostly business law work, such as contract work.

It is growing the Southfield office with the addition of a handful of new intellectual property attorneys. It has hired three over the last eight months, bringing the Southfield office’s number of attorneys to 35.

"It looks like we will bring two more on board in the next month or so," says Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd. He adds, "We are ramping up our IP services on this side of the state."

Warner Norcross & Judd has a total of 220 attorneys on its payroll, including 25 in its intellectual property practice. Its new hires are taking on more technology work not only in the local automotive industry, but also for companies in other fields, such as Dow-Corning and the band KISS.

"We do all industries," DeGrazia says. "We have a lot of East Coast companies."

Source: Greg DeGrazia, intellectual property attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Dart Appraisal sets stage for growth with 14 new hires

Dart Appraisal began to see some of its business pick up in the last few months. Last month new business for the real-estate appraisal firm consisted of 27 percent of its revenue.

"These were in the works for some time," says Darton Case, president of Dart Appraisal. "These were some big deals." He says those deals were made up primarily of five large clients.

The Troy-based company handles appraisal work for real-estate foreclosures, purchases and refinancing. It employs 43 people and is looking to add summer interns. The firm hired 14 people in the last year (some of whom were replacement hires) and currently has openings for seven positions in operations and sales.

Dart Appraisal, formerly DartAppraisal.com, moved into a larger office in Troy a little more than a year to accommodate its growth. The firm's new space is twice as large as its previous office. It is currently aiming to continue growing in 2014 as it keeps doing large amounts of work with a variety of customers, including homebuilders, modular home companies, wholesale mortgage firms and HUD housing.

"We are in the core business of about a dozen strategic platforms," Case says.

Source: Darton Case, president of Dart Appraisal
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

SME's 3D printing conference to have largest show floor ever

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), says its 2014 Rapid Conference and Exposition shows the rising interest in 3-D printing with the largest exhibit floor in the show’s 24-year history, along with a record number of presentations.

Read more

Valeo awarded 2014 top employer certification in the United States

Valeo is proud to announce it has been certified by the Top Employer Institute as a 2014 Top Employer in the United States. The award was presented to Valeo North America President Françoise Colpron and Valeo United States Human Resources Director Dennis Clark, at a special ceremony held on March 20, 2014 at the company’s North American headquarters in Troy, Mich.
 
“This certification recognizes our human resources management strategy, which supports our objective to be an Employer of Choice in North America”, said Valeo North America President Ms. Françoise Colpron. “We strive to provide our team members with a diverse, inclusive and well-balanced place to work.”
 
Top Employer certification is awarded to organizations meeting the highest standards in human resources management based on criteria, such as benefits and working conditions, training and skills development, career development and culture management. Valeo United States joins Valeo’s European and Asian operations as 2014 Top Employers.
 
Valeo's Human Resources policy is based on the Group’s culture, forged around operational excellence and a set of shared values: ethics, transparency, empowerment, professionalism, teamwork and well-being at work.
 
“Valeo encourages creative thinking and-risk taking to improve our product and business solutions and processes,” said Valeo United States Human Resources Director Dennis Clark. “This approach allows us to continue to innovate and grow.”
 
With a clear, ambitious strategic vision, Valeo has more than doubled its United States employment between 2010 and 2013 and plans to hire more than 160 engineers in the country this year.
 
“Valeo has a world-class Human Resources toolbox that allows team members to develop to their full potential”, said Valeo United States Human Resources Director Dennis Clark. “This certification will strengthen our ability to hire and retain a highly qualified and diverse workforce.”
 
About Top Employer
The Top Employers Institute globally certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people since 1991. The Institute identifies and certifies the companies which ensure optimal employee conditions, where people can develop themselves personally and professionally.
 
For more information visit: www.top-employers.com/
 
Valeo is an independent industrial Group fully focused on the design, production and sale of components, integrated systems and modules for the automotive industry, mainly for CO2 emissions reduction and intuitive driving.  Valeo ranks among the world's top automotive suppliers.  The Group has 124 plants, 16 Research centers, 35 Development centers and 12 distribution platforms and employs 74,800 people in 29 countries.  In 2013, Valeo generated revenue of €12.1 billion ($16.09 billion*).
 
In North America, Valeo’s regional headquarters are located in Troy, Mich., and the company has 16 production sites and seven research and development centers.  The company employs 9,965** people across the United States (3,163) and Mexico (6,802) and was responsible for 19 percent of the Group’s 2013 global annual original equipment sales, contributing €1.949 billion ($2.59 billion*).
 
The company’s innovative solutions are developed by four business groups - Powertrain Systems, Thermal Systems, Comfort and Driving Assistance Systems and Visibility Systems.  Valeo’s key products support and advance automotive electrical systems; transmission systems; engine management systems; air management systems; hybrid and electric vehicle systems; climate control; powertrain thermal systems; compressors; front-end modules; driving assistance; interior controls; interior electronics; lighting systems; wiper systems; and, wiper motors.
 
More information about the Valeo Group and its activities can be found on the Internet at www.valeo.com.

IT firm Red Level Networks grows sales 30%, adds 9 jobs in Novi

Last year was one of those years the folks at Red Level Networks will remember for a while, and for all the right reasons.

"We had a great year in 2013," says David King, president of Red Level Networks. "It was one of our biggest growth years in a while."

The Novi-based IT firm grew its revenue by 30 percent and added 48 new clients. Those new customers are in the manufacturing, finance and healthcare industries, among others.

"They're across all industries," King says. "Word gets around when you're good."

Red Level Networks has hired nine people in sales and marketing over the last year. It now has a staff of 32 employees. It is looking to add a few summer interns and hire four more people for data center engineering, help desk and administrative staff.

"We expect to expand our service offerings and staff," King says. "We want to have a staff of 40-50 people within the next 1-2 years."

Source: David King, president of Red Level Networks
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Broder & Sachse expands on strength of multi-family biz

Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services experienced a significant spike in growth in 2013, thanks in large part to company’s growth in multi-family sector.

The downtown Birmingham-based firm has hired 50 people over the last year, taking its staff to 150 employees and a few summer interns.

"We have grown dramatically," says John Hamburger, president of Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services.

The 20-year-old firm, it moved to Birmingham 10 years ago, offers a broad range of real-estate services, including construction and management of commercial, multifamily residential and industrial properties. It has a portfolio of 116 properties and 11 million square feet of space.

Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services’ leadership decided to focus more on multi-family residential projects n 2003. It watched that sector grow the next five years until the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008.

"In 2012 and 2013 the lending channels opened up," Hamburger says. "We started renovating and managing more properties."

The firm now manages 6,000 rental units across the U.S. It expects to expand that number to at least 8,000 and perhaps as high as 10,000 by the end of this year.

Source: John Hamburger, president of Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland Energy & Water Ventures fund launches in Farmington Hills

A new second-stage investment fund is launching in Farmington Hills. Oakland Energy & Water Ventures will specialize in making investments in the clean energy and water spaces.

"We look at opportunities up to $100 million," says Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures.

Brower adds that the fund, which is made up of three partners, is flexible when it comes to what type of deals it is looking to do. Among them are joint ventures, partnerships, license agreements, and collaborations. The main things Oakland Energy & Water Ventures is looking for are patented technologies that are ready to scale.

"We're a bit more simplistic," Brower says. "We're looking for proof-of-concept technologies. That is our focus."

Brower says there are a couple of potential deals in the works but the firm isn’t ready to make an announcement yet. He adds that the company is focusing on clean energy and water plays because of global macro trends that are spiking demand for both clean energy and water to accommodate the growing world population.

Source: Chris Brower, managing director of Oakland Energy & Water Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

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