And the nominees are . . .

mba-ticket-salesMacomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is preparing to celebrate its 5th Annual Macomb Business Awards breakfast on Feb. 14 at Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township.  Each year, the department welcomes nominations from businesses and organizations based (or with a significant impact) in Macomb County in six distinct categories.

The first is “Champion of Workforce Development.”  A strong candidate in this category is one that has a strong employee recruitment program in place and also recognizes the value of retaining employees through opportunities for skills enhancement and advancement.

A panel of judges has reviewed each nomination.  A single recipient from the list below will be presented with an impressive crystal award by County Executive Mark Hackel and our emcee, Huel Perkins from Fox 2 Detroit.  The nominees are:

Achatz Handmade Pie Company (Chesterfield Township)

Pie making is becoming a lost art, but at Achatz, they still do things the old-fashioned way. Many of their recipes have been passed down through generations, and they continue the tradition by using the same techniques learned in childhood. Since starting in a Victorian home in 1993, the business has grown to include six retail locations and around 100 employees. Achatz is committed to developing leaders. Every employee is invited to a weekly huddle to openly discuss the company’s financials. They see how much money the company makes and spends so they can be informed to participate in large decisions.


Advantage Living Center (Roseville)

Advantage Living is a short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing and assisted living center with two locations and approximately 300 employees in Macomb County. They provide premium, patient-directed and highly-skilled post-acute and rehabilitative care in a compassionate and professional environment. Advantage Living has found success in employee longevity through utilizing many different tools including employee incentives, funding for educational and certification classes, free CPR classes, birthday recognition, biweekly Employee Appreciation Days, monthly newsletters, employee picnics and yearly award ceremonies. They often use community events as hiring platforms, successfully adding new employees from the local community to the Advantage Living family.


Ascension St. John Providence Health (Warren)

St. John Macomb Hospital in Warren is implementing a new Regional Onboarding Center (ROC) to retain newly-hired nurses. The ROC creates an orientation process that integrates experiential learning and deliberate practice to develop more competent and confident nurses in less time. Key aspects include dedicated onboarding staff, program duration varied by individual need, bridging the gap between nursing school and clinical practice and more. This program provides a comprehensive orientation which not only validates technical skills, but also provides the nurses an experience that immerses them in the culture of the organization and fosters relationships with educators and peers.


FreeStar Financial Credit Union (Clinton Township)

Originating as the first and only financial institution on Selfridge Air National Guard Base in 1957, FreeStar Financial Credit Union now has four locations in Macomb County and more than 60 employees. To maintain a healthy work-life balance for employees, they implemented delayed opening of business to create a time slot each week for employee training. They also conduct “stay interviews” with employees to gain insight on why employees are choosing FreeStar Financial Credit Union for their careers. To improve recruiting efforts, they have adopted the use of Skype for easy, no-travel interviews as well as quarterly Open Interview Days for appointment-free interviews for job seekers.


Hard Milling Solutions, Inc. (Romeo)

Opened in 2004, HMS is a world leader in high-level engineering and CNC machining. Because of the unique process they developed and use, they had a hard time finding qualified employees. Seven years ago, they decided they needed to develop young talent, so HMS began hiring co-op students from the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center. Since then, they have trained and employed 13 young people who have gone on to hold high-level positions in HMS and other companies. HMS offers competitive wages, an industry-leading benefits package and bonuses twice a year to share profits with employees and compensate them for their hard work.


R&E Automated Systems (Macomb Township)

R&E specializes in all areas of turnkey automation including concept, design, prototyping, controls design and engineering, robotics and PLC programming, laser welding, joining, roller hemming and more. R&E has a dedicated, state-certified training center which provides training to young professionals looking to get into the industry, existing professionals looking to expand their knowledge and on-site training for its own employees. R&E has grown from 30 employees to more than 400 in the span of 10 years and continues to grow. The company recruits at local colleges and is very involved with local high schools and middle schools, helping them to grow their STEM programs.


Want to see who takes home the award?  Join us at the breakfast!  We expect more than 400 people to join us for this two-hour, action-packed event.  Tickets are available online. Sponsorship opportunities offer great exposure and help us cover the direct costs of the event.  For more information, contact or call 586-469-5285.

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.



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