Plug-and-play Office Space Available in American Center

American Center, located at 27777 Franklin Rd, has a new opportunity for businesses looking for 20,000-square-feet of prime office space in the Southfield area. The 18th floor is available with plug-and-play office suites ideal for motivated businesses to move in.

Whether you’re looking to expand your office or establish your business with the right space, this ready-to-use office space comes already designed and fully furnished with everything you’ll need to get to work. The column-free floor plan and glass walls create a wide-open layout for a highly collaborative work environment. Both perimeter and interior spaces are available.

Office suites on the 16th and 17th floorsrange from 508-square-feet to 62,267-square-feet, and are also available forlease. For those interested in combining floors, there’s opportunity to do so.

Above: Inside the available office suites.

American Center Features A Long List of Amenities

American Center’s prominent location comes with an easy entrance and exit to west Southfield, and is close proximity to many of the area’s various hotels and restaurants. With a great location and excellent visibility, America Center also offers companies superb services and amenities, and was recently named the BOMA Office Building of the Year.

Building Amenities include:

  • Valet and underground executive parking
  • 24-hour security
  • On-site management
  • Fully sprinklered with 24-hour electronic monitoring
  • Open, spacious lobby with coffee kiosk, now serving Starbucks
  • Large building conference rooms for all meeting sizes
  • Beautiful landscaping, outdoor patio and walking trails
  • Building awarded for superior energy performance
  • New Fitness Center
  • Mezzanine cyber lounge
  • Deli with healthy cuisine
  • Florist
  • Travel agency
  • Dry cleaning
  • Convenience store
  • Postal services
  • Shoe shine services
  • ATM
  • Eastern Market: Fresh produce each Thursday from June-October

For leasing inquiries, contact:

Signature Associates at (248)948-9000 or contact the brokers below:

Jeffrey Trepeck, Associate Broker

Dave Miller, Associate Broker & Principal

JohnGordy, Senior Vice President & Principal

2018 Excellence in Southfield Award Winners

This year’s Excellence in Southfield Awards reception was held on November 29 at the Detroit Marriott Hotel in Southfield. Attended by Mayor Kenson J. Siver, local entrepreneurs, and city aficionados, this event was a way for everyone to celebrate the winners announced that same evening.

The Excellence in Southfield Awards and Reception is hosted annually by the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce to recognize Southfield businesses and individuals who have demonstrated best practices in business leadership and community service. Winners were selected by the Chamber’s Awards Selection Committee.

This years’ award winners included: 8 Mile Foodland for Small Business of the Year; Galleria Officentre for Top Project of the Year; Jill Margulis, director of marketing and brand strategy at Airea for Young Professional of the Year; HealthRise for Rising Star; Regency Manor for Outstanding Chamber Business; St. David’s Episcopal Church for Commitment to Community; and Cindy Carr of The Mars Agency was recognized as Volunteer of the Year.

The 2018 Excellence in Southfield Awards and Reception was sponsored by the city of SouthfieldLawrence Technological University, Ascension Providence, Pinnacle Printing and PromotionsGuardian AlarmJaffe LawFoster SwiftPark West GalleryConsumers Energy, and Beaumont.

View some photos from the event below:


Want to learn about more events being hosted by the Southfield Chamber of Commerce? Click here for the events calendar to get involved.

Configit Inc. to Open Office in Southfield in December

Configit Inc. is the newest upcoming company to join the thousands of successful corporations in Centrepolis, the Southfield SmartZone. As a Danish configuration software product company, Configit works with manufacturers to build configuration solutions and help them get products or services to the market faster.

With its new facility, the company hopes to grow its U.S. presence and broaden its impact in the automotive industry. The business will be opening its doors in American Center in December. The new office, which will house a U.S.-based software product development team, will bring approximately 51 positions to the area in a variety of roles, including sales, marketing, R&D and consulting, as well as an estimated total capital investment of $803,000.

Driving Success

As the decision was made to expand its U.S. presence, Configit identified three cities as potential hosts to the new office.  The company works with various large manufacturers, including global Fortune 500 companies such as Volvo and Johnson Controls.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently used $2.8 million in Michigan Strategic Fund grants for capital projects to create an influx of jobs in southeast Michigan. Configit was one of only five companies chosen to receive the grant, which is estimated to create 444 jobs in total. Due to its estimated employment creation and growth, Configit was supported by the state with a $365,000 performance-based grant and expedited permitting.

Michigan public official recently visited the Configit headquarters in Copenhagen to discuss its move to Detroit and its role in the automotive industry.

“We’re pleased Configit has chosen Southfield as the location for its software product development team in the United States,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “Oakland County is connecting many of its 2,000+ IT companies operating here through our Tech248 initiative and a global company such as Configit fits perfectly into the strategy.”

Want to learn more about what Configit, Inc. has to offer? Visit their website or LinkedIn, for further information and job listings. For other news, follow them on Twitter, and Facebook.

2018 Taste of Southfield Event

On September 11, 2018, the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 15th annual Taste of Southfield Event at the Best Western Premier Detroit Southfield Hotel from 5-8PM. This community event gives residents and business professionals an opportunity to sample a variety of local fare during a night full of entertainment and competition.

For the first time, this event was put on in partnership with Kroger and local non-profits to spread a message about Zero Hunger Zero Waste. As part of this mission, all the leftover food from the Taste of Southfield was donated to Forgotten Harvest, St. David’s Episcopal Church, and the South Oakland Shelter. This event was also supported by an array of local business sponsors and vendors and the Chamber itself donated $500 from the event’s proceeds to the Friends of the Southfield Police Department.

The Restaurants

This year, 20 restaurants and banquet facilities brought bite-sized samplings of their menu items, giving everyone a “taste” of what their business has to offer, including:

Achatz Handmade Pie Co.

Beans & Cornbread

Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina

Cake Crumbs

Captain Jay’s Fish & Chicken

Fire Iron Grille


Happy’s Pizza

Kola Lounge

Las Cazuelas Grill

Motor City Soul Food

Naf Naf

Olga’s Kitchen

Pi Banquet Hall

Regency Manor Banquet Center

Shriners Silver Garden

Sweet Magnolias Southern Cooking

The Nomad Grill

Towne Square Food & Spirit

Tropical Smoothie Café

Wing Hong

Many of these restaurants are popular lunch spots for Southfield Civic Centre business district, and a few of them are some of Southfield’s signature food truck vendors.

The Experience

Held in a beautiful spacious venue, with the bustle of families, couples, children, professionals, and city officials, the Taste of Southfield is always an event to remember.

On the mezzanine of the space, there were free relaxing chair massages, which many guests took advantage of. HAP also provided a photobooth full of fun props and slick technology that printed pictures on the spot and also texted them to your phone. The Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce was also selling raffle tickets for a handful of decadent gift packages. Some vendors, like the Best Western, also held prize drawings that anyone could enter. With live entertainment performing songs ranging from pop, to soul, to jazz and a cash bar, it was a real party!

 The Competition

However, the highlight of the Taste of Southfield is always the Edible Creations Competition and the Best Restaurant Awards.

The Edible Creations Competition has been a part of Taste of Southfield for three years. It is modeled off of the television show Chopped and challenges three chefs to prepare an original dish infused with a  secret ingredient. This year, the contestants had to create a pasta dish using the secret ingredient of beets!

Why beets? “We deal with a lot of produce. This month alone we’ve gotten 1.4 million pounds of produce, and by far one of the hardest pieces of produce to move is beets. So, I’m here to prove to everyone that beets are not only beautiful, but they taste great,” says Patrice Davis, Food Sourcing Manager at Forgotten Harvest.

Cooking for the competition were chefs from The Nomad Grill, Shriners Silver Garden, and Sweet Magnolias. In addition to Davis from Forgotten Harvest, judges included: The Mayor of Southfield, Ken Siver; the City of Southfield Police officer, Brain Bassett; and the City of Southfield Fire Chief, Johnny Menifee.

Chefs were judged based on presentation, taste, and creativity. With only ten minutes on the clock, it was a fast and heated competition, but ultimately, Shriners Silver Garden took home the trophy with a savory beet ravioli dish.

The Best Restaurant was awarded by all the guests who tasted all the food and cast a vote, and for the third year in a row, Sweet Magnolias was named the winner!

In addition to Taste of Southfield, the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce hosts multiple annual events including the State of the City Address and the Excellence in Southfield Awards.

LTU Collaboratory Prepares Hardware Innovators for Accelerate Michigan Competition

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition gives Michigan entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their innovations to investors while connecting with other entrepreneurs and experts in their field. The winners of the competition are awarded capital funding and acceleration resources to help bring their business idea to market.

The LTU Collaboratory helps small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs scale-up for success as part of the Southfield Centrepolis SmartZone to foster local economic development. To prepare local businesses for the upcoming competition, they hosted a workshop on August 7.

The workshop was designed to review requirements and answer questions about the competition, as well as provide insight on the hardware startup community and what it takes to achieve success. Two LTU Collaboratory experts led the workshop—exposing attendees to resources, trends, and success stories. Mark Brucki is equipped with experience in entrepreneurial and academic research while Dan Radomski brings a strong background in entrepreneurship, commercialization of hardware technologies, and manufacturing.

Achieving Innovation in Hardware

The turnout of the workshop reflected the state of the hardware startup market. This next generation of innovators is a diverse group of people from different demographics, backgrounds, and stages of life, and some LTU students are even bringing ideas forward! Entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses are thinking of consumer products that make life more convenient by adding intelligence to hardware through sensors, wireless connections, remote functionality, etc.

However, commercializing these ideas comes with complex challenges that require support from people with experience who can help navigate business plans and product designs. That’s where the LTU Collaboratory comes in.

“It helps to have a product that has intellectual property and patents to protect against knock-off products and competition,” says Radomski. He continues that “the most important thing is trying to create as lean of a design as early on as possible. What happens too often is the first generation [design] isn’t optimized for cost reduction, durability, reliability, environment, shipping, transportation, customer use, and serviceability.”

Creating a physical prototype product often sets entrepreneurs in a loop of enhancing design, which can drain these companies of funds and cause investors and early customers to lose interest. “The critical design and engineering work is one of the biggest hurdles,” Radomski states.

 Accelerate Michigan Hardware Prize

 The Southfield Centrepolis/LTU Collaboratory, Automation Alley, and other Michigan SmartZones are partnering to support the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in an effort to improve Michigan’s economy, create local jobs, and position our state as a destination for innovation.

The $10,000 cash grant for best Hardware Innovation Company at the competition also includes:

  • LTU Collaboratory Accelerator Program (valued at $10,000)
  • Competitive Industry 4.0 Transformation Company Growth Assessment by Automation Alley
  • Lean Design Product Assessment by Munro & Associates 
  • Supply Chain Partner introductions by PlanetM

Looking to enhance your hardware innovation or compete in the competition? Watch the workshop online and connect with the LTU Collaboratory for incredible support services and resources. 

10 Steps to Get Your Startup Idea Funded in Michigan

Getting an idea funded and off the ground is one of the biggest challenges startup entrepreneurs face. It’s not enough just to have a million-dollar idea, you need to be prepared for and knowledgeable about all the variables that banks, angel investors, venture capital firms, and funding and grant organizations need to know.

Further, you need to make your product compelling and understand how to strategically sell your idea and position it as an innovation. While some startup ideas may require a small amount of funding that could be acquired through “bootstrapping”, crowdsourcing, or micro-lending, most ventures will require a substantial amount of money in order to gain traction and take off.

In Michigan, there is a high level of collaboration between investor and entrepreneurs which is inspiring greater economic growth than other states. In fact, Michigan is ranked number one for the amount of money we invest in research.

Investors are out there, but before pursuing the funding you need, go through the following ten steps in order to set yourself up for success.

1. Research Your Market & Competition

Where does your product fit? Once your startup idea is well-developed, it’s crucial to find out if and where it has a place in the market. Do your research, figure out what industry your product falls into and gain visibility over the competitive landscape. Identify your top competitors and figure out the root of their success—innovation, high-quality materials, excellent customer services, industry expertise, etc. Then figure out how your product can be better than the competition through a SWOT analysis. During research, resources like the Southfield Business Catalyst can connect you with data on the business climate, industry trends, customers, competition, and more.

2. Gather Legal Information

Is your product unique? Determine if your product is patentable and can be produced without infringement. Start by doing a preliminary patent search then look into regulatory issues and legal steps to take. You’ll also want to do a trademark search when deciding on what to name your product and/or company. Legal issues can cost a lot of money, so it’s important that you ensure your product will not cross any legal boundaries.

3. Understand Production Details

How will you build your product? Getting a general sense of the production process and involvement is a big part of funding. You’ll need to know the intricacies of your invention and whether it will require specialized materials or unique manufacturing techniques.

4. Identify Your Audience

Who will buy your product? Establish your target audience in as much detail as possible, including specific regions and demographics such as gender, age, ethnicity, profession, family structure, etc. It’s helpful to run some form of focus group testing on your product to see if your audience is indeed interested and inclined to buy.

5. Establish a Powerful Message

How will you sell your product? It important to have a clear story that maintains consistency across all communications in order to establish a powerful brand message. Your audience and investors want to know why you are in business (your mission), how your idea supports your mission (your approach), and what unique benefits your product will offer (your difference).

6. Build a Prototype

What will your product look like? Your product design should be developed from sketches, to a virtual prototype/CAD, to a 3D physical prototype. It’s easier to sell an idea when you have something investors can touch and experience. You may need to engage a prototype designer, engineer, or manufacturer who can help develop your design using 3-D printing or other materials to produce a model. Incubators and accelerators like the LTU Collaboratory can help you develop and validate your design.

7. Create a Sell Sheet

Why should someone invest in your idea? After researching and defining your market, legal assets, production details, audience, and message, you should distill it down into a one- or two-page document that outlines all key details. These details might include: The problem your product solves, your products feature and benefits, your product’s market, and the legal status on your invention (patent pending, trademark, etc.). You should be equipped with a sell sheet anytime you are engaging a prospect investor.

8. Find the Right Prospects

Who should you ask for funding? Beyond doing your homework about your business, you need to make sure you are talking to the right people. Start by compiling a list of 30-50 prospects by utilizing online resources about the investment community in your region like the Michigan Venture Capital Association Landscape Guide and Landscape Map.

9. Look for Opportunities

How will you get in front of investors? There are lots of events and opportunities to connect with investors and other entrepreneurs across Southeast Michigan.

Events like the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship bring together hundreds of local entrepreneurs, investors, and support professionals in the Great Lakes region to network, participate in breakout sessions, and compete in the ACE Challenge. You can also find seminars and round-table discussion about trends in technology and the startup world, such at the LTU Collaboratory’s frequent “Tech Tuesday” meetings and workshops.

Even if you don’t establish any leads at these events, practicing pitching your idea will help you gather feedback and continue to refine your story and sell sheet for future opportunities.

10. Know How to Negotiate

How will you secure the capital you need to succeed? The key to a good negotiation is knowing all the costs associated with starting your business venture and the numbers behind them. You should also draft the investment terms that are non-negotiable. Once you have financials and terms established, it all comes down to being able to sell your idea with confidence, backed by everything you’ve acquired in steps 1-9.

Need help navigating some of these steps? The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has a network of SmartZones across Michigan focused on helping entrepreneurs develop technology and bring their ideas to market.

Cruise Southfield City Centre with the New Bike Share Program

The City of Southfield has recently implemented a bike share program through Zagster—giving local residents, students, and business professionals (age 18+) the ability to rent bikes on-demand.

To learn more about the program, we talked with the City of Southfield’s Director of Planning, Terry Croad, who headed this initiative.

What is your involvement with the bike sharing program? 

As Planning Director and Staff Facilitator for the Southfield City Centre, I manage the program on behalf of the City Centre Board.

What motivated the establishment of a bike share program in Southfield? 

One of our goals is to make Southfield a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly place in order to attract and retain (young) professionals, students, residents, and visitors. Providing the bike share program also meets another goal of advancing the city’s economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Zagster was a turn-key product geared towards our size community. It was also the right time with our recent public realm improvements and pedestrian pathway installations, which include more than 12 linear miles of new bike lanes, sidewalks, and shared-use pathways. We also have many pedestrian respite stations (benches and trash receptacles), two bike repair stations, as well as art and wayfinding signage strategically placed throughout the district.

What are the benefits of this program to the community?

Having the bike share program helps us rebrand and become a more sustainable, pedestrian-friendly community. The publicity and goodwill alone has been worth the initial investment!

Who uses this bike sharing program in Southfield?

Primarily LTU students and business employees in the City Centre district. However, residents and visitors have also taken part in the program.

How many bikes are at each stand?

We currently have seven stations with 29 bikes, including a tricycle and a side-by-side tandem bike. Typically, there are three to five bikes per station. We also have one additional station and bikes sponsored independently by a business just outside the district, with interest by a few more.

Are bikes rentals restricted to certain hours? 

No, the bike share program is 24/7. You can rent a bike by the hour, or if you are an annual member, use the bike any time.

What advice do you have for people renting these bikes?

Safety is important—do not look at your phone while riding a bike! Wearing a helmet and being careful when crossing the roads and driveways are critical. To support safety, the bikes come with lights, reflectors, and a bell on the handlebar.

Why do you love this program?

The bike share program helps promote an active lifestyle as well as being fun to use. The first time I rode a bike last year in the district and I felt the wind in my face and rang the bell, I felt like a kid again. It is easy to use and I encourage everyone to try it and they will be hooked.

As the City of Southfield thrives in the excitement of summer, it’s a perfect time to get outside and go for a ride! The bike share program is $25 a year, and student memberships are only $10. To find out more information and register for the bike share program, visit

Hi-Tech Office Spaces for Lease at American Commerce Center

On American Drive, near Southfield’s iconic American Center, there are two incredible American Commerce Center buildings that offer beautiful spaces and ample amenities. Among Southfield’s many properties, the below locations are ideally suited for high-tech businesses.

Southfield has become a destination for innovation—leading in areas include automotive, robotics, automation, communication, and information technology. Starting a business here or relocating to one of these spaces will put your company in “the Center of It All”—as Southfield is recognized as the premier business address in Michigan with close proximity to Detroit as well as major freeways and airports.

Join over 10,000 businesses who call Southfield home and explore two great location options below, which can also be combined to accommodate the scale of your operations.

26525-26555 American Drive, Southfield

Property Features:

  • 25,000-51,863 square feet of office/hi-tech space
  • 16’ clear height
  • (8) 8×10 grade level doors
  • Zoned Office, Research
  • 250 parking spaces
  • Class A flex space in Southfield’s premier business park
  • Access to high-speed fiber optics, broadband, and satellite services
  • The city offers extensive infrastructure, modern appeal, and a central location
  • Can be combined with adjacent 20,000 square-foot building at 26495 American Dr.
  • Lease Rate: $15.00/sf NNN

26495 American Drive, Southfield

Property Features:

  • 20,000 square feet available of office/hi-tech space
  • 16’ clear height
  • (2) 10×12 grade level doors
  • 510 acres
  • Zoned Office, Research
  • Class A flex space in Southfield’s premier business park
  • Access to high-speed fiber optics, broadband, and satellite services
  • The city offers extensive infrastructure, modern appeal, and a central location
  • Can be combined with adjacent 50,000 square-foot building at 26525-26555 American Dr.
  • Lease Rate: $15.00/sf NNN

Get More Details

For more information, contact John Gordy or Jill Cooper from Signature Associates located at One Towne Square, Suite 1200 in Southfield, MI.

John Gordy, Senior Vice President & Principal


Jill Cooper, Senior Client Services Specialist


Barton Malow’s Southfield Office Upgrade

Barton Malow, a world-renowned construction firm, has called Southfield home for its corporate headquarters since 1986. As a centrally-located metro Detroit suburb, Southfield has proven to be a great fit for Barton Malow’s headquarters, allowing easy access to projects and clients in the area. With more than 2.4 billion in annual revenue and more than 2,000 employees worldwide, the family-owned company holds the title of Michigan’s largest general contractor, as ranked by Crain’s Detroit.

As the City of Southfield has evolved and grown in size over the past few years, so has Barton Malow. Looking to bring their business into the next chapter and get their organization excited about new developments, the company recently renovated the entire first floor of their Southfield office (located at 26500 American Drive) into a modern Innovation Center for collaboration.

The Build

Barton Malow’s in-house design team, led by Brian Threet(AIAA), was tasked with redesigning a smart, functional, collaborative, fun, and beautiful first-floor space that would showcase construction and technology in an adaptive environment.

“The main goal of the renovation was to create flexible, multi-sized conference spaces to promote better collaboration,” says Romano Curti, Barton Malow’s Director of Business Development.

Just as they would with any other project, the team utilized 3D model-based BIM (Building Information Modeling) software to plan the renovation. Barton Malow’s Executive Vice President, Doug Maibach, emphasized how critical 3D-modeling and virtual reality software was to the planning process.

The Design

“The design of the innovation center was complex, so walking through the space made it easier to see the spatial relations and get a feel for items such as lumens for various spaces,” Maibach says. “Being immersed in the space with all the colors and textures really helped me get a feel for what the space would look like in real life. It helped accelerate the time to go from concept to construction.”

The resulting Innovation Centercelebrates transparency and teamwork, with a modern, glass NanaWall system in the center of the space. The entire first floor, including the lobby, was renovated to add rooms of varying sizes that can hold anywhere from two to 150 people. Twelve conference and drop-in rooms were also added with upgraded video capabilities.

The Result

“The result is a space that both employees and clients enjoy,” Curti says.

The renovated space is now used for both meetings and other company gatherings. With such positive feedback, Barton Malow plans to continue updating the rest of their office throughout 2018. Later in the year, updates will be made to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors including: elevator lobbies, kitchen areas, copy and mail rooms, and additional meeting spaces.

“We’re currently working on rounding out the first floor to include a curated Barton Malow history wall that will flow through the lobby and atrium,” Curti says.

Looking Ahead

As Barton Malow expands globally, they haven’t forgotten about the city they call home, or where it all started in 1924 — Detroit. The company has been an integral part of downtown Detroit’s resurgence in the past few years, and prides itself on making an impact on the city.

Current downtown projects include: the Shinola Hotel, which will be completed later this fall; along with the Hudson’s Site Devlopment Project.

“Projects like this are what we live for,” says Ryan Maibach, Barton Malow CEO.

To learn more about Barton Malow, visit, or follow them on Facebook,  Twitterand LinkedIn.

Centrepolis Advocate Profile: Mayor Kenson Siver

Like Detroit, the City of Southfield is in resurgence and evolving into a new-age Silicon Valley. The Southfield Centrepolis SmartZone is helping Southfield gain attention as a hub for innovation and technology, and the Mayor of Southfield is at the helm, leading the charge.

The Mayor is truly a mover and shaker—someone who moves things forward and gets things done. Always looking to the future, he believes that by investing in the people, spaces, and businesses in the city, Southfield will continue to thrive, attract and retain talent, and gain its rightful reputation as a business destination with incredible resources and opportunity.

Why Southfield? Why did you want to start working here, get involved in the community, and eventually become Mayor?

Since I was a kid I’ve always gotten involved. I think if you want to see things happen, you need to roll up your sleeves. I’m very hands-on and I’m willing to get my hands dirty; I don’t just direct people. There are always new ideas to pursue and things you can make better. Time keeps marching on, so we need to keep up with change—whether that’s technology or any other advancement. That’s really what I’ve dedicated my whole life to.

What sets Southfield apart as a business destination?

First of all, we are in the population center of Southeastern Michigan and we are also in the geographic center of Southeastern Michigan—there is a reason our slogan is “The Center of it All.”

We also have excellent infrastructure and a network of freeways that come through the city and make it very easy to get from here to any place in the metro region. We also have a great business address with 29 million square feet of office space. And for business professionals that are relocating, we have a wide range of housing options—high-rise living, townhouses, single-family homes, and condos.

Southfield is also halfway between the Oakland County Courthouse and Wayne County Courthouse, that’s why a lot of law firms are located here. We are also a media hub with a number of radio stations here—channels 2, 7, 4, and 20.

What was the motivation behind Southfield Centrepolis and becoming home to one of Michigan’s SmartZones?

As the world of technology has advanced, the SmartZone became another tool to attract businesses. Today, we’re all interfacing continually with electronic media and the SmartZone takes advantage of the fiber optics and the innovations happening here.

We also want to attract and retain talent here. We have opportunities with new companies like Nexcess, P3, Stefanini, and 123Net to name a few. Then we have the existing companies that are doing some phenomenal things in the way of technology. Southfield doesn’t have a GM, Ford, or Chrysler, but we do have virtually everybody that supplies them—from Durr and BASF, to Comau and Lear. All of these auto-related companies are interfacing with one another.

How does Lawrence Technological University and the LTU Collaboratory support the mission of the SmartZone?

We’re very glad that we have Lawrence Technological University as part of our SmartZone, I’m just so impressed with the things that come out of that university. The LTU Collaboratory is a sterling private-public partnership between Lawrence Tech, the City of Southfield, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) SmartZone Network, and the Michigan Works Association. They are developing patents there, working with startup companies, and funding ideas.

This type of resource is important because we lost a whole generation that moved out of state, to the west coast, D.C., Atlanta, Texas, and Chicago. I think we have a “brain drain”, and it is something the governor talks about. There are a number of very good jobs that we need to attract talent for, so what the LTU Collaboratory is doing is bringing and keeping people here.

I said to the president to of LTU, Dr. Moudgil, “This is kind of like grad school—you develop this talent and you have young people that are doing phenomenal things and coming up with the next wave of innovation.” So, why should we lose them to the Silicon Valley or other places when they can grow and develop something here?

Where do you see the Southfield business community in the next 15 years? 

I think we’re going to see a growth in population, and I believe if you have strong neighborhoods, you’ll have strong businesses. Nothing stays the same, and as our housing stock has aged, I’ve made it a priority to reinvest in our neighborhoods and we are doing that big time and spending millions.

I also hope that if the economy holds, we will have a fully redeveloped Northland Mall site, and we have a lot of business interest expressed in it. When you look at Northland, you see that it’s connected to two major freeways and mile roads— it’s so accessible that it’s an attractive piece of property. Technically it’s a ‘brownfield’ but to me in many ways it’s a ‘greenfield’ in the sense that there is 120-acres that is going to be redeveloped and reimagined. And unlike a greenfield where you have to bring infrastructure in, the infrastructure is there including the sewers and utilities. I see research and development there. I see housing there. Providence Hospital is moving south to that property. The other area I see growing is across from city hall.

We are also seeing tremendous reinvestment in existing office space here. Town Center alone has spent $6 million and they are still working on the parking structure and the main lobby. We have also done studies that say we can use more hotel rooms in Southfield to support business travelers. The new owner of Hawthorn Suites is putting well over a million dollars in refurbishing and extended stay, the Westin is doing extremely well, and another hotel is totally booked for the Robotics competition happening at Cobo Hall.

How else are you and the city supporting the growth and success of startups and entrepreneurs? 

We have a business development office that works very hard to find space and make connections with businesses—we regularly entertain people here who are interested. I’m also a fan of the Chamber of Commerce as a partner, and I don’t want to forget to mention that Southfield was the 9th Michigan city to be named “redevelopment ready.” These are all things that are helping businesses grow here, and we work with businesses on the incentives that the State of Michigan offers.

As Mayor, my job entails being an advocate, an ombudsman, and an ambassador for the city, which includes Southfield Centrepolis. I have people that I talk to all the time that are doubtful that a young professional will come work here, and I tell them the success stories that other people had. I think there is great opportunity here—for talent, businesses, and innovation— you can’t listen to all the noise.

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