- Message from Mark
- Macomb Business Awards date announced, nominations to open February 8
- Officials announce new farmland preservation effort in northern Macomb County
- County works to prevent tax foreclosure, provide homeowners guidance
- Workshop series aims to help manufacturers grow and remain competitive
- Office of Senior Services becomes standalone department
- Save the Date(s)
- Macomb in the News, Macomb Business Blog
Message from Mark
Hello and welcome to the first Focus Macomb for 2023. We’re only a few weeks into the new year, but there’s already exciting news to share. Earlier this month, I joined with Sen. Gary Peters to announce $2.5 million in federal funding for our Innovate Mound project. The new money adds to a previous $98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Together, these dollars are helping us transform Mound Road into a smart corridor capable of meeting the transportation demands of today and tomorrow. Currently the project is 54 percent complete, with phase two of construction beginning in the spring. We’re all looking forward to that next stage and thrilled that support from the federal government continues to be directed towards important Macomb County infrastructure projects.
I’d also like to share a few reminders with you all. First, the team at Veterans Services has launched the appointment portal for tax preparation assistance. Every year, they coordinate a group of volunteers who help veterans and low-income individuals during tax season. In 2022, this support helped in the preparation of more than 2,200 returns - an incredible achievement. Visit macombgov.org/veterans for more information and click here to schedule an appointment.
My next reminder - the County is hiring. Last fall we launched a campaign with our Human Resources and Labor Relations Department built around the idea that working for Macomb County is ‘More Than a Job.’ It’s a career with purpose, a way to give back to the community, a new start - truly, it’s whatever you want it to be. So check out our campaign page, and if you or someone you know is in the market for a new position, visit our career opportunities website at macombcountycareers.org.
In closing, I want to remind you that this newsletter and our County website - macombgov.org - can be your number one source for news and information. From programs and resources, to local events, places to visit and more, you can count on us for all the latest and greatest.
Thank you and take care,
Macomb Business Awards date announced, nominations to open February 8
Macomb County has announced that the annual Macomb Business Awards will be held Thursday, May 4, 2023. The event, which is now in its eleventh year, will return to the historic Emerald Theatre in Mount Clemens to recognize local businesses in a variety of categories.
“We were so proud to host the Macomb Business Awards in Mount Clemens, our County seat, last year,” said Vicky Rowinski, director, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. “This year we’re thrilled to bring the event back to downtown so we can again highlight the city’s transformation, while celebrating local organizations that are outstanding in their field. From large manufacturers to small nonprofits to microbusinesses, we hope to put a spotlight on the best of Macomb County.”
Businesses and organizations can submit themselves for consideration in one of the following categories when the nomination period opens on February 8:
- Hidden Gem: A business with up to 50 employees that offers a unique Macomb County product or service that more people should know about.
- Hometown Hero: An organization that goes above and beyond to help their community by providing assistance, donations, volunteer and/or promotional support to a cause or for a local need.
- Manufacturer of the Year: A manufacturer of any size in any industry that is achieving success through its efforts to diversify its customer base and implement new technologies or efficiencies.
- Small But Mighty Award: A microbusiness with less than ten employees that is addressing a consumer need through its products or services. Must have a brick and mortar presence in Macomb County.
- Trailblazer of Future Talent: A company that creates opportunities for the next generation of Macomb County’s workforce to explore career possibilities and experience work-based learning.
- Workforce Champion: A company that demonstrates creativity in response to workforce needs, including talent attraction, employee retention and making a conscious effort to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for all.
Nominations can be entered at MacombBusiness.com. The portal will close on March 3. All nominees will then be reviewed by a panel of judges. Recipients in each category will be announced during the awards program.
The Macomb Business Awards recognizes outstanding businesses that have made Macomb County their home. It will feature networking opportunities and presentations from leaders who will discuss relevant business topics.
Officials announce new farmland preservation effort in northern Macomb County
Macomb County leaders recently joined with Richmond Township officials for a signing ceremony that will create a 119-acre conservation easement on local farmland. The land, currently owned and farmed by Vern and Theresa Kulman, will now be permanently designated for agricultural use or green space.
“This means a lot to me,” said Vern Kulman. “I think our area has some of the best farmland in the state, so I’m proud that this program will preserve it for future generations.”
Kulman’s family started dairy farming in Richmond Township in 1948. Today their focus is beef cattle operations. “It’s a way of life,” he said. His farm’s conservation easement is made possible through a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) agreement coordinated by the Macomb County Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee and funded through a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Agricultural Preservation Grant. The process gives a landowner the option to permanently preserve his or her farmland while also receiving fair market value for development rights. An easement is then placed on the property designating it for agricultural use in perpetuity.
“Protecting our agricultural assets is a priority for Macomb County," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. "With more than 400 working farms and ever-expanding home grown products, Macomb County growers are providing locally sourced fresh food to so many. Protecting farmland will strengthen our natural environment, protect thousands of jobs and ensure that agriculture always has a home in Macomb."
Macomb County’s Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights Committee has helped preserve hundreds of acres of farmland through the PDR agreement process. In doing so, the committee is achieving what it set out to do when it was formed.
“Agriculture has always been an important part of Macomb County’s diverse economic landscape,” said Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chair Don Brown. “In the mid-90’s, conversations were started to preserve prime agricultural land in our fast growing County. Those discussions grew into a multi-jurisdictional Agricultural Preservation Program. Twenty years later, the seeds planted back then continue to bear fruit by protecting another piece of farmland for future generations in northern Macomb County. As a founding member of the Macomb County Purchase of Development Rights Program, I am proud to see the Kulman property added to the others before it, ensuring Macomb County's proud agricultural heritage will continue.”
Outside of preserving heritage and protecting the County’s agricultural industry, the PDR program is helping farmers by directly giving them the funds they would receive if they sold their land to a developer.
“We’ll use our funds to further the operation with either equipment or more cattle,” said Kulman. “A lot of it goes to retirement too. And when I do completely retire, I can pass the land on to my family while still getting some equity out of it. This PDR program makes that possible.”
Macamb County farmers interested in the PDR program can contact a clerk's office in any of the participating communities for information and program applications. Participating communities include Bruce Township, Armada Township, Richmond Township, Washington Township, Ray Township and Lenox Township.
“I think it’s another tool in the toolbox for farmers,” Kulman added. “It may not be for everyone, but it’s an option. And something that preserves our area, because farming and farmland is important.”
County works to prevent tax foreclosure, provide homeowners guidance
Macomb County residents dealing with tax issues are encouraged to get in touch with the Treasurer’s Office for assistance. The office can help explain the tax foreclosure process, work with residents to develop a payment plan or refer residents to assistance programs that may be available. If a member of the public is facing tax foreclosure because of unpaid 2020 or earlier taxes, note that March 31 is the deadline to pay or set up a plan to avoid losing a home. With this in mind, there are several important things to know:
- As part of the foreclosure judgment, a resident can redeem a property by paying the 2020 and prior year taxes by March 31, 2023. The first step is to obtain the balance of 2020 and prior year property taxes. That can be found by using the property address on Access My Gov. Once on the page, a resident can search by entering a name, property address or parcel number in the box near the top of the page.
- A resident must determine if they need more time to pay and if so, they can request a hardship extension. The Treasurer’s Office will work with them to develop a payment plan. A request form for this is available here.
- A resident can also call the Macomb County Treasurer’s office at 586-469-5446 to schedule an appointment to meet with a tax consultant.
According to the Treasurer’s Office, “to do nothing is your worst option.” So get in touch with the office and you’ll find the support you need.
Workshop series aims to help manufacturers grow and remain competitive
The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) is pleased to announce a yearlong series of workshops for manufacturers interested in learning how new technologies are transforming the industry. Offered through the Macomb Next initiative, in partnership with Velocity, attendees will learn about Industry 4.0 and why it is important for businesses to keep up to date with smart manufacturing, or risk being left behind. The first event will be held Thursday, Feb. 16 at Velocity in Sterling Heights.
“Industry 4.0 is more than an industry buzzword. It’s transforming our businesses and the way we live, work and play,” MCPED Director Vicky Rowinski said. “In my role, I am able to see this transformation happening in real time as I tour through some of the most innovative and state-of-the-art facilities in Macomb County. These workshops will help manufacturers in the County keep pace.”
Industry 4.0 (I4.0) is the ongoing automation of manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology. I4.0 helps manage and optimize all aspects of the manufacturing processes and supply chain. It provides access to real-time data and insights necessary to make smarter, faster decisions, which can ultimately boost the efficiency and profitability of an entire operation.
The nine pillars of I4.0 include:
- Additive manufacturing (3D Printing)
- Advanced robotics and automation
- Advanced simulation
- Big data and analytics
- Cloud computing
- Internet of Things
- Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
- System integration
MCPED’s five workshops, sprinkled throughout 2023, will address these pillars and how interconnectivity, automation and real-time data can be implemented into a facility. A panel of industry experts and peer adopters will discuss these topics, as well as returns on investment and how workers play a role in these changes. Vendors will also be in attendance to answer questions and show new available technologies.
“Velocity is really excited to partner with the Macomb County Planning and Economic Development team on this important event series for our business community,” said April Boyle, senior advisor for entrepreneurship and innovation, Velocity. “Bringing together the best content, connections and easy to implement tools and resources to help our business thrive and grow is our goal.”
The first workshop of the series will take place Thursday, Feb. 16 from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. and will examine cloud computing and the Internet of Things. It will feature keynote speaker George Singos, the Industry 4.0 business leader advisor for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, and a panel discussion featuring Heidi Devroy (Prosper Tech), John Babi (L&L Products) and Mike Rumel (Fisher Dynamics), who will discuss their experiences as they implemented these technologies.
“These events are for manufacturers of all sizes,” said Rowinski. “Those involved in making key operational decisions are encouraged to join us for breakfast followed by an opportunity to listen, ask questions and network.”
There is no cost to attend but seating is limited. Visit macombnext.com to register.
Other Industry 4.0 workshop in the series include:
- April 13 – System integration, big data and analytics
- June 15 – Virtual reality/augmented reality
- Aug. 17 – Additive manufacturing (3D printing), advanced robotics and automation
- Oct. 19 – Cybersecurity
Learn more about the workshops and other Macomb Next initiatives at macombnext.com.
Office of Senior Services becomes standalone department
The mission of the Macomb County Office of Senior Services is to promote and support aging well in Macomb County by adhering to the core values of dignity and respect, integrity, accountability, professionalism, empowerment, advocacy and self-determination. And now, as a standalone department under the Macomb County Health and Community Services umbrella, the office continues to work towards this goal.
“By becoming a standalone department, accessibility to our services has increased,” said Sheila Coté, director, Macomb County Office of Senior Services. “We are identified within the community as the “go-to” resource for seniors and their caregivers - and we are a one stop shop. This has increased awareness that our services are for all seniors, regardless of income.”
Programs offered through the office include:
- Meals on Wheels, the office’s largest and most frequently requested service, which provides a ready-to-eat meal to 1,700 seniors each day
- Dining Senior Style, which offers dining and socialization for seniors at 21 locations around the County
- GoldenBerry Adult Day Caring Center, an adult day program for individuals with dementia/Alzheilmers who can no longer structure their day and would benefit from cognitive stimulation and interactive activities
- Handy Helpers, which provides limited in-home maintenance services such as cleaning carpets, changing light bulbs, replacing faucets and other small tasks
- Home Injury Prevention, where seniors can request the installation of devices such as grab bars and bath chairs to help prevent a fall from occurring
- Information and benefit access, where a trained advocate will connect with seniors and their caregivers regarding potential resources they need and assist with application processes
- Friendly Caller, where seniors sign up to receive a weekly phone call from a trained volunteer, which can prevent social isolation and loneliness while providing companionship
“How senior programming is implemented varies greatly across the state,” said Coté. “Many counties have multiple providers which creates confusion on how to get help or who to call. Having a county office of senior programming creates a single point of entry for seniors looking for assistance. We help to coordinate and connect services more effectively and work collaboratively with our aging network of providers.”
Currently the Macomb County Office of Senior Services has a team of 15 full-time and 50 part-time employees, and more than 700 active volunteers. This workforce allows them to serve approximately 8,000 seniors each year.
“Knowing that we are assisting seniors to age in place or improve their quality of life is what motivates me and our staff,” said Coté. “I enjoy having the opportunity to give back to our seniors who have contributed so much during their lifetime. We will all reach that time in our lives when we need a little help to manage things. I like that we can make a difference by assisting seniors to stay in their own home.”
Learn more about the office and the services it provides by visiting macombgov.org/seniors or by finding it on Facebook.
Save the Date
Macomb in the News
Macomb Business Blog