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Harman breaks ground on North American automotive headquarters in Novi


Harman International Industries broke ground on its new North American automotive headquarters in Novi. When completed in fall 2015, the 188,000-square-foot building will initially accommodate 750 employees, with an additional 250 to be added in future years.

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With $1.5 million from state, Covisint moving from downtown Detroit to Southfield


Covisint Corporation is moving from the Compuware Building in downtown Detroit to Southfield.

The move is being supported by a $1.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

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Salon owner brushes back challenges, opening new shop


George Nikollaj, one of the owners and founders of 6 Salon in Royal Oak and Birmingham, is preparing to open Dye & Dash, a new concept in Troy.

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Moody's investors service upgrades Clarkston Community Schools bond ratings

Clarkston Community Schools announced that Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the district’s $19.9 Million 2015 Refunding Bonds (General Obligation – Unlimited Tax) to an A1 underlying rating and Aa2 enhanced rating. An A1 underlying rating on the district’s outstanding general obligation (GO) debt was reaffirmed, and Moody’s removed its “negative outlook.”

Moody’s noted multiple strengths leading to the assigned rating, including recent improvement to the district’s financial operations resulting from significant expenditure reductions, above average socioeconomic indicators and a sizable recovering tax base.

“Moody’s upgrade to Clarkston Community Schools’ rating reflects the health of our district and the hard work that has gone into keeping the schools financially sound even in a continually challenging environment for education,” said Rod Rock, Ed.D., superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools. “With a high rating, we are better equipped to borrow at better rates to maintain our vigorous standards for student learning. Our rating proves we are a good investment for bond buyers, as well as parents and students.”

Moody’s summarized its ratings rationale in its report:

The A1 underlying rating reflects the district's sizable tax base and affluent demographic profile; limited reserves; maintenance of some revenue and expenditure flexibility despite the sectors weak institutional framework; and elevated debt burden. Removal of the negative outlook is based on recent improvement to the district's financial operations that is expected to stabilize the district's reserves. Also incorporated is recent recovery in the tax base, that will likely reduce the district's debt burden going forward despite ongoing borrowing from the state School Bond Loan Revolving Fund (SLRF) to support debt service.

The Aa2 enhanced rating is based on the SBQLP [School Bond Qualification and Long Program] programmatic rating of Aa2, which reflects sound program mechanics and the strength of the state's GO credit.

Moody's Investors Service is a leading provider of credit ratings, research and risk analysis. The firm's ratings and analysis track debt covering more than 115 countries, 11,000 corporate issuers, 21,000 public finance issuers and 76,000 structured finance obligations.


Formed in 1952, Clarkston Community Schools is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of 8,000 students, encompassing seven elementary schools, one middle school, one junior high and one high school. The district offers a rigorous curriculum, including advanced studies and Advanced Placement programs. The Clarkston High School facility includes state-of-the-art technology, a Performing Arts Center, Olympic-size pool and top-notch athletic facilities. In 2006, the district opened a brand new Early Childhood Center. For more information, visit www.clarkston.k12.mi.us.

Sellers Auto Group in Clarkston launches YourOnlineDealer.com

Consumers can now buy or lease a car from one of Sellers Auto Group’s four campuses without ever leaving their home with the launch of the new YourOnlineDealer.com.

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S&P Data expands in Troy

On December 8, S&P Data LLC hosted a launch party for its new facility in Troy Michigan. S&P Data has looked forward to setting up in Michigan for some time and invited many local businesses as well as state and city officials, including Lt.Gov Brian Calley who delivered a speech at the event. S&P Data site tours were arranged for prospective businesses during the launch party. It was a productive and enjoyable event for those invested in the future of the state of Michigan.

Dan Plashkes, Partner and CEO of S&P Data had much praise for the state saying “Michigan is really working hard to reinvent itself. Our experience with the state and the city of Troy has truly shown that Michigan is open for business. It’s not just something they say” operations began in August of this year with a major national satellite service provider as the first client.

About SP Data
S&P Data, LLC is an outsource provider of contact center services, with a 100 % focus of onshore, Omni-channel (Text, Chat, Email, Social Media) and business-to business services.. S&P Data, a California based company with operations in the USA and Canada, has serviced many top brands across multiple industries from major financial institutions, to top telecommunication brands and international distributors. 
Across the continent S&P Data has established itself as an outsourcer that can be trusted to deliver top notch performance in both sales and service channels. It is focused on providing technology, human capital and operational expertise which has been developed and nurtured over more than two decades in the Customer Relationship Management business. For more information, visit: www.spdatallc.com


Steeped-in-Detroit Eli Tea expands with tea bar in Birmingham

After a year of planting the seeds for a Detroit-based tea company that could lead Detroit -- and America -- to carve out its own distinctive tea culture, the founder of Eli Tea is opening the start-up's first tea bar in downtown Birmingham.

The 25-year-old company founder, Elias Majid, started Eli Tea with the help of a grant and advice from Wayne State University's Blackstone Launchpad. Eli Tea incubated and grew from Eastern Market Corp.'s Detroit Kitchen Connect, which pairs food start-ups with commercial kitchen space.

"I wanted to open up my own store to further the tea culture," he says. "Detroit is behind on the tea trend. There are tea shops on every corner in Chicago, D.C., Boston.

"It's a good market to be in for me…It attracts a health-conscious crowd, cultural creatives and everyone who wants something that's good for you and tastes good too."

The company philosophy is based on selling only natural teas, blended on site and never using syrups or artificial flavors.

During his start-up phase, Eli Teas moved into 20 metro Detroit shops and restaurants while Majid scouted a location of what he hopes will be the first of many Eli Tea's tea bars.

Majid picked a former Cold Stone Creamery on Woodward Avenue in downtown Birmingham for the first location and he expects to be fully open by Nov. 1.

"My competitors try to make English tea rooms or Chinese tea rooms," he says. "I really want to make an American tea room. I don't think that's been done yet."

He is transforming the 1000-square-foot space at 108 S. Old Woodward into a "sophisticated tea bar with an homage to Michigan, but without trying too hard," he says.

There will be a countertop made of pennies, a birch-tree stenciled wall, carved copper ceiling tiles and a tea wall featuring containers of loose leaf teas. The new store goes hand in hand with an overall expansion of Eli Tea products from 30 to 80.

"I'm trying to move past the doily culture," he says. "I want to see education, interaction with customers, and see people appreciating and loving tea the way I do."

Owning a tea company, "is no one's dream as a kid," he says, but he realized while studying and working with plants in a lab that a career in something like tea "was a way for me to interface with the public about plants and health…I'm going from laboratory to retail, and I'm able to give that unique point of view to the customers."

Source: Elias Majid, founder, Eli Tea
Writer: Kim North Shine

Friendship Factory's blend of social good and retail comes to Rochester

The Friendship Factory has added a second store in downtown Rochester, expanding from its Clinton Township location where crafting, parties and lessons in kindness have combined into a good business idea.

The newest Friendship Factory brought its bracelet makers, beads, stickers lanyards, and oodles of craft supplies to the former Avon Township Library at 210 West University in downtown Rochester. The crafts combine with the owners' wish to help girls weather storms of friendship and socializing.

Both stores, the one at Partridge Creek shopping center in Clinton Township, and the new one host birthday parties, Moms Night Out events, painting parties, holiday gatherings and have rotating themes such as the current Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.

Whether dropping in to craft or there for a party, the point of the interactive studio is to "connect friends and family and build friendships."

It also offers friendship-building workshops hosted by a licensed therapist. The owners want its target market, 8- to 14-year-old girls, to understand how relationships change and how to manage change with social skills that emphasize support and kindness.

Source: Friendship Factory
Writer: Kim North Shine

Warp 9 comics enters phase 2 with renovated shop in downtown Clawson

Warp 9 Comics and Collectibles has built a loyal customer following after 15 years in business, and now with a new owner and a renovated space it's time to put down the next panel in Warp 9's story.

The new owner, Trey Hunt, hosted a grand opening party Oct. 18. The store is located at 21 W. 14 Mile Road in downtown Clawson and attracts customers from across metro Detroit.

Comic book artists, costumes and comic idol cookies were part of the grand opening party. The store sells toys as well and also is an eBay dealer.

Besides painting, cleaning and re-organizing the store, where Hunt worked before buying it from the previous owner, the plan is to make Warp 9 a family-friendly shop and destination for comic art.

Source: Warp 9
Writer: Kim North Shine

Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez! announces first Chicago franchisee

Chicagoland is about to get “cheezy” with the coming arrival of Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!, a hot, new concept in fast casual dining specializing in unique, creative and inventive macaroni and cheese dishes, and offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free soups, salads, sandwich wraps, “Twisted” grilled cheese and 14 different kinds of vegetarian and meat-topped macaroni and cheese, all made-fresh-to-order.

This is not your mama’s mac n’ cheez! The recipes and concept for Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez! originated at the award winning Sweet Lorraine’s restaurants of Metro Detroit-based veteran restaurateur and chef, Lorraine Platman and her business partner and husband, Gary Sussman. And…award-winning chef Lorraine Platman is bubbling over with enthusiasm to announce the company’s first Chicagoland franchisees, entrepreneurs Jeff and Carolin Huh of Glenview, Ill.

The Huhs were in the process of investigating various franchise opportunities when they experienced Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez! during a visit to the restaurant’s Troy, Michigan location at the Somerset Collection. “We immediately fell in love with the concept and knew we had to bring it to the Chicago area,” recalls Jeff Huh.
Huh further explains, “We were attracted to the support and proven business models that accompany a franchise. We spent a year and a half in discussions with Mac n’ Cheez!, and immediately felt we were on to something special. Most of the other franchises we looked at seemed impersonal and gave us the impression that we would just be another cookie- cutter location number. When we first reached out to Mac n’ Cheez!, we were immediately welcomed. The organization is made up of amazing people who went out of their way to make us feel like we were part of the Mac n’ Cheez! family, an environment that we felt nurtured everyone in the organization from the top of the company down to its philosophy for dealing with customers.”
Platman said, “I’m delighted for the Huh’s to introduce the Chicago area to our concept of “peace, love and mac n’ cheez”. We give our guests the highest quality dining experience, which we call “Fresh, Fun and Delicious!”. We’ve created the ultimate ooey-gooey comfort food by allowing guests to create over a billion--and yes we’ve calculated them—combinations, using our 38 toppings!”
Lorraine likes to call the offerings at “Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!”, “Twisted Comfort Food!”. Customers order and watch as servers assemble their cheesy, fresh, hot dishes. Soups, salads and sandwiches are also prepared in view of diners. She says, “When dining out, why not ‘Choose Fabulous? She continues, “one of our regular guests calls it, ‘Heaven in a bowl’!”
“Customers are looking for fun, high-quality food on the go and Lorraine has created the perfect menu for that lifestyle,” said Gary Sussman, Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez! president and CEO. “Franchise investors recognize that we’ve created a completely new category of fast casual restaurants with tremendous potential for growth.”

“We’re just getting started and already have two franchisees and are having franchise discussions in Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Canada and several other foreign countries” said Paul Bensman, Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez! director of franchising. “Additional corporate and franchise locations are scheduled to open in late 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, with plans to secure 10 – 12 more franchised locations in the next 18 months.”

The signing of a franchise agreement with the Huhs represents the beginning of Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!’s immediate expansion outside of Michigan. With established locations in The Somerset Collection (Troy, Mich.) and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets Mall (Auburn Hills, Mich.), East Lansing, Michigan its first franchise set to open in Detroit’s Renaissance Center this Fall, a company-owned location set to open in Detroit’s midtown area near Wayne State University in January 2015; the company is growing fast with more franchise deals in the works with inquiries from all over the U.S. along with several international inquiries. The company is also looking at markets across the United States and internationally to open both company and franchised locations.
To inquire about franchises, please visit www.macncheez.com

About Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!
Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!, was founded in 2010 as an extension of popular Southeast Michigan restaurant Sweet Lorraine’s Café and Bar. Started by Chef/Proprietor Lorraine Platman with husband and business partner Gary Sussman, Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez!, currently has three locations in Auburn Hills at Great Lakes Crossing, East Lansing and at Troy’s Somerset Collection with two Detroit locations in the works, a forthcoming Chicago-area location and further expansion coming soon. The menu offers specialty macaroni and cheese dishes, along with salads, sandwiches, wraps and desserts. MacNCheez.com


B Spot Burgers Royal Oak now open

Iron Chef Michael Symon's popular B Spot burger joint has opened its new Royal Oak location today. This is the second B Spot location in metro Detroit; the first location in Rochester Hills opened earlier this year. 

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Michigan Seamless Tube acquires rights to produce Blue Diamond brand


Michigan Seamless Tube LLC, a manufacturer of carbon and alloy seamless cold-drawn tube and pipe, and Wheatland Tube, North America's leading standard and sprinkler pipe producer, announced that MST has acquired the exclusive rights to the prestigious Blue Diamond brand of A106 seamless pressure pipe from Wheatland Tube. As a result of this transaction, MST is now the sole domestic producer of this specialty pipe to the North American steel market.

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Civic theater inks agreement with licensing company


The Farmington City Council has approved an agreement between the city-owned Civic Theater and Tugg, Inc., a national company that licenses movies and special events.

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Botsford Hospital plans $160M expansion


Two months after agreeing to combine into eight-hospital Beaumont Health, the 330-bed Botsford Hospital has announced a $160 million expansion plan on its Farmington Hills campus.

Botsford Hospital CEO Paul LaCasse, D.O., said the osteopathic hospital plans to begin construction next summer after receiving expected certificate-of-need approval in the spring from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

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Met 13 - Royal Oak apartments rehabbed into "upscale urban flats"

A 1950's-era apartment building near Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak has been rehabbed into what the developer describes as "upscale urban flats."

Metropolitan 13, or Met13, is located at 4000 W. 13 Mile Road. The 40-unit project offers completely renovated two-bedroom units and services and amenities meant for urban professionals who don't spend much time at home but want a living space that feels fashionable and comfortable and is close to the places they work and play.

Met13 offers free Wi-Fi, an outdoor living room and round-the-clock services. For developer Jeffrey Kaftan, president of Kaftan Communities, the renovation represents a lifestyle- and design-focused way to see the leasing market.

"We really see the Metropolitan brand as a confluence of design and living," he says. "You can find a number of examples in the marketplace where design has been brought to products like cars and watches, but there are not many examples of that in rental housing. We’re trying to bring that to the forefront in the urban flat rental market in the metro Detroit area. Young professionals are asking for a living environment that gives them the opportunity to express their individual sense of style and the Metropolitan brand’s urban flats do that beautifully."

Kaftan is nephew to Sheldon Kaftan, who in 1960 moved into an apartment at what is now Met13. Kaftan Communities invests in and rehabs residential and commercial properties throughout metro Detroit.

Source: Sue Voyles, Logos Communication
Writer: Kim North Shine
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