Principal Lissi Mojica To Speak At FCBA Regional Meeting

Brooks Kushman Principal Lissi Mojica will speak at the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s (FCBA) regional meeting at the Rocky Mountain Regional US Patent and Trademark Office in Denver, Colorado on February 17, 2017. The program will focus on current topics related to patent litigation and the Courts and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Mojica will speak about Practical Considerations and Lessons Learned for Appeals to the Federal Circuit from PTAB.

Mojica is a globally recognized leader in post-grant proceedings and one of the most experienced practitioners in the field. For nearly two decades Mojica was an examiner with the US Patent Trademark Office (USPTO). In that role she launched and became the first director of the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) to safeguard the quality and consistency of reexamination proceedings and to reduce pendency. Her practice focuses on all aspects of post-grant proceedings, including inter partes review, post-grant review, covered business method proceedings, reexamination proceedings, reissues and interferences. Mojica also specializes in appeals to the USPTO’s PTAB, patent quality and patent examination matters.

Mojica holds a Master in Business Administration from Marymount University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The mission of the Federal Circuit Bar Association is to create a space for objective and inclusive dialogue, as well as to improve and facilitate the administration of justice in the Federal Circuit’s community. The Association includes the various groups who practice within the Circuit community, including the private and public sectors and litigators as well as agency and house counsel.

For more information, visit the FCBA’s website.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices across the nation, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, and Intellectual Property Today. For more information, please visit www.BrooksKushman.com.

5 SEO Strategies That Will Turbocharge Your Website

By Jason Wize
Managing Partner
MediaProNow

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

Jason Wize photo black and white

Jason Wize is the managing partner at MediaProNow.

The world of SEO was relatively peaceful last year, but don’t blink.  Smart digital marketers understand that it’s critical to stay current on trends and also see what’s looming on the horizon.  The formula to move up in search engine results pages (SERP) is always changing but you can dramatically improve your ranking on Google in five simple steps.

1. Fix All Technical Issues

Correct Visibility Issues

In order for Google and the other search engines to properly index your website it must be visible.  That means you must ensure that none of your website pages are blocked by robots.txt.  This can prevent Google from seeing your website.  You should also eliminate any pages that load with a “page error.”  Google Search Console is a free tool you can install on your website to monitor exactly how it’s being viewed by Google.  Any pages with redirects should be 301 and always install antivirus software to eliminate any malware that could be hidden on pages.

Meta data is the first place Google looks for information about your website.  Each page of your website should contain a unique page title (55-60 characters in length) and page description (160 characters or less).  Duplicate page titles and descriptions can confuse Google so be sure they’re original and accurately describe the content for that page.

Another basic but essential tool for analyzing your website’s performance is Google Analytics.  This free tool measures all key website performance indicators and many other data points as well.

Speed Rules

Google rewards websites with fast loading times and speed has become an important factor in their algorithm.  Check out Google’s speed test analyzer to see exactly where you stand.  One simple strategy to increase your website’s speed is to compress image files whenever possible.

Link Issues

Inspect your website for any broken or toxic links.  Google and the other search engines may penalize your SERP if your site contains too many dead or bad links.  You can use a free tool like Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider to identify and fix any broken links.

Pay special attention to how your website URLs are created.  It’s necessary to have descriptive URLs that are functional and navigation that is logically organized with a consistent URL structure.  For example, a URL such as http://www.your-website.com/services/search-engine-optimization will be viewed more favorably than http://www.your-website.com/categories/page02/index.html.


MORE: Check out the essential steps to improving your website’s SEO at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


SEO 22. Identify Profitable Keywords

Keyword research is critical to any successful SEO campaign.  Remember that keywords can come in many varieties so it’s important to look for primary and related keywords.  Check out Google’s Keyword Planner to identify keywords, monthly traffic and much more.

3. Mobile Ready and Friendly

In 2015, Google announced that non-mobile ready websites could see negative results in SERP.  That change, which has been dubbed Mobilegeddon, was an algorithm update that gives mobile friendly websites preference in SERPs.  Use Google’s free Mobile Ready tool to analyze your website’s responsiveness.

4. Content Is King

Amazing content is still the best way to make your website stand out above your competition.  However, some caveats should be considered.  Word count is not a key factor anymore, rather quality content is.  The downfall for most websites is duplicate content.  Google really dislikes any duplicate content.  Use Copyscape or another filtering tool to check your website for any duplicate content.

5. Take a NAP

Not literally, however your website and business must have a consistent Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) across the internet.  If your street address is on an avenue it’s important that you be consistent if you use the abbreviation or if you spell it out.  Same is true with your brand name.  If your company is an “Inc.,” be sure to refer to the business in exactly the same manner anywhere a digital footprint is created.

SEO success does not have to be overly complicated.  There are many factors to consider but it’s important to start with the basics.  Use these five strategies to make sure your website is ready for Google and the other search engines to take notice and great results will follow.

Jason Wize is the managing partner at MediaProNow, a leading provider of digital marketing solutions for businesses, organizations and individuals.

←Back to Digital Marketing Boot Camp

Forward Detroit Quarterly Results

Quarterly Investor Results

Oct. to Dec. 2016 

Investor Blog_Business Attraction
The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Business Attraction team assisted in closing six deals in the Detroit region, which created 254 jobs and brought in $103,750,254 of investment. Learn more about the Chamber’s Business Attraction efforts.

 

Investor Blog_D3
The Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees (D3) initiative introduce the Race to the FAFSA Line challenge for Southeast Michigan. Since the kickoff of this challenge in October, the D3 initiative trained 170 high school counselors on the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) completion and recruited 80 students leaders to encourage FAFSA completion in their schools. So far, 13,630 students in the region completed the FAFSA in that quarter. Learn more about the Detroit Drives Degrees.

Read more about what the Forward Detroit initiatives accomplished:

Taking a Data-Driven Approach to Increasing Graduation Rates for Low-Income, Minority Students

Detroit’s Next Opportunity: A Premier Destination for Health Care Innovation, Investment

Industrial Space, Talent Attraction Impacting Detroit’s Sustainable Growth

For Auto Industry, Attracting and Retaining Millennial Talent Requires an Inclusive Company Culture

 

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352. For more information on Detroit Drives Degrees, contact Greg Handel at 313.596.0331.

In Case You Missed It: Download the 2017 State of the Region

Recently, the Detroit Regional Chamber released its third annual State of Region report, underwritten by Citizens Bank. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah presented the report findings to nearly 300 business and community leaders at The Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit.

The report, which offers a data-driven analysis of the progress made in the 11-counties that comprise the Detroit region, garnered several media articles throughout the day. The local news outlets included: Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and MLive.

During the luncheon, Baruah outlined the accomplishments of key indicators of the region including per capita income, which the Detroit region ranked third nationally in one-year per capita income growth. Median home values also lead peer regions in both five-year and one-year growth rates and the region led its peers in median home value growth between 2014 and 2015 at 10.7 percent.

The report also showed the region added more than 200,000 jobs since 2010, with architecture and engineering as the fastest-growing occupations. The Detroit region is now sixth among its peers in the Kauffman Innovation Index, charting startup activity – up five spots. The region is also No. 1 in patent growth, with patents granted to regional innovators growing by 8 percent.

“As the data in this report suggest, the needle is indeed moving in the right direction,” Baruah said.

The afternoon presentation also addressed key areas in need of improvement. The data showed that while the region matched the national average when it came to educational attainment, it still lags behind most all of the competing regions. Transit was another area for improvement. Regional transit entities handled approximately 42 million public transit rides last year, far short of the goal of 55 million rides.

“While some progress is being made, we’re not making the dramatic progress that we need to make in order to ensure our position in the 21st century,” Baruah told the crowd. “Businesses need to remain focused on affecting public policies that boost high school graduation rates and strengthen a pipeline of students into higher education.”

Following the presentation, Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors Co., gave an overview of national economic trends and the impact they have on the region. Mohatarem then joined a panel to provide reaction to the data and discuss the current state of the economy. Panelists included Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation; John Roberts, budget director of the State of Michigan; and Marina Whitman, professor of business administration and public policy at the University of Michigan. Education and transportation were areas of most concern for all panelists.

In addition to Citizens Bank, other sponsors of the event included: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Comcast Business and Office Depot.

To view or download a copy of the report, click here.

Butzel Long attorneys featured during 34th Annual CLE Conference in Snowmass, Colo.

Butzel Long attorneys Bernard (Bernie) J. Fuhs and Michael R. Griffie co-presented a program titled, “Strategies on Presenting (and Defending Against) Economic Damages in Employment Discrimination Cases,” during the 34th Annual CLE Conference on January 7, 2017 in Snowmass, Colo.

Bernard (Bernie) J. Fuhs

Based in Butzel Long’s Detroit office, Fuhs concentrates his practice in the areas of business and commercial litigation. He has significant experience in non-compete, non-disclosure, and trade secret disputes, business and financial services industry disputes, franchise and dealerships, transportation and logistics industry disputes, construction, real estate, securities, and sales representative matters. He also advises start-up and closely held businesses, as well as sports and fitness industry members.

He is Co-Chair of Butzel Long’s Diversity, Recruiting and Retention Committee.

Fuhs was named to Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 under 40” class, which honors “the best and brightest in Southeast Michigan who have made their marks in business before age 40.” Named to L. Brooks Patterson’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class, which includes young thought leaders and trailblazers who live or work in Oakland County and are under the age of 40. He also was selected as a Top Young Lawyer (one of only six attorneys selected in Michigan), as well as a Business Litigation, Trade Secret and Franchise Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine. He also was named a Michigan Super Lawyer in 2013 to 2016.

Michael R. Griffie

Griffie, who is based in Butzel Long’s Detroit office, practices in the areas of labor and employment law, commercial litigation, and higher education law.

He joined Butzel Long with a decade of experience in school leadership, most recently serving as principal of the highly regarded Hamtramck Academy. As principal, he managed school operations and oversaw a $6.6 million budget.

In November, 2014, Griffie received the Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40 award for his service in education leadership. His community involvement has included serving on the Wayne County Ethics Board (2016) where he was appointed by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the top law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Walsh College, Ford Motor Company Fund Establish Scholarship in the Name of Walsh College Alumnus and Trustee Tom Walsh

Walsh College and Ford Motor Company Fund are honoring retired Detroit Free Press Columnist Tom Walsh with a new scholarship dedicated to promoting strong business communication skills among students.

The scholarship will help Walsh College students who have a background in public relations or communications earn a highly regarded Walsh business degree. It will also recognize Tom Walsh’s contribution to economic understanding and public policy in perpetuity.

Ford Motor Company Fund is providing $25,000 toward the scholarship. It is the intent of Walsh College to accept gifts in order to endow the Fund for future scholarships.

“We are grateful for the generosity of the Ford Motor Company Fund in honoring Tom Walsh, a distinguished alumnus of the College and a member of our Board of Trustees,” said Stephanie Bergeron, president and CEO, Walsh College. “Most important, our students will benefit from the Fund’s investment in their futures for years to come.”

She added, “With our growing emphasis on business communications at Walsh College, the scholarship will serve as a fitting legacy to Tom Walsh, his outstanding journalism career, and his high level of respect within the business and public policy communities.”

Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, said, “Tom’s commitment to fair reporting and journalistic excellence made our community better over his long career. We look forward to helping new business students develop clear communication skills that serve all of us.”

Established in 1949 as the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Motor Company Fund has invested $1.5 billion to build stronger communities. It invests more than $10 million a year in educational programs and initiatives around the world.

A native of Chicago, Tom Walsh earned a master’s degree in Information Management and Communications from Walsh College in 1997. He received a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management from Purdue University in 1972.

Tom Walsh also served as master of ceremonies for the Walsh College “State of the College” report in October 2015 and was elected to its Board of Trustees in February 2016.

Tom Walsh worked at the Detroit Free Press from 1982 to 2015 as a reporter, bureau chief, suburban editor, business editor, projects editor, and columnist. Previously, he was city editor at the Oakland Press and a reporter and editor at Fairchild Publications in Chicago, New York, and London, England. In 1990, he was a Jefferson Fellow in Pacific Rim Studies at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

Over the years, Tom Walsh has been recognized for excellence in reporting and writing with awards from the Overseas Press Club, Detroit Press Club Foundation, and the Michigan Associated Press Editorial Association. He also was the recipient of a national business reporting honor, the Gerald Loeb Award.

For more information on Walsh College, visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Howes: ‘Good news’ for Detroit automakers buoys region

The Detroit News 

By Daniel Howes 

January 26, 2017 

It may be time for the poster child of American industrial decline to consider burying the poster.

Detroit’s automakers are poised to tally another year of record earnings and sales. The 11-county Detroit region’s economic rebound is real and accelerating, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Detroit Regional Chamber. And the hometown auto industry thinks it may have a potential ally in the White House, not necessarily a Twitter-wielding antagonist.

Not since who knows when have General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV had a president of the United States seek their counsel in reshaping corporate tax policy and reforming costly regulations. That’s why a ranking industry executive calls this week’s meeting with President Donald Trump “extremely positive.”

He should. In the space of just a few days, the new president nixed the prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership formally opposed by Ford (and, quietly, by GM, too); signaled a willingness to revise costly federal rules in exchange for redoubled investment in the United States; acknowledged that protracted permitting processes foul the business environment.

The president also vowed to revise the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, blamed for killing jobs and closing plants. Industry insiders say the move offers a chance to establish a template for addressing currency manipulation — less important with Mexico and Canada, but vital to successive bilateral trade deals with Asian nations.

“This is very good news for the auto business,” says David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research. Detroit’s automakers “have had more contact” with Trump and his team already “than over eight years with Obama” — the federal bailouts of 2009 notwithstanding.

“Regular interface between people and teams builds relationships that are the foundation for success for both sides,” Cole continues. It’s common sense, actually, recognition that economic competitiveness can create jobs and attract investment. It also makes for very good politics in the industrial Midwest.

 

Trump’s presidency and its early focus on manufacturing and economic competitiveness is a stark break from at least the past generation. With the obvious exception of the taxpayer-backed bailouts begun by President George W. Bush and continued by President Barack Obama, manufacturing largely has been what one executive called “yesterday’s news.”

That narrative is changing. High-tech heavies are sniffing around the auto business because they need growth and they see it in what’s called “mobility.” The bankruptcy-led restructurings of both the Detroit auto industry and the city of Detroit have dramatically changed to arc of renewal for both.

Downtown revitalization and profit-rich automakers are making Detroit cool again, with The New York Times ranking the city ninth in its “52 Places to Visit in 2017” feature. And a new president’s “America First” mantra potentially redounds to the benefit of a town long synonymous with the reasoning behind his sentiment, if not the early 1940s-era genesis of the isolationist phrase.

Outside of the industrial Midwest, Democrats largely abandoned the concerns of industrial unions in favor of their public-sector brethren. State-level Republicans in places like Michigan pursued right-to-work legislation, while their national counterparts in Congress tended to cleave to non-union producers like Toyota Motor Corp. or Honda Motor Co.

Two days into a new administration, Detroit manufacturing became the day’s news. So did representatives of industrial unions called to the White House. Their members have a vested interest in plant expansions, pipeline construction and other infrastructure projects.

It’s early days, of course, and things can change. But the signs issuing from Trump’s Washington — and a Wall Street that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 20,000 for the first time in history Wednesday — amount to golden opportunities.

For a Detroit-based auto industry facing the inflection point separating its traditional present from its mobility future; for a city of Detroit whose continued recovery depends on a working relationship with a Republican administration in Washington; for a regional economy whose improving health remains yoked to the relative health of the auto business.

Unemployment in Michigan is tracking below the national average, the chamber’s “State of the Region 2017” study found. Growth in per-capita income surged 13.6 percent between 2010 and 2015, well above the national average and trailing only Seattle, Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Private-sector job growth exceeds the national average. Industrial and office real estate vacancies are way down. Detroit leads the nation in mobility-related patents, and Ann Arbor registered more such patents than Boston and New York combined. Hardly the poster child of industrial decline, that.

The change in direction — in Washington and Detroit — comes as the industry is using a wave of profitability and record sales to place bets on an emerging mobility space that could radically reshape the auto industry, transform its underlying investment thesis, and shrink the perception gap separating it from the go-go world of Silicon Valley.

“Exciting times, positive times,” says Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist. “Not everybody’s going to agree with me, but we will see a lot of change.”

View the original article: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/columnists/daniel-howes/2017/01/26/howes-good-news-detroit-automakers-buoys-region/97067688/

Baruah: State of our region is robust

The Detroit News 

By Sandy Baruah

January 26, 2017

It is universally known and celebrated that the economic state of the Detroit region has made significant gains in recent years. Our region has gone through a lot, but we are regaining our rightful place as a world economic powerhouse.

But how much have we actually achieved, and where do we stand in comparison with our national competitors? These are the reasons why the Detroit Regional Chamber annually presents the State of the Region report — a data-driven analysis that offers a fact-based account of the progress of the 11-counties that comprise the Detroit Region.

Businesses, employees and families can all feel the positive momentum in the region and this year’s report offers plenty of data to celebrate. Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy, a governor who has led the state’s reinvention, effective business, civic and political leadership, and strong industry performance all set the stage for an even brighter future. Industries leading the way include mobility, health care, aerospace and defense, engineering and design, food and agriculture and others – a diverse mix.

It is no surprise that key economic indicators, such as per capita income, are on the rise. In fact, one-year per capita income growth ranks the Detroit Region third nationally. Also, median home values lead peer regions in both five-year and one-year growth rates. New data shows we lead our peer group in median home value growth between 2014 and 2015 at 10.7 percent.

The report also shows the region has added more than 200,000 jobs since 2010, with architecture and engineering as the fastest-growing occupations. The Detroit Region is now sixth among its peers in the Kauffman Innovation Index, charting startup activity — up five spots. The region is also number one in patent growth, with patents granted to regional innovators growing by 8 percent.

While there is much to celebrate, there remains areas for improvement. Educational attainment remains one of our most challenging hurdles. The needs of today’s, and tomorrow’s, workplace reside in the highly skilled arena. In order for our region, businesses and residents to successfully compete for these jobs, we need to be a highly skilled region. The data shows that while our region matches the national average when it comes to educational attainment, the region lags behind most all of our competing regions. To compete and win in the 21st century marketplace, we need to do better.

Transit is another area for improvement. The need for coordinated transit remains to spur and support population growth as well as to move our residents efficiently between home, work and play. Our transit entities handled approximately 42 million public transit rides last year, far short of our goal of 55 million rides.

It is appropriate to pause and take note of the progress Michigan and the Detroit Region made in recent years. Progress is a result of collaboration across the region and among government, civic and business leaders. But it is important to recognize that economic prosperity has not come to all in our region.

Much work remains to be done to ensure that prosperity reaches more families and that our strong above national average gains continue into the future. The reality of the 21st century global marketplace demands nothing less.

Sandy Baruah is president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber and chairman of the Governor’s 21st Century Economy Commission.

View the original article here: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2017/01/26/baruah-state-region-robust/97073462/

Chemical Financial Corporation Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results

Chemical Financial Corporation (“Corporation” or “Chemical”) (NASDAQ:CHFC) today announced 2016 fourth quarter net income of $47.2 million, or $0.66 per diluted share, compared to 2016 third quarter net income of $11.5 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, and 2015 fourth quarter net income of $25.5 million, or $0.66 per diluted share. For the year ended December 31, 2016, net income was $108.0 million, or $2.17 per diluted share, compared to net income for the year ended December 31, 2015 of $86.8 million, or $2.39 per diluted share.  The increase in net income in the fourth quarter, compared to both the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015, was driven significantly by the reduction in merger and transaction-related expenses (“transaction expenses”) from the completion of the Corporation’s merger with Talmer Bancorp, Inc. (“Talmer”) and the inclusion of Talmer operations for the full quarter compared to one month’s inclusion of operations in the third quarter of 2016 and no inclusion during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Excluding transaction expenses, net gain on the sale of branches and the change in fair value in loan servicing rights (“significant items”), net income for the fourth quarter of 2016 was $49.9 million, or $0.70 per diluted share, compared to $37.5 million, or $0.75 per diluted share, and $26.9 million, or $0.70 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015, respectively.(1)  Net income for the full year 2016, excluding significant items was $140.5 million, or $2.81 per diluted share, compared to $92.3 million, or $2.54 per diluted share for the full year 2015.(1)

During the fourth quarter of 2016, transaction expenses of $18.0 million were partially offset by $7.4 million of net gain on the sale of branches and a $6.4 million gain due to the change in fair value in loan servicing rights.  The third quarter of 2016 included the impact of $37.5 million of transaction expenses and a $1.3 million detriment to earnings due to the change in fair value in loan servicing rights, while the fourth quarter of 2015 included $2.1 million of transaction expenses.

“Our fourth quarter financial results reflect both a solid finish to a milestone year and a strong base from which Chemical Financial Corporation will move forward.  During the quarter, we completed the integration of Talmer Bank and Chemical Bank, our fourth successful integration over the past two years.  Continued stable economic conditions in our core markets facilitated significant organic loan growth during the quarter, and we believe we have an attractive pipeline as we look forward to 2017,” noted David B. Ramaker, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Corporation.  “Since year-end 2014, we have more than doubled our asset base and expanded our delivery network beyond Michigan into northeast Ohio and northern Indiana.  We have paired a targeted acquisition strategy with attractive organic growth across the Chemical franchise to achieve these results, never losing sight of our primary goal of meeting the financial service needs of the communities we serve and delivering strong results for our shareholders.”

The Corporation’s return on average assets was 1.09% during the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 0.37% in the third quarter of 2016 and 1.11% in the fourth quarter of 2015.  The Corporation’s return on average shareholders’ equity was 7.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 2.9% in the third quarter of 2016 and 10.2% in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Excluding significant items, the Corporation’s return on average assets was 1.16% during the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 1.22% in the third quarter of 2016 and 1.17% in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the Corporation’s return on average shareholders’ equity was 7.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 9.6% in the third quarter of 2016 and 10.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015.(2)

Net interest income was $132.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, $35.6 million, or 36.8%, higher than the third quarter of 2016 and $57.0 million, or 75.5%, higher than the fourth quarter of 2015.  The increase in net interest income in the fourth quarter of 2016 over the third quarter of 2016 was primarily attributable to loans acquired in the merger with Talmer, although also partially attributable to organic loan growth.  The increase in net interest income in the fourth quarter of 2016 over the fourth quarter of 2015 was attributable to the positive impact of 2016 organic loan growth and the impact of the merger with Talmer.  The Corporation experienced net organic loan growth of $275.0 million during the fourth quarter of 2016 and $837.2 million during the year ended December 31, 2016.  The merger with Talmer added $4.88 billion of loans on August 31, 2016.

The net interest margin was 3.48% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 3.49% in the third quarter of 2016 and 3.55% in the fourth quarter of 2015.  The net interest margin (on a tax-equivalent basis) was 3.56% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 3.58% in the third quarter of 2016 and 3.64% in the fourth quarter of 2015.(3)  The decrease in the net interest margin (on a tax-equivalent basis) in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the third quarter of 2016, was due primarily to an increase in FHLB borrowing costs, while the decrease in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, was largely due to an increase in cost of funds significantly due to debt obtained related to transactions. The average yield on the loan portfolio was 4.18% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 4.12% in the third quarter of 2016 and 4.16% in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Interest accretion from purchase accounting discounts on acquired loans contributed 14 basis points to the Corporation’s net interest margin (on a tax-equivalent basis) in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 11 basis points in the third quarter of 2016 and four basis points in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Interest accretion on acquired loans comprised 16 basis points of the yield on the Corporation’s loan portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 13 basis points in the third quarter of 2016 and five basis points in the fourth quarter of 2015.  The Corporation’s average cost of funds was 0.33% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 0.25% in both the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015.

Net interest income was $381.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, $107.1 million, or 39.1%, higher than 2015, with the increase attributable to a combination of organic loan growth and the impact of the merger with Talmer.  The average balance of loans outstanding during the year ended December 31, 2016 were up $2.71 billion compared to the prior year, with the increase driven by the $4.88 billion of loans added on August 31, 2016 from the merger with Talmer and the $837.2 million of organic loan growth during 2016.  The net interest margin was 3.51% in 2016 and 3.49% in 2015.  The net interest margin (on a tax equivalent basis) was 3.60% in 2016 and 3.58% in 2015.(3)

The provision for loan losses was $6.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $4.1 million in the third quarter of 2016 and $2.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.  The increase in the provision for loan losses in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to both the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015, was primarily due to organic growth in the loan portfolio.  The provision for loan losses was $14.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to $6.5 million in 2015, with the increase primarily due to organic growth in the loan portfolio.

Net loan charge-offs were $1.8 million, or 0.06% of average loans, in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $1.8 million, or 0.08% of average loans, in the third quarter of 2016 and $4.3 million, or 0.24% of average loans, in the fourth quarter of 2015. The decrease in net loan charge-offs in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, was partially attributable to a $1.6 million net loan charge-off from one commercial loan relationship occurring in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Net loan charge-offs totaled $9.9 million, or 0.11% of average loans, during the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to $8.9 million, or 0.13% of average loans, in 2015.

The Corporation’s nonperforming loans totaled $44.3 million at December 31, 2016, compared to $41.3 million at September 30, 2016 and $62.2 million at December 31, 2015.  Nonperforming loans comprised 0.34% of total loans at December 31, 2016, compared to 0.32% at September 30, 2016 and 0.86% at December 31, 2015. The reduction in nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans at December 31, 2016, compared to December 31, 2015, was due to the combined impact of overall improvements in credit quality within the Corporation’s loan portfolios and the addition of $4.88 billion of loans acquired in the Talmer merger that are all classified as performing as these acquired loans are recorded in pools at their net realizable value.

At December 31, 2016, the allowance for loan losses of the originated loan portfolio was $78.3 million, or 1.05% of originated loans, compared to $73.8 million, or 1.09% of originated loans, at September 30, 2016 and $73.3 million, or 1.26% of originated loans, at December 31, 2015.   The decrease in the allowance coverage as a percentage of originated loans at December 31, 2016, compared to December 31, 2015, was primarily due to an overall improvement in credit quality and a decline in net credit charge-offs.  The allowance for loan losses of the originated loan portfolio as a percentage of nonperforming loans was 176.5% at December 31, 2016, compared to 178.6% at September 30, 2016 and 117.8% at December 31, 2015.

Noninterest income was $54.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $27.8 million in the third quarter of 2016 and $20.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Noninterest income in the fourth quarter of 2016 was higher than the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015 primarily due to incremental revenue resulting from the merger with Talmer, in addition to a net gain on the sales of the Chicago, Illinois and Las Vegas, Nevada branches totaling $7.4 million and a $6.4 million benefit to earnings due to a change in fair value in loan servicing rights included within “mortgage banking revenue”.

Noninterest income was $122.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to $80.2 million in 2015.  The increase was primarily due to incremental revenue resulting from the merger with Talmer in August 2016 and the acquisitions of Lake Michigan Financial Corporation in May 2015 and Monarch Community Bancorp in April 2015.

Operating expenses were $114.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $106.1 million in the third quarter of 2016 and $57.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Operating expenses included transaction expenses of $18.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, $37.5 million in the third quarter of 2016 and $2.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.  Excluding transaction expenses, operating expenses were $96.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, $27.6 million, or 40.2%, higher than the third quarter of 2016 and $40.5 million, or 72.7%, higher than the fourth quarter of 2015. The increase in operating expenses, excluding transaction expenses, in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to both the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015, was due to the incremental expenses resulting from the merger with Talmer.

Operating expenses were $338.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared to $223.9 million in 2015.  Operating expenses included transaction expenses of $61.1 million in 2016 and $7.8 million in 2015. Excluding these transaction expenses, operating expenses were $277.3 million in 2016, an increase of $61.2 million, or 28.3%, over 2015, with the increase due primarily to incremental operating costs associated with the merger with Talmer.

The efficiency ratio is a measure of operating expenses as a percentage of net interest income and noninterest income.  The Corporation’s efficiency ratio was 61.2% in the fourth quarter of 2016, 85.2% in the third quarter of 2016 and 60.5% in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Corporation’s efficiency ratio was 67.2% for the year ended December 31, 2016 and 63.2% for 2015.  The Corporation’s adjusted efficiency ratio, which excludes transaction expenses, changes in fair value of the legacy Talmer loan servicing portfolio, amortization of intangibles and net gains on sales of branches, closed branch locations and investment securities, was 53.7% in the fourth quarter of 2016, 52.6% in the third quarter of 2016 and 55.8% in the fourth quarter of 2015.  The Corporation’s adjusted efficiency ratio was 54.4% for the year ended December 31, 2016 and 58.7% for 2015.(4)

Total assets were $17.36 billion at December 31, 2016, compared to $17.38 billion at September 30, 2016 and $9.18 billion at December 31, 2015.  The increase in total assets during the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 was primarily attributable to the merger with Talmer.  As of the merger date, Talmer added total assets of $7.71 billion, including total loans of $4.88 billion and goodwill of $846.7 million.

Total loans were $12.99 billion at December 31, 2016, up $275.0 million, or 2.2%, from total loans of $12.72 billion at September 30, 2016 and up $5.72 billion, or 78.7%, from total loans of $7.27 billion at December 31, 2015.  As of the merger date, the Corporation added $4.88 billion of loans as part of the merger with Talmer.  Loan growth of $275.0 million during the fourth quarter of 2016 resulted from the impact of $702.5 million growth in the originated loan portfolio, partially offset by a $427.5 million decrease in the acquired loan portfolios.  Loan growth, excluding the impact of the Talmer acquisition, of $837.2 million during the year ended December 31, 2016 resulted from the impact of $1.65 billion growth in the originated loan portfolio, partially offset by an $813.2 million decrease in the acquired loan portfolios.

Total deposits were $12.87 billion at December 31, 2016, compared to $13.27 billion at September 30, 2016 and $7.46 billion at December 31, 2015. As of the merger date, the Corporation added $5.29 billion of deposits as part of the merger with Talmer, including $403.2 million of brokered deposits.  During the fourth quarter of 2016, the Corporation reduced the balance of brokered deposits by $248.5 million.  The Corporation experienced net run-off in customer deposits of $402.4 million during the fourth quarter of 2016; however, the Corporation also experienced net organic growth in customer deposits of $317.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.

Securities sold under agreements to repurchase with customers were $343.0 million at December 31, 2016, compared to $326.8 million at September 30, 2016 and $297.2 million at December 31, 2015.  Short-term borrowings were $825.0 million at December 31, 2016, compared to $400.0 million at September 30, 2016 and $100.0 million at December 31, 2015 and consisted of short-term FHLB advances utilized by the Corporation to fund short-term liquidity needs.  Long-term borrowings were $597.8 million at December 31, 2016, compared to $676.6 million at September 30, 2016 and $242.4 million at December 31, 2015.  The increase in borrowings during the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 was primarily attributable to the merger with Talmer and the Corporation borrowing $125.0 million under a three-year credit facility to partially fund the cash portion of the merger consideration.

The Corporation’s shareholders’ equity to total assets ratio was 14.9% at December 31, 2016, compared to 14.7% at September 30, 2016 and 11.1% at December 31, 2015.  The Corporation’s tangible shareholders’ equity to assets ratio and total risk-based capital ratio were 8.8% and 11.5% (estimated), respectively, at December 31, 2016, compared to 8.7% and 11.1%, respectively, at September 30, 2016 and 8.1% and 11.8%, respectively, at December 31, 2015.(5)  The Corporation’s book value was $36.57 per share at December 31, 2016, compared to $36.37 per share at September 30, 2016 and $26.62 per share at December 31, 2015.  The Corporation’s tangible book value was $20.20 per share at December 31, 2016, compared to $19.99 per share at September 30, 2016 and $18.78 per share at December 31, 2015.(6)

(1) Net income, excluding significant items, and diluted earnings per share, excluding significant items, are non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to the section entitled “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release and to the financial tables entitled “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.

(2) Return on average assets, excluding significant items, and return on average shareholders’ equity, excluding significant items, are non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to the section entitled “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release and to the financial tables entitled “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.

(3) Net interest margin, on a tax equivalent basis, is a non-GAAP financial measure. Please refer to the section entitled “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release and to the financial tables entitled “Average Balances, Fully Tax Equivalent (FTE) Interest and Effective Yields and Rates” for a reconciliation of net interest income used to compute net interest margin on a tax equivalent basis to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.

(4) Adjusted efficiency ratio is a non-GAAP financial measure. Please refer to the section entitled “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release and to the financial tables entitled “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.

(5) Tangible equity to tangible assets ratio is a non-GAAP financial measure. Please refer to the section entitled “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release and to the financial tables entitled “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.

(6) Tangible book value per share is a non-GAAP financial measure. Please refer to the section entitled “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this press release and to the financial tables entitled “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.

Conference Call Details

Chemical Financial Corporation will host a conference call to discuss its fourth quarter and full year 2016 operating results on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 10:00 am ET.  Anyone interested may access the conference call on a live basis by dialing toll-free at 1-888-797-3007 and entering 879991 for the conference ID.  The call will also be broadcast live over the Internet hosted at Chemical Financial Corporation’s website at www.chemicalbank.com under the “Investor Info” section.  A copy of the slide-show presentation and an audio replay of the call will remain available on Chemical Financial Corporation’s website for at least 14 days.

About Chemical Financial Corporation

Chemical Financial Corporation is the largest banking company headquartered and operating branch offices in Michigan. The Corporation operates through its subsidiary bank, Chemical Bank, with 249 banking offices located in Michigan, northeast Ohio and northern Indiana. At December 31, 2016, the Corporation had total assets of $17.36 billion. Chemical Financial Corporation’s common stock trades on The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol CHFC and is one of the issuers comprising The NASDAQ Global Select Market and the S&P MidCap 400 Index. More information about the Corporation is available by visiting the “Investor Info” section of its website at www.chemicalbank.com.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

This press release contains references to financial measures which are not defined in generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). Such non-GAAP financial measures include the Corporation’s tangible equity to tangible assets ratio, tangible book value per share, presentation of net interest income and net interest margin on a fully taxable equivalent (FTE) basis, and information presented excluding significant items, including net income, diluted earnings per share, return on average assets, return on average shareholders’ equity, operating expenses and the efficiency ratio. These non-GAAP financial measures have been included as the Corporation believes they are helpful for investors to analyze and evaluate the Corporation’s financial condition. Reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure may be found in the financial tables included with this press release.

To solve metro Detroit’s problems, let’s look beyond economics

Detroit Free Press

By John Gallagher

January 25, 2017

Listening to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual State of the Region luncheon Wednesday, I got the feeling that the answers to Michigan’s major economic challenges lie outside the realm of, well, economics.

We already enjoy all the major underpinnings of a strong economy — rule of law, property rights, a sophisticated banking system, a world-class airport at Detroit Metro, great universities, and more. But we continue to lag behind in educational achievement, regional cooperation, race relations, and other areas that are mostly beyond the reach of our corporate and economic decision makers.

Yet it’s those very areas that will determine whether Michigan will soar to new heights of achievement or limp along as a Rust Belt survivor that ranks no better than average in economic growth and opportunity.

Education is one such lagging indicator for this region today. As Sandy Baruah, the Detroit Chamber’s president and CEO, noted Wednesday, about 38% of the Detroit region’s residents have earned an associate’s degree or higher. That’s about the national average, but it’s far below the attainment level in urban regions we would like to consider peers like Seattle and Minneapolis where the level hits 50% of the population.

“This is an area that we need to work on in this region,” Baruah told his audience at the luncheon at the Westin Book Cadillac. Noting that the jobs of today and tomorrow reside in a high-skilled arena, he added, “If we want to compete and live in a 21st-Century economy, we needs to have the skills.”

That need is all but universally acknowledged, noted Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, who spoke at the luncheon. But Detroit’s schools remain as beleaguered as ever, Rapson said, and every debate on school reform seems to revolve around governance issues — charters versus public schools, union versus non-union — rather than how to help the kids in the classroom.

Or to cite another area, we need big new investments in roads, bridges and other infrastructure. But those decisions lie more in the realm of politics than economics. How many more times can corporate and economic leaders say we need to fix the roads or promote public transportation before political leaders do something meaningful?

And race relations, while improved over the past half-century, can still flare into disputes that stoke resentments and stymie needed action.

Too often our economic debates, rather than dealing with fundamentals, tend to focus on things that might improve life at the margins, like new tax incentives for downtown projects or minor tweaks to tax rates.

Michigan and the Detroit region made an impressive comeback from the depths of the Great Recession. And the chamber’s annual report Wednesday revealed that we excel in many areas from the nation-leading number of patents granted innovators in this region to our rapid growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs. That’s all to the good.

But until we resolve to no longer leave behind tens of thousands of schoolkids, and put aside regional jealousies and feuds, and face up to the ugly role that racism still plays today, our state and region risk never being more than average.

View the original article here: http://www.freep.com/story/money/business/columnists/2017/01/25/detroit-chamber-baruah-kresge-rapson-education-schools-poverty-racism/97047788/