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



MADCAT event kicks off NAIAS

As all eyes turn to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, an elite group met to focus on bringing awareness to the growing need for a skilled cyber workforce. Yesterday, stakeholders for the Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) convened at Cobo Hall to discuss the automotive and defense industries aligning for the future cyber generation.

Vicky and gov.Gov. Rick Snyder, a longtime advocate for STEM education, addressed the group. Other notable presenters included Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel and Elaina Farnsworth. The robust professional lineup highlighted that the only viable option is taking an open, collaborative and inclusive approach to preparing for tomorrow today.

Farnsworth, a recognized thought-leader in the space, emphasized that “companies must invest in an educational strategy for both the organization and the workers within it. They must commit to aligning company goals and resources with the proper team members to support that vision.”

Experts estimate over 2 million new jobs will be created within the industry in the next five years. To meet this demand, professionals will need the proper education, training and credentialing within the intelligent transportation space. Many times, companies will need to recruit from within and retrain their existing workers with new and relevant skills.

hackelThe meeting on Thursday was part of an ongoing Cyber Pathways Project launched by MADCAT in 2017. Through a grassroots effort, leaders from the government, education, nonprofit and private sectors formed MADCAT in 2014 to address the growing threat of cybersecurity breaches to our region’s primary industries. MADCAT’s aim is to establish Macomb County as a cybersecurity center of excellence and to attract businesses and institutions that support the development, growth and retention of the talent pool.

For more information or to get involved with the project, visit

Industry preview days a golden opportunity for local companies

Each year, the North American International Auto Show opens its doors to crowds of roughly 850,000 members of the public, eager to see the latest and greatest in what the world has to offer. While the public prepares to take in what is sure to be a spectacular 2018 show, companies in the industry have a chance to come for a preview.

2017 NAIAS - Show HighlightsLast year, nearly 40,000 automotive professionals and analysts representing over 2,200 companies from around the world spent days connecting and sharing insights at the industry preview days. This valuable and unique networking and professional development opportunity brings together the key decision makers, designers and leaders responsible for the cutting-edge products, technologies and services on display at NAIAS.

In addition to the displays at the NAIAS, also included is AutoMobili-D, which features 150,000 square feet of dynamic display communities in the Cobo Center atrium overlooking the international waterway and the adjoining Planet M hall. In 2017, AutoMobili-D featured more than 180 brands, ranging from automakers, to suppliers, to tech startups as well as universities and government organizations.

According to the organizers of the NAIAS, there is no other event in North America that provides an international platform for this vast array of companies, organizations and thought leaders under one roof. The 5,000 journalists expected to attend the 2018 NAIAS preview days from more than 60 countries across the globe will have plenty to write about.

2017 NAIAS - Show HighlightsAlso a major part of the industry preview days are the more than 40 hours of mobility-focused announcements and discussions. These educational presentations are both a great way to learn about the latest in mobility and to connect directly with the companies at the forefront of developing these next-generation tools and technologies.

During the 2017 show, 17 vehicles made their worldwide debut. This is ground zero for companies looking to become suppliers and build relationships for new product lines that will be the future staples of the auto industry.

Are you a company interested in attending the industry preview days at the NAIAS? Tickets are available! Click here for more information and secure your attendance for 2018!

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

New Ram truck to debut

ramIf you live or work in Macomb County, you may have already spotted a heavily camouflaged vehicle on our roads. It is rumored to be the 2019 Ram 1500, and anticipation has been growing for the redesign to be revealed. The vehicle is expected to be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, and it will be manufactured here in Macomb County at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

SHAP is a great example of a success story in Macomb County. It was slated for closure during the recession, but has made a remarkable comeback. Massive improvements have been made at the facility in recent years to retool it to build the next-generation Ram pickup.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has invested $1.48 billion and created 700 new jobs to support the manufacturing of the new truck and future growth of the Ram brand. This commitment is part of FCA’s effort to increase production capacity of trucks and SUVs in the U.S. to match demand.

Don’t miss the unveiling of the new Ram at 9:05 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15 at the NAIAS, and see what our Macomb County workforce is able to do!

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in business outreach and communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Assistance for job seekers and employers available through Michigan Works!

Michigan Works! offers services and programs to those who need help finding a job or training, and we also help employers who need to find qualified workers. We see our “customers” as both job seekers and businesses.

While unique, each Michigan Works! office is locally responsive, demand-driven and governed by a workforce development board. In the Macomb and St. Clair County area, the Macomb-St. Clair Workforce Development Board, Inc. oversees the operation of five Michigan Works! Service Centers. Most of our services and programs are free!


For job seekers:

For job seekers, we provide many services and programs at no cost that are funded by state and federal programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. If you lack the necessary skills or are thinking of a career change, Michigan Works! can provide assessments and career counseling. If training is needed and you are eligible, we can provide financial aid and support services.

We partner with local community colleges and other proprietary schools that offer training for in-demand careers like accounting, machining/machine tool, engineering, IT, construction, electrical, transportation and health care. At our Michigan Works! Service Centers, we provide free workshops on job search, resume writing, interviewing and the use of social media including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Contact us today and set up an appointment with a career planner, or visit a Michigan Works! Service Center to post your resume on the Pure Michigan Talent Connect, access our free job search workshops and see our list of local companies who have immediate openings!

If you are 16 to 24 and just starting out in your career, our Young Professionals program offers help for those without a high school diploma or GED and are currently not attending school and who may have other barriers to finding employment.

We also have specialized services for veterans including our veteran’s boot camp, career planning, job training and veteran’s staff on location to assist you!

For businesses:

Our business customers will find an equal number of programs and services to help them find talent and save money! In Macomb and St. Clair counties, our certified business solutions professionals have assisted more than 2,000 employers with their employment and business needs, collectively saving them more than $1 million. We offer a wide range of services that include pre-hire, talent recruitment, job development, training and more.

Our customized approach allows us to align our services with the needs of the business. Some of our specific services/programs are listed below:

On-the-job training (OJT) – OJT is an essential tool that can help employers offset the cost of training new talent. OJT provides reimbursement to the employer up to 50 percent of the new employee’s wages for a designated period. This reimbursement assists in covering some of the extraordinary costs of providing the training.

Young Professionals – Partnering with Michigan Works! Young Professionals provides additional tools to assist your business in recruiting and retaining new talent. The employer provides work experience for a young adult and Michigan Works! provides wage/worker compensation for up to 480 hours.

Apprenticeships – An apprenticeship is a systematic approach to training that ensures your current and/or new employees are trained and certified to produce at the highest skill levels. This proven training model allows employers to set the benchmark and the structure that can determine the return on investment in training dollars.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit – A federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.

Fidelity bonding – Insurance when hiring high-risk but qualified job seekers who have bona fide offers of employment.

Skilled Trades Training Fund – Employer grants designed to assist in training, developing and retaining new and current employees.


Call us!

Job seekers and businesses may connect with us locally in Macomb or St. Clair counties by calling (586) 469-5220. If you are from any other county in Michigan and want to find your local Michigan Works! Office, please call 1-800-285-WORKS (9675) to be automatically routed to the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center.

Colin Miller is a manufacturing talent specialist for the Macomb-St. Clair Workforce Development Board, Inc.