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Local community theaters among those to receive state arts and culture grants

Nearly 500 community arts groups and cultural institutions throughout the state have been named recipients of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) grants, and a large number of them located within the greater Detroit metropolitan region.

Over the course of the 2017 and '18 fiscal year, 474 organizations will split $10.6 million in grants. 56 of the state's 83 counties are represented, with Wayne County benefitting quite heavily. Oakland and Macomb counties are represented as well. Organizations include schools, festivals, museums, historical societies, and much more.

Represented well in each of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties are community theaters. Tipping Point Theatre, located in downtown Northville, is the recipient of two grants, one listed at $53,091 and the other at $15,000. Dan Ferrara, the theater's Director of Development, says that the money will go toward operational costs as well as updated and energy efficient lighting equipment.

"As a non-profit arts organization, the MCACA support is critical to our success and our impact on the community. We employ over 90 Michigan artists each year and our ticket-holders spend nearly a half-million dollars each season at surrounding businesses before and after performances," says Ferrara. "By helping us succeed, MCACA is supporting not only local arts, but the local economy."

This is the first year that Open Book Theatre Company was eligible for an operational grant from MCACA, and the Trenton theater successfully secured $11,250 for the upcoming fiscal year. Krista Schafer Ewbank, Artistic Director at Open Book, says she's thrilled.

"A grant from MCACA helps more than just financially; it's a recognition of the importance of the work we do bringing professional theatre to our community Downriver and lends credibility to our organization as we seek support from other avenues," says Schafer Ewbank. "The grant will help us pay both artistic and administrative staff, as well as the expenses that come with running a theatre, everything from paying the electric bill to buying toilet paper."

Click here for a full list of this year's MCACA grant recipients.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Pontiac in the news: Non-profit medical center opens, historic downtown theater offers hurricane aid

Wellness Plan: The Wellness Plan has opened a new medical center in Pontiac. It's the second location in the city for the non-profit organization, and its fifth overall.

The newest Wellness Plan Medical Center takes over the former site of Oakland Primary Health Services at 46156 Woodward Ave. Patients can expect the same medical and dental services as offered by other Wellness Plan locations, as well as expanded services. Additional offerings include women's health services, an on-site pharmacy, and integrated behavioral health and social services.

A Federally Qualified Health Center, the Wellness Plan is a non-profit that caters to uninsured and underinsured populations. There is a Sliding Fee Discount Program for those eligible, taking factors like family size and household income into account.

"We are thrilled to build on our sustained growth and more than 40-year history in Metro Detroit with our newest location in Pontiac," The Wellness Plan CEO Anthony King says in a statement. "Reinforcing our deep ties to the Pontiac community, we will continue to provide quality medical care to those who need it most."

The Wellness Plan opened its first medical center in Pontiac three years ago, at the Henderson Health Center at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital.

Hurricane Relief: Following the devastation recently wrought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, downtown Pontiac's Flagstar Strand Theatre has announced that it will donate a portion of ticket sales to help in recovery and relief efforts.

A portion of every ticket sold to the following seven shows will be donated to the American Red Cross and MusiCares:
  • Sunday, Oct. 1 -- Boz Scaggs
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10 -- An Evening with Travis Tritt, solo acoustic
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11 -- Tango Buenos Aires
  • Thursday, Oct. 19 -- Chris Isaak
  • Saturday, Oct. -- The Artimus Pyle Band Honoring the Music of Ronnie Van Zant’s Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Saturday, Oct. 28 -- Festival of South African Dance
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1 -- Martial Artists Acrobats of the Tianjin
The Flagstar Strand Theatre is located at 12 N. Saginaw St. in downtown Pontiac.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

M Cantina restaurants offers modern tastes of Mexico

When you dine at East Dearborn’s new M Cantina along Michigan Avenue, operator and chef Junior Merino wants you to experience the Mexico he knows.

He and his wife Heidi, who have been married for 15 years, are the faces behind the “Nuevo Latino” eatery with made-to-order foods and housemade sauces, including 21 different kinds of salsa.

“This is about showcasing my passion for food, the way I grew up and the real Mexico,” he says.


The menu features tortas (panini-pressed Mexican-style sandwiches), tacos, homemade sorbets and a variety of exotic fresh juice blends and coffee products. It’s mostly based on his hometown of Puebla in Central Mexico.

“Until this day my parents make everything from scratch, including cheese and creams,” he says. “That’s the kind of food I grew up with and when I came here one of the things I missed the most was the food. I never really adapted to packaged food. The personal touch and the quality and freshness gets lost. You can’t compare it to nature.”

Junior and Heidi have lived in the Aviation subdivision of Dearborn for nearly two years, in a home they fell in love with after looking at more than 600 houses when they were deciding to move from New York to somewhere more quiet and community-focused.

Junior has been cooking his whole life, starting as a child in Mexico working with his uncles at a bakery and steakhouse in New York, and eventually becoming the youngest and first Latino certified as a sommelier in the United States. He went on to become a mixologist and found his company, the Liquid Chef, Inc.

“I started from the bottom,” he says. “I didn’t speak one word of English; I had to learn a language and all the cuisines. I worked every position available in the restaurant business.”

While Junior is largely self-taught, Heidi is formally trained with lots of experience interning in New York kitchens. Her foundation, however, was learning from her husband's love of cooking.

“Before him, it was pretty much eat-to-survive; the typical American upbringing,” she says. “You cooked because you had to, not because it was a passion.”

That changed for her when Junior taught her a precious lesson, challenging her to make the same meal as him and compare one day.

“You need to love what you do because that personal touch is really important and he showed me that,” Heidi says. “We made the exact same dish but his was completely different because of the human factor.”

M Cantina’s backdrop is a Rustic brick wall with a reclaimed wood bar and marble countertops. Sparkling lights and exposed Edison bulbs give the place a glimmer, with fresh flowers and cacti along the counters.

Drinks are served in copper cups and dishes come on a slab of fresh Cedarwood to absorb the aroma. There’s a glass wall to see where Junior and Heidi are preparing the food.

The most popular item on the menu is the marinated shrimp, inspired by the Puerto Vallarta region of Mexico, where Junior says tastes are elegant and sophisticated.

The chicken tinga is a staple in Central Mexican cuisine, where it is boiled, shredded and mixed with a chipotle aioli and cooked with onions and tomatoes.

The meat in the duck carnitas is cooked French-style to pay tribute to Cinco de Mayo and the battle between the French and Mexican in Junior’s town of Puebla.

What makes their food stand out among any other Mexican restaurant are the fresh ingredients and exotic spice blends, he adds.

M Cantina is their vision for what the new wave Mexican food experience should encapsulate.


“Food is about an experience,” Junior says. “It’s about sharing. It’s about discovery.”

M Cantina is located at 13214 Michigan Ave. The hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.


Downtown Pontiac's newest business boasts 100 percent American-made outdoor sports apparel

Bill Ludwig and his business partners, a group of avid fishers, boaters, and golfers, noticed something as they were walking around ICAST, an annual fishing trade show. In terms of apparel, the fishing and resort apparel industry had grown complacent. While there was plenty to choose from, the offerings were leaving the group unimpressed.

"We walked through and started discussing starting our own brand," says Ludwig. "One of my partners lamented that there was no need for another performance brand. But I said, yeah, but look at the labels. There isn't one manufacturer here with a label that says Made in USA."

So they started one.

American Made Performance is a fishing and resort apparel company based in downtown Pontiac. Ludwig, the CEO of the company, says that all of its products are 100 percent made in the United States. The cotton is grown here, and the fabrics are woven and sewn here. He contends that they're the only ones in the fishing and resort apparel industry to be able to make that claim.

The notion that people want 100 percent American-made products seems to have so far worked out for AMP. The company employs two dozen people at its downtown Pontiac manufacturing facility, an old bank at the corner of Saginaw and Huron streets. And Ludwig says that current revenue projections indicate that AMP will double that number within the next twelve months.

The company has partnered with Ryan Keene as its exclusive artist, which is another selling point for the brand, says Ludwig. Absent are the muted browns and greens one might expect to find in fishing apparel, instead replaced with bright colors and lively illustrations.

"It's rare for a company to have unique selling propositions," says Ludwig. "We have two. The United States and Ryan Keene."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

New report documents more than a decade of placemaking in Michigan

Since the early 2000s, the Michigan Municipal League has been working to introduce placemaking concepts and policies throughout the state. On Tuesday, Sept. 12, MML held a press conference to celebrate the release of A Decade of Placemaking in Michigan, a 20-page report highlighting MML's efforts and successes in placemaking, and also its plans for the future.

More than a decade ago, Michigan faced an uncertain economic future as its manufacturing base declined. MML identified placemaking as a key strategy in retaining residents and businesses. Make the state's towns and cities more desirable to live in, and people would choose to live in them, rather than move out of state. It's as much about competition as it is anything else.

Outreach has been a big part of MML's efforts, as they informed people and communities about the practice of placemaking. Presentations, training, books, and a radio show have all played a key role in their spreading the word. They also created an award-winning Michigan Placemaking Curriculum at Michigan State University.

In their work, MML identified eight assets in making Michigan communities more desirable: physical design and walkability, green initiatives, cultural economic development, entrepreneurship, welcoming diversity, messaging and technology, multimodal transportation, and education. And programs like PlacePlan and PlacePOP helped implement like-minded projects.

In its report, MML identifies financing as a major issue heading forward, contending that the state of Michigan has a broken municipal finance system and that communities need more money to be able to invest in improved infrastructure and services.

Click here to read the full report.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Barn for sale: Oakland County seeks buyer for historic Ernst Barn

A barn that dates back to the 1850s -- and possibly even older -- is for sale in Oakland County.

The Ernst Barn, so named because of its location on the former Ernst Greenhouse property at Waterford Oaks County Park, is the subject of a Request for Proposals put out by Oakland County Parks and Recreation. 
No longer equipped to continue caring for the historic building, OCPR is looking for someone that can give the barn the attention that it deserves.

In considering proposals, OCPR Executive Officer Dan Stencil says that his department wants to find a buyer committed to restoring the barn and, ideally, one that could keep it in Waterford, or at least in Oakland County.

"The barn is part of our agrarian history," says Stencil. "Historically, there have been a lot of farms in Oakland County, and it's important to have assets like these preserved."

The RFP has already received several inquiries, he says, and could result in the barn being repurposed for commercial uses, restored as a storage facility, or something else entirely.

"The sky's the limit on how an asset like this can be re-purposed."

The barn is in relatively good shape, considering its age, and holds up structurally. It's a two-story barn believed to be built in the Antebellum period, in the year 1850 or even earlier. It mixes two early barn architectural styles, the English barn style, the first type of barn to be built in the United States, and the Bank barn style, a Midwestern offshoot of the English style.

"It's important that Oakland County residents understand where we came from so we can better understand where we are going," Stencil says.

Interested parties can email Andy J. Krumwiede at for more information on the Ernst Barn. RFPs are due mid-September.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Rochester College social entrepreneurship program helps boost jobs at local non-profits

Just a year into its Social Entrepreneurship program and Rochester College and its students have already made a difference in a local nonprofit. And with the start of the semester Wednesday, Aug. 30, the program seeks to repeat its successes once more.

In the fall of 2016, its first semester, Rochester's new Center for Social Entrepreneurship partnered with Detroit's Mariners Inn, a social services program dedicated to helping men battling homelessness and substance abuse. Students spent the first eight weeks studying social enterprises and business planning and then met with Mariners Inn to identify needs.

Jaymes Vettraino, Director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Rochester College, teaches the courses. He says the conversations between students and the nonprofit drive the program, not so much the instructor.

What they decided on was a parking lot business. Taking advantage of Mariners Inn's location across from the newly-constructed Little Caesars Arena, land is being re-purposed to accommodate event parking and could be ready in time for the Detroit Lions game on Sept. 10.

The goal, ultimately, was to find a way to increase revenue for Mariners Inn, create jobs for its clients, and supply the men with usable skills.

"Mariners Inn is really taking the concepts we presented to them and running with it," says Vettraino. "They're considering something similar for janitorial jobs and even hired a Social Enterprise employee to manage the mission."

"They're running with it in a meaningful and important way."

With a new school year comes a new partnership. This time, the Center for Social Entrepreneurship has partnered with Dutton Farm of Michigan. The non-profit works with people with physical, mental, or emotional impairments, providing them opportunities to participate in meaningful production activities, like making soaps, bath salts, and lotions. They also offer job placement services.

Learn more about Rochester College's Center for Social Entrepreneurship online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

ZeeTheCook grows in Dearborn

Now that she has a space to call her own, Dearborn resident Zee Shami has room to grow her business the way she wants it.


This September marks the third year anniversary of ZeeTheCook, but it was this past June when things really started to heat up. That's when Shami opened the doors of her Dearborn Heights studio. Cooking classes, summer camps, arts and crafts, games and activities -- it's all happening at her space on Warren Avenue.


"I saved up every penny to get this building. Now I'm not limited by space or other people's schedules," says Shami. "I have the freedom to run my classes and host my events."


Shami's business, ZeeTheCook, is multifaceted, though ultimately serves as a means for bringing people together through cooking. She runs a Monday-through-Friday summer camp, where she hosts children ages four through sixteen. They make breakfast and lunch together, play games and make arts and crafts, go on adventures in the park and scavenger hunts in local super markets. She not only teaches children how to cook, but also healthy eating habits, customs of etiquette, and life skills.


Now that summer is nearly over, Shami will turn her focus to birthday parties and private events. With the fall and winter holidays, she'll offer classes and parties revolving around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas foods and treats. And with the extra space her studio provides, she'll be offering cooking lessons to adults, too.


ZeeTheCook wasn't always Zee the Cook. She says she didn't find her passion until she was 25 years old when, having purchased her first home with her new husband, a beautiful new kitchen was calling out to her. She began experimenting with recipes and started the food blog ZeeTheCook.


As the blog picked up in popularity, Shami's followers wanted to try the recipes of the meals she posted. Not one for keeping exact measurements, Shami says she figured it would be easier to offer classes instead.


"I wanted to teach cooking classes because I wanted to share my belief in how to cook. It shouldn't have to be by the book, it shouldn't have to be word-for-word from a recipe," she says.


"You should be able to look at the ingredients and, like an art, say how are we going to combine these ingredients and create something beautiful out of it. The result is something from the heart."


With her classes gaining in popularity, Shami discovered that the real opportunity for sharing her passion was in teaching children. She's now fostering that same passion for cooking in those kids. One-time picky eaters now go home to their parents with an excitement for trying new foods. She says she has eight year olds that can prepare whole feasts for their families.


For all the time and energy she puts into running her business -- 14 hour days, phone calls at 10 p.m. -- Shami says it's all worth it. Though it might be considered "work," she certainly doesn't see it that way.


"I love to cook. It's therapeutic for me. So, I've never worked a day in my life."


ZeeThe Cook is located at 24732 W. Warren Ave. in Dearborn Heights. Visit them online [] to learn more about classes and registration.

Gonna need more thread: Downtown Pontiac sewing factory expands to bigger building

Detroit Sewn, the full-service sewing factory in downtown Pontiac, is growing. As the company recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, this summer it also achieved another significant milestone: A move from its original location to a larger facility.

The 5,000 sq. ft. space at 67 N. Saginaw St. affords Detroit Sewn the ability to meet the growing sewing and production needs of the region, giving the company room for more machines and more services. Originally offering services like product development, pattern and sample making, and cutting and sewing, Detroit Sewn has expanded to offer spot and full dye sublimation, direct-to-garment printing, and blank apparel orders.

The former editor of the StyleLine magazine, Detroit Sewn owner Karen Buscemi has spent more than 20 years in the fashion industry. She founded the non-profit Detroit Garment Group in 2012 and is helping to establish Detroit's Garment District.

Buscemi started Detroit Sewn as a response to inquiries made by metro Detroit's fashion community. She wanted to build something locally and see if was sustainable.

And sustain it she has.

"There's been a lot more need for this type of business than I ever imagined," says Buscemi. "I thought I had a handle on the size of our community, but it's way bigger than I thought."

The company receives inquiries every day, she says, and mostly from in-state residents -- a good sign for Michigan's fashion industry. "It's exciting to see that many people following their passion."

And it's not only the fashion industry that requires Buscemi's services. Just this week, Detroit Sewn sent out an order for another local company, Rochester's Seatsational, a maker of seat covers for theaters, sports venues, airplanes, and more.

Where there's a need, there's an opportunity.

"We need to show that this kind of manufacturing can be done here and be successful here if we ever want manufacturers to come from other states," Buscemi says.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Farmington Hills manufacturer teams with OU to turn water into electricity

A Farmington Hills-based company believes it has a developed a game-changing product for the clean energy industry. And a unique partnership with Oakland University has helped convince them and many others that they've done just that.

It's called the Oscillo Drive, a device developed and patented by Wave Water Works, LLC. Basically, the Oscillo Drive is placed in water and uses the motion of waves to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The device produces energy, which is then moved to a generator, converting that energy into electrical energy. It is quiet, renewable, and sheds no pollution.

"And the amazing thing is, the damn thing works," says Wave Water Works project director and general manager Chuck Keys.

Another seemingly amazing part of the story is that the Oscillo Drive had been sitting on the shelf for three decades before its inventor, Phil Padula, president and CEO of Wave Water Works, hired Keys in 2013 to bring the product to market. Keys has been talking to interested parties as near as Macomb County and as far as Israel and India.

The Oscillo Drive is going into production this winter and the company will have projects in the water the following spring.

The company enrolled in the Oakland University INC business incubator program last year, gaining access to important equipment and help from engineering faculty and 43 students. Keys estimates that Wave Water Works received $1.5 million in professional engineering services as a result of the partnership.

"We needed to be able to test the device," he says. "We knew it worked but we needed to be able to measure it. At OU, we were able to run it through a battery of tests."

Wave Water Works is also readying an Oscillo Drive that works in rivers. A desalination device is also nearing production.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Southfield seeks to introduce LTU students and families to the city with Experience Evergreen

Following a succession of three placemaking wins, the city of Southfield is looking to continue its summer successes with an event highlighting the businesses along Evergreen Road. Scheduled to coincide with the beginning of this year's Lawrence Technological University fall semester, Experience Evergreen will offer students, their families, and area residents an introduction -- or re-introduction -- to the city's commercial corridor.

From Aug. 21 through Aug. 25, more than two dozen participating businesses on Evergreen and within the city center will offer special promotions and discounts to woo customers.

"Experience Evergreen celebrates the new and pre-existing businesses along Evergreen," says Southfield Director of Planning Terry Croad. "For the new Lawrence Tech freshmen and their parents and grandparents seeing Southfield for the first time, we want to be there to introduce them."

The city has had a busy summer in the placemaking department.

Southfield successfully crowdfunded over $50,000 for a public sculpture park, resulting in a $50,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Croad expects Red Pole Park to be completed by next spring, if not before.

That park will be located along the Northwestern Highway Bike Pathway, a landscaped pedestrian and bike pathway that runs along the highway service drive. Croad is planning for murals and other public art installations for the pathway, which celebrated its grand opening in late July.

Also debuting this summer was the city's bike share program. The program has already welcomed over 100 registrants in the span of two weeks. Bicyclists can pay by the hour or purchase an annual membership. A student discount is available.

Being a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city has been a big goal for Croad.

"It's important that people see others outside walking and biking; it builds a sense of community," he says.

"It's like outdoor patio seating. People want to see life and activity on the streets."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Business full-speed ahead at Dearborn’s new Ford’s Garage restaurant

With its doors open for just about six weeks, business is booming at Ford’s Garage, one of Dearborn’s newest restaurants to hit the Michigan Avenue scene.


The restaurant celebrates a concept that is fun and timeless, according to owner and restaurateur Billy Downs: the unique heritage of the Ford Motor Company and how Henry Ford changed the world.


“This place has been a great fit for the community,” said Downs, who formerly owned and co-founded BD’s Mongolian Grill. Ford's Garage, which started in Florida, is an official licensee of the Ford Motor Company, and Downs's Dearborn location is the first in Michigan. “Business has been fantastic. We are experiencing record sales volume for our company, and we have received a tremendous amount of support from the region.”


Ford's Garage celebrates the heritage of Ford automobiles and the man himself but takes it even further, with a bar and restaurant that goes above and beyond in celebrating car culture, history, and Americana.


The facade of the building is a nod to 1920s service stations, from the color scheme down to the era-specific gas pumps out front. As cars pull up, a hose triggers a service bell, just as they did a century ago.


Several Model As and Model Ts from the 1920s and '30s are on site, parked out front and towering above the two bars inside. A 1930 Model A is situated above the main bar and the second bar features a 1923 Model T, an automobile the restaurant discovered was built 20 years to the day after Ford Motor Company was born.


The experience continues inside, with rare photographs courtesy of The Henry Ford and classic signs adorning the walls. Service stations of the 1920s were often fashioned out of old barns, so lighting has been rigged to shine through wooden slats to mimic a barn-like effect. The staff wear service station-inspired uniforms, too.


It’s those special touches that intrigued first-time diners Pat and Jim Marusak. The former Dearborn residents now live in Wayne but wanted to sample the new burger and beer staple. They most appreciated the decor and details, they said.


“It was unique. In the bathroom, the sinks were made out of a tire and when you sit down to eat they give you your silverware in a shop towel with a hose clamp,” Pat says.


“They have a beer keg for a urinal,” Jim adds. “That was different.”


Marketing director Anton Botosan said the restaurant has been a hit in the community for its unique spin on burgers and wide selection of Michigan craft beers, all in an energetic setting.


“Dearborn has really embraced us and people are traveling in from a lot of places, which is really cool,” Botosan said, adding that he interacts with each customer who leaves a review. That’s more than 600 so far.


“Ever since we opened our doors it’s been an exciting place to visit,” he said. “It’s always vibrant, always exciting. People are still very interested in visiting Ford’s Garage and we’ve had tons of people already become regulars.”


Downs said he’d like Ford’s Garage to become a staple in the city of Dearborn.


“I’d like people to remember that this is an energetic and fun dining experience,” he said. “We focus on specializing in prime burgers and craft beers, but it’s the totality of the experience that brings it all together.”


Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of Dearborn’s Downtown district, says the restaurant has resonated in Dearborn, and also has regional appeal, drawing guests in from the Amtrak train and those on their way to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.


“Ford’s Garage speaks to the history that is so rooted here in this community and showcases that in a fresh, new way,” she said. “Regionally, it is the type of restaurant that people are craving.”


Ford’s Garage is located at 21367 Michigan Ave. For more information, call 313-752-3673.


First Macomb County building to receive PACE financing to become energy (and financially) efficient

A medical office building in Clinton Township has become the first property in Macomb County to take advantage of PACE financing. PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, is a national program that offsets the upfront costs of energy efficiency upgrades through a special property tax assessment.

Construction will begin later this month on the Garfield Metro Building, a 20,000 sq. ft. medical office building owned by the Peleman family.

The Pelemans have obtained $249,000 in financing for the project. Over the course of a 20-year, low rate, fixed-interest loan, the Pelemans are expected to save $733,133 with a total net savings of $254,725. The Pelemans are expected to net $12,736 average annual cash flow as a result of the energy efficiency upgrades, even while paying back the loan.

Energy efficiency upgrades include the installation of LED lighting, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and high-tech system controls managed via smart phone. Sterling Heights-based companies BASS Controls and Bumler Mechanicals have been contracted for construction.

"If you look at all the medical office buildings in Macomb County, the potential is huge for future PACE projects," says Andy Levin, president of Lean & Green Michigan and managing partner of Levin Energy Partners.

Levin says he's particularly happy for Macomb, a county that was on board early with PACE.

"I hope this is just the beginning of great things to come."

PACE has helped finance numerous energy-efficiency construction projects throughout Michigan, including but not limited to manufacturers, warehouses, offices, and apartment buildings. A PACE announcement regarding a Detroit restaurant should be coming in the next week or two, Levin says.

PACE helps businesses finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that save money in the long run but require expensive investment up front. It allows property owners this ability through a special property tax assessment with local governments. The tax assessment then frees up lenders' ability to provide up to 20-year, low rate, fixed-interest loans.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Ferndale-based barber shop and grooming company expands with new Detroit location

Detroit Barbers, the Ferndale-based barber shop and grooming supplies brand, has expanded. With their first barber shop having opened in Ferndale in 2016, the company has since opened a second location in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. And with it comes plans for even more expansion.

Detroit Barbers is owned by Royal Oak couple Chad and Jami Buchanan. Upon opening their Ferndale location, the company was met with immediate success, eventually leading to the build out of the second floor of their Woodward Avenue storefront to accommodate more customers. A second location seemed inevitable.

Fans of the Ferndale location can expect the same type of services at the Detroit location. Staples like hot shaves, straight razor shaves, beard trims, hot facials, the latest designs, buzz cuts, haircuts, and kid’s cuts are all available at the new location. With a large two-floor footprint in Corktown, the Buchanans are planning for an apothecary and coffee shop to be built on the second floor later this fall or winter.

"We're extremely excited that the support from the community has allowed us to expand," Chad says. "It's a real loyal and giving client base that's embraced us."

It's a natural progression for the company, he says, and one that's followed the historic corridor of Woodward Avenue, the spine of metro Detroit. It's an easy drive for the company's staff, about half of which will split time between barber chairs at the Ferndale and Detroit locations. The other half has a set clientele base that will keep them where they are.

"It makes it more interesting for them," Chad says. "A little change of scenery."

The Buchanans have more big plans for expansion, built around their employees. The company, which also manufactures different pomades, shave oils, and similar grooming products, will begin manufacturing products based on their employees' wants and needs. Each barber will have the chance to develop and formulate their products.

"These are things that the barbers use on a daily basis," Chad says. "This way they'll get to give their own two cents on how a product holds and smells."

Detroit Barbers in Corktown is located at 2000 Michigan Ave. in Detroit. The original location is located at 23236 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

International Wildlife Refuge and downtown Wayne the subject of two new placemaking projects

A pair of crowdfunding campaigns have been launched in two Wayne County communities to improve daily life through placemaking. The projects are part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative.

Should each of the crowdfunding campaigns reach their fundraising goals, the MEDC will contribute matching grants to help make these projects a reality. Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity is hosting the campaigns.

In the downriver community of Trenton, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched for the construction of the Wildlife Refuge School Ship Dock and Fishing Pier. Located at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge--the only international wildlife refuge in North America--the dock and fishing pier will be a 700 ft.-long dock dedicated to public space and educational programming.

The dock will offer free shore fishing access to area anglers. The dock will also host Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes school ship, providing metro Detroit schoolchildren a "living laboratory" field trip destination on the river and refuge.

The crowdfunding campaign has until Aug. 31 to raise $50,000. A successful campaign will result in MEDC contributing an additional $50,000 to the project. More information is available online.

In the city of Wayne, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched for Bike Wayne--Downtown Bike Rack Program. The campaign aims to improve downtown Wayne through the installation of 20 custom bike racks, as well as refurbishing existing bike racks there. The money raised will also be used to promote biking. Starting in the fall and continuing through next spring and summer, pop-up bike repair and safety event programming will also be held.

The bike-centric placemaking initiative aims to both improve the health and wellness of Wayne residents while also increasing foot traffic in downtown Wayne.

The crowdfunding campaign has until Aug. 31 to raise $5,500. A successful campaign will result in MEDC contributing an additional $5,500 to the project. More information is available online.

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