Six Oakland County manufacturers will share more than $344,000 in “Saving Business, Saving Lives” grants to make desperately needed personal protective equipment and ventilator components used in the fight against the coronavirus.
Oakland County Executive David Coulter announced the awards May 1. They come from a $700,000 fund he proposed and approved by the county Board of Commissioners to incentivize Oakland County manufacturers who can shift production to personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and face shields or medical device components.
“I am so proud and thankful these manufacturers understand the urgency of the situation and are anxious to help our health care workers, first responders and the patients they serve,” Coulter said. “There continues to be a desperate need for protective equipment and related items because of the pandemic.”
The “Savings Lives, Saving Funds” grant is part of a larger job stabilization fund proposed by Coulter and approved by the county board. The county has appropriated nearly $14 million to help small businesses which have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The companies receiving grants are:
- Oxus America of Auburn Hills. Oxus is an engineering, manufacturing, and service company specializing in medical devices and gas separation technology. The company has more than 15 years of experience in the design and development of portable oxygen concentrators and other gas separation applications. It is now manufacturing critical ventilator repair parts. The CEO and founder is Gary Ambusamra.
- Connexion, doing business in Pontiac as Tangico. It manufactures award-winning custom promotional products. It is transitioning to the manufacture of face shield parts. The company CEO is Sue Kinch.
- PolyFlex Products Co. of Farmington Hills. The company provides design, prototype, tooling and manufacturing services. Products include reusable containers, in-plant processing trays, racks and rack dunnage. The company will manufacture high volumes of face shields. The company CEO is Mark Kirchmer.
- SignaRama of Troy supplies a wide range of custom-made signs, banners and decals for buildings, vehicles and more. It provides graphic design, project management and installation services. SignaRama transformed to the manufacture of face shields. Company president is Robert Chapa.
- Acme Mills of Bloomfield Hills has operated as a privately owned provider of industrial textiles and textile solutions to automotive, aviation, furniture, marine and many other industries since 1917. Acme has transitioned to produce face masks, gowns and hair covers. Company CEO is James Colman.
- RPB Safety of Royal Oak manufactures respirators, air monitoring, filtration and essential safety equipment for the industrial market. The company transformed to the production of respirators and HEPA filters for the medical market. Company CEO is Phillip Ivory.
Vaughn Custom Sports and Detroit Sewn were awarded grants last month to make gowns and face masks. Sixty companies applied for funding. Each proposal was reviewed by a panel. The panel members are:
- Manager Alain Piette, MI-SBTDC Technology Team
- Dr. Carmine Jabri, co-founder of E.M.M.A. International Consulting Group, Inc.
- Jaideep Rajput, leader of identification, protection, commercialization and management of Beaumont’s intellectual property portfolio
- Michael W. Long, Ph.D., executive director of Oakland University Mobilization Zone
- Julie Killian, CPA, Clayton & McKervey
- Dan Radomski, director, Lawrence Technological University Centrepolis Accelerator
County Commissioners County Commissioner Janet Jackson, D-Southfield; William Miller, D-Farmington and Michael Spisz, R-Oxford, participated in an advisory role. A business applying for a grant must demonstrate the ability to execute the project during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eligible use of funds includes:
- Procuring necessary equipment to manufacture supplies
- Logistics, shipping, technology upgrades
- Other costs related to operationalizing new product lines.
No new applications are being accepted. The 60 companies who initially applied are being considered for the remaining $280,700 in the fund.