Another Macomb Business Awards breakfast is in the books! Next year’s date is…

Department director John Paul Rea welcomed nearly 400 guests to The Mirage in Clinton Township on Feb 27 for our 6th annual event. He introduced keynote speaker Cheryl Carrier from Ford NGL who provided an inspiring overview how a community can coalesce to help our young people discover careers that match their abilities, interests and desired lifestyle.

Emcees Huel Perkins and Charlie Langton did a stellar job as Mark Hackel and Deputy Director Vicky Rad presented crystal awards to this year’s recipients.

This year’s recipients were

Champion of Workforce Development
St. John Providence

Corporate Citizen
First State Bank

Diversification Leader
RCO Engineering, Inc.

Model of OneMacomb
AGS Automotive

Startup Business to Watch
Rose-A-Lee Technologies

Watch the video profiles of each of our finalist – .  Scroll through photos from this years event!

Aside from the nominated and reviewed organizations, the department also awarded the “Economic Development Partner of the Year” to the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

The department has always worked closely with base personnel but 2017 was an exceptional year! When we learned that the base was one of five being considered to home the new F-35 Fighter Jet, department staff worked closely with Brigadier General John D. “Odie” Slocum and his leadership team. Our objective was to build public support. One of the first accomplishments was to create a dedicated website with the help of HunchFree.  Once the website was ready, an all-out social media and advertising campaign was launched to create buzz.

Together, the team solicited support from the entire state of Michigan at the annual Mackinac Policy.  The department also created a 144-page prospectus for incoming evaluators from the U.S. Air Force. Although many were surprised and disappointed to learn that Selfridge had not been selected, our entire department remains confident that Selfridge will continue to be an important partner in economic development well into the future of Macomb County.

The Macomb Business Awards was sponsored by Automation Alley, Clark Construction Company, Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals, Jarvis Property Restoration and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation with support from First State Bank, Omega HR, the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber and many others.

SAVE the DATE! Next year’s awards program has been scheduled for Friday, February 22, 2019 Nominations for next year’s awards program will open in October. Stay tuned for details!


Are you a foodie? Learn, connect and eat at the All About Food Conference on March 20th

basic-loga_origThis year’s event highlights the Macomb County food system and will be held at the Macomb Community Action’s Family Resource Center located at 196 North Rose Street, Mount Clemens, MI.  (Formerly Washington Elementary School.)

Registration begins at 8 a.m. The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with a panel of Macomb County food and beverage business owners. Each will offer insight about their businesses and the role they play in supporting locally sourced for their food and beverage products. The panel will include voices from a vineyard, brewing supply store and a brew house/restaurant.

As any local food conference attendee would hope, a locally sourced and prepared lunch will be provided as part of the cost of attendance. Guests can expect a delicious spread from meal contributors including Henry Ford Health Systems, Dorsey Culinary School, Westview Orchards and the Clean Plate.

The conference attracts participants from across southeastern Michigan region. Breakout sessions offer a range of choices. Gardeners and farmers may take interest in the basic vegetable gardening, soil health and testing, and a garden in a bucket sessions. Schools and other institutions will be represented with farm to school, feeding the whole child, and food safety sessions. Those that take interest in local food from an environmental standpoint may find themselves attending sessions on disappearing farms and farmland and closed loop systems. Other sessions will address a myriad of food related topics including: legislative advocacy, starting businesses, vegetarianism, and local produce in USDA designated food deserts.

For a complete schedule visit this link.

Time is running out to register! Early bird registration is open through March 16th, with a fee of $25. To register online: A very limited number of walk-ins will be accepted on the day of the conference, with a fee of $35.

The event is hosted by the Macomb Food Collaborative, a non-profit organization

That works to ensure access to safe, fresh, fair and healthy food for all. It promotes a vibrant, local food economy, sustainability and good nutrition through education, outreach and support.

Baker College: Choosing the Path to Employment in Macomb County

bakerct-entrance-2.jpgSince 1990, Baker College of Clinton Township has maintained its role in the community by offering one of the most affordable 4-year  public or private college experiences in Michigan, including certificates, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level degrees. We graduate diligent, dedicated students that are ready to work, and whose academic experiences have been molded by Michigan employers. Our curriculum is influenced by employer advisory boards consisting of professionals in the field, which ensures the support of real-world programming that matches the ever-evolving demands of the workforce. Students can also meet the challenges of busy schedules by taking advantage of course offerings though our Online campus to supplement their on-ground studies.

Baker College students live in the community, have a desire to work locally, and therefore have a vested interest in seeing their environment thrive. They are taught to think on their feet, identify problems and formulate efficient solutions by completing Career Experience as part of their degree requirements regardless of major. Our Career Experience partners in all degree areas, especially Health Care, Management, IT and, Business Services, offer cutting edge experiences in areas that are focused on industry trends and areas of growth. Additionally, over 36% of our students accept offers of full-time employment at their Career Experience site.

Our small class sizes contribute to student success.  Passage rates for graduates of Baker College programs which require licensure are higher than state and national averages. In reporting from June 2017 graduates earned 100% pass rates in nursing, dental hygiene, radiation technology, and surgical technology. Tests are not the only measure of success. Baker College has been defending their Cyber Defense Championship title since 2008, with six State, two Regional and two National Championships. We were voted to have the #1 Nursing Program in Michigan for 2016, by, with a 100% percent pass rate of state boards and a 100% employment rate. We also take great pride in serving our community as hosts of the premier Dental Hygiene clinic in the Baker College system that is open to the public, providing low cost dental services including cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatment and exams to children and adults in Macomb County. Call (586) 790-5238 to make an appointment.

In addition to our robust academic programs, Baker College offers 100 degree programs including those through our Auto Diesel Institute and the Baker College Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM). A CIM student has won the Michigan Chefs De Cuisine Association Student Chef of the Year for three consecutive years. Furthermore, the CIM boasts a talented and accomplished group of alumni, including the latest winner of Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Kimberly Ann Ryan recently demolished the competition on the popular reality TV competition, scoring an esteemed position with The Venetian’s Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Las Vegas — worth approximately $250,000.

Even with the growth in populous and business in Macomb County, savvy investors in their own education should be motivated to choose an institution with affordably priced tuition, career-focused curriculum and an easy campus commute. By selecting the premier four year college in your backyard, Baker College makes it easy to take the path to employment in Macomb County. After all, Baker College does not graduate students–we graduate BakerProud© students.


Cheryl Carrier, Ford Next Generation Learning, will offer a keynote address at the Macomb Business Awards – Reserve your spot today!

carrierWe are pleased to announce that Cheryl Carrier, executive director of Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL), will present the keynote address at the 6th Annual Macomb Business Awards Breakfast on Feb. 27, 2018 at The Mirage in Clinton Township, MI.

Cheryl Carrier is the Executive Director of Ford NGL, the signature education program of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services.

Cheryl leads the team responsible for developing and managing the innovative Ford NGL program, which is designed to engage educators, employers, and community leaders in the common goal of preparing today’s high school students for the careers of tomorrow. Through community engagement, Ford NGL provides a proven framework to develop high school academies that are career-themed and provide students with opportunities to engage in relevant, academically rigorous, authentic learning opportunities.

Currently, there are 40+ communities across the country that are using the Ford NGL framework and are supported by Ford Motor Company Fund. Several schools across Macomb County have or are in the process of converting to academy base learning.  Romeo High School will be the first Ford NGL certified program in Michigan.

Cheryl works closely with business executives, government/civic leaders, and economic development and workforce development intermediaries to help align education with the skills needed by companies and the local region.

Cheryl joined Ford in 1978 and has held positions in Engineering, Finance, Business Strategy, and Investor Relations. Cheryl assisted Ford Executive Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr., for many years, including a special assignment with the Detroit Lions, as the Human Resource Director, where she was responsible for developing human resource policy.  Cheryl retired from Ford on December 31, 2013 and has been retained by Ford Motor Company Fund to continue as the Executive Director of Ford NGL.

Cheryl serves on the boards of Alignment Nashville, Advance CTE Education Foundation and Future Plans.  She resides with her husband in Petoskey, MI.

Reservations for the breakfast – one of Macomb County’s largest gatherings of leaders in business, education and government – can be made until February 20.


Barbeque restaurant in Romeo is no joke and plenty of smoke

bbq2I headed out to the northern part of Macomb County to a quaint little village called Romeo. A village with good-hearted people and a good share of restaurants of all types that many small towns would be jealous to have. My heart was set on a great barbeque sandwich, and that is exactly what I found.

I ran into Denise and Sarah Stanko, a couple of locals looking to make a purchase at the Jayell Smoke House at 221 ½ N Bailey in Romeo. I decided to ask them, “Why this barbeque restaurant?” They turned to me with big friendly smiles and said they have literally tried everything there, and it is all good. They really like the place because Dave or his wife Erin are the ones making the food and waiting on them. The service and food are always consistently good. They really like that it is family-owned and that they sell many Michigan-made products.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Dave Leidlein, the owner of Jayell Smoke House. It was one of the coldest days of the year, and I was happy to be inside smelling great-tasting barbeque and having a cold black cherry cola out of a bottle. You have to go with a glass bottle when drinking ice cold pop, and Dave had plenty to choose from. I’m sorry to all my aluminum can and plastic bottle friends, but that is no way to have a black cherry cola. It is like putting a fine wine into a sippy cup – how dastardly!

A fun fact is that Dave actually was going to school for political science since his grandfather and father were in politics, and this brought him to southeastern Michigan. Lucky for all the barbeque food lovers, Dave did not get into politics and started to follow his passion for food.  He made the decision to get into the food industry, first working for a distribution company in sales and then catering out of a business in Macomb County. He finally pulled the trigger after being on the news with his product line of rubs and BBQ sauce, and Dave opened Jayell Smoke House in July 2017.

He started with about five rubs and BBQ sauces and grew really fast to 12 sauces and 40 rubs. They work with Sherwood Brewery for the Roger City Porter BBQ sauce and IPA rub. They have good customer traffic and want to be part of the beautiful community. They had the patio open for the Romeo Peach Festival, and try to include themselves in any fun event downtown.

They are known to use Michigan landmarks for their BBQ names like the Romeo Peach Habanero which is the No. 1 seller. On the website, you can purchase rubs and BBQ sauces along with joining the rub club to have products sent to your house once a month. Tell me that is not a perfect present for your Uncle Billy who thinks he is a pitmaster with rib meat that falls right off the bone.

The mostly takeout restaurant has a great feel with metal and warm, dark wood and enough space for about three people to sit down to have a quick sandwich. In the summer, you can stretch your legs more and dine outside on their patio which sits back far off the road. You can relax and talk with your friends while having a great meal and at times listen to some guitar playing from a local musician. They also do special menu pricing and events. For example, on Jan. 7 they had special pricing on a slab of ribs. How lucky where those customers when they found that out?

The most important thing for you to know about this fine story is that when I ate that cut brisket sandwich, I had a huge smile on my face and actually said out loud, “This is amazing.” Somebody told me once that anybody can make a pulled pork sandwich, but only people who know what they are doing can make a good brisket sandwich. Well I’m here to say Jayell Smoke House is doing it right, and if you know what’s right, you’ll make your way out there!

Johns, Jack IMG_0030

Jack Johns is a project coordinator within the economic development services group. He specializes in serving the food and agricultural industry as well as automation, robotics, connected vehicles, energy and retail businesses.

Governor Snyder recognizes MADCAT efforts to build a talent pipeline for cybersecurity

Governor Rick Snyder attended a stakeholder meeting of the Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) held during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Industry Preview Days at Cobo Center. Focused on MADCAT’s Cybersecurity Career Pathway Project, the purpose of the meeting was to gather information from industry leaders about the growing need for cybersecurity experts so that educational counterparts can build curriculum based on industry need.

Governor Snyder, a self-proclaimed “nerd,” commended the group for their efforts. “Our ability to take the lead in cybersecurity is dependent on public and private partners coming together to make it seamless and easy for people who want to enter the field to get relevant training.” Watch the governor’s remarks.

Other speakers included:

  • County Executive Mark A. Hackel who spoke about exponential growth in the industry based on data gathered by the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development
  • Andrew Smart, Chief Technical Officer for the American Center for Mobility announced that they will be adding a cybersecurity competent to the center.
  • Kevin Baltes, Director & CISP for Product Cybersecurity at General Motors discussed critical needs for the automotive industry
  • Major General Michael Stone, Assistant Adjutant General Installations for the Michigan Army National Guard and Jeff Jaczkowski, Associate Director for US Army TARDEC talked about critical needs for the defense industry

Elaina Farnsworth, CEO for Mobile Comply and lead consultant for the MADCAT Cyber Pathway Initiative, lead an interactive discussion to gather ideas about engaging industry and academia in creating seamless pathways to education and to market this career opportunity to students.

“As the industry emerges, new challenges will be presented to current and future workers,” said Farnsworth. “The future is unclear for tomorrow’s workers given the vast number of interrelationships between rapidly evolving technology, new market entrants and the divergent standards and regulatory efforts being promulgated around the world. As these transitions occur, more value will accrue to those who are educated and understand the evolving industry.”

Michigan’s future success will rely on investment in and commitment to collaboratively creating a clear pathway for our cyber workforce. The State of Michigan has supported the development of cyber infrastructure through a coordinated, interagency approach. To learn more about the resources available to you and your organization go to

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2018 Auto Show is perhaps the best ever

Every year, the North American International Auto Show feels like a new experience. It’s no easy task to build on the 2017 show that was one of the biggest and best, but the 2018 NAIAS does just that!

Whether you are in the market for a new car, enjoy seeing the latest in technology and mobility, or enjoy a day full of activities and things to do, there is something for everybody at this year’s show. It is packed full of interactive displays. Ford lets you star in your own movie alongside the Bullitt Mustang, with green screen action sequences. Cadillac will film you in your own episode of Carpool Karaoke if you’re brave enough to sing in front of others!

For those thinking about buying a new car, the NAIAS is your chance to see and touch all models from every major automaker all in one convenient location. In fact, the show each year has a positive effect on local dealership sales. It’s not just getting people into cars, during media and industry preview days journalists from more than 50 countries all over the world come to Detroit. They stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants and enjoy our bars and local entertainment. The annual economic impact (if you’re curious about such a thing) is estimated to be about $450 million. It’s Detroit’s time to shine.

For our economic development team, the NAIAS recognizes the accomplishments of our county’s largest industry. Macomb County’s connection to the show is tremendous. More than 34,000 local workers earn a living through the industry in Macomb County. Home to major facilities of GM, Ford and Chrysler, the county has seen more than $9.9 billion in auto investment since 2010. With many of these upgrades going into high tech research and development facilities and with the amount of technology in cars increasing, we are not only designing new cars, we are revolutionizing the way we experience mobility.

Our team here at Planning & Economic Development had a chance to tour the NAIAS during media and industry preview days. It was a great opportunity to continue to build connections that will ensure the vitality of the auto industry in Macomb County for years to come. It was also a great chance to see the great lineup of new cars and trucks hitting the roads! Here are some of our staff favorites:

County Executive Mark A. Hackel checks out the all-new Ram 1500 – which will be assembled in Macomb County!
Planning & Economic Development Director John Paul Rea enjoying life in a Cadillac.
Economic Development Program Manager Jim Ahee finds a BMW that fits like a glove.
Economic Development Project Coordinator Jack Johns says the Lexus’s front seat “feels like I’m being cradled in my mother’s arms!”
Graphic Artist Matt Pierscinski is thinking about having this Audi make its home in Macomb – in his garage.

You can view the entire gallery on our Macomb Business Facebook page as well as our Make Macomb Your Home page!

Tips and tricks for the 2018 Auto Show:

Are you convinced and ready to go? Here is the info you’ll need:

Dates and Times
Early access for handicapped individuals 8 a.m. each day
Enter at the Hall C Entrance only
Saturday, Jan. 20 – Saturday, Jan. 27
9 a.m. – 10 p.m. (no admittance after 9 p.m.)

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018
9 a.m. – 7 p.m. (no admittance after 6 p.m.)

Ticket Pricing
– Adults: $14 per person
– Seniors: $7 (65 and older)
– Children: $7 (7-12 years old; 6 and under free with a parent or guardian)

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is an economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, reach out to him at