Top Five Reasons to Nominate Your Business for a Macomb County Business Award

By: Maria Zardis, Program Manager Communications & Outreach

MBA 2016 - carousel 980x410

Only one nominee in each category will take home an impressive crystal award, but every nominated company is a winner! With just two short weeks until nominations close, now seems an appropriate time to talk about the top five reasons to nominate your company (or organization) for a Macomb County Business Award:

  1. Your company has achieved success in building a strong workforce; tapping new sources of revenue; achieving efficiency; giving back to the community; getting started; or creating a diverse and welcoming workplace.
  2. Nominating your company is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of your employees to implement a successful solution.
  3. The process is online and simple: provide background information along with a 300‐word summary about the company and why it fits the selected category.
  4. Being nominated offers exposure – all nominees are featured on our website and a description of each will appear in the event’s program book.
  5. Nearly 400 people attended last year’s program to network, hear from interesting speakers and see the awards presented. Every nominated company will receive two complimentary tickets for the Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 breakfast event.

Nominations will be accepted until 11:50 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12.  Please visit http://www.MacombBusiness.com/bizawards to learn more!

Maria Zardis is the program manager for outreach and communications. Contact her at maria.zardis@macombgov.org to learn more about the Macomb Business Awards and for sponsorship opportunities

Ethel’s Edibles: An example of opportunities for new businesses in Macomb County

Update: Since winning the Macomb County Startup Business of the Year award in 2014, St. Clair Shores-based Ethel’s Edibles has proven to be a company to watch! This maker of gluten-free baked goods has rapidly expanded with successes that include increasing revenue by over 100 percent, doubling production space, adding more full-time positions, boosting employment base by 30 percent and partnering with both Whole Foods Midwest for distribution in 8 states and Warren-based Lipari Foods for distribution in 12 states.

“It’s been an exciting 18 months and we are working on accomplishing more,” said CEO and Founder Jill Bommarito.

Continue reading to find out how this enterprising company got its start.

Originally published March 4, 2014

By: Jill Bommarito, President & CEO of Ethel’s Edibles

Ethel’s Edibles, a gluten-free baking company, was born out of the idea that crazy good food should be available to all. Celiac disease has been in our family for over 30 years, so I was familiar with the choices and obstacles for the gluten intolerant. Our idea is to get our fresh baked goods to the customers where they shop, as quickly and conveniently as possible.

Ethel’s Edibles President & CEO Jill Bommarito displays the goods in the Kitchen. Visit their website to find out how you can get some!

Never having designed a commercial kitchen, let alone worked in a commercial kitchen prior to the church, presented challenges. I was very dependent upon the city, county and Michigan Department of Agriculture, who oversees the licensing of bakeries, for their input and guidance. Every single contact at the city and government levels from St. Clair Shores, Macomb County and the Department of Agriculture, was more than willing to help in any way they could. There was not a single stumbling block for us, and for that, we are extremely grateful. We made the move the first week of December 2012, and it felt like home immediately.

Shortly after our move, the Macomb Department of Planning and Economic Developmentreached out to us to see how they could help. Jack Johns from their team toured our facility, then sat down and spent time going over programs, grants, and collaborative relationships that may benefit our effort. This was a whole new territory for me. Jack’s assistance and accessibility have made all the difference. We’ve applied for and received grants to add equipment that lead to increases in efficiency and production capabilities. We received coaching in hiring and training. We’re meeting with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) to increase our lean manufacturing practices. We are getting assistance with hiring interns. Our new knowledge of Michigan Works will aid us with adding human capital. Every day presents a new opportunity.

We are looking forward to the growth opportunities for Ethel’s Edibles that lie ahead. With the collaborative efforts of Macomb County, along with the state of Michigan and City of St. Clair Shores, we feel our potential is boundless. Jack helped open doors for us. This will enable us to forge ahead this year, expand into a larger production facility and share our goodness nationwide.

About the author: Jill is President and CEO of Ethel’s Edibles, a business she founded in 2011. The idea came from Jill’s love for sharing great food, which everyone deserves to have.  She has two grown children and enjoys camping and traveling with her husband and children.  Ethel’s Edibles was chosen by a panel of judges as the Start-up Business of the Year at the 2014 Macomb Business Awards banquet.

Macomb County making connections at international Army conference in D.C.

The AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition is the largest U.S. Army-based conference. It draws in both national and international firms who are interested in growing their defense market. For Macomb County, this conference is ripe with decision makers and potential business attraction prospects.

Recently, staff from the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, including Director Stephen Cassin, Project Coordinator James Ahee and myself, traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the conference. Also in attendance was Deputy County Executive Mark Deldin and representatives from the Michigan Defense Center, Detroit Regional Chamber and Butzel Long.

We visited all the international pavilions at the event. Countries like Turkey, Israel, Germany, Korea, UK, Canada and Australia were represented. We informed them about Macomb County’s defense assets such as TACOM LCMC, TARDEC and Selfridge Air National Guard Base and about major prime contractors in the region.

_EPP9023While speaking with these international companies, we also extended an invite to attend our Arsenal of Innovation Reception to hear from Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, commanding general of TACOM LCMC, and Brig. Gen. Michael Stone from the Michigan National Guard. This year, we invited BAE Systems’ vice president and general manager of combat vehicles to speak on why they are located in the Defense Corridor.

Approximately 175 guests attended this reception sponsored by the Michigan Defense Center, Butzel Long and our department. This is our fourth year hosting a reception at the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition, and we are seeing the benefits.

As a result of our participation in the conference, an Australian company reached out to us for a tour of our International Landing Zone (ILZ). They heard about the ILZ through a contact at BAE Systems who was in attendance at our Arsenal of Innovation Reception. Also, the government of Australia is looking to come to Michigan in the springtime with a delegation of Australian companies. Furthermore, we are working to schedule an Israeli defense delegation visit. These visits are excellent opportunities for our department to show international companies why they should locate their business in Macomb County.

Vicky Rad is the deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

How to use your local chamber of commerce to your advantage

Have you ever wondered what exactly a chamber of commerce does? Many believe a chamber of commerce is meant to only serve local businesses, but that’s not true. Chamber of commerce’s are also beneficial to the community residents and workers it serves! For example, a chamber of commerce is not government related. Sure, it’s important for us to maintain a great partnership with our local government, but, believe it or not, we’re actually a non-profit organization! In Macomb County, the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry works hard to bring many opportunities to residents:

Business Directory
Similar to an address book, the Business Directory lists local businesses in our surrounding communities. A directory can be found on our website. You can search a keyword or by category if you’re looking for something specific.

Community Calendar
Looking for something to do locally? Our community calendar is open to the public to search for an event, or to post one of your own! Search now for a fun-filled occassion right in your hometown! Do you have an upcoming event that needs promotion? Submit it here!

Coupons
Want to save money? Who doesn’t! Our members like to offer exclusive deals to the community via member-to-public coupons. View the coupons here and don’t forget to mention the chamber website to get your discount today!

Job Bank
Due to high demand from our members, the Job Bank is a brand new feature on our website. Seeking employment? View available jobs here, or upload your resume. Chamber members are able to post available positions or view resumes of job seekers.

Events + Expos
We plan and host a plethora of events that are great for developing your network and learning more about community businesses. Keep your eyes open for Macomb’s Business Showcase, Bass Brew & BBQ Festival, the Healthy Living Expo, and our Ladies Evening Out. Also, mark your calendars for our Fall Grub Crawl community event on Wednesday, September 23. More details are coming soon!

Social
Not only do we host social events in person, we’re also pretty social online! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest and keep up with our weeklyblog!

If you have a question for us, wish to attend an event or want to learn more about joining the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, give us a call at (586) 731-5400 ext. 11 or visit http://www.shrcci.com/.

About the author: Briana Koehn works for the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sterling Heights Dodge celebrates 50 years in business

Longtime Chrysler dealer Tony Viviano honored

Stories about being employed by the automotive industry are a dime a dozen around Macomb County. In fact, over 74,000 individuals living here have an automotive-related job. That’s not even counting the numerous families affected by those careers. But, sometimes, there’s a unique story to tell as is the case with Chrysler automotive dealer Tony Viviano. This past Thursday, Viviano celebrated the fact that his dealership, Sterling Heights Dodge, has now been open for 50 years, which certainly deserves recognition.

Viviano started working for Chrysler when he was in college and attended night classes at the Chrysler Institute. Once he decided to pursue opportunities with Chrysler, he borrowed money from his father and brothers and eventually opened Utica Dodge on May 15, 1965. After a few years of successful business, Chrysler approached him to be partners in the new dealership being built just a few miles from his current store. On May 15, 1970, he and Chrysler opened up what is now Sterling Heights Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram. He also acquired a dealership in northern Michigan that sold the Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile brands and owned a Dollar Rental Cars location at Metro Airport.

He has been involved in three different franchises over the years including Utica Dodge 1965-1970, Meadowbrook Dodge which was open from 1979 to 2009 and Sterling Heights Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram from 1970 to present.

But Viviano didn’t only focus on his dealership. He is also an avid volunteer. He is past president of both the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) and the Detroit Dodge Dealers from 1988 to 1989. While he was president of the DADA, the organization started the North American International Auto Show. He is past president of the Michigan Auto Dealers Association Board of Directors. He is the chairman of the Henry Ford Macomb Hospital Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Henry Ford System Foundation. He has served there in many capacities over the years including finance committee, the ethics committee and the organizational effectiveness committee. He also is a founding member of the Ambassador Club and has been a member of the Century Club for a number of years.

Viviano is also highly involved with the southeast Michigan Chapter of the March of Dimes and the Macomb County Sheriff Marine Division, where he is currently the commander of all the sheriff reserve units. He has received numerous other accolades throughout the years including being one of the 10 Medallion Award winners in nine categories honored by Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Medallion Ball. Viviano has been such a tremendous volunteer with the Henry Ford Macomb Health System Philanthropy Department that they named an award after him: The Tony Viviano Distinguished Achievement Award, which is presented annually at the Medallion Ball.

New websites showcase Macomb County

Promoting the best of Macomb County has been a priority of the County Executive since the new form of county government was implemented. Bringing new visitors and investment to Macomb, as well as building community pride are a focus of county government. Each month, thousands of people visit two of Macomb County’s websites, MakeMacombYourHome.com and MacombBusiness.com. Both websites offer great information about resources available in Macomb County and now both are sporting a new look to better showcase the best the county has to offer:

MMYH HomepageMake Macomb Your Home

The Make Macomb Your Home website is the centerpiece of the award-winning Make Macomb Your Home campaign, which includes television commercials, active social media accounts, billboards, digital and print advertising. The website is a robust resource of interactive content that shows off the great quality of life ready to be enjoyed in Macomb County.

Visitors to the new site will find enhanced content featuring great information covering everything from Macomb County’s golf courses, breweries, orchards and outdoor activities. Information about these resources is paired with dynamic content provided by the community in the Make Macomb Your Home blog (Have an idea that would make a great blog? Get started by visitinghttp://www.makemacombyourhome.com/#!blogsubmit/cwcs) and integrates with social media.

In addition to information, the new website provides tools such as the home finder, blog, ideas for winter fun, a busy calendar of upcoming events and information about the many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Check it out and discover something new about Macomb that you will enjoy!

MacombBizHomepageMacomb Business

Capping off a successful 2014 which saw clients of the department of Planning & Economic Development invest of $216.8 million and have an impact of 3,331 jobs, the county has refreshed its main business portal, www.MacombBusiness.com.

Serving as both an attraction and a retention resource, business owners and entrepreneurs can find information about how to start, locate or grow their business in Macomb. The county’s Department of Planning & Economic Development offers great resources from site selection, information, financing and incentives. Visitors to the new site will also find a calendar of upcoming educational and business networking events, information about department news and links to the department’s social media accounts.

Know someone who could use our resources? Visit our site & share!

Nick Posavetz is a Senior Planner for Macomb County, often providing content for the Macomb Business & Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts. If you have something you’d like to feature, reach out to him at posavetz@macombgov.org. 

Macomb County recruits investment opportunities from Saudi Arabia

saudi-arabiaI represented Macomb on their most recent mission to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi). Automation Alley is one of the best organizations in the country at hosting trade missions for businesses and economic development agencies. These missions have resulted in millions of dollars of direct foreign investment for the entire Detroit region.

Our group, composed of myself, a representative from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), six Michigan-based companies (including Panagon Systems in Macomb County) and Automation Alley staff, left Detroit Metropolitan Airport for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 5. The 14 hours of flying time was broken up by a 90-minute layover in Paris. We finally arrived in Riyadh and, after immigration, customs, baggage and transportation, we arrived at our hotel with just a few hours to sleep before our first meetings.

The meetings in Riyadh were mostly held at our hotel. The companies I met with included Advanced Electronics, Saudi Aerospace, Saudi Arabian Development and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. Saudi Arabia has a strong defense and aerospace sector. This was a great fit for Macomb County, which is often called the “Defense Capital of the Midwest.” My goal in meeting with these companies was to determine whether any synergies could be developed with Macomb County companies, whether Saudi Arabia companies were interested in establishing a location in our defense corridor and whether they had a demand for the products that our companies produce.

After a few days in Riyadh, we left for Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was an easy flight, only two hours. While we also arrived at night, there was a stark contrast between the more subdued city of Riyadh and the very cosmopolitan region of Dubai. My first vision was the endless array of tall buildings, each with unique modern architecture. While I usually enjoy more traditional architecture, somehow it all seemed to work together.  Also, Dubai has the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Ironically, while it looked tall, with the perspective of the other tall buildings near it, to me, it didn’t seem extraordinary.

Unlike in Saudi Arabia, all of my meetings in the UAE were away from the hotel.  On my first day, I left Dubai and was driven to the nearby kingdom of Abu Dhabi, the richest of all of the Emirates. Abu Dhabi was a bustling area, but probably 5-10 years behind the more developed Dubai. My meetings that day were with two agencies: Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), which is a free trade zone and port, and the Tawazun Company, which is an investment company focusing on defense industries.

The second day in the UAE was spent meeting companies in Dubai. Chris Bosio, from the MEDC, joined me for these meetings. We visited the Dubai Foreign Direct Investment Company, the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (which gave us a private tour of their facilities) and  F&E Aerospace, organizers of the world’s largest defense and air show exhibition, which is held every other year in Dubai.

After our meetings, it was back to the hotel for dinner, a little rest, and then departure from the hotel to the airport around midnight for 16 hours of flying time back to Detroit (a little longer because of the head winds). This time, we stopped in Amsterdam for a short break and to change planes.

Now the important part – the follow up! I made a lot of connections with companies and individuals, several of which will be in the United States in the near future. My job is to reach out to them, invite them to visit while they are here, answer their questions and to continue to develop the relationships that may lead to opportunities of mutual benefit!

Stephen N. Cassin is executive director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.