Submit your nominations now for the 7th annual Macomb Business Awards

The annual Macomb Business Awards are undergoing a few changes this year – and that includes the date of the event. As part of a larger shift in plans, the awards will be held Tuesday, April 23, but at its core, the 7th annual program remains the same. The event will recognize organizations that are striving to build a capable workforce, tap new markets, cultivate a welcoming workplace or give back to the community.  A Macomb County Economic Development Partner of the Year will also be honored.

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Several new features, such as a new logo, a keynote speaker and new award categories have also been developed. Those categories include:

  • Trailblazer of Future Talent – creating partnerships that provide opportunities for the next generation of our workforce to explore career possibilities and experience work-based learning.
  • Corporate Citizen – providing meaningful support to our community through service and/or philanthropy.
  • Champion of Work / Life Integration – offering innovative benefits that enable employees to balance work responsibilities with personal passions (Sponsored by MetroParent magazine).
  • Model of OneMacomb – cultivating an environment where diversity is valued as evidenced by inclusive practices.
  • Hidden Gem – uncovering a unique Made-in-Macomb product or place that more people should know about.
  • Manufacturer of the Year – in recognition of a manufacturer of any size that is achieving success through its efforts to diversify its customer base, retain employees and/or implement new technologies or efficiencies.

Nominations for the Macomb Business Awards can be submitted through an online form now through Friday, March 15. A panel of judges will then review and select winners in each category. All nominated companies will receive two complimentary tickets to the breakfast, which will feature a celebrity emcee, keynote speaker and exceptional networking opportunities.  Last year, more than 400 regional leaders attended.

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Sponsorship opportunities for the Macomb Business Awards are still available. More information and a link to the sponsorship form is available at http://www.MacombBusiness.com/bizawards or by contacting Maria Zardis at maria.zardis@macombgov.org or (586) 469-5285.

 

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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Annual breakfast honors students and highlights importance of Career Technical Education

The world of work is changing; industries are adapting to new economies, new jobs are appearing, old jobs are disappearing and required skills are evolving. What does this mean for young people? To put it simply, they need to be better prepared for work than any previous generation. This shift is pushing educators to try new concepts and pursue different teaching strategies that prioritize experiential learning. One strategy in particular has been extremely effective in getting students ready to join the workforce, and that’s Career Technical Education (CTE).

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By definition, CTE is an educational option that provides learners with the knowledge and skills they need to be prepared for college, careers and lifelong learning. It gives purpose to learning by emphasizing real-world skills and practical knowledge within a selected career focus.

Here in Macomb County, CTE has had a tremendous impact on the school district, one that was highlighted on Friday, February 1 at the 29th annual Macomb Career Technical Education Administrators Association Awards. The event saw leaders from the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD), business and government gather to celebrate the success of local CTE programs and the students that excel in them. In all, 42 students were recognized for their involvement in a variety of CTE programs, including culinary arts, marketing, business, health, education, design, engineering and machining.

Businesses that volunteer their time supporting the students and providing real-world experiences were honored as well (a full list of these businesses and students can be found at the end of this article). For instance, Tom and Krista Barr, co-owners of TK Mold and Engineering, were recognized for working with Romeo High School and Macomb Community College to find and train young talent; a strategy that has paid off for the organization. In fact, half of TK Mold’s 20 employees are 19 to 25 years old – a remarkable statistic in an industry largely comprised of retirement age workers.

Shannon Williams, CTE regional administrator for the MISD, spoke about this and several other compelling facts proving the benefits of CTE during the breakfast:

CTE works for students

  • Taking one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school. (National Research Center)
  • The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent. (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Ninety-one percent of high school graduates who earned two to three CTE credits enrolled in college. (U.S. Department of Education)

CTE works for business

  • CTE addresses the needs of industries and helps close the skills gap. We know this because:
    • Half of all STEM jobs call for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree. (Rothwell, The Hidden STEM Economy)
    • Health care occupations are projected to grow 18 percent by 2026, adding more than 2 million new jobs. (U.S. Department of Labor)
    • Three million workers will be needed for the nation’s infrastructure in the next decade, including designing, building and operating transportation, housing, utilities and telecommunications. (Brookings Institute)
    • More than 80 percent of manufacturers report that talent shortages will impact their ability to meet customer demand. (Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute)

This all makes CTE a popular and important option in Macomb and it’s why there are 237 state-approved CTE programs, 34 program areas and 34 operating buildings in the county. It’s also why more than 14,000 students are enrolled, which makes Macomb the county with the highest CTE population in the state of Michigan. These numbers indicate a positive future for the region and its economy. And it certainly makes the case for why CTE matters and why we must celebrate it.

To learn more about CTE programming in Macomb County, visit http://misd.net/careerteched/index.html. And to view photos from the breakfast, click here.

Students and businesses recognized at the CTE breakfast:

New Haven Public Schools         
Emily Brohl, Taylor Gauthier
Sara Gibbons, Director of Engineering-Quikly; Vicki Dorazio, Cyber Security Consultant: TEALS, Microsoft Philanthropies

South Lake Schools
Nolan Girven; Virginia Goodrich
Nancy Lockhart, Axalta Coating Systems

Richmond Community Schools 
Erik Haack; Drew Reindel
Jeff White, Chief of EMS; Sara Glanville, Training Officer: Richmond Lenox EMS

Chippewa Valley Schools
Jessica Hetzel; Alexandra Pannemann
Joe Nieddu, Emerald Coast Building Company

Clintondale Public Schools
Tyron James, Jr.; Courtney Martin
Michael Salvatore, J’s Silkscreens

Lakeview Public Schools
Passion Lewis; Jacob Shue
Gary Nieman and Adam Specht, PLM World

Van Dyke Public Schools
Theresa Kraft; Ryan Weidner
Dan Meehan, Performance Machinery, LLC

Warren Consolidated Schools  
Noah DeWalt; Breeanna Robinson
Jason Klinesteker, South Park Welding

Warren Woods Public Schools 
Andre Vance; Gwendolyn Yang
Amaty Calhoun, Ceratizit Group

Fraser Public Schools    
Vincent Castillo; Michael Lemanski
Andrew Spiece, Tom Darga & John McPhee – Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS

Lake Shore Public Schools
Ali Abdul-Malik; Kyle Dreyer
Mark Denning, Denning & Associates

Romeo Community Schools
Kailee Billock; Michela Hein
Paul D’Angelo, WBRW TV

Armada Area Schools    
Tayor Chambers; Justin Herbert
Doug Schroeder, Masonry Solutions

Roseville Community Schools  
Carlos Fullerwood; Gabrielle Waderlow
Frank Devos, Frank Devos National Heating and Cooling

Eastpointe Public Schools
Jeffrey Rudolph; Carcia Young
Cardi DeMonaco, Michigan Court of Appeals

Macomb Community College   
Connor Clifford; Michael Pawlusiak
Tom & Krista Barr, TK Mold & Engineering, Inc.

Anchor Bay Schools       
Ken Barker; Angelica Bailey
Shannon McIntosh, Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union

Utica Community Schools
Anthony Salazar; Angel Sanders
John Ferrozzo, New Line Diamond and Granite

Fitzgerald Public Schools
Caylinn Higgins; Jacob Reiss
Jeffrey “JP” Skop, Athletico

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools    
Delano Williams; Griffyn Woodson
Tom Nahas, MadHabit Creative

Center Line Public Schools
Syeda Jamal; Laura McBride
Allison Biliti, Medstar Ambulance

 

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

How SME Prime and Center Line High School are working to address the skills gap in manufacturing

There’s a growing crisis within American industry. There aren’t enough prepared, qualified candidates available to fill crucial advanced manufacturing roles. Nearly 3.5 million jobs will be available over the next decade in manufacturing — but 2 million will remain unfilled due to the lack of skilled talent.

smeef.rgb.notaglineThe SME Education Foundation is working to address this growing talent gap with a unique solution: the SME PRIME® (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) schools initiative. SME PRIME focuses on building and developing a workforce talent pipeline by bringing together local industry, educators and communities.

On February 21, representatives from the SME Education Foundation, Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel, Center Line Public Schools Superintendent Eve Kaltz and others will discuss plans to bring the SME PRIME schools initiative to Center Line High School in Macomb County.

The Foundation’s mission focuses on inspiring, preparing and supporting young people in their pursuit of advanced manufacturing career pathways. Through SME PRIME, the Foundation establishes manufacturing education centers of excellence in high schools across the country working with the local manufacturing community to help with funding, mentoring and developing young people in their pursuit of career opportunity.

“We’re pleased with the progress and direction of our partnership. It’s a great opportunity to work with talented students – helping to guide them and expand their opportunities help them realize their potential.”

Mark White, President, Shape Corp.

Nationwide, the Foundation has built 46 SME PRIME schools in 22 states, with 8 schools in the state of Michigan. To date, SME PRIME has impacted over 50,000 students with 84 percent of students graduating from PRIME schools pursuing careers in manufacturing. Furthermore, 40 percent of those students entered the workforce directly, filling critical jobs, and the other 60 percent pursued higher education within STEM degree programs focused on manufacturing.

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To RSVP for the SME PRIME information session at Center Line High School on Thursday, February 21 or to learn how to get involved, please contact Sandy Wilton at swilton@sme.org or 313-316-3356.

Joshua Grossman is senior marketing specialist with SME, an association of professionals, educators and students committed to promoting and supporting the manufacturing industry.

Getting fit while having fun at Mount Clemens Jazzercise

It seems like everyone I know is talking about exercising to feel better during these cold winter days and nights. And while we all have our own ideas around where to work out, the one thing that many people seem to agree on is needing a place that is welcoming, with a lot of options and of course, fun to visit. I recently stopped by one local exercise studio that meets all of this criteria – Mount Clemens Jazzercise at 300 North Groesbeck Hwy, located inside the Mount Clemens Community Center.

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I met the owner, Lisa Michalik, five years ago when she leased a little space on the second floor of the Mount Clemens Ice Arena. From that first meeting, I could tell that she’s an incredibly motivated individual. Exercise is a part of her life and it is hard to believe she struggled with her weight in the past, but she did.  She wanted to feel healthy and fell in love with Jazzercise. It worked for her and she is now very passionate about encouraging others to follow that same exercise path – while making friends along the way.

Over her seven years in business, Lisa has grown her Jazzercise facility from one instructor offering three classes per week to four customers, to nine instructors offering 28 classes per week for hundreds of customers.  Notably, there are membership options to meet everyone’s needs.  I’ve listed several of those here for folks ready to get into shape:

  • Ages 16-21 – FREE to exercise. That’s right. Absolutely free with unlimited classes.
  • Ages 22-25 – Half off any class pass
  • Ages 25 and up – $20 drop in fee and unlimited monthly memberships starting at $59/mo
  • Childcare is available M-Sat at 9:30 a.m. and M-Th at 4:30 p.m. for only $2 per child per day

There are also two great promotions going on right now:

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With 28 one-hour classes rotating throughout the morning, evening and weekends, there’s something for every schedule. And in my experience, this isn’t the Jazzercise we know from the 1980s. There are classes like Dance Mixx, Interval, Fusion, Core, Strike, Strength, etc. Truly, this is Jazzercise for the 21st century.

If you’re unsure about trying this out, I’d like to note that you do not need to be a dancer to participate. The certified instructors cue the moves and explain the steps. All you have to do is be ready to get fit while having fun strength training, doing yoga and Pilates moves, dancing and at times using hand-held weights, exercise bands and balls.

jazzercisefinal40The last thing I’ll point out is the strong sense of community I’ve experienced at Mount Clemens Jazzercise, something you won’t normally experience at a gym. There are supportive teachers and everyone is very friendly; they even host several fun parties and events outside of class throughout the year! Because of this, I highly recommend stopping by Jazzercise and trying it out. You won’t regret it.

For more information on Mount Clemens Jazzercise, visit its website at https://www.jazzercise.com/ or check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jack Johns is a project coordinator within the economic development services group. He works with businesses across all industries in Macomb County with the goal of helping them grow.

The hottest cars from NAIAS and where to find them in Macomb County

If you live in the Metro Detroit region, it’s pretty hard to miss the North American International Auto Show. So you’ve likely read the news articles, heard the buzz and seen the pics detailing all of the hot new cars coming off the line. One vehicle in particular, the Ram 1500, is garnering a lot of attention – and it’s made right here in Macomb County.

truck.jpgOn Monday, January 14, the 1500 was named North American Truck of the Year, one of the most prestigious awards of the show. The truck is built at the Sterling Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights and it’s loaded with style, comfort and technology features like a 48-volt motor-generator and a lithium-ion battery hidden in the rear wall of its spacious cab. Price range is between $31,795 and $56,895 and according to FCA, the vehicle saw a 40 percent increase in sales in December – a clear sign that the Ram 1500 resonates with consumers.

Of course, there were more cars than just the Ram truck at NAIAS and several received extensive media coverage. They include:

  • The Hyundai Genesis G70, which took home the North American Car of the Year. The luxury vehicle is priced between $34,900 and $50,250 and according to reports, it packs a value while costing far less than its German competitors.
  • dsc_6461The Hyundai Kona, which won the North American Sport Utility of the Year. The Kona bested the Acura RDX and Jaguar I-Pace to receive this accolade, and with the cost somewhere between $19,990 and $34,650, this subcompact makes for a solid investment. Currently, the Kona is available in two versions – gasoline powered or electric. The gasoline version comes with standard touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, forward collision alert, braking assist, lane-keeping assist and drowsy-driver alert. The electric has an EPA-rated range of 258 miles and a charging time of 9 hours, 24 minutes at 240 volts.

A number of other vehicles drew attention and praise during the last week and we’re certain many of you have taken down notes of what you’d like to test out and/or buy. To help you in this effort, MCPED has compiled an easy-to-use map of 50 local dealerships here in Macomb County.  Whether you’re in the northern, eastern, southern or western parts of the region, we’ve got dealers for all locales. Click here to access the resource and let us know in the comments what you plan to go see. And if you’re interested in checking vehicles out at NAIAS, click here to find info on tickets. Happy driving!

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Q/A with Gail Alpert, president of FIRST in Michigan

It is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergarteners will have job titles that do not currently exist. Many of these new roles will be related to STEM, so it is imperative that young people have opportunities to explore and become educated in these fields.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics is a program that does just that. Its mission is to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders by engaging them in mentor-based programs and competitions. These events challenge students to raise funds, design a brand, hone teamwork skills and build and program industrial-size robots that play difficult field games against like-minded program_gail_alpert.jpgcompetitors. According to FIRST, this is as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.

To learn more about this innovative program, the Macomb Business blog sat down with Gail Alpert, president of FIRST in Michigan, for a Q and A.

Q1: Business and government leaders here in Michigan are very much invested in workforce development and building the next generation of talent. FIRST Robotics and FIRST programming can be an important part of that process. Why is that the case?

A: FIRST is designed to entice high schools students to choose a career in engineering, technology and the skilled trades through the building of a robot with the help of industry mentors from sponsoring companies. Students have the chance to see the tremendous capabilities of their mentors and follow in their footsteps, while the mentors can hand pick the students that best fit their companies for internships and jobs early on, long before the students are recruited by other companies.

Q2: In addition to STEM skills, many FIRST Robotics students develop confidence and communication abilities. How does FIRST programming help young people in this capacity and why should that matter to businesses?

A: There is no better tool in the student’s tool box than learning how to communicate in an effective, concise way. You can have the best product in the world, but if you cannot articulate why it’s the best, or why it’s needed, it means nothing. FIRST students not only compete with their robots, but are interviewed by a group of Judges about their robot and their team as part of the competition.  They are extremely well spoken and confident after participating in FIRST.

Q3: With these sentiments in mind, why should businesses get involved with FIRST Robotics and how can they do so? And to clarify, can businesses without a STEM-focus help as well?

A: All types of companies are and can be involved in FIRST, because all companies can play a vital role on a FIRST team even if they don’t have a STEM focus. Each team functions like a small business taking a product from inception to market.  Aside from designing, building and fabricating the robot, the teams have to do marketing, fundraising, budgeting and outreach.  All companies have some type of expertise that teams can use. Additionally, companies use FIRST to identify leaders and develop leadership skills among their current workforce.

Getting involved is easy. Simply contact me at Gail.Alpert@gmail.com. The busy season for high school teams is January through April. The season ends with the World Competition at Cobo Center on April 25-27 with about 40,000 people in attendance.

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Q4: Can you share any anecdotes from businesses that got involved with FIRST Robotics? Did they have positive experiences?

A: FIRST is always a win-win for companies that get involved. Two great examples come to mind. The first was a student that was hired as an intern at a tier one automotive supplier in his junior year. The very first day on the job, the student was given a software program that was relatively new to the company.  His mentor told him to play around it with it.  After lunch, the mentor returned and asked him how he was coming. The FIRST student replied: “Take a look. I created a game out of it.” The mentor was stunned.

The second story is about a student that planned to go into business rather than engineering.  He interned during his freshman year of college at the company that sponsored his high school robotics team.  About 20 of us were there for a meeting. The intern was running the meeting and was absolutely phenomenal.

Q5: What’s next for FIRST in Michigan? Are there any new initiatives, partnerships or expansions in the pipeline?

A: We always have new initiatives on the horizon. This year, the state money available through the Marshall Plan is creating fantastic opportunities for collaboration between FIRST teams and companies as communities come up with inventive ways to grow the STEM workforce. At least two of the proposals that were chosen for Plan funding included partnerships with FIRST.

FIRST is also focused on expanding our programs all the way down to kindergarten. In fact, 78 school districts across Michigan currently run all 4 of our programs (high school, middle school, upper and lower elementary school.) This season we are piloting a Pre-K program as well. It’s never too early to foster interest in STEM!

Detroit has been a huge focus for several years as we work to give every student in the city the opportunity to participate. Nearly every high school in Detroit has a FIRST team already, so we created a partnership with the Detroit Police Athletic League and Quicken Loans to start new teams at the middle school and elementary level. Ford, the FCA Foundation, the GM Foundation and Google are helping too. We are working with the Detroit Public Schools Community District to put FIRST in all third grade classrooms.

Finally, the state grant for FIRST, created about 5 years ago, enabled us to expand FIRST to the smallest of school districts in the most remote areas of the state. We are working to make sure the new legislature understands just how critical this funding is to all of our teams and to the continued development of the STEM workforce.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Plans for a Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center underway

Almost every industry around the world is benefiting from advancements in robotics, automation and artificial intelligence technologies, including defense, health care, logistics, finance and consumer goods. But these technologies can only go so far. Companies still need a talented workforce alongside their machines.

People in the state of Michigan understand that relationship. For more than a century, this workforce has built, crafted and created everything from cars to pharmaceuticals with the help of machines. And while the recession had a negative impact on the state’s manufacturing sector, it has since rebounded with a dramatic increase in new jobs that incorporate automated and intelligent systems. For instance, in the auto industry, new jobs are being created around self-driving and connected vehicle development programs. However, these roles require new skills and different training than positions in the past. Therefore, if Michigan wants to compete with other global centers of innovation, the state needs to encourage and help the next generation of workers embrace and become experts at new technologies.

To tackle this issue, Macomb County plans to create a nonprofit Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center aimed particularly at increasing awareness and opportunity within the robotics environment.

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Why a Robotics Center?
Macomb County is home to a large community that has experience in manufacturing, mass production, supply chain industries and technology and product development. The region is positioned to expand further in this area given:

  • Southeast Michigan’s technology and manufacturing executives being optimistic about growth in revenues, spending and hiring talent.
  • Southeast Michigan being more competitively positioned for technology professionals to build their careers than Silicon Valley because of the lower cost of living, networking opportunities and leading academic institutions.
  • Southeast Michigan being ripe for technology companies to do business due to the region’s ability to retain talent, achieve a greater return on investment and lower the cost of capital.

These factors all help make the case for a center focused on robotics and innovation. Our region is ready, we just need to offer the tools to further train our workforce and build opportunities for the next generation of talent. A robotics center will help us do just that.

What will it do? Who will it serve?
The new facility will launch later this year at the Velocity Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights. Once open, its mission will be partnering with businesses, educational organizations, nonprofits and startups to offer tools, programs, expert assistance and open access to an independent, digital- and electronic-based environment for creative people. It will be a facility and ecosystem which offers co-sharing and individual workspaces, computers, software and related technologies. It will also feature a tooling and fabrication shop, engineering and computer science assistance, business development assistance and mentors from leading automotive, defense, manufacturing and technology firms, all in an open, collaborative environment.

“Ultimately, we hope to bring existing engineering talent from major employers across Southeast Michigan into an environment where new ideas and technologies can be created,” said John Paul Rea, director of MCPED. “The possible benefits are endless.”

1901 - gathering 1.14.19MCPED, in partnership with the city of Sterling Heights, the Macomb Intermediate School District and Macomb Community College, hopes the center can partner with and serve the following audiences:

  • High school FIRST teams
  • Workforce development agencies
  • Four-year education institutions and community colleges
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative groups (K-12)
  • Regional economic development organizations and chambers of commerce
  • Regional school districts
  • Multiple think tank/research institutions
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • Highly active network of venture capitalists and philanthropists
  • Green-mobility cluster initiative
  • Business accelerators
  • Industry

Its success will be evaluated through the following metrics:

  • Measurable impacts
  • Community support
  • Participant progress
  • Education attainment
  • Activities

Ultimately, if positive outcomes are reported and a wide-range of audiences are served, the Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center will become an asset for the community for many years to come. Stay tuned for more details on its launch and to learn how you can get involved.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.