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Innovation & Job News

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IT training at OCC translates to jobs

Waterford resident Jay Braman, a software developer for 30 years, lost his job when the company where he worked closed its doors in 2013.
Following a job interview, Braman realized he needed to update his skills. Lucky for him, he heard about Code ReConnect (.net), a programming and web development training at Oakland Community College that landed him a job following eight weeks of training.
The program—a collaboration of Automation Alley, Kelly IT Resources and Michigan Works! Agencies of Oakland County — offers a variety of programming and web development courses: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, MVC 4 in ASP.NET and Entity Framework.  
With the help of program partner Kelly Services IT, he was offered a position at Stahls’ ID Direct after completing training.
“It was a great introduction to the latest technologies and tools,” he said of Code ReConnect. “I got an excellent start on all things web.”
Funded through a $5 million U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration grant, its goal is to place local residents in high-demand programming and web development jobs.
OCC is now recruiting participants for the program’s second cohort, which has been expanded to 13 weeks of training.
“Many Southeast Michigan employers are experiencing a skills gap in technical areas, including Information Technology,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, CDF, BSP, Director, Oakland County Michigan Works! Troy. “Code Reconnect addresses the skills gap IT employers are facing.”
A critical component of Code ReConnect is its partnership with a local Workforce Agency, a training provider such as a Community College and an employer, said Kristi Arnone, EdEn Inc., who serves as the program’s grant administrator. 
The training provides job candidates the preparation to enter the IT industry. Michigan Works! and Kelly Services provides interview and resume preparation, coaching and employment opportunities. OCC provides a solid, industry-driven program and Automation Alley and Kelly Services offers a network of career opportunities.   
The program’s second session runs January 5 to April 2, 2015 with students testing for certification the week of March 9. A $75 enrollment fee is required prior to the first class. The entire enrollment fee is refundable upon successful completion of the curriculum and receipt of Microsoft certification.
To register for an information session, visit automationalley.com.
About OCC:
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC is celebrating its 50th year. OCC is the largest community college in Michigan and the 25thlargest in the nation. It offers degrees and certificates in more than 160 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. More than a million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965. To learn more about OCC, visit www.oaklandcc.edu.

Ease Living brings style to home medical equipment

Getting old isn't really fashionable in the 21st century. A new company in Beverly Hills is trying to change that.

Ease Living sells lifestyle aids for seniors and people with disabilities. The offerings are curated to help bring more fashionable items to the people who need them, such as compression socks with patterns.

"Most of the common home medical equipment doesn't work very well and it's ugly," says Alison Emerick, president of Ease Living.

Emerick is an occupational therapist who launched the company from her home a year ago. She sees making these sorts of fashionable offerings as bringing mobility and dignity to the people who need them.

"No one want their house to look like a hospital room," Emerick says.

Ease Living sells its wares from its website. Emerick is looking at adding a print catalogue to appeal to older customers. She is also looking at the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar shop in the next year.

Source: Alison Emerick, president of Ease Living
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Billhighway adds 10 jobs, focuses on staff development, culture

Every time Billhighway makes a new hire, a press release gets its wings and flies off into the world. More specifically, the Troy-based tech firm likes to announce each new hire with a press release. The company’s public relations team has been busy in 2014 sending out in excess of half a dozen new announcements about new hires.

The 14-year-old firm has hired 10 people over the last year and is looking to hire another three in project management and software development. The firm currently employs 50 people and seven interns. One of its former interns from earlier this year was also hired into a full-time position.

"Our turnover is really low, like 1-2 percent (quarterly)," says Brenda Gallick, director of team member success for Billhighway.

A big reason for that is Billhighway works to grow its employees. About 30 percent of its open positions are filled by candidates from within looking to take the next step up in their careers.

"We spend a lot of time on career development," Gallick says.

Billhighway launched as a software platform that helps people divvy up expenses, such as dues or dinner costs, in 1999. It has grown and evolved to the point that it specializes in helping non-profits and other organizations deal with their finances. It has experienced significantly higher demand for its software as it makes a bid to reach second-stage status, prompting the hiring spree. The company's leadership doesn’t expect that trend to lessen anytime soon.

"We have quite a bit of growth planned going forward," Gallick says.

Source: Brenda Gallick, director of team member success for Billhighway
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Mom Biz Coach founder debuts DIY biz coaching book

About a decade ago, Lara Galloway was a stay-at-home mom aiming to become a work-at-home mom by starting her own business. The trained life coach found that she needed the help of a business coach and then came to the realization that starting a businesses is not something someone does on the side.

"There was no way I was going to work 60 hours a week to get it off the ground," Galloway says. "That's why I left corporate America."

Instead the Bloomfield Hills resident launched Mom Biz Coach, a consulting firm that helps other women blend work and family. She says she often helps women who are building businesses that have grown quickly.

"They are growing beyond themselves and they need teams," Galloway says.

And mentors. Galloway is a firm believer in the idea that mentorship makes everyone better. It's also why she is launching her own book this month, Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur. Galloway describes the tome as a DIY coaching tool.

"We know that everybody in businesses can benefit from a mentor or a coach," Galloway says. "But not everybody can afford to hire one."

Source: Lara Galloway, founder of Mom Biz Coach
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Oakland County wellness program helps reduce annual medical cost increases


Oakland County’s wellness program has saved the county $14 million over seven years and reduced the number of employees found to have serious medical problems as a result of voluntary health risk assessments, said Nancy Scarlet, the county’s human resource director. 

Read more.


Entry deadline extended for County Executive's Elite 40 Under 40 Program

If you or someone you know has made significant contributions at work or the quality of life in southeast Michigan and think he or she – or you – should be recognized for the good work, you have a little extra time to make that happen.

The deadline for nominations for the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 under 40 Class of 2015 has been extended until Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. County Executive L. Brooks Patterson started the program in 2012 to honor young professionals and thought leaders who excel in their field and have demonstrated dynamic leadership.

“We have an abundance of talented entrepreneurs, teachers and other thought leaders who are shaping the future of our region,” Patterson said. “With the holidays upon us, I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to nominate one or several of these young women and men, or themselves. We’re looking for the best and brightest the region has to offer.”

To submit a candidate, go to www.AdvantageOakland.com/Elite40. Nominees must live or work in Oakland County to be eligible. A panel of judges will review all completed applications and reduce the number to the top 40 entrants. Of that group, three candidates who scored the highest will be placed before the public for an online vote to determine the winner.

The winner will introduce Patterson at his State of the County address on Feb. 5, 2015. The winner will also receive:
  • A feature article or video about their business/volunteer agency in Oakland County PROSPER
  • Attend three Oakland County signature events: Economic Outlook Luncheon, Quality People/Quality County Awards and the Business Roundtable Annual Meeting
  • Promotion on www.AdvantageOakland.com, the county’s economic development website
Complete information about rules and prizes are available at www.AdvantageOakland.com/Elite40.

Chinese auto supplier to invest $15.1M, hire 176 in new Madison Heights plant


Chinese automotive electronics component supplier Shanghai SIIC Transportation Electric Co. Ltd. is establishing a North American operations in Madison Heights.

Read more.


Oakland County workforce development survey identifies challenges and job opportunities

An aging workforce and a lack of experienced job applicants are two significant employment challenges area health systems face in the coming years, according to a regional survey of six leading health systems commissioned by Oakland County.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced the release of the survey – the Skills Needs Assessment Project – to more than 400 health care and life science professionals, educators, physicians and government officials attending INNO-VENTION 2014 – a Medical Main Street Conference  on October 22. The event was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

“We are focusing on the health system needs because they are the fastest growing and the largest of our employment sectors in Oakland County,” Patterson said. “This professional review of the health systems’ future needs will be an indispensable aid to the health community as it adjusts to an aging workforce.”

The Skills Needs Assessment Project (SNAP), a year-long survey of health systems in southeast Michigan, presents important information about job prospects in the health care industry for employers, educators and students. SNAP began in 2009 with a study of skills and knowledge required for jobs in the Emerging Sectors®, which identifies the top growth sectors in the region such as medical, communications, information technology and advanced materials. A second study was completed in 2013 on advanced manufacturing. The complete report is available online at www.AdvantageOakland.com.

“It’s important to not simply talk about the need but to roll up your sleeves and do the difficult work,” Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb said. “Oakland County doesn’t just talk about it. We develop the tools to fix it.”

The 32-page report provided an in-depth look at employment within area health systems and identified challenges and potential solutions. It also identified the skills and education job seekers need to qualify for one of a host of attractive health care opportunities. The health systems who participated in the survey were Beaumont Health System, Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Oakwood Healthcare, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and the University of Michigan Health System.

The survey created 16 customized job profiles needed by area health systems, the median salary, the educational requirements and number of graduates expected for that job, tasks the job requires and the number of anticipated job openings from now until 2019. Information gathered included company demographics, greatest hiring challenges and suggested remedies, specific job openings that were difficult to fill and the skills and abilities needed with specific occupations.

Job profiles created include:
  • Cardiovascular Technologist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Pharmacist
  • Registered Nurse with specializations
  • Surgical Technologist
Among the current employment challenges health systems face in order:
  • An aging workforce nearing retirement
  • Lack of candidates with required experience
  • Financial concerns or restrictions
  • Insufficient labor pool to meet demand
  • Perception of Southeast Michigan region
  • Insufficient clinical space for learning opportunities
Proposed remedies centered on two key factors: the need for more nurses, whether through the creation of additional schools or programming; and for newly trained or educated health care workers be exposed to the workplace environment. The respondents suggested health care systems work more closely with K-12 and post K-12 guidance counselors and Michigan Works! agencies to screening potential candidates and gauge their sincere interest in the profession.

SNAP was conducted by EdEn Inc., a Rochester-based research firm. It was funded by Oakland County, the Oakland County Workforce Development Board and through the Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Automation Alley to host two-day product lifecycle management workshop for manufacturing executives

Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, is hosting a two-day product lifecycle management (PLM) workshop for manufacturing executives, managers and anyone tasked with implementing PLM in their organization, Dec. 4-5 at Automation Alley Headquarters in Troy. The event, titled “PLM for Manufacturing Executives and Managers: It’s Not Just for Engineers Anymore,” will explore a holistic corporate approach to PLM, including best practices and strategies for application. 
PLM is the process of managing the lifecycle of a product from its conception and design, through manufacture, to service and disposal. It integrates people, data, processes and the latest digital tools. 
“Traditionally, engineers are the ones handling PLM within a company,” said Alex Violassi, director of the Automation Alley Technology Center. “Our strategy with this workshop is to help companies take a more holistic approach to PLM, starting with management. If you’re a manager or executive at a small or medium-size manufacturer in Southeast Michigan, I would encourage you to attend. PLM technologies and processes are changing the game in manufacturing today, improving productivity, reducing costs, creating less waste and producing higher quality products.” 

Dr. Michael Grieves, international PLM expert, author and educator, will lead the two-day workshop. Grieves will dive into the benefits of incorporating PLM practices into manufacturing businesses and will also present case studies of companies that have successfully implemented PLM using the latest digital tools and cutting-edge technologies. The workshop will conclude with an assessment and a recommendation for future education and actions each participant can take back to their company for consideration. 

The workshop begins Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and continues Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Automation Alley Headquarters is located at 2675 Bellingham in Troy.

The cost to attend is $1,198 for members and Foundation Members. The cost for non-members is $1,298. There is a two-person per company limit, and registration is required. Seating is limited.

To register or for more information, contact the Automation Alley Resource Center at 800-427-5100 or info@automationalley.com. Registration closes Nov. 10 at close of business. Payment is required with registration. Registrations not canceled by close of business Dec. 1 will be charged.

About Dr. Michael Grieves
Dr. Michael Grieves is the author of “Product Lifecycle Management: Driving the Next Generation of Lean Thinking” (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and “Virtually Perfect: Driving Innovative and Lean Products through Product Lifecycle Management” (SCP, 2010). In addition to his books, Dr. Grieves has published numerous articles on PLM. He lectures worldwide on engineering, manufacturing and PLM in both industry and academia conferences and consults with a number of leading international manufacturers and governmental organizations, including NASA. Dr. Grieves has a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Michigan State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Oakland University. He received his doctorate from the Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management.

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.

Michigan aims to give skilled-trade education a boost


In an effort to prepare and train more workers for skilled-trades jobs, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved a program today to offer the state's community colleges $50 million for equipment.

Read more.

Dynamic Robotic Solutions aims to double in size

KMT Robotic Solutions is rebranding itself as Dynamic Robotic Solutions, and the Auburn Hills-based company has some big plans for growth over the next few years.

"Our goal is to double in size over the next 3-5 years," says Dick Johnson, director of business development and marketing for Dynamic Robotic Solutions.

The 29-year-old company has made a name for itself in robotic trimming with more than 1,500 of its systems installed around the world. Dynamic Robotic Solutions more specifically works with water jet cutting. So while the water coming out of a faucet may clock in at 20-25 psi, the water Dynamic Robotic Solutions's robots use spits out at 65,000 psi. That’s strong enough to take the flesh off your finger.

"If you add in a little bit of sand into the stream you can cut two-inch steel," Johnson says.

Robotic cutting is often used in manufacturing, such as cutting the roof liners in cars, carpet for automotive floor mats, and plastic in instrument panels.

The company had its best year in 2012 in regard to revenue growth and is on track to have another strong year. It has hired five people over the last year, expanding its staff to 60 employees. It’s also looking to hire a handful of people in software engineering and sales.

Source: Dick Johnson, director of business development and marketing for Dynamic Robotic Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Community Choice Credit Union creates 50 jobs, set to open new branch

Community Choice Credit Union is experiencing a significant bump in just about everything these days. The Farmington Hills financial institution is adding members, deposits, staff, and new branches.

"We're in the process of opening one right now," says Philip Cooper, COO of Community Choice Credit Union. "It should be ready in late November, early December."

The 79-year-old credit union likes to call its branches member centers. The newest one will open in Northville near Six Mile and Haggerty roads. It will employ seven full-time people.

Community Choice Credit Union is focused on serving the metro Detroit area. It has hired 30 people for a broad range of jobs over the last year, expanding its staff to 189 employees. It also has 20 open positions, some of which can be found here.

The credit union has also grown its assets, which now total $17.3 million, up 3.5 percent since the beginning of the year. Cooper credits the increase in assets to his organization's additional membership.

"It was growth in membership and what the members have brought to us in deposits," Cooper says.

Community Choice Credit Union has eight branches across metro Detroit. The new branch in Northville will be its ninth location. The credit union plans to open a handful of branches each year for the next five years to keep up with its expansion plans and better serve its membership in the region.

"Our growth is really centered on the tri-county area," Cooper says.

Source: Philip Cooper, COO of Community Choice Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Simons Michelson Zieve moves into dynamic new space

Simons Michelson Zieve's new home is light years away from its old space in regards to openness and feel. Its old and new homes are also just a few blocks away from each other in Troy.

The 85-year-old advertising agency just moved into its new office at 1200 Kirts Boulevard, which measures out to 12,000 square feet. The space is actually a little smaller than its previous office but it doesn’t feel that way, with wraparound windows bringing in more natural light and multiple floor-to-ceiling, glass-walled meeting spaces.

"It just feels bigger," says Jamie Michelson, president of Simons Michelson Zieve.

The new office is much more open, conforming to the modern creative class demands of connecting people by breaking them out of the physical office silos. Michelson's team worked in several individual offices at the old office but wanted a more collegial atmosphere in its new one.

"People would say you have all of these wonderful people here but I can't see them," Michelson says.

Simons Michelson Zieve has a staff of 47 employees and a couple of interns. It has hired three people over the last year and is looking to hire another three right now. The open jobs include junior-level account coordinators. More info on the openings here

Source: Jamie Michelson, president of Simons Michelson Zieve
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Douglas Communications Group exemplifies new age in local media

Sharlan Douglas has become a prime example of what it often means to be working in media in the 21st century.

The Royal Oak resident has a career in local media that includes stints at WKBD TV as a promotion coordinator and a vice president of marketing & development for Metropolitan Center for High TechnologyTechTown's predecessor from the 1980s/90s. Today she is the owner of her own boutique public relations firm, Douglas Communications Group, a partner in a wine-tasting staffing company, and a recently elected member of the Royal Oak City Commission.

"I enjoy having the ability to control my work," Douglas says.

That means working from home with her one-woman PR firm. Today she handles a number of local clients, her largest being Carlisle/Wortman Associates. She handles a lot of the owned media for the Ann Arbor-based planning firm, such as producing content for blogs, newsletters, and trade show materials. One of the current projects is helping create awareness of how populations in local communities are aging and what that means to their areas. She is doing similar work for the LGBT Older Adult Coalition, which has partners like Affirmations in Ferndale and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

"How do you respond to that shifting?" Douglas says.

Douglas was recently elected to a seat on the Royal Oak City Commission. She had served on the city's planning commission for nine years prior and is an active member of the Michigan Association of Planning.

She is also a partner in Professional Pours, a staffing agency for wine sampling in grocery stores. Think of the people with a small table that ask shoppers if they would like to try a taste of a new wine. Professional Pours finds the people making the pitch.

"I am doing more and more work for Professional Pours," Douglas says.

Source: Sharlan Douglas, owner of Douglas Communications Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

Brogan & Partners adds 5 jobs in downtown Birmingham

New jobs and promotions have been cropping up at Brogan & Partners this year.

The advertising and digital marketing agency recently promoted three account managers (Kristin Morris, Katie Rehrauer and Morgan Eberle) to account directors. It has also hired five people over the last year, including another account director. The company currently employs 42 people, including 27 employees at its downtown Birmingham headquarters.

"We're hoping to get a really good intern that can become a permanent position," says Ellyn Davidson, managing partner of Brogan & Partners.

The 30-year-old firm has enjoyed 12-percent revenue growth over the last year. That makes for its best year since 2008. It’s also looking to increase revenue by 20 percent in 2014. The firm has more work with existing clients like HoneyBaked Ham and has attracted new clients, like ComForcare, Frankenmuth Insurance, and Michigan First Credit Union.

Brogan & Partners hopes to turn each of those new clients into a long-term business relationship. Davidson is optimistic that will happen thanks to the company’s track record of staying ahead of what’s coming up in the digital marketing world.

"We're heavily invested in research in what's new in marketing and what's next," Davidson says. "We stay on top of how communications are changing."

Source: Ellyn Davidson, managing partner of Brogan & Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke

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