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Up North-based custom bed designers expand to downtown Rochester

A mattress designer who makes beds in any size, shape or form by hand, from scratch has opened a store in downtown Rochester.

Beds by Design, which started in Harbor Springs, Mich. in 2005, has built a mattress manufacturing business on a customer base that wants mattresses made exactly as they ask, whether it's for comfort or for special spaces, say tight cottages, RVs, yachts, you name it.

Downstate interest in the Up North-based Beds by Design prompted owner Rory Karpathian to open a Rochester showroom last month at 111 W. Third St.

Karpathian, a former high-ranking mattress company executive who tired of industry changes focused on making more money by manufacturing shorter-lived products, says mainstream manufacturers can't come close to the careful, detailed and time-consuming process he and his employees use to make mattresses.

"I make hand-crafted, natural, heirloom quality mattresses. My mattresses are made to last a lifetime and are the finest you will find in North America," he says.

Source: Rory Karpathian, owner, Beds by Design
Writer: Kim North Shine

Public art becoming a priority in Southfield

The Southfield City Council recently approved the creation of a Public Arts Commission that will focus on promoting public art in the city by working with the city planner and soliciting donations and fundraising for various projects.

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Let's take a peek inside the historic Buhl Estate


Long before it was a government-owned facility that routinely hosts wedding ceremonies and receptions, banquets, fund-raisers, business meetings and other events, the [Buhl Estate] was part of the sprawling rural playground for the family of Lawrence D. Buhl, a wealthy Detroit industrialist who lived from 1887 to 1956.

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Automation Alley reaches export milestone: $400 million in sales for local companies

Southeast Michigan companies have made more than $400 million in export sales as a result of Automation Alley trade missions and other activities, Michigan’s largest technology business association announced today.
These export sales have resulted in the creation or support of more than 2,365 jobs. Automation Alley has reached this goal due to its trade mission program and other international activities, including the State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) program. Since Automation Alley’s trade mission program began in 2001, the association has led 156 local companies on 21 trade missions to locations around the globe. In December, Automation Alley will lead local companies on a trade mission to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 
“We are proud to have reached this significant milestone with our export program. Around the globe, demand is increasing for Michigan-made products, services and technologies,” said Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of international business services. “Automation Alley trade missions are results-driven and help small to medium-size businesses in Southeast Michigan capitalize on this demand, growing their businesses and creating jobs.”
Automation Alley’s trade missions include a packed program with briefings, seminars, one-on-one business meetings, factory visits, official receptions and dinners, and cultural events. The briefings and one-on-one meetings are prearranged for the individual participants to match their business interests. 
To prepare local businesses for trade missions, Automation Alley hosts informative country-specific workshops and seminars prior to the mission as well as export-readiness events featuring international business experts. 
In addition to trade missions, local businesses can communicate with overseas customers, clients and investors using the state-of-the-art communications tools at Automation Alley’s International Business Center at its headquarters in Troy. 

As a Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Regional Export Network host, Automation Alley works with the MEDC and its strategic partners to deliver export services.
Companies seeking to enhance their global competitiveness and expand their business outside of Southeast Michigan are invited to join Automation Alley on an upcoming trade mission. 
For more information on the upcoming trade mission to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or other Automation Alley international business activities, contact the Automation Alley Resource Center at 800-427-5100 or info@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 five key areas: entrepreneurial services, talent development, international business services, product lifecycle management 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.

Rontal Akervall Clinic announces second location in new Beaumont Neuroscience Center in Royal Oak

The Rontal Akervall Clinic – a group of physicians and health professionals specializing in ear, nose, throat treatment, as well as head and neck surgery and aesthetic and reconstructive surgery of the face – has announced the expansion of its practice with a new, second location in the recently-opened Beaumont Neuroscience Center, located in Royal Oak, Mich. The practice’s original office remains in Farmington Hills, Mich.
The new clinic will feature audiology services and offer access to hearing aid devices, in addition to Rontal Akervall’s traditional and speciality ENT services, which span allergy management, congenital cleft and craniofacial disorders, head and neck cancers and tumors, sinusitis, larynx and voice issues, nasal obstructions, gastroesophageal reflux disease, snoring, hearing loss and tinnitus.
“As the demand for health care grows in Metro Detroit, we are expanding our practice to meet the increased needs of our patients,” said Matthew Rontal.
“Adding an office within the Beaumont Neuroscience Center, and staff to support the new clinic, allows us to offer our patients two convenient locations, making it closer for them to receive the care they need and easier to schedule appointments with our specialized team,” Eugene Rontal added.
The additional office employs 7 professionals. Patients can schedule appointments for either location by phone at 248-737-4030.
About Rontal Akervall Clinic
The Rontal Clinic was founded in 1972 by physicians Michael and Eugene Rontal. Since its founding, the Rontal doctors have developed a nationally recognized practice that combined innovative clinical work with academic excellence to provide specialty care of the breadth of problems in ear, nose, throat, as well as head and neck surgery, including subspecialty care of sinus disease and voice disorders. Dr. Jan Akervall joined the practice in 2004, bringing his vast knowledge of treatment of head and neck cancer. Dr. Daniel Rontal joined the practice in 2005 with broad ENT skills and specialties in more complex problems of the paranasal sinuses. Dr. Matthew Rontal joined Rontal-Akervall Clinic in 2010, adding a focus on the breadth of facial and craniofacial reconstruction and aesthetic facial plastic surgery, as well as surgery of the anterior skull base.

Magneti Marelli inaugurates a new plant for automotive exhaust systems in Independence Twp.

Magneti Marelli Holding USA announced that its exhaust system manufacturing plant located in Independence Township, Mich., near Clarkston, celebrated its official opening. The occasion was marked by a brief ceremony for its employees, followed by a family event.
“The inauguration of the Independence Township plant is a significant milestone for Magneti Marelli,” said Magneti Marelli Holding USA President and CEO Stephane Vedie. “With the addition of the exhaust plant, each of the company’s business lines is now represented in North America, providing and expanding footprint to serve our customers here and around the world.”
“For all its business areas, Magneti Marelli has a footprint that is fitting the key customers’ needs and enables a strategic positioning on the global automobile market,” stated Eugenio Razelli, CEO of Magneti Marelli. “The Exhaust business, with a very significant presence in Europe, South America and, since few years, also in China and India, is now adding an important presence also in the US”.
The new plant strengthens Magneti Marelli’s position in North America adding to its competencies that include automotive lighting, powertrain, electronic systems, suspension systems, aftermarket and motorsport.
The 100,000-plus square foot plant located in suburban Detroit is the first Michigan manufacturing facility for Magneti Marelli, whose North American headquarters is in nearby Auburn Hills. Employing 75 people, the plant manufactures hot end exhaust manifold integrated with catalytic converters and will reach a production capacity of about 300,000 units per year.
All manufacturing operations are performed on site, including forming of the canister in which catalyst materials are inserted, and robotic welding of the various components to create the finished product.
The first important project is related to Fiat Chrysler platforms.
The plant is also home to Magneti Marelli Aftermarket North America, which is responsible for the "Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar" All Makes Parts Program. This All Makes program enables Chrysler Group dealerships to service all vehicle makes and models, as well as offer product to independent repair facilities. The Aftermarket division currently has 18 employees.
About Magneti Marelli:
Founded in Italy in 1919 and headquartered near Milan, Magneti Marelli is a leader in component manufacturing electronics and the production of other technologically advanced automotive products. With its 85 production units, 12 R&D centres and 26 application centres in 19 countries, about 38,000 employees and a turnover of 6 billion Euros in 2013, the group supplies all leading carmakers in Europe, North and South America and the Far East. Its business areas include: Electronic Systems, Lighting; Powertrain, Suspension Systems and Shock Absorbers, Exhaust Systems, Aftermarket Parts & Services, Plastic Components and Modules, Motorsport. Magneti Marelli is part of Fiat Chrysler Group.
Innovation and quality are at the core of Magneti Marelli.  The company invests heavily in research, development and engineering, and has a long list of accomplishments in both motorsports and the passenger car industry, supplying all the leading carmakers in the world.
With an established presence in the U.S. since 1976, Magneti Marelli USA coordinates the activities of all Magneti Marelli divisions in the NAFTA region from its North American headquarters, located in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Magneti Marelli can rely on a longstanding presence in North America with Powertrain, Lighting, Electronic Systems, Suspension Systems (Shock Absorbers), Exhaust Systems and Motorsport businesses.
At its Auburn Hills Headquarters, Magneti Marelli houses engineering development, application engineering, testing labs and administrative support functions and sales for all the North American business lines. The Magneti Marelli Motorsports NA team is also located in the Auburn Hills offices. Magneti Marelli Aftermarket North America is located in nearby Independence Township.
Magneti Marelli has industrial operations in Independence Township, Michigan (Exhaust Systems); Sanford, North Carolina (Powertrain); Pulaski, Tennessee (Automotive Lighting, Shock Absorbers, Exhaust Systems,); El Paso, Texas (logistics and warehouse); Juarez, Mexico (Automotive Lighting); Saltillo, Mexico (Suspension Systems); and Tepotzotlan, Mexico (Electronic Systems and Automotive Lighting).

New markers tell history of downtown Clawson

Visitors to downtown Clawson can take a glimpse into the past while shopping for the home at Leon & Lulu, dining on Vietnamese at Da Nang or sipping suds at Black Lotus Brewery.

The history lessons come through a series of permanent markers erected in August to tell the story of Clawson's past and add an element of interest to the downtown center that conveys and old meets new appeal.

Seventeen History Walk plaques are spread through four sections of downtown, says Joan Horton, director of the Clawson Downtown Development Authority.

The DDA and the Clawson Historical Museum worked together on the project sponsored by Talmer Bank.

The object, says Horton, is for downtown visitors "to take a stroll to enjoy the downtown of today while learning about the one of the past."

The plaques are installed on posts along sidewalks and on buildings such as the Black Lotus Brewery (formerly the Clawson State Savings Bank), Leon & Lulu (where the Ambassador Roller Rink once operated), and the closed Clawson Theater, which is under renovation.

"Overall, using text and photos, they help to tell the story of Clawson -- the steam powered mill that was in the northeast corner, the interurban train, horses and cars sharing dirt roads downtown and on through to the process of paving in 1928 and glimpses of life into the 1950s," says Horton.

Printed rack cards showing marker locations are available at City Hall, the historical museum, the library, Black Lotus and Leon & Lulu.

Source: Joan Horton, director, Clawson Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtowns now and then: Why they're important to Michigan's economic development

The Michigan Downtown Association has over 200 members and encourages the development, redevelopment and improvement of the state’s communities and downtowns and downtowns become increasingly desirable places to live, work, and play.

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Gongos launches insight curation practice Arti | fact

Gongos, Inc., parent company to Gongos Research and OIntegrated, launches its third business unit, Arti¦fact, as announced today by president & CEO Camille Nicita. Founded on the philosophy of insight curation, Arti¦fact contextualizes and preserves knowledge inside organizations, making it more consumable, immersive and memorable. Gongos research strategist & curator Amy Perifanos has been appointed to lead the new business unit; and former colleague Brett Bridges returns to Gongos to join in the launch and long-term operational strategy of Arti¦fact.
“Organizations want to better empower their brand, marketing and category leaders to make decisions based on insights and intuition,” says Nicita. “Knowledge at rest stays at rest—Arti¦fact will bring wisdom to the surface—and put it in motion—inside organizations in a fresh, provocative way.”
“Arti¦fact is about companies having the courage to reimagine how they learn and act on insights, whatever form that takes,” adds Senior Director, Arti¦fact, Amy Perifanos. “Infographical journeys, video documentaries, insight portals, animations, and insight integration initiatives all can move organizations beyond single-objective, point-in-time deliverables.”
With her appointment, Perifanos will lead a multi-disciplinary team of writers, curators, videographers, and information designers, and also joins the Gongos Enterprise Strategy team. As Director, Arti¦fact, Bridges joins in operationalizing the practice as well as co-developing the company’s proprietary dynamic insights platform. The platform draws users in to encourage the hands-on exploration of knowledge and insights.
Perifanos was most recently account strategist and curator for Gongos Research. Her ability to strike a balance between strategic thinking and creative execution led to further assessing the need for insight curation, a philosophy for which she has presented and co-authored on since early 2013. With an initial focus in the shopper insights space, Perifanos’ big-picture thinking has catalyzed client relationships within organizations such as Coca-Cola. Prior to Gongos, she spearheaded market research initiatives at the Kohler Co.  Perifanos has a M.S. in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and continues to reside there.
Bridges recently returned to Gongos from Safeway, where he was Manager, Consumer & Shopper Insights. Preceding that, he was Senior Advisor, N.A. Consumer & Small Office Marketing for Dell. He had spent three years prior in research roles at Gongos Research, while he earned his MBA from the University of Michigan, and studied design and digital imaging principles at the College for Creative Studies.  Bridges resides in San Francisco, CA.
Gongos, Inc.’s trifecta approach to decision intelligence supports Global 1000 companies. Fusing custom research, insights curation, and decision analytics, Gongos offers clients multiple levels of engagement to address their ongoing business challenges. Serving the consumer products, retail, financial services, transportation and technology spaces, Gongos combines innovative and foundational approaches to consumer-minded intelligence.
The company’s primary research division, Gongos Research, partners with corporate research and insights teams on initiatives spanning the entire product and marketing life cycle. O2 Integrated, its data sciences business unit, harmonizes enterprise and research knowledge through consultative relationships. The company thrives on developing techniques to shape purposeful stories that can be readily socialized within client organizations.
Gongos works with companies such as Hallmark Cards, Mars-Wrigley, Visa, GM, OnStar and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In 2007, the company was first named to the Inc. 5000 list of “The Fastest Growing Companies in America” and is among the Gold Top 50 U.S. marketing research organizations. For further insight into the Gongos culture, visit gongos.com or facebook.com.

To see the Arti¦fact philosophy in motion, click here.

Baldwin Theatre renovates orchestra pit

A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday, September 11th for the Baldwin Theatre’s recently renovated orchestra pit. The orchestra pit, original to the 92-year-old building, was in need of updates and renovations. The renovation funding came from Stagecrafters, a matching grant from Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and a generous private donation from Stagecrafters’ members Craig and Shari Morgan. It took three months to complete and cost approximately $100,000.
The orchestra pit was dedicated to Mr. Morgan’s late mother, May Morgan, an avid theatre-goer. “It is an honor to always have the memory of May Morgan at Stagecrafters and the Baldwin Theatre. She will always be here with us applauding our efforts. She had told us, ‘There are very few things in life better than live theatre’,” says Mr. Morgan.
The May Morgan Orchestra Pit was enlarged to accommodate more musicians for the larger musicals and to address safety issues. Updates to the orchestra pit include acoustics, electrical, safety and aesthetics.
About Stagecrafters 
Stagecrafters, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit community theatre, is in its 58th year of providing opportunities for members of the community to develop their talents and to volunteer their time to create an enriching, quality theatrical experience through its Main Stage, 2ndStage, and Youth Theatre productions. At the Baldwin Theatre since 1985, Stagecrafters has been named Best Community Theatre byHour Detroit, Real Detroit Weekly and Daily Tribune.
Stagecrafters offers shows that appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests and prides itself on providing professional quality shows at affordable prices, making the performing arts accessible to individuals in our "regional" community.


Longtime environmentalist and business roundtable member honored with Heritage Partner Award

A Commerce Township man was honored with the 2014 Heritage Partner Award by the Planning Division of the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.

Jim Meenahan was honored for his contributions to preserving Oakland County’s natural and built heritage. The award was presented last week during the 17th annual Heritage Conference, which was held at Addison Oaks County Park in Addison Township.

“Jim is a steady, hardworking contributor, perfectly willing to stay behind the scenes,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “I’m glad we honored him with this award.”

Meenahan, who has a degree in chemical engineering, has been a member of the Oakland County Business Roundtable Quality of Life Committee since 2001, is an advocate for historic preservation, Main Street Oakland County and the Trail, Water and Land Alliance.

He was a founding member of a citizens group, “Save Our State Land,” which campaigned to save 550 acres of the Proud Lake State Recreation Area that were to be removed from public ownership as part of the state’s land consolidation strategy. The site was ultimately purchased by Commerce Township, which is working on a master plan for a new park. Meenahan said he was proud to receive the award, which was presented by Bret Rasegan, who heads up the planning division for the county.

“Community redevelopment has been of extraordinary interest to me and it’s exciting to see the results of visionary people who have the persistence to drag communities kicking and screaming to a new place,” Meenahan said. “It’s not the work of wimps.”

Olive Vinegar offers gourmet oils, vinegars in downtown Rochester

The stainless steel dispensers that are the centerpiece of the new Olive Vinegar in downtown Rochester add up to an attractive decor, but it's the function of what's inside the shiny containers that is the basis for the business.

Inside the Fusti storage containers are high-quality olive oils and vinegars from around the world. Paired with them is the knowledge of Michael and Nicole Loffredo, owners of Olive Vinegar. They opened the store and tasting room stocked with more than 50 varieties of oils and vinegars last month at 205 S. Main St..

Besides selling tasty oils and vinegars such as Persian lime, mushroom, raspberry, and coconut to enhance food, an integral part of the business is spreading the word about the health benefits of products such as high-phenol olive oils.

Recipes, demonstrations and access to information comes with a visit to the store as do foods that can be paired with liquid product that's imported and fills Olive Vinegar's own bottles. Gluten-free pastas, meatballs, orzo, kitchen supplies, spices and other products are also sold at Olive Vinegar.

Source: Olive Vinegar
Writer: Kim North Shine

Farmington Road next big downtown development project

A rebuild of Farmington Road is the next big project to make downtown Farmington into an inviting place for businesses and customers alike.

Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, says the new Farmington Road streetscape will spruce up the the city's main thoroughfare, make it easier to travel and reach businesses, whether by car of foot and, ideally, help local businesses grow and attract new clientele.

One goal of the rebuild is to give restaurants more sidewalk space for outdoor seating.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Knowles says, "but next year we hope to be starting construction."

The project is largely funded by federal grants through the state and will require local, state and federal approvals of the construction plan, which is being drawn up by OHM Advisors and Grissim Metz Andriese Associates.

The Farmington Road streetscape comes on the heels of of the rebuild of Groves Street, a major makeover of a tired shopping center there and the redesign of Riley Park, a downtown gathering spot.

"We're not resting on our laurels or closing the book," Knowles says. "There's always something that needs attention. That's kind of challenge for any community.

"We are providing all of these investments into the downtown to keep us positioned to businesses that need to grow or are looking for attractiveness for relocation."

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Beringea invests $5M in virtual store research

Beringea LLC, a private equity firm providing growth capital to market-leading businesses, has announced it has made a $5 million investment in Chicago-based InContext Solutions Inc., a Web-based company providing 3-D virtual store research, simulations, and software to manufacturers and retailers. 

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Walsh College breaks ground on $15 million addition

Walsh College will break ground for the $15 million addition and renovation to its Troy campus at 3838 Livernois at a special ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m., Friday, September 5, 2014. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must register at www.walshcollege.edu/groundbreaking.

Originally announced last April, the project will include a two-story, 27,000 square-foot renovation and addition to Walsh’s original Troy campus building, built in the 1970s, and a 28,000 square-foot renovation to existing interior spaces.  Construction is anticipated to take 18 months. 

The addition will encompass distinct pavilions with a business-communication focused student success center, a student lounge, and a “one-stop” student services center.

“Along with recently announced enhancements to our graduate business programs, the groundbreaking underscores the bright future we envision for Walsh, our students, and the community,” said Stephanie Bergeron, president and CEO, Walsh College.

“New and updated facilities offer a contemporary learning and teaching environment ideally suited for students and faculty, and also present a modern face to the community,” Bergeron added.

The technologically advanced student success center will focus on the development of business-communication skills critical
to leadership roles.  The student lounge will have an interactive meeting space ideal for collaboration, as well as additional study areas.

The student services center will house departments ranging from admissions to career services.  It will provide efficient, “one-stop” service and private spaces for academic advising, support, and corporate recruiting.

Walsh’s student body now totals more than 4,000, nearly evenly divided between men and women.  More than 91 percent attend part-time.  About 83 percent of the College’s 26,000 alumni live in Michigan.

Other recent building renovations at Walsh College’s Troy campus have included the 37,000 square-foot Jeffrey W. Barry Center, completed in 2007; the Blackstone LaunchPad for entrepreneurs in 2010; a Barnes & Noble bookstore in 2012; and a Finance Lab in 2013.

The architect for the current project is Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Chicago.

With the impending start of construction, about 80 Walsh staff personnel have moved to temporary quarters at the Sheffield Center, Troy.  Most direct student services and faculty, however, remain at the main campus on Livernois.  In all cases, phone numbers, email, and mailing addresses are unchanged.

For more information about Walsh College, visit www.walshcollege.edu.
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