Risks and opportunities of USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) to be highlighted at symposium

After more than a year of negotiation, the United States, Mexico and Canada reached a trade deal on September 30, 2018. So – what will the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – USMCA – (NAFTA 2.0) mean for U.S. companies already doing business on the ground with Mexico and Canada?

Butzel Long law firm and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development will try to answer that question during a free symposium on Thursday, October 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Velocity Collaboration Center – Macomb/ OU Incubator (6633 Eighteen Mile Road, Sterling Heights). The co-sponsored event will feature speakers discussing the risks of, opportunities around and responses to the new trade deal.

“Since the beginning of 2018, we’ve seen an unprecedented flood of new tariffs either threatened or enacted – tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, steel and aluminum tariffs, tariffs on Chinese imports, tariffs on automobiles and automotive components,” said Jim Townsend, attorney and chair of Butzel’s Macomb County Development Team. “We will address how local companies can seize opportunities and minimize threats to their businesses along with key strategies to protect from shifting trade rules.”

Featured presenters include John Paul Rea, director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. Additionally, Butzel Long attorneys who have expertise in international trade law will offer key updates, including:

  • Les Glick, a co-chair of Butzel Long’s International Trade and Customs Specialty Team. He has extensive experience in the areas of international trade and customs law.
  • Catherine Karol, who concentrates her Butzel Long practice in transactional negotiations, litigation, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Raul Rangel, a corporate attorney licensed to practice law in New York and in Mexico. Mr. Rangel works closely with other Butzel attorneys to represent organizations doing business in Mexico and the United States in a broad range of industries.
  • Mitch Zajac, who concentrates his Butzel Long practice in the areas of automotive, intellectual property, regulatory and emissions compliance and sports and entertainment law.

If you’re interested in diving into this complex and timely topic, you can RSVP by contacting Nairi Bagdasarian at bagdasarian@butzel.com or 313-225-7012. Please note that reservations are required and seating is limited.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Bolstered by loyal workforce, Möllertech celebrates 20 year anniversary in Shelby Township

Automotive suppliers from around the world choose to put down roots in the Motor City region because of our collective history, talented workforce and depth of knowledge and insights in manufacturing. Möllertech is no different. The German injection molding moeller_logo_Moeller_Techcompany was attracted to the area for those exact reasons and opened its Shelby Township facility in 1998, bringing more than 250 years of experience with it. A family-owned organization, Möllertech has plants all over the world and three in the United States that specialize in vehicle interiors. At the 110,000-square-foot Michigan facility, parts are made for General Motors and BMW by 75 individuals – an employee count that will likely increase due to new projects on the horizon. But this month, the focus at Möllertech has been the celebration of its 20 year anniversary here in Macomb County; a milestone recently recognized with an open house and BBQ.

I visited Möllertech during their anniversary festivities and was greeted with a jovial atmosphere generated by employees and their families enjoying food trucks, games and activities. There was even a dunk tank for those feeling adventurous. After indulging in a few slices of wood-fired pizza, I was led on an informative tour by a Möllertech supply chain manager, Chuck Gietzen.

The first thing I noticed while walking the floor was the plant’s impeccable organization and cleanliness, which of course, is intentional. Möllertech adheres to Kaizen, a Japanese management concept focused on continuous improvement through visual order and standardization. For management, following Kaizen also means building a culture where all employees are actively engaged in suggesting and implementing efficiencies. By doing this, the company ensures a creative atmosphere that prioritizes problem solving and producing the best product possible. A new Cadillac parked just outside the plant demonstrated the outputs of this work. With all four doors open, my tour guide could point out the various parts that the company produced for the car. Back panels, A pillars, B pillars, console side covers – anything plastic is something they likely touched.


Seeing the product in person and the machines that made it certainly drove home the scale of this supplier. But perhaps the most impressive part of my tour was passing by the Möllertech seniority wall, a display near the entrance to the plant that features the photos and names of workers who have been with the company for years – sometimes 10, sometimes 15. I discussed this trend at length with Gietzen, a 19.5 year veteran of the organization. He was its second employee. And he’s not alone in employment longevity. That seniority wall has a number of names installed. So clearly there’s something about the company that resonates with these individuals, making it easy to stay in the job for a long period of time. From my tour and in learning about Möllertech, I presume that it’s because of two reasons.

First, there’s a culture of respect. According to Gietzen, the management treats employees like family. Which requires more than just hosting employee events and parties – Möllertech listens to its workers and consistently invests in on-the-job training. Management is also very engaged with the day-to-day activities, visiting the plant, walking the floor and monitoring operations. Steve Jordan, Möllertech’s North American president and CEO, is at the Shelby facility at least every six weeks. This type of involvement shows a deep commitment to the employees and to the work they do.

Second, the innovative techniques employed by Möllertech allows them to attract new clients and jobs. For instance, on the factory tour, I saw an outlined space that will soon hold machinery and staff assigned to work on parts for the Maybach, a popular luxury vehicle. Projects like this one are exciting for employees because they allow them to develop new skills and talents. With new work coming in regularly, the choice to stay on at Möllertech would be easy.


At the conclusion of my tour, I shook hands with Gietzen and thanked him for his time. I then made a pit stop at the edible cookie dough food truck before heading back to the office, reflecting on a great day at a great company.

If this type of work environment is something you’re interested in, stay tuned to the Möllertech website. That aforementioned Maybach work means that the company will need close to 50 new employees at the Shelby facility. And if you’re able to get a foot in the door now, perhaps you’ll be up on that seniority wall for the plant’s next big anniversary.

**Möllertech is a client of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED).  The business development group assists companies in many facets of expanding and growing a company including:

  • Support with accessing state and local incentives and financing options
  • Assistance with workforce recruitment, training and retention programs
  • Identifying available sites for expanding or relocating a business
  • Access to business counseling services
  • Market research and marketing
  • Workshops and networking opportunities

The economic development specialists for MCPED are focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, visit macombbusiness.com or email info@macombbusiness.com.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

The remarkable power of Macomb County’s economic growth

Spanning across terms of presidents, governors and a transition to an executive form of government, Macomb County’s economy continues to shine, adding new jobs and higher wages for nine straight years.

Macomb County’s population is currently 871,375. For perspective, this is bigger than 5 U.S. states and larger than major U.S. cities like Seattle, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston and Miami. What some may describe as “just a suburb of Detroit” is actually an economic powerhouse.

Having an economy as large as Macomb’s and growing it consistently and strongly over a long period of time requires careful planning from the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. Our region’s success is due in part to our team’s ability to help existing companies grow, attract companies from outside our region and create an environment that is favorable for starting a business.

How we measure progress

When we say that Macomb County’s economy is strong and that there has been nine straight years of growth, what does that actually mean? Well, there are several key barometers that can measure economic health. One indicator – if you weren’t working before and are now, that is progress. Another – if you were working before, but make more money now, that is also progress. There are other signs too – for instance, how easy is it to find a job?

To talk about the growth in the county requires starting from the lowest point in the recession. By the numbers, the county’s economy officially bottomed out in June of 2009, when our unemployment was a staggering 18.3 percent. Nearly one out of five people could not find a job and there were 78,498 people unemployed. To put that another way, the county had a labor force that was 429,356 strong, but only 350,858 people were employed. For those who had jobs, wages were falling and the inflation rate was negative. The two largest employers in the largest industry in the county were in bankruptcy (General Motors & Chrysler), and a national financial crisis was wreaking havoc across all of the other industries. The future was bleak.

Looking at today’s numbers: unemployment in Macomb County for May of 2018 is at 3.5 percent. There are 424,851 people working and only 15,272 people are unemployed. These numbers represent a growth of 73,993 new jobs. For scale, that amounts to a new job for every single person at a sold out Comerica Park, Little Ceasars Arena, Jimmy John’s Field and Freedom Hill. Combined. In only nine years.

Wages in the county are rising as well. In 2009, the average weekly take-home wage across all private sector professions was $853. In 2017 (2018 data is not out yet!) average wages have grown a very robust 22 percent to $1,045 per week.

Since the peak of the recession in 2009, the county has experienced nine straight years of job growth. Nearly 75,000 more people are working, and while that number looks great on paper, it also means 75,000 more families and households can sleep better at night worrying less about making mortgage payments and putting food on the table.

This growth in wages and in the number of new jobs is having an extremely profound impact on the spending power in the county. Total countywide wages in 2009 were $10,325,458,011 ($10.3 billion!).  In 2017, that number grew more than 50 percent to a total of $15,915,245,824 ($15.9 billion!). This is fantastic news for those of us looking to spend money and for those of us in the business of selling goods and services.

While 2009 may seem like a distant past – the fact that we emerged is an accomplishment to be celebrated.

A deeper dive into key industries

Economic development may be a voodoo pseudo-science to some, but in Macomb County data drives the decision making. Looking at the economy through the data already mentioned and through deeper metrics like location quotients, we can identify nine targeted industries as the driving industries in the county.

These industries are selected on their power to not only spur growth in their sectors, but to also drive growth across industry borders. They represent some of the highest wages and earnings potential in the county. They also represent the future for our workforce. For instance:

  • The number of jobs in the IT and Cybersecurity fields within the county has more than doubled since 2010.
  • Since 2009, Macomb County has nearly doubled its number of Professional Services workers, growing from 12,000 to 23,000. This is triple the state average and more than six times the nation’s rate of growth!
  • Manufacturing jobs continue to be the foundation of the county’s economy and are some of the most lucrative career opportunities available.
  • Because of our manufacturing superiority and strategic location near a major international border in the Midwest, logistics and warehousing – the industry of storing and moving goods – is also a major economic sector within the county.

map 1

Right now, there are more than 20,000 unique jobs available in the county. Anyone looking for work can connect with these jobs by going to the Michigan Talent Bank. They may also seek career counseling or assistance by reaching out to a local Michigan Works! office.

map 2

For the full details, check out the reports on each of these industries on the county’s website.

Why this matters

The perks of becoming employed after a period of unemployment, or getting a raise, are obvious. However, even if your job or salary have not changed, you are benefiting from this stronger Macomb County economy. The community benefits gained by a healthy economy are massive. Tangible effects include:

  • Reduction in poverty. With fewer people unemployed and wages rising, there are fewer people living in poverty. Less people in poverty is obviously a good thing. Whether you’re feeling the direct impact (as a person formerly of poverty that no longer lives in poverty) or enjoying the social impacts of lower poverty – lower crime, less blight, fewer foreclosures – the benefits to the community are very real.
  • Improved public services. As more of us earn wages, and as our collective average wages grow, state and local governments are seeing their bottom lines improve. For instance, Macomb County’s economic growth is leading to higher tax revenues. This allows the government to provide better services that lead to a higher quality of life – such as improving parks and offering more services in the community. It also helps the government invest in our economy – with funding for schools and roads. (BONUS perk: As government fiscal health continues to rebound, issuing bonds to pay for these services becomes even cheaper, allowing for even more to get done!)

Looking Ahead

Macomb County is on solid ground. Looking ahead to the future, regardless of where you shop for groceries (a term coined by Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director John Paul Rea on finding sources of economic data) the future is bright. Macomb County can, at least for the foreseeable future, expect continued job and wage growth.

The county is also undertaking a massive effort to make sure that it is ready for jobs of the future. Current estimates say that that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. And of course, these jobs will need candidates with advanced skill sets. Macomb County is prepping hard for this. With facilities such as Macomb Community College and its M-TEC program, Wayne State’s Advanced Technology Education Center and Romeo’s Ford Next Generation Learning facility, and with groups like MADCAT preparing folks for cyber careers, and with events such as Manufacturing Day  – the future in the county is extremely bright.

How this can benefit you

Are you a company in Macomb County? Now is a great time to reach out to our department. We have a team of experts that can offer free and confidential services to connect your company with the resources you need to grow. Our team can help incentivize growth in your physical space, connect you with hiring resources and access to workforce development and provide business development solutions. Our toolbox is sharp and honed by the dozens of service partners we work closely with to make sure your business has what it needs.

Are you someone looking for a job or to advance in your career? Companies in Macomb County right now are competing hard to find you. We can pair you with the job opportunities that are on the market right now or help connect you with the training to take your career to the next level. If you have been on the fence about taking the next step – now is absolutely the right time to do so.

Nick 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 the department at info@macombbusiness.com or 586-469-5285.

Free workshop aims to help startup businesses

There are countless resources in Michigan aimed at helping small businesses and startup organizations. Why? Well, for starters, these types of organizations employ over 1.8 million individuals. That’s more than 49 percent of the state’s private workforce. To keep the economy healthy and growing, it is essential that support services are provided for this sector.

ou macombThis is why the Macomb-OU Incubator at the Velocity Center is hosting “Starting Up,” a workshop that is free and open to the public. The course, held Tuesday, August 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., is suitable for:

  • Individuals who have a high-tech startup
  • Individuals who have an early-stage, growth-based business
  • Individuals who have an innovative idea that they’d like to bring to market

During the workshop, attendees will explore Michigan’s “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” which is designed to help innovators start and/or grow tech-based businesses. They will also hear from John Eaton, the Macomb-OU Incubator client strategist. He will review the wide range of resources the state of Michigan offers – including business incubators, university technology acceleration and commercialization, SmartZones and various support services and funding programs. The end goal of the course – to identify what’s right for every individual’s business.

Those interested in attending can register here: https://hgioxpcxda.formstack.com/forms/starting_up_082118. Make sure to reserve a spot soon. These classes tend to fill up quickly.


Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Macomb County moves forward with Mound Road transformation effort

County Executive Mark A. Hackel yesterday joined Senator Debbie Stabenow, Representative Sander Levin, Representative Paul Mitchell, Mayor Jim Fouts and Mayor Michael Taylor to share progress in the effort to rebuild Mound Road, one of the most important roadways in southeast Michigan. The focus of the afternoon was the Innovate Mound project and its receipt of a $97.8 million U.S. Department of Transportation Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant. Announced in June, the grant required a 90 day congressional review period. That period is now complete and the grant has moved on to the next phase of obligating funds and negotiating contracts.

Yesterday’s gathering, held at the Gazebo Banquet Center in Warren, offered community leaders the opportunity to reflect on the hard work that went into the grant process while also forecasting the construction and changes ahead for Mound Road. Most importantly perhaps, the occasion allowed the leaders to discuss what the future Mound Road will look like and how it will be a model roadway for cities around the nation.

Innovate Mound 8.6.18 v2“In 2016, more than 100 business and community leaders gathered to learn how we could work together to fix the mess that is Mound Road,” said County Executive Mark Hackel. “Together, we educated ourselves about how to transform this critical corridor and to advocate for change. Our efforts enabled us to receive funding that will not only completely rebuild the road, but also equip it with a smart infrastructure network while improving traffic flow, sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and wayfinding. When it’s complete, Mound Road will be a shining example of the future of our roads nationwide. It will go from the worst stretch of road to one that will be recognized around the nation.”

The construction effort is slated to begin in 20 months and will tackle a critical nine-mile, eight-lane connection between I-696 and M-59. All told, the entire project will cost about $184.6 million. The grant will cover more than half of that, while additional funding will come through matches made by Macomb County, Sterling Heights and Warren. This cooperation and collaboration was highlighted by everyone who spoke today, including Senator Debbie Stabenow.

“I have worked closely with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and local officials to urge Secretary Chao to provide the funding that is needed to repair this road,” she said. “Our efforts demonstrate, once again, that when we work together, we can get things done for Michigan families.”

Another major theme of yesterday’s gathering – how vital Mound Road is to the economic health of our region. Mound is home to more than 81,000 jobs in the manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and defense sectors and is responsible for billions of dollars of output. That’s one major reason why this project was such a high-priority for everyone involved and something all speakers, including Rep. Sander Levin, Rep. Paul Mitchell, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor and Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, mentioned in their remarks.

Innovate Mound 8.6.18
“This is a major industrial corridor,” said Mayor Fouts. “With GM, Chrysler, Ford, General Dynamics, TARDEC and TACOM – it’s a high-tech hot spot.”

Before closing the event, Hackel shared several details around maintenance on Mound Road that will occur ahead of the grant-funded construction. He directed all attendees to http://innovatemound.org/ for information on this and other work related to the roadway.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

On the move: Local web design and marketing firm experiences impressive growth, opens new office

When Jimi Plouffe traded his Playstation 2 for a filing cabinet, he knew that his priorities had changed. At the time, the teenager had set up a small web design business in a bedroom at his parent’s house. He’d gone from video games to buying website domains. Ten years later, he now co-owns Momentum, a web development and digital marketing firm that is celebrating the grand opening of its new office in downtown Utica. The business started in 2010 and had one employee in 2011. Now there are 12 employees who have worked with more than 500 clients. To say that’s impressive growth is an understatement.

A young entrepreneur
Jimi says that it all started in 8th grade, when he was assigned a biography project that asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wrote: “I plan on pursuing a career that is based upon computers. I am interested in careers such as web design, computer programming, and graphic design.” So that’s what he did. Over the next few years, Jimi constantly studied and experimented with internet technology. He absorbed everything he could and challenged himself by learning how to build websites and refining his eye for design. Then, at 18-years-old, Jimi started James Michael Solutions and began creating websites for a small number of clients. To better accommodate the new venture, the self-taught designer rearranged his bedroom at his parent’s home, taking down his posters and installing a corner desk. He worked long hours and sought out customers in need of digital assistance. He also received work from local agencies who needed to outsource projects. It helped him build a solid portfolio and several relationships with other web developers. One relationship grew into something more – a business partnership.

Gaining momentum
Jimi and Adam Sgammotta, a fellow web developer and distant cousin, met in 2009 and instantly connected over their shared entrepreneurial goals. Adam previously owned several ecommerce companies and had studied business administration in school. He wanted to open his own company and was ready to leave his full-time job at a local design agency. After working together on several projects and hosting a few brainstorm sessions, the pair sat down at Buffalo Wild Wings and drafted their first joint business plan. Their idea: to build a new website design and development business called Momentum. In 2010, they were ready to make the jump and opened up shop in Jimi’s apartment. That first space, another 10’ x 10’ bedroom, was where they recruited clients and worked late into the night. They were setting the foundation for something great.

Momentum logo

After a successful first year, the pair hired their first employee and moved into an official office space in Clinton Township. By their third year, they had worked with more than 100 companies, hired five additional employees and cracked nearly $1 million in gross revenue. Jimi and Adam had a successful firm on their hands and they knew they needed to expand their operations to keep pace with demand from customers. So by 2016, the pair had hired several more employees and added to their service offering – now providing digital marketing services such as search engine optimization and online advertising. That year also marked the beginning of their search for a larger office and the start of new strategies designed to recruit and retain talent. For instance, Momentum has chili cook-offs, team building activities, dog mascots, ping pong tournaments, flexible work schedules, fancy furniture, lunch and learns and an annual Halloween party. And I should note, this isn’t your average office Halloween soiree. Jimi and Adam decorate their spaces, host a costume contest and have giveaways. Truly, the company is on to something when it comes to building a healthy and attractive workplace culture.

Looking ahead
In early 2018, Momentum found its new office in downtown Utica. The location, just down the street from Jimmy John’s Field, was attractive, modern and walkable. It was exactly what Jimi and Adam were looking for. They moved their employees into the space on April 1 and it has proven to be an asset for the organization. Workers feel momentum office (1)positive and happy coming into work and their clients, which include Randazzo Fresh Market, Roura, L&L Products, the Detroit Free Press Marathon and Hitachi, are impressed by the atmosphere. Most importantly however, the space will allow them to become further engaged in the area. Jimi, Adam and Momentum as a whole feel strongly about giving back to the community. Whether that means committing to pro bono projects or speaking to local schools about internet safety, the organization is ready and willing to get involved in Utica. And you could certainly feel that spirit at the official grand opening for Momentum on Thursday, July 19. I attended the open house with several co-workers and was moved by the vibrant and celebratory atmosphere and community-oriented activities. Everyone attending the event was excited about the next chapter for the company, including Momentum’s very first client, the Michigan Head and Neck Institute, who spoke to the crowd about their work with the firm and how they have continued on with them for several years now. Thrilled with the services delivered, they have no intention of taking their business elsewhere. This certainly helps Jimi and Adam work towards the goal they established back in 2010: “Be a recognized, global leader in cutting edge web technology and online marketing.” Now with an expanding team, 200 active clients and over 30 percent growth in 2017, you could certainly say Momentum is well on its way to achieving this objective.

For more information on Momentum, visit their website here.

**Momentum is a client of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. Working with MCPED, they have access to services like assistance with marketing, financial analysis and planning, strategic planning, management and operations.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Macomb County leaders tout area’s success at Michigan Idea Exchange

Investing in southeast Michigan and positive developments within the region were the ICSC logomain topics of discussion during the Michigan Idea Exchange on Thursday, July 12. Held at Cobo Center by the International Council of Shopping Centers, the event provided an opportunity for local governments to speak to individuals in the real estate industry and for those individuals to share ideas, ask questions and network.

Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel attended to speak on two panels. The first, the event’s keynote, saw Hackel alongside two other leaders from Oakland and Wayne Counties. Together, the three discussed the strengths of the region and its collaborative partners. They also pinpointed what they believe sets their individual counties apart.  For instance, Deputy Oakland County Executive Phillip Bertolini said that balanced finances and the county’s AAA bond rating are its biggest asset. In Wayne County, Khalil Rahal, the executive director for the county’s Economic Development Corporation, said that downtown Detroit and Metro Airport are what makes that region stand out. And then in Macomb, Hackel pointed to the more than $10 billion of investments made by the automotive and defense industries as the factor that differentiates his county from its neighbors.

When asked what issues needed to be addressed in the tri-county area, all three leaders stated that roads and infrastructure are the top priority. And in Macomb County, progress on that matter is already underway. In June, the county and the cities of Sterling Heights and Warren announced a major boost to its efforts in rebuilding Mound Road – one of the most important corridors in southeast Michigan. Innovate Mound, a public-private collaboration focused on restoring the roadway, was selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a recommended Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant project to be funded by Congress. The $97.8 million grant will help fund the $184.6 million total cost of reconstruction and in 20 months, the project to fix Mound and make it a smart and connected roadway will begin.

The keynote panel closed with the three leaders committing to further collaboration to ensure positive growth for the region as a whole, with Hackel stating that we need to highlight our assets together and unite who we are and what we are.

The second panel of the day focused exclusively on Macomb County, with County Executive Hackel joined by John Paul Rea, director of MCPED, Kathleen Lomako, executive director of SEMCOG, Scott Adkins, city manager of Roseville and Gene D’Agostini, from D’Agostini Companies. The discussion, titled “Macomb County’s P3 Momentum: From Principles to Practices,” showcased how the county has achieved success in the field of public-private partnerships. Together, Hackel and Rea talked about breaking down barriers for businesses and working to come up with creative solutions for investors. Because according to Rea: “We never want to be in a meeting with developers and hand them a stack of regulations. We are moving to empower and to be a convening agent. We want to be a part of a project and not stop its progress.” Rea cited the construction of Jimmy Johns Field in Utica as an example of this work. In this instance, developers, the city of Utica and Macomb County officials worked together to turn an unlicensed landfill into a state-of-the-art minor league baseball stadium.

This example led to the story of Gene D’Agostini, who years ago wanted to make a major investment in Macomb County, but needed the government’s help. During the recession, D’Agostini purchased Cherry Creek Corporate Park, a 220-acre industrial area in Shelby Township owned by Lehman Brothers. He wanted to build on the property, but he required the support of township and county officials to ensure his vision and timelines could be accomplished. D’Agostini said that after purchasing Cherry Creek, his first call was to those individuals. They cleared the way for him to construct his plans and today, the company has built eight plants totaling roughly 1.2 million-square-feet of manufacturing space. The project even attracted other business to the area, with Grupo Antolin, a Spanish automotive interior supplier, announcing in spring 2017 that it would invest $61.2 million into a 360,000-square-foot building in the park and create 430 jobs. D’Agostini said that none of this would have been possible without the assistance of the township and county officials – who reorganized and fast-tracked to help move the project along.

Stories like D’Agostini’s show how Macomb County is evolving to keep pace with an ever-changing business world. Our leaders want to ensure that this area is economically strong and providing good jobs to its residents, so they will work collaboratively and creatively to make that happen.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Register now for a new financial workshop from the Michigan SBDC

sbdcNinety-five percent of the businesses in Macomb County are defined as a small business, one that employs fewer than 50 people. Because of this, the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) works closely with the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to offer owners and entrepreneurs assistance with marketing, financial analysis and planning, strategic planning, management and operations. We act as their partner, helping them succeed.

One recent joint activity between MCPED and the SBDC is the development of “Know Your Numbers,” a workshop aimed at helping business owners and key staff better understand and use their financial statements. The course, which is sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, will be held Thursday, July 26 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the MCPED office (1 S. Main Street, Mount Clemens). The ideal participant will have two to three years of financial history and should be pursuing financing or having challenges with cash flow. During the workshop, they will learn how to:

  • Use a balance sheet and income statements in managing a business
  • Use break even analysis to improve decision-making
  • Find the source of cash flow problems
  • Increase a company’s cash flow
  • Strengthen a relationship with a banker and/or lender

Interested individuals can register for the event here. The cost is $25/person and includes a workbook – however, the course is offered at no cost to Fifth Third Bank customers and veterans by calling 734-487-0355.

For more information on MCPED click here and for details on the Michigan SBDC, click here.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Companies interested in choosing Macomb at Select USA

Macomb County recently participated in the Select USA Investment Summit, an event that brings in roughly 1,000 international companies looking to do business in the United States. The conference also attracts economic development officials from across the country who are competing to win the sought after new jobs and investment, which totals $30.7 billion since Select USA first occurred. Overall, our team had a positive experience at the event. And from our conversations with global business leaders, we can tell that Macomb County’s reputation as a great place to do business is growing worldwide.

select usa.jpg

Our county economic development team participated in Select USA alongside the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and a contingent of roughly 30 economic developers from various regions across Michigan. Over the course of three days, our group met with companies and business groups from four different continents, including Europe, Asia, North America and South America.  These organizations were interested in Macomb County because of our capabilities in manufacturing, our strong infrastructure of suppliers and our highly-skilled workforce. Being a logistics hub with a major international airport was also a draw for those looking to locate here. And notably, our county’s reputation as the Arsenal of Innovation and it being home to the Michigan Defense Center was a big draw for the team.  We were able to show these companies that our well-equipped economic development toolbox is not only ready to help them get in the door, but to also support them throughout their stages of growth. They also learned that Macomb County is very supportive of business and a great place to live.

As background, pursuing international investment is one part of Macomb County’s comprehensive economic development strategy. The success of this tactic is evident in our increasingly diverse demographics. For instance, nearly one out of every 10 county residents is foreign born and there are more than 80 firms operating here that are headquartered outside of the USA. These international companies are creating great products and paying excellent wages. They include Kuka, Sodecia, Grupo Antolin, Brose and Faurecia, among others. Additionally, Macomb County has facilities for major domestic companies like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, General Dynamics, Fiat Chrysler and Oshkosh Defense. All told, the investments made by both domestic and foreign companies have boosted Macomb County’s economy.  Since the end of the recession in 2009, the county has added 80,493 jobs, increasing from 346,216 jobs to today’s total of 426,709 jobs. This astounding growth is a direct result of an effective economic development strategy, and of course, a great business environment.

To see more of Macomb County’s major investments, click here.

Nick 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 posavetz@macombgov.org.

How I accidentally became an economic developer: A message from John Paul Rea for National Economic Development Week

Go to any first grade classroom and ask kids what they want to be when they grow up.  You will surely get a number of inspiring and entertaining responses.  From doctor to dinosaur or professional athlete to astronaut, you can see the wonderment in their eyes when they talk about their futures.  I guarantee you that not a single one of those kids will say economic developer.  Well, that’s what I do (most days).  I am an economic developer, and the fascinating thing about my profession is that most people really don’t know what we do.  Ever more fascinating is that most economic developers really don’t know how they ended up as economic developers.  From the ranks of public administrators and MBA’s, we all kind of meander our way through government and the private sector and find this dynamic profession that links the vibrancy of community building with the innovation of the business.  So, as we celebrate National Economic Development Week, I wanted to give each of you a little bit of insight into how an economic developer helps figure out what a community should be when it grows up.

Economic development is, at its core, a function of government that exists to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for communities. It drives business growth and spurs job growth. It provides services that enhance downtowns, neighborhoods and parks. It offers assistance that helps strengthen the workforce and talent pool.  Altogether, its impact is far-reaching and significant.

As we near the end of National Economic Development Week, it is important to reflect on what economic development has meant for Macomb County and what it will mean for the future of our region. But before we dive into the details specific to our area, let me share some of my background.

I’ve been with the Department of Planning and Economic Development for more than a decade. Three years ago, I was appointed director. In this role, I oversee a dynamic team of professional planners and economic developers who are facilitating a wide range of municipal and business assistance services throughout the county. As you may have seen in a blog shared earlier this week, the work these individuals are pursuing is having a tremendous impact in our communities. We cited investments made by Amazon, Grupo Antolin and St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital to demonstrate the scale – but those are just three examples from a long list of business commitments in Macomb County. To see more of the money invested and jobs created, visit the interactive map that our department developed to show growth in our region since 2014. Needless to say, if you look at the map, you’ll discover that our county is brimming with business activity.

Our department is also responsible for a number of other initiatives. In the last year alone we were involved in the following:

  • We provided expanded planning support to our local units of government by assisting with the Utica Master Plan, New Baltimore Parks and Recreations Plan, Richmond Master Plan and Center Line Parks and Recreation Plan.
  • We developed the Mobilize Macomb Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.
  • We launched the Groesbeck Corridor Redevelopment and Reinvestment Community Partnership Initiative and community-driven Groesbeck Corridor Prime Properties Online Mapping Application.
  • We rolled out multiple web-based data and mapping applications via an online GIS mapping portal website.
  • We recruited 58 host sites for national Manufacturing Day, resulting in opportunities for 1,812 students to see the industry in person.
  • We launched Momentum, a semi-annual magazine for residents and business attraction prospects that features interesting stories about the people and places that make Macomb County unique.
  • We successfully implemented the planting of up to 25,000 trees with Green Macomb’s Urban Forest Partnership to help increase canopy cover in targeted communities of Macomb County.
  • We secured funding for several large-scale ecological restoration and recreational projects in the Clinton River watershed and along Lake St. Clair.
  • We hosted the Bassmaster Elite Series for the third time in six years and also landed the FLW Tour for 2018, another renowned bass angling event. These events are broadcast worldwide on ESPN and NBC affiliates.
  • We mined data and worked collaboratively to promote bringing the F-35 fighter jet to Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

This effort makes Macomb County a desirable place for economic investment. It makes opening a business here a good idea. It makes hiring local talent worthwhile. Simply put, it makes our lives better. That’s why I do this work. And that’s why the hard-working, passionate team at the department comes to the office every day. We serve the public, and we care about the community.

All of this to say – I know that the future of Macomb County is bright. Our next 40 years will be driven by innovation built off the legacy we have in producing things. This state, for generations now, has not only been the epicenter of the automotive industry, but also the epicenter of the production of goods. We now sit at the fascinating intersection of digital advancement and technology. This is going to make the state of Michigan and southeast Michigan a true hotbed for talent and innovation in advanced manufacturing. It’s going to help move the needle on how we are preparing individuals in our educational systems and it’s going to challenge us to look at the way that we set up facilities and industrial operations. Most importantly, it’s going to help us build better communities and sustainable economic development models that are going to provide prosperity across many different levels.

I look forward to this era of innovation and know that the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development will be at the forefront of its emergence.


John Paul Rea is director of the MCPED. He is a board member/trustee for the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART), Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority and Automation Alley. He’s also active on the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Michigan Planning Association.