Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The ninth season of the Birmingham Farmers Market is set to kick off in just one week and we're anticipating another successful, fun season. Last year, the market enjoyed its most successful season to date, with measurable growth in both vendors and attendance. We welcomed a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in vendors, and watched the average weekly attendance jump from 1,700 to 2,000.

On two Sundays, we broke records with an astonishing 3,000 in attendance! One thing is clear: The Birmingham community has shown support and appreciation for the abundance of fresh, healthy produce offered at the market, and we're excited to bring it all back next weekend.

Mark your calendar now for special events planned for our 2011 Birmingham Farmers Market season: Health & Fitness Event — June 26; Corn Festival — Aug. 7; Harvest Festival (previously Hay Day) — Sept. 18, and the End of Season Celebration — Oct. 23.

You'll see new faces and products at the market this year, as we've already signed on 10 new vendors to date. Join us for our Opening Day next Sunday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in public Parking Lot 6 on the east side of North Old Woodward (across from Salvatore Scallopini Restaurant and Booth Park). You'll find rhubarb, fresh parsnips, lettuce, spinach, green onions, cabbage, beets, radishes, beautiful flowers (hanging baskets, flats and potted arrangements just in time for Mother's Day), and a variety of herbs. The market will run every Sunday, May 1, through Oct. 23. Click here to read more. John Heiney is executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Government Forecast features larger-than-life personalities

I received some interesting feedback regarding my recent observation that most politicians I have met over the years have been hard working, passionate public servants.

Some folks thought, and I’m being kind, that perhaps I was a bit too glowing in my characterization. I invite my skeptics to join me for lunch this Thursday, April 21, to meet and get to know two individuals who are fine representatives of what a public servant should be when the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber hosts its Government Forecast at the Townsend Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

Our featured speakers are L. Brooks Patterson, who has served Oakland County first as a prosecutor and then county executive for the majority of his adult life; and Philip Power, who used his ownership of a group of local newspapers as a powerful public service tool before harnessing his passion and capital to launch The Center for Michigan, a nonpartisan “think and do tank” that is reshaping how the public perceives and participates in the governmental process.

Both Patterson and Power are dynamic individuals who never would be mistaken for wall flowers. In fact, my only concern about Thursday’s program is whether the stage is big enough for both of them.

The program is sure to be chock-full of important and relevant information for our local business leaders whose businesses are greatly impacted by decisions made in Pontiac and Lansing. To find out more about the Government Forecast or to reserve your seat, please visit the Chamber’s Web site at www.bbcc.com I hope to see you there.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I’m with the government and I’m here to help – really!

People love to complain about their government leaders to the point that being identified as a “politician” is akin to, well, fill in the blank.

But my experience has been that, with few exceptions, our elected officials and the staffs of the various governmental units are committed to improving our quality of life and are decent, hard working public servants.

I believe this is also true in the business world. Sometimes, it simply is a matter of getting that message out or knowing where to look for the help.

To help the local business community take advantage of these opportunities, the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber is using the next installment of our Investepreneur™ Roundtable series to focus on government grants, loans and other services being offered by government agencies at the county, state and federal levels. The session, scheduled for May 24, is aimed at finding crucial support for both start-up businesses and those looking to “graduate” to the second stage of their development.

Panelists include Genevieve Hayes, manager of the business development unit for the state of Michigan’s Department of Technology Management and Budget; and Mary Langhauser, supervisor of Oakland County’s department of Economic Development and Community Affairs. Both of our speakers have generously donated their time to educate our local business leaders on the myriad ways our county, state and federal governments are eager to help assist the entrepreneurial spirit that is becoming a powerful force in our region’s economy. Go to www.bbcc.com for more details.
Joe Bauman is the President of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at joeb@bbcc.com