Friday, November 6, 2015

DFCU Financial Launches Business Banking

At a variety of scheduled events with local chambers of commerce during the month of October, DFCU Financial formerly announced its the launch of Business Banking. Developed to service small businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less and shaped in collaboration with Michigan entrepreneurs, DFCU Financial Business Banking offers simplified products, best-in-class technology, and financial education and guidance tailored to the specific needs of small business owners.  

“After listening carefully to Michigan small business owners over a nine-month period of focus meetings and extensive market research, DFCU Financial has developed a simplified, consultative approach to business banking to help our business members meet the unique needs of their firms,” said Mark Shobe, president and CEO, DFCU Financial. “Our Business Banking team is highly specialized, and our simplified portfolio of small business-centric products and educational resources offers support, guidance and convenience to small business owners statewide.”

DFCU Financial Business Banking minimizes transaction and loan turnaround times with best-in-class technology, offering a more personal approach than national banks. DFCU Financial’s consultative approach and local experts throughout the state of Michigan expedite loan decisions, and the organization’s online banking platform streamlines payment, payroll and transactional processes.

To better guide small business owners to the right products and services for their needs, DFCU Financial’s highly trained Business Banking experts are qualified to empower small business owners to use current and future financial assets to their advantage.

Educational guidance is available to small business owners and their employees through one-on-one consultations and ongoing educational seminars at branch locations across metro Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

“The ‘DFCU DNA’ is truly ingrained in our Business Banking practice,” said Lesli Matukaitis, senior vice president, Corporate Banking, DFCU Financial. “We listened carefully to small business owners as we developed our solution and educational offerings, and remain committed to helping our clients take the guesswork out of important financial decisions, helping them attain short- and long-term financing.”

In January 2015, DFCU Financial paid a record-breaking $24 million CASH BACK loyalty reward to its members, the largest payout by any financial institution in Michigan. The largest individual payout was $18,000. Members adding Business Banking to their portfolios may be eligible to receive up to one-half percent (0.50%) CASH BACK on their average yearly business loans and deposit balances from the prior year.

About DFCU Financial
DFCU Financial issues to its clients the largest CASH BACK reward of all credit unions, with more than $181 million issued since 2006. A strong community partner, DFCU Financial continually reinvests in its membership with new branches and financial literacy education for all ages. DFCU Financial currently operates 25 full-service branches in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing. For more information, call 888.336.2700 or visit

Monday, October 12, 2015

Livonia Chamber endorses Schoolcraft College millage

The Livonia Chamber of Commerce will support Schoolcraft College’s millage request that goes to area voters in November.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to endorse the millage, concluding three months of research and analysis by Chamber leaders.  They concluded the added revenue is necessary to keep tuition affordable, while supporting current and new programs that connect students to in-demand jobs sought by local companies.

“There is a lot of value to the community to have access to lower-cost, higher education,” said Board Chairman-Elect Dan Laible, who is the CFO for Livonia manufacturer NYX Inc. “When you look at how Schoolcraft College stacks up to their peers, and the quality of service they provide to our business community, this is a worthwhile investment.”

Schoolcraft College, seeking its first millage increase since 1986, is asking voters on Nov. 3 for a 0.6-mill tax increase over a 10-year period. Schoolcraft President Dr. Conway Jeffress said the added tax capture would help the school add certificate and associate-degree programs for in-demand fields such as additive manufacturing and health care administration.  He added many capital improvements have been frozen in recent years, but Schoolcraft needs to update some of its aging buildings that date back to the college’s opening in 1962.

This millage election impacts voters in the Livonia, Plymouth-Canton, Northville, Clarenceville, and Garden City school districts. If approved, owners of a $200,000 home would pay about $60 more a year in property taxes.

Schoolcraft College serves some 30,000 students and reports 61% of its students graduate or transfer to a university, which is the best rate among community colleges in Michigan. The school has a record of efficiency, providing 263,804 credit hours on a $96.2 million budget in 2013-14, while neighboring Washtenaw Community College provided 250,506 hours for $115.9 million in the same year.

Like many Michigan municipalities, the college lost tax revenue since 2008 with plunging property values in the area, but Jeffress said the Schoolcraft Board of Trustees has limited annual tuition increases up to one percent more than the consumer’s price index (CPI).

“Since the business community stands to gain from this investment, this millage request shares added costs for new programs with the business community,” said Dan West, 
president and CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce. “We believe this will enhance workforce development initiatives sought by our member businesses in recent years, which has emerged as a leading economic development issue for our region.”

The Livonia Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit trade organization that represents nearly 900 companies and community groups in and around Livonia, and advocates for the Livonia business community. In recent years, the Chamber has focused on promoting good career opportunities in high-demand skilled fields such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, electronics, and welding.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Services to Enhance Potential (STEP) Joins Broad Effort to Observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Nationwide campaign will take place in October

Services to Enhance Potential will be participating in the National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "My disability is one part of who I am."

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

"This year's theme encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people," said Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table, but, of course, it's not the only one."

Here at STEP we work hard to find opportunities to get the people we serve jobs that will lead to their increased independence and happiness. We offer a wide variety of options and programs to ensure those we serve or ready and comfortable to enter independent employment including retail classes, janitorial classes, supervised work crews, and employment readiness trainings just to name a few.

One thing that we cannot stress enough is something Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein said at the MI Hidden Talent event put on by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, “This is not charity. This is about the idea that if you give a disabled person an opportunity . . . you are going to find the most highly energetic, highly passionate, most incredibly loyal people that you could ever possibly hope to employ.”

One of STEP’s partners had this to say about how giving those with a disability an opportunity has benefited them “DQB industries and STEP have had a mutually beneficial relationship for more years that we can remember. Dan and his crew (from STEP) are an integral part of DQB industries, and we credit our smooth-running packaging operation to all of their hard work and dedication to a job well done.”

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting You can also learn more about Services to Enhance Potential by visiting or emailing Steve Slayton at

Monday, September 14, 2015

Livonia Stevenson High School Turns 50 Three-Day Celebration Planned

Thousands of alumni from Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Livonia are expected to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary with a weekend of activities including the homecoming football game against rival Churchill High School.

“We plan to acknowledge and celebrate the 50 years of the consistently high level of academic, athletic and performing arts achievement as well as our outstanding alumni and our supportive community,” said retired principal Jim Gibbons, who spearheaded the planning efforts for the celebration.

The events will kick off on Thursday, October 22 with a commemorative dedication ceremony at 7 pm in the Stevenson Competition Gym. The event will be attended by school officials, students and local leaders but is also open to the public. A faculty and staff reunion and reception will follow in the north cafeteria.

On Friday, October 23, the Spartans will host Livonia Churchill in the annual Stevenson Homecoming Game at 7 PM. Alumni classes and groups will gather at the stadium before and during the game and some will participate in a parade of alumni around the track by decade and grad year. Local businesses and alumni vendors will be on hand for the evening.

Saturday, October 24, from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM an all class reunion will be held in the Field House and the school building will be available for an open house. The set up will be similar to Friday evening with vendors and alumni gathering in the Field House. Music and Performing Arts, Student Leadership, Global Education and Athletics will host their alumni in designated areas of the school.

“Our events will commemorate Stevenson High School’s unique and high profile beginning as the first high school in the country to be named after Adlai E. Stevenson and to one of a few, if not the only high school, to be dedicated by the sitting Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey,” said Gibbons.

Several sponsorship opportunities are available. All proceeds will cover the costs of the celebration and anything extra will be donated back to the school. For more information visit Livonia Stevenson 50th Web Page or email

We encourage alumni and former staff members to connect via the Livonia Stevenson 50th Web Page and to spread the word.

"It's a really exciting opportunity to be able to take a look back at a half century of history at a place that I have been associated with for over half my life, between being a teacher and a student." stated Craig Barker, SHS '96.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Business, education, and elected leaders from several western Wayne County communities bent the ear of Governor Rick Snyder’s top advisor on workforce development on Tuesday, July 28.
Michigan Talent Investment Agency’s Stephanie Comai
 and AlphaUSA’s Chuck Dardas listen to the workforce
discussion with leaders from across Western Wayne County. 

Stephanie Comai, director of the newly created Michigan Talent Investment Agency, met for two hours with a group from Livonia, Westland, Wayne, Northville, Plymouth and Canton at Schoolcraft College. The focus was on the state’s shortage of young people pursuing careers in skilled trades, technology, and construction. Most of these positions only require one or two years of post-secondary education, and often pay more than many who earn a bachelor’s degree.
“Locally, statewide and nationally, we are all looking for talent but we are concerned the feedstock is dwindling in our workspace,” said Chuck Dardas, president and COO of Livonia-based manufacturer AlphaUSA.
Comai said her agency, created by the Governor in March, is charged with developing state initiatives that better prepares young people for in-demand jobs.
“We need to overcome the stereotypes that exist about skilled trades,” Comai said. “We plan to begin focus groups with parents to identify what they need to hear so they encourage their children to look at these careers.”
Paul Bohn, a lawyer and partner with the Northville-based firm Fausone Bohn, said there are programming gaps in education and there are unreasonable state demands for professionals to teach career technical education (CTE) classes.
“Guys like Chuck Dardas, who is an accountant and successful chief executive of a manufacturing company for many years is not ‘qualified’ to teach a business class in a Michigan school,” Bohn said.
Comai acknowledged CTE certification requirements are “horrifying.”
Educators detailed challenges they face promoting CTE and science, technology, engineering, and math programs (STEM).  With the need for education cuts in recent years, educators said limited demand for such curriculum made CTE programs an easy target for the budget ax. Additionally, local educators identified other issues:
Mark Bondy, who runs CTE programs for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, said the district recently used $1.5 million from a bond issue to enhance STEM labs, but there are not enough students using these labs.
Ann Owen, principal of Livonia’s Emerson Middle School, said she consistently sees seventh and eighth graders drop out of school. She suggested more active and engaging classes, such as robust shop classes, might keep these at-risk students in school.
Dr. Michele Harmala, superintendent of Wayne-Westland schools, said technical education is primarily discussed at high school and college level, but it needs to be introduced at younger ages, which may entice more students to these careers. 
Employers like Ted Barker, who runs Livonia-based Shaw Construction and Management Co., said there is a lack of awareness about opportunities in his industry.
“We have a lot of employees who make a very good living working for us, and only two of them have a bachelor’s degree,” Barker said.
Harmala said CTE is a less-expensive option for parents concerned about the costs of their child’s college education. And in many cases, Harmala added a motivated, experienced young worker with an associate’s degree will have a chance to earn a business, engineering, or management bachelor’s degree with the expense covered by their employer. 
Other leaders involved in the discussion included: Dr. Randy Liepa, the outgoing Livonia schools superintendent who will soon lead Wayne RESA; Dr. Michael Meissen, superintendent of Plymouth-Canton schools; Mayor Jack Kirksey of Livonia; Supervisor Phil LaJoy of Canton Township; and Supervisor Shannon Price of Plymouth Township.