Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Justice Richard Bernstein: Hire Michiganders with disabilities

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 
Laura Biehl, Lt. Governor’s Office
TJ Bucholz, Justice Bernstein’s Office

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Justice Richard Bernstein: Hire Michiganders with disabilities 
MI Hidden Talent tour will highlight untapped skills, local hiring resources   
LANSING, Mich. – Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein today announced a partnership to highlight the opportunities for hiring Michiganders with disabilities across the state.
The MI Hidden Talent tour aims to showcase the skills of Michiganders with disabilities that are often overlooked. The effort will encourage businesses to develop disability hiring policies while connecting businesses with resources to fulfill workforce needs. 
“Hiring Michiganders with disabilities would change the dynamic for many companies across our state,” Calley said. “There are more than 500,000 working-age adults whose talent could move a company to the next level – but they need to be given a chance first. We are working to implement more inclusive employment policies at the state level and are ready to encourage businesses statewide to do the same with this tour. The time is long overdue to celebrate different abilities in the workplace.”
At each stop, Calley and Bernstein will highlight a local business setting an example for others in hiring as well as local partners available to help other businesses follow suit. 
 “Employers that hire disabled people are ultimately rewarded with team members who bring passion, energy, and loyalty to the workplace. Disabled employees rally their fellow workers and serve as a unified force who can teach the values of resiliency, compassion, and understanding,” said Justice Richard Bernstein. “More often than not, people who have infirm bodies also possess the strongest souls and the most powerful spirits, traits which enhance the workplace and our economy as a whole. People with disabilities are hardworking, energetic, and engaged people who will be loyal to their employer. The offer of employment for a disabled person is a game changer – they do more and achieve more because they are thrilled to have been given an opportunity.”
The tour will include seven stops. The first three include:
Wayne/Oakland County: Monday, March 30; 5-7 p.m. at Embassy Suites, Livonia, MI
Hosted by Livonia, Westland and Farmington Chambers.
Upper Peninsula: Tuesday, March 31; 11 a.m. at Holiday Inn in Marquette
Hosted by the Lake Superior Community Partnership, the Greater Ishpeming Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce and 40 Below.
Great Lakes Bay: Wednesday, April 1 at 11:30 a.m. at Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw; Hosted by Saginaw Chamber and Dow.
Businesses interested in attending these events should contact host chambers to register. Details for the remaining tour stops will be announced soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Analysis of state vote May 5 to increase sales tax rate to fund road repairs, other programs

Voters are being asked to increase Michigan’s sales tax rate from 6% to 7%, which would increase state revenues by about $2 billion per year, create a series of Constitutional and statutory changes that impact rates and methods for collecting fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, and mandate spending increases for certain programs. If approved, the proposal would provide at least $1.2 billion more for road and bridge maintenance, $300 million more for school aid, nearly $100 million more for local governments, $130 million more for public transit, increase earned income tax credits for low-income families by $260 million, add $40 million more for at-risk school programs, and revise competitive bidding and warranties for road work.

The Livonia Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors analyzed the proposal and noted there were strong opinions among Chamber members who support and oppose this proposal. Accordingly, the Board of Directors concludes the following:

The Livonia Chamber of Commerce will not take a position involving this matter, but the Chamber prepared this balanced analysis of the proposal to better educate chamber members.

While there is agreement that additional investment is needed to better repair our roads, there are many questions about the long-term impact of the constitutional and statutory provisions in this proposal. We could not find consensus among our membership to take a position for or against the measure. Each side offers debate as to the ways to adequately fund necessary road repairs.

Those who support the measure contend:

  •  Michigan invests the least per capita in road repair compared to any other state in the Midwest, and increasing the sales tax to 7% would keep Michigan near the national median for this tax.
  • The earmarked increased spending from this proposal is mandated and cannot be manipulated by legislative action. Supporters add there is widespread support for more state investment in the other programs beyond roads and bridge repairs.
  • They acknowledge there is no perfect proposal to fund roads, but the roads are in need of repair and there is no alternative plan in place to increase road repair funding if voters defeat this measure.

Those against the measure argue:

  • This is a poorly-constructed proposal developed in an 11th hour deal during December’s lame duck legislative session where lawmakers deferred their responsibilities to increase road funding to the voters.
  • They are more likely to support a measure to exclusively provide more road repair funding. They do not like the “Christmas Tree” approach to funding several other elements when polling indicates that most residents are in favor of boosting funding only for roads.
  • They also fear there are long-term detrimental issues with the Constitutional changes in this proposal which only can be reversed through another statewide referendum.

Prepared March 6, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Job Opportunity at Advanced Satellite Communications

Territory Sales manager– Michigan
This is a direct sales position in which representative will be responsible for introducing Advanced Satellite Communications, Inc. "ASC", to prospective clients who are in the lodging and institutions industry.  Lodging and institution clients include hotels, hospitals, bars, restaurants, nursing homes and casinos.  DIRECTV is the highest quality and most desired Television Programming Service in this market place. ASC is well respected, diverse and offers a top shelf sales and service experience for our clients.

  • Generate profitable revenues that meet or exceed sales goals supporting the wages, perks and commissions
  • Manage all aspects of the industry sales and marketing process: lead generation, prospecting, qualifying, surveys, negotiating and closing the deal
  • Tenacity to support existing clients, referrals, prospect, penetrate, and sell ASC and our products to lodging and institutional customers (hotels, hospitals, bars, restaurants, nursing homes and casinos)
  • Collaborate with ASC project managers, technicians and administration staff to ensure positive customer outcomes and long term relationships
  • Utilize personal and ASC lead generation resources and process
  • Continue to learn and develop both your sales and business skills
  • Successfully follow a weekly sales activity plan to ensure success in your role
  • Learn both the technical and programming products of the business to be able to support designed quotes accurately

  • Working (2 years minimum) in a B2B sales or business development function, previous experience selling within the hospitality industry is a plus
  • Proven track record of selling skills, networking and prospecting/closing new client business
  • Valid driver's license with clean driving record
  • pass a criminal background and drug test
  • Dependable transportation
  • able to travel over night occasionally (shows, seminars and prospects)

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Must be responsible, self-motivated, personable, and well-organized
  • Proficiency in the use of personal computers including such programs as MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Must be able to read and effectively interpret and support general business documentation (spread sheets, blue prints, letters and emails)

  • Commissions & Salary based upon your experience level
  • Vacation – PTO
  • 401K Program
  • Office suite and company phone

Email resume and simple cover letter to or call (800) 983-3333.

Monday, February 9, 2015

NYX, UPS Store hailed with Chamber’s 2015 business of year awards

Schoolcraft’s Jeffress Center, Masri Orthdontics 
earn enhancement awards 

(LIVONIA; February 9, 2015)  - Recent days have been full of accolades for NYX Inc.

General Motors recognized the Livonia-based parts manufacturer as a 2014 supplier of the year for interior parts produced for Colorado and Canyon trucks, and the company will be honored this month by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce as the 2015 Outstanding Large Business of the year.

NYX, UPS Store No. 3011 (Five Mile near Newburgh), Schoolcraft College Jeffress Center, Masri Orthodontics, and Kohl’s will receive awards at the 11th annual Leadership and Awards Celebration on Thursday, Feb. 19, at Laurel Manor.

“These companies provide underappreciated leadership and generosity to our community,” said Chamber President Dan West. “It is important we acknowledge the exceptional people that run these companies and provide so much to Livonia.”

NYX Inc. designs and builds interior components and under-hood parts that are directly supplied to GM, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, and Nissan. To meet production demands, NYX built a 40,000-square-foot structure to expand its Plymouth Road manufacturing facility that opened last summer. Overall, NYX runs seven facilities in suburban Detroit with a diverse collection of employees that includes natives from some 30 countries.

“We have a great executive team that is not afraid to take on challenges and an amazing workforce that has a great work ethic,” said Jay Sandhu, the company’s CEO, who also gives much credit to his father, Chain, who left his native India in 1969 for opportunities in the United States.

After working through the ranks at General Motors, Chain Sandhu took control of NYX in 1989 when the fledgling company produced $2 million in sales. Today, the company is one of Michigan’s largest minority-owned companies with projected 2015 sales of $375 million.

“With his vision, hard work, and determination, he was able to buy and grow this company,” Jay Sandhu said. “He has always cared deeply about our employees. He talks to them all the time because he is always walking the floor.”

The company has been generous in Livonia as a regular sponsor of programs for St. Mary Mercy Hospital, Livonia Chamber of Commerce, Livonia Robotics team, and various youth sports.

“We have been happy to call Livonia our home since day one,” Jay Sandhu said. “And since we are a part of this place, we like to give back whenever we can.”

The 2015 Outstanding Small Business of the Year is the UPS Store in The Village Shopping Center, a shop owned for 19 years by Eric Ladwig. The Clarenceville High School alumnus combined hard work, community involvement, and personal relationships to sustain a well-respected operation. He is on a first-name basis with most of the hundreds of people who walk through his store’s doors each week.

His team of eight employees, including wife Liz, processes some 16,000 packages each year, operates 300 post office boxes, and provides other high-tech office services such as printing and copying. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Michael, who has operated a UPS Store in downtown Northville since 1993, and emphasizes the importance of being a business person active in the community.

“We should give back to the community that supports us,” Ladwig said, “and in the process, it has become fun to get to know so many people.”

Among the causes Eric and Liz Ladwig support with time and money include the Angel’s Place Food Pantry, Livonia Kids and Families, and the Livonia Symphony Orchestra. There are spontaneous efforts, too. Last summer, shortly after Westland soccer referee John Bieniewicz was killed during a player altercation, Ladwig and a customer discussed how to support the widow and two young sons. This tragedy struck the Ladwigs since they have two young children, Emily, 7, and Evan, 4.

In less than two weeks, they brought a hot dog stand outside the store for five hours. Ladwig said he hoped to raise $2,000 for the family. They ended up raising $5,700. With donated food, they charged $5 for a hot dog, chips and a drink. Most people paid $20, and several others donated at least $100.

“It was really easy to do with our connections and our loyal customers, because we didn’t do that much advertising,” Ladwig said. “It was great to be able to help the family like that.”

He added he is surprised and humbled to be selected for this year’s small business award. “We are so happy to be recognized like that, and still don’t quite believe it yet.”

The Schoolcraft College Jeffress Center and Masri Orthodontics will receive this year’s Community Enhancement Award, which honors Livonia companies that invest in a construction project that makes a visible difference in the community.

Schoolcraft College opened the Jeffress Center last year, re-utilizing the former American Community Mutual Insurance building at Seven Mile and Haggerty that sat empty for five years. 

The four-story building holds new offices for administration, business development, and continuing education functions, as well as new satellite facilities for University of Toledo and Wayne State University. Other operations on campus were expanded and enhanced as part of the overall $18 million project.

The building is named for current Schoolcraft President Dr. Conway Jeffress, who has run the school for 14 years and worked there for 32 years.

“I am grateful that the Board of Trustees would bestow this legacy on me,” Jeffress said. “I am honored to have my name on this beautiful building.”

Dr. Nawaf Masri razed a small medical office – vacant for several years – on Levan near Five Mile, and constructed a new, two-story building featuring stone, brick, and glass. The 10,000-squre-foot building opened last April. The project culminated years of planning, ignited shortly after Masri purchased the Livonia practice in 2003, then located on Schoolcraft Road.

“We were looking for another place, preferably on a corner, and we came up with this,” Masri said. “We were aiming for an eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing, and contemporary design with many windows to capture natural light.”

Masri acknowledged there were headaches in developing the new building, but he said his clients and staff are enjoying the new home for Masri Orthodontics.

“We are very proud of this city and we want to serve this community well,” Masri said. “With this investment, we are saying our staff, our clients, and our community deserve a really nice building.”

The Cleveland native was drawn to Michigan 12 years ago when he married Abeer Tabbaa, a Livonia Stevenson graduate. The couple has three young children.

Kohl’s department store on Seven Mile near Middlebelt was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Livonia Greenleaf Award. Developed by the City of Livonia’s Greenleaf Commission on Sustainability, the panel aims to reward those Livonia businesses that implement strategies that place equal importance on environmental quality, economic prosperity, and social equity.

The store opened in 2012 as part of the Livonia Marketplace shopping center, and became the city’s second Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building, along with Madonna University Franciscan Center.

The Livonia location is an Energy Star Certified building, and it is one of many Kohl’s stores that use solar power, recyclable shopping bags, provide recycling centers, and give employees reusable water cups.

The Livonia Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year – for the chamber’s leading volunteer – is Julie Van Ameyde, who owns and operates the marketing and social media consulting company, Simply Social Media. Over the past year, she has been omnipresent as an attendee and/or volunteer at chamber programs, grand openings, and other efforts that welcomed new businesses to the Chamber.

“The more I met people in the Chamber, the more I wanted to become active,” Van Ameyde said. “Everyone is so welcoming and positive. My membership has resulted in many new connections, friends, clients, and colleagues.”

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University, which helped her launch a career in marketing and business management at various companies in four states for more than 20 years before forming Simply Social Media in 2009. Her company provides consulting, training, and speaking expertise to business people in the ever-evolving world of social media.

She also taught computer science as an adjunct professor at Schoolcraft College from 1992-2001. Van Ameyde lives in Northville with her husband, John Smilnak, a retired Livonia Fire Captain.

The business award winners were nominated by Livonia Chamber of Commerce members and community leaders and selected by an anonymous committee who evaluates the nominations.
The Leadership and Awards program, sponsored by Marsh & McLennan Agency, AlphaUSA, St. Mary Mercy Hospital and Madonna University, is coordinated by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce and The Livonia Observer. Tickets are available at $25 each. Admission includes a strolling dinner and soft drinks. A cash bar will be available. To reserve tickets, call the Livonia Chamber office at 734.427.2122, or via e-mail at

CONTACT: Dan West, president, Livonia Chamber of Commerce, 734.427.2122

Thursday, January 29, 2015

WSU Schoolcraft Center is a hit with Livonia leaders

Members of the Livonia business and education community packed the WSU Schoolcraft Center Jan.
28 to learn more about economic development in the city that is home to the university’s new extension center on 7 Mile at Haggerty.

Cohosted by the School of Business, Educational Outreach and the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, the event featured an update from Mark Taormina, director of planning and economic development for Livonia. He provided a brief history of how the city’s economic centers developed and discussed changing population trends in this inner-ring suburb.

Business Dean Robert Forsythe said that, since he’s only been at Wayne State for about six months, he couldn’t take much credit for our efforts in Livonia, and thanked Associate Vice President Ahmad Ezzeddine for bringing the new Schoolcraft to U partnership to fruition. Schoolcraft President Conway Jeffress shared his pleasure with the year-old partnership, through which WSU offers coursework in accounting, management, finance, global supply chain, business information systems and engineering technology at a new building on the Schoolcraft campus.

The event was designed to introduce the site to business representatives and city leaders, which include Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey, a three-time WSU alum. 

- Carol Baldwin, Wayne State University
Event participants included keynoter Mark Taormina (left), Livonia City Councilman Brandon Kritzman, Livonia Mayor Jack Kirksey, School of Business Dean Robert Forsythe, School of Business Assistant Dean Linda Zaddach, Schoolcraft President Conway Jeffress, WSU Associate Vice President Ahmad Ezzeddine and Livonia Chamber President and WSU alum Dan West.