Espy Thomas

Owner, Sweet Potato Sensations

Espy Thomas-editEspy Thomas is the “Queen of Awesomeness” and 2nd generation business owner. Sweet Potato Sensations is the Sweet Potato Lovers Heaven on earth and has been in business for 26 years revolutionizing how people think of sweet potatoes. Espy and her family are successfully carrying on the contributions of Dr. George Washington Carver. This Detroit landmark has created a menu with everything (from pies to ice cream) made with sweet potatoes.

Espy is a graduate of The Savannah College of Art and Design and has lived, worked and traveled overseas. She is a walking example of  posiitivity and creativity. She takes pride in being her true authentic self. Espy is taking her knowledge from as the president of her community business district,  Co-Founder of Naturally FLYY Detroit (A Natural Hair Women’s Empowerment Group), a “Dhive BUILD” graduate and a participant in TechTown’s SWOT City Program coupled with her passion, family values and convictions to be a strong force in taking Detroit and her family business to the next level. Recently Espy appeared on MSNBC alongside Warren Buffett and the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfien, as the “face” of Detroit’s 1st Class for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

Frank Venegas

Chairman and CEO, Ideal Group

Frank Venegas-goodeditFrank Venegas, Jr. is the chairman and CEO of the Ideal Group headquartered in Southwest Detroit. With annual revenues approaching $250 million and 500 employees, Ideal enterprises deliver innovative facility solutions to customers including major OEMs.

Venegas currently sits on the General Motors Global Supplier Council and the DTE Energy Supplier Advisory Council.  Governor Rick Snyder appointed Venegas to the State of Michigan’s Governor’s Talent Investment Board.  Venegas and The Ideal Group are known for their community outreach and development activities focused on education and  family sustaining employment opportunities and clean neighborhoods.

M. Roy Wilson

President, Wayne State University

Dr. Roy Wilson-editM. Roy Wilson serves as the president of Wayne State University, elected by the school’s Board of Governors in June 2013.

Prior to joining Wayne State, Wilson served as deputy director for strategic scientific planning and program coordination at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health. There, he led the development and implementation of an integrated system for planning, coordinating, and evaluating the NIH health disparities research portfolio.

Dr. Wilson received his undergraduate degree from Allegheny College, an M.S. in epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

Tom Wilson

President and CEO, Olympia Entertainment

Tom_Wilson_editTom Wilson is president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment, identifying opportunities to package the assets of the organization through multi-venue offerings and promotions. Olympia owns and operates Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the City Theatre, and also books and operates Joe Louis Arena and books Comerica Park. Building on a 32-year career with the Detroit Pistons, Wilson is responsible for guiding and growing these venues.

Sommer Woods

Director of External Relations, M-1 Light Rail

Sommer Woods-editedSommer Woods is the director of external relations for M-1 Rail, a 3.3-mile light rail circulator that will strengthen the backbone of the Detroit region by downtown Detroit to Midtown to New Center/North End. Her responsibilities include workforce development, community engagement/inclusion, governmental relations and minority/Detroit based business procurement.

Woods was formerly a member of former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s administration, serving as the film, culture and special events director for the city of Detroit. In this role, she managed the city’s film-related efforts and coordinated all aspects of special events for the City Detroit, including permitting, serving as the liaison with government officials, event logistics, tactical operations and community and business outreach and engagement.

Prior to these roles, Woods’ experience in event planning, implementation and sponsorship fulfillment and activation included positions with the PGA TOUR and Super Bowl XL. She has a bachelor’s degree in business from Talladega College.

Michigan Environmental Firm Teams with a Kansas Community

Farmington Hills, MI, December 12, 2013 – The city of Salina, KS, faced a major groundwater pollution issue. Originating from a former Strategic Air Command base, it posed the threat of tens-of-millions of dollars in remediation and possible future health issues for the citizens of Salina.

The Dragun Corporation, with its global reputation for environmental expertise, was selected to peer review and analyze more than a decade of reports and provide a complete understanding of the situation. The extent and movement of potentially carcinogenic contaminants polluting the groundwater at the airport site were a major concern for the City of Salina. The contaminants were spreading to the surrounding environment that included homes, schools, and businesses.

Dragun’s senior analysts performed a critical analysis of the existing Site Characterization. This determined the type, extent, and movement of the environmental contamination. They redefined the nature and extent of the problem, determined how fast the contaminants were migrating, and identified outstanding data gaps.

“Dragun Corporation helped the Salina Public Entities understand the complexity of the groundwater contamination and identified numerous flaws with the prior technical work performed by other parties on behalf of the federal government,” said Martha Tasker, Director of Utilities, City of Salina. “We have the highest confidence in Dragun’s capability to adequately complete this scale and complexity of work in a timely manner.”

Dragun Corporation has been selected to complete the site characterization, evaluate potential remedies, and prepare a plan for cleanup. In the coming weeks, Dragun will begin the first stage of protecting Salina’s groundwater supply. The United States Government will pay 90 percent of the cost to fill data gaps and to prepare a remediation plan. This is the first time the federal government has financed this type of effort.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” says Dragun Senior Vice President, Jeff Bolin. “I know the priority of the City of Salina was to gain control of this project and secure the funding so they could protect their groundwater supply. I was confident that our associates had the ability and experience necessary to critically analyze the problem and develop a plan to help Salina reach their goal.”

About Dragun Corporation
For over 25 years, Dragun Corporation has provided world-class environmental consulting expertise and an innovative approach to site assessment and environmental remediation. Dragun Corporation has built a solid reputation with clients across North America and around the globe. Businesses and municipalities, large and small, count on Dragun Corporation to stay environmentally compliant, save money, and avoid unnecessary remediation and litigation.

For more information, contact Jeff Bolin, Senior Vice President at 248-932-0228 or

Level One Bank Expands Commercial Lending Services, Launches Equipment Finance Division

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., – Level One Bank, one of Southeast Michigan’s leading community Banks, has expanded the depth of its commercial lending services with the launch of its new Equipment Finance division. The announcement was made by Patrick J. Fehring, President and CEO of Level One Bank.

Level One recently established the division in recognition of demands from businesses seeking to purchase commercial equipment. Level One’s equipment financing and leasing services provide clients an additional resource to help expand their businesses.

“One of the advantages of being a local bank is the ability to continually identify and respond to the banking needs of our clients and business communities,” said Fehring. “The Level One team innovates and provides more flexible financing solutions than many larger financial institutions, which is the kind of service our clients deserve.”

Since the launch of the new Equipment Finance division, Level One Bank has helped clients of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and various equipment types and industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, distribution and technology.

About Level One Bank

Level One Bank is a full-service, 5-Star BauerFinancial rated commercial and consumer bank committed to connecting with unparalleled service and delivering outstanding financial solutions. Owned and managed locally, Level One Bank is headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan with assets of approximately $600 million. It currently operates seven full-service banking centers, located throughout Oakland County and the surrounding communities. Level One’s Commercial Division provides a complete menu of products including lines of credit, term loans, leases, commercial mortgages, SBA loans, Export-Import Financing and a full suite of Treasury Management services. The Consumer Division offers personal savings and checking accounts, including free checking and competitive interest-bearing accounts such as Money Markets, IRAs, and CDs. The bank also provides a complete array of consumer loan products including residential mortgages, home equity, auto, and credit card services. Level One offers the sophistication of a big bank, the heart of a community bank, and the spirit of an entrepreneur. For more information, please visit

BlueWater Technologies rises to #16 in key industry ranking of Top 50 Systems Integrators

For 10th consecutive year Systems Contractor News names privately held Michigan AV firm BlueWater Technologies to 2013 Top 50 Systems Integrators list

SOUTHFIELD, MI – BlueWater Technologies Inc., an industry leading provider of custom audio visual integration and event technology, moves up two spots to #16 in key industry ranking of Top 50 Systems Integrators by Systems Contractor News (SCN). This is the 10th consecutive year BlueWater Technologies has appeared on the annual list which is published annually in the December issue of SCN magazine—an industry resource for more than 20 years.

BlueWater has been rising in the listing since the program’s inception in 2004. The list is developed from voluntary submissions to an SCN annual survey. SCN ranks the U.S. and Canada’s leading integrators based on projected revenue and growth from one year to the next, from those firms willing to share their internal numbers to establish an industry snapshot.

“Making the SCN Top 50 again this year is a testament to our employees’ dedication to delivering exceptional service and adding value to our customers,” said Vice President of Sales Mack Truax. “The SCN list reflects the strength and increasing value of our industry, and BlueWater is proud to help set the benchmark for AV firms both large and small.”

As BlueWater Technologies’ revenue growth continues along with its upward trajectory in this SCN Top Integrator listing, the company proudly supports the local Michigan economy and hires within the state to support integration services as well as digital activations and live events.

BlueWater Technologies is a national provider of Meeting & Event Technology, Audio Visual Integration, Digital Activations, and Custom Displays & Fixtures. We are an industry leader in the design, engineering and implementation of custom technology-based solutions. Our solutions have been exceeding client expectations for nearly 30 years. We are a certified woman-owned business headquartered in Southfield, Michigan with additional locations in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Mesick, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Orlando, FL and Washington D.C.

Entrepreneur Opportunities for Everyone with Unity Tax Service

Detroit, MI – December 11, 2013- Unity Tax Service is launching its “The Entrepreneur in You” program; this program will empower, and encourage “Entrepreneurship” nationwide. CEO Dionciel Armstrong has developed this program to create business leaders of all ages. This opportunity will benefit individuals that would like to change or start a new career. “Financial stability and education is vital in rebuilding our economy”, said Armstrong.

“The Entrepreneur in You” program will create entrepreneurs with a focus in tax preparation, business, marketing, sales, ethics, and organization. Unity Tax Service will provide FREE tax software, training, and marketing tools. No experience is required for this opportunity, but participants must be at least 18 years of age. Armstrong strongly suggests that each church, organization, outreach program, and job placement services participate in promoting and encouraging this program to ensure job placement and entrepreneurship.

About Unity Tax Service, an African American owned company that provides Professional Tax Software, Franchise Opportunities, Entrepreneurship Programs, Continuing Education and Insurance. The company was founded by Dionciel Armstrong an entrepreneur with extensive business and marketing experience, Wynetta Sears, retired with 40+ years as an IRS engineer, and Alicia Warren, marketing background and licensed insurance agent.

Throughout the years the tax industry has continued to expand due to growth in population, employment, and the economy. The tax industry is a 7.7 billion dollar industry and every working American who is employed, self-employed, or contracted, must file their taxes each year.

Unity Tax owners understand first-hand the importance of entrepreneurship. Most people who try to start a business are discouraged through lack of training, startup-cost, marketing funds, and the necessary tools. “This is a turn-key partnership opportunity and unfortunately this type of program was not available when I started in this business”, said Armstrong.

The program is not to impose nor deflect the vision or purpose of any organization, but to empower, employ, and to provide the opportunity to grow.

For more information call 248-595-7701