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Gluten- and nut-free pizzeria opens in Troy

A dad frustrated by the challenge of taking his daughter out to eat without her getting sick from meals that came with nut-free and gluten-free claims has opened his own restaurant in Troy, and he's seeing a rush of grateful customers who share his desire to just enjoy a meal out without worry.

The dad, Gabe Hertz, and partner and pizza specialist, Ken Karapici, opened Renee's Gourmet Pizzeria in February in Troy. The word of mouth in the allergy community has attracted customers from across metro Detroit to Ann Arbor.  Renee's is located at 1937 W. Maple Road. There's room for 60 to eat and there's carryout.

Hertz named the restaurant after his daughter who was diagnosed with nut allergies and Celiac's Disease, a wheat intolerance, at age 5.

"My daughter can't have one speck of wheat or it can put her into two weeks of pain, and I love taking her out to eat," Hertz says. Nuts are life-threatening. She and most people with her carry an EpiPen. "Finally, she said, 'Dad, that's it, I'm not going anywhere else to eat with you. It was a month and a half before she walked in here."

Once he decided to open his own restaurant, Renee became the taste-tester for what the pizzeria would sell: a thin New York style pizza, calzones, soups, Hungarian dumplings, soups, cinnamon sticks and more.

"I've waited for a long time for someone to do this. Finally, I thought, you know if no one else is doing it, I'm going to do it. And no one is doing 100 percent gluten-free and nut-free like we are. Unless you are 100 percent free, you will have cross contamination."

He wanted to open a gluten- and nut-free restaurant that served food just as tasty as anywhere.

"I didn't want to build a gluten-free facility. I wanted to build a good gluten-free facility. Anybody can put out cardboard."

The reaction from parents has been as important as the bottom line, he says.

"It's not uncommon for someone to drive and hour, hour and a half to get here. Imagine there are parents who can finally open a menu and say, 'Wow, we can have anything on this menu!' The parents are in tears. I'm in tears. It's amazing to see, in my opinion, the comfort we give families. I know, if I could find one place my daughter could eat and not get sick, I would go three hours just to get that dinner with her."

Source: Gabe Hertz, co-owner, Renee's Gourmet Pizzeria
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale's Go Comedy! improv artists take stage as workplace consultants

Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale has found another stage for its performers' quick wits, teamwork, and senses of humor in workplace workshops.

It's a sideline to its main business of nightly, rotating shows and one of several ways that the theater's improv artists have added to their repertoire. The workshops, which can last an hour or two or a full day, can "train your group to function as a well-oiled machine," says Go! Comedy Improv Theater's Andy French.

The workshops can go to the workplace or the workers can come to the workshop at the Go! Comedy Improv Theater at 261 E. 9 Mile in downtown Ferndale.

“We use hilarious improv games to teach people how to be a crucial part of the team. Learn to cooperate and create together and have a great time doing it,” French says.

Skills to be learned through comedy, quick thinking, and performing include team building, listening and communication, and leadership skills. French says improvisation teaches listening, agreement, cooperation, supporting the ideas of others, give and take, and conflict resolution.

“We use hilarious improv games to teach people how to be a crucial part of the team, learn to cooperate and create together, and have a great time doing it."

Go Comedy! also teaches improv and other classes related to improvisational skills at its studio and rents its space for weddings and special events.

The team, which consists of 25 improvisers and writers, can also be hired to perform at special events. This week the team headlined the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority's monthly B2B Networking Meeting.

"The Go! experts know that the tenets of improv often parallel the ingredients of being solid in business," says the DDA's Chris Hughes. "By using what they teach to developing improvisers, the Go! team helps businesses owners and employers learn how to be better listeners, cooperate with each other, feel more comfortable on the sales floor and succeed, with a bonus of enjoying life."

Source: Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Small business investing triples in Oakland County

Small businesses are thriving and investing in Oakland County, Mich., Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said today. In 2013, existing small businesses and start-ups obtained triple the amount of loans and capital formation dollars from 2012 with the help of the Oakland County Business Center.

Banks approved $22,719,100 in traditional loans for established small businesses in 2013 through the Oakland County Business Center compared to $7,050,195 in 2012. In addition, The Oakland County Business Center assisted small businesses in acquiring $39,159,531 in capital formation in 2013. Contrast that to 2012 when small businesses accessed $13,669,878 in capital formation.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are a bell-weather of things to come,” Patterson said. “When businesses start investing more, it’s a sign that they are confident about the future.”

These investments helped generate $42,644,162 in revenue for the businesses and created 226 jobs in 2013. The year before, they helped produce $11,330,801 in revenue and created 191 jobs.

Oakland County Business Center counselors offered 2,968 hours of assistance to small businesses and start-ups last year. It is located in the One Stop Shop on the first floor of the Executive Office Building, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford, Mich. Start-ups or small businesses seeking to grow or invest in Oakland County may contact an Oakland County Business Center counselor at 248-858-0783, or click on AdvantageOakland.com.

Automation Alley to host "Global Outlook in Aerospace and Defense," April 23

Join Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, for “Global Outlook in Aerospace and Defense,” a conference on the shifting landscape in global aerospace and defense spending trends, Wednesday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to noon at Automation Alley Headquarters in Troy.

The conference, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Macomb County and the Michigan District Export Council, aims to educate business leaders on the new opportunities in the global aerospace and defense arenas and will feature industry experts sharing firsthand insights into future spending trends in technologies related to cybersecurity, unmanned vehicles, intelligent systems and commercial aerospace, among others.

Despite the U.S. scaling back its defense budget, total global defense spending this year will reach $1.547 trillion, according to Jane's Defense Weekly.

“Picking up the slack is the surging demand overseas especially in Asia – including the Middle East – and North Africa,” said Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley director of International Business Services. “Today, four Asian countries – including Japan, India and South Korea –are among the top-10 defense spenders worldwide. Speakers at this event will provide case studies on how to best position your company to take advantage of these growth opportunities overseas while ensuring compliance with ITAR rules and regulations.”

Speakers include:
•    Noel Nevshehir, Director of International Business Services, Automation Alley
•    Sean Carlson, Executive Director, Michigan Defense Center
•    Melanie Taylor, Practice Manager for Global Aerospace & Defense, McKinsey & Company
•    COL (R) Donald P. Kotchman, Vice President of Armor Brigade Combat Team, Ground Combat Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems
•    Greg Cameron, Vice President of Sales, RedViking
•    Terry Davis, Deputy Director, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), Export Control Reform (ECR), U.S. Department of State

Participants will also learn about Automation Alley’s trade mission in July to the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, the world’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition attracting more than 100,000 attendees and 1,500 exhibitors from 50 countries around the world.

The cost to attend “Global Outlook in Aerospace and Defense” is $20 for members with pre-registration or $30 at the door. The cost for non-members is $40 with pre-registration or $50 at the door. Pre-registration closes April 21 at close of business.

Automation Alley Headquarters is located at 2675 Bellingham in Troy.

For more information, or to register, visit automationalley.com.

About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a technology business association and business accelerator dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan and enhancing the region’s reputation around the world. Automation Alley offers talent and business development programs and services to tech-focused businesses of all sizes — from startups to large corporations — to help them grow and prosper.

Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley’s membership has grown to include nearly 1,000 businesses, educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations from the city of Detroit and the surrounding eight-county region.

Automation Alley provides a variety of exclusive benefits to its members to help them succeed, including networking opportunities, meeting space and public relations tools. Automation Alley also serves the general business community in four key areas: entrepreneurial services, talent development, international business services, and defense and manufacturing.

Automation Alley collaborates with regional partners to provide its members and clients with the best business resources available, to drive local economic growth, and to positively influence the stories being told around the globe about the people and businesses of Greater Detroit.

For more information, visit automationalley.com.

DTW to add 25 restaurants; Sklar buys Beau Jack's


Chef Zack Sklar and his Peas & Carrots Hospitality group have purchased Bloomfield Hills mainstay Beau Jack’s. Sklar, who also runs MEX in West Bloomfield Township and Birmingham’s Social Kitchen & Bar, will rename the restaurant Beau’s and re-open it this summer after a remodel by designer Ron Rea.

Read more

Entrepreneurs win with the opening of the Clawson Business Resource Center

Local and easy access to resources for entrepreneurs is the goal of the Clawson Business Resource Center (CBRC). Located in the Blair Memorial library, it provides easy access to materials and expertise. Although open to everyone, the program targets entrepreneurs and small businesses whether their status is pre-startup, startup or growth and expansion. 

By sharing resources, the CBRC offers support to Entrepreneurs by providing research and business development tools locally, within our own city. 

The Clawson Business Resource Center offers: Business related books, magazines, periodicals and hard copy resources; Internet based resources, Business Counseling and Business seminars.

The project began as part of the yearly workplan of the DDA’s Economic Committee – part of our Main Street program – to provide support to businesses. A partnership ensued between the Blair Memorial Library, Clawson Chamber of Commerce, the Clawson Downtown Development Authority and the Oakland County Small Business Center to provide our many resources in one location and with a unified online presence. 

There are so many resources available and our goal was to create awareness of the many resources and to make them easily accessible. The library became the ideal location – the hard copy resources are already in place, computers are available to access the online resources, and it offers a location with access beyond the typical 9-5 business hours.

The flexible - and evening – hours of the library widens the reach of our resources. Business counseling will be offered on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 6-8pm from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and Michigan Works (MI-Works) respectively. 

Troy-based Autobike partners with Grand Rapids TerraTrike

Autobike, the young company from Troy that's reworked and refined automatic shifting technology for bicycles, is going into business with TerraTrike, a Grand Rapids manufacturer of recumbent trikes.

The partnership gives Autobike a whole new market for its technology that appeals to both techies who love gadgets and cyclists who just want an easy ride.

Techies get a ride that's constantly being analyzed for when to shift by a tiny little electronic brain along with a smartphone app and bluetooth synching. Easy riders get a ride without ever having to shift a gear themselves.

TerraTrike's product combined with Autobike's technology adds up to the world's first smart trike, the companies say. The new high-tech model, part of the TerraTrike's Rover line, debuts within weeks.

TerraTrike and Autobike, which builds and sells its own bikes with its automatic shifters, have customers around the country, and they  expect sales to increase after the release of the smart trike.

Source: Autobike
Writer: Kim North Shine

Revival in the making for historic Hills Theatre in downtown Rochester

Local history lovers and civic boosters in Rochester are pushing a plan to bring back the 1940s-era Hills Theatre downtown, and the idea got a boost recently when a feasibility study showed it could well be economically viable.

If the idea moves forward, after a major fundraising campaign and renovation Rochester would join several Michigan cities who are turning to "theater-nomics" to add life and dollars to their downtown.

The 820-seat Hills Theatre is located in the heart of downtown at 412-416 S. Main Street, and a renovation could cost between $3-4 million.

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society started exploring the idea about two years ago, and along with the city's Historical Commission worked with a consultant, paying $15,000 to advise on the best use of the theater and how to proceed with a campaign and building plan.

While the crux of the project will rely on private donations, Mayor Jeffrey Cuthbertson has said the city could provide services, engineering and other professionals in the interest of building a downtown entertainment destination.

The supporters of theater revival also expect to ask the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to chip in on Rochester's project as it has in other cities.

Source: Rochester Avon Historical Society and city of Rochester
Writer: Kim North Shine

Valentine Distilling to triple distillery space in Ferndale

Valentine Distilling's gin is taking a similar path as its vodka. It's winning awards, racking up orders in Michigan and several states, and is on the way to putting the Ferndale craft liquor maker on the world map.

Valentine's latest award, and probably the most significant, came last month when its Liberator Old Tom was named the World's Best Cask Gin by the World Gin Awards in London. Valentine makes a traditional gin, cask gin and whiskey, all released last year. Distribution of its original Valentine Vodka began in 2009.

"We've received many awards, many important ones, but this is a really big one…This came out of London, the home of gin," says founder Rifino Valentine. "I always have high expectations for our products. [We're] not just a local distillery, but this blew us away."

The award is one thing. Keeping up with demand is another. Valentine is in the process of renovating a 15,000-square-foot space in Ferndale into a distillery that will quadruple its output capacity. The new facility is expected to be ready for production in the fall of 2014, says Valentine. At about 5,000 square feet, the current distillery space, which is paired with an often-packed tasting room, will become the pilot distillery, the research and development area, he says.

Research and development is a slow and deliberate process and the reason, Valentine believes, for the success of Valentine Distilling's small-batch spirits.

"We were working on that gin for three or four years," he says. "I never just release stuff to get it out. I want to make sure it's competitive internationally and nationally…That's why it took us years…figuring out the botanicals and figuring out how the taste changed as it aged."

Even before the award, it became clear that Valentine needed to step up capacity.

"My distributors on the East Coast and in Chicago are calling, 'How much can we get and how soon?' "

Michigan is likely to follow suit.

"In Michigan vodka is still really big…The craft cocktail and craft spirit movement is just starting to hit Michigan right now and it's already been going on and is at full steam on the coasts and in cities like Chicago," he says. "So we get a large number of orders in Michigan for our vodka now, but the gin will come.

"The Liberator, we call it a new western gin or an American gin, because the flavor profile strays away from London dry or extra dry. It doesn't just smack you in the face with juniper…It's complex with a beginning, middle and end, with spices like cardamom, coriander and cinnamon."

Valentine, who left a successful career on Wall Street to launch a small-batch liquor company about six years ago, chose Michigan over Miami or other big cities, as a way to help the state by adding a small business to the books. He says the growth and the expansion in space and products was always part of the business plan, but the best part is seeing Michigan's distilleries and craft cocktails take off and make a significant contribution to the local and state economy.

"Looking back on it, it's pretty fun.. Probably five other distilleries have opened or are opening within five miles of us. It's funny to think back to 2008 and actually watch this industry grow. I mean just in the last couple of years alone we've generated a couple million dollars in tax revenue for the state," Valentine says. "It's so neat to see the industry thrive. It's so cool to help the state come back. It's one thing to talk about it, but to actually see it come to fruition is deeply meaningful."

Source: Rifino Valentine, owner, Valentine Distilling
Writer: Kim North Shine

BorgWarner Tech Center an Emerging Sectors success

BorgWarner’s expansion of its Powertrain Technical Center in Auburn Hills is a sign of the continued success of Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors® initiative. The expanded technical center will support up to 200 jobs, including many engineering positions that pay more than $90,000 a year. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson launched Emerging Sectors in 2004 to attract sustainable, high-paying jobs in the knowledge-based economy.

The technical center will “support programs in North America and supplement (BorgWarner’s) global network of technical centers. The nearly 46,000-square-foot addition will include space for program managers, sales and engineering professionals,” BorgWarner said in a press release today. The company expects to complete the expansion in early 2015.

“BorgWarner’s decision to expand in Oakland County shows its confidence not only in the strength of the Emerging Sectors, but also the quality of life we enjoy throughout the county,” Patterson said. “BorgWarner has my sincere gratitude for investing in and bringing additional jobs to our county.”

Oakland County, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the City of Auburn Hills worked together with BorgWarner to take the project from paper to shovels in the dirt.

"We are pleased to be adding jobs in Oakland County and appreciate their cooperation and guidance throughout the process,” said Scott D. Gallett, vice president of marketing and public relations at BorgWarner.

As of Feb. 28, 2014, 266 Emerging Sectors companies have invested more than $2.66 billion in Oakland County creating 30,444 jobs and retaining 14,640 jobs – a combined total of 45,084 jobs. These figures do not include the additional jobs created by BorgWarner.

About Emerging Sectors
In 2004, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson created Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors initiative to identify the top 10 sectors that will attract and retain sustainable, high-paying jobs to Oakland County in the 21st Century. Companies in these emerging sectors are involved in such leading-edge technologies as biotechnology, nanotechnology, wireless communications, advanced manufacturing and alternative energy.

About BorgWarner
BorgWarner Inc. (NYSE: BWA) is a product leader in highly engineered components and systems for powertrains around the world. Operating manufacturing and technical facilities in 60 locations in 19 countries, the company delivers innovative powertrain solutions to improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and enhance performance. For more information, please visit borgwarner.com.

AET Integration moves to Troy

AET Integration, Inc. is a technology firm specializing in research, development, engineering, and testing of materials, welding/joining, and forming.  AET has also developed a unique customized data mining software tool entitled KnowledgeClick. This software can be adapted for many different functions in the engineering community.  The local automotive and engineering companies will benefit from this tool.
Due to its growth, AET relocated its facility from Wixom to a 22,500 square-foot building at 1775 Crooks Rd. just north of Maple Rd. “Troy was a logical location for us to move our expanding business,” states Cindy Jiang, founding owner and president of AET, “The location is convenient for our customers and there are many other progressive engineering businesses in this area. In addition, we see the city of Troy as a place for growth and innovation.” 
 The new facility features expanded office and laboratory areas for placement of state-of-the-art equipment which makes AET ready for continued growth in cutting-edge technology development. AET now offers more engineering services for advanced materials characterization, new manufacturing technology research and development, engineering testing, and failure analysis.
AET’s main customers are in the state of Michigan. In addition to the R&D and engineering community of the automotive industry,  AET also works on projects from the United States Department of Energy, National Labs, energy, heavy manufacturing, oil and gas, home appliance companies, and material manufacturers. The team at AET is already enjoying working in Troy and supporting the community. 

2014 Governor's Awards for historic preservation announced

Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Executive Director Scott Woosley today announced the selection of the 2014 Governor's Awards for Historic Preservation.

"These awards recognize the outstanding work going on throughout the state to preserve Michigan's historic and cultural sites," Snyder said. "These unique assets help to define the identities of our wonderful communities and are vital to Michigan's future. I am pleased that we can honor those who protect these sites through innovation and hard work."

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) at MSHDA initiated the award program in 2003 to recognize outstanding historic preservation achievements that reflect a commitment to the preservation of Michigan's unique character and the many archaeological sites and historic structures that document Michigan's past. Previous recipient projects include the rehabilitation of private residences in Ann Arbor, Calumet, Detroit and Kalamazoo whose owners used state historic preservation tax credits; the rehabilitation of furniture factories in Grand Rapids; the excavation and study of the Riley Mammoth Site in Ionia County by the University of Michigan; the preservation of the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Traverse City; the restoration of the DeTour Reef Lighthouse; and the rehabilitation of the General Motors Technical Center in Warren.

"This year's award winners have shown that they value Michigan's diverse history and resources and have put a priority on preserving both," Woosley said. "We applaud their dedication to this difficult and important work and their commitment to doing the job right."

The 2014 recipients are:
  • The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Cornerstone Architects, and BCI Construction for the rehabilitation of the Lake Michigan Beach House, Ludington State Park
  • Dr. John Hand and the late Nancy Hand for their stewardship of the Frederick Kennedy Jr. Farm, Hanover Township, and the Hugh Richard House, Jackson
  • Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, Inc., for the restoration of Pere Marquette Railway Steam Locomotive No. 1225, Owosso
  • Lafayette Place Lofts, LLC., West Construction Services, and TDG Architects for the rehabilitation of the H. V. Mutter Building, Pontiac
  • Wayne State University, Quinn Evans Architects and McCarthy & Smith Inc. for the restoration of the McGregor Pond & Sculpture Garden
"Our historic buildings and archaeological sites define who we are as a state," State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway said. "We learn about previous generations by studying these historic places, and by preserving them we connect with people who came before us for the people who will come after."

The awards will be presented at a public ceremony in the Michigan State Capitol Rotunda at 9 a.m. May 7.

To learn more about previous Governor's Awards recipients, go to Michigan.gov/shpo, click on Special Projects and Governor's Awards.

New office building construction, mixed-use projects on rise in Metro Detroit

After the demise of new developments during the recession, blueprints for major construction projects are getting the green light again throughout the Detroit region. Crain's Detroit has a regional survey of what's in the pipeline.


"There are 23 proposed industrial construction projects of 100,000 square feet or more in metro Detroit, according to CoStar. 

"Fifteen to 20 percent of our business is now construction money," said Dennis Bernard, founder and president of commercial mortgage broker Southfield-based  Bernard Financial Group Inc.  "It was never that big."

...In addition to new office construction, several major mixed-use projects are also on the horizon, many of them in the city of Detroit.

There is the redevelopment, also by Redico, and the  Magic Plus LLC  investment group of the former  Michigan State Fairgrounds  site at 8 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, a mixed-use project valued at about $150 million."

More here.

The Bird & The Bread offers Euro-style, family-friendly eats in Birmingham

It was always a part of the plan for The Bird & The Bread to be a welcoming restaurant for families.

What was not as planned was the extent to which family would play into the charmingly-named, stunningly designed and decorated space where food described as modern Euro casual with an American twist is being brought to Birmingham by the owners and creators of Vinology in Ann Arbor and and Vinotecca in Royal Oak. The Bird & The Bread at 210 South Old Woodward opened for dinner Feb. 22 and will open for lunch March 25. It is connected to The ELM, a banquet room for about 150 guests that is under construction and will open March 18. Brunch will be served at The Bird & The Bread before Easter.

But back to the family ties. First, the restaurant name. It comes from the nicknames given to the twin 3-1/2-year-old children of the owners by their grandfather. One, the smaller girl with a cry more like a squawk, was dubbed The Bird. The heftier son was more like a dense loaf of bread and took his nickname from that.

Later, as the family thought up the name of their future restaurant that would serve more as a comfort food place than their wine-focused previous endeavors, the inclusion of bread, as in fresh-baked loaves, and bird, as in chicken, made sense. The whimsical nature of the name fit the family attitude and restaurant design, which includes an emphasis on environmentally sustainable construction and has a stave -- a room that feels like being inside a wine barrel.

"We agonized and agonized about the name of this restaurant because it's the first time for us not to do a vino concept," says co-owner Kristin Jonna, who grew up around good food and wine as the daughter of John Jonna, one of the founders of Merchant of Vino and former owner of Merchant's Fine Wine. She has traveled the world honing her craft -- wine and food -- and is known as one of Michigan's wine experts. The Jonnas also created Vinotecca inside the Bastone complex in downtown Royal Oak, and own and operate the successful Vinology in downtown Ann Arbor.

The departure from a fine-wine restaurant -- though the Bird & Bread will have a good selection -- was a response to something missing in Birmingham.

"Birmingham has done high end well. It didn't necessarily need more of that," Kristin Jonna says. "We felt what was untapped was a more a casual concept, more of an everyday family restaurant."

That should not imply that hot dogs and chicken fingers are on the menu, though executive chef Jim Leonardo, who is splitting his time between the new restaurant and Vinology, "is loving getting the chance to cook food he serves to his family," she says.

Further tying in the family connection, the grandfather's 30-year-old collection of cookbooks decorates The Bird & The Bread's walls and light fixtures in the space that's broken into comfy, homey rooms such as the nook and the stave and a restaurant entrance that welcomes diners with the warmth of a pizza oven and rotisserie.

The ELM banquet space, which has a simpler, elegant decor and a completely different food selection, is named after nephews Enzo and Luke and niece Maya, the children of Vincent Jonna, who's also in the family restaurant and wine business.

"We are just so excited and ready to go," says Jonna. "We want people to know, the families to know, we're here and want to share The Bird & The Bread with them."

Source: Kristin Jonna, co-owner, The Bird & The Bread
Writer: Kim North Shine

Oxford Twp. needs lodging facilities to accommodate visitors

Oxford Township is quickly becoming a well-known destination in northern Oakland County, but the one thing it still lacks is overnight accommodations for visitors.
"This monopoly board definitely needs some hotels," said Jack Curtis, chairman of the township’s Economic Development Subcommittee (EDSC). "We can’t keep expecting people to come here to work and play, but spend their nights somewhere else. We need to be an all-inclusive destination and we’ll never be that until we have places where people can unpack their suitcases, take a shower and lay their heads."
The closest lodging is located in surrounding communities like Orion Township, Auburn Hills, Rochester and Lapeer.
Oxford is looking for corporations, developers and entrepreneurs with the willingness and capital to build hotels, motels, inns and bed-and-breakfast establishments.
"We need somebody who sees the need we see, sees the potential we see and sees the value of investing in this jewel of northern Oakland County," Curtis said. "We need some risk-takers. We need some partners."
Given everything there is to see and do in Oxford, having lodging would make it much easier for visitors to explore and enjoy the town.
"You can’t adequately experience this community in a single day," explained EDSC member Todd Bell. "We’ve got championship golf courses, miles of scenic trails, acres of lush parks, numerous horse farms, a variety of festivals and a revitalized, historic downtown full of unique dining and shopping opportunities. You could spend a week or two here and still not drink in everything Oxford has to offer."
And it isn’t just recreational opportunities that draw folks to Oxford.
“We’ve got a school district that’s constantly bringing international students here. We’ve got an industrial/manufacturing base that has customers and partners all over North America and the rest of the globe,” Curtis said. “We need somewhere for visiting parents to stay. We need somewhere for businesspeople to stay. We want them all to stay here.”
Curtis noted Oxford has the Boulder Pointe Conference Center, which is the perfect venue for seminars, conventions, corporate retreats, annual meetings, etc.
"We've got the meeting space, we just need the hotel to go with it," he said.
Forcing visitors to stay somewhere else is not only inconvenient for them, but it doesn’t make economic sense for Oxford.
"We want to help local businesses thrive and grow," said EDSC member Ed Hunwick. "Having visitors spend their money elsewhere for services not offered here works against that goal."
There’s a vast amount of vacant land along M-24 - the main artery through Oxford Township and downtown Oxford – that’s well-suited for the development of lodging.
M-24 is connected to I-75 to the south and I-69 to the north. The state highway leads to other well-known local destinations such as the Palace of Auburn Hills and the City of Lapeer.
"When you think about it, building a hotel on M-24 in Oxford is a no-brainer,” Bell said. “It’s a natural fit.”
Anyone interested in possibly constructing lodging facilities in Oxford is encouraged to call the township office at (248) 628-9787.
"Let’s start the dialogue now," Hunwick said. "We’ll be glad to pull out the zoning map and master plan, and explain exactly where we’re headed as a community.”
Oxford is part of Oakland County's One Stop Ready program, so the township and village are committed to working with businesses to expedite things such as the site plan approval process.
“We’re even willing to connect potential developers with local real estate agents and brokers who can track down the perfect spot to build,” Curtis said. "We have three liquor licenses available, which is perfect for a hotel that wants to incorporate a restaurant and bar."
“The bottom-line is we’re ready, willing and able to work with anyone who has the desire and the vision to build lodging facilities in Oxford," he added. "We can’t keep waiting for something this community needs right now.”
Oxford Township is home to 20,526 residents (including Oxford Village) and experienced the third highest population growth (28.2 percent) in Oakland County based on the 2010 U.S. Census. Its diverse business community ranges from a revitalized downtown district to a healthy manufacturing sector. For two straight years, the village was recognized by a University of Michigan-Dearborn study as one of the top communities in the state when it comes to fostering economic development and entrepreneurial growth.
Oxford is served by a full-time, professional fire department, which currently holds the record for the fastest cardiac care time in the county.
Oxford Community Schools is the first public school district in Michigan to receive PreK-12 authorization from the International Baccalaureate organization.
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