Face mask and social distancing signs surround the entrance of the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights.

Face mask and social distancing signs surround the entrance of the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Alchemist Ventures aims to transform business at Velocity

Podcast studio, co-working spaces among offerings

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 27, 2021

 Patrick Wearn, the founder and CEO of Alchemist Ventures, works in his office. His company acquired the entrepreneurial services contract for Velocity in 2020.

Patrick Wearn, the founder and CEO of Alchemist Ventures, works in his office. His company acquired the entrepreneurial services contract for Velocity in 2020.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The year 2020 was a game changer for businesses, as well as how work gets done in America.

And it also signified a year of change for Sterling Heights’ Velocity Center, a collaboration center that assists rising companies and bills itself on its website as Macomb County’s “premier technological technology hub.”

Velocity, which is located along 18 Mile Road, between Mound Road and Van Dyke Avenue, is now “powered by” Alchemist Ventures LLC. The company’s founder and CEO, Patrick Wearn, said the company recently won the entrepreneurial services contract for the Velocity Center, adding that it’s good for at least one year.

Wearn said he has been involved with Velocity’s events and programs for many years, such as what is now the Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center. Although Oakland University has overseen Velocity’s programming in past years, Wearn said a fresh opportunity presented itself last year: the city put out a competitive bid for the Velocity Center’s entrepreneurial support contract.

Multiple organizations placed bids, Wearn said.

“It was a pretty intense competition,” he said. “We found ourself head to head with Oakland University. ... When it came down to it, I think we did a great job articulating our passion and our desire to help small, medium and large businesses and entrepreneurs achieve their goals.”

Alchemist Ventures ended up getting the contract, and Wearn said he “picked up the ball” from OU in November. As such, Wearn’s aim is to connect investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders in mentorship arrangements with promising university students so they can collaborate and innovate. The group hopes to hold more events that connect members of the community, government, business and academic worlds.

Wearn said the Velocity Center currently is helping multiple small businesses in their quest to grow.

“It’s been definitely high paced the last couple of months, but it’s not a bad thing,” he said. “We’re really focusing this first year on delivering what we’re calling critical programming and really just making the infrastructure improvements to Velocity to bring it more with the times.”

Wearn said that even now, the facility has multiple conference rooms, phone call areas and workspaces, including a co-working space that he said allows 12 people to work safely in a socially distanced way. There is also a podcast studio, he added.

New building improvements include fresh paint and digital signage. When it gets warmer outside, Velocity could get new outdoor improvements, such as an area where visitors could watch films or view tech seminars, Wearn explained.

Other Velocity proposals, he said, could include an educational platform that will encompass programs such as apprenticeships, as well as weekend coding and cybersecurity classes for K-6 students. He also hopes to bring an e-gaming league to the center, especially once the COVID-19 vaccines gets rolled out.

Wearn said he hopes Velocity can help not only Sterling Heights businesses, but also ones in metro Detroit, southeastern Michigan and even the Midwest. He said their Manufacturers Engage event will be happening in a virtual format in late February. That event will be held in partnership with the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Stacy Ziarko, the president and CEO of the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce, said she is excited about Alchemist Ventures and the changes taking place.

“They’ve got lots of ideas with the Velocity Center,” she said. “They’ve got a track record of success, and I think it’s a great new venture for them, and I look forward to seeing what they do to help our small businesses grow.”

The Velocity Center is located at 6633 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights. Learn more by visiting www.velocity-center.com. Find out more about the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce by visiting www.shrcci.com.

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