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Multinational automotive company invests $22.3M in Oakland County facilities, creates 105 jobs

The North American subsidiary of India-based Mahindra, Mahindra Automotive North America Manufacturing, is expanding in both the cities of Pontiac and Auburn Hills. The company has invested $22.3 million in facilities in each city, creating a total of 105 jobs.

In Pontiac, Mahindra will lease and transform a former General Motors facility into a warehousing and parts distribution center.

In Auburn Hills, the company has announced that its pre-existing facility will be upgraded to become its North American automotive headquarters. The facility will also include an engineering center. Three of its off-road utility vehicles and prototypes will be manufactured there.

As a result of its investment, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has awarded Mahindra an $850,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. According to MEDC officials, Michigan beat out Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Texas in competing for the jobs and investment.

"When an international company with a reach like Mahindra chooses Michigan for the third time in four years, that is a statement about our state’s business attractiveness, talented workforce, and leadership in automotive manufacturing," Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, said in a statement. "We’re pleased to support this global powerhouse as it further expands in Michigan and brings high-paying jobs to Michigan residents."

The 105 new jobs created by the development brings its Michigan employment numbers to 250. What's more, officials from Mahindra say the company plans on creating an additional 400 jobs and $600M in investment through 2020.

This is the first new OEM operation in Southeast Michigan in over 25 years, according to a release from Mahindra.

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

20,000 holiday gifts flying to 6,400 Michigan children thanks to Operation Good Cheer

Excerpt

Organized chaos would be the best way to describe the scene inside the hangar at Pentastar Aviation in Waterford the morning of Friday, December 1.

Over 20,000 gifts and hundreds of volunteers packed the facility, 7310 Highland Road, as Operation Good Cheer was in full swing. The annual initiative provides gifts to more than 6,400 foster care children, and adults, across Michigan.

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Gov. Snyder taps Forzley for Public Health Advisory Council

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Oakland County Health & Human Services Director Kathleen Forzley to a four-year term on Michigan’s newly-formed Public Health Advisory Council. The council initially will develop an action plan for implementing the recommendations of the Michigan Public Health Advisory Commission which released a report in April recommending steps to ensure the protection and promotion of public health and safety in the state.

“Kathy has a reputation for excellence in bringing together public and private agencies to work together to enhance public health in Oakland County,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “Her knowledge, experience and skills in this area will be invaluable to the Public Health Advisory Council.”

The council also will provide advice about emerging issues in public health, monitor the effectiveness of Michigan’s public health response system, and review multiagency efforts to support collaboration and a unified approach on public health responses.

“I’m eager to represent the public on the Public Health Advisory Council and bring Oakland County’s best practices in public health to the table,” Forzley said. “We’ve learned how much can be accomplished in public health through communication and collaboration, which is an important focus of what I intend to bring to the council.”

Forzley, who will remain Oakland County health & human services director, will represent the general public on the council until her term expires Nov. 1, 2021. She is the first woman to serve as the director of Oakland County Health & Human Services, a position she has held since her predecessor retired April 28. She served as the county’s health officer and manager of the Oakland County Health Division since 2008. She was the administrator for Oakland County Environmental Health Services from 2003-2008. Prior to that, she was an environmental health services supervisor from 2001-2003.

Forzley joined Oakland County in 1992 as a public health sanitarian. Forzley holds a master of public administration degree and dual Bachelor of Arts in biology and Bachelor of Science in environmental health degrees, all from Oakland University.

Forzley joins a long list of individuals from the Patterson administration whose expertise Snyder has tapped to help state government:
  • Chief Deputy County Executive Gerald Poisson serves on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Executive Committee.
  • Deputy County Executive Robert J. Daddow had a role on the governor’s transition team.
  • Deputy County Executive/CIO Phil Bertolini is a board m ember for the Michigan Municipal Services Authority. He also is involved with a group started by Snyder’s CIO called the CIO Kitchen Cabinet, a body of select CIOs from around Michigan who meet to advise the State of Michigan on IT matters.
  • Director of Central Services J. David VanderVeen is on the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.
  • Kristie Everett Zamora, Oakland County’s arts, culture & film coordinator, sits on the Commission on Services to the Aging.
  • Former Deputy County Executive Douglas Smith held the position of senior vice president of the MEDC until the position was eliminated.
  • Former Oakland County Risk Manager Julie Secontine had served on Michigan’s Public Safety Communications Interoperability Board and later as state fire marshal.
“Oakland County has a reputation as being the best managed in the country because of the outstanding individuals in my administration,” Patterson said. “I’m always pleased when any of them can expand their role in public service.”

Local businesses receive more than $2.1 million from the state to hire or train nearly 3,100 workers

A total of 86 Oakland County businesses were awarded $2,154,000 in Skilled Trades Training Funds this week from Michigan’s Talent Investment Agency.

Oakland County employers – with the support of Oakland County Michigan Works! – were awarded funds to hire and train 1,584 new employees, expand the skills of 1,538 existing workers and create 46 new registered apprenticeships over the next year.

“This is wonderful news for our employers and job seekers,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The first year we applied three businesses received awards. Now, four years later, 86 businesses qualified for funding to find and train new and existing employees, as well as launch apprenticeships. Our Michigan Works! team of trained professionals worked with a broad range of companies to design training programs aligned with their changing needs.”

Since 2013, Oakland County employers have received more than $7.3 million of Skilled Trades Training Funds from Oakland County Michigan Works! and the state of Michigan. Workers will be trained and receive industry-recognized credentials in advanced manufacturing, software programming, construction trades and robotic operations.

Area companies receiving grants include: P3 North America (Southfield), Rayconnect (Rochester Hills), Independence Commercial Construction, Inc. (Waterford), Marada Industries – Magna (New Hudson) and Northern Sign (Pontiac). An industry-led collaborative application of regional construction companies was also funded to pursue a joint training effort.

“Our goal is to help companies find the talent they need to be successful,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, workforce development manager for Oakland County. “This includes making them aware of such resources as the state’s Skilled Trades Training Fund and then assisting them with the application process. It’s very rewarding to see so many companies’ hard work pay off.”

Oakland County Michigan Works! provides talent attraction, management and retention services for businesses, and career management, training and placement for job seekers at eight locations in Oakland County.

Contact OaklandCountyMIWorks.com or 800-285-9675 for more information.

Park West Gallery re-opens Southfield museum following renovations

Excerpt:

After extensive renovations, Park West Gallery has re-opened Park West Museum, a hub for Old Masters and contemporary artists inside its Southfield headquarters.

The project included the addition of two new salons and a redesigned floor plan to better showcase the museum’s works, including art by Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Joan Miró.

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Tamarack Camps expands outdoor education program with Adventure and Retreat Center

Excerpt

After operating as Tamarack Camps Outdoor Education in Ortonville for more than 50 years, the non-profit has rebranded its year-round, experiential team building, leadership training, and nature appreciation programs as the Tamarack Adventure and Retreat Center. Located on more than 1,100 acres in northern Oakland County, Tamarack Adventure and Retreat Center hosts schools, corporate teams, and recreational clubs for personalized programs during the day or overnight.

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Helping hands: Library, robotics team partner to produce limbs for kids

Excerpt

There’s giving a hand – and there’s giving 200 hands.

That’s one of this year’s goals for the Novi Public Library. Partnering with the Novi High School robotics team, the library is working to establish itself as an official chapter of e-NABLE, joining the group’s grassroots effort to create free 3D-printed limbs for kids overseas who’ve lost a hand, arm or fingers due to war, disease or natural disaster.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year makes U.S. debut at Detroit Zoo

Britain’s foremost natural history museum has selected the Detroit Zoo as the site of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition’s U.S. debut for the 12th consecutive year. The show begins November 18, 2017, at the Ford Education Center and runs through May 13, 2018. It is free with Zoo admission.

“Words don’t do justice to this breathtaking exhibition, which showcases the most amazing images of wildlife from around the globe and raises awareness of the beauty and vulnerability of the natural world,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS).

The exhibition of winners from the 2017 competition features 100 images dramatically displayed as illuminated large-format color transparencies. The images were chosen from nearly 50,000 entries by photographers from 92 countries.

Now in its 53rd year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.
The exhibition will be open during Wild Lights, the Detroit Zoo’s spectacular holiday display featuring more than five million LED lights. Presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions, Wild Lights will be held Nov. 18-19 and 24-26 and Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 20-23 and 26-31, 2017. Visit http://www.detroitzoo.org/events/wild-lights for information and tickets.

Spread warmth this winter with Coats for the Cold

The warmth of your generosity could help those less-fortunate this winter. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is accepting donations of new or clean, used coats through November 30th as part of their 30th annual “Coats for the Cold” coat drive.

Donated coats will be sent to a variety of local charitable organizations, who in turn distribute the coats to community members most in need.



“Coats for the Cold is an easy way for the community to reach out and help someone less fortunate stay warm this winter,” Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said. “For the past 29 years, we have worked with local charitable organizations to provide free coats to those in need. The community’s generosity has been wonderful every year.”

Spotlight | Coats for the Cold Drop-Off Sites

This year’s coat drive is sponsored by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with 1-800-Self-Storage.comCOWS (Container on Wheels Mobile Storage)Real Estate OneGenisys Credit UnionAmp97 Detroit, and several other Oakland County charitable organizations.

As a special promotion this year, coat donors will receive $10 off of the cost of a pet adoption at the Oakland County Pet Adoption Center for each of the first five coats donated (limit $50).

If you’d like to know more about Coats for the Cold and other Community Outreach Initiatives of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, visit their website, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Oakland County retailers encouraged to register to win $1,000 in Small Business Saturday promo

Oakland County small businesses that hope to see green during the upcoming holiday shopping season could pocket a little green for themselves - $1,000 – just for registering for Oakland County’s Small Business Saturday to Saturday promotion.

Small Business Saturday to Saturday begins Nov. 25 – the Saturday after Thanksgiving – and runs until Dec. 2. It offers shoppers who make a purchase of any amount at any independently owned small business in Oakland County the chance to win $5,000, courtesy of North American Bancard; $2,000, courtesy of Bank of Ann Arbor; and a $500 voucher toward travel on Southwest Airlines, courtesy of Bishop International Airport in Flint.

“This is a win-win for both the small businesses and the customers,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

“Customers have this singular opportunity to do some holiday shopping, support local businesses and get a chance at an incredible payday. Business owners get the boost of having additional holiday traffic in their stores and the chance to win $1,000, just for registering.”

Shoppers must enter a picture of their receipt from a purchase made from Nov. 25- Dec. 2 at any small brick and mortar business in Oakland County to be eligible to win one of the prizes.

As an incentive to encourage small businesses to register and promote the contest to its customers, CEED Lending is offering a $1,000 American Express gift card to a randomly selected business and an additional $500 to the business employee who waits on the winning customer. There is no cost for a business to register.

Businesses may register online at www.AdvantageOakland.com/ShopSmall and are automatically entered into the $1,000 gift card drawing. Businesses will also be encouraged to remind shoppers not to forget small retailers for their holiday shopping. The program is patterned after the “Shop Small” campaign developed by American Express.

Free promotional materials are available to registered businesses at Oakland County’s One Stop Shop Business Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford. Materials can be picked up Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Meadow Brook Hall presents "Landmark in Lights" 46th annual Holiday Walk

Meadow Brook Hall’s 46th annual Holiday Walk runs November 24- December 23.  
 
Visitors can tour the grand rooms of the great estate decked in elegant holiday decor, then stroll down candy cane lane to the land of “Santa & Sweets.” The 2017 Holiday Walk is sponsored by Oakland University Credit Union.
 
New things are happening at Meadow Brook’s annual Holiday Walk from “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights” and guided candlelight tours to an interactive “Kids Candy Adventure” and more!
 
The Meadow Brook estate will shine a little brighter this holiday season during “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights.” For these special evening tours guests will experience the National Historic Landmark trimmed in lights then walk the lit path to the “Land of Santa and Sweets” located at Knole Cottage and Danny’s Cabin, where they can warm themselves by the outdoor fire while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Self-guided house tours will also be available during “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights.” Also new this year, children of all ages can participate in the “Kids Candy Adventure,” inspired by the Candy Land board game, where kids will search for treats and sweets while touring the mansion then collect their prize at Candy Cane Cottage.
 
Candlelight Tours will take place on November 26, December 10 and December 17.  Guests will enjoy an evening guided tour of The Hall complete with the ambient glow of candlelight and a champagne reception in the Ballroom. Cost to attend is $40 per person. Reservations are required. To make a reservation call (248) 364-6252 or purchase tickets online at meadowbrookhall.org.
 
Santa will be at his workshop located inside Danny’s Cabin on December 21 through December 23 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. Families are encouraged to stop in for a visit and snap a selfie with Santa! Tour admission required to visit with Santa.
Throughout the Holiday Walk, children can write a letter to Santa and drop it in his mailbox while visiting his workshop.
 
Meadow brook’s 46th annual Holiday walk, is open to the public from Friday, November 24 through Saturday, December 23, 2017. Tour hours are Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admittance at 4 p.m.), and “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights” takes place on December 11 and December 18 through December 23 from 5p.m. to 9 p.m. (last admittance at 8 p.m.). Tickets are $20 for adults, $7.50 for children 17 and under (accompanied by an adult); children age 2 and under are free. On Tuesdays, seniors age 62 and older will receive $5 off admission. All tours are self-guided and reservations are not required.

There is also a special rate for Oakland University faculty, Staff & Alumni at $15 per person and Oakland University students can participate at $5 per student with ID.

Finally, the often anticipated OU Community Night is scheduled for Monday, December 11. For more info on OU night click here: http://meadowbrookhall.org/programs/holiday-walk/ou-community-night/

Meadow Brook Hall is fully self-supporting, relying on special events such as the annual Holiday Walk for the preservation and interpretation of this National Historic Landmark. For more information about the Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Walk, call (248) 364-6200 or visit meadowbrookhall.org
 
About Meadow Brook Hall:
 
Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home built by one of the automotive aristocracy’s most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. Constructed between 1926 and 1929, Meadow Brook Hall represents one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival style architecture in America, and is especially renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square-feet. It was the center of a country estate that included 1,500 acres, numerous farm buildings, recreational facilities, several residences and formal gardens.

Named a National Historic Landmark in 2012, Meadow Brook Hall strives to preserve and interpret its architecture, landscape, and fine and decorative art so that visitors may be entertained, educated and inspired by history.

Oakland Early College hosts the Galileo-Saudi Arabia Leadership Project

Saudi Arabian counselors, principals and supervisors spent a full day immersed in Oakland Early College's (OEC) educational processes as part of the Galileo-Saudi Arabia Leadership Project at Oakland University. It is just one of the stops on their research and educational journey to rebuild Saudi Arabia's educational system.

A recognized leader for its partnership between higher education and high school, OEC staff and leadership showcased their non-traditional, hybrid model where students graduate with a dual high school diploma and Associates degree.

The November 1 visit included staff and student presentations, tours of campus and a lunch panel featuring OEC staff and students. The visiting group was eager to know more about the accreditation process, the benefits of a high school on a college campus and why students decided on OEC.

"I moved to the US from Saudi my senior year of high school. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know what I want to be in 10 years. I don't even know what I'm going to eat for lunch today. I chose OEC because it gave me an opportunity to first have more time to get involved in the American system unlike a normal high school and be able to explore more creative programs like communications," said student, Rahaf Azzam.

When asked about student support, OEC instructor Kyle Heffelbower shared, "The OCC campus is actually really good with their academic supports for early college students. They have high school tutors through National Honor Society and the College provides tutoring resources. The academic skills center can help a lot of students with math and writing webinars. These are all good things that the College provides for college-level classes that our students can access because they are, in fact, college students."

OEC Head of School Jennifer Newman shared, "If I can leave you with one thought concerning early colleges, it is this: Slowly easing your high school students into the world of college, by gradually increasing their college workload over their high school career, will make them stronger students and much more likely to be successful when they enter the university world."

Hosted through Oakland University's Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership, the Saudi group will spend the next six months living and learning in Oakland County as part of the international program. The program is dedicated to improving the learning of all students, elevating the education profession, enhancing the leadership skills of teachers, and fulfilling the vital role of public education in achieving a civil, prosperous and democratic society.

About OCC - With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC 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 allowing each student to reach their full potential and enhance the communities they serve.  More than 45,000 students annually attend OCC; more than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

OU Soundings Series to highlight importance of community engagement

Oakland University’s popular Soundings Series, which features examples of faculty successfully taking their research out of the classroom and using it to make a positive difference in the world, will return on Monday, Nov. 27 with a special presentation by Ali Woerner, associate professor of dance and co-founder of “Take Root,” a contemporary dance company-in-residence at OU.
 
The event will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. in 242 Elliott Hall. Woerner will be presenting information about Take Root’s Dance for Parkinson’s Disease Program, why it’s important and ways higher education can be used to improve the lives of others in the community. She will also be highlighting her own community engagement efforts in Oakland County.
 
“Community engagement is so important to what we’re doing,” she said. “It’s the way we started, and it’s the way we’ve survived. We let people know what’s going on. Not only that, but we get them to tell others about the program, or come to the class themselves. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting them in the room.”
 
Based on the Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Dance for PD” program, the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program at Oakland University was developed to empower those living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), as well as their caregivers, spouses and family members, to explore movement and music through a program that engages their minds and bodies in an enjoyable social environment.
 
“We try to give them a space that’s safe,” Woerner said. “That’s really important, especially for this group of people who are dealing with being vulnerable every minute of their lives. They worry about being able to cross the street in time, about getting to the phone when it rings, etc. It’s just a constant thing for them. To give them an hour where they don’t have to worry, where they can just have fun, it’s great. Sure, we talk about how the movements are going to help them physically, but we don’t harp on it. That’s not our purpose. We’re there to make them feel good.”
 
According to Woerner, the classes are currently offered in three locations in Oakland County:
  • Oakland University, 201 Meadow Brook Road, Rochester, Mich.
  • The Older Person’s Commission, 650 Letica Drive, Rochester, Mich.
  • St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, 44405 Woodward Ave., Pontiac, Mich.
 “What I think is really interesting about this work is that the basis of it is dance, but it’s also dealing with a medical issue and a neurological disease,” Woerner said. “So it really cross-pollinates because you’re dealing with education, health sciences, nurses, physical therapy, dance therapy, music, etc. It’s really exciting because you’re touching all those groups. In fact, I think that’s why we’ve been as successful as we have been with the program.”
 
For more information about the Soundings Series, contact Leanne DeVreugd, program assistant for Women in Science, Engineering and Research (WISER), at ldevreug@oakland.edu, or visit the Soundings Series website at Oakland.edu/research/soundings-series.

Work off dinner with free park entry at Oakland County Parks

EVENT NAME:    Free park entry for Thanksgiving

WHAT:                 During Oakland County Parks and Recreation Appreciation Day, visitors can enjoy free daily park entry with access to natural areas, trails, dog parks and all park amenities.                                   

WHEN:             Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2017
Park hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, or as posted at the park.

WHERE:          Six Oakland County Parks and three dog parks:

  • Addison Oaks County Park, 1480 West Romeo Road, north of Rochester
  • Highland Oaks County Park, 6555 Milford Road, Highland
  • Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, near Clarkston
  • Lyon Oaks County Park and Lyon Oaks Dog Park, 52221 Pontiac Trail, Wixom
  • Orion Oaks County Park, 2301 W. Clarkston Road, Lake Orion
  • Orion Oaks Dog Park, Joslyn Road between Clarkston and Scripps roads, Lake Orion
  • Red Oaks Dog Park, 31353 Dequidre, Madison Heights
  • Rose Oaks County Park, 10400 Fish Lake Road, near Holly


For details on upcoming events and activities, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Get social with Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Southfield rec center renovations on track to be completed in January 2018

Renovations are underway at Southfield's Beech Woods Recreation Center. And while the improvements being made should make a better experience for everyone, the renovations will especially improve access for those residents making use of wheelchairs and other devices.

Among the improvements being made is the installation of a new elevator, significant because Beech Woods is the home of the southeast Michigan Jr. wheelchair basketball program. A second phase of renovations will see the repair of a handicap-accessible ramp, providing access to the Beech Woods picnic area. That picnic area is also scheduled to be improved.

Access, however, is just part of the renovation budget. Also included in the updates is a new floor for the gymnasium, updated locker room, and a renovated office space and lobby. The wellness center will also be expanded.

"The extensive renovations taking place at Beech Woods will provide residents with a vastly improved facility and amenities," Parks & Recreation Director Terry Fields said in a statement. "We’re very excited about the upgrades that will be made to the wellness center, gymnasium, office space, lobby and other improvements that will make Beech Woods more user-friendly and customer focused."

As a result of the renovations, the Parks & Recreation department's programs and offices have been moved to the John Grace Community Center, 21030 Indian St. For those voting in Precincts 34 and 35 in the Nov. 7, 2017, general election, polling stations have been temporarily moved to the Beech Woods Pro Shop, which is located on the original Beech Woods campus.

In January 2017, Southfield City Council approved a $2.5 million budgets for the renovations, which are scheduled to be completed in January 2018. Construction began in September 2017. Phase two of the project, which includes access to and improvement of the Beech Woods picnic area is funded in part by a Recreation Passport Grant, which itself is funded by the state's sale of recreation passports.

Beech Woods Recreation Center is located at 22200 Beech Rd. in Southfield.

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