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Gov. Whitmer Appoints Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director

State of Michigan Seal

LANSING, MI June 17, 2019 — Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer named Zaneta Adams as the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

“Michigan’s veterans were willing to sacrifice everything for our country, and we owe it to each of these brave men and women to provide the benefits and support services that they’ve earned,” Whitmer said. “Zaneta has worked tirelessly to improve veterans’ lives and the services they earned during their time in uniform. I look forward to working alongside her to bring the best possible care to our veterans and build a stronger Michigan that honors their service.”

Zaneta Adams rose to the rank of private first class during her eight years of service as a member of the Army, National Guard, and Reserve before she was medically discharged with honor. She was partially paralyzed just two weeks prior to her deployment when she broke her back after falling 11 feet from a vehicle while preparing for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Despite everything she endured due to her military accident, she still had to fight for all the veterans benefits she earned. From that point on, she made it her mission to help other veterans with their legal struggles.

“It’s an honor to be appointed as Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to continue serving my country by working to get veterans the benefits they earned,” Adams said. “Governor Whitmer and this administration have made it clear that we will improve the accessibility and services provided to these brave men and women. I’m ready to get to work and make sure that we are living up to the responsibility we have to our veterans.”

Adams is a graduate of Columbia College and Western Michigan Cooley Law School. She is a practicing attorney at Williams Hughes as an associate where she assists veterans with their compensation and pension appeals. She also serves as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research program, and is the president and founder of WINC: For All Women Veterans (Women Injured iN Combat).

The MVAA was created by Executive Order 2013-2 on March 20, 2013, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The agency works to identify and break down barriers veterans face in employment, education, health care, and quality of life to make Michigan a great place for veterans and their families to call home. Services provided by the MVAA include the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, Discharge Document Retrieval Service, and managing the Grand Rapids and D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans.

Adams is appointed to succeed James Redford, who was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, for a term of service starting Monday, June 17, 2019.

The appointment not subject to advice and consent of the Senate.

Executive Directive 2019 - 08
Encouraging Expanded Business Opportunities for Geographically-Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in Michigan

State of Michigan Seal

LANSING, MI January 2, 2019 — Recently, too many communities in Michigan have been struggling with population losses, decreased economic activity, and reduced public funding. These factors negatively impact the ability of businesses located in those communities to grow and create jobs.

With this directive, I seek to enhance the role of Michigan state government in encouraging expanded business opportunities within low-income communities and underutilized business areas. Expanding those opportunities will aid Michigan job providers, strengthen our workforce, and support more vibrant communities.



House OK With Eliminating Inspections For Small Business Camera Systems

State of Michigan Seal

Lansing, MI — Video surveillance of businesses is a rapidly growing market, and state lawmakers Thursday passed a bill revising the rules so that small firms can have camera systems installed without an electrical inspection.

HB 4654 and HB 4655, sponsored by Reps. Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) and Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), would allow small security camera systems to be installed without a need for a special permit or inspection.

They contend setting up a small security camera system for a small business has a low risk for injury and does not require complicated wiring, so they proposed removing the barriers for a contractor to install such a system.

The bills were amended to set a limit of 50 volts. Systems operating on less than that can be installed without inspection. Those over that limit will still need a permit and inspection.


Sawmill Rural Business Center
Awarded $30K Contract From DDA

Sawmill Logo

Roscommon, MI January 16, 2017 — The Sawmill Rural Business Center has been awarded a nearly $30,000 contract with the Village of Roscommon Downtown Development Authority to begin offering business support services to businesses in the DDA district. The funding will enable Sawmill to offer a full suite of services to the DDA and businesses in the district to achieve its goals of improved vibrancy in the downtown area.


We’re living our motto: Believe. Create. Execute.
Diane Love-Suvada, Sawmill Co-founder and CEO.

The Sawmill has tailored “big city” ideas of business incubation/co-working and resource pooling to the unique challenges/opportunities of rural Roscommon. The person behind this movement is a 2000 graduate of Roscommon Area Public Schools, Greg Gaylor III.

While serving as a member of the Navy’s Elite Bomb Squad, Greg was exposed to many high-risk economic improvement projects in War torn regions such as Afghanistan. Post-recession rural communities in this country can have very similar challenges.

In February of 2016, Greg completed an intensive entrepreneur’s course designed specifically to economically empower disabled Veterans. Upon returning to Roscommon, he aimed to create a network to support businesses in rural communities. Gaylor teamed up with Erine Adams, director of business and workforce development at Kirtland Community College, and the two worked together to garner support from local businesses and government officials.

In August 2016, Sawmill hired Diane Love-Suvada as executive director. Love-Suvada previously served as director of events and community engagement at TechTown Detroit, Detroit’s business innovation hub. Under Love-Suvada’s leadership and with a $5,000 NEMCOG RPI mini grant awarded to the Roscommon DDA for the business incubator project, Sawmill was incorporated as a nonprofit last fall, held two community events and workshops, and consulted with several local business owners on new business ideas for the area.

“Roscommon is taking charge of its economic outlook! We are sending up the entrepreneur bat signal!” Greg Gaylor III, Sawmill Founder and Chairman of the Board.

The contract, which became effective January 9th in the amount of $29,940 enables Sawmill to retain Love-Suvada and offer a range of services, including;

3-month Strategic Business Planning Engagements with two DDA-targeted businesses to support economic development within the DDA boundaries. Each engagement will offer the following deliverables: SWOT analysis of the business to identify, examine and execute a strategy to solve two high-priority road blocks for the good of the business and the district. 20 hours of consultation time; assistance identifying funding opportunities for road blocks; 2-month post-engagement review to ensure client success.

30-day business support engagement services to three businesses within the district. This package is for businesses with challenges that can be addressed and overcome in a shorter window; identify road block and assist businesses in creating and executing a strategy to remove the roadblock; 2-month post-engagement review to ensure client success.

Empty buildings opportunities. The DDA will identify one empty building in the district that the Sawmill will work to match with a business; work with building owner and listing agent to ready the building to make it attractive to prospective buyers/businesses, space/use studies on different business opportunities for the space type; actively seek businesses/entrepreneurs to match to the space; create a marketing strategy for the opportunity.

Work with local municipalities and community organizations on high priority economic development projects as directed by the DDA

Occupy a space/building within the DDA district to bring as much foot traffic, visibility and opportunity as possible.

Continue regular Sawmill activities as stated in Sawmill Strategic Plan; starting a co-working space, hosting networking events, business workshops and events, regular business consultations, fundraising and partner development.

Sawmill has appointed it board of directors and advisory council and will hold their first meeting on Friday, January 27th, 2017.


Greg Gaylor, III, Chairman of the Board
Erine Adams, Vice Chair
Kate Otwell, Secretary
Vacant, Treasurer


John Rosczyk
Daniel Scow
Dr. Thomas Quinn
David Patterson
Catherine Erickson
Sally Voorheis
Kimberly Young
Rosalie Myers
Casey Adams

The support of Village of Roscommon DDA, council, staff and Village Manager John Rosczyk have been crucial to the success of the Sawmill. Rosczyk negotiated with the village council to offer a low-cost space agreement for the Sawmill to begin its operations. A grand opening event is slated for later this spring.

Village Manager and DDA CEO, John Rosczyk, “We are very excited at Village Hall about the revitalization of our downtown business district. I believe location of the offices and training/meeting area in Village Hall of the newly established Sawmill Rural Business Center is an important step in the revitalization process. This nonprofit has as its mission the incubation, counseling and business creation that will lead to a successful business community. Welcome to Diane Love-Suvada, the Executive Director, her Board of Directors, and Volunteers.


Diane Love-Suvada
or visit

DTMB Simplifies Process for Veteran Participation in State Bidding
Now Accepting Nationally Recognized Certification

State of Michigan Seal

Lansing, MI — In an effort to assist veteran businesses competing for government contracts, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget will now accept the National Veterans Business Development Council (NVBDC) certification when determining eligibility for the state’s service-disabled veteran-owned business pricing preference.


The option to submit an NVBDC certificate to qualify for the pricing preference can reduce the amount time and simplify the process for disabled veteran owned businesses. Currently, they are required to collect and submit traditional documents such as their DD214, VA Decision Letter, and proof of company ownership.

“We want to encourage the veteran community to compete for state contracts.” said DTMB Director David Behen. “Offering this alternative for certification will eliminate some of the steps our service disabled veterans need to take to qualify for their well-deserved preference.”

Formed in Michigan, the National Veterans Business Development Council is a non-profit organization specializing in third-party certification of veteran businesses. After a review of the NVBDC certifying process, it was determined that their criteria met the requirements for qualification set forth in state statute for the disabled veteran pricing preference. The state of Michigan provides for a 10 percent pricing preference for qualified service-disabled veteran owned businesses who submit proposals for state contracts.

Michigan has a goal of awarding five percent of all state work to disabled veteran businesses. With the addition of the new certification acceptance, along with a comprehensive outreach initiative, DTMB continues to work with the veteran community to increase the amount of awards to service-disabled veterans.

Veterans wishing to learn more about the state’s contracting process, the preference, or an upcoming Vets Business Boost outreach event, should visit the state’s Contract Connect website at

MVAA, MEDC Encourage Transitioning Service Members to Call Great Lakes State Home

State Agencies Team Up With Veteran-Friendly Employers

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Consortium of Michigan Veteran Educators and several certified Michigan Veteran-Friendly Employers recently attended the Service Academy Career Conference in Washington, D.C. This unique partnership between state agencies and private sector employers showcased Michigan’s education, employment and cultural opportunities to talented service academy graduates and their families, allowing them to discover all Michigan has to offer and encourage them to make the Great Lakes State their civilian home.


”With their experience and training, veterans are ready to offer Michigan employers a wide range of business, technical and leadership skills. These returning heroes bring relevant work experience and transferrable skills to the job – qualities Michigan employers can tap to benefit their businesses and help grow Michigan’s economy,” said MEDC Chief Executive Officer Steve Arwood. “We’re pleased to partner with top Michigan companies and other state agencies to attract these skilled, highly qualified transitioning service members to Michigan.”

There were more than 800 service academy graduates in attendance—the majority of whom are engineering and science majors seeking their first career out of the military. MVAA and MEDC were joined by Veteran-Friendly Employers Whirlpool, Prestige Engineering, Consumers Energy and the Michigan Department of Transportation to discuss career opportunities in management, finance and procurement, engineering and manufacturing. Kellogg Company and General Motors also attended the SACC in hopes of drawing these soon-to-be veterans and their families to Michigan. These six employers were seeking candidates for more than 700 different highly-skilled degreed job opportunities in Michigan with salary ranges averaging from $60,000 to more than $100,000. Employers conducted more than 100 on-site interviews and gathered more than 250 resumes.

Companies normally in competition for the same talent worked side-by-side to showcase all that Michigan has to offer with one shared goal—to recruit these highly-skilled veterans into Michigan’s workforce. The team received excellent feedback from the graduates in attendance, as well as other employers and colleges/universities attending the event about how Michigan’s work as a collaborative team was impressive and showed true passion not only for the state, but for supporting veterans. Members of this “Why Michigan?” team will track hiring progress 30, 60, and 90 days out from the event.

Administered and supported by the Alumni Associations and Association of Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the Service Academy Career Conference is the only job fair exclusively for service academy alumni.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency serves as the central coordinating point for Michigan veterans, connecting those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, to services and benefits throughout the state. Learn more at or call 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy.

Do Employers Face Any Risk if They Adopt A Veteran Preference Program?

The EEOC has taken the position that statutes that require preferences for veterans fall within this exception, but employer policies voluntarily adopted by private employers do not fall within the exception. Michigan's new law is permissive rather than mandatory but it could be argued that the new law creates a preference for veterans, and therefore it is unclear whether the EEOC or the courts would conclude that a program voluntarily adopted under the new law would fit within the EEOC exception. Furthermore, even if a program otherwise fits within the Title VII exception, the EEOC would take the position that a non-uniform application of such a program would violate Title VII. Employers considering adopting a veteran preference program should consult with an attorney to discuss ways to minimize risk associated with adopting a veteran preference program.

Governor Snyder Signs Law
Allowing Private Employers to
Have Veteran Preference for Hiring

Governor Rick Snyder signed the Private Employer’s Veterans' Preference Policy Act (the Act) on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. The Act allows private employers to adopt policies that give preference for hiring, promoting, or retaining a veteran over another equally qualified applicant or employee. The new law allows employers to adopt such policies; it does not require employers to adopt such policies.


What Does The Act Do?

The Act defines a veteran as an individual who:

Served on active duty with the armed forces of the United States for more than 180 days and was not dishonorably discharged;

Was discharged or released from active duty with the armed forces of the United States because of a service-connected disability; or

Was discharged or released from duty with other than dishonorable discharge from service as a member of a reserve or national guard under an order to active duty, excluding active duty for training.

The Act allows employers to adopt employment policies that favor veterans. If an employer chooses to adopt a veterans' preference policy, the Act requires the policy be in writing and that it be applied "uniformly" to hiring and promotion decisions, and to the retention of veterans during a reduction in force.

Why This New Law?

The new law is likely the legislature's attempt to allow private employers to take advantage of an exception in Title VII, the federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, among other characteristics. The EEOC has taken the position that veteran preference employment programs operate overwhelmingly to the advantage of men because most veterans are men, and that such programs therefore violate Title VII by creating an adverse impact on women. However, Title VII contains an exception for certain veteran preference programs: "Federal, State, territorial, or local law creating special rights or preference for veterans" do not violate Title VII. The federal government, and most states including Michigan have statutes that grant preferences to veterans for federal and state employment and those programs fit within Title VII’s exception. The EEOC and some courts, however, took the position that private employer voluntary preference programs do not fit within the exception where the programs are not created under a statute or law.

Do Employers Face Any Risk if They Adopt A Veteran Preference Program?

The EEOC has taken the position that statutes that require preferences for veterans fall within this exception, but employer policies voluntarily adopted by private employers do not fall within the exception. Michigan's new law is permissive rather than mandatory but it could be argued that the new law creates a preference for veterans, and therefore it is unclear whether the EEOC or the courts would conclude that a program voluntarily adopted under the new law would fit within the EEOC exception. Furthermore, even if a program otherwise fits within the Title VII exception, the EEOC would take the position that a non-uniform application of such a program would violate Title VII. Employers considering adopting a veteran preference program should consult with an attorney to discuss ways to minimize risk associated with adopting a veteran preference program.

MSU Competition Invites
Flint-Area Residents to
Pitch Their Business Ideas

Chance to Win $5,000

Eric Dresden

FLINT, MI- A competition is inviting local innovators to pitch their ideas for a chance to win $5,000 and maybe more.


Spartan Innovations at Michigan State University's Innovation Center selected the Flint Area Reinvestment Office to host a GreenLight Business Model Competition in Flint. This is the first year for the competition in Flint said Adrian Montague, consultant for the Flint Area Reinvestment Office.

“It was just perfect timing,” she said. “We've established a good base of people to really put on the stage and say, 'Let's make your ideas and business plans a reality.'”

The winner of GreenLight Flint will receive $5,000 in start-up support resources and a seat at the Michigan GreenLight Competition on March 31, 2015, in East Lansing where they can compete for up to $50,000 to start their business.

Montague said there have about 20 people in the application process so far, which can be done at

Those that apply need to submit an application which details the following:

Give a one-sentence pitch (75 characters or less).

Executive summary (general description of company) (1,000 characters or less).

Features and benefits (1,000 characters or less).

Products and services (1,000 characters or less).

Who are your customers? (1,000 characters or less).

Financial Plan (1,000 characters or less).

How does your company/product make money? (1,000 character or less).

How have you validated your product/company? (1,000 character w/spaces or less).

How did you hear about us?

Are you affiliated with any other incubator/accelerator programs? (1,500 characters or less)

Are you a student? (Grad or undergrad and what institution).

The deadline to submit is Monday, Dec. 15, 2014.

For any questions, contact Montague.


Automation Alley Launches
Entrepreneurship Program

Brent Snavely
Detroit Free Press

Automation Alley is launching an entrepreneurship program aimed at spurring growth of small businesses and start-ups across Southeast Michigan with investments that could top $125,000 per company.


Automation Alley said today it is launching a new entrepreneurship program aimed at spurring growth of small businesses and start-ups across Southeast Michigan with investments that could top $125,000 per company.

The Automation Alley 7Cs program links aspiring entrepreneurs with experts from Automation Alley who will guide them through a seven-step process from concept to commercialization.

The program includes a $25,000 direct investment from Automation Alley for each company accepted into the program. The investment includes the estimated value for coaching and management advice. The value of the investment must be repaid at the end of two years.

Companies also are eligible to receive up to an additional $100,000 in investment from the Automation Alley Pre-Seed Fund.

Tom Kelly, director of entrepreneurship for Automation Alley, said the technology business association is looking to invest in companies that have an idea or a product that can put into production within 12 to 24 months.

“We are really focused on advanced manufacturing... We want them to be past the theoretical stage,” Kelly said. “Our plan is to do 10 companies a year. If we find that we are having great success with this program I would love to go back to…and expand it.”

Under the terms of the program, if the companies don't pay back the $25,000 two years after the initial investment, they must accept Automation Alley as a part owner of the business.

The program is funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

READ Detroit Free Press STORY

SBA Stands Ready to
Assist Michigan Residents Affected by
Severe Storms and Flooding

PDF National Small Business Guide DOWNLOAD SBA NEWSLETTER

Veteran Employment

(June 30, 2014)

PDF National Small Business Guide DOWNLOAD NEWSLETTER

Pure Michigan Contracts?

Kristen M. Daum
Detroit Free Press

Majority of state contracts held with Michigan companies, analysis shows.



The state of Michigan primarily keeps its business within the state borders, according to a story in the Lansing State Journal.

The newspaper reviewed nearly 1,200 contracts overseen by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, contracting worth more than $32 billion. Those contracts include products and services ranging from employee health insurance to vehicle maintenance to office supplies to providing security at state buildings and offices.

The story should that more than $25 billion – or 78 percent – of the contracts were awarded to Michigan-based businesses.

The story did not specify how many contracts were awarded to veteran owned businesses. Michigan is one of only a handful of states that give preference to service disabled veteran owned businesses. SDVOBs receive a 10 percent pricing preference and state agencies are required to award 5 percent of all contracts to SDVOBs.

According to the most recent figures for FY 2012, Michigan awarded about $64 million in contracts to SDVOBs – or about 2.4 percent.


VA to Review Regulations
Governing Small Business
Contracting Program

Jill R. Aitoro
Washington Business Journal

Veteran owners of small businesses might see some respite from what many have described as an arduous, unfair process used by the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine who's eligible to bid on set-aside contracts: The VA is apparently committed to making the verification process more efficient and less burdensome.


10 Highlights From
National Small Business Week

SBA 10 Highlights from Nat'l Small Biz Week | Webinar- Mobile & Location Based Marketing | Creative Summer Marketing


“SBA is no longer the federal government's best kept secret.”- SBA Administrator Karen Mills

John Stonecipher, President and CEO of Guidance Aviation in Arizona, was named the 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year

“Technology helps level the playing field for entrepreneurs.”- SBA Administrator Karen Mills

Advice to entrepreneurs from Co-Founder of Square and Twitter Jack Dorsey- “Always ask the question why.”

“If you don't have a business mentor, go get one for free at”- SBA Administrator Karen Mills

“The 3 P's of entrepreneurship are people, passion and perseverance.” - Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution Co-Founder, America Online Chairman, The Case Foundation

“If you get a compliant about your business, go grab a cup of coffee. Think about a thoughtful response before replying.”- Angie Hicks, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Angie's List

“Cash flow is king to helping small businesses succeed.”- Dave Rader, Wells Fargo, SBA's 7(a) Loan Program Lender of the Year

“We need to make sure America stays a magnet for manufacturing, and small business plays a big part in that.”- SBA Administrator Karen Mills

“You don't have to look far to see the hard work of small business owners, they stand with their companies through every challenge and success.”- Lee Rhodes, Founder, glassbaby

State Matches Veterans With Job Options

(Lansing State Journal) - Last Monday, seven Michigan veterans, all homeless and unemployed, began two weeks in residence at Michigan State University where they’ll learn hands-on how to cut and process meat for a major Michigan employer. This on-campus training is the last leg of a challenging six-week program that ends with a guaranteed job for every veteran who makes it through to graduation


SBA Boots to Business Initiative
Teaches Veterans Entrepreneurship

(Executive.Gov) - The U.S. Small Business Administration has developed a program which is meant to teach veterans how to start and grow their own businesses, according to the SBA website.


Medical Professionals Working
With Veterans to Unlock PTSD

(Source Newspapers) - With cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on the rise, medical professionals from throughout the region are working on new research and forms of treatment to help those living with the disorder.


Extend Veterans Retraining Program
Through June 2014


Advocates Announce Initiatives to
Including Designation on Licenses


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