In brief



Michigan receives $10 million to integrate primary and behavioral health

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently received up to $10 million in grant funds from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to promote integration of primary and behavioral healthcare. The program will improve access to and quality of care to Michiganders by strengthening the coordination of physical health, mental health and substance use disorder services.

The funds, up to $2 million annually for the next five years, will be used to implement the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care program. The program’s goals are to:

Promote full integration and collaboration in clinical practice between primary and behavioral healthcare.

Support the improvement of integrated care models for primary care and behavioral health care to improve the overall wellness and physical health status of adults with a serious mental illness or children with a serious emotional disturbance.

Promote and offer integrated care services related to screening, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental and substance use disorders, and co-occurring physical health conditions and chronic diseases.

More information about the program is available on the SAMHSA website. – G.G.

U-M helps UP firm grow sales

STATEWIDE – Neuvokas Corp., a manufacturer in Ahmeek, Mich., a village with a population of about 200 in the Upper Peninsula, could have been among the more than half of manufacturing startups that fail in Michigan.

But with its forward-looking leadership and the support of the Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan, its sales increased from less than $5,000 to more than $1 million in five years.

Neuvokas went into business in 2013. It had a needed and innovative product to sell in Gatorbar, a fiber-reinforced polymer rebar used to strengthen concrete in buildings, roads and bridges, but its small staff and lack of industry connections kept it from taking a bigger bite out of the road-building market. And as a fledgling business, it needed more marketing expertise and business strategy to really build upon its technical and production capabilities—standard expertise for large companies with more resources.

After connecting with the Small Business Development Corporation, Neuvokas was able to tap into a grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. More than half of all new manufacturing startups fail. The goal of all parties involved was to help Neuvokas beat the odds by heading off the risks that come with being a small startup.

The state grants supported a business development plan designed at U-M’s Economic Growth Institute in partnership with Neuvokas, one of 100-plus small businesses that have worked and are working with EGI’s First Customer Program.

The First Customer Program identifies and addresses critical gaps in business development, marketing and sales in advanced technology companies, and it’s one of several programs that target and support various industries in the state in cities such as Ann Arbor, metro Detroit, Grand Rapids, Houghton, Hancock and Newaygo.

In a year, Neuvokas has grown from a staff of 10 to 23 and is building a new production facility to open next year. The company now has enough orders to run a 24-hour, 7-days a week operation. Sales of Gatobar, a non-corrosive rebar that is seven times lighter and two times stronger than steel and can extend the lifetime of a roadbed from five to 20 years, increased from $4,400 to $1 million in five years. By year’s end sales are projected to reach $4 million. – G.G.


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