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UHY plans to open 25-person office in Chrysler House


Accounting company UHY is opening another Metro Detroit office in downtown Detroit, a move that will bring 25 new jobs to the city’s central business district.

The CPA firm provides a variety of accounting services for businesses, ranging from tax consulting to forensic auditing. Some of its clients include the likes of downtown Detroit-based Strategic Staffing Solutions. UHY has offices in Macomb and Oakland counties that employ more than 300 people.

UHY will move 25 of those employees to the new office in the Chrysler House near Campus Martius. The company will occupy the sixth floor of the 23-story building, occupying 4,000 square feet. It plans to execute the move in November.

"We've always wanted to make the move downtown and figured now is as good of a time than ever," Krystina Borrocci, director of marketing for UHY, wrote in an email. "There's lots of momentum, and a lot of movement both in the city and into the city. We have a significant client base there, as well as ties to the local community."

Rock Ventures, part of the Quicken Loans family of companies owned by Dan Gilbert, bought the Dime Building in 2011 and renamed it the Chrysler House. It has since renovated the structure and created space for a number of new businesses. That work was a primary reason why UHY decided to open downtown.

"One of the reasons we wanted to be in a Gilbert building was so that we could grow out of it before the lease is up, and continue to take more space in Chrysler House or in one of his other buildings," Borrocci wrote in an email.

Source: Krystina Borrocci, director of marketing for UHY
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Grand Circus celebrates first year in downtown Detroit


Last year, Grand Circus opened its doors in downtown Detroit to any and all interested in learning about software development. One year later, the company found hundreds of people willing to take them up on their services and has its sights set on deepening the local tech talent pool.

"Our business is developing talent for high-growth, high-demand jobs," says Damien Rocchi, CEO of Grand Circus.

Grand Circus occupies about 5,000 square feet in the Broderick Tower overlooking Grand Circus Park. Two of its three floors in the skyscraper are occupied by classroom space. The third floor is a co-working space for tech entrepreneurs.

About 500 people have leveraged Grand Circus’ variety of classes and workshops, ranging from eight-week classes in software development to boot camps on mobile app development. For instance, Grand Circus recently held an eight-week class in .NET development that wrapped up in August. Since then, more than 70 percent of the 42 people who took the class have been hired, and the job prospects of the remainder of the students are looking up.

"We're optimistic we can get the number up to 85 percent," Rocchi says.

Grand Circus has expanded its staff to 10 full-time employees, 30 instructors, and three summer interns. Rocchi believes those numbers will grow as the demand for software developers continues to go up. Rocchi declined to comment on the status of Grand Circus' revenues beyond acknowledging that the numbers are trending in the right direction.

"We're ahead of where we want to be," Rocchi says.

Source: Damien Rocchi, CEO of Grand Circus
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Eastern Market lands $250K grant for strategic planning

A quarter of a million dollars will help fund strategic planning efforts for Eastern Market that will help grow businesses in the district.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded the $250,000 grant to Eastern Market Corporation to pay for an update of the district’s development plan. Much of the plan from six years ago has already been implemented by the non-profit that manages the market and surrounding business district, such as renovating the farmers market sheds and protecting the character of the historic district.

"We want to make sure we engage our broad range of stakeholders in a more robust way," says Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corp.

That includes fostering more entrepreneurship in the community. The farmers market now operates both Saturday and Tuesday and includes more space for a broader variety of vendors. Now there is more room for food entrepreneurs trying to get lifestyle businesses off the ground.

One of those challenges is modernizing the built infrastructure in the market. Many of the buildings are over a century old and were not constructed to accommodate 21st century businesses. Eastern Market's leaders wants to find a way to maintain the authenticity that plays a critical part in attracting 2 million visitors annually while also providing a solid foundation for young businesses to grow.

Eastern Market Corporation expects the new strategic plan to encompass the central market itself, along with the Gratiot commercial corridor and adjacent light industrial area. The new report is set to be released in late spring of next year.

Source: Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

WCCCD scores $2.5M grant for cyber security education


Wayne County Community College District has won a multi-million-dollar federal grant to help train unemployed veterans for jobs in cyber security.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor awarded the community college $2.5 million for its Wayne County Generation Cyber Project with additional assistance coming from the state of Michigan and the office of Gov. Rick Snyder. The program will train and provide career guidance for veterans looking to gain a beachhead in the cyber security workforce.

"There are a lot of people who have a lot of skills already but not the most current skills," says Dave Murray, deputy press secretary for Gov. Rick Snyder. "They're looking for a way to elevate the skills to meet the jobs of today."

The Wayne County Generation Cyber Project is part of the nearly $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative. The federal initiative is aiming to help make the country's community college system provide more comprehensive offerings for worker training.

Wayne County Community College District will focus on developing the local cyber security workforce. It will hire and train more instructors, expand online education options, develop new curriculum, and purchase new equipment to help more veterans transition into the cyber security workforce.

Source: Dave Murray, deputy press secretary for Gov. Rick Snyder
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

PishPosh expands space with eye for maker education

The team at PishPosh has been working all summer toward building out new studio space in downtown Detroit, and now the podcasting and video production startup is about to embark on a new line of business -- maker education.

PishPosh plans to start offering day-long classes in mid October that teach people how to building new technology. The firm wants to ensure that classes are affordable -- think spending a few hundred dollars to learn how to build a drone or an arcade-style video game console. When classes conclude, participants get to walk out with their new toys.

"They get a box with all the parts they need," says Michael Evans, co-founder of PishPosh. "They get lunch, and then they get to leave with what they built."

Both Evans and his partner, Ben Duell Fraser, are instructors at Grand Circus, where classes in how to create software often cost thousands of dollars. They believe that PishPosh's new classes will complement Grand Circus' offerings and help grow the local tech community by giving them a broader range of education options.

The classes are set to take place in a 600-square-foot space in PishPosh's offices in the Department of Alternatives, a downtown Detroit-based entrepreneurial collective near Grand Circus Park. The walls in the education room are up and are covered in primer paint. Evans and Duell Fraser expect to finish off the space within the next few weeks.

"This is our training room," Evans says. "We're thinking of calling it PishPosh Academy."

PishPosh made its name with its "Slash Detroit" online video series, a roundup of the local news with a sharp sense of humor. Duell Fraser serves as the main anchor of the broadcast. The startup has toyed with making other shows over the last year and is now playing around with other formats, such as an uncensored version of the Friday Fahles where local media members give their take on current events.

PishPosh has expanded into 2,000 square feet at the Department of Alternatives to keep up with its current workload. Not only is it doing its Slash Detroit episodes and preparing to offer maker classes, it is doing custom video work, such as creating a documentary on Code Michigan for the state of Michigan. The company needed bigger and more intricate work/studio space to keep up with its portfolio of projects.

"If everything goes the way we want it to go, it wouldn't be too long before we needed the extra space anyways," Duell Fraser says.

Source: Michael Evans and Ben Duell Fraser, co-founders of PishPosh
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Imagine Detroit helps promote biz through free videos

Own a business in the greater downtown Detroit area? Need to get the word out about what you're doing? Imagine Detroit wants to help you tell that story.

The Mt. Clemens-based organization, an offshoot of NES World Group, is making dozens of short videos for small businesses based in downtown Detroit. So far subjects of the videos include Motor City Brewing Works in Midtown and Brooklyn Street Local in Corktown. Check out the more of the featured businesses here.

"We're trying to develop a feel for what downtown is like," says Gregory Dilone, Jr., president & founder of Imagine Detroit.

The videos are free to the businesses. The three-person team at Imagine Detroit produces them with the idea of helping boost the small business climate in greater downtown Detroit.

"We want to make guerilla-marketing videos that aren't over-produced," Dilone says.

Dilone and his group currently are working to hit 200 interviews. They already have 55 under their belts. He is also looking at moving his marketing agency, NES World Group, to downtown Detroit in the not too distant future to take part in what he is marketing.

"Detroit has so much passion behind it right now," Dilone says.

Source: Gregory Dilone, Jr., president & founder of Imagine Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit Institute of Music Education's first students start classes

The first students are filing into classes at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) this week.

Jack Stablein is one of them. The 19-year-old Rochester native lives in Birmingham and is the frontman for Fifth and Main, a folk rock band. He decided to join the initial class of the DIME to pursue his bachelor degree in songwriting and sharpen his performance skills. He choose the Detroit Institute of Music Education because he can still study music theory while also working intensely on his performance skills.

"They're really focused on the performance part of music," Stablein says. He adds its location in downtown Detroit (1265 Griswold) is also attractive. "The more connected with the Detroit Institute of Music Education I am, the more connected I am with Detroit and bigger-and-better things."

The DIME has its roots in the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, which was launched in Brighton, England, in 2001. The firm grew to several locations across the United Kingdom before it was acquired. Farmington Hills-based venture capital firm Beringea, which has an office in London, convinced the firm's founders to open a U.S.-version of the business in Detroit last summer.

The company now has seven full-time employees and 20 sessional instructors. It's looking to hire 3-5 more employees this fall, including a student counselor and administrative workers.

"The ability and talent of the instructors is much higher than any other city we have opened in," says Sarah Clayman, managing director of the DIME. "That was very pleasing."

The Detroit Institute of Music Education's first class is composed of 45 full-time students, who soon will be joined by a few more who are going through the application process. The school is also offering short courses that last six weeks, such as teaching about DJing and song writing.

"We're doing lots of short courses this year," Clayman says.

Source: Sarah Clayman, managing director of the Detroit Institute of Music Education; and Jack Stablein, student at the Detroit Institute of Music Education
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

New Economy Initiative sends staff to co-working spaces

If you work in a co-working space in Metro Detroit, chances are you could soon be sitting next to a representative of the New Economy Initiative (NEI).

The special project for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan focused on building the region's new economy is launching NEI Street Level, a new program that will give NEI staff a seat at the numerous co-working spaces across Metro Detroit. The idea is to spend a couple days a week embedded with local entrepreneurs to better understand their needs and challenges while also helping create connections in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

"We think we can be better informed grant makers by being better embedded in the ecosystem," says Jim Boyle, senior program officer for the New Economy Initiative.

The first stop is Grand Circus in downtown Detroit. The co-working space inside the newly renovated Broderick Tower overlooks Grand Circus Park and is part of the M@dison Block technology cluster. New Economy Initiative staffers will be working there from this week until January. The New Economy Initiative has a core team of about a half dozen full-time people and has recently hired a communication's associate.

The NEI Street Level initiative plans to visit several other co-working spaces across the region in the coming months. Some of the candidates mentioned were Bamboo Detroit and co-working spaces in Ann Arbor. It's part of the non-profit's aim to help bolster the 1099 workforce in Metro Detroit.

"We're trying to shine a light on co-working spaces," Boyle says. "This is a new way to work."

Source: Jim Boyle, senior program officer for the New Economy Initiative
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Atwater Brewery aims to become Detroit's iconic brewery


Mark Rieth sees his company, Atwater Beer, as Detroit’s brewery. It's a big vision for the microbrewery situated on Detroit's east riverfront, but it’s an ambition with increasing merit as the 17-year-old venture grows.

"Being Detroit's brewery is important for us," Rieth says. "We want to be the iconic Detroit brewery, the way Stroh's used to be in the late 1800s and early 1900s."

Rieth wants Atwater to be known for local brews that are both high-quality and ubiquitous. Atwater Brewery is well on its way to both of those targets. It doubled its sales over the last year and is on pace to do it again. It sold 12,000 barrels in 2012 and 26,000 barrels last year. It's on track to sell 45,000 to 50,000 barrels in 2014 with sales of Dirty Blonde and Vannila Java Porter leading the way.

Atwater Brewery is at capacity at its main brewing facility at the corner of Atwater and Jos Campau streets, and is in the process of adding more brewing capacity there. The company is also a partner at the Brew Detroit operation in Corktown, which has helped it up its keg distribution.

"We have tripled our sales of Dirty Blonde kegs," Rieth says. "It's not slowing down anytime soon."

That has enabled Atwater Brewery to hire a dozen people over the last year, including brewers, sales professionals, and office staff. It now has a staff of 36 employees and one intern. It also recently opened a brewpub in Grosse Pointe Park in June, creating another 28 jobs. Atwater in the Park has proven so successful that Rieth is still looking at opening a tap room in downtown Detroit.

"That should happen within the next 12 months," Rieth says. "It will be downtown proper. Anywhere between the Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park areas."

Atwater Brewery is also entertaining the idea of expanding beyond Metro Detroit. Rieth is considering options in places like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Traverse City. Although no specific plans have been made, the idea is appealing to Rieth.

"It's something we would like to do if the right opportunity presented itself," he says.

Source: Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Friends launch video production firm, The Right Brothers

A couple of friends recently launched a video production firm out of a Detroit neighborhood just beyond Hamtramck’s northern border.

Jamin Townsley and Andrew Miller started The Right Brothers in April by helping produce music videos for local artists. The two-person operation now does everything commercial work to informational videos.

"We decided we had to move forward and do bigger things," Miller says. "We kept the momentum and moved forward."

Miller and Townsley met in Ferndale when Miller moved next door to Townsley in 2004. The two became fast friends and ended up sharing a passion for video work. Since launching The Right Brothers, they have created seven music videos and expanded into other work, such as short videos for Signal Return Press and another that appeared recently in Model D.

"We definitely want to keep supporting local artists we believe in," Townsley says.

Source: Jamin Townsley and Andrew Miller, co-owners of The Right Brothers
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Linkies turns social media conversations into a startup

A new startup based in downtown Detroit is making a name for itself.

Linkies made its debut at a recent Lion’s football game, collecting social media conversations about the event for a national audience. The startup’s platform works as a social media aggregator, capturing hashtags across major social networks. It organizes and displays them so the user (usually a major organization) can show off the social media conversations.

"It's all hashtag centric," says Chad Priest, CEO of Linkies.

Linkies roots can be traced back to the campaign to bring the X Games to Detroit. Priest and his team were also trying to create their own social network, an effort that petered out. The X Games Detroit initiative gave them the inspiration to try a new way to capture public support through social media.

"It kickstarted us to make our own platform," Priest says.

Linkies launched just seven months later. Today, Priest and his team of three people are building their startup from the LCE Labs incubator, which is run from the Lowe Campbell Ewald headquarters at Ford Field. Linkies is the incubator’s first startup tenant and Priest expects to stay at the space at least through the end of the year.

"Hopefully that will be extended," Priest says.

Source: Chad Priest, CEO of Linkies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Stik Pocket combines stickers, cell phones to create a wallet

Brian Owen doesn't like having things in his pockets. He loathes the feeling. In the 21st Century, most men carry both a wallet and a cell phone in their pockets, so Owens decided to combine the two with a new cell phone accessory called Stick Pocket.

"For years I have been trying to eliminate my wallet altogether," Owen says. "I hate having things in my pockets."

Stik Pocket is a sticker that attaches to a cell phone case, making just enough room for the essentials of a wallet. Think a drivers license, credit cards, and cash. Check out a video showing Stik Pocket in action here.

Owen was inspired when he bought a high-end wallet/cell phone combo made of leather. A few weeks after purchasing it, the leather cracked and started to fall off. Soon after Owen was left with just the plastic case. He decided he could do better by making a cheaper version that was made to last two or three weeks.

"It worked, so I started selling them," Owen says. "Now we're in 200 stores."

Owen launched Stick Pocket eight months ago and employs four people. The Bricktown-based startup also uses adult special needs students from Macomb Academy to help produce its products. Owen is also looking to introduce new sticker products later this year.

Source: Brian Owen, president of Stik Pocket
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Kraemer Design Group creates 10 jobs as Detroit work grows

Kraemer Design Group is returning to its core business over the last year by taking on more renovation design work in downtown Detroit.

"We have half a dozen projects in Capitol Park alone that we are working on," says Bob Kraemer, principal of Kraemer Design Group.

Among those projects are the rehabs of the Detroit Savings & Bank Building and the Farwell Building.

The 17-year-old architecture firm has made it mark doing design work for a number of high-profile renovations in downtown Detroit, such as the Broderick Tower and The Lofts at Merchant Row. The downtown Detroit-based firm took a hit during the recession and construction practically ground to a halt, forcing it to take on more out-of-state work in the hospitality industry, including designing hotels.

Kraemer Design Group has rebounded with the economy and taken on an increasing share of work in the Motor City’s center. Among its more recent projects are the David Whitney Building overlooking Grand Circus Park and The Auburn in Midtown.

"We definitely see ourselves incredibly busy for the next couple of years," Kraemer says.

The increase in conctracts has allowed Kraemer Design Group to grow its staff. The firm has hired six people over the last year, expanding its staff to 28 employees and two summer interns. It is also looking to hire four more design professionals right now.

Source: Bob Kraemer, principal of Kraemer Design Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Dalton & Tomich creates new home in downtown Detroit

In recent years, lots of companies have scored easy headlines when they announce that they are moving to downtown Detroit. Dalton & Tomich is one of companies that made the move first and worried about making headlines later, if at all.

The 4-year-old practice, which specializes in business law, moved from Bloomfield Hills to downtown Detroit a year ago. The fledgling firm moved its five employees, four of which are attorneys, into the Chrysler House to be closer to its clientele.

"We were spending part of every day in downtown Detroit (before making the move)," says Daniel Dalton, founding member of Dalton & Tomich.

The firm hasn't looked back. It has hired one replacement worker since making the move and grown its workload. The firm has also established itself as an authority in RLUIPA law, which protects religious entities from discrimination in land use.

"We're at that point where we are really busy here," Dalton says.

That is part of the reason Dalton & Tomich made the move. One of the firm's other motivations to move downtown was to play a role in the city’s rebirth.

"It's just a great city," Dalton says. "There are a lot of opportunities, and it's a fun place to be. You can tell from the lack of parking and how it can be hard to find a place to get lunch."

Source: Daniel Dalton, founding member of Dalton & Tomich
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Retiree finds second act with cooking company, AVC Kitchens


Vazilyn Poinsetta isn’t the stereotypical senior citizen. The Midtown resident retired from a mortgage company a few years ago and decided to do something different. She went back to school and eventually opened her own business.

"I might as well be 70 and get a degree in nutrition instead of waiting around saying woulda, coulda, shoulda," Poinsetta says.

The lifelong Detroiter started classes at Wayne State University soon after retiring. In 2012, she started taking advantage of the entrepreneurial education classes at Blackstone LaunchPad on campus. That inspired her to start AVC Kitchens, which teaches cooking classes in the city.

"They (Blackstone LaunchPad's staff and participants) are just wonderful," Poinsetta says. "I'm not very tech savvy, but I can still ask anyone in the program and they will show me what to do."

AVC Kitchens aims to combine education of cooking and healthy living. Poinsetta hosts cooking classes at Eastern Market and Focus: HOPE, teaching people how to create cost-effective meals with everyday ingredients -- meals that are both affordable and nutritious using ingredients local people can find just about anywhere.

"Not anything that is super expensive," Poinsetta says.

Source: Vazilyn Poinsetta, owner of AVC Kitchens
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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