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Posted on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 5:15 a.m.

People & achievements in the greater Ann Arbor area, including Ann Arbor SPARK and Gold Star Mortgage

By Staff


Terry Jones

From new hires and promotions to industry awards, here’s a roundup of achievements by businesses and individuals in the greater Ann Arbor area:

Terry Jones, founder and former CEO of Travelocity, and John Ferndandez, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, will serve as the keynote speakers at the 2012 Accelerate Michigan Competition, a competition for young entrepreneurs sponsored, in part, by Ann Arbor SPARK. The competition takes place Nov. 13-15 at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. A full list of companies chosen as finalists (including several from the greater Ann Arbor area) is available at

• In related news, Ann Arbor SPARK recently added two to its team, Joseph Licavoli and Jake Elbers. Licavoli fills a new position as manager of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. Elbers is manager of the SPARK East business incubator. Additionally, current Ann Arbor SPARK team member Valerie Christofferson was promoted to senior business development manager.

• Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group, based in Ann Arbor, has named Ingrid Amberg as its chief compliance officer.

Charles Reinhart Company Realtors kicked off its 17th annual coat drive Nov. 1, with the goal of collecting more than 1,500 adult and children’s coats to distribute to local agencies throughout Washtenaw County. Through the month of November, Charles Reinhart Company Realtors will collect new and “gently used” winter coats at all of the Charles Reinhart sales offices as well as all Sunday open houses. Capital Cleaners, Chelsea Cleaners and Gold Bond Cleaners have donated their services to professionally clean the coats before they are donated to more than 20 local agencies. For more information about the coat drive, contact Marketing Coordinator Megan Crosbie at 734-669-5906 or Sales office addresses and open house schedules are available at

• Researchers at iLabs at University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research have recognized Ann Arbor Charter Township, the City of Ann Arbor and the City of Saline as five-star communities for their work to foster entrepreneurial growth and economic development. The three municipalities shared the honor with 25 other communities across the state. The communities were honored at a ceremony at UM-Dearborn in late October.

The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County will kick off its 2012 Red Kettle Campaign at noon Friday, at Briarwood Mall. The public is invited to attend the celebration, with a miniature Salvation Army gold bell going to the first 100 guests.

• The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research renewed its partnership agreement with Qatar University's Social and Economic Survey Research Institute Nov. 3 in Ann Arbor. The agreement expands on a 2008 partnership to develop SESRI's capacity as a leading social science research organization in Qatar and a key contributor to social science research in the Gulf.

• A total of 1,400 students in eighth through 12th grade, from 35 schools, were introduced to the broad range of career opportunities available in architecture, engineering and construction when they participated in the “JUST BUILD IT!” Construction Career Expo Oct. 31. In addition to trying their hand at the work done in all three of these aspects of the construction industry, the students learned what education and training is needed for these careers. The event was sponsored by the Washtenaw Contractors Association in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan recently awarded more than $1 million in grants to support 50 Michigan clinics that help provide health care services to uninsured Michigan residents through its "Strengthening the Safety Net" program. Of this year's applicants, 50 free clinics qualified for noncompetitive grants of $15,000 to be used for continuing existing operations, and eight of those clinics were also awarded competitive grants of up to $50,000 for identifying clear gaps in safety net coverage and outlining plans to address those gaps in a creative and sustainable way. "Strengthening the Safety Net" Noncompetitive Grant Recipients in the greater Ann Arbor area were Shelter Association of Washtenaw County of Ann Arbor; VINA Community Dental Center in Brighton; Chelsea Grace Clinic in Chelsea; Faith Medical Clinic in Pinckney; and Hope Medical Clinic in Ypsilanti. VINA, Faith Medical Clinic and Hope clinic also received 2012-2013 "Strengthening the Safety Net" Competitive Grants.

• Ann Arbor SPARK recently presented its annual FastTrack awards to Washtenaw-based companies that have demonstrated consistent growth. Several of the 2012 FastTrack award recipients were multiple-year winners. FastTrack awards are presented to companies with consistent records of growth. Recipients of 2012 FastTrack awards were required to have revenue of at least $100,000 in 2008, with an annual growth of 20 percent for the following three years. FastTrack award winners represent a range of businesses in the Ann Arbor region. One-year FastTrack winners were Arbormoon Software, specializing in planning, strategy, design and development on smartphones; Estrakon Inc., an advanced LED lighting company; and The Whole Brain Group, a firm with expertise in web design, development, social media, content and pay-per-click advertising. The two-year Fast Track winner was Beal Inc., a demolition company that specializes in historic structures. The three-year FastTrack winner was Beal Properties, a firm specializing in managing and developing commercial and residential real estate. Four-year FastTrack winners were Caelynx LLC, a computer-aided engineering firm, and MedHub Inc., a privately-held company that provides managed IT services for large academic teaching hospitals worldwide. Five-year FastTrack winners were LLamasoft Inc., a provider of supply chain design software and services to large organizations; Online Tech, provider of Midwest data centers; and software company SRT Solutions. The six-year FastTrack winner was ForeSee Results, a provider of customer experience analytics.

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