Year in Review: Macomb Business’ biggest and best blogs in 2016

Are you finding it hard to believe another year is in the books?

2016 was a big year for business in Macomb County. As a department, we hosted numerous major events, had clients directly invest nearly a quarter billion dollars, created thousands of jobs and saw overall employment in Macomb County rise by roughly 17,000 while continuing a seven-year streak that has brought 55,000 total new jobs to the county.

In other words, we were busy! Trying to keep up with everything we were doing was no easy task. We here at the Macomb Business Blog had 53 (now 54!) blogs hot off the presses for you this year. In case you missed any, we want to recap the biggest business news in Macomb in 2016:

January
Auto show fever grips Macomb County in January! With more than $5 billion in auto investment since 2010, the department had a big presence at the North American International Auto Show.

Macomb County brakes for positive effects from auto show

February
The big event to celebrate Macomb County’s business accomplishments is the annual Macomb Business Awards. This year marked the fifth annual celebration, and more than 400 turned out at Fern Hill Country Club to see who would take home the coveted awards.

What awaits at the Macomb Business Awards

March
What do Yahoo, the Democratic National Party, Target and LinkedIn have in common? If you answered all were victims of sophisticated cyberattacks, you’re right! Cybersecurity is a legitimate risk we all face. The new Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range offers classes to help companies defend their technologies against these threats.

Velocity Hub grand opening highlights new cybersecurity asset

April
Do you have a fond remembrance of the good old days? Well those days are back in Macomb County, economically speaking. In April, Macomb County’s economic recovery pushed the county back to near historic highs. How did we get there? We take a look at the path.

Macomb then and now

May
Small businesses are the backbone of a healthy economy. Ninety-five percent of the businesses in Macomb County are defined as a small business. Every day, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development (MCPED) works to help these businesses grow and assists entrepreneurs in starting their own small businesses. The department hosts officials from the Michigan Small Business Development Center in our offices to assist departmental clients with their small business needs. New resources are being added all the time; read on to learn about the focus on digital tools available to small businesses across all industries.

Helping Macomb County small businesses succeed

June
On the heels of the Mackinac Policy Conference the last weekend in May, Gov. Rick Snyder introduced the state’s new Planet M initiative, which focuses on branding Michigan’s mobility assets, especially autonomous and connected vehicle technology. In Macomb County, this means jobs, investment and a lot more! Find out how much more:

Connected technologies take root in Macomb

July
Job growth in Macomb County has been on a steady upswing for the past six years, but in July, those numbers jumped even higher than expected. The only thing rising higher than the mercury in the thermometers this summer was the number of those who were able to find work.

Job growth picking up steam in Macomb

August
Nearly 400 companies make up Macomb County’s network of IT and cybersecurity businesses. Collectively, they employ more than 8,000 workers (and growing!). These companies are utilizing sophisticated software systems and the latest in technology to revolutionize security. The department’s focus on MADCAT, Planet M and other cybersecurity initiatives is paying dividends for Macomb County’s IT industry.

IT jobs growing in Macomb County

September
Entrepreneurs drive economic growth. Macomb County has roughly 23,000 self-employed individuals across all industries. These combined with stage one businesses in the county comprise a significant chunk of the growth potential available. The department has been working hard to provide this group with the resources they need to sustain and grow their operations.

New business portal gives entrepreneurs resources to succeed

October
Manufacturing is one of Macomb County’s most important industries. Overall, more than 1,600 companies throughout the county have an annual economic impact of $13.4 billion. These firms employ almost one fifth of our workforce. And, the average salary in the industry is nearly $75,000 annually. The department hosted more than 2,000 students at more than 40 manufacturing locations all across the county as part of a nationwide celebration of Manufacturing Day.

MFG matters in Macomb County!

November
This year, as a way to encourage residents and visitors to shop the county’s independent retailers, Macomb County made it easier than ever to support local businesses. The department created an online interactive resource for shoppers to find and connect with the more than 1,600 independently-owned retail stores located within the county.

Macomb County encourages you to shop small this Saturday

December
2016 was a major year for business investment in Macomb County. At the sixth annual State of the County, the continued and remarkable economic rebound in Macomb County was a central theme for County Executive Mark Hackel during his address. We recap what he had to say and all of the department’s accomplishments for 2016!

Spotlight on big investments at annual State of the County Address

As you can see, 2016 was indeed a big year! This is a great time to thank the people who help make this blog possible: MCPED Director John Paul Rea, MCPED Communications and Business Outreach Program Manager Maria Zardis and county communications experts Caitlin Gerds-Habermas and Sarah Cormier for not only being frequent contributors, but also for making sure every blog was proofread and reviewed. We would also like to thank our outside partners who contributed their time and content to the blog this year!

The goal of the Macomb Business Blog is to keep you informed. Do you have news or an idea to share with us for 2017? Reach out to me at posavetz@macombgov.org. We want to hear from you.

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is a senior planner for Macomb County, providing content for the Macomb Business and Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts.

Community and business leaders join together for $150 million vision to Innovate Mound Road

Innovate Mound is an initiative to rebuild one of the most important corridors in Southeast Michigan: Mound Road. The vision of the partnership behind this effort is a roadway that incorporates the future of mobility and technology through transforming nine miles of Mound Road into a state-of-the-art corridor. Designed to be an inclusive process and transformation, Innovate Mound is a collaborative effort between Macomb County, the city of Sterling Heights and the city of Warren.

DSC_0662.JPGGaining strong stakeholder support for the project is crucial for securing funding. The group kicked off its public visioning by hosting a stakeholders’ session yesterday, which brought together more than 100 business and community leaders to discuss the possibilities and provide feedback.

Rebuilding Mound Road is critical for many reasons. Most obviously, the road is currently in poor condition. However, instead of simply repaving the road, it benefits the long-term needs of local businesses to have a corridor that matches the level of innovation and technology in the area.

The design considerations that are tentatively in place for this project include complete roadway surface reconstruction, widening north of 17 Mile Road, landscaping, lighting, signs, driveway controls, additions of non-motorized facilities, 10-foot-wide safety path along the bike trail or corridor, connections to trail network and improvements to transit stops.

Mound Road could also be equipped with smart street technology to include computerized traffic signal systems, real-time traffic speed monitoring, cameras, communications to signals and more. This technology would be able to increase emergency management and enhance safety and mobility.

Whatever ideas emerge from visioning, the need to act is urgent. The average life expectancy of a roadway in Michigan is about 25 years. The selected portion of Mound Road is nearly 30 years old and in poor condition. Each year, Macomb County spends between $3 to $4 million solely on maintenance and patching this section in Band-Aid-style fixes.

The estimated investment needed to truly innovate one of Macomb County’s key corridors is expected to be approximately $150 million. To raise these funds, Innovate Mound has identified several federal sources which could help to fund project costs.  These sources include Macomb County, new state infrastructure funds, TIFA (Corridor Improvement Authority), private funding, grants and new federal funds. Specific grants being considered are the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) and Defense Access Road (DAR).

Collaboration will be key to the project’s success.  To become a part of the transformation or for more information on the Innovate Mound project, visit InnovateMound.org. You can also follow on Twitter @InnovateMound and join the conversation with #InnovateMound.

rea-john-paulJohn Paul Rea, AICP, is the director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

 

Ethnic chambers share business tips at Macomb County event

Understanding how different cultures do business can help you land an important deal or forge a successful new business partnership. To foster this understanding in Macomb County, OneMacomb and the Macomb County Chamber hosted Connecting Diverse Business Cultures Dec. 1 at Andiamo in Warren.

15283992_1501159566579344_8138609662135182478_nWe heard from a panel consisting of Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce (CACC) President Martin Manna, Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) Executive Director Van Nguyen and Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MHCC) CEO Gloria Lara. It was moderated by WXYZ Channel 7 News anchor Nima Shaffe and opening remarks were given by Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers and Macomb County Chamber CEO Grace Shore. Here is a summary of the highlights.

What challenges do your businesses face?

CACC: There is a need for understanding and overcoming challenges like refugee phobia. Newcomers need particular assistance understanding licensing issues and navigating the local municipalities.

15192572_1501159263246041_2294503640819852238_nAPACC: When working with companies abroad, you need empathy and an understanding of how they do business. For example, someone from Michigan may be methodical and take their time making decisions. A Chinese businessperson is used to making rapid decisions and last-minute changes to business deals. If there is a disconnect, no deal may be made. But if there is patience, understanding and respect for how the other does business, they can work together successfully.

MHCC: Hispanic-owned businesses often do not reach out for resources available to them. They are hard workers, but tend to stay in the background. Therefore, they need more welcoming and encouragement.

How do you encourage productive networking?

CACC: We recommend joining other local chambers and networking with other groups to get experience interacting with different types of people.

APACC: Step out of your comfort zone and network with people who don’t look like you. Learn what other businesses do so you can find collaborative opportunities that will benefit both.

MHCC: It is important to listen to other people’s stories in order to start relationships. Find commonalities. We share more than we don’t.

How can Macomb County attract businesses from abroad?

CACC: Immigrants are already investing in Macomb County businesses. Chaldean populations are growing significantly in Warren, Sterling Heights, Macomb Township and Utica.

APACC: You can attract business through economic incentives, such as tax breaks, and also through offering a welcoming cultural landscape. This could include immersion schools and grocery stores that cater to diverse dietary needs. This will not only attract businesses, but make them stay.

MHCC: Companies are drawn by cost, quality, deliverability and reliability.

How can Macomb County officials make doing business here more appealing?

CACC: Macomb County is a model for the nation. It is open, receptive, supporting and welcoming. Officials should work on building relationships and providing guidance to help entrepreneurs understand all the legal requirements and how to access resources.

15267574_1501159569912677_4877632248532457832_nAPACC: Officials should attend chamber events and translate informational materials into the native tongue of their largest minorities. Also, officials striving to be inclusive should recognize major ethnic holidays, such as Diwali (observed by Asian Indians and also known as the festival of lights), through acknowledging them on their website or holding special events.

MHCC: Macomb County’s infrastructure and transportation are assets. Officials should emphasize that there are opportunities for businesses to start small and later expand in Macomb County.

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

 

 

 

 

Information drives decision making and highlights successes

 

Strong intel is a must-have for good decision making. In Macomb County, technology plays a key role in filling that need. The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is utilizing some pretty powerful tools to make sure our clients and the public have the best, most accurate and up-to-date information available when making decisions. This includes taking advantage of the latest trends and data available in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

GIS has probably impacted your life, without you ever knowing it. GIS impacts the roads you drive on, the local parks you visit, the quaint downtowns you spend your weekends at and much more. GIS can create smart and efficient locations through leveraging and analyzing data to encourage sound and stable decision making throughout multiple departments and within local government. Macomb County is not only a smart county through advocating the power of GIS, but it is on the front end of promoting and sharing this cutting-edge technology.

gisThe utilization of GIS in Macomb County is happening from every stage of the workflow throughout the county. One way is through the collaboration of numerous departments and the GIS team to advance data quality and data management, for example, ensuring and improving address data for the Emergency Management Department. Another way is by providing open and free data to the public on Macomb County’s GIS Portal. A creative way Macomb County is encouraging GIS is through developing custom interactive web maps, web apps and story maps that make it easier than ever for citizens to engage with spatial data and to learn more about a variety of subjects in Macomb County.

The following are recent projects that have been improved through the power of GIS:

The Macomb Orchard Trail story map, which highlights all of the trail’s assets, nearby attractions and any other additional information a trail-goer might need. The Local Shops web app features 1,600 unique businesses in Macomb County, embracing the shop local and shop small initiative. Another project is the Economic Investments web app which focuses on investments in Macomb County. This web app allows the user to analyze, manipulate and visualize the data in a variety of ways through the interactive counter, summary list and graph widgets. There are more interactive web maps, apps and story maps coming soon!

For now, check out Macomb County’s GIS Portal to explore other featured web maps, open data and to learn more about GIS!

worley-jessicaJessica Worley is a GIS technician for the Planning and Mapping Serices Group of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Spotlight on big investments at annual State of the County Address

2016 was a major year for business investment in Macomb County. Last night at the sixth annual State of the County, the continued and remarkable economic rebound in Macomb County was a central theme for County Executive Mark Hackel during his address.

Macomb County is in the midst of seven straight years of job growth. The number of people working in Macomb County has swelled by roughly 55,000 to more than 410,000, which is the most in 15 years and near our historic high watermark.

These job gains have been fueled by Macomb County’s standing as a world-class advanced manufacturing hub. Since 2010, the mobility industry has directly invested more than $6 billion in Macomb County. This year alone in Macomb County, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles committed $1.4 billion to the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant; General Motors located their autonomous vehicle development team at the GM Tech Center; and Ford has tripled its autonomous vehicle fleet and is currently testing its Ford Fusion hybrids in Bruce Township at the Michigan Proving Grounds. Macomb County government has done its part and stepped up, expanding our intelligent transportation infrastructure at COMTEC. These investments have made Macomb County better positioned, more than any other county in the nation in fact, to deploy connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The same kind of transformation is happening in our other key targeted industries of defense, information technology, aerospace and agriculture.

In defense, our military installations and network of more than 600 prime defense contractors continue to push the limits of innovation. This past year, Macomb County companies were awarded more than $1.4 billion in defense contacts. TARDEC teamed up with General Motors to develop the hydrogen-powered Chevy Colorado Z-H-2. This futuristic military-concept vehicle was created right here in Macomb County and went from contract to concept in less than a year. TACOM continues to be an integral piece of our Army’s command.

Our information technology (IT) and cybersecurity sectors are undergoing massive expansions. Macomb County is now home to nearly 400 IT firms, which employ approximately 9,000 individuals. Over the past five years, the county has experienced a 116 percent increase in our IT employment which, when compared to a national average of less than 12 percent, shows our tremendous progress. Macomb is also leading the way in cybersecurity with the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range opening. We continue to look for ways to deepen our workforce talent pool and have been bringing industry experts together with MADCAT to continue to find innovative ways to prepare for future needs.

Macomb County is also making impressive gains in aerospace. The world’s largest aerospace companies are now doing business within our borders. Names like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and NASA are working with an ever growing number of prime suppliers. Contract after contract, they are flocking to Macomb County because of our advanced precision tooling and adaptable workforce.

Even agriculture and food processing are being transformed. Lipari Foods just announced a new $36 million state-of-the-art food processing facility in Warren, which will incorporate some of the most advanced food processing capabilities in the state. Century-old orchards such as Blake’s, Miller’s Big Red and Westview are also making big investments, transforming themselves in to wineries and family entertainment centers. Several craft brewers are making Macomb their home, including the $1.3 million investment at Kuhnhenn’s Brewery in Clinton Township.

Our business investments are also greatly improving our quality of life. This past year saw the opening of the much anticipated Jimmy John’s Field and the start of play for the United Shore Professional Baseball League. The ballpark’s first season was a huge success: Most of the games were sellouts, attendance averaged 3,100 over the 75 game schedule, and eight players were picked up by major league organizations. The league has announced expansion plans to add a fourth team next year.

All of these developments are telling us the same story – Macomb County is a preferred destination for transformational economic investment.

This all contributed to what was a successful 2016 for our department. I’m very proud of the dedicated staff that make up our team of professionals who were able to help these businesses grow and thrive in Macomb County this year. Our staff was responsible for the following investments within the county this year:

2016-econ-impact

I am very proud Executive Hackel recognized our department for our efforts in a significant way in front of such a large and influential audience. If you’re a business thinking about starting, locating or growing in Macomb County, we want to help you. Please contact our department, and together we can help you be the focus for next year’s event!

rea-john-paulJohn Paul Rea, AICP, is the director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Top five reasons to nominate your company for a Macomb Business Award


mba 

Only one company in each category will take home a crystal award presented by County Executive Mark Hackel, but every nominated company is a winner . . .

  1. mba2Your company has worked hard to achieve success in one of the award categories and wants to share best practice tips with others.
  2. Every nominated company will be recognized on http://www.MacombBusiness.com and featured in the event program book distributed to more than 400 guests.
  3. The breakfast offers great speakers, networking opportunities and a chance to learn more about the great companies that have made Macomb their home.
  4. Two complimentary tickets to the awards breakfast on Feb. 14, 2017 for every qualified nominated company.
  5. Self-nominations are expected and encouraged. The online process is fairly simple; submit an online nomination with a 300-word summary about how the company fits one of the award categories.

Nominations for a Macomb Business Award close on Friday, Dec. 9 – please act quickly! A link to the online nomination can be found on http://www.MacombBusiness.com/bizawards.

Sponsorship opportunities are currently available. Please contact me, Maria Zardis, for more information at 586-469-5285 or maria.zardis@macombgov.org.

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.

 

Shop Small windows spread holiday cheer

celticsistersIs there anything more charming than the window of your favorite #ShopSmall destination decorated for the holidays? We want to see them! Snap a pic, post it here and let us share it with others. What’s in it for me, you ask? How about a chance to win this basket full of #MadeInMacomb goodies?

We visited Celtic Sisters in downtown New Baltimore and gathered up some items. So far, we have:

  • Berry Medley Jam from Jam’n Sisters of Roseville
  • Dark chocolate hot fudge from Sanders
  • Vanilla Cupcake lip balm from Bizzy Fizz of Utica
  • A luscious bar of soap from J.L. May of Macomb Township
  • Gourmet dog treats from Biscuit Bob’s of Shelby Township

Also in the basket is shop owner Colleen’s newest venture, Chickie’s Chocolate & Fudge, and their yummy mix of sweet-and-salty Fish Fly Crunch.

And, we’ll keep adding to the basket as the number of photos grows. Post your photo here and be randomly entered for a chance to win (while helping us build a really festive photo album!).

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.