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Pontiac's Deliver My Ride launches online car-buying platform


Pontiac-based Deliver My Ride, an online car buying service launched by Birmingham’s MadDog Technology, has announced the introduction of its newly enhanced platform.

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Business pitch contest to be held in Pontiac with $25,000 available in cash prizes

It’s the third annual Pitch ’N Pontiac contest and the prizes are bigger than ever.

This year’s contestants can win up to $15,000 in cash prizes in the competition, which pits entrepreneurs against each other for a total of $25,000 in cash prizes and additional pro bono consulting services. Eligible businesses must be located in Pontiac or in the process of moving to the Oakland County city.

Pitch ’N Pontiac is organized by CEED Lending and supported by Chemical Bank, Oakland County Business Finance Corporation, and Oakland County’s One Stop Shop Business Center.

"We want to make business owners aware that there are resources available to them, that they’re not in this by themselves," says CEED Lending’s Oakland County & City of Detroit Loan Officer Belinda Turner-DuBois.

"Many entrepreneurs think that they’re an island but there is a community here to help."

In addition to the city of Pontiac requirement, eligible businesses must be in the food, lifestyle, healthy living, IT, technology, or "other" industries. Non-profits, L3Cs, and franchises are ineligible to compete.

There is a July 31 deadline for applications, which are available online.

Five finalists will be announced on Friday, Aug. 10. Following that announcement, the finalists will take part in a number of pitch prep workshops, designed to help the entrepreneurs perfect their business pitches for the final event.

On Thursday, Aug. 30, the finalists will each give a five minute pitch to the audience and a panel of judges, followed by five minute Q&A sessions. There is a $10,000 first place prize in the startup category, a $10,000 first place prize in the existing business category, and, new to this year’s competition, a $5,000 people’s choice prize. The winner of the people’s choice can be one of the first place winners, bringing that prize total to $15,000.

"This is about helping to stabilize and create and welcome entrepreneurship in Pontiac," Turner-DuBois says.

More information on Pitch ’N Pontiac is available on the CEED Lending website.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

How can Pontiac's tech economy grow? Sustain the momentum, entrepreneurs say

Enthusiastic. Scrappy. Upcoming. Those were just a few of the words used to describe Pontiac and its tech economy at the June 6 High Growth Happy Hour: Pontiac’s Tech Economy, held at the Paissa Building in downtown Pontiac.
The event was the second in the Comcast High Growth Happy Hour series, and was co-sponsored by the New Economy Initiative and Metromode.
Panelists were Matt Russell, Elaina Farnsworth, and Mark Hillman, with moderator Glen Konopaskie. Konopaskie is a consultant in the area on connected vehicles and a former director of Main Street Pontiac.
Russell leads several tech startups in Pontiac, including Cynerge Consulting, where he leads a team in enterprise-grade application development, cloud migration, and data center support. Elaina Farnsworth is CEO of The NEXT Education, a company focused on preparing talent for the new mobility economy. Hillman is CEO of Lenderful, one of the Pontiac-based high-tech software startups under the umbrella of MadDog Technology.
Read on for three takeaways from the event.
Pontiac has an image problem and an identity crisis.
All three panelists, as well as the moderator, agreed that Pontiac has an image problem. Since coming out from under emergency management, the downtown is looking better, vacancy rates are falling, and the city is safe, but the public at large doesn't perceive it that way.
"Pontiac is the safest city in Oakland County in terms of crime per capita and has been for the last eight years," Konopaskie says.
Coupled with the image problem is an identity crisis. Hillman says the city needs to do a better job of picking a focus and branding itself.
"There are a million things the town can be, and I have advocated specifically that business leaders and government at whatever level pick an identity and focus for the area," Hillman says. She suggested that technology and the arts could create a strong synergistic identity for the city, one that makes it feel "funky and cool."
Russell agreed that the combination of tech and art make Pontiac a cool place, along with its beautiful historic buildings.
"I think we could build around those two anchors, bring different vibes in, a youthful, creative energy," Russell says. Russell added that he has used photos of the Riker building where his business is located to draw in talent and show off what downtown Pontiac has to offer.
"We can use that as a recruiting engine, and bring in people who want to live here," he says.
Location is one of Pontiac's strongest assets.
Konopaskie says that Pontiac is exactly the place where a "small company can make a big splash" in a way they couldn't in a bigger city like Detroit.
He also notes that Pontiac is a natural hub, being the seat of Oakland County and located at the end of Woodward Ave., which is the site of the first mile of concrete road ever built in the entire nation.
Hillman says Pontiac is a place where companies can "bring the jobs to the people instead of bringing the people to the jobs."
Most people would prefer not to commute for an hour or more, but many do, because the well-paying tech jobs they want are in Ann Arbor or Detroit, Hillman says. But with Pontiac being so close to major highways, a commute from a nearby metro Detroit suburb could be only 10 or 15 minutes.
Farnsworth notes that a major paradigm shift in transportation is coming up in 2020, and the city needs to be ready for it. The next two years, she says, are the time for Pontiac to establish a plan for being a connected vehicle hub.
"We can't let this chance pass us by," she says. "We have two years before we have to have a plan in place or let another area get this. If we drag our feet like we have been, we won't be able to see the fruits."
Pontiac is poised for explosive growth — if the right collaborations happen.
All the panelists and the moderator agreed that public-private partnerships and buy-in from city government will be important to support and grow the tech economy in Pontiac.
Entrepreneurs won't keep coming to the city with cool ideas if they keep getting tripped up by bureaucracy, Russell says.
In addition to her work in Michigan, Farnsworth also works and does speaking engagements in Silicon Valley and says that, instead of competing, companies there want the whole region to succeed.
"That vibe is here in Pontiac," she says. "The challenge is that it seems like we can't get out of our own way. We have the vibe, we want things to move, but the execution isn't there yet. We need to talk about what we're doing, pick a strategy, and do it, even if it's not perfect. We've got the energy, but the follow-through is not there yet."
She adds that Pontiac already has much of what it needs to be a hub for the mobility and connected vehicle industry.
"We need to look at leveraging the assets we have here, take what's already in place and grow that," Farnsworth says.

600 jobs created and 2,200 jobs retained in Pontiac mortgage company deal

Six hundred new jobs have been added in the financial services sector in Pontiac, thanks to the Michigan Strategic Fund's approval of the Oakland County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority's $1,900,145 in local and school tax capture. The news also means the city will retain 2,200 existing jobs, says the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The mortgage company United Shore Financial Services and Pontiac Center Investment are responsible for the expansion project. United Shore announced a move of its corporate headquarters from Troy to the Hewlett Packard Enterprise building at 585 South Blvd. in Pontiac in June 2017.

An existing building will receive extensive renovations, which will serve as a corporate headquarters for the company. Also planned is the construction of a new outdoor recreation center and amphitheater. Surface parking lots will be renovated, as well as added.

The MEDC, the state organization that administers programs and performs due diligence on behalf of the MSF, expects the United Shore project to generate a total capital investment of $69 million in addition to the 2,800 jobs created and retained. The $1,900,145 in local and school tax capture will help in brownfield remediation, demolition, asbestos abatement, site prep, and improvements to infrastructure.

"We appreciate the opportunity to support the investment and job creation being made by United Shore at this brownfield site in Pontiac," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, said in a statement. "We are fortunate that a building of this size and stature was available for United Shore for its continued expansion in Oakland County."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

New co-working space for entrepreneurs and small businesses opens in downtown Pontiac

There's a new co-working space opening in downtown Pontiac, and it's hoping to gather like-minded people and grow a community of entrepreneurs and start-ups.

It's called Pontiac Tribe, and the co-working space is celebrating its grand opening with an open house on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Ben Carr is looking to jump-start downtown Pontiac's start-up scene. One of the things the community was lacking, he says, was a co-working space that offered desks, conference space, and a collaborative environment. While co-working is a trend that has taken off in downtown Detroit, Carr believes that Pontiac is uniquely situated to become a start-up destination in its own right.

The city is not only located in the center of Oakland County, but its centrally located within the region itself. Carr contends that leaving from Pontiac, he can meet clients in either downtown Detroit, Ann Arbor, or Port Huron, and all within 45 minutes. And towns like Flint aren't that far away.

"Hopefully this opening will attract people that want to be in Pontiac," says Carr. "This is dedicated office space that's affordable, and without driving all the way to Detroit."

Pontiac Tribe occupies 1,800 sq. ft. on Saginaw Street, a floor above two street-level breweries, Exferimentation Brewing Co. and Fillmore 13 Brewery, and each with their own kitchens. Desks, private offices, and a dedicated conference room are available to rent on a monthly basis, ranging in prices from $155 per month to $350 per month. Fresh paint and carpet are complemented by modern amenities like wifi Internet service and more.

Carr's own business is among Tribe's tenants. He owns and operates advertising firm Ad Local, and does so out of Pontiac Tribe. He believes that the co-working environment can only help grow his firm.

"I can work from home if I want to. I don't need an office but I wanted to plant my business here and grow it here in Pontiac," says Carr. "There's nothing like Tribe here in Pontiac."

Pontiac Tribe is located at 7 N. Saginaw St. Ste. 300 in downtown Pontiac.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Pontiac's Catherine Johnson on how G.I.R.D.L.E. helps women build self-esteem

Pontiac resident Catherine Johnson knows the value of valuing oneself.
“I realized, through my own experience, that when your self-esteem is not high, it causes you to make bad decisions sometimes and then you're not able to reach your full potential,” she says. “I’ve overcome it by reading a lot, affirmations and just by doing self-talk that I am who I was created to be and I can fulfill my purpose and that I don't have to compare myself to someone else.”
And since 2013, Johnson has been actively helping other women in her community to believe in themselves through G.I.R.D.L.E (God Is Raising Devoted Ladies For Excellence), a support group for women aged 12 and older who live in Oakland County. The groups are designed to help them see their value.
“We help women by addressing topics that let us know whether or not we have issues with self-esteem,” she says. “We talk about our thinking patterns; first you have to change your mindset and then your actions, and then your behavior will change.”
The organization takes on topics like depression and self-care, issues that are particularly important to women, according to Johnson. Currently, the organization is funded through donations and an annual fashion show, and Johnson says more is needed. She sees the need in the community for expanded services; she'd like to find a permanent physical location for the organization as well as funding staff a nurse and a counselor.
“Women tend to have more of an issue with self-esteem than men,” she says. “From a young age, usually around 10 or 11, women start having issues with self-esteem, and there is no real help for us. Because of the things that I went through in my life, I want to be able to help at least one person overcome those barriers.”
The group has helped one woman realize a dream of publishing her book, and another to face and overcome the trauma of rape. The groups meet every other month and decide what topics to cover based on their needs and interests.
Johnson says the idea for G.I.R.D.L.E. came to her during Bible study.
“There was a scripture that said, ‘Gird up your loins,’ and we know a girdle shapes and supports us and that's what G.I.R.D.L.E. wants to do,” she says. “We want to shape women and to give them the support they need, so they can reach their full potential, that they can be who they were created to be.”

Emissions Analytics in Pontiac creates consumer-oriented vehicle EQUA Index


Emissions Analytics, a Pontiac-based provider of Portable Emissions Measurements Systems (PEMS), announced the creation of the EQUA Index, designed for the North American vehicle-buying marketplace.

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Kids showcase creativity at Pontiac Business Fair

The 377 Center in Pontiac was abuzz with energy August 19, as at least 50 people crammed into the small space to attend a business fair featuring 14 local businesses. However, this wasn’t the typical business fair, as the entrepreneurs behind the booths were only between the ages of six and twelve.
Nonprofit Young Entrepreneurs Squad hosted the first annual Pontiac Children’s Business Fair, which showcased various businesses operated by children in the metro Detroit area.
Founded in 2016, the organization provides services such as coaching, mentoring, entrepreneurial training, and workforce development to children, parents, schools, and universities.
Founder Mary Evans drew inspiration for YES and ultimately the business fair from her grandson, Amari. When he was five years old, Amari began expressing an interest in having his own business. Evans didn’t think much about Amari becoming an entrepreneur until he set up a lemonade stand last year, making $120 in six hours. Now 7, Amari is the president of the for-profit division of YES where he sells T-shirts.
Evans found the 14 young entrepreneurs for the fair online, as applicants registered on the organization’s website. Social media also helped spread the word.
“Social media is awesome,” Evans says. “Our Facebook post was shared over 1,000 times through support from individuals in the community.”
Various types of businesses showcased their wares at the fair, including jewelry, hair accessories, beauty products, and desserts. One of the businesses selling sweets was Bella’s Organic Ice Cream, which is run by 12-year-old Isabella Henson, her 8-year-old brother, Miles, and their cousin Grace, 11. Grace said the three of them started their business six months ago after Isabella discovered she had an intolerance to cane sugar.
While the Hensons would not disclose any of the ingredients they use in their ice cream, maple syrup is one component, says Isabella. Bella's Organic Ice Cream comes in vanilla and chocolate, costing $2.50 each. The Pontiac Children’s Fair marks the first time the family members have sold their product.
“It’s fun, and we wanted to share with other people that ice cream doesn’t have to be bad for you,” says Grace.
At the table next to them was the business, 2 Chocolate Sisters and a Mister. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and bow ties in vibrant colors and prints lined the table. The owners of the jewelry and accessory company are siblings Sydnee, 11, Jeremiah, 9, and Danyelle McCray, 8. Their mother, Moneece Borders, remembers when Sydnee became interested having a business.
“She made me some earrings for my birthday, and she made them out of old jeans I had,” Borders says, smiling. “And she said we have a name for our business, and I’m like, ‘What business?’ Then she said, ‘Two Chocolate Sisters and a Mister,’ and I just fell out because it was so cute.”
The siblings began making crafts in 2015 and made their business official on Christmas Day of last year when Borders registered their name with Oakland County. The McCray siblings usually sell their items at school or at Border’s home daycare in Pontiac. The fair is the first event they have attended to sell their products.
Sydnee says she enjoys running a business with her brother and sister.
“It’s really fun, and if we’re ever bored, we can sit together, talk, and make jewelry.”
On the other side of the room, 8-year-old Christen Elliott was busy selling her line of lip balm. The Detroit entrepreneur is the owner of Polished Puckers by Devani, which has lip balm in a variety of flavors such as “Sizzlin’ Strawberry” and “Coolin’ Coconut.”
Elliot’s mother, LaToya Lathan, says they began the business last October to help children get rid of chapped lips, a problem her daughter once had.
“Christen suffered from chapped lips, especially during the winter, so we were spending money on a lot of lip balm that wasn’t working,” Lathan says. “So we started using stuff around the house, and it was working. But I knew I couldn’t send her to school with a jar of coconut oil or a tube of shea butter. So I presented to her, ‘Hey, how do you feel about starting a lip balm business and helping others that suffer from chapped lips?’ And from that day, she was excited. She got a journal, we sat down and came up with a name and started coming up with flavors.”
Since then, the mother and daughter have been busy promoting Polished Puckers. The first event Elliot showcased her products was at the Think Pink cheerleading competition at Cass Technical High School, which was then followed by a fashion show held by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation at Motor City Casino and Hotel. The Pontiac fair marks the tenth event Elliot has attended as a vendor.
In addition to events, Elliot and Lathan are active on social media, as they have Facebook and Instagram accounts for the business. Shoppers can make orders by email, with the item shipped to their house. Customers will soon be able to shop on the Polished Puckers website when it launches later this month, says Lathan.
In addition, the two have recently created a unisex lip balm line and label to broaden their audience, and Elliot is in the process of launching a surprise product for the company’s one year anniversary.
Elliott says she likes running her own business because helping others makes her “feel good.”
“The response we have been getting has been amazing,” says Lathan. “So far, we have been doing really well.”

Gonna need more thread: Downtown Pontiac sewing factory expands to bigger building

Detroit Sewn, the full-service sewing factory in downtown Pontiac, is growing. As the company recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, this summer it also achieved another significant milestone: A move from its original location to a larger facility.

The 5,000 sq. ft. space at 67 N. Saginaw St. affords Detroit Sewn the ability to meet the growing sewing and production needs of the region, giving the company room for more machines and more services. Originally offering services like product development, pattern and sample making, and cutting and sewing, Detroit Sewn has expanded to offer spot and full dye sublimation, direct-to-garment printing, and blank apparel orders.

The former editor of the StyleLine magazine, Detroit Sewn owner Karen Buscemi has spent more than 20 years in the fashion industry. She founded the non-profit Detroit Garment Group in 2012 and is helping to establish Detroit's Garment District.

Buscemi started Detroit Sewn as a response to inquiries made by metro Detroit's fashion community. She wanted to build something locally and see if was sustainable.

And sustain it she has.

"There's been a lot more need for this type of business than I ever imagined," says Buscemi. "I thought I had a handle on the size of our community, but it's way bigger than I thought."

The company receives inquiries every day, she says, and mostly from in-state residents -- a good sign for Michigan's fashion industry. "It's exciting to see that many people following their passion."

And it's not only the fashion industry that requires Buscemi's services. Just this week, Detroit Sewn sent out an order for another local company, Rochester's Seatsational, a maker of seat covers for theaters, sports venues, airplanes, and more.

Where there's a need, there's an opportunity.

"We need to show that this kind of manufacturing can be done here and be successful here if we ever want manufacturers to come from other states," Buscemi says.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Apprenticeships could help fill vacant tech jobs for employers

Tech employers who struggle to fill vacant information technology positions could get some insight into solving their employment challenges Aug. 23 at a Tech248 meetup.

IT Apprenticeships is the focus of the gathering at Goldner Walsh Garden and Home, 559 Orchard Lake Road in Pontiac. It runs from 2-4 p.m. There is no charge to attend but advanced registration is required at AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com.

“Oakland County has more than 2,000 tech companies and Tech248 is connecting half of them,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Many of them face staffing challenges, trying to find qualified workers to fill job vacancies. This meetup provides creative ways for these companies to help fill their employment needs.”

The meetup features presentations from U.S. Department of Labor, Michigan Works! and Oakland County Workforce Development experts as well as local educators who will discuss apprenticeships and how to find talent. Copies of the county’s 2017 Apprenticeship Guide will be available. The guide contains job descriptions, job opening forecasts for particular vocations, contact information and average salaries for 60 different apprenticeship opportunities in the area ranging from auto body repair and bricklayer to various health care and technology professions.

More than 4,000 copies of the guide have been distributed to K-12 schools, community colleges and Oakland County Michigan Works! centers as well as other agencies throughout the state.

The guide can be found at the county’s website, www.AdvantageOakland.com, by clicking on the icon labeled, “Apprenticeship Directory.” Hard copies are also available by contacting Oakland County Workforce Development at 248-858-5520.

Tech248 is a networking initiative for the county’s 2,000 tech companies. It focuses on talent, connectivity and branding. Meetups are held monthly. More information is available at Tech248.com or by calling 248-858-0734.

DASI Solutions celebrates inaugural graduation

DASI Solutions is elated to announce the graduation of its first cohort to participate in the recently launched Pre-Apprenticeship program on August 24. In addition to the Industrial Design Technician Apprenticeship Program, DASI Solutions has now launched a Pre-Apprenticeship program in response to the skilled trades gap that has been effecting both the manufacturing and engineering industries across the region. This program is designed to enhance general skills & knowledge of its participants in order to prepare them for jobs in the engineering and manufacturing industries.

This program was rolled out to Metro Detroit area individuals who are eager to start a career in the growing & rewarding field of 3D CAD Design, and all training classes are being held at Focus: HOPE in Detroit. Structured as a bootcamp style, this program offers not only CAD training, but also other life skills, education & OSHA training. In addition to the internationally recognized SOLIDWORKS Certifications, participants of the program will have the ability to obtain other certifications, including:
  • NIMS (National Institute of Metalworking Skills)
  • Customer Service
  • OSHA Hazardous Situation – MIOSHA
The program runs for a total of 6 weeks, whereas the students will attend classes Monday – Friday for a total of 192 hours. In suit with DASI’s Industrial Design Technician Apprenticeship Program, this program is grant funded for all individuals, falling under the American Apprenticeship Initiative Grant. 

Following graduation day, on August 25, there will be employer interviews held at FOCUS: Hope, where the graduates will be hoping to find permanent employment. Interviews will be held in 2 hour increments and will be structured on an individual basis for each employer.

"This pre-apprenticeship program is a key component to help the supply and demand ratio for designers. We've been increasing demand for years; we needed an increase in supply” stated Adam Majkowski, Apprenticeship Specialist at DASI Solutions.

For more information about DASI’s upcoming cohorts of the pre-apprenticeship program, or if you are interested in participating in one of the employer interviews, please contact Annette Norris at annette@dasi-solutions.com

About DASI Solutions: Founded in 1995, DASI Solutions assists Emerging Sector companies in the implementation of 3D CAD and other collaborative technologies used in the product development process by the Designing Engineer. DASI Solutions offers sales, technical support and training for the SOLIDWORKS software product portfolio, as well as 3D Printing services for additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. The company, which has its headquarters in Pontiac, MI, has facilities throughout Michigan, Indiana, Arizona and California. For more information on the company, visit www.dasisolutions.com, or contact Richard or David Darbyshire, brothers and Co-Owners, at 248-333-2996. 

Local artist is transforming lives through creative entrepreneurship training

Artists are the original entrepreneurs but even after decades of bringing beauty and innovation to life they still struggle to prosper from their skillset. Seeing too many of her peers flounder, fine artist and small business expert, Andrea Rosenfeld set down her studio tools and committed herself to a greater good. Combining her professional art experience with her extensive background as the former Director of Merchandising and Operations for the iconic fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, Rosenfeld crafted an entrepreneurial course specific to the creative mind through her Detroit Art & Business Institute (DABI).
After six successful sessions in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Rosenfeld is expanding her transformational Mind Your Art Business Growth Course to Pontiac on July 12th.  Classes will run for 8 weeks, every Wednesday night from 5:30 - 7:30pm at the Alley Cat Cafe/Local Hop.
Unlike other basic, business training courses this unique opportunity speaks directly to the specific goals, needs and frustrations of the art, craft and design sectors and offers an opportunity to practice and develop the skills they need to speak successfully to their clients, galleries, art and sales reps and retailers. 
“My graduates are grateful that the easy-to-understand content is geared to their creative mindset.  As important, they use their class time to build strong relationships and collaborations that expand their sales opportunities.” said Rosenfeld. “I guide my students to higher confidence and sales by supplying the tools and knowledge necessary to build a strong core business, profitably price their products or services, market themselves and find their ideal clients.” Legalities of business practices are also discussed during the course, as well as solutions for achieving healthy financials leading to sustained growth.
Those wishing to enroll should visit www.thedabi.com, email connect@theDABI.com or call 732-705-1567. The price of the eight-week, 16-hour course is $475.
About Detroit Art & Business Institute
Detroit Art & Business Institute is a committed and passionate coaching firm dedicated to empowering emerging and established creative business practitioners. DABI offers powerful guidance to soulful, creative entrepreneurs.

My Pontiac Story: April Wagner of epiphany glass

Out on the outskirts of Pontiac, tucked away between trees, landscaping, and Beaudette Park is a former TV repair shop. It's a quiet part of town, bucolic even. Driving by, it's easy to miss the old shop. There are no signs on the side of the road, no way to know that inside the old TV repair shop is the home of epiphany studios, the gallery and hot glass studio of glass artist April Wagner.

Since 1997, the year she purchased the building, Wagner's business has remained in this unique part of town. From her point of view, it's a perfect fit. Wagner draws inspiration from nature, which translates to her glass work. She appreciates the quiet, and she doesn't like to draw too much attention to her studio.

Wagner runs two businesses out of epiphany studios--and even lived in the attached apartment once. There's epiphany, which is her line of gift pieces and functional pieces, like bowls and decanters. These items can be found at her gallery, and other galleries and stores. And then there's the April Wagner Line, which are larger, more ornamental pieces of glass art that often end up in the lobbies of hotels and hospitals, or the dining rooms and stairwells of people's homes.

Wagner appreciates being in Pontiac. She calls it the heart of Oakland County, and thinks its a great location for artists, citing a nice balance between cost and size in the space that's available. She's currently working on a piece for the donor wall of the recently renovated Flagstar Strand Theatre For The Performing Arts downtown.

"The community here, in particular, supports makers by buying their work," says Wagner. "I'm grateful to be allowed to be here and do my thing, and do it quietly and purposefully."

For a chance to see epiphany studios firsthand, Wagner's 2017 Spring Show is Saturday, May 6, and Sunday May 7, from noon to 6 p.m. both days. The event is free and open to the public. It features glassblowing demonstrations and even opportunities for visitors to try glassblowing, too.

We asked Wagner about Pontiac and the arts.

Q: What do you love most about Pontiac?

I love this piece of property. I love being on the water, and I love how quiet it is. It's gorgeous.

Q: Why did you move epiphany glass to Pontiac?

I moved to Pontiac because I could afford to buy real estate here and I felt that I could grow as an artist here. And because it was such a beautiful piece of property, it would give back to my artistic side just as much as I would give to it. 
The reason I stay in Pontiac is that I feel like Pontiac needs me. Pontiac needs stable businesses that have people working here. Pontiac needs people from other surrounding neighborhoods to come here and see how great it is. Even though I'm on the edge of Pontiac and not in downtown Pontiac, I still think I help Pontiac have a different reputation from what it has in the general media, like violence or poverty.

Q: What's Pontiac's biggest challenge and how do you think it can be addressed?

The biggest challenge has been coming out of a lack of leadership and now, moving forward with such strong leadership, I think they're doing an amazing job of working with the community and the government and the teams of developers to create this synergy to create a community where everyone will benefit. 
In the twenty years that I've been here, they tried to do a resurgence in downtown Pontiac before and it failed, in my opinion, because people weren't talking to each other. The government, the developers, and the community were not interacting. From what I've seen with what's happening today in downtown Pontiac, I'm so impressed.

Q: What are your hopes for the city?

I hope that everything that is going on right now continues. I would love to see it become an enclave for artists and galleries and boutique shops. The thing I would hate to see is if something like Buffalo Wild Wings moved in. I'd love to see little independent restaurants, and maybe a cat cafe would be super cool; boutique clothing stores. Just fun and quirky, kind of like Ann Arbor--different from any surrounding neighborhood and what those have to offer. So you're not competing, you're just enhancing the whole area.

Q: What should people in Metro Detroit know about Pontiac?

Pontiac is a gem that's about to get a really good cleaning and then everyone is going to recognize it for how great it is. Because there are lots of times you might not want to drive to Detroit to do something fun and funky. You might want to stay a little closer to home. Every neighborhood has its own unique flavor, and I think the flavor that Pontiac is going to offer is going to be something that isn't already nearby for a lot of people.

More information about the epiphany studios 2017 Spring Show is available here.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Oakland Schools Technical Campuses give students head start on life after high school


Ted DeLater, automotive collision instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northeast in Pontiac, proudly tells visitors that his former students, out of high school just a couple of years, are making $60,000 per year.

“One called me to tell me he just bought a house,” DeLater said.

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'Santa's Flight Academy' elf costumes made by Detroit Sewn


Santa’s Flight Academy debuted this season in 12 Taubman shopping centers across the United States, including Michigan malls at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills and Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. Bloomfield Hills-based Taubman partnered with Pontiac-based Detroit Sewn for the elf costumes for employees on the Santa’s Flight Academy sets at all 12 malls. 

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