Networking and baseball with the Consular Corps of Michigan

What started off as a stormy and humid Thursday turned into a warm evening with a slight breeze and an enjoyable time at Jimmy John’s Field. Under the third baseline pavilion, members of the Consular Corps of Michigan gathered with Macomb County’s economic development team to discuss business attraction and international investments while the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers played against the Eastside Diamond Hoppers.

Corps 1According to the Consular Corps of Michigan website, their mission is to “sustain an environment in which trade, investment and cultural relationships flourish between member nations and the United States of America…” Representatives from Barbados, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom were all on hand to hear remarks from County Executive Mark A. Hackel and Chairman and CEO of General Sports and Entertainment Andy Appleby.

Hackel promoted bringing business to Macomb County and the services we offer under our economic development program. Appleby discussed how his dream of designing and operating a baseball field came to life with hands-on assistance from our department. As part of the festivities, guests were given a behind-the-scenes tour of Jimmy John’s Field. Many partner agencies joined the meetup, representing the Macomb County Chamber, OneMacomb and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Corps 3The key takeaway: Macomb County is a great place for international companies to call home. With access to waterways and international borders, Macomb County has the proximity as well as the talent and expertise to assist these businesses. Fostering and building these relationships with our international partners is fundamental to the county’s expansion and growth goals, and we welcome them with open arms.

Lauri Cowhy is a senior communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Macomb County supports National Black Business Month

In 2004, August was established as National Black Business Month. It is a time for policy makers, venture capitalists and residents to focus on fostering a welcoming environment where black-owned businesses can prosper. It is also a call to action for those within the black business community to support one another.

onemacomb (1)In an effort to create an inclusive community for all people, Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel established OneMacomb. One of OneMacomb’s key objectives is to strengthen the county’s economy. This is accomplished by focusing on a variety of approaches to advance economic inclusion.

For example, we are hosting job fairs specifically geared toward our county’s diverse populations. Recently, OneMacomb met with the Detroit HBCU Network and members of the new Alpha Kappa Alpha Macomb Chapter to discuss matters of mutual economic interest. We are working together to host a job fair at our Macomb County Family Resource Center on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Other strategies we are implementing to create a welcoming and inclusive county consist of sending our job postings to our African-American, ethnic and cultural business organizations and meeting regularly with African-American community leaders to connect them to resources in the county that help their businesses advance. Also, at our Macomb Business Awards, we recognize businesses that are cultivating an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued, and we are proud to promote our Model of OneMacomb award.

Our Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development also specializes in helping all types of businesses grow. Their staff has extensive knowledge about available incentives and alternative financing programs that may be able to assist eligible businesses in gaining access to capital and taking advantage of new opportunities such as job training, energy efficiency and façade improvement programs.

Bill Perkins Automotive GroupAnother way to help black-owned businesses succeed in Macomb County is through patronage. There are 677 minority-owned businesses in Macomb County. According to Crain’s Detroit Business 2014 Book of Lists, the top black-owned businesses in the county are St. Clair Shores-based Prestige Automotive LLC and Eastpointe-based Bill Perkins Automotive Group and metal processing corporation SET Enterprises Inc. in Warren.

This month, challenge yourself to shop small, shop local and discover a new business. By redirecting a small portion of your spending, it could be a beneficial boost to Macomb County’s black entrepreneurial system.

Pam Lavers is the deputy county executive for Macomb County and leads the OneMacomb initiative. 

Boosting economic development through international student retention

onemacomb (1)Did you know that international students make up 70 percent of graduate students enrolled in a master’s or PH.D. program in electrical engineering? In fact, throughout the nation, 63 percent of computer science and 70 percent of graduate students in engineering are international students. Generally speaking, international students are much more likely to study in the STEM fields than any other.

As potential employees, international students have a lot to offer our industries.

electrical engineering (1)Now, an initiative is underway to help employers recognize the value of hiring international students in  Michigan and other Midwestern states. It is led by Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network, a project of Welcoming America.

More than 20 organizations from throughout the Midwest are part of the WE Global Network. United, they work to welcome, retain and empower immigrant communities for the value they add to our local economy. The network also provides members access to research and tools and gives peers the chance to share best practices for creating new opportunities.

To learn more about this initiative, check out the latest WE Global Network’s blog: International Students Are U.S. Business’ Best Hope For Growth.

Michigan (1)OneMacomb is a proud member of the WE Global Network. This initiative strives to make Macomb County a welcoming community where everyone can thrive. Last month, Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers attended a special event at the White House where Macomb County, along with 50 other U.S. cities and counties, was honored for its participation in the nationwide Building Welcoming Communities Campaign.

OneMacomb was singled out for its efforts to enhance language access by incorporating video remote interpreting services, installing multi-language signage throughout county buildings, translating brochures into numerous languages and providing connections to local literacy services.

Follow OneMacomb on Twitter @WeAreOneMacomb and Facebook @OneMacomb.

Zardis, Maria IMG_0089

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