Discover Leadership Macomb

It isn’t difficult to find them – at local charity events, on school and nonprofit boards, serving in elected positions, in board rooms and classrooms, leading teams and organizations, and collaborating on projects and common goals. With over 700 graduates from Leadership Macomb scattered throughout the region, their impact can’t be missed.

leadership macomb pic 1.jpgFor 20 years, the organization has been instrumental in helping both emerging and accomplished leaders expand their network and enhance their knowledge of local systems, assets and issues as well as their individual commitment to work toward the common goal of strengthening Macomb County. Leadership Macomb graduates are invaluable resources and key contributors to the entire region.

Leadership Macomb is the ultimate platform for bringing private, public and nonprofit sectors together to experience the county, connect and collaborate with each other, and become engaged locally and beyond.

Discover how graduates are transformed both personally and professionally by enrolling in the Leadership Macomb XXI 2017-2018 program which runs Sept. 20, 2017 through June 6, 2018. The application deadline is July 1. Visit leadershipmacomb.org for more information.

If you are already a graduate of Leadership Macomb – we hope to see you Wednesday, June 7 at MacRay Harbor to celebrate our 20-year anniversary! This class reunion will be a chance to visit with alumni and see the impact Leadership Macomb has made over the past two decades. Find out more and purchase tickets at www.leadershipmacomb.org/20-20event.

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Diane Banks is the program director for Leadership Macomb.

Register now for All about Food: From Farm to Fork conference

All about Food: From Farm to Fork is an annual event that is hosted at the beautiful Macomb Community College University Center and put together by the Macomb Food Collaborative. People from across the food system gather here to learn, grow and share about food. It is a great place to meet other food lovers, small business owners, agencies that regulate food safety and economic developers who work with food businesses.

Macomb Food Program pic 2There will be breakout sessions with experts discussing a variety of topics including the future of farming, dairy farm trends, conserving agricultural land, organic urban farming and the viewpoint of running a small farm in Michigan.

Your ticket gets you into all aspects of the event from the wonderful presentations, to the pop-up market, to a great lunch that satisfies many types of nutritional needs.

One of the very fun parts about the event is the pop-up market that has small business food vendors offering samples of a diverse line of products. There are also businesses offering information about many different food and health programs in the area, along with nutritional and essential oil businesses. This was a huge hit last year when the businesses were added to the event for the first time.

Macomb Food Program picThe event this year will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 6 at the University Center, 44575 Garfield Road, UC-1, Clinton Township, 48043. Signage will be at the road and main entrance.

Tickets are $30, and the deadline to register is May 30. Tickets are $35 at the door as long as there is capacity, which is not guaranteed. You can register online at www.macombfood.org (online registration fees apply) or fill out this registration form and make checks payable to the Macomb Food Collaborative. Send to Macomb Food Collaborative/MSUE, 21885 Dunham Road, suite 12, Clinton Township, 48043.

Click here to view the workshop schedule.

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Johns, Jack IMG_0030Jack Johns is a project coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in working with food, agriculture, energy, robotics, autonomous vehicle and retail businesses. If you are a business owner and would like to contact him, email jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293.

Department seeks Manufacturing Day hosts and sponsors

MFG Day 2016 AOne of the goals of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is to strengthen the county’s workforce by exposing the next generation to a wide range of in-demand career opportunities. Our efforts continue to grow and are demonstrated through a variety of different programs, one of which is Manufacturing Day.

National Manufacturing Day is an initiative that gives manufacturers the opportunity to open their doors to show the public how advanced the industry has become. Our department first participated in 2013 when Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel led the media on a tour of local plants that culminated with a roundtable discussion with area manufacturers.

It was at this event that we learned that one of the greatest concerns of manufacturers is the need for talent. We also learned that there was a concern about the number of young people who were exposed to the industry and the interesting and well-paying careers that it offers.

MFG Day 2016 BHearing this, department staff collaborated with the Macomb Intermediate School District to get students from every high school on buses and into local plants to see the industry in action. Since 2014, more than 5,500 students have participated.

Plans are underway for the next Manufacturing Day which will be held Friday, Oct. 6. The department seeks area manufacturers who are willing to host tours for students and sponsors to help cover event expenses. To learn more, visit www.MacombBusiness.com/mfgday.

Zardis, Maria IMG_0089Maria Zardis is the program manager of the Business Outreach and Communications Group for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

In Macomb County, MI Bright Future eases talent fears

MI Bright Future picture 2Businesses across Macomb County and southeast Michigan are slowly coming to an alarming realization: The workers they depend on are approaching retirement, and there are few, if any, in the talent pipeline ready to replace them. This unsettling epiphany has left many regional employers inspired to take action in the hopes of heading off the incoming talent drought, but there is just one problem. While some companies, whether through luck or ingenuity, have figured out how to begin developing future talent, many businesses’ good intentions go unfulfilled because they simply do not know how to convert their enthusiasm into action. If you are one of the many employers feeling this way, powerless in the face of a reduced skilled workforce, or if you just want to expand your talent development efforts, MI Bright Future is for you.

MI Bright Future is a revolutionary talent development initiative currently underway in Macomb County and the greater southeast Michigan region. Through the initiative, participating employers connect directly with 118,000 students through an easy-to-use online portal to offer career guidance and education advice. Macomb County has been on the forefront of this initiative since the very beginning and is eagerly looking for more employers to partner with MI Bright Future to interact with students. In Macomb County alone, there are already over 33,000 students currently engaging with the system. One Macomb County business, Medstar Ambulance, was so eager to connect with students they recently became a contributing sponsor of the program! This enthusiasm is widely shared throughout the community, as over 230 companies and 330 career coaches have already registered to serve. And while that may sound like a lot, it’s not enough!

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Why isn’t it enough? Because it is no secret that as times change, so too do the talent and skill demands of industry, and despite the educational system’s best efforts, they struggle to keep up. The ensuing disconnect between the demands of a modern economy and the curriculum of contemporary education leaves students unaware of not only the many job opportunities that exist in southeast Michigan, but more importantly the skills and credentials employers need. MI Bright Future bridges this gap by establishing a digital meeting place for professionals and students to interact directly with one another, and the more employers in the system, the more students that can be steered in the proper direction! By cutting through the red tape that has traditionally separated students from the professional world, MI Bright Future provides companies, who are the true experts in their field, the chance to educate students with real-time information about their industry, while also recruiting top-quality talent to their business.

MI Bright Future picture 3If MI Bright Future sounds a bit too good to be true, prepare to be even more amazed, because signing up for MI Bright Future is not only free, but a company’s level of engagement is entirely up to them. That means a business can do as much, or as little, as they like. From doing no more than posting a company profile to boost community awareness of their business, to registering career coaches to answer student questions on online discussion boards or offering work-based learning activities such as internships and guest speaking—even becoming a contributing sponsor like Medstar Ambulance—options range widely so a company is free to engage however they see fit.

MI Bright Future is for both those hoping to recruit young talent to their industry and those simply wishing to make a positive impact on the lives of young Michiganders. To register, visit mibrightfuture.org and complete the registration form that best suits your preference. Registrants may elect to register their company as a whole, or register only themselves as career coaches independent of their business. If you have any questions during the registration process, please contact the MI Bright Future team at info@mibrightfuture.org.

Trevor Leatzow is a program assistant for MI Bright Future.

Newly revived business association seeks to unite and empower businesses in Center Line

Center Line picture.pngThe Center Line Business Association (CLBA) is a group of dedicated local business leaders whose primary purpose is to build a better community through local small business networking. At the heart of this effort is the ideology that by coordinating a group effort in the community, an attraction to commerce is relative to all. After all, smart business owners know that good business requires a healthy economy, and a healthy economy requires a healthy community.

Center Line picture 3Center Line is fortunate to have many loyal businesses that contribute time and money to make it such a great place to live and work. These individual efforts have gone a long way in a short period of time. The improved look and feel of the city is gaining momentum with a promising future on the rise. The results can be seen in the facades, the K-9 unit patrolling the areas and the increased number in daytime traffic. This is what the CLBA is all about. Our city is a gem in the heart of metropolitan Detroit, and we are surrounded by the most densely populated areas in the state.

Please consider becoming a part of this effort to gain new opportunities and growth for current and future businesses in the city. The CLBA offers local business owners the opportunity to meet once a month to discuss issues pertinent to their businesses and the continued growth of the CLBA.

CHRYSLER GROUP LLC HOME OF MOPARThe CLBA is currently polling businesses in the community about their vision for the future of the city. To participate, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CLBA_Survey.

To learn more about getting involved with the CLBA, call the city at (586) 757-6800.

John Motyka is the president of the Center Line Business Association and owner of Elite Ink Tattoo Company in Center Line.

Macomb food entrepreneur lays groundwork for growth

Daves-Sweet-ToothMarch is Food and Ag Month in Michigan. Agriculture, food processors and related businesses employ 22 percent of the state’s workforce, and the state has 2,166 licensed food processors generating nearly $25 billion in economic activity. Macomb County is no exception to this growing trend. With 502 farms spanning 67,960 acres and 1,409 food manufacturing jobs, Macomb County boasts a healthy food and agricultural industry. Here is a close-up look at the path one Harrison Township food processor is taking to build a successful food business in Macomb County.

You may have heard about Dave’s Sweet Tooth when CEO Andrew Chmielewski made the Crain’s Detroit Business “20 in their 20s” list or landed on the Forbes “30 under 30” food and drink list, or you may have even seen the company featured on Good Morning America last year. Their toffee is carried in stores across the state and country, including Kroger, Marshalls, Whole Foods Market and Nino Salvaggio, as well as sold online. They will even be featured once again on Good Morning America as the Deal of the Day tomorrow, March 30. In business for only five years, this company is expanding at an incredible rate.

Dave’s Sweet Tooth manufactures delicious handmade toffee made from Chmielewski’s father’s homemade recipe. While touring the 5,000-square-foot facility, I was able to watch workers take the cooled toffee from baking sheets and break it into pieces by hand. In another room, employees were stuffing the toffee pieces into packages. Seems simple enough. Yet, a lot of hard work went into establishing the business, and more lies ahead to ensure the company’s growth is sustainable. And that’s where the experts come in.

daves-sweet-tooth-toffee-pouch-collection_1024x1024Chmielewski is tapping into all of the resources and services available to entrepreneurs. He is currently enrolled in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s economic gardening program. The Michigan Manufacturing Technical Center is also helping the company prepare for their Safe Quality Food (SQF) inspection as well as prepare the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering the company support through providing information about export programs which could help the company tap into markets in Canada, China or anywhere in the world. MDARD offers trade missions and participates in international trade shows where companies can become familiar with foreign markets and even meet one-on-one with buyers to discuss their products. The state also offers the Branding Program which reimburses companies up to 50 percent for translation services, airfare, hotel costs and vendor table space for international trips and toward expenses such as creating bilingual labels and websites geared toward a foreign market.

Jack Johns, program coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, also met with Chmielewski to discuss any needs the growing company has. Johns informed him that when Dave’s Sweet Tooth finds itself at capacity in its current space, Macomb County can help the company locate a new facility and take advantage of all the cost-saving incentives available to food processing businesses, which may include a tax abatement.

If you are a food or agricultural business in Macomb County, reach out to Johns at jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293 to see what kinds of programs, incentives and partners are out there to help your business succeed.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

SME Education Foundation’s PRIME program fills skills gap

SME 1-cI had a chance to visit Wadsworth High School in Ohio to learn about SME (formally known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) Education Foundation’s PRIME program which focuses on building centers of excellence in manufacturing education. PRIME stands for Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education, and that is exactly what SME is trying to do around the country – to bring back advanced manufacturing education during a time when there is a big shortage of in-demand skilled  talent in those positions, such as mechatronics, programming, welding, CNC machining, metrology and more.

There will be large amounts of retirees in the next decade with very few new employees getting into those trades. Businesses are worried about their futures, and schools are catching on that they are the first step to showing students what these jobs entail.

Through the PRIME program, SME Education Foundation handles communication between both the local industrial employers needing staff for positions they can’t fill and the schools that are training the students in those types of jobs. It is beneficial for both the schools and businesses for SME Education Foundation to take the lead on running the program because of the experience they have. They are also able to get the equipment at better prices while local employers fund the program as well as help   supply the equipment to the schools. Busy in the classroom, teachers would be unable to get the machines purchased and work on the needs of the employers to set up this program themselves.

SME 2-cWhen visiting Wadsworth High School, we were able to see the rooms set up for training. They had the newest equipment, and students were very excited to show us what they were working on and their understanding of the machines. There was a local employer there as well, boasting about how well the program works, specifically targeting employers’ needs for jobs that cannot be filled right now. Employers also like the fact that the students are well-rounded with additional skills before they get out of the program.

The students advised that they like the classes because they give them a chance to use their hands and learn with real equipment and parts instead of just books. The teachers say that this gives kids a different type of learning experience. Students are assigned projects where they have to think on their feet to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.

PRIME gives students an understanding of whether or not they like this type of work. This has given many young adults who are not college-bound an opportunity for good jobs after high school. It also gives those who are going to college a better feel for what route they want to take. Some even decide to take different paths in college, such as engineering, that they would not have without their experience in the PRIME training. Additionally, employers are now able to have a long-term plan to fill their future job openings and have better communication with the local schools.

There is a serious effort to establish this program in Macomb County. If you are interested in more information, contact Stan Simik at ssimek@sme.org or Josh Cramer at jcramer@sme.org.

Josh Cramer, senior educational programs officer for SME, will make a presentation about PRIME for the Manufacturing Day Planning Committee. Readers who are interested in learning more about how to get involved are welcome to join from 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, March 21 at the Macomb Intermediate School District, Superior Room, 44001 Garfield Road, Clinton Township. Please send a quick email to maria.zardis@macombgov.org if you plan to attend.

Johns, Jack IMG_0030Jack Johns is a project coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in working with food, agriculture, energy, robotics, autonomous vehicle and retail businesses. If you are a business owner and would like to contact him, email jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293.