Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Creativity drives Clarenceville students for invention contest

Innovation was rewarded for a group of Clarenceville students as part of the second annual Kids Invention Contest.

From left, David Lawrence and Chuck Dardas from AlphaUSA,  Grandview Elementary School
second graders Mark Popkov and Katherine Kusisto, Clarenceville Middle School sixth graders
Evan Keoshian and Jacob Patterson, Bob Carris from the Livonia AM Rotary Club and
Dan West from the Livonia Chamber of Commerce.
Grandview Elementary School second graders Mark Popkov and Katherine Kusisto, and Clarenceville Middle School sixth graders Jacob Patterson and Evan Keoshian earned cash prizes in the contest.

The contest – designed to create a youthful interest in building things – was coordinated by AlphaUSA, Schoolcraft College Manufacturing Department, Livonia AM Rotary Club, and the Livonia Chamber of Commerce.  The coordinates assembled a team of judges to evaluate the creativity, practicality and presentation of the dozen students who were challenged to describe their invention in writings and drawings on two pieces of paper. The students were divided into the middle and elementary divisions.

In the elementary division, Popkov won first place for “Kids Tube,” a kid-friendly version of YouTube, and Kusisto earned second play for “Mixer Bixer 3,000,” a quick, food-making device. In the middle school division, Patterson won first place for “Emergency Alerter,” a device that provides color-coded lights in a home’s front window to alert first responders to the type of emergency inside. Keoshian earned second for “Mu-tooth” a unique, wireless earpiece to listen to music. Keoshian also was a contest winner in the inaugural contest last year.

“We feel this is a great way to install a passion among young people to build things,” said Chuck Dardas, AlphaUSA’s president and chief operating officer. “Our manufacturing industry needs these talented young people in the future.”

The winners were announced and invention contest participants were acknowledged during an assembly at Clarenceville High School on June 11. During the presentation, students were encouraged to consider building things as they look at potential careers.

“Among the greatest need for future jobs in southeast Michigan are creative, skilled workers for manufacturing, electronics, engineering, and informational technology,” said Chamber President Dan West. “This contest is a way to increase awareness of these future opportunities for the students and their parents.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Legos, Cars, Prizes connect people to local business at May 8 Expo

(LIVONIA; April 14, 2014) — Several cars will be on display, youngsters can play with Legos, a media and political panel will offer insights on regional trends, and some 100 vendors promoting business and consumer goods and services will gather throughout Laurel Park Place Mall during the Livonia Business Expo on Thursday, May 8.

The 28th annual Livonia Chamber of Commerce event is presented by Bill Brown Ford, Madonna University, Farmers Insurance and AlphaUSA. It is the third year for the Expo at the Mall. The daylong celebration of the Livonia business community features a full schedule of helpful speakers, business displays, prize giveaways, and fun evening social event capped off by a silent auction.

“This is our biggest annual event that supports business-to-business and consumer-to-business activity,” said Chamber President Dan West. “We will have a little something for everyone: Games for kids, chances to win prizes, lots of helpful information, and an easy connection to some 100 business from our community.”

The Expo begins with the Business Breakfast Roundtable, sponsored by Schoolcraft College, Davenport University, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan which features a panel of news columnists and political leaders at 7:30 a.m. Michigan State Senators Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) and Glenn Anderson (D-Westland), Detroit Free Press Business Columnist Tom Walsh, and Crain’s Detroit Business Capitol Reporter Chris Gautz are scheduled to discuss state and local business trends and answer audience questions.

The 90-minute program will be held at the Marriott Hotel banquet room, attached to the Mall. Admission is $15 per person.

Exhibitors promoting local businesses and organizations will be on display throughout the concourse of the Mall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

A unique business networking opportunity is available to chamber members at 2 p.m. Networking Frenzy, sponsored by Laurel Park Place Mall, will give business people a quick and effective gathering to meet new people and discuss business issues in one hour. The cost is $5 per person and the program is limited to 52 people.

The day concludes with the “Tastefully Livonia” program, presented by Tennyson Chevrolet and Foresters Financial Partners, a business-casual networking event in the Marriott Hotel banquet room from 5:30-7:30 p.m, featuring food samples by Livonia’s leading restaurants. Admission is $20 per person, which includes two drink tickets. Several prizes will be offered in a silent auction to raise money for the Livonia Chamber Scholarship Fund.

Other sponsors of the Livonia Business Expo includes: Co-op Services Credit Union, Livonia Spree, Dave and Buster’s,  Consumers Energy, Edward Jones Investments: Robin Whitfield, Financial Advisor, Freedom Hill Ampitheater,  and The Livonia Observer. 

Laurel Park Place Mall’s General Manager Todd Huhn said the event is consistent with the property’s goal “to spread the word about the many unique businesses in our area.”

There are a few exhibit spaces remaining for the Livonia Business Expo. For more information on exhibit space or to purchase admissions to the Business Breakfast Roundtable or Tastefully Livonia, contact the Livonia Chamber of Commerce at 734.427.2122, or follow the chatter on Twitter at #livbizexpo.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Local schools, business working to inspire more student interest in skilled jobs

Dan West
Livonia Chamber, President
We’ve talked about the need to direct more young people into high-demand, good-paying skilled-worker and advanced manufacturing careers in this publication for a couple years now.

Now, it is time to turn our talk into action.

The Livonia Chamber of Commerce and other community resources aim to better coordinate efforts on a long-term mission to shift thinking so more young people, backed by increasingly confident parents, are inspired to pursue high-tech jobs needed in the metro Detroit marketplace.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently talked with Livonia Public Schools Superintendent Randy Liepa to push vocational opportunities within its long-running, successful internship program. This would give interested students a better appreciation of the clean, exciting, high-tech and viable career opportunities with advanced manufacturing, welding, electronics, informational technology, construction, and other skilled trades. Most of these careers need only two years of post-secondary education. According to many analysts, these types of jobs are in high demand over the next decade.

We also realize the need to introduce young people to these types of careers at a young age. Schoolcraft College will hold a Technical Career Open House on Saturday, May 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., to introduce middle and high school students to experiences in the manufacturing, metallurgy, welding, CAD and electronics lobs.

This open house will give youngsters and their parents a first-hand look at the technical training available to pursue a career in the modern world of skilled trades. Contact Gene Keyes at Schoolcraft ( for more information.

“Most young students don't know about the manufacturing industry and we want to show them,” said Keyes, who runs Schoolcraft’s Manufacturing Department. “Other businesses are looking for new workers and will be at the open house to explain what it is they do and show off product.”

Also in the coming school year, the Chamber will work with upper elementary and middle school classrooms to give students a chance to tour several local manufacturing operations such as AlphaUSA, NYX Inc., Delta Research, Delta Gear, Linear Mold and Engineering, and Roush. As Chuck Dardas, AlphaUSA’s president and COO, simply put it: “We need to get young people excited about building things.”

It is understandable why parents have been shy about the manufacturing careers in recent decades as assembly jobs declined. This moved parents to direct their children to focus on university studies. But in many cases, these students’ studies were not focused on skills needed in the marketplace. This created a glut of college graduates who obtained significant student loan debt, yet are stuck in jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

“For years, we focused on the need for college to get a good job, but we made a mistake,” Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said at his recent Economic Summit in Grand Rapids. “We needed to equally talk about the need for training skilled workers.”

Snyder talked about the need to redefine perceptions of a “skilled worker,” so more families realize this type of training can lead to good jobs, good careers and good pay.

“We need to focus less on just education and more on career preparedness,” the Governor said.

So in Livonia, our business and education communities are working together to better prepare young people for needed, viable jobs of the future. Not every young adult was meant to go to a university for at least four years to get trained for a good job. There are other paths. We have to inform our young people of those other paths.

And now, Livonia’s business and education communities are working together to make that happen.

Dan West is the president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

Thursday, April 3, 2014

St. Mary Mercy Hospital seeks volunteers for new program

Livonia, Mich. (March 31, 2014) – St. Mary Mercy recently started a new program for senior patients and is looking for volunteers to help. Based on the proven success of the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) at Yale University, the Patient Assistance Liaison (PAL) program at St. Mary Mercy was created. It implements evidence-based strategies three time a day, seven days a week as a preventative measure to reduce delirium and instances of physical and functional decline in high-risk patients 70 years and older.

During hospitalization, seniors often develop delirium and functional decline. Delirium, the sudden change in how someone thinks and acts, may occur due to a change in medication, during illness or after an operation. With proper support, delirium can be prevented and treated.

The volunteer program provides patients with a companion throughout their hospitalization to maintain cognitive and physical functioning. Volunteers will provide assistance in four areas:

· Daily Visitor Program – Uses communication techniques and socialization to prevent confusion and maintain cognitive functioning.

· Therapeutic Activities Program – Engages the patient in activities to stimulate and maintain cognitive and physical well-being.

· Mobilization Maintenance Program –Provides daily companionship during ambulation or exercise program.

· Mealtime Companionship Program – Gives patients mealtime assistance and companionship.

If you are interested in volunteering for PAL or want to more information, contact Jessica Thomas at 734-655-2474 or

CONTACT: Jennifer Kennedy
Director, Marketing/Public Relations
St. Mary Mercy Hospital
734.655.1593 or