Category: Business - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
One-of-a-kind Hospitality & Entertainment venue offers Detroit jobs, inspiration
The most successful business ventures are the right blend of careful market research, smart timing, solid resources and clear vision. Entrepreneur Francois Wulu-Demonique, president and CEO of Urban Café corporation in Detroit, hopes to bring these elements together to create a 21st century hotel, conference and entertainment center--the first of its kind--designed and built exclusively through the talent of Detroit's African American population.
"Detroit is unique. It is home to the brightest minds, strongest skills and most dedicated efforts. A Development 10 stories High & over 100 thousands square feet From ground breaking to completion will be a “Yes We Can” because Never in the city of Detroit history with such a large African American population have we seen a development project being built by a majority of African American construction workers.
This project will serve as an inspiration, especially for Detroit's Youths and aspiring Entrepreneurs visiting a construction site seeing people that look like them work on such a big development project in a way no other New facility has before, we are creating this special employment also as an documentary that will inspire so many others across this nation" says Demonique, a 25-year Detroit resident and award-winning urban development professional who was born in Monrovia, Liberia. “Through “Urban Café Detroit”, Detroit is poised to become an even greater force as an entertainment city. “So for those who may say we have enough hotels rooms that are empty now, why another? I say lets build for Detroit future and anticipate more for city.
Scalable to the land site on which it will be built, the ”Urban Café Detroit” will incorporate a 100 suites hotel, a 1,500-seat multipurpose theater, a 2,000-guest banquet facility, and a themed upscale restaurant and lounge. Perfectly positioned to accommodate large and small conventions, out of town tourists and local diners and entertainment seekers, the “Urban Café Detroit” will serve as a destination venue that will boost tourism in Detroit, stimulating revenue, prosperity and excitement for the city.
Designed to educate and amaze visitors, the “Urban Café Detroit” themed restaurant will delight diners with the finest in world-class cuisine. With an all-glass design, the peak of the nine-story structure will feature a sky bar that will show off Detroit's distinctive skyline, offering panoramic views of Detroit’s beautiful downtown, the Detroit River and nearby Windsor, Canada.
Each hotel suite will represent a distinct world nation, showcasing that country's culture, art and history. "Guests can explore all aspects of a country they may know nothing about," says Demonique, who expects the venue to welcome a half million guests each year. "Each suite will be like a tiny documentary about that nation, showing guests what life is like in that country. In this way, we are building valuable partnerships and enhancing an understanding of dozens of nations across the world." five ambassadors from 5 countries who have committed their country commitment to invest a million dollar each per suite in our development and we are looking to form this partnership 100 countries.
Using an undisclosed third party negotiations working in our behalf, Several sites are being considered for the development, including the former Tiger Stadium area at Michigan and Trumbull, the historic Eastern Market district, Detroit’s riverfront and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to launch the project. “We anticipate the project to cost between $75 and $100 million and take two years to complete. We’re currently in the land acquisition stage and are actively looking for investors,” says Demonique, adding that the ideal investor would be an athlete, entertainer or venture capitalist interested in profiting from a high-profile project. “The potential for success here is enormous, well worth an investor’s interest and commitment,” he says.
The “Urban Café Detroit” development, by design, will attract jobs, attention and financial prosperity back into the business district, reversing the downturn caused by an abrupt switch from development to acquisition in African American communities across the country, says Demonique. “This was when we put our talent as a people aside,” he says. “It’s been 50 or 60 years since then and we need to refocus our attention and tremendous talents, rather than waiting for someone else to build and develop our neighborhoods.”
Once established in Detroit, Demonique plans to spread the Urban Café concept to other cities across the country. "By proving the success of this concept in Detroit, we’ll then develop similar projects in Atlanta, Washington D.C., Chicago and Cleveland, other cities that have a high African American population,” he says.
A project that began as vision and was boosted by a rally cry from President Obama is on track to become a successful, inspiring centerpiece of Detroit life, says Demonique. “When Barack Obama became president, he advocated for people like me to take my vision to the next level,” he says. “I felt personally inspired about all the growth that is possible, and I put my passion for development into the concept that has become “Urban Café Detroit”. Now is the perfect time to move “Urban Café Detroit” forward.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 20:07
Category: Business - Original Written by Patrick Keating
ALEX STCHEKINE, bicycle production and special projects, affixes the name plate to a Bixby model bicycle at Shinola's Detroit facility.- Jim Campbell, photo.
Shinola, currently headquartered in the College for Creative Studies' Alfred E. Taubman Center for Design Education at 485 W. Milwaukee St., manufactures bicycles, watches, leather goods and journals.
All are 100 percent U.S. made.
Why set up shop in Detroit? Shinola CEO Heath Carr said the original idea behind the company was creating a made in America accessories company.
"We wanted to localize that to a community, so we knew we needed to pick a community to be part of," Carr said.
The company researched cities known for manufacturing. Detroit was at the top of the list.
Regarding the watches, Carr said the movements are known as the engines.
"So what better place to make engines than Detroit?" he asked.
When Carr and others from Shinola came to visit Detroit, they found everyone to be "wildly helpful and excited" about what they were doing. "I'm not going to lie. Detroit certainly has its challenges, as does every city that anyone wants to do business in," he said. "But the people we met were all steadfastly focused on the future and not so much worried about the past."
Carr also said they fell in love with the city.
"So it kind of became a point of ‘why not Detroit?'" Shinola makes two models of bicycle, the three-speed Bixby and the 11-speed Runwell. They are constructed of high-quality steel frames, according to Sky Yaeger, director of bicycle product development.
She said the frames and forks are built in Waterford, Wisconsin, then shipped to Detroit for assembly.
"You have to use a supplier or factory that has experience and knowledge and ability to make a frame and fork," Yaeger said.
The bicycles are assembled by hand.
Yaeger said there will be other models in the long term, but as Shinola just introduced the Bixby and Runwell, it's too early to say when that would happen.
She also doesn't expect the company to build kids' bikes.
"Typically, kids' bikes are much cheaper than adult bicycles, so I don't really see us long-term getting into kids' bikes," she said.
According to the Shinola website, the Bixby sells for $1,950, the Runwell for $2,950. Asked if there was any concern that Shinola might be pricing these bikes out of the range of the average person, Yaeger emphasized that the company's products are 100 percent U.S. made.
"We're paying American salaries to Americans, with health insurance and benefits, to make our stuff, so the labor rates can't compete with China," she said. "It's just not possible. And it's not just bikes, obviously, it's everything."
She added that the decision to make bicycles in America doesn't allow Shinola to compete on price with those made overseas, saying the labor rates are the biggest component.
She also emphasized that Shinola's bikes represent a really good value. "If you take care of these bikes, they will outlast you," Yaeger said. "You could hand them on to your children. These frames are hand-built by a custom-level builder. So the quality is extremely high."
During a visit to Shinola's facility, Yaeger pointed out a 100-year-old steel frame bicycle. She also described the ride quality of steel bikes as "unsurpassed."
In addition to having steel frames, Shinola bikes have disc brakes and the drive train is an internal shifting mechanism called an internal hub as opposed to the external derailleur typical of multi-speed bicycles. "So, it's impervious to elements, rain, snow, whatever," she said.
Yaeger said the existence of bike paths around Detroit should increase awareness that bicycles are a viable way to get exercise, and that they can also be used for transportation.
According to Carr, the bicycling component is a product category Shinola is passionate about.
"I think what we'll continue to do is innovate, push the designs, and continue to do similar bicycles that we're doing today, the commuter-type bicycles," he said.
Currently Shinola has just under 25 employees, who all work in the same facility.
"We have watch and movement assembly; we have the bicycle assembly," Carr said. "And then we have some design marketing web folks working in the digital world for us." He added that Shinola plans to expand.
"We'll need to add another 10 to 12 watch assemblers over the next 90 days or so," he said. "We're in the process of doing that, as far as recruiting and training."
Carr said Shinola does plan to get into other product categories down the road. However, the business will dictate where that goes.
"We have some ideas of where we think we can be in a couple of years," he said, adding that he wants people to know that Shinola is focused on quality.
"We are very supportive and focused on made in the United States, specifically built in Detroit," he said. "We're focused on a quality product. First and foremost it's quality over quantity. We'll get quality right, and then we'll advance that into quantity, to make the business model."
Shinola takes its name from a shoe polish company of the early to mid 20th century. Carr said the current Shinola took that name because they wanted a brand name that was tied to American history.
He also said they weren't happy with various names they tried to make up. So, when they found out the Shinola name was available, they decided to buy it. "And it has a deep, rich heritage in the United States," he said.
Shinola will be opening a retail location at 441 W. Canfield, the site of the former Willys Overland dealership, in the near future (Yaeger said they're aiming for a June opening), and that all Shinola products will be available. In addition, the bicycles will also be assembled there. Yaeger said people who are shopping will be able to see the assembly taking place. A second planned retail location will be in New York.
Shinola bikes are also available through various bicycle dealers across the U.S. and through the Shinola website. For more information, visit www.Shinola.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 15:23
Growing Interest: Macomb County Proactive Business Retention Program Creates Jobs to Meet Growing Population Needs
Category: Business - Original Written by Terence Thomas
As a former senior vice president for St. John Providence Health System and now as a member of Thomas Group Consulting, Inc., I have worked closely with Macomb County leaders as my stakeholders have invested millions in existing and new facilities throughout Macomb County. I also graduated from Leadership Macomb and was an active participant in Focus Macomb. Both of these activities brought me closer to the great people who help make relocating and expanding a business in Macomb County as seamless as possible. More people are making Macomb County their home than any other county in the region, a leader in population growth and new housing permits. A surge in residents creates a greater need for new jobs to be created.
Working under the direction of County Executive Mark A. Hackel, the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development offers a spectrum of business development services, ranging from workshops and events for individuals interested in starting their own business to tailored assistance for Fortune 500 companies. When it comes to allocating scarce resources, the county is targeting its efforts on serving those employers that have already invested in Macomb County.
“We know that nearly 85% of all new jobs in Macomb County are created by existing companies,” said Stephen Cassin, executive director for the Department of Planning and Economic Development. “Our Home in Macomb Business Retention Program works with existing companies to help them achieve their specific goals for growth.”
The pool of potential clients is huge. Overall, there are nearly 18,000 businesses in Macomb County. An estimated 20 percent of these are certified women- or minority-owned businesses.
“The retention program is for all businesses in Macomb County with a goal to invest and grow,” said Melissa Roy, assistant county executive. “The best thing for an interested company to do is to get in touch so that our business development specialists can help ascertain what is needed and connect company officials to the appropriate resources.”
During 2012, 47 companies were served by the program. Combined, they invested more than $164 million in new facilities and equipment. As a result, participating companies were able to create 1,260 new jobs while retaining 3,450 existing ones.
Supreme Gear Company of Fraser is one of its successes. Privately owned, this certified minority business enterprise is 60 years old and provides machined solutions for the aerospace, defense and commercial industries. Its specialty is the production of highly critical aircraft engine and missile gears. During 2012, Supreme Gear invested more than $4.4 million in new machinery and is on target for creating 69 new jobs.
AGS Automotive, a Canadian-based supplier that specializes in engineering, metal stamping, plating, painting and bumper system design and assembly, expanded its square footage in Sterling Heights. They expanded their presence in Macomb County by acquiring and renovating a 350,000 square foot facility. The company was able to access local and state incentives, along with employee recruitment and training services and is currently seeking to fill more than 50 positions.
Tax incentives available through Michigan’s Tool & Die Recovery Zone enabled Baker Aerospace of Macomb Township to invest more than $10 million in an expansion that will create up to 170 jobs.
Fori Automation is a global designer and supplier of the machinery that makes advanced manufacturing possible. Several years ago, it turned its attention to expanding its customer base to include defense, aerospace, agriculture and recreational vehicles. They were able to access employee recruitment, employee training, tax incentive, expedited permitting and utility services. Success in tapping these resources resulted in an expansion of its world headquarters in Shelby Township which will ultimately create 50 new jobs.
The Home in Macomb Business Retention Program is available for all businesses in Macomb County. Its current focused on second-stage companies, defined as those with nine or more employees, revenues in excess of $1 million and a need to grow. Working with a network of regional economic development partners, the department will meet with companies to determine needs and develop a plan for achieving success. Through its partnerships, the department can connect business clients with:
Access to incentives and financing
Assistance with workforce recruitment and training
The department also offers a range of events designed to educate the business community and create dialogue. Topics range from workforce development issues to up-to-the-minute updates on the Affordable Care Act. The department’s website maintains a comprehensive calendar of events offered by the department and its regional partners.
For more information, visit www.MacombBusiness.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 12:02
Category: Business - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
When you enter the dining room at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, odds are you will be greeted by Ken Salmon, the hotel’s vice president for hospitality and maitre d.
Salmon, who first came to the island as a teenager, is in his 43rd year at the island’s iconic institution. And if you are a previous guest at the hotel, he will recognize you and say, “Welcome home.”
“I feel so good seeing the past guests coming back,” he says. “To all my past guests, I always say, ‘Welcome home,’ and this makes the guest feel real good.”
When Salmon first went to Grand Hotel he was one of only nine Jamaican workers who were working that summer. In the intervening years, the number has grown into the hundreds, many of whom come back year after year. Salmon, who has become an American citizen, is the chief recruiter for the Jamaican workers at Grand Hotel, among his many duties.
When the hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, it recognized 125 workers who had been at the hotel at least 10 years. Salmon, one of the longest serving workers, was singled out for special recognition.
The late R.D. (Dan) Musser, Jr., the owner of Grand Hotel who passed away in April, once said that Salmon was “one of our key employees at Grand Hotel.
“The dining room is key to our continued success and Ken runs it very effectively,” Musser said. “People expect a certain level of service at Grand Hotel and Ken makes sure that they receive that service. We couldn’t do it without him.”
Salmon returns the respect to the Musser family.
“As long as the Musser family needs my service, I will be here,” he said. I look at young Dan (the hotel president) as my brother and I looked at his father as my father because they are that close to me.”
Salmon said the staff at the hotel misses the elder Musser, who had been a part of the hotel since 1951, but that they are continuing on in his memory.
“I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity Mr. Musser gave me to work here and the confidence he showed in me as I received promotions and eventually became the vice president for hospitality,” Salmon said. “At Grand Hotel, we specialize in world class hospitality, and the fact that he believed in me and entrusted me with that level of responsibility means everything. Now that he is gone, all of us who knew him and shared his vision for Grand Hotel are determined to carry on in a way that would make him proud.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 12:34
Category: Business - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
Beaumont Health System and Henry Ford Health System have ended discussions of a proposed merger to combine their operations into a new health system.
“We have benefitted greatly from our merger discussions and have great respect for our colleagues at Henry Ford,” says Gene Michalski, president and CEO, Beaumont Health System. “However, we found through our discussions that we are not aligned on how to achieve our vision for a model health system due to differences in our structures and business models.”
Today’s announcement followed six months of due diligence discussions involving hundreds of Beaumont and Henry Ford team members.
“We are very grateful to our board members, physicians, nurses, leaders and other professionals who worked very hard during the due diligence process with great professionalism and enthusiasm,” says Michalski.
Beaumont’s board and management team developed tenets for a model health care system and began a search for a partner 18 months ago as part of preparations for continued success under health care reform. This search culminated in the signing of a letter of intent to merge with Henry Ford on Oct. 30.
The proposed merger would have combined all of the assets, liabilities and operations of Beaumont and Henry Ford under a unified board and executive team and integrated their combined 10 hospitals and 200 other patient care sites.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:01
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