Howes: Michigan’s automakers compete for self-driving lead

March 22, 2019

The Detroit News

Daniel Howes


“Rooted in a century of design engineering and manufacturing expertise, Michigan is leading the automotive industry’s evolution from traditional manufacturer to the research, testing, and deployment of next-generation mobility technology,” says a report to be released Tuesday by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto unit.

“From key public-private partnerships to being nationally competitive in mobility-related patents, Michigan is the place for testing and deployment of connected, automated, and electric vehicles. Within the next 30 years, fully autonomous vehicles will be commonplace on roadways across the United States.”

Michigan is ranked No. 1 in connected vehicle projects funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Business annually funds $12 billion in automotive research and development across the state. Michigan-based auto plants last year assembled 17 percent of all the vehicles built in the United States. More than 500 miles of roadway are ready for testing connected vehicles.

The trends are likely to accelerate, quickly, as automakers and major suppliers amp spending on electrification. Over the next decade, says Jim Tobin, chief marketing officer of Magna International Inc., automakers and suppliers are expected to invest $300 billion on electrification, up from just $90 billion a year ago.

“There’s still a lot of unknowns,” he said in an interview in advance of MICHauto’s annual meeting Tuesday, adding that when the technology will “hit mainstream” in the U.S. market ranks among the biggest uncertainties. “The China market by far will be the biggest consumer of battery-electric vehicles near-term.”

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John Kasich set to deliver keynote address at Mackinac conference

March 21, 2019

The Detroit News

Beth LeBlanc 

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican critic of President Donald Trump, is set to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference and talk about the “current national political climate,” the Detroit Regional Chamber said Thursday.

The chamber-sponsored conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island has been promoting the theme of “restoring civility in American politics” during the past few years.

Trump, who is scheduled to hold a campaign rally next Thursday in Grand Rapids, is known for his brashness and attacks on political opponents.

Kasich is scheduled to speak May 30 at the annual Mackinac conference, which is traditionally attended by business professionals, Michigan and national lawmakers, as well as entrepreneurs during the last week of May.

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Firm Elects Executive Committee Members for 2019

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. –The law firm of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC has elected officers to serve on its executive committee for 2019. The officers are: Michael D. Sanders, Julie I. Fershtman, Todd W. Hoppe, Douglas A. Mielock, Anne M. Seurynck and Brent A. Titus.

Sanders has been re-elected as the firm’s president and as such, will head the Executive Committee. He devotes his law practice to the defense of employers, third party administrators and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation matters.

Fershtman is the vice president of the firm’s Southeast Michigan offices. She focuses her practice in business litigation, insurance coverage, insurance defense and is considered one of the nation’s leading practitioners in equine law.

Hoppe will serve as the firm’s treasurer. He practices from the firm’s Grand Rapids office, helping clients with business organization and planning, transactions, succession planning and estate planning.

Mielock will continue to serve as the firm’s secretary. He is a member of the Trusts and Estates practice group and focuses his practice primarily in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate litigation, estate administration and marital agreements.

Seurynck has been re-elected to serve as the vice president of the firm’s West Michigan offices. Among her practice areas are municipal and public entity, library law, school law services and municipal litigation.

Titus will continue to serve as the firm’s vice president of the Lansing office. Titus focuses primarily on real estate with an emphasis on commercial real estate transactions, landlord-tenant conflicts, real estate finance and environmental law.

Walsh Launches Success Stories Radio Ad Campaign

TROY, Mich., March 13, 2019 — Walsh has partnered with the Detroit Radio Advertising Group to launch a storytelling campaign featuring narratives about notable alumni, leadership, and important figures in the school’s history, such as founder Mervyn Walsh. The campaign concept was developed and executed by The Yaffe Group of Southfield, MI.

“Walsh alumni represent some of the best and brightest in the world,” said Patti Swanson, Vice President, Chief Marketing and Enrollment Officer. “We are proud of their successes and thrilled to share their stories in a way that honors their accomplishments.”

The 15 and 30-second spots can be heard on several AM and FM stations throughout metro Detroit and Ann Arbor through the first week of April.

For information about Walsh programs, visit


Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of the region’s largest business schools and Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, offering classes in several locations as well as online. Our nationally ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (

Butzel Long attorney Ivonne M. Soler featured during seminar on Women’s Empowerment in Detroit

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney Ivonne M. Soler was a featured speaker during a seminar presented by the Mexican Consulate in Detroit on March 4, 2019
at Wayne State University. The seminar focused on Women’s Empowerment. Soler discussed the use of the law as a tool for the empowerment of women.

Based in Butzel Long’s Detroit office, Soler concentrates her practice in the areas of family law litigation and commercial litigation. She represents clients with family and domestic relations issues, including divorce, property division, spousal support, child support, child custody and parenting time, change of domicile, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, post-judgment enforcement, adoption and assisted reproduction (family building) issues. She also represents clients in general matters pertaining to business and commercial litigation, including breach of contract actions and non-compete, trade secrets, and unfair competition disputes.

Soler is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 2013) and Wayne State University (B.A., cum laude, 2006). While in law school, Soler served as the Associate Director of the Moot Court Board of Advocates, the President of Conexiones: The UDM Hispanic Law Society, and a member of the Dean’s Honor Society. She also enjoyed many honors while in law school, including book awards for the highest grade in Legal Writing and Trial Practice. She also was the winner of the 2012 Patrick A. Keenan Memorial Appellate Advocacy Tournament.

A native of Puerto Rico and fluent in Spanish, Soler is actively involved with the Hispanic Bar Association (HBAM) and the Women’s Lawyer’s Association of Michigan (WLAM). Notably, Soler serves on the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan. She was appointed by former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading 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 and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter @butzel_long or :

Dickinson Wright Prevails in Patent Litigation Trial on Behalf of Hitkansut LLC

TROY, Mich., March 21, 2019 – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Attorneys John S. Artz, John A. Artz, and Franklin M. Smith have prevailed on behalf of Hitkansut LLC and Acceledyne Technologies, Ltd. LLC (collectively, “Hitkansut”) in a patent infringement case against Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a research laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. On Friday, March 15, 2019, Federal Claims Judge Charles F. Lettow released a 30-page opinion granting Hitkansut’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs.

“We are pleased with Judge Lettow’s rulings in this case in favor of our client, Hitkansut LLC,” said John S. Artz, Member and Chair of Dickinson Wright’s Intellectual Property Litigation Practice Group. “This case makes clear that while the Government may take a person’s patent, the manner in which the Government takes the patent of a small company can affect the amount of compensation owed for the taking. We are happy that we were able to provide the necessary tools in the successful pursuit of our client’s claims of patent infringement against the U.S. government.”

Hitkansut’s founder, Ms. Donna M. Walker, invented and patented a materials processing method that provides unexpected benefits including significant energy savings, accelerated material processing efficiencies, and the ability to create new materials. In an effort to commercialize this novel method, Hitkansut disclosed it to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) under a Non-Disclosure Agreement. ORNL took Ms. Walker’s novel method, used it for its own benefit, including filing multiple patent applications and then won a prestigious industry research award. Hitkansut then filed suit against the U.S. Government in the Court of Federal Claims.

Dickinson Wright secured a favorable interpretation of the patent claims at issue and successfully defended against the Government’s challenges that the Hitkansut patent does not constitute patentable subject matter or is otherwise invalid. Over the course of a two-week trial, Dickinson Wright presented substantial evidence of ORNL’s infringement of Hitkansut’s patent, in addition to rebutting ORNL’s patent invalidity positions. On January 27, 2017, Judge Lettow issued an opinion finding that Hitkansut’s patent claims are valid, that the U.S. Government infringed all asserted claims, and provided an award of damages. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the court’s finding that Hitkansut’s patent is both valid and infringed. After preserving the court’s findings of infringement and validity on appeal, Hitkansut sought its attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the protracted litigation against the government. After briefing and oral argument, the Court granted the vast majority of Hitkansut’s requested fees and costs.

According to Judge Lettow’s opinion, the “significant” fee award was justified after the lengthy, hard-fought case, and noted, “Hitkansut’s claim, however, was vigorously contested by the government, involved highly technical subject matter, spanned six years and proceeded through a lengthy appeal. Hitkansut also faced an opponent with vast resources whose calculus regarding settlement and the value of precedent differs from that of a private litigant.”

To read Judge Lettow’s full opinion, please click here.

Dickinson Wright’s Patent Litigation team handles domestic and international disputes involving patent infringement, validity, enforceability and ownership. Many of our patent litigators are registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and have technical degrees in areas such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, and aerospace engineering – giving us in-depth insight into our client’s highly technical issues. We provide a team approach that is successful, efficient, and economical. To learn more about our Patent Litigation practice, please click here.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville and Music Row, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management controls and security processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

Mercantile Bank of Michigan is Pleased to Announce Staff Appointment

Mercantile Bank of Michigan
310 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Contact: Monica Kreiger


Troy, MI. Monday, March 18, 2019 – Mercantile Bank of Michigan is pleased to announce an addition to its Troy Commercial Lending team with the appointment of Peter Kelly as Senior Vice President, Commercial Lender.

In this new role, Mr. Kelly will focus on strengthening Mercantile’s relationship with privately held businesses operating in Southeastern Michigan.  With 25 years of banking and commercial finance experience with middle market companies, his focus will be on Business and Commercial Real Estate lending relationships. Mr. Kelly also serves as a member of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber as well as a Catholic Youth Organization football coach at Divine Child.  He resides in Dearborn with his wife and 3 children.

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mercantile Bank of Michigan provides banking services to businesses, individuals and governmental units, and differentiates itself on the basis of service quality and the expertise of its banking staff.  Mercantile has assets of approximately $3.5 billion and operates 47 banking offices.

Rehmann’s Katie Strehler Named One of Crain’s 2019 Notable Women in HR

TROY, Mich., March 21, 2019 – Crain’s Detroit Business named Rehmann Chief Human Resources Officer Katie Strehler one of the 2019 Notable Women in Human Resources. The award is part of the Crain’s Notable Women in Michigan series, which features distinguished professional women nominated by peers at work and features women who also mentor, teach and volunteer in their communities.

At Rehman, Strehler has managed all key human resources strategies and initiatives resulting in increased associate engagement, job satisfaction and loyalty to the firm. Her strategy, which directly links associate feedback to organizational goals, has led to higher levels of associate engagement for the past five consecutive years. Along with that, she has effectively supported the human resources transition strategy through 14 mergers and acquisitions.

“Katie is a true trailblazer at Rehmann, leading by example while guiding the Rehmann team toward our vision of being the firm of choice for associates,” said Stacie Kwaiser, chief operating officer at Rehmann, who nominated Strehler. “Katie is passionate about the Rehmann culture and creating an environment that attracts, develops and retains the next generation of leaders for our firm.”

Having joined Rehmann in 2011, Strehler was promoted to chief human resources officer in 2013. In her time at Rehmann, Strehler has positioned the human resource team to be fully engaged in all aspects of the firm. She is passionate about the development, growth and success of all leaders and associates across the organization – and is quick to point out that any personal success she has achieved is a direct result of the efforts of the entire team.

“In addition to having a strategic vision for our culture, Katie is a trusted advisor to the Rehmann team through her approachable and transparent style,” said Kwaiser.
Strehler earned her bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and her master’s degree from Wayne State University. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Detroit and national chapters. Previously, Strehler served on the board for the Detroit chapter of the Association for Talent Development. She is also an active member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and St. Peter Lutheran Macomb.

About Rehmann

Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services firm of CPAs & consultants, wealth advisors and corporate investigators dedicated to providing clients proactive ideas and solutions to help them prosper professionally and personally. Additionally, through a unique combination with Trivalent Group®, a top 100 managed IT service provider, we have expanded our technology capabilities and launched a managed IT solutions practice. Rehmann has nearly 900 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at

Contact: Holly Shier

Multi-million-dollar Michigan computer system continues to fail abused, neglected kids

March 19, 2019

Michigan Advance 

Derek Robertson 


Speaking after a Detroit Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer described an “incredibly frustrating” state of affairs, citing the unwelcome “carry over from the last administration [of Gov. Rick Snyder].”

“We are going to fix it,” Whitmer said. “I am confident [new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director] Robert Gordon is the man to do it. It’s incredibly frustrating for taxpayers, for me. But most importantly, very worrisome for kids who need protection the most.”

The Associated Press noted that roughly 10 percent of those children “experienced repeated incidents of abuse or neglect” in 2017, according to experts who reported this month to Eastern District Judge Nancy Edmunds as part of an ongoing, decade-plus oversight program that has cost the state $27 million.

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Boy Scouts program aims to help young people, businesses

March 19, 2019 

C&G Newspapers

Brendan Losinski 


The Impact Breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 27, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch, 1600 E. Warren Ave. Presentations will take place during the meal to demonstrate how taking part in the Explorer program is good for kids, and good for the participating businesses.

“I think what the breakfast will do is explain the value and impact we are trying to do. It’s to explain why this mission is so important,” said Jackson. “We are creating a pipeline for youth with early career exposure. This saves (businesses) the time from finding the youth and helps form a prepared and willing workforce for their industry. It sets them on the path and gives them the resources to expand into that industry.”

“We’re specifically looking for people … for starting young career programs for youth,” added Brice. “We are hoping people will want to expand their opportunities to utilize their company or group to form an Explorer Post for young people.”

Several speakers will take part in the event and discuss the state of employment in the metro Detroit area and how the Explorer program could help.

“We have an opportunity to have a panel breakfast where we will have conversation about the future of Detroit’s workforces,” said Brice. “Sandy Baruah, the president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber; Rory Gamble, the vice president of the United Auto Workers; Portia Roberson, the president and CEO of Focus: HOPE; and Nikolai Vitti, the Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, are there to have a one-hour conversation about how to prepare the future workforce, what the challenges are and what we can do to meet those challenges.”

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