Advancing Macomb annual meeting highlights MCC, Eastside Out

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 27, 2017

 On Nov. 16, Macomb Community College President Jim Sawyer speaks at the Advancing Macomb annual meeting at the South Campus of Macomb Community College in Warren.

On Nov. 16, Macomb Community College President Jim Sawyer speaks at the Advancing Macomb annual meeting at the South Campus of Macomb Community College in Warren.

Photo by Deb Jacques


WARREN — The Nov. 16 Advancing Macomb annual breakfast meeting at the South Campus of Macomb Community College gave those in attendance the chance to catch up with each other and learn more about what the college provides.

The gathering also offered the opportunity for Advancing Macomb to share updates of what the organization has accomplished in the past year and to present its new initiative: Eastside Out.

Advancing Macomb is a business and community leadership group that represents 20 leading employers and the three principal business organizations of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce. Focused on community and economic development initiatives, Advancing Macomb encompasses approximately 900,000 residents and 18,000 businesses, and the organization is committed to enhancing local communities through a unified civic leadership voice throughout the Detroit region.

The annual meeting opened with breakfast and a welcome from Advancing Macomb Chair David Girodat. Macomb Community College President Jim Sawyer served as keynote speaker, sharing information about the college.

“Our focus is squarely on the students. We get students that come to us with various levels of preparation,” Sawyer said. “Students come to the college for many different reasons.”

That includes earning an associate degree, moving on to a four-year college or attending classes for personal enrichment.

Sawyer presented information on a number of programs that college officials have developed to assist students. One such program is SOS, for students who are struggling with basic expenses — including food, rent, utilities, child care and health care — while in school. Financial problems can make it difficult to get to class or concentrate on school work, and the SOS program connects students with community resources and public benefits to help with nonacademic costs while taking classes at MCC.

Another program is the Reading and Writing Studios, which is designed to assist students to gain, improve and demonstrate academic and professional literacies expected of college students and graduates. Appointments are offered on campus and online, including one-on-one, group sessions, workshops and class visits upon request.

Advancing Macomb Executive Director Melissa Roy highlighted some of the events of the past year, including the organization’s first-ever countywide bike drive, in which 670 bikes were given away with the help of many local businesses.

During Roy’s presentation, Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins and Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor received a $69,000 check from Mark Stiers, and Dave Stiers of DTE Energy. Funds will be used to rebuild the area of Utica Road and Gratiot Avenue into a pedestrian-friendly community, according to organizers at the breakfast.

Toward the end of the meeting, Cam Walters, director of content at the digital marketing agency Hunch Free, and Jordan Dorley, a a designer with Hunch Free, gave a presentation on Eastside Out. Hunch Free is based in Mount Clemens.

“We wanted to use ‘eastside,’ because we’re eastsiders,” Walters said. “That’s an identity. That is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”

Eastside Out — — is a place in which Macomb County residents and families can visit to find out about activities in which to participate throughout the county, such as bike and hiking paths and waterways. There is information on the Macomb Orchard Trail, Heritage Park, MCC, Stony Creek and Mount Clemens.

“They’re fun, low-cost, basically all-day activities,” Walters said. “On the pages, we will have reviews on what those experiences are.”

Those reviews will be written by residents who use the website to discuss the paths or waterways they have tried out. also is designed to encourage economic growth such as dining and shopping, and to promote social interaction between residents via the website.

“We want to populate these pages with content,” Dorley said. “We want this to be a community pride initiative.”

Walters and Dorley said they created the website so it’s easy to search.

For more information on Advancing Macomb,