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Macomb Business Insider - November 2023

Message from Vicky Rowinski

Vicky Rowinski head shot

 Welcome to the Macomb Business Insider Fall edition prepared by the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED).

This has been a busy year for MCPED as we look to close out 2023. We just celebrated the 10th anniversary of Macomb County’s participation in the nationwide Manufacturing Day, and it was another tremendous success for our local schools and students to engage our businesses. 

Our economic development team has been meeting with local businesses and communities, as well as attending a number of events, both regionally and nationally. In October, we welcomed the newest member of our economic development team, Emerson Krolewski. Emerson came aboard after a successful summer internship with MCPED, and we are excited to get her out in the community to meet with your businesses.

The team has been going into overdrive with projects and closed deals exceeding $740 million in capital investments with more than 1,700 jobs created or retained this year.  

This number surpasses the number of projects won in 2022 by more than $100 million. We anticipate more coming in 2024 with a strong pipeline of potential prospects choosing to either expand or locate in Macomb County.  

Some recent success stories we share in this newsletter include the expansion of Merit Manufacturing into Warren; the Reptarium in Utica; and G&G Industries in Shelby Township. Each received assistance from MCPED to bring their expansion plans to fruition. 

This past month we also  completed our fifth Macomb Next Industry 4.0 workshop, which focused on cybersecurity.  The full house at the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights was a testament to the momentum and interest that the workshop series gathered throughout the year. Accumulatively, we had more than 500 participants attend our workshops. Stay tuned for more events and opportunities to apply for additional I4.0 equipment grants as they roll out. 

Inside this newsletter, we also share the details of a new agreement with the city of Sterling Heights to expand our International Landing Zone footprint at the Velocity Center. This program has been instrumental in attracting international businesses looking to locate in the United States and is a model for bringing in community partners and programs together to offer gold key services to these emerging businesses. 

We have a lot to be grateful for this year, and economically we have rebounded strong. We thank you for taking the time to read about our updates and please feel free to reach out if we can assist you. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for our latest news.

Vicky Rowinski

Director – Macomb County Planning and Economic Development


Featured article

MCPED to have larger ILZ footprint at Velocity Center


Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) has entered into a new agreement with the city of Sterling Heights that will increase its presence through the International Landing Zone program housed at the Velocity Center. 

The move represents a larger commitment by MCPED to assist foreign businesses to develop a foothold in Macomb County. The program, started in 2014, originally focused on second stage businesses representing aerospace and defense and has now expanded to include automotive, advanced manufacturing, high tech, and more. The program, grant funded through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, also solidified partnerships with new and existing public and private organizations that provide support to ILZ tenants.

The new agreement was approved by the city’s Local Development Finance Authority Board (LDFA) in September, and will provide the county with five co-working spaces for ILZ members and scheduled use of Velocity facilities. Previously, the ILZ agreement included only one co-working space.

“We have experienced an uptick in the number of international companies looking to utilize the services of the ILZ, including the demand for temporary office space,” MCPED Director Vicky Rowinski said. “We knew we needed to expand the program to allow greater flexibility for multiple tenants utilizing the soft landing space and offer greater variety to the services they need.” 

The Macomb County International Landing Zone allows businesses to integrate into the region. It is open to both international and domestic businesses looking to establish a presence in southeast Michigan. 

Its benefits include:

  • Modern office space at no cost for six months.
  • Access to business acceleration programs.
  • Consultation with legal and accounting firms.
  • One-on-one consulting with Macomb County Economic Development specialists.
  • Proximity to existing and potential customers and suppliers.

With the new agreement, ILZ companies who grow out of their co-working space can move into other suites in Velocity, based upon availability, in direct negotiations with the city or work directly with the economic development team to search for suitable sites depending on their needs.   

To learn more about the ILZ and obtaining co-working space at Velocity, contact the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development at 586-469-5100.


Success stories

Merit Manufacturing continues growing in Macomb County

Merit Manufacturing

The personal care business has been good for Merit Manufacturing, and success has led to expansion in Macomb County.

In October, the company was awarded an Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption Certificate (IFTEC) from the city of Warren. The IFTEC allowed Merit to consolidate its four separate buildings in Sterling Heights into one building in Warren.

Since its founding in 2017, the company has been growing at a steady pace. Merit is a contract manufacturer that makes personal care products, cleaning products, and much more. It formulates, mixes, bottled and ships products for nationwide brands.Merit started with just one production line at a facility in Macomb Township, and in time expanded to add a fulfillment warehouse and an overflow storage warehouse to keep up with growth. In 2018, it moved into a new warehouse and manufacturing facility in Sterling Heights, and in summer 2020, it moved manufacturing into a second new warehouse around the corner. That allowed Merit to have more than four different production lines, plus several solid product lines.

The new 56,000 square-foot manufacturing space in Warren will be supplemented by a newly constructed 34,000 square foot warehouse. The new site will include 14 filling lines and 12 mixing tanks.

The move means Merit will invest more than $9.1 million in its Warren location – $6 million in real property and $3.1 million in personal property. Merit expects to create approximately 90 new jobs at its new facility. Its projected sales are expected to nearly double in 2024, to $21.25 million.

The Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) team was able to provide support and guidance throughout the process, including helping Merit with hiring and training needs by connecting them to Macomb/St. Clair MI Works! and Macomb Community College. MCPED also helped Merit receive a free tech assessment from the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC).

With MCPED’s help, Merit is also planning to apply for an Industry 4.0 grant to help offset the cost of acquiring automation equipment – up to $25,000 in matching funds.

Merit Manufacturing hopes to have its new Warren facility up and running by the end of 2024.

Is your company looking to expand? If so, contact our economic development team at MCPED at 586-469-5100 for free and confidential assistance.


G&G Industries receives 12-year tax abatement for expansion project in Shelby Township

G&G Industries

G&G Industries, a automotive parts supplier based in Shelby Township, has been awarded a 12-year Industrial Facilities Exemption (IFT) for an expansion project with the help of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

G&G Industries, which was acquired by Midwest Acoust-A-Fiber late in 2022, added 41,000 square feet to its existing 70,000 square foot facility. Thanks to the expansion, G&G is adding seven production lines and creating 75 new jobs.

The real property investment in the project is $5.3 million, while the personal property investment is $5 million.

The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) was brought in to assist in making sure G&G  Industries had access to all of the resources available for a successful expansion. MCPED also helped G&G Industries with its tax abatement application and accompanied them to Shelby Township Board of Trustees meetings. And MCPED helped G&G with its workforce and hiring needs by connecting them to Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works! and Macomb Community College.

Is your company looking to expand? If so, contact our economic development team at MCPED at 586-469-5100 for free and confidential assistance.


The Reptarium ready for expansion in Utica

The Reptarium

Dubbed “Michigan’s favorite interactive reptile zoo,” The Reptarium is expanding its footprint in Utica by dipping its toes into more aquatic life. 

The Reptarium facility, currently 5,000 square feet, will grow six times its current size with the addition of a 30,000 square foot space across the street on Van Dyke. The company purchased the former Salvation Army building, and will convert it to an aquatic life space called Legasea Aquarium.

The Legasea Aquarium will continue The Reptarium model of human interaction with the animals. Some of the features in the new facility will include a tank to swim with stingrays, a stingray touching station and a shark tank.

The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) has assisted with the upgrade in various ways. MCPED has connected the Macomb Community College vet tech program with The Reparium, which is beneficial to all parties involved. The animals receive additional care, and the students get to add internship hours, which are required for graduation. 

MCPED also connected Repartium to the county’s Fueling The Talent Pipeline (FTTP) initiative. Since the facility currently isn’t large enough to host field trips, The Reptarium takes animals to schools. MCPED will help connect The Repartium to the Macomb Intermediate School District MISD and establish field trips to Utica once the larger facility opens up.

Adding the aquarium piece to The Repartium business operations is the dream of owner Brian Barczyk, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer. Barcyzk’s staff and family members are rushing to get the project completed by Dec. 26 of this year so that he can see his dream come to life.

The Reptarium held a preview party Nov. 16, National Pancreatic Cancer Day. All proceeds from the event will go to pancreatic cancer awareness and to start a new education scholarship fund.

Is your company looking to expand? If so, contact our economic development team at MCPED at 586-469-5100 for free and confidential assistance.


Department Happenings

Krolewski joins MCPED team

Emerson Krolewski

After a successful summer internship with Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED), Emerson Krolewski is back with the department as a full-time economic development specialist.

Krolewski graduated from Wayne State University this past spring where she studied anthropology and urban studies.

With MCPED, Krolewski will specialize in food and agriculture and cybersecurity. Her role is to act as the liaison between the county and the businesses it serves. MCPED offers a variety of assistance, including making businesses aware of incentives and grants that are available as well as other help available through numerous county partners.

“I have always had an interest in understanding the way in which communities function on a day-to-day basis,” Krolewski said. “With that, my interest spiked in economic development, where I now have the opportunity to maintain those communities by helping the businesses within flourish.”

Krolewski said she learned the value of being a team player through her participation in volleyball and softball as a youth, two activities that she still enjoys today.

“Being a team player correlates well with this job because as a county, we are constantly trying to promote Macomb County as a place to work, live and play. Strategizing and acting as that connection takes an entire team,” Krolewski said. “I want to help these businesses in any way possible to thrive in our ever-changing economy, and I want to maintain the relationships that I make along the way.”

Economic Development Program Director Jack Johns was Krolewski’s boss for her summer internship and is thrilled to bring her back as a full-time employee.

“Emerson is a very motivated and driven individual that fits right in with our hard-working economic development team,” Johns said. “She is also a proud Macomb County resident and is already working to retain, grow, and attract businesses to the area.”

Please join us in welcoming Emerson back to the team. If you'd like to reach her for assistance, contact her at


MCC unveils new Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center

Skilled Trades and Tech Center unveiling

Macomb Community College has unveiled a groundbreaking $45 million transformation of its Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center, marking the largest renovation in the college’s history. 

This ambitious project is not only a milestone for education at MCC but also holds significant importance for the aerospace and defense industry by addressing critical workforce needs and advancing technical capabilities.

The newly reimagined 130,000-square-foot facility, located on the college’s South Campus in Warren, is a testament to MCC’s commitment to fostering educational and training experiences that align with the ever-evolving demands of the aerospace and defense sectors. 

With the fall semester classes that began Aug. 21, this state-of-the-art center is set to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the region’s workforce.

James O. Sawyer IV, president of Macomb Community College, emphasized the profound impact this renovation will have in supporting the automotive and defense sectors, “The programs taught here prepare our residents for critical jobs in the region that sustain metropolitan Detroit’s legacy of a technical workforce powerhouse, and that fuels the success of the local automotive and defense sectors,” Sawyer said.

The aerospace and defense industry relies heavily on a highly skilled workforce, and the renovation aligns with the industry’s growing demands. Job openings in advanced manufacturing, technology and skilled trades are expected to surge in the coming years. 

In Macomb County, growth projections range from 1% for automated systems and robotics to a staggering 14% for 3D modeling and design technology, with median annual earnings ranging from the mid $40,000s to low $80,000s.

Macomb Community College’s Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center has been strategically designed to optimize the environment for teaching and learning, embracing the principles of Industry 4.0. The center aims to produce a robust talent pipeline for the aerospace and defense industry, ensuring that graduates are equipped with the skills needed to contribute immediately upon entering these high-demand careers.

The programs housed in this cutting-edge facility include apprenticeships, CNC machining, drafting/computer-aided design, electronics, fluid power technology, land surveying, media and communication arts, mechatronics, product development (including digital sculptor/clay modeling), robotics, and welding. By locating classrooms and labs of related disciplines near each other, the center fosters the interconnectedness of modern industry, mirroring the collaborative nature of the aerospace and defense sectors.

Furthermore, the renovation includes spaces that encourage student gathering and engagement, promoting the development of essential soft skills such as communication, collaboration and problem-solving, all of which are highly valued in the aerospace and defense industry.

The transformation of the Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center also reflects the modern industrial settings that aerospace and defense companies operate in, replacing dimly lit, closed-in areas with bright, inviting spaces filled with natural light, mirroring the working environments found in the industry.

This $45 million renovation project was made possible with a capital outlay appropriation of nearly $15 million from the state of Michigan, supplemented by approximately $30 million from the college’s capital projects fund. 

Hobbs + Black Architects served as the project’s architects, and Barton Marlow was the construction manager.

In summary, Macomb Community College’s transformative renovation of the Skilled Trades and Advanced Technology Center is a significant development for the aerospace and defense industry. It addresses the industry’s urgent need for highly skilled talent and provides state-of-the-art facilities to train the workforce of the future, ensuring that the region remains a hub for aerospace and defense innovation and growth.

Patrick Rouse is the director of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Macomb Community College.


Macomb County Manufacturing Day gives students behind-the-scenes access to local industry

MFG Day Week 2023

Nearly 2,100 students from multiple local high schools boarded buses and visited one of 64 host sites taking part in Macomb County’s Manufacturing Day Week, which took place Oct. 2-6.

The annual event, which is coordinated by Macomb County Planning and Economic Development and the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD), provides opportunities for students to tour area advanced manufacturing facilities and meet people who make things.

And 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of Macomb County’s participation in Manufacturing Day. See anniversary video here:

“Manufacturing Day has become such a crucial part of Macomb County’s plan to connect with our young people – the future workforce of our manufacturers,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said. “They get to see and touch what goes on in a modern manufacturing facility. And hopefully, it inspires them to consider professions in manufacturing when they’re finished with school.” 

Hackel joined about 45 students from Romeo High School for a tour of HTI Cybernetics.  The company provides integrated automation and tooling solutions to the automotive industry to support and enhance production.

“It was an honor to host Romeo High School this year for Manufacturing Day,” HTI Cybernetics CEO Eric McAlexander said. “These students are our future. As a leader in intelligent manufacturing solutions, HTI Cybernetics has the responsibility to participate in events like Manufacturing Day to provide insight to what manufacturing is all about. 

“It is critical to engage students early and show them the different paths a manufacturing career has to offer,” McAlexander added. “Careers in the fields of automation, robotics and manufacturing will be in high demand as they enter the workforce. HTI looks forward to hosting future events like this to continue to inspire the next generation.”

All students who participated in Manufacturing Day Week received a 90-120 minute guided tour and some combination of the following:

  • Briefing by a company leader who provides an overview of the company, the type of manufacturing they do and the customers they serve as well as info about employment opportunities.
  • Smaller sub-tours that highlight different work areas and careers
  • Opportunities for students to talk with employees and see the product life cycle in action
  • Opportunities for students to see and touch the machinery, tools and products that are a part of the industrial workplace

These experiences help the students better understand what a career in advanced manufacturing might look like. The tours also provide benefits for the host sites in that they get the chance to promote their companies and interact with the next generation of talent. Several participating companies have even hired previous Manufacturing Day attendees that were interested in the field.

“Manufacturing Day is a great way to connect our future workforce to Macomb County manufacturers. In fact, we’ve seen many students offered jobs after high school graduation thanks to connections made during Manufacturing Day events,” said Vicky Rowinski, director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. “And given current workforce challenges, like talent shortages and other issues, our program is especially relevant. We’re helping create a pipeline that can supply workers and solve real problems facing our local businesses.”

Since 2014, more than 18,000 students have participated in Macomb County’s Manufacturing Day through the support of an active planning committee and the generosity of host sites and sponsors. Find a list of 2023 supporters and additional information at

Fueling the talent pipeline

10th Anniversary of MFG Day in Macomb County

Jennifer Weot and Shannon Williams

This year marked the 10th anniversary of Macomb County’s participation in Manufacturing Day. 

More than 1,700 students and 64 manufacturing sites took part in what Macomb County has turned into a multiple day event.

Macomb County celebrated Manufacturing Day, Oct. 2-6, and has one of the largest participation rates in the country. A total of 72 tours took place in Macomb County manufacturing facilities over the course of the five-day period.

A student survey was conducted after the students completed their tours. The results were positive. Here is some of the results:


Q: What was the most interesting thing you saw or did today?

A: The most important and interesting thing that I saw today was the amazing inventions from Zero Tolerance’s 3D printer. Our future manufacturing designs of the next generations to come will be effective and efficient.

A: To see all the different machines and to see that there can be long-lasting careers in manufacturing instead of just hearing it from teachers.

A: I’ve been into engineering but I’m not that good at math. Industrial control repair showed me that some manufacturing/ engineering jobs don’t require math.

A: I loved everything here, but I’d have to say the manufacturing house. It was awesome to see all of the machines in action! I also loved welding things and getting a good taste of things that are done here!

(Telsonic Ultrasonics)


Q: Do you have a message to share with the company you visited today?

A: I can see myself doing something like this!

A: What type of internships or starting positions do they have and how to apply?

A: Yes, I think that it enlightened me into the workforce of manufacturing and design.

A: What type of internships or starting positions do they have and how to apply?


The survey also showed that the students showed an increased interest in manufacturing as a career following their tours. More than 21% of students said they could “definitely” see themselves working at a job in manufacturing, compared to just under 10% prior to the tour. More than 35% said “yes” they could see themselves in a manufacturing career after the survey, compared to about 23% before the survey. And nearly half, 49.5%, said “maybe” they could see themselves in a manufacturing career following the tour, compared to nearly 38% prior to the tour.

 By opening their doors to students, the 64 host sites exposed students to careers in manufacturing that they might have not known before. 

This is Fueling the Talent Pipeline at work.

We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for making this event possible 

If you would like to learn more about how your organization can get involved with “Fueling the Talent Pipeline”, reach out to


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Department:Planning and Economic Development