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Birdie's Something Chocolate makes a ganache with panache


A treasured recipe that starred at family gatherings for years has turned into a second career for Kathleen “Birdie” Sheridan. It’s for a rich chocolate ganache that her chef son, Andy Sheridan, has developed into a surprisingly versatile treat. In fact, Birdie’s Something Chocolate became a full-time job for the freelance writer and food stylist from Troy, who had been writing articles for local and national publications for 15 years before immersing herself in chocolate.

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The best spots to see flowers bloom in Metro Detroit

Spring took it's time getting here this year, but now that it has finally arrived we have found the best places to get your flower fix. From quaint formal gardens to fields of color, you don’t have to look far (or spend a fortune) to see some spectacular yard work.

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle
10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday
900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
Free admission

The oldest continually-running conservatory in the United States, the Belle Isle conservatory officially opening in 1904, and got its (latest) name from a Detroiter who donated her 600-plant orchid collection to the city in the 1950s

Divided into five "houses," including a lush sunken Fernery and an elegant Lily pond, the conservatory still boasts one of the biggest orchid collections in the country. Check out the Show House for seasonal displays (currently a medley of Lilies, Hydrangeas, and Hellebores), and take a wander around the rest of Belle Isle for some great Spring vistas (like daffodil-drenched look-out points).

Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
8 a.m. - 8 p.m., March to December
22314 Northline Road, Taylor, MI 48180
Free admission

Because it's an open-air Victorian-style conservatory (originally built for a flower show in 1998), the late start to Spring has delayed it's blooms a bit. From late June onward though, we can expect a riot of color from both the plants and the incorporated arts program the garden hosts, along with music shows as well. 

Birds and Blooms is the theme for the garden this year, with a lean towards educating the public about our winged friends and the flowers they like.

Meadow Brook Hall
10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Memorial Day onwards
350 Estate Drive, Rochester, MI 48309-4401
Free admission

The historic Dodge family's garden looks like something lifted straight from the pages of "The Secret Garden" (don't pretend you didn't read it). The formal English-style grounds have colorful rock walls, trimmed hedges, and ivy-lined doorways, making for a rather enchanting spring/summer experience. These gardens are known for their Virginia Bluebells in the surrounding wooded areas, and later in the year the rose garden is a thorny paradise too, providing a treat for the senses. 

Cranbrook House and Gardens 
9 a.m. - 5 p.m., best from Memorial Day to October
380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303-0801
Free admission

The season gets started here with Daffodil Hill in bloom (4,000 bulbs were planted in the last two years) and then the picturesque Reflecting Pool hits its peak with Peonies. The Sunken Garden is a highlight, with beds along field-stone walls planted with a mixture of perennials and annuals, featuring pink, red, and white begonias this year. The Japanese Garden here is unique as well, with purple Liriope and Tree Peonies, and the Native Plant Rescue program is something to check out too. 

Flower Lane at The Ford House
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday
1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236
$5 admission (free for children under 5) 

If you're willing to travel a little further afield (pun intended), the Flower Lane at Ford House is an amazing flower-viewing experience. 

Like most gardens, this will get a late start this year, but Daffodils, Virginia bluebells, and Tulips are the first to emerge. Last year, landscapers planted 6,000 Tulip bulbs, so you can expect to be tiptoeing through them when you visit. Carpets of white, yellow, and blue perennials brighten a stroll through the landscape designed by famous Danish-American architect Jens Jensen. Delphiniums, Lupines, Veronica, Shasta daisies and Daylilies also pave the way through the lane, while the grounds also have a Tribute Garden, Rose Garden, and a Butterfly House.
The Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum
Sunrise to sunset
1610 Washington Hts, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Free admission

For all things pretty, head to this 100-year old garden which has the largest collection of Heirloom Peonies in North America. 

Tree Peonies are the first to bloom here, marking the start of Spring with each flower lasting only a day or two. Then the Herbacious Peonies should stake a claim at the beginning of June, and from then on it's full bloom season with up to 10,000 flowers showing off their petals. Those in the know recommend picking your visiting times, apparently flower color and fragrance are best in the mornings and late afternoon, and the season can wrap up quickly so get a bloom update (from mid-May onwards) before you go.

Can't miss flower events

The gardens we've mentioned have clubs, lectures, workshops, and flower sales, but Flower Day at Eastern Market on May 20th will also brighten your day. And if you’re a bit of green-thumb, another tour in downtown Detroit worth a mention is the Historic Indian Village Home and Gardens tour in June. 

Goodwill Industries expands reach in Oakland County managing Michigan Works! office in Pontiac

The Oakland County Workforce Development Board today approved the selection of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit as the new service provider for the Oakland County Michigan Works! center in Pontiac.

The announcement gives Goodwill Industries its third Michigan Works! service center in the county. It also manages locations in Highland Township and Novi.

“We are excited to expand our relationship with Goodwill Industries,” said Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development, which oversees workforce development. “Oakland County Michigan Works! remains fully committed to the citizens of Pontiac and the surrounding communities. We expect a smooth transition and this move will significantly enhance the breadth and quality of services offered to job seekers and businesses in the area.”

Goodwill Industries will begin operating the Pontiac center July 1 and the transition should be completed early this fall. The building location is expected to be announced by early summer. Goodwill Industries replaces Oakland Schools, which did not bid to renew its contract.

“Goodwill Industries is pleased to further expand its work into Oakland County as operator of the MI Works! Service Center office within the city of Pontiac,” said Dan Varner, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. “We’d like to thank the Oakland County Workforce Development Board for this opportunity and look forward to deepening our partnership.”

Oakland County Michigan Works!, a partner of the American Job Center Network, helps more than 45,000 job seekers prepare for careers and conduct job searches each year. The agency provides services to businesses, including talent recruiting and training support. Other centers are in Ferndale, Oak Park, Southfield, Troy and Waterford.

“We’re excited to welcome Goodwill Industries to Pontiac,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, workforce development manager for Oakland County. “We expect this transition to be seamless and we’re committed to offering quality services to Pontiac and the surrounding communities.”

Troy's Kresge Foundation and others invest in the largest U.S. pay-for-success fund to date


New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc., Steve and Connie Ballmer, and The Kresge Foundation in Troy announced $40 million in investment commitments to The Community Outcomes Fund, a fund to scale pay-for-success investments in the United States.

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Robotics champions of the world


Hugs and high-fives started a few seconds before the countdown reached zero, making it official – Team RUSH 27 is the 2018 World Champion. “The team was excited beyond belief,” said Clarkston High School senior Jason Richards about Team RUSH 27’s victory at the FIRST Robotics World Championships at Ford Field in Detroit.

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The Barber Pole: a step back in time in Downtown Birmingham


Now in its 70th year, The Barber Pole is Birmingham’s oldest, still-operating business, and it hasn’t changed much at all through seven decades and three generations of owners.

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Light Up the Night at Oakland County Parks' special event

EVENT NAME:           Light Up the Night

WHAT:                       Glow-in-the-dark activities, games and music

WHEN:                      Saturday, June 9
                                  9-11 p.m.

Addison Oaks County Park, 1480 West Romeo Road, Leonard, MI 48367


This event will include cosmic putt-putt, glow-in-the dark face painting, games, music, StarLab (an inflatable planetarium) and T-shirt printing. Bring a plain, dark T-shirt to print. Contact NawrockiM@oakgov.com or call 248-858-0916 with questions.

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Weekly run club encourages thirst for vitality in Pontiac

Daniela Walters makes an excellent point about beer and running: they go well together.


That’s why Exferimentation Brewing Company, Pontiac’s scientific-sounding brewery, is the perfect place to host a weekly grass-roots run club.


“If you figure each glass of beer is 120 to 150 calories, and each mile you run can burn about 100 calories, you don’t feel so guilty,” says Walters, a local patent attorney with the Dobrusin Law Firm who, together with Exferimentation, is coordinating the run club.


Open to every experience level from absolute beginner to seasoned marathoner, run club is an opportunity for people to gather, share training wisdom, and see the neighborhoods of Pontiac from a pound-the-ground perspective.


“This will be a comfortable, welcoming setting with different pace groups, advice, and motivational support. Community running is a big help to overcome the barriers in your own mind, and it’s a group of people to motivate and distract you so you can do the extra half mile or mile,” says Walters, who runs regularly, and has participated in a few competitive distance events.


Launching on May 8, run club will start each Tuesday evening at 5:30, and continue through the end of October. The club is a collaborative effort between Exferimentation and Main Street Pontiac, a downtown-promoting nonprofit that focuses on arts and culture, makerspaces, and health and wellness efforts in the city of Pontiac.


“With Healthy Pontiac, We Can! and McLaren Oakland here in Pontiac, this is the perfect ecosystem for health and wellness, and the run club is one of our first health initiatives here in Pontiac,” says Walters, president of Main Street Pontiac.


A downtown filled with runners makes the city appear vibrant and healthy, too, an important optic for revitalization. And all participants are welcome relax and refuel with friends at Exferimentation after every run.


“We do try to have a healthier angle at the brewery,” says Exferimentation general manager Seth Leininger, pointing out the antioxidant value of their hibiscus wheat beer’s pink-purple hue.


Leininger will be the one who stays behind to mind the brewery and serve customers their favorite craft beers and ciders, but he says run club is a perfect fit for pub co-owners and fitness enthusiasts Scott Boughton, Eric Benton, and Andy Stamper. They originally started a run club when they opened the Pontiac brewery in 2016, and fit in a weekly run, in between growing their brewing business and working their full-time jobs in the automotive industry.


“[The club] didn’t really pick up again last spring. Everyone was too busy, or there was too much going on. Now Healthy Pontiac has helped us gain some momentum by researching what night of the week and what time would be best,” Leininger says.


While he wants runners to come back to Exferimentation, to quench their thirst after running, Leininger hopes the club starts strong and grows quickly.


“I know that about 20 people responded to the interest survey, and I would love to see 20, but an average of about a dozen people running each week would be a successful group, too.”


Join the run club by showing up at Exferimentation, 7 N. Saginaw, Pontiac. 5:30 p.m. on May 8, and every Tuesday through October.


Discover Michigan's parks and waterways with SEMCOG's ParkFinder app and Water Resources Plan

SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, wants southeast Michigan--and everyone else, for that matter--to know just how special its natural resources are. The regional planning partnership is championing two recent developments that work to inform people of our parks and waterways systems.

Released March 22nd, the Water Resources Plan for Southeast Michigan emphasizes that not only are issues like water cleanliness and stormwater management vital to our region, but that water is also a powerful economic driver, as well. The report champions the Blue Economy, connecting quality of life issues to waterfront accessibility.

"We know that for our region, the Great Lakes, rivers, and streams are important to our quality of life, to retain residents and to attract new ones," says Kevin Vettraino, Manager of Plan Implementation at SEMCOG. "What is the main selling point for southeast Michigan? Our water."

Vettraino points to waterfront reclamation projects in places like Detroit and Port Huron, where once inaccessible industrial sites were replaced with popular riverwalks that attract people and help reinvigorate local economies.

SEMCOG also recently released the Southeast Michigan ParkFinder app, available for Apple and Android smart phones. The app is free to download.

The app provides information on 2,600 of the region’s parks, including lists of amenities. Users can pull up a map and drop a pin, and the app shows the different parks nearby.

Users can also search for park by amenities desired, whether they’re looking for a quick visit to a playground or dog park, or an overnight trip with camping facilities and more.

"The state is already doing a good job with tourism programs like Pure Michigan. It’s time for southeast Michigan to promote its wonderful amenities," Vettraino says.

"It shouldn’t be a secret that we have really robust park systems."

The ParkFinder map is also available online.

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

Pentastar Aviation ranks among top fixed-based operators in country

Pentastar Aviation, a leader in the world of business aviation, has once again been named one of the top Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs) in the country by the most respected publications in the aviation industry. In two separate surveys, Aviation International News’ AIN FBO Survey 2018 and Professional Pilot’s 2018 PRASE Survey (Preferences Regarding Aviation Services and Equipment),Pentastar claimed the #3 ranking in the country as voted by their readers. They were also named the #1 FBO in the Great Lakes Region in the AIN survey and the #2 Best Independent FBO in the Professional Pilot survey.
“We are extraordinarily proud that our commitment to world-class customer service continues to be recognized,” said Greg Schmidt, President & CEO Pentastar Aviation. “In a very competitive industry, it is gratifying not only to be recognized, but to also be the only aviation services provider in Michigan to receive such an honor.”

 “While Detroit-area Oakland County [International] Airport is a competitive market for general aviation handling with no fewer than six FBOs, Pentastar Aviation continues to soar,” writes Curt Epstein, AIN. “Pentastar, which is open 24/7 with on-duty maintenance staff and CSRs, is likely the only FBO in the U.S. with its own jetway. Part of the Stargate Terminal, a separate 10,000-sq-ft structure…, is used to handle jetliners and aircraft carrying clientele who desire discretion, such as visiting sports teams, entertainers, and dignitaries.” 

AIN has its subscribers evaluate FBOs they have visited in the past year based on five categories — line service, passenger amenities, pilot amenities, facilities and customer service representatives. The current survey process, in which Pentastar has annually been recognized among the top FBOs, provides overall cumulative average scores from 2013 to the present.
The Professional Pilot PRASE Survey is an annual tabulation of customer opinions of aviation ground services. Each year, Pro Pilot polls executives in charge of flight departments, aviation managers, chief pilots, pilots, CEOs and other qualified subscribers to recognize industry-leading service providers. PRASE is heralded as the gold standard of aviation ground service leaders, and Pentastar has ranked among the top ten FBOs on this survey every year since 2005.
Pentastar has been recognized annually for over a decade by those who appreciate their commitment to exceed the industry standards for both safety and service excellence. 
About Pentastar Aviation
Pentastar Aviation, wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, is a leader in the world of business aviation, providing aircraft management, advisory services, aircraft maintenance, avionics services, interior services and award-winning FBO services. Air charter transportation services are provided by Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc., a U.S. FAR Part 135 on-demand air carrier, or by other U.S., FAR Part 135 certificated on-demand air carriers arranged by Pentastar Aviation, LLC. Their team is committed to delivering the highest standards of safety and service excellence to their customers.

Pentastar Aviation has been servicing regional and global travelers for more than 50 years and is headquartered at Oakland County International Airport (PTK). For more information, please visit www.pentastaraviation.com.

Cornerstone Community Financial hosts annual "Shred Day"

WHATCornerstone Community Financial’s annual “Shred Day” event, a free public event that will include two Shred-it trucks on-site to safely and securely destroy unneeded personal and financial documents, including: paperwork, CDs, IDs and credit cards, stapled and spiral-bound items and more.
To avoid the risk of identity theft or other financial crimes, the experts at CCF recommend individuals shred anything that includes a home address, signature, banking or investment account number, social security number, medical or legal information, credit card and mortgage documents and anything that includes a credit score.
In addition to shredding services, a donation truck from Goodwill Industries will be hosted on-site to collect any household donations from spring cleaning efforts, plus complimentary sweet treats for all in attendance.
WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 2018
              9 a.m. – Noon (or until trucks are full)

WHERE: CCF West Troy Branch (parking lot)
                3001 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy

WHOCornerstone Community Financial is a progressive, full-service, state-chartered credit union, owned and operated by its members, which currently number more than 27,000.  Originally established in 1951 as Motor Parts Credit Union, CCF today has six branch locations in Michigan and Ohio, more than 65 employees and more than $260 million in total assets under management.  More information on CCF is available at www.ccfinancial.com.

The Swedish American Chamber of Commerce celebrates 30 years in Michigan

The Swedish American Chamber of Commerce (SACC DETROIT) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  An Anniversary Reception is planned for May 18th at 6:30 pm at Andiamo Ristorante on Telegraph in Bloomfield Township.  The anniversary dinner is open to the public. Reservations can be made on the SACC website at www.saccdetroit.org.
SACC Detroit is a regional chamber under the national organization – SACC USA (www.sacc-usa.org). The chamber’s mission is to enhance trade, commerce, and investment between the Detroit region and Sweden. Since their inception in 1988, the organization has grown to over 150 members made up of industry, government and academia.
“Sweden and Michigan have a lot in common,” commented SACC Detroit Chairman, Andreas Waller, “From the shared primary industries that both Sweden and Michigan align like the  Automotive Industry, the Medical Device Industry and the Machinery Industry where there is great collaboration between our companies, to the climate that is similar between Michigan and Sweden, we think there are great opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.” 
Waller continued: “Our goal moving forward is to connect Michigan companies with other Swedish companies in the USA through the other SACC chapters around the nation and to continue to bridge technologies from the USA to Sweden and back again”.  Waller said “We want to be the conduit for Sweden firms that want to expand in the USA. We can help them with their US location with the help of our membership which is made up of existing US Swedish-owned firms and professional service providers that work with foreign direct investment (FDI) companies.”
“We see this 30th year anniversary dinner as a milestone for the Michigan and Sweden relationship and the beginning of the next phase of this strategic relationship between the governments and industry” mentioned Christina Lidgren, Executive Director of SACC Detroit. Lidgren continued,” We invite all businesses that want to do more business with Sweden, to join SACC Detroit and be connected to the SACC Chapters around the USA and with Swedish industry directly. Everyone is welcomed!”
For more information attending or sponsoring the 30th Anniversary Dinner, membership in SACC Detroit or other upcoming events, visit www.saccdetroit.org

Amtech sponsors the First Annual Acton Oakland Children's Business Fair

Could a ten-year-old invent the next Über? Attendants will find out at the First Annual Acton Oakland Children’s Business Fair on May 19.

Designed to showcase kids’ entrepreneurial genius, this event is sponsored by Acton Academy of Oakland County, the Acton School of Business, Amtech Electrocircuits and generous support from donors and volunteers. It runs from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at 530 Pine St, Rochester, 48307. This event is free and open to the public.

At this event, 30 young entrepreneurs, aged 6-13, will be challenged to create a product or service, develop a brand, build a marketing strategy, and then open for customers. The children are responsible for the setup, sales, and interacting with customers.

This event has acted as a springboard to many successful ventures. One previous competitor from 2009, Makaila Ulmer of Bee Sweet Lemonade, is now sold in Whole Foods Market in Texas as a result of her young business savvy.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s business innovators and leaders. The Children’s Business Fair gives students the opportunity to spread their entrepreneurial wings and get a head start on promising business careers,” said Jeff Sandefer, founder of the Acton School of Business, one of the sponsors of the fair.

Both adult sponsors and young entrepreneurs are available for interviews on camera or off.

For more information, please contact Jay Patel at 248-607-0648 or cbf@acton248.org.

Cafe space opens in newly renovated Huron Valley Council for the Arts HQ

Downtown Highland Township has a new gathering space, which, according to some in the community, is something that is long overdue.

It also has a newly renovated headquarters for the non-profit arts organization Huron Valley Council for the Arts, something that was also in need.

As it turns out, these two developments are one in the same. This week, the Huron Valley Council for the Arts is celebrating its grand re-opening after four months of renovations. And while there are many improvements to point to, it is the addition of a café space that has HVCA executive director Erin Sabo most excited.

"Highland doesn’t have a coffee shop in town. We want to fill that void--a place to come in and hang out. We’re happy to give that," says Sabo.

“We believe that art brings communities together and now we actually have the space to do that.”

The roof has been repaired. New carpeting has been installed and a new paint job performed. The addition of a private rehearsal space freed up the room for the new café, which includes tables, public wifi, and a coffee maker.

The goal is to have the HVCA headquarters become a true community space, one where neighbors come in to read, write, draw, study, have meetings, work on their laptops, and all the other things people do at coffee shops. It also makes it easier to promote HVCA programming, which includes classical and contemporary concert series, arts clubs for kids, and festivals, as well as their mission: To promote the arts.

"We’re trying to break down the barrier for the people that think museums are stuffy places. We want them to know that this is their place," says Sabo.

"It’s not a bad way to have a cup of coffee, surrounded by beautiful things on the wall."

The HVCA is celebrating its grand re-opening with a week’s worth of events, including open houses, hands-on projects for children, and a Saturday, April 28, performance from Scottish troubadour Jim Malcolm.

Huron Valley Council for the Arts is located at 205 W. Livingston Rd. in Highland.

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

Oakland County's economy continues to grow


The tempo of Oakland County's job growth moderated in 2017, but that slow down appears to represent a "temporary hiccup" before it picks up to a more robust pace similar to 2015 and 2016.

Job growth for the next three years is forecast to average 1.9 percent per year or an increase of more than 42,000 jobs from 2018 to 2020, said University of Michigan economists.

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