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Painted public pianos provide "Keys in the Cities" to passersby

Everyone loves the piano.
 
Larry Grudt wants to share that love by bringing painted pianos to public spaces.
 
Beginning May 30, about a dozen artfully-painted pianos will premiere in outdoor spaces around East Lansing and Lansing through "Keys in the Cities"—a program spearheaded by Grudt and a committee of five. The outdoor pianos, Grudt says, are for anyone who wants to pull up the bench and play, and are intended to create an engaging street atmosphere for passersby.
 
"Pianos are a strong draw for people," says Grudt. "And painted pianos are so inviting. No one who sees one ever questions if they're good enough. They just sit down and play."
 
"Keys in the Cities" will feature uprights and spinets painted by local artists and community groups in outdoor locations from May through Halloween. Grudt says artists have brought a diverse array of colorful works to their "canvases," with many reflecting landmarks in Lansing and East Lansing.
 
Grudt got the idea for "Keys in the Cities" from a similar program in Fort Collins, Colo. Posts of painted pianos he had seen online and at ArtPrize also captured his imagination.
 
Two Men and a Truck donated moving services for all pianos, and will store the pianos over the winter months. Grudt says the average life expectancy of the outdoor pianos is one to three years, with artwork weathering before the instrument.
 
All pianos are sourced from private donations, while sponsors and individual donations cover artist stipends, liability insurance, paint and materials, and tarps for pianos and benches. The estimated cost for the program's inaugural year is around $15,000. Contributions are welcome the current and upcoming years.
 
"For me, the program is about what it does for individuals and people passing by," Grudt says. "When you see a piano, it affects how you perceive a location. You don't even have to hear the music to feel a deeper relationship with your community."
 
Lansing piano installations include the Lansing Art Gallery by Brendan Romero Martin, Midtown Brewing Co. by Elisa Schmidt, REO Town by Marissa Thaler, REO Town Pub by Alison Alfredson, South Lansing by Broad Art Museum and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Community Development Association and Farmers Market, Turner Mini Park by Debbie Fehrenbach, and Sparrow Hospital by Tiffany Klein. Pianos in East Lansing include the "no name park" at Abbot and Albert by Broad Art Museum and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Fountain Plaza by Jennifer Medler, the Bailey Street Plaza 500 block by Joy Schroeder, and the Wharton Center by Liz Wylegala.
 
Grudt says the group is also seeking funds for piano installations at the Old Town General Store and the Lansing Mall.
 
Source: Larry Grudt, Program Director, Keys in the Cities
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Three communities receive public art grants for placemaking vision

Lansing will do a mural on the side of a building overlooking the Nuthouse restaurant. Grand Ledge will do a sculpture on the river and in view of the city's opera house. St. Johns will make a new sculpture part of the city's upcoming Splash Park.
 
They're all new works of art that are joining the growing roster of public art pieces popping up around Greater Lansing. And they're funded through $10,000 grants awarded through the Lansing Economic Area Partnership's Public Art for Communities program. All three should be finished by November.
 
"We're hoping we continue to see new communities come to the table for these grants in future years," says Sara Parkinson, director of talent and communications for LEAP. "We're ready to help any community create a public art program to help recruit the world class talent the Lansing region deserves."
 
Since it's inception in 2012, the LEAP program has awarded 11 grants to mid-Michigan communities. Past recipients include the cities of Mason, East Lansing, St. Johns and DeWitt, as well as the townships of Meridian, DeWitt, Delhi and Delta. St. Johns is the first community to receive a second grant for public art.
 
Parkinson emphasized that LEAP invests in public art since a vibrant arts and cultural atmosphere can elevate Lansing's ability to attract and retain talent. She says that the grants have become exceptionally competitive, which further shows the region considers "sense of place" or placemaking a priority.
 
"We want to reward communities that include the arts in their strategic planning," says Parkinson. "Each day, LEAP works to attract and support companies that are looking to thrive in the Lansing area. Attracting the best talent to these companies is a huge piece of the puzzle."
 
By year's end, the total roster of public art funded through LEAP's Public Art for Communities Grant Program will include 16 pieces of public art, six bike racks, and one mural. PNC also contributed $10,000 to the yearly program.
 
Source: Sara Parkinson, Director of Talent and Communications, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Center for Business Innovation offers new managed IT services

The Center for Business Innovation in Lansing began offering a new level of expertise and resources to customers in mid-May after partnering with a nationally recognized provider of managed IT and cloud hosting services.
 
By joining with All Covered, CBI provides customers access to more resources, a wider variety of technology brands, and a new level of engineering expertise. All Covered, CBI leaders say, will take Lansing-grown CBI to the next level through a combination of skills and infrastructure, while still retaining CBI's signature small business feel and ability to provide onsite support.
 
"Technology has changed how we run and conduct our business," says Katie Saglimbene, CBI marketing and communications director. "We're confident that our customers' networks will be faster, and more secure than ever through this new partnership."
 
The unique relationship between CBI and All Covered will be transparent to customers, Saglimbene explains, since CBI will continue to function as the primary point of contact. All Covered's certified engineers at U.S.-based network operations and remote support centers will resolve back-end infrastructure and technical support issues. All Covered will also offer a three-tiered help desk with 24/7 live-answer support.
 
While All Covered's support center was a big factor in the partnership, Saglimene says CBI also sought out All Covered for their ability to provide robust cloud solutions housed in compliant tier-4 data centers.
 
"CBI was born and raised here in mid-Michigan," Saglimbene says. "We've had several years under our belt as a technology provider and provider of managed print services. This partnership with All Covered will strengthen how we do business and broadens what we can offer to customers."
 
Source: Katie Saglimbene, Marketing and Communications Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

MSU startup TheraB receives funding from medical investment firm

A new medical device that will change the way families treat infant jaundice is one step closer to market thanks to a partnership between a Michigan State University startup company and a medical investment firm based in Michigan.
 
Conceived by MSU students and nurtured through the MSU Innovation Center, TheraB Medical Products, Inc., received $150,000 this spring in pre-seed stage funding from Quantum Medical Concepts. The funding, says CEO Ryan Jankovic, will be applied toward product development, further strengthening TheraB's ability to provide a product that offers an intimate and cost-effective method of treating jaundice in newborns.
 
Jaundice is caused by bilburin—a high level of pigment in the blood that causes the skin to look yellow. In newborns, the still-developing liver may not be able to remove bilburin from the blood, resulting in infant jaundice. Traditional treatments for newborns may involve therapies that separate mothers and babies, including light therapies and bulky non-portable blankets.
 
The SnugLit Portable Phototherapy Blanket treats infant jaundice by providing the blue light needed to help the newborn break down bilburin molecules. The wearable swaddle also facilitates skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and other essential elements of mother-baby bonding.
 
"We've worked to make SnugLit easy to use so parents can have the treatment they need for their infant and also be able to conduct their daily activities," says Jankovic. "The blanket can be used both at home and in the home for mild cases."
 
The idea for the SnugLit blanket resulted from a student research project, and was developed with extensive feedback from healthcare professionals. TheraB was founded in 2014 through the MSU Innovations Center, won several pitch and startup business competitions, and has been featured on a variety of local, regional and national media. Jankovic says the coming year will involve final fundraising and product development, with the first products expected to be available in 2016.
 
Source: Ryan Jankovic, TheraB Medical Products, Inc.
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
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Entrepreneur returns home to grow social media company

When Courtney Maki was ready to graduate college and start her career, it was as if the stars aligned when she landed a job in social media.
 
"I fell in love with social media," says the now business owner of a growing social media company in Lansing. "I've always been social, so to have the opportunity to connect with people world-wide is just an amazing feeling."
 
Maki has transformed a passion that started with Disney and an Atlanta-based TV network into a small business focused on social media strategy. She founded Glow Social Media in Atlanta in 2012, then leveraged the virtual qualities of the business to move back to Lansing in November 2013. Since her homecoming, Maki has remained true to her nature, renewing old acquaintances and cultivating social media networks for a variety of businesses and organizations in mid-Michigan.
 
"Atlanta was a good place to start a company," says Maki. "But Lansing is a good place to grow one. There are not a lot of other firms here that offer exactly what we do."
 
Glow specializes in developing brand awareness, generating inbound traffic, and encouraging product and brand adoption through the use of social media. Maki's company also provides marketing and public relations services that support a company's mission, and ensure consistency in voice while building a social media network.
 
Maki says that Glow doesn't just post to blogs or websites or to social media platforms. Her staff, she says, essentially function as the social media leg of a company's marketing department, coming up with content and strategy that reflects the products, services, community work, and other key features of the business.
 
"We have a team of specialists with niche expertise," says Maki. "You might not get that if you hire a social media specialist right out of college."
 
Glow works within a variety of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Plus. The company also specializes in LinkedIn, providing optimization services for clients.
 
"We're here to help the community," says Maki. "And one of the best ways to help as a social media specialist is to help individuals in the community find jobs and be successful."
 
Glow recently began inhabiting a brick-and-mortar residence on the second floor of the Co:Space in REO Town. The 15- by 15-foot office at 1146 S. Washington provides just enough seating for Maki and her three employees, plus access to shared conference and meeting spaces. 
 
Source: Courtney Maki, Owner, Glow Social Media
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Sparrow earns special designation in patient-centered maternity care

Sparrow recently achieved a national benchmark in quality care by being certified "baby-friendly" by the World Health Organization and the United Nation's Children's Fund.
 
Certification as a Baby Friendly Hospital means Sparrow demonstrates excellence in providing evidenced-based, patient-centered maternity care that promotes mother-baby bonding and best practices in infant feeding. Sparrow is one of only six hospitals in Michigan and 245 in the nation that hold the Baby-Friendly designation.
 
"I hear daily from our patients how much they like the approach," says Kathy Marble, director of women and children at Sparrow. "It's the voice of the customers saying 'you're doing it, and we're appreciating it.'"
 
The term "baby friendly," Marble says, simply refers to providing care considered best for mother and babies. Examples include immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth, and keeping mother and baby together through the entirety of their hospital stay. When possible, all exams are done in-room, with physicians and nurses doing everything bedside with mother and baby together.
 
Sparrow delivers 4,500 babies each year, and has a 43-bed maternity area at the main hospital near downtown Lansing. All physicians, residents and nursing staff received extensive training in baby-friendly practices. About 100 nurses and 25 physicians currently work in labor and delivery and OB special care areas.
 
Marble added that the overall goal of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, and in turn, the greater community.
 
"If you look at Sparrow's mission you see that we want to take care of people in our community," says Marble. "The baby friendly designation and way of doing things makes a difference in the lives of every baby born in our community, now and into the future."
 
Sources: Kathy Marble, MSN, RNC-NIC, Director Women and Children, Sparrow
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

CBI awarded premiere status as KYOCERA dealer

The Center for Business Innovation added some hardware earlier this spring after being recognized as a premiere dealer of KYOCERA document solutions for the fifth consecutive year.
 
The award, says CBI Finance Director Dan Sutter, is awarded to fewer than 10 percent of KYOCERA dealers, and represents the commitment CBI has made to providing innovative document solutions to Michigan businesses through KYOCERA equipment and systems.
 
"We not only provide the hardware to our customers, but we also include the business applications that can be incorporated with the devices to enhance an organization's workflow," says Sutter. "It's all about providing managed print services and total document solutions."
 
CBI has partnered with KYOCERA Document Solutions since the early 1970s, and continues to be a leading, single-line dealer of KYOCERA in Michigan. In that time, Sutter explains, copiers have evolved into multi-functional machines that integrate hardware and software to meet the specific needs of specific industries.
 
"Twenty or 30 years ago, a copier was something you plugged into a wall and it didn't talk to anything else," says Sutter. "Today, a copier is an integral part of a company's workflow."
 
CBI is a Michigan-based managed technology service provider specializing in cloud, imaging, professional and network services. The company serves most of lower Michigan, with many customers in the education, legal and health care sectors. About 60 people work for CBI through a network of offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Flint, Saginaw and Southfield, with headquarters in Lansing. 
 
Sources: Dan Sutter, Finance Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Fourteen nonprofits receive funding to promote cultural tourism

 
Part of that tax your friends and relatives pay when staying in a hotel or motel in Ingham County will go to encourage more friends and relatives to take in the area's arts and culture thanks to recent grants awarded to more than a dozen nonprofit organizations.
 
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for the Arts and Tourism awarded funding totaling $103,741.05 to 14 arts and cultural organizations to support the production of publicity and promotional materials used to attract out-of-town visitors. Awarded in mid-April, the total grant for 2015 was divided among the recipients and is administered by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
 
"We're proud to be handling the grant on behalf of the county," says Josh Holliday, program manager of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "We're happy to see the continued investment in a program that supports organizations who bring people into our community."
 
The Williamston Theatre was among the 2015 grant recipients, and will use the funds to expand their presence on NPR affiliates in surrounding counties.
 
"We're so grateful for the opportunity to be able to expand our presence on the radio," says Emily Sutton-Smith, development director for the Williamston Theatre. "A grant like this makes it possible for a small organization to do something that we wouldn't ordinarily be able to do. It makes a big difference for our marketing programs."
 
Sutton-Smith says that about 40 percent of people attending a show at the theatre come from outside of Williamston or Ingham County. That percent, she says, represents what marketers and developers refer to as "cultural tourism"—or people who travel to a destination for activities related to the visual or performing arts.
 
"Those individuals not only buy a matinee or evening ticket from us, but then they go on and spend money at a restaurant, hotel or retailer," says Sutton-Smith. "So by virtue of what we do, we draw in people who then benefit another business, too."
 
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for Arts and Tourism grants are supported by five percent of Ingham County hotel/motel revenues, and were established by a resolution by the Ingham County Board of Commissions about 20 years ago. Recipients of the 2015 grant are the Capital City Film Festival, Community Circle Players (Riverwalk Theatre), Downtown Lansing, Inc., East Lansing Art Festival, Happendance Inc., Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, MSU Community Music School, MSU Museum, Old Town Commercial Association, Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, Wharton Center for Performing Arts and Williamston Theatre.

Sources: Emily Sutton-Smith, Development Director, Williamston Theatre
Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

East Lansing Library receives $1.5 million gift

A $1.5 million gift made by an anonymous donor will allow the East Lansing Library to undertake capital improvements that will help bring 21st century technology to a mid-century modern building.
 
"We were elated when we heard about the gift," says Director of the East Lansing Public Library Kristin Shelley. "It's such a wonderful selfless gift to the entire community. It's truly humbling that the individual wants no recognition."
 
The library announced the gift in mid-April, and added that a capital campaign will follow to build on the tremendous contribution. The goal, says Shelley, is to raise an additional $1.6 to $2 million in matching community funds by May 2016 and renovate the entire library building.
 
Shelley says library renovations will begin in September to create a more open floor plan, group computers and other technology in a logical space, and provide more technology in places where it's needed. The recent gift will fund the first phase of capital improvements, with additional renovations dependent on the success of the capital campaign.
 
"Libraries are businesses driven by technology now," says Shelley. "We're not just about books, or about being within our four walls. It's important for us to keep up and become an even better resource for our community in the years to come."
 
The library selected the Lansing-based C2AE architecture firm to execute renovation work. The 25,800-square foot East Lansing Library at 950 Abbot Road was built in 1963 and underwent a renovation and moderate expansion 20 years ago in 1996.
 
"We want to preserve the mid-century character. It's important and lovely," says Shelley. "Our goal is to make this a beautiful building and place for the entire community to gather."
 
Source: Kristin Shelley, Director, East Lansing Public Library
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Crowdfunding underway for downtown soccer field

Crowds will be gathering on a new public soccer field in downtown Lansing if a crowdfunding campaign reaches its goal.
 
The campaign to fund development of a new field launched Friday, April 24, at the opening game of the Lansing United Soccer Team. The $60,000 fundraising campaign through the crowdfunding site Patronicity had been previously announced in mid-April by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and business and community leaders.
 
The $200,000 Beacon Field is envisioned for the southeast corner of Ferris Park. Plans call for a 60- by 120-foot synthetic turf field enclosed by a kick-board, as well as solar lighting for extended play into the evening.
 
The Capital Area Soccer League says about 5,000 kids in the Lansing area currently play youth soccer. No reservations will be required to use the neighborhood field that will be available to anyone regardless of their connection to an organized team or league.
 
Beacon Field organizers also plan to apply for a Public Spaces Community Grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The grant provides 1:1 matching funds if organizers can meet the $60,000 goal within one month. The city of Lansing would then contribute $80,000 toward the project to complete the funding.
 
The vision for Beacon Field rose from a public-private team that includes the city of Lansing, Wieland Davco, the Capital Area Soccer League, Traction and Truscott Rossman. Emergent Biosolutions donated $10,000 and Jackson National Life $20,000 in financial sponsorship.
 
Beacon  Field is modeled after mini soccer fields built in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The fields were created as safe gathering places for youth in urban neighborhoods.
 
"Soccer is a global sport that bridges communities," said Bernero in a statement. "With the community's support, this field, located in the heart of downtown Lansing, will be a place where people from all backgrounds can come play a sport they love."
 
Supporters of Beacon Field can contribute via credit card toward the $60,000 goal by visiting www.patronicity.com. Contributions via check can be mailed to the Capital Area Soccer League at 1427 W. Saginaw, Suite 175, East Lansing, MI 48823.
 
Sources: Josh Hovey, Vice President, Truscott Rossman
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Volunteerism powers dental service for the underinsured

An organization in Greater Lansing that helps bring smiles to people without dental coverage and to community groups at the same time is looking to expand in the next few months.
 
Pay It Forward Dental works with volunteer dentists to provide dental work to people who are 250 percent below the poverty line and lack dental coverage. In return, participants receiving dental work agree to volunteer for a certain number of hours in a community organization of their choice. The program launched in January 2014 and is a grant-funded partnership between the Central District Dental Society and Carefree Dental.
 
"We fill a gap for those people who can barely afford medical care and cannot afford dental coverage," says Patient Coordinator Christina Arriaga. "We find we help a lot of seniors who need more than just basic care."
 
While administrative services are provided through an office at 5135 S. Pennsylvania Ave., patients receive care at the offices of one of the eight participating volunteer dentists. And while the number of dentists remains steady, the number of people needing care continues to grow.
 
Because the program has been so well received, Pay It Forward organizers are seeking the help of at least five more dentists to accommodate up to 50 more patients. To date, the program has served 45 patients who have exchanged 1,500 community service hours for their dental care.
 
"The whole program is about giving back to your local community—both by our patients and by our dentists," says Arriaga. "If we can get more dentists to come on board, we can help more people, who in turn, can volunteer in the community. It's great to see how much the program helps all the way around."
 
Dentists interested in volunteering in the Pay It Forward Dental program can find more information here.
 
Sources: Christina Arriaga, Patient Coordinator, Pay It Forward Dental
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Capital City Comic Con to debut at Haslett High School

Dennis Louney drove to Grand Rapids with his son and came back with an idea for Lansing.
 
It was a dream, he says, he'd had for some time. And after seeing the thousands of people spilling out the doors at a comic convention, he knew the timing was right to bring a similar event back home.
 
Now, after eight months of planning, Louney and a group of like-minded professionals will unleash what promises to be a super-powered extravaganza. The first Capital City Comic Con—affectionately known as C4—will take place May 2-3 at Haslett High School. The convention will sprawl from the north end of the school, throughout two gymnasiums, a 700-seat performing arts center, dressing rooms, expansive hallways and cafeteria space.
 
"We knew we could build this," says Louney. "The most important thing now is to get people to come."
 
Louney and other members of the "Phantom Five" have planned an event based on people's love of comics, games, movies and television. Between 2,000-3,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event that will feature a variety of multi-media exhibitors and vendors of comic books, card and board games, action figures, merchandise, videos, apparel and more. Attendees can also participate in or observe costume and cosplay competitions, performance art, improvisational and interactive cosplay, panel discussions, and gaming tournaments.
 
"Our goal is to open things up to a wider audience," says Louney. "We've worked to make it family friendly and fun."
 
The convention will feature special guests, graphic artists and writers—both from the national and local arenas. Among the scheduled guests are Michigan novelist and screenwriter Rick Chambers, and actor Mark Boyd from Twelve Monkeys. 
 
"This is just a great way to bring people together," says Louney. "Lots of people follow sci-fi, read graphic novels or play online or board games. With all the high-tech coming to Lansing, it promises to be an event that will appeal to a lot of people."
 
Organizers of the inaugural Capital City Comic Con include Phantom Five members Christina DeJong, James Curtis, Malinda Barr, Randy Chapel and Dennis Louney. For a schedule of events and a list of participating vendors, artists and organizations, visit the website here or follow on Facebook.
 
Sources: Dennis Louney, Co-Founder, Capital City Comic Con
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Stadium renovation features options for the multi-faceted fan

When the lights shone on the $13.5 million renovation to Cooley Law School Stadium on opening day, spectators saw there was more on deck than simply baseball.
 
With an updated concourse, picnic and play areas, and new top-of-the-line food venues, take-me-out-to-the-ballgame has grown to be more than a sporting experience restricted to the stands. And come mid-season, a special events venue will be available at the home of the Lansing Lugnuts for organizers of everything from corporate meetings to wedding receptions.
 
"We're very excited to present all these options for people who live here," says Linda Frederickson, assistant general manager of marketing and special events for the Lugnuts. "The stadium is a great place."
 
Among the newest concourse options energizing America's favorite pastime are the expanded Tailgate Terrace picnic area in right field. Groups, too, can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet for $30 through the new Pepsi Porch. Originally the Bullpen Bar and Grill near the third-base line, the venue was expanded from 40 to 150 seats. Any open seats not taken by a group will go on sale to individuals one week before the game.
 
Then, come June, the stadium will unveil The View—a spacious alternative to typical meeting and event spaces. Overlooking centerfield, The View features luxurious indoor seating for 150 guests, with additional room provided on an outdoor patio.
 
The View will be open year-round for meetings and special events, and available for private groups on game days. Meeting planning packages are available, with food options that include catering and the standard menu. The gourmet burger bistro Good Hops also relocated from the main concourse to offer patrons at The View additional choices.
 
Room set up, conferencing systems and other meeting amenities are available based on customer needs. And while a unique setting for corporate meetings, The View can also be set up for birthday parties, anniversaries and family-related events. 
 
"It's one of the most distinctive meeting space in the region," says Frederickson. "It provides a beautiful view for any kind of event—hence the name."
 
While renovation is nearly complete for the main stadium, construction recently began on The Outfield, one of the country's first upscale residential units at a professional minor league ball field. The new development by the Gillespie Group will rise above right center field, and will feature more than 80 residential units. The public-private development is slated for completion in spring 2016.

Sources: Linda Frederickson, Assistant General Manager of Marketing and Special Events, Lansing Lugnuts
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Downtown maker studio in East Lansing to stay open through mid-summer

East Lansing's second maker space will remain open beyond its original closing date thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
 
Originally slated to close in February, the ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio will continue to operate in East Lansing's Marriott at University Place through July 31, 2015. The 700-square foot space in a former hair salon compliments the maker studio in the East Lansing Public Library and supports the creative spirit of individuals, families and entrepreneurs in Greater Lansing. Recently-hired 3D printing specialist Joe Carr will also be onsite at both studios to advise on 3D printing, modeling and design.
 
"It's a place where people can do all the things they want to do that's communal and has supplies they never knew existed," says Lauren Douglass, head of Technology Services, East Lansing Public Library. "And it's just fun."
 
Since opening in October 2014, the second maker studio has provided space, materials and guidance to more than 1,500 people. Visitors to the studio have attended crafting and electronics workshops, received one-on-one instruction in 3D printing and scanning, and completed solo and group projects.
 
Douglass says the studios attract a variety of makers from teens to seniors with a range of abilities. Visitors include families with children, tinkerers, small business people, and local artists, as well as those who identify as makers but haven't joined any particular maker space.
 
"There are so many people in East Lansing who want to use the technology and supplies," says Douglass. "It's a great town for sharing ideas and learning from one another."
 
The ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio features 3D printing, sewing and fabric design, bike repair facilities, a LEGO hackspace, an Arduino lab and space for other projects, meetups, workshops and more.
 
The ELPL Maker Studio in the East Lansing Public Library also has one 3D printer, two 27-inch iMacs featuring the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, Camtasia Studio and several 3D design programs. The studio offers a flatbed scanner, a graphics tablet, and music recording/production equipment including a MIDI keyboard, studio monitors, mics and more.
 
Sources: Lauren Douglass, Head of Technology Services, East Lansing Public Library
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

ASK continues growth curve, solidifies focus on IT services

Mike Maddox's story of entrepreneurship started when he assumed leadership of a 10-year-old IT company in 2004. Since then, he has overseen the transformation of ASK, leading the Lansing-based company toward a path of growth and expansion that coincides with the rebirth of the Capitol City.
 
In 2013, ASK marked its 20th anniversary by adding 1,700-square feet onto their Lansing office on Sovereign Drive. Today, 27 people work in the 6,000-square foot facility, with six being new hires as of 2014.
 
In the past 11 years, ASK has evolved from a reseller of large mainframe systems to a provider of managed IT services. Sales revenue has increased 340 percent, while the number of staff has grown by 300 percent. Those numbers reflect the company's broadened focus beyond Mid-Michigan to one that serves customers statewide. And since many ASK customers have national and international operations, ASK's reach stretches overseas, providing service and expertise on several continents.
 
"Today's business looks completely different," says Maddox, ASK president and CEO.  "Our business is based on services and consulting, with very little based on hardware."
 
In the last year or two, ASK has strengthened its focus on managing, remediating and keeping IT infrastructures running for clients. ASK also boasts a fully-staffed engineering department dedicated to cyber security solutions and to reducing and managing risk.
 
Maddox attributes his company's success to letting the client's best interests guide every decision. That approach, he says, has led to a client retention rate of more than 95 percent, something he says is nearly unheard of in the IT business.
 
"Culturally, our people want to be part of building something that will last forever," says Maddox. "That motivates them more than anything, and makes ASK a really fun place to work."
 
Mike Maddox recently received an entrepreneurial award from the Greater Lansing Business Monthly for his ability to build camaraderie, take innovative risks, and foster growth in a Lansing-based business.   
 
Sources: Mike Maddox, President and CEO, ASK
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.
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