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Chicago-based Coyote Logistics opening Ann Arbor office with $1M state incentive

Chicago-based logistics and transportation provider Coyote Logistics will open an Ann Arbor office with more than 100 employees thanks to a $1 million incentive from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Coyote's new 9,000-square-foot office will be in the 777 Building at the corner of Eisenhower Parkway and State Street. According to an MEDC memo, the company plans to hire 35 to 45 employees annually for a total of 125 new jobs in the next three years.

MEDC spokeswoman Kathy Fagan said that the grant Coyote will receive from the state is a performance-based grant directly tied to job creation numbers. Payments will occur proportionally to the number of jobs created and will result in up to $1 million of incentives if the office has at least 120 new positions.

According to a news release, Coyote also plans to invest $1.2 million into the new location that will support the company’s Chicago headquarters. Ann Arbor was chosen for the company’s offices over competing sites in Texas, California and Colorado. The company already operates satellite offices in six other U.S. cities including Atlanta, Memphis and San Diego.

There are no Ann Arbor jobs listed on the Coyote website yet, but current openings include positions in information technology, sales, operations and marketing. Vice president of communications Jodi Navta said the office will include a mix of jobs with a primary focus on creating relationships with customers in the shipping world.

“We are a third-party logistics company meaning that we are the ‘middle-man’ between shippers who need to move things and the carriers that take them,” she said.

“The shippers that we help coordinate movement of freight for include everyone from a mom-and-pop grocer up to a Fortune 500 company. And that’s the same on the carrier side, everything from an owner-operator to the big names you see on the highways.”

Navta said the company chose to open its new office in Ann Arbor because of close company ties to the area and the ease of attracting talented employees to work in the city.

“We recruit a lot of our employees from Big 10 schools and schools in Michigan,” she said.

“Our CEO went to the University of Michigan for undergrad and his MBA and having an Ann Arbor office is a great opportunity for us to recruit employees who want to stay in the area after school or move back to Ann Arbor to raise a family close to their hometowns.”

Ann Arbor SPARK
worked with the MEDC and Coyote on the incentives process, and according to the news release, SPARK and the city of Ann Arbor will offer financial support to assist with the company’s recruitment efforts. It's not yet clear what the incentives will be.

“Coyote Logistics is the latest example of a company attracted to the Ann Arbor region because of the talent that’s here, and another CEO choosing to expand into the city they fell in love with while in college,” SPARK president and CEO Paul Krutko said.

According to Coyote’s website, it arranges transportation for more than 3,000 loads per day across North America.

The company’s new office will put employees in close proximity to global shipping services company Con-Way Inc., Ann Arbor’s only Fortune 500 company, which reported annual revenues of $5.58 billion in 2012.

The logistics community in Ann Arbor also includes supply chain software startup LLamasoft, which was named AnnArbor.com’s Deals of the Year technology winner in 2012 after expanding its downtown footprint and attracting Nike as a client and investor.

According to its program guidelines, Michigan Business Development Program grants are awarded to companies that are seeking to locate or expand and are deciding between Michigan and other sites in competing states. Barracuda Networks was awarded a similar incentive package in 2012 for up to $1.2 million when it announced the relocation of its Ann Arbor offices to the former Borders headquarters in downtown Ann Arbor.

Funds for the Michigan Business Development Program grant come from the Michigan Strategic Fund, which was created to promote economic development and job growth in Michigan. The MSF also houses the state’s 21st Century Jobs Fund and the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.

This article by Ben Freed originally appeared in AnnArbor.com.

More Toyota power coming to the Ann Arbor region

Toyota Technical Center (TTC), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, N.A.(TEMA), announced an investment of more than $28M to expand its powertrain operations at two facilities in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The new growth will support powertrain development capability, specifically in the areas of design, evaluation and calibration on new engine and transmission projects. Beefing up these three areas in Ann Arbor is just the latest example of Toyota's commitment to drive more local decision-making and ultimately faster, more precise response to its customers. "An expansion of this magnitude takes good team work with local partnerships," said Simon Nagata, president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. "Our friends at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ann Arbor SPARK and Ann Arbor Township have been at the table with us to make this expansion possible."

"Toyota is a global leader in the automotive industry and its growth in Michigan is welcome news for all of us," Governor Rick Snyder said. "Toyota's commitment strongly signals that Michigan offers an improved climate for increased business investment. We welcome this very positive decision."

Paul Krutko, president of Ann Arbor SPARK adds, "Toyota chose to locate and take root here because of local resources, specifically the deep pool of engineering and technical talent. Ann Arbor SPARK, working with its partners at the local and state level, is committed to attracting leaders like Toyota to the region, and offering them the wide range of support to grow their businesses here."

"Ann Arbor Township and Toyota have worked together for 36 years," said Mike Moran, supervisor, Ann Arbor Township.
"We are pleased to assist Toyota to transition the Technical Center into this new use, and look forward to at least another 36 years together."

The expansion projects will occur in Ann Arbor and position TTC to develop engines and automatic transmissions for the North American designed and manufactured vehicles. For over 10 years, Toyota has been manufacturing engines and transmissions in the U.S. and in the past 20 months Toyota has invested about $2 billion in its North American manufacturing facilities, adding more than 4,000 new jobs.

SOURCE Toyota

New connected vehicle research center could propel region to national spotlight, SPARK CEO says

Developing a connected vehicle research center on the site of Ypsilanti Township’s former Willow Run GM Powertrain plant could be a game-changer for Washtenaw County, said Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Paul Krutko.

For Ypsilanti Township, it’s an opportunity to reactivate a 332-acre property that contains the historic Willow Run plant,
boost the tax base and bring thousands of jobs to the township.

For southeast Michigan, it’s a chance to ensure the region remains at the forefront of automotive research and technology at a time when the industry is rapidly changing.

“(Southeast Michigan has) a lot of companies that are actively engaged in information technology as well as automotive research,” Krutko said. “I think having this kind of facility would draw the best and brightest from around the world. I think it would be a great attraction.”

Officials announced on Thursday that Detroit-based Walbridge Development LLC plans to purchase a majority of the former Willow Run plant property and build a test track for connected vehicles with R&D facilities.

Connected-vehicle technology allows sensor- and computer-equipped vehicles to communicate with each other and outside devices such as traffic signals or electronic signs to prevent collisions and improve traffic flow and fuel efficiency.

The University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute is conducting a major connected vehicles study in a contract with the federal government.

Krutko said the connected vehicles plan for the former Willow Run plant, which was facilitated in part by SPARK, has been in the works for months. SPARK created a case report in early 2013 about the need for a world-class connected vehicles test facility in southeast Michigan.

“We had the University of Michigan talking to us about all the connected vehicle work they are doing with the pilot going on, and we meet regularly with Toyota and Hyundai,” he said.

“We need to get our arms around this because other regions of the U.S...are doing work with driverless cars. What happens next with transportation really is our legacy, and not other communities’ legacy. If we don’t do something, (other regions) will become the center of automotive research in the future.”

The Ypsilanti Township property has been on the market for redevelopment since 2011. RACER Trust, the group charged with liquidating GM’s holdings and cleaning up environmental contamination at 89 sites across 14 states, has been marketing the property.

Bruce Rasher, a redevelopment manager for RACER Trust, said Walbridge has entered into a written agreement with the trust to take ownership of the property once the 4.6 million square foot plant on the site has been demolished and the environmental contamination is removed.

“Walbridge has had preliminary discussions with potential users of this facility,” Rasher said. “We reached the point that the interest was serious enough that it would be prudent to give this control to Walbridge.”

The process to redevelop the site could take years, and Walbridge would first need to enter into a development agreement with Ypsilanti Township. RACER Trust has the right to review the plans, Rasher said.
Krutko said Walbridge, or another entity, could then create an open environment where different types of companies could lease parts of the facility for research and development purposes.

“We want to create an environment in which many, many companies — large and small, early-stage to mature — would then be able to use this research facility. We could see automotive suppliers, technology companies, or (original equipment manufacturers) themselves booking a period of research time at the facility.”

“University of Michigan has been key contributors to thinking about this opportunity. At some point in the future, if this is a reality, it may be that U-M would consider at some point conducting some of its research there.”

Stephen Forrest, U-M's Vice President for Research, said the university is building a separate track to test connected vehicles in Ann Arbor.

Forrest called the proposed Willow Run redevelopment "a very synergistic and important development" for U-M and one that would help make southeast Michigan a hub of connected vehicle research.

"If Michigan can be the center of this, that's going to make a huge difference to the country, to the region," Forrest said. "It will give a rebirth to our automobile industry that we cold only have dreamt about several years ago."
He added: "I am sure that any plan that comes out of there will have significant involvement from the university."

Krutko said the facility at the Willow Run site would have roadways and simulated city environments where vehicles could be tested in a controlled environment. SPARK’s case report contains a conceptual site plan that says the facility could have realistic lane markings, simulated tunnels, buildings of varying scales, realistic infrastructure and roundabouts.

The conceptual site plan — which Krutko said is just an example of what could be done with the connected vehicles facility — suggests there could be 12 buildings on the site with a job creation potential of 1,950 people. The estimated construction investment listed in the plan is $90 million.

“There’s a lot to do and there’s a lot that could go wrong, but I think we’ve stepped on a journey now that has a goal and a plan in mind that creates a very dramatic future, a different future, than what has been at that site now for a decade,” Krutko said.

This article by Lizzy Alfs originally appeared in MLive.

Gold Star Mortgage grows into old Borders HQ, expects to hire 250 in 2013

Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group plans to move into the former headquarters for Borders in Ann Arbor this spring.

The Ann Arbor-based firm is more than doubling its space to 70,000 square feet, which should allow the company to continue its rapid expansion. Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group has hired 100 people in Ann Arbor over the last year, expanding its workforce to 300 people at its current headquarters. The company is growing so fast it projects to hire another 250 in 2013.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we add 300 people," says Rick Richter, executive vice president of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group. He adds that his company is at least "adding about 30 people a month" and looks to leverage the region's deep talent pool of young people.

Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group is a full-service mortgage business that closes more than $1.5 billion in loans per year. It has focused on growing its presences in southeast Michigan and across the state to continue its organic growth. The 10-year-old company has doubled its growth over the last year thanks largely to expanding its local staff.

"We kept bringing on new people, run them through our training program and they have enjoyed a lot of success," Richter says.

Source: Rick Richter, executive vice president of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Therapy Charts adds 5 to its team as it matures business model

In an age when so many big companies work to be more like start-ups, Ann Arbor-based start-up Therapy Charts is striving to be more big biz.

"We're starting to look more and more like we're from corporate America," says Lisa Farmer, CEO of Therapy Charts. "I feel like a traitor for saying it but we have grown from an informal group of employees that need that information."

Therapy Charts
is commercializing its patient information management platform for therapists who are independent practitioners, such as clinical psychologists, social workers, and mental health counselors. Lisa Farmer founded Therapy Charts four years ago after working in hospital mental health departments and observing that medical record technology was aimed at big institutions and not sole practitioners or small health-care co-operatives.

Farmer and her team of 17 people are working to make Therapy Charts the leader of digitizing records for the mental health industry. Farmer describes the competition as 13 other start-ups and she expects her company's continued growth will allow Therapy Charts to "remain ahead of the pack."

Therapy Charts recently received a microloan from the Michigan Microloan Fund. That has allowed the start-up to put together a marketing plan and expand its sales cycle. That growth has allowed Farmer to add five people to her team, expanding it to 17 staffers and two interns. She expects to continue growing her company's bottom line and staff over the next year.

Source: Lisa Farmer, CEO of Therapy Charts
Writer: Jon Zemke

Gema Diagnostics set to close on $2M Series B round

Gema Diagnostics recently landed an investment from the Pure Michigan Venture Match Fund, which is part of a $2 million Series B round of venture capital the bio-tech start-up expects to close on later this month.

Gema Diagnostics raised $625,000 in a Series A round when it launched in 2006, licensing technology from Michigan State and Yale universities. Its most recent round of seed capital comes from North Coast Technology Investors (which led the round), the First Step Fund and the Blue Water Angels.

"It will be for a pivotal clinical trial to get the company's product to market," says Dave Repp, president & COO of Gema Diagnostics.

Gema Diagnostics is developing technology that will help improve the odds of a successful in vitro fertilization. "Our tool will help clinicians figure out which of a woman's eggs is the best to fertilize," Repp says. "No other non-invasive technology can do that."

Repp expects the final clinical trial to take six months and wrap up later this year, which should prompt the two-person start-up to expand its staff. Commercialization could begin by the end of the year.

Source: Dave Repp, president & COO of Gema Diagnostics
Writer: Jon Zemke

Velesco Pharma expands workforce across Michigan

If you're looking for a success story in the wake of Pfizer closing its operations in Ann Arbor five years ago, look no farther than Velesco Pharma.

The Plymouth-based company that calls the Ann Arbor SPARK-managed Michigan Life Science Innovation Center home, offers pharmaceutical consulting and laboratory services. It also operates a plant in Kalamazoo that makes dosage forms for clinical trials. Each year since its start, the company has experienced sustained growth.

"Velesco Pharma continues to have significant growth," says Gerry Cox, COO of Velesco Pharma, former Velesco Pharmaceuticals. "We continue to work with ore than 75 different clients."

Velesco Pharma currently has 17 people and a few summer interns between its facilities in Plymouth and Kalamazoo. It has hired two people over the last year as its clinical trial products and services continue to gain traction in the market. Cox expects to spend 2013 strengthening the firm's branding and business development resources to sustain its growth pattern.

"There has been significant demand," Cox says. "There has also been a lot of repeat business from existing clientele."

Source: Gerry Cox, COO of Velesco Pharma
Writer: Jon Zemke

Start your company in Ann Arbor, Silicon Valley entrepreneur says

This photo has been making the rounds on Facebook.





The photo was pushed out on Ann Arbor SPARK's Facebook page - a group dedicated to building business expansion in the area.

Just two years ago, Blank published an article about the venture capital climate in Ann Arbor.

In a post he wrote in 2011, "What's Missing For Entrepreneurs In Ann Arbor, Mich.," he described the climate as the sound of 'one hand clapping.'

He felt there was plenty of talent, but money and a risk-taking culture were missing in the city (below he mentions VCs - 'venture capitalists').

"Given the interesting things going on in the engineering labs I visited and the startups I met, one would have thought the school would have been crawling with VCs fighting over deals. Instead it seems that students who graduate simply pick up a plane ticket with their diploma. (Of course, some do stay. The spin-outs from Center of Entrepreneurship are impressive. Many of those companies are still Ann Arbor, but the ecosystem is a limiting factor.)

While one can’t recreate all the happy accidents that made Silicon Valley, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that it’s the combination of technology entrepreneurs and risk capital that are two of the essential ingredients in any cluster."

Blank did post this with a few caveats - basically saying he was only in Ann Arbor for a few days, so he doesn't consider himself an expert, but based on what he wrote - he did have some strong impressions of Ann Arbor.

So I wanted to know, what's changed in the city?

Why did he now recommend that entrepreneurs start their companies in Ann Arbor?

I shot him a Tweet and will let you know what he says.

In the meantime, how do you think the business climate in Ann Arbor has changed?

We heard recently on Stateside that the jobs forecast for Michigan isn't so hot, but maybe that's different for A2.

Update 1:15 p.m.

I caught up with Blank on the phone (he was riding in a limo in Austin, TX on his way to SXSW).

Blank told me what's changed in Ann Arbor is that there are venture capitalists and 'angels' in the city who are willing to invest, and who don't have to put up huge amounts of capital to get things going.

Blank said there's an enormous talent pool in Ann Arbor from the University's engineering and medical schools.

"And you don't need a lot of money to get some of these ideas off the ground. You don't need to put up $10 million to get things going. Basically you just need a couple hundred thousand dollars and a laptop," said Blank.

If a company succeeds, he said, Ann Arbor would still run into that problem of 'one hand clapping.'

"I'm shocked, with someone like Gov. Snyder in office, that he hasn't used the bully pulpit to change the investing culture," Blank said.

He said investors in this area don't understand risk capital. The investment culture is still more like a bank here.

Successful companies, he said, would still have to go somewhere like Silicon Valley to find multi-million dollar investments.

"It's a place where people understand risk... and there's a robust ecosystem of investors," he said.

He'd recommend moving a successful company's headquarters to Silicon Valley, but keep the engineering in Ann Arbor because of the talent pool available.

If a tech boom were to happen in A2, perhaps investing in a limo service isn't such a bad idea.


This article written by Mark Brush originally appeared on Michigan Radio.org.

Study shows job gains for Livingston County

A new study says Livingston County has regained all of the jobs it lost during the recession, and the region is recovering from the economic meltdown in 2008 and 2009.

However, there are some somber figures in the study as well.

A local official said unemployment remains high, and some of the new jobs don't pay as well as the old ones.

"I think we're coming back, and there's a lot of good news for Livingston and the region, but there's still a lot of people struggling," said William Sleight, director of Livingston County Michigan Works!

Sleight said the pace of re-covery is still moderate when compared to past recoveries.

The Economic Growth Alliance report stated the seven-county region has "recovered smartly in the past few years from the most severe recession in its history, stretching from 2000 until it ended in 2009, when the region lost 110,150 jobs in a single year."

The alliance is a partnership of seven counties in southeastern Michigan: Livingston, Oakland, Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, Macomb and St. Clair. The report was compiled by the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and Economy at the University of Michigan.

The report stated the region is starting its fourth year of economic recovery after a nearly decade-long recession, and the automotive sector has been strong.

However, the report also stated areas of concern: The rebound has not been nearly as robust as past recoveries, job growth has slowed recently, and some sectors -- finance and government -- are struggling.

The study showed Livingston County had 47,850 jobs and would be adding 5,218 jobs in the next three years.

The county's unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in 2012. Sleight said the unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in 2007.

How can a county regain all of its jobs without a sharp drop in its unemployment rate?

Sleight said the reason is two different sets of data are being used. He said the study looked at industry data that counts the number of jobs at companies; unemployment is based on work-force data that tracks the number of residents with jobs and who are looking for jobs.

He said there are an estimated 87,500 people in the county's work force, and an estimated 7,500 of them are unemployed.
Although jobs have returned, the wages have been slow to increase from the recession.

"You're seeing some evidence of wage gains in some occupations that are in short supply," Sleight said. "As a whole, wage gains have not kept pace with job growth."

Sleight said a skills gap remains a problem. There are people who want jobs but don't have the skill sets to fill many open positions. Those jobs are in manufacturing, welding and robotics operators and programmers.

Phil Santer, the senior business-development manager for SPARK's Livingston office, said the report showed positive opportunities for the county. SPARK, an Ann Arbor-based economic development organization, handles economic development for Livingston County as part of a contract with the Economic Development Council of Livingston County.

"The job projections in the research report underscore the economic opportunities that exist in the Livingston County region," Santer said in an email. "The research validates what we already know from our meetings with businesses here: Talent is a key factor in a company's growth."


This article by Jim Totten originally appeared on LivingstonDaily.com.

Willow Run Airport plans runway expansion as part of $182M plan

Willow Run Airport on the Ypsilanti Township border will be seeking $182 million in changes to its runways and infrastructure throughout the next 10 years, provided airport authorities attract the grant money they need to make the projects possible.“Willow Run’s at a crossroads,” said Sean Brosnan, director of the Willow Run Airport.

Brosnan presented the 10-year plan for the airport in front of an audience of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., Washtenaw County officials and key economic development players including representatives from Ann Arbor SPARK and the Detroit Region Aerotropolis.

“We have here a tremendous potential asset -- or a group of assets; One of which is, of course, the airport facility itself,” Dingell said.

The upgrades will be important as the airport is being used as a marketing tool to attract developers to the adjacent former General Motors Willow Run plant and the Aerotropolis region between Willow Run and Detroit Metro airports.

The future of the airport is vitally important to Ypsilanti Township because of the kinds of new businesses it could bring in to the area, said Washtenaw County Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr., D-Ypsilanti Township. Cargo businesses located at the airport include Kalitta Air, USA Jet, Ameristar Jet Charter, Active Aero and National Airlines.

“The airport is marketed as a part of the package,” said Patricia Spitzley, deputy redevelopment manager of the GM-spinoff firm RACER Trust in charge of marketing the property to developers. “The fate of the airport can impact our ability to successfully market.”

The first phase of construction has received funding from the Federal Aviation Administration: An $18 million grant has been allocated to reconstructing the northern half of its main, 7,525-foot-long runway.

Together with a 5 percent match from the state of Michigan and a 5 percent match from the Wayne County Airport Authority, the $20 million project is the first step in an overhaul the airport plans for its aging facilities. Construction is slated to begin in May, and last through Nov. 15.

To completely reconstruct the main runway, an additional $23 million is needed. Brosnan said the airport is “shovel ready” to reconstruct the southern half of the main runway should they be awarded additional grant funding.

This year, Willow Run Airport also will be upgrading its precision-aided pilot instrumentation systems on the runway parallel to its main runway to accommodate the plane traffic during construction.

Throughout the next 10 years, the airport is planning to add taxiways to make the airport more efficient for planes to use.

“The previous congressmen who represented this area didn’t want to extend the runways - which may be a component of making this a workable air transport facility,” Dingell said, adding in regards to the federal budget sequester: “This is all going to cost a lot of money that’s being hurt by the awful mess that we have in Washington.”

The runway on the north side of the airport that runs parallel to Ecorse Road will be reconstructed about three years before it is extended from 7,200 feet to 9,550 feet long, Brosnan said.

The extension is slated to happen in 2023, according to the airport’s 10-year plan.

The runway expansion will be a significant change in the kinds of capabilities Willow Run Airport is able to offer its clients in the cargo business, Brosnan said.

“This will allow us to go anywhere in the world with freight,” Brosnan said.

Brosnan said the issue some larger planes have now is that they can’t take off from Willow Run Airport fully loaded with both cargo and fuel - and so a second stop is required before the plane embarks for its final destination.

A 747 can take off from the Willow Run Airport now, Brosnan said, but it can’t take off fully loaded.

The Willow Run Airport was built in World War II in conjunction with the adjacent and now vacant B-24 bomber plant that was last used by GM. It straddles the border of Ypsilanti and Van Buren townships, and sees 70,000 operations per year.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va. is one-third of the land mass of the 2,500-acre Willow Run Airport space, Brosnan said.

Within the airport itself, about 170 acres are used to grow soybeans for use in biofuels, Brosnan said. With the removal of some of the old concrete pavement on the site that is no longer needed, an additional 300 acres will be turned into fields of soybeans.

The airport is intended to be a relief airport from Detroit Metro Airport, and mostly handles cargo planes and private jets.

Many cargo planes flying in to the Willow Run Airport that make use of the 24-hour FAA tower are bringing in spare parts to the Big 3 automakers so that they don’t have to shut down production.

“We’re an air ambulance for the automotive industry,” Brosnan said.

The airport’s runways are all 70 years old, as are the main hangars. Hangar 1 is about 60 percent to 70 percent occupied with corporate jets, Brosnan said.

In the southwest corner of the property, Hangar 2 is a vacant 200,000-square-foot building that would need serious upgrades to be operational, Brosnan said.

The airport plans to demolish Hangar 2 in 2014 and later build an engine repair and maintenance yard that's more cost efficient to operate, Brosnan said.

“That space will be vital in our rebirth,” Brosnan said.

The plan also includes two new hangars for the Yankee Air Museum to store their flyable planes, Brosnan said.

About 320 acres of undeveloped land the airport owns on the north side of Ecorse Road just west of Belleville Road is available for a private development, Brosnan said.

It’s being marketed by the airport, SPARK and Aerotropolis to investors as useful for a research, manufacturing or warehouse complex -- similar to the way the former five-million-square foot vacant GM plant adjacent to the airport is being marketed by its owner, the RACER Trust.

Brosnan acknowledged the similarities, noting, “One of the advantages the GM site has is that it has road infrastructure, water lines … but, some developers would rather have green sites.”


This article by Amy Biolchini originally appeared in AnnArbor.com.

The top 10 job opportunities in Washtenaw County

The Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County, published by University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Don Grimes, showed job growth in the region that would fully replace all jobs lost in the recession as early as mid-April.

The good news continued as the economists predict that by 2015 there will be 11,000 more jobs than ever before in Washtenaw County.

But what jobs will these be? Fulton said that the fastest-growing job segment is “high-wage” jobs. Here, we take a deeper look at what sectors are forecast to experience the most growth over the next few years.

This list was compiled using data from the Washtenaw County Economic Outlook and takes into account total new jobs, rate of job growth and the job category’s average wages.

10. Employment Services

Not surprisingly, as more jobs are opening, more human resources representatives will be needed to find prospective employees and manage their pay and benefits. According to the economic outlook, the sector is expected to add more than 250 jobs by 2015.

There are already more than 5,000 employment services professionals in Washtenaw County, and the number will continue to grow as the economy improves.

9. Golf Courses and Country Clubs

As more high-wage jobs come into the area, the lifestyles of the rich (if not quite famous) will lead to significant job growth in the leisure and hospitality sectors. One of the most dramatic increases will be jobs at golf courses and country clubs, which are forecast to grow 27.7 percent over the next three years.

Even as a growth sector, you might not want to plan your future around becoming a caddy, however. The average wage for jobs in the sector was only $15,690 in 2011.

8. Skilled Manufacturing

The number of Washtenaw County jobs in automobile manufacturing, the actual assembly of cars, has dropped from a peak of 19,120 in 1990 to just 4,656 today. Despite this drop, there are still manufacturing jobs to be had, and some sectors are forecast to see growth over the next three years.

Fabricated metal products and plastic and rubber products, two areas often associated with the auto industry, are each projected to add approximately 150 jobs over the next three years. The growing high-tech and health care sectors are expected to drive growth in local manufacturing of electronic and medial equipment; both are expected to grow by more than 10 percent.

7. Transportation and Warehousing

Fulton and Grimes predict more than 550 new jobs in the transportation and warehousing sector by 2015. One major factor in that growth is the recovery of Con-Way Freight, which was hit hard during the recession. The company’s corporate office employs 401 people, and spokesman Gary Frantz said in an email that it is currently hiring a number of positions.

The return of the automotive industry has also helped this sector, as auto parts produced in local plants must be stored and transported to assembly plants across the Midwest.

6. Wholesale Trade

Another sector that is heavily integrated with manufacturing, wholesalers are the well-paid middle men who sell large quantities of parts between plants. The sector had an average wage of $65,156 in 2011, placing it firmly in the “high wage” job category.

As local manufacturing continues to expand, the sector is expect to grow by more than 400 jobs by 2015 to just under 5,000 in the county, a nearly 10 percent growth rate.

5. State Government

This overarching category is perhaps the most risky on the list because most of the jobs attributed to the state government in the economic forecast are at the local research institutions and in the University of Michigan Health System.

While a combination of the federal sequester, reimbursement cuts and the uncertain future of state funding threatens to cause significant spending cuts to the sector, Fulton and Grimes still envision more than 3,500 new jobs in the sector over the next three years.

4. Nursing and Residential Care

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments predicts that the over-65 segment of the population will grow steadily from approximately 12 percent now to about 20 percent in 2024. The aging population will require more care, and nurses and residential care facilities will shoulder much of that increased workload.

Washtenaw County will likely add about 550 jobs in the sector, an approximately 13 percent increase that will bring the number of nurses and residential care workers in the county to just over 4,700.

3. Computer Systems Design

In his remarks at the Washtenaw County Economic Club Outlook Luncheon, Center for Automotive Research economist Sean McAlinden said that Ann Arbor is the top place in the state for computer programmers and developers, but that more are needed. According to the economic forecast, approximately 400 more will be needed in the next three years, a growth rate of nearly 20 percent.

These are well-paying jobs too: The average wage for someone in this sector topped $80,000 in 2011.

2. Financial Services

The financial services sector, or “credit intermediation and related activities” as economists call it, is also expected to grow by approximately 20 percent over the next three years. Much of that growth will be fueled by a planned hiring spree at Gold Star Mortgage that would add 250 local jobs in one go.

Financial jobs pay at the higher end of the “middle wage” industries, averaging just over $57,000 in 2011. Other high-growth financial companies in the area include Cole Taylor Mortgage and Bank of Ann Arbor.

1. Construction

With the residential real estate market bouncing back and ever-increasing demand for student high rises and downtown office space, it’s no surprise that construction tops our list of jobs to watch in Washtenaw County. The numbers may never get back to where they were during the housing boom of the late 1990s, but the industry is expected to grow by nearly 25 percent over the next three years.

“There are a lot of construction workers left in the labor force,” Fulton said. “They’re ready to go back to work.”

If Fulton’s forecast holds true, nearly 800 of them will get back to work by 2015, pushing the total number of employees in the sector just over 4,000.


This article by Ben Freed originally appeared in AnnArbor.com.

Real-estate software firm REthink opens Ann Arbor office

REthink, a real-estate software firm has opened a satellite office in downtown Ann Arbor and grown significantly in its first few months.

The Dallas-based company opened the office in October and now has a staff of 10 employees and one intern. The firm was attracted to Ann Arbor because of the presence of tech companies like Google and the ability of the University of Michigan to serve as a talent pipeline for future hires.

"From a start-up perspective, it was a great place to bring on talent," says Vijay Mehra, CEO of REthink. "Plus, the cost of acquiring taken here is less than in San Francisco."

REthink creates an on-demand real estate customer relationship management application for mobile devices. It partners with SaaS CRM platform Salesforce.com to create a customizable mobile software for real estate companies.

Source: Vijay Mehra, CEO of REthink
Writer: Jon Zemke

Delphinus Medical Technologies starts $17M fundraising round

Delphinus Medical Technologies has begun raising a Series B round of fundraising, setting a goal of scoring $17 million by this summer.

The Plymouth-based start-up that calls the Michigan Life Science Innovation Center home is spinning out technology for an alternative test to mammography from the Karmanos Cancer Institute. It has already raised $12 million in a Series A round.

"Our current investors are willing to put in a substantive portion of this round," says Bill Greenway, CEO of Delphinus Medical Technologies.

The 2-year-old start-up's principal product is SoftVue, which works to effectively differentiate between benign and malignant masses in breasts. The idea is to help eliminate false positives and reduce unnecessary biopsies. It can also accurately measure breast density, a known risk factor for developing breast cancer, as well as detect many early stages of cancer in women with dense breast tissue, which is often not picked up by mammography.

SoftVue works by surrounding a breast submerged in warm water with an ultrasound ring that captures detailed, three-dimensional images with sound waves. The results are similar to an MRI, but the procedure takes only a few minutes and costs much less. The procedure was the inspiration for the company's name, which is Latin for dolphins.

The first prototype of the technology is currently being used at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Greenway expects to ramp up commercialization and sales of SoftVue by the end of this year. He points out that St. Mary's Hospital at the University of Toronto is also in line to receive the second one. "We have a number of sites that are interested in a system," Greenway says.

Delphinus Medical Technologies currently employs 19 people after hiring five people in 2012. He expects to hire another five or six people this year.

Source: Bill Greenway, CEO of Delphinus Medical Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Swift Biosciences lands $750K investment, launches first product

Swift Biosciences has scored a $750,000 Series A investment from the Michigan Accelerator Fund I, money that will help the life sciences start-up accelerate the commercialization of its products.

"The extra financing will help us with product development and launch," says David Olson, CEO of Swift Biosciences.

The Ann Arbor-based start-up is developing molecular biology reagents for research and diagnostic applications that provide new ways to examine disease-related genes. This technology is expected to help researchers analyze samples faster, at a higher volume, and at a lower price per sample. The 3-year-old company launched its first product (a consumable product for genetic analysis that helps detect mutations in things like cancer, with high sensitivity) last year and is set to launch more similar technologies this spring.

Swift Biosciences has hired one person (a scientist) in 2012. It now employs 11 people and expects to add more people to its staff, but not in the next few months.

"We do expect to expand but it will be later in the year and in 2014," Olson says.

Source: David Olson, CEO of Swift Biosciences
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ypsilanti's ISSYS set to begin clinical trials

Integrated Sensing Systems, AKA ISSYS, is looking to expand its product portfolio from micro sensors in the life sciences industry to micro sensors that can be used in the industrial space.

Since 1995, the Ypsilanti-based business has designed and developed microelectromechanical systems for medical and scientific sensing applications. Its latest piece of technology is an implant that allows medical professionals to wirelessly monitor the heart.

"We hope to begin clinical studies early next year," says Nader Najafi, president & CEO of Integrated Sensing Systems. He adds he hopes to begin sales in Europe in 2014 and in the U.S. the next year.

The company is also looking at selling fluid sensors in industrial manufacturing, however, the company is still in the early stages of exploring that new market. "We're trying to bring in strategic partners," Najafi says.

Integrated Sensing Systems employs 25 people and has made a handful of hires in 2012. It expects to add a couple more jobs in 2013.

Source: Nader Najafi, president & CEO of Integrated Sensing Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

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