Monday, July 26, 2010

New chamber event focuses on the future of schools

Our public schools are facing ever-increasing challenges to providing outstanding services to their students and the greater communities they serve. School budgets are tighter than ever, and the situation is not likely to improve in the next few years given the state of Michigan's financial condition.

Both the Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills school districts long have been shining jewels of the greater community. The quality of the schools has helped keep property values robust (the last couple of years notwithstanding) and our children well prepared for college life and beyond.

But change is inevitable, and our public schools cannot sidestep the need to address the need for change in such a rapidly changing world. And strangling financial pressures are without question fueling that need to do things differently.

To help our business community and residents get a handle on what our public schools are facing, and where they are heading into this new school year and beyond, the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber is planning a new event, titled “Breakfast, Books and Buildings.” We've invited the superintendents of the two districts — David Larson from Birmingham and Robert Glass from Bloomfield Hills — to give a report card of sorts to the community and answer questions from their constituents.

We hope the event will stimulate conversation about the future of our public schools and provide an up front look at the myriad challenges those charged with operating our schools face in continuing to provide the best K-12 education available in the state of Michigan.

The title of our new event incorporates one issue sure to be on a lot of people's minds: the planned consolidation of Bloomfield Hills' two high schools. The issue has been discussed, debated and dissected for at least a decade, and is a very emotional issue for those living in the district. We suspect that Glass, who is embarking on his first school year as superintendent in Bloomfield Hills after replacing Steve Gaynor, will be asked at least a few questions about the proposal.
Another building issue confronts the Birmingham district, following a decision to sell off the administration building on Merrill Street in downtown Birmingham. The administration is reviewing options on where to house its central staff, and we hope Larson will be able to provide an update on the issue.

“Breakfast, Books & Buildings” is scheduled for 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25, at the Birmingham Conference Center. We invite both residents and the business community to come and learn more about their public schools and where they are headed in this era of uncertainty. To learn more about the event or to reserve a spot, visit the Chamber's website at

Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birmingham Day On The Town This Weekend

Birmingham's Big Day is near! On Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Birmingham will host the annual Day On the Town sale. Birmingham stores will come out big with discounted merchandise right in the street and in their stores. It's a great time to find incredible deals on the fine merchandise that Birmingham has to offer, while supporting our local businesses.

In addition to the deals, there is entertainment and activities for the whole family.
There will be a kids bike parade at 8:30 a.m. starting at the center stage at Maple and Old Woodward, with prizes for kids who decorate their bikes. There will be live entertainment, and demonstrations at the center stage throughout the day, special performances by the Motor City Brass band and the Straw Hat band, a kids craft area, and free parking all day.

We will welcome several new stores to the event including Backcountry North and Scandia Down. Several stores will come into the downtown for the one-day event including Batteries Plus, Moosejaw, Don Thomas Sporthaus, the Great Frame Up, Root and Sprout, Fred Lavery Inc. with some awesome autos on display, and Birmingham Design Center.

This year, Day On the Town welcomes the Green Breeze Green Living Fair, hosted by The Community House. This one-day expo will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during Day On the Town, and will feature 100 displays from individuals, organizations and companies that can help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Ford Motor Company will have a display at the event, showing off their line of hybrids and fuel savers.
Remember: Everyone who attends Day On the Town will be supporting local businesses. Dollars spent with local businesses, even Birmingham-based national stores, go much farther to support our Michigan and Birmingham economy.

John Heiney is executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District.

Monday, July 12, 2010

County parks deserve support

Oakland County — and the greater Birmingham-Bloomfield community in particular — is a terrific place to live, work, play and raise a family. The area is blessed with vibrant communities, outstanding public and private schools, and passionate residents who care deeply about their hometowns.

One of Oakland County's greatest assets is its parks system. The Oakland County Parks started welcoming guests in 1966 and currently serves 1.5 million visitors annually. The 13 Oakland County Parks include 68 miles of trails, day-use parks, campgrounds, nature centers, waterparks and golf courses.

Every single Oakland County resident benefits from the outstanding parks system, whether they use them or not. The parks contribute greatly to the area's quality of life, which keeps it an attractive place for existing and new residents alike. And, similar to the quality of the area public and private schools, the parks have a direct impact on property values.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3, Oakland County voters will decide on a 10-year millage renewal proposal for Oakland County Parks and Recreation. The parks and recreation millage is not a new tax and residents have approved the renewal each time it has been on the ballot. The majority of county residents will pay less than $25 a year if the tax is renewed.

To read more, view the article at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taking the sting out of the need for change

Taking the sting out of the need for change

Sometimes circumstances dictate that we must leave our comfort zones and stop doing things the way we always have.

We definitely are creatures of habit and there is security in doing things the same way year after year after year. Change almost always brings a certain level of discomfort, if not outright pain. But to not change when circumstances demand that change can bring much greater pain to both individuals and businesses.

In the past two years, we have heard from many of our members that they need more direct assistance from the Chamber in trying to attract new business and keep their existing client base. The Chamber responded with a new marketing initiative that places our members at the center of those efforts. We also have worked hard through our Small Business Conference and Forecast Series to bring top-notch speakers together with members to help them assess their business operations and plan for the future. And we have increased the number of networking opportunities at member coffees and business after hours social events.

Fast-forward to 2010, and at least for some segments of the economy, things are starting to look up at least a little bit. We have been encouraged by the number of new businesses joining the chamber, and the talk is finally starting to change ever so slightly from “how do we stay in business” to “what do we need to do to grow our business.”

Building on this optimism, the Chamber has decided to bring back to golf outing, albeit in a slightly different way and format. Working with the Birmingham Country Club, we have fashioned a great event at a significantly reduced cost which should help our members conserve their marketing budgets while receiving an outstanding value.

This year's outing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 16. One new wrinkle that golfers should appreciate is the ability to play a true round of golf instead of being forced into a scramble format. By limiting the number of participants, we can give our members and their guests more golfing choices. Want to play the course in its purest form? Play your own ball. Want to take advantage of your team's best long-ball hitter? Play your best drive. Want to play in a scramble format? Have at it.
Details on the golf outing and online registration can be found at the chamber website

We hope to see many of our old friends and new members alike share in this great opportunity. Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at