Attention Local Businesses! We want to help you reach shoppers this holiday season.

mapIn an effort to support independently owned and operated retailers this holiday season, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is partnering with the Sterling Heights Regional and Macomb County chambers to launch the #ShopLocalMacomb campaign.

As part of the promotion an interactive Shop Local Macomb map was created which features more than 1,600 locally owned stores. The map is searchable by type of merchandise sold or location. If we have missed you, please let us know planning@macombgov.org .

Visit makemacombyourhome.com/shoplocal to submit your store information, photo and holiday specials and we will share it in our #ShopLocalMacomb gallery.

Shoppers will have a chance to enter a contest to win one of five $500 gift cards, donated by First State Bank. Shoppers can snap a photo of them shopping local and post it online between November 24 and December 3. Winners will be randomly selected during a live Facebook drawing at noon on Monday, December 4.

Help promote Shop Local Macomb by downloading a flyer to hang in your window or door and sharing it on social media using #ShopLocalMacomb

More details about the campaign can be found at www.MakeMacombYourHome.com

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

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One Guy Making a Pizza Pie – With a Little Help

The one thing I have no interest in doing is cooking. There is nothing around the house I’m afraid to tackle, but I just really dislike cooking. When I want to eat, I just want to eat and not be in the kitchen for an hour. Some people enjoy it and even invite friends over to show them how they mastered their barbecue. Whatever! I find it beyond painful and prefer to specialize in eating. That is why this next part is so surprising.

I met a couple of firefighters during a business meeting who were talking about their plans to take over the world with a great new seasoning packet that you add to tomato paste for pizza and add to tomatoes for pasta sauce. Again, I don’t cook so I looked at them and said, “Really? Just add this to the tomatoes, and I will look like someone who knows what he is doing in the kitchen?”

On a side note, my father was a volunteer firefighter for 15 years for Macomb Township so I thought these two guys were probably trustworthy.

I went to the store and got an already-made pizza crust, some already-cut cheese and some tomato paste and mixed in their Just Add Tomatoes special seasoning packet. I put it all together like I have seen it done a million times at many of my favorite pizza locations. I put it in the oven for the amount of time it said on the back of the crust directions, and BAM! It was ready for consumption.

My wife walked in and almost passed out for I was making the best-looking pizza in the land. Let me tell you, I was pretty proud of this masterpiece, and yes, it was really easy to do. It tasted really good, and I may even make some spaghetti sauce in the future because of how easy Just Add Tomatoes seasoning packet was to use. The best part was my wife was very happy to see that I tried my hand at cooking and did not burn down the kitchen.

If you would like to learn more about Just Add Tomatoes, please go to their website at www.justaddtomatoespizzasauce.com.

 

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.

Buy Nearby is this weekend!

MRA-infographicThe Buy Nearby campaign is an ongoing, year-round, feel-good campaign intended to create excitement about the great shopping in Michigan and the advantages of supporting retailers and communities in Michigan. You can think of it as a “shop local” campaign for the entire state. The campaign is designed to get everyone excited about the great places and great shops in Michigan and get shoppers committed to buying in Michigan.

The campaign runs throughout the year and is formally celebrated on the first weekend in October, called “I Buy Nearby Weekend.” The two-day special shopping weekend, which this year falls on Oct. 7-8, will include a drawing for a $500 gift card to one lucky shopper who posts a photo of buying nearby with the hashtag #ibuynearby.

In addition to promoting the fun and value of shopping at Michigan retail businesses, the Buy Nearby campaign is designed to be an economic driver for the state.

Did you know that there are about 1,600 independently owned and operated retail establishments in Macomb? Support Buy Nearby in Macomb County this weekend.  Check out our interactive map of independently owned and operated store throughout the county.

Shoppers and retailers are encouraged to use social media to post photos and comments during “I Buy Nearby Weekend,” as well as throughout the year, about their great experiences when they Buy Nearby.

The Buy Nearby campaign was created by the Michigan Retailers Association and launched in April 2013. The 2017 campaign is sponsored by DTE Energy (title sponsor) and Retailers Insurance Company (supporting sponsor). Contributions to the campaign can be made on the Buy Nearby website at www.BuyNearbyMI.com.

Have your cake and eat it too at The Sweet Shoppe

The Sweet Shoppe is perhaps Mount Clemens’ best-kept secret.

Sweet ShoppeTucked in the corner of Gumbo’s on North Walnut Street, the charming bakery stands ready for business. Like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, the counters are filled with delectable sweet treats—apple turnovers, lemon poppy seed muffins, cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and more.

Owner Christina Taite is new to the baking world, but she’s already running her business like a pro.

“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Taite says. “I’ve worked here at Gumbo’s with my mother-in-law for years. So when the opportunity arose, opening a bakery here just made sense.”

The business is a family affair. “After working 10-hour shifts at his own job, my husband Craig still comes to the shop to help me out. My daughters visit the Sweet Shoppe every day. Most of the customers know them already, because they grew up in the restaurant,” Taite adds. “It’s my daughters’ dream to own a bakery one day, so hopefully I can build something for them to take over.”

Gumbo’s, owned and operated by the Taite family, is an authentic Cajun/Creole restaurant with some of the best po’boys ever made outside of New Orleans. It’s no wonder, then, that one of Christina Taite’s favorite Sweet Shoppe items are beignets: a traditional New Orleans dessert similar to a fritter.

Sweet Shoppe 2But Taite wants you to know that her shop offers more than just delicious pastries. “We have coffee and tea, as well as floats, shakes, sundaes, and smoothies. My personal favorite is the strawberry-banana, but our mango-pineapple is very popular too.”

Another reason Taite’s products are so scrumptious? They are made with local ingredients.

“Recently I got some freshly picked blueberries from a farm near here, so I decided to make blueberry cobbler with them. And of course, all our floats are made with Faygo. Whenever I can, I try to use Michigan-based products,” says Taite.

Sweet Shoppe 3As for me, I tried the pineapple upside-down cake—warm, melty, and drizzled with caramel sauce—and immediately fell in love-at-first-taste. Now I can’t wait to go back and try everything else on the menu!

The Sweet Shoppe is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday.  Whether you get dessert after a hearty meal at Gumbo’s or you just pop in for a refreshing smoothie, it’s the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth.

JennaJenna Russell is an intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a senior at Oakland University.

Register now for All about Food: From Farm to Fork conference

All about Food: From Farm to Fork is an annual event that is hosted at the beautiful Macomb Community College University Center and put together by the Macomb Food Collaborative. People from across the food system gather here to learn, grow and share about food. It is a great place to meet other food lovers, small business owners, agencies that regulate food safety and economic developers who work with food businesses.

Macomb Food Program pic 2There will be breakout sessions with experts discussing a variety of topics including the future of farming, dairy farm trends, conserving agricultural land, organic urban farming and the viewpoint of running a small farm in Michigan.

Your ticket gets you into all aspects of the event from the wonderful presentations, to the pop-up market, to a great lunch that satisfies many types of nutritional needs.

One of the very fun parts about the event is the pop-up market that has small business food vendors offering samples of a diverse line of products. There are also businesses offering information about many different food and health programs in the area, along with nutritional and essential oil businesses. This was a huge hit last year when the businesses were added to the event for the first time.

Macomb Food Program picThe event this year will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 6 at the University Center, 44575 Garfield Road, UC-1, Clinton Township, 48043. Signage will be at the road and main entrance.

Tickets are $30, and the deadline to register is May 30. Tickets are $35 at the door as long as there is capacity, which is not guaranteed. You can register online at www.macombfood.org (online registration fees apply) or fill out this registration form and make checks payable to the Macomb Food Collaborative. Send to Macomb Food Collaborative/MSUE, 21885 Dunham Road, suite 12, Clinton Township, 48043.

Click here to view the workshop schedule.

Macomb Food Program logo

Johns, Jack IMG_0030Jack Johns is a project coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in working with food, agriculture, energy, robotics, autonomous vehicle and retail businesses. If you are a business owner and would like to contact him, email jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293.

Newly revived business association seeks to unite and empower businesses in Center Line

Center Line picture.pngThe Center Line Business Association (CLBA) is a group of dedicated local business leaders whose primary purpose is to build a better community through local small business networking. At the heart of this effort is the ideology that by coordinating a group effort in the community, an attraction to commerce is relative to all. After all, smart business owners know that good business requires a healthy economy, and a healthy economy requires a healthy community.

Center Line picture 3Center Line is fortunate to have many loyal businesses that contribute time and money to make it such a great place to live and work. These individual efforts have gone a long way in a short period of time. The improved look and feel of the city is gaining momentum with a promising future on the rise. The results can be seen in the facades, the K-9 unit patrolling the areas and the increased number in daytime traffic. This is what the CLBA is all about. Our city is a gem in the heart of metropolitan Detroit, and we are surrounded by the most densely populated areas in the state.

Please consider becoming a part of this effort to gain new opportunities and growth for current and future businesses in the city. The CLBA offers local business owners the opportunity to meet once a month to discuss issues pertinent to their businesses and the continued growth of the CLBA.

CHRYSLER GROUP LLC HOME OF MOPARThe CLBA is currently polling businesses in the community about their vision for the future of the city. To participate, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CLBA_Survey.

To learn more about getting involved with the CLBA, call the city at (586) 757-6800.

John Motyka is the president of the Center Line Business Association and owner of Elite Ink Tattoo Company in Center Line.

Macomb food entrepreneur lays groundwork for growth

Daves-Sweet-ToothMarch is Food and Ag Month in Michigan. Agriculture, food processors and related businesses employ 22 percent of the state’s workforce, and the state has 2,166 licensed food processors generating nearly $25 billion in economic activity. Macomb County is no exception to this growing trend. With 502 farms spanning 67,960 acres and 1,409 food manufacturing jobs, Macomb County boasts a healthy food and agricultural industry. Here is a close-up look at the path one Harrison Township food processor is taking to build a successful food business in Macomb County.

You may have heard about Dave’s Sweet Tooth when CEO Andrew Chmielewski made the Crain’s Detroit Business “20 in their 20s” list or landed on the Forbes “30 under 30” food and drink list, or you may have even seen the company featured on Good Morning America last year. Their toffee is carried in stores across the state and country, including Kroger, Marshalls, Whole Foods Market and Nino Salvaggio, as well as sold online. They will even be featured once again on Good Morning America as the Deal of the Day tomorrow, March 30. In business for only five years, this company is expanding at an incredible rate.

Dave’s Sweet Tooth manufactures delicious handmade toffee made from Chmielewski’s father’s homemade recipe. While touring the 5,000-square-foot facility, I was able to watch workers take the cooled toffee from baking sheets and break it into pieces by hand. In another room, employees were stuffing the toffee pieces into packages. Seems simple enough. Yet, a lot of hard work went into establishing the business, and more lies ahead to ensure the company’s growth is sustainable. And that’s where the experts come in.

daves-sweet-tooth-toffee-pouch-collection_1024x1024Chmielewski is tapping into all of the resources and services available to entrepreneurs. He is currently enrolled in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s economic gardening program. The Michigan Manufacturing Technical Center is also helping the company prepare for their Safe Quality Food (SQF) inspection as well as prepare the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering the company support through providing information about export programs which could help the company tap into markets in Canada, China or anywhere in the world. MDARD offers trade missions and participates in international trade shows where companies can become familiar with foreign markets and even meet one-on-one with buyers to discuss their products. The state also offers the Branding Program which reimburses companies up to 50 percent for translation services, airfare, hotel costs and vendor table space for international trips and toward expenses such as creating bilingual labels and websites geared toward a foreign market.

Jack Johns, program coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, also met with Chmielewski to discuss any needs the growing company has. Johns informed him that when Dave’s Sweet Tooth finds itself at capacity in its current space, Macomb County can help the company locate a new facility and take advantage of all the cost-saving incentives available to food processing businesses, which may include a tax abatement.

If you are a food or agricultural business in Macomb County, reach out to Johns at jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293 to see what kinds of programs, incentives and partners are out there to help your business succeed.

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