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Chamber recognizes 10 young professionals to watch in next decade

Capital Gains Managing Editor Suban Nur Cooley was among 10 of Greater Lansing's top young professionals honored through the eighth annual "10 Over the Next Ten" awards coordinated by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Grand River Connection.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Open to those under 35 who had worked in mid-Michigan for at least two years, the annual awards aim to recognize Greater Lansing’s future business and community leaders over the next decade."
 
Read the full article here.

Sales growth prompts local manufacturer to expand facility, add jobs

Cameron Tool Corp. in Lansing plans to spend $1 million to expand operations at its 1800 Basset Ave. facility to keep pace with recent sales growth. The tool and die maker's project is contingent on the city granting a tax incentive that would cut the manufacturer's property taxes in half for 12 years.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"The company said in its application to city council that the expansion would keep 75 jobs and add 10 more — mostly skilled diemakers and machinists … The positions earn a median wage of $15 per hour."
 
Read the full article here.

Renovations, hiring underway as Kroger repositions in the Lansing market

The Cincinnati-based Kroger has revamped a store in Lansing and announced plans to hire 90 workers in mid-Michigan as the grocery chain looks to secure its place in a competitive market.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Kroger - which also has stores in the Frandor Shopping Center in Lansing, Delta Township, East Lansing, Okemos and St. Johns - said it spent $2 million to remodel the 60,250-square-foot Holmes store, relocating some departments, updating decor and installing new checkout lanes."

Read the full article here.

GM confirms plans to construct stamping plant in Lansing

General Motors Co. said it plans to build a $174 million stamping General Motors Co. adjacent to the Lansing Grand River assembly complex. The 225,000-square-foot plant will add 145 jobs when it opens in 2016, and is among several recent announcements related to GM growth in the Lansing area.

According to excerpts from the article:
"The new facility will produce stamping components for the Cadillac ATS and Cadillac CTS family of vehicles and 'a future product,' General Motors said in a press release issued today. Lansing has been announced as the site of the next Camaro, though the company has not drawn a direct line between this investment and the sporty ride."
 
Read the full article here.

Detroit area developer offers to buy Waverly Golf Course

Seven years after closing amid budget cuts, the 120-acre Waverly Golf Course is being considered for sale to Livonia's Schostak Bros. & Co. for potential retail and residential development. The Detroit-area development company and restaurant franchise owner said no firm plans are in place, but offered up $5.8 million for the site—or more than $3 million above the appraised value.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Schostak Bros. focuses primarily on commercial development in the Detroit suburbs, but the family-owned company has projects in 19 states. Its Team Schostak Family Restaurants arm operates several restaurant chains in the state, including Burger King, Olga’s Kitchen and Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill. Some of its Burger King and Applebee’s restaurants are in and near Lansing."
 
Read the full article here.

Challenge Manufacturing picks Greater Lansing over Missouri and Tennessee for new facility

Western Michigan-based Challenge Manufacturing plans to bring 420 jobs, $65.5 million in investment, and a new manufacturing facility to Watertown Township about 12 miles northwest of Lansing's downtown as part of a recently secured contract with General Motors.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) President & CEO Robert Trezise, Jr. said today that the Lansing area was once known for auto manufacturing, but in recent years has seen investment in areas as diverse as nanotechnology and nuclear physics. Now the auto industry is once again expanding."
 
Read the full article here.

GM eyes Delta Plant for expansion

A $37 million expansion of the Lansing Delta Township plant is being considered by General Motors Co., pending discussion of tax cuts and other business incentives for the Detroit carmaker. The expansion is believed to be related to the anticipated production of the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car, slated to start in Lansing as soon as 2015.

According to excerpts from the article:
"With the Delta expansion, GM’s planned future investment in Lansing now tops $243 million. Across town at its Lansing Grand River assembly plant complex, the company is building a $44.5 million logistics center that will sort parts for the assembly line and plans a $162 million stamping plant. The two new operations would add 265 jobs."
 
Read the full article here.

Lansing School District puts Magic on the menu with new food services contract

Hometown hero Earvin "Magic" Johnson will team up with the Lansing School district to provide food services and additional educational programs through SodexoMAGIC—a partnership between Sodexo, Inc., and Magic Johnson Enterprises.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"SodexoMAGIC also will create an annual Student Well-Being Grant designed to provide programs and educational activities which improve the quality of life in the district. The new Junior Executive Development program will offer high school students an educational workshop designed to create awareness of career opportunities in corporate, community based organizations, and government."
 
Read the full article here.
 

Bird sanctuary in Delta Township receives grant

The Capital City Bird Sanctuary at Hawk Valley Farm bequeathed by the late Lansing businessman and environmentalist Carl Haussman recently received a $9,000 grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation to improve the habitat, grounds and programming.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Plans call for 2.5 miles of easy walking trails with interpretive signs, demonstration areas for native plants and landscapes, a bird-feeding station and a community vegetable garden.

"Three-quarters of a mile of one trail will follow the bank of the Grand River. Visitors will also be able to walk through two other distinct habitat zones: woodland and grassland."
 
Read the full article here.

Waverly takes steps to create safe walking environment for kids

Students, parents, police officers, township planners and staff took a walk through neighborhoods surrounding the Waverly East Intermediate School as part of the process of applying for a Safe Roads to School Grant. The grant, say walkers, would provide around $208,000 for pedestrian improvements and help create a safe environment for walking and biking to school.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"The idea is that the reconstruction of Michigan Avenue next year between Waverly Road and the Lansing city limit would be a golden opportunity for new sidewalks and other improvements near the school so that children will be able to safely walk or bike there."
 
Read the full article here.

DNR summer program shows camp isn't just for kids anymore

Adults are invited to unplug from their electronic devices and spend a weekend in the great outdoors through a tech-free camp that includes activities like kayaking, hiking and archery.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Participants will swap their smartphones, tablets and laptops for journals and disposable cameras. They'll only be allowed to use their devices for emergencies or to check in with family in the evening.

"The camps will take place on August 15-17 and September 12-14 at YMCA Camp Timbers in West Branch."
 
Read the full article here.

Michigan eyed as burger country by expanding Checker's chain

A privately-held burger chain based in Tampa, Fla., has its sights set on expanding in Michigan. Checker's Drive-In Restaurants may bring dozens of restaurants, hundreds of jobs, and its renowned bigger portions and bolder flavors to the state within the next few years.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Checkers —which opened in 1986 in Mobile, Ala. — makes no apology for its big-flavored, heavily-seasoned meat and fries. ...the company is targeting Michigan — and the Midwest — and the growth is a continuation of the company’s overall expansion trajectory."

Read the full article here.

Shuttered fire stations may be transformed into permanent homes

New buyers may convert two closed Lansing fire stations into single-family homes if plans are approved by the City Council this spring.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"If City Council agrees, the would-be buyers’ plans for the former firehouses — No. 5, on Todd Avenue near Mt. Hope Avenue; and No. 7, near the corner of North Jenison Avenue and Saginaw Street — would bring the city-owned buildings onto property tax rolls and serve as high-profile examples of reclaiming urban space."

Read the full article here.

Sidewalks in planning stages in Delta Township

Resident demands to keep walkers out of the road when connecting to walking and biking pathways is bringing several sidewalk projects to the Delta Township Board for approval.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"Two new sidewalks are priorities this year, one on the south side of Arden between Maycroft and Robbins and the other on the east side of Canal between Treadwell and Water’s Edge. Public hearings on them have already been held."

Read the full article here.

GM plans to build new stamping plant, create 65 Lansing-based jobs

General Motors Co. plans to build a new 225,000-square-foot stamping plant near Lansing's Grand River assembly plant, and officials say the $162 million investment will create 65 jobs.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"In addition, GM is building a $44.5 million logistics center at the Grand River factory. When completed, the 400,000-square-foot facility will be linked to the general assembly building and add 200 jobs."
 
Read the full article here.

Sears Outlet to open in vacated Value City site, create 20 jobs

A new Sears Outlet opening this June in Lansing's Delta Township will offer overstocked, lightly damaged or reconditioned merchandise for the home at substantial discounts to list prices.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
"…the retailer chose Delta Township for its Lansing-area store because officials believe it will complement the Home Depot home improvement chain’s adjacent store. There also was a demand for discounted merchandise."

Read the full article here.

Italian companies to expand to Lansing, bring dozens of jobs

Two Italian companies have selected Lansing as the base of their North American operations, creating up to 60 jobs within the next three years.
 
SAET, a Turin, Italy-based manufacturer of induction heat treating equipment, will locate a sales and service office in Lansing, while the Italian communications firm SATIZ plans to bring their technical publishing office to the region.

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership is working with the two companies to find space for their operations.
 
According to excerpts from the article:
 "Bernero sold Lansing as a medium-sized, manageable city with a small, yet globally connected airport. He touted Michigan State University's resources and the close driving distance to Chicago and Detroit."
 
Read the full article here.

New health facility coming to Delta

Work on a new, $9-million Ciena Healthcare facility is underway in Delta Twp. 

According to excerpts from the article:

Scheduled to open next fall, the 78,500-square-foot, 100-bed facility will provide both long-term skilled care and short-term rehabilitative services and bring 120 new jobs to the area.

Read the entire story here.

Flurry of new restaurants, retailers opening along Saginaw corridor in Delta Township

A number of new business are cropping up in Delta Twp. along the Saginaw Highway corridor.

According to excerpts from the article:
 
Township Supervisor Ken Fletcher said a national economy that is gradually recovering from the recession is leading the charge, along with new local residential construction in various neighborhoods, including Ashford Manor and Pointe West.

Read the entire story here.

Five Below teen retailer to open in Delta Twp.

A new teen retailer will soon open in Delta Township.

According to excerpts from the article:
 
Five Below Inc., a Philadelphia-based retail chain that sells fashion and other accessories for $5 or less, will open its newest store in The Marketplace at Delta Township, near West Saginaw Highway and Interstate 96.

Read the entire story here.

New stores opening in Meridian Mall

A number of new store have opened in the Meridian Mall, and more will open soon.

According to excerpts from the article:
 
Shoe Carnival Inc., an Evansville, Ind.-based retailer, opened last week inside a 12,150-square-foot space near the Macy’s department store, the mall said. It will have an exterior entrance as well as access from inside the shopping center.

Read the entire story here.

Lansing Mall site prepped for new cinema

A new movie multiplex will open at Lansing Mall next year.

According to excerpts from the article:
 
The former Mervyns department store wing on the mall’s north side has been demolished to make way for a 12-screen theater from Knoxville, Tenn.-based theater chain Regal Entertainment Group. Construction on the new cineplex could start before winter.

Read the entire story here.

GM hires new workers for Delta plant

Approximate 45 workers will be hired at General Motors' Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, replacing employees who transferred to other plants.

According to excerpts from the article:
 
About 25 employees already are at work, with another 20 expected in the next few weeks, said Erin Davis, a Lansing-based GM spokeswoman. They will build the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers at the Delta Township factory. Hiring is completed.

Read the entire story here.

Lansing Mall to get new 12-screen movie theater in former Mervyns space

A new 12-screen movie theater will open at the Lansing Mall. 

According to excerpts from the article:
 
Regal Entertainment Group plans to open a 50,0000-square-foot theater at the Lansing Mall, mall owner Rouse Properties Inc. said. With 12 screens, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based chain’s new theater will double the number of screens currently available to moviegoers at an adjacent mall-owned site.

Read the entire story here.

Cyclists celebrate bike lane on Saginaw

Lansing bikers now have a safer way to travel in on Saginaw with a dedicated bike lane.

According to excerpts from the article:

The wide new bike lane along busy Saginaw Street and its deluxe link to the Lansing River Trail at the new Saginaw Street bridge over the Grand River is the most dramatic evidence yet of “complete streets” planning in Michigan.

Read the entire story here.

Ground broken in Delta for new senior complex

On Aug. 15,  the new Delta River Senior Village celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony.

According to excerpts from the article:

Delta River Senior Village will be a three-story, 38-unit apartment building for low and moderate income seniors 62 and older.
 
Made possible by a $3.67 million HUD grant, it is the first new apartment building in the township in five years, according to township community development director Mark Graham.

Read the entire story here.

Delta Meijer drive-through pharmacy OK'd

A drive-through pharmacy window is on the way to the West Saginaw Meijer.

According to excerpts from the article:

The 120-square-foot addition to the 220,250-square-foot Meijer store will fit under its existing overhang. There will be curbs and a wrought iron railing to discourage pedestrians from walking in the drive through lane, as well as signs to direct drivers.

Read the entire article here.

GM begins promoting Lansing Grand River-built ATS small car

Cadillac is beginning to promote the ATS, a new small call that is being built in Lansing's Grand River plant.


According to excerpts from the article:

And last week, Cadillac debuted a video online promoting the upcoming compact rear-wheel-drive car that is scheduled to begin rolling off the line late next summer at GM's Lansing Grand River assembly plant.

The automaker is adding a second shift of about 600 workers to build the ATS. Some new employees are expected to come in early next year.

Read the entire article here.

Waverly Middle School starts year with a $1.5-million improvement grant

Waverly Middle School began the year with new programming made possible by a $1.5 million grant.

According to excerpts from the article:

The grant, which came as a result of the district's efforts to improve after landing on the state's list of "least proficient" schools in August, 2010, made for some pretty big changes, including a one-week pilot academy last month that served 91 students.

Read the entire story here.

Micro brewery on tap for Delta

Delta Township may soon have its first microbrewery on the corner of Mt. Hope and Marcy Ave.

According to excerpts from the article:

The township board agreed Aug. 15 to rezone the parcel, formerly the home of Joseph's Party Store, from low density residential to local service commercial, paving the way for the EagleMonk Pub and Brewery owned by Dan and Sonia Buonodono of Grand Ledge.

Read the entire article here.

Vietnamese congregation breathes new life into site of former Holy Cross church

The former Holy Cross Catholic Church on Lansing's west side was boarded up for two years, but thanks to a growing population of Vietnamese parishioners from the St. Andrew Dung-Lac church, it is getting new life.

According to excerpts from the story:

The Vietnamese congregation of about 180 families simply grew out of its former building on South Washington Avenue.

The congregation's move to the Holy Cross site on West Oakland Avenue gives the parish room to grow. It fills a neighborhood hole created when Holy Cross closed in 2009, leaving a once-bustling site lifeless. It even helps fill a hole in the heart for former Holy Cross parishioners.

Read the entire article here.

Retired GM Employee Starts Own Faith-Based Fashion Line in Lansing

Ray Jackson, a Lansing resident and retired GM statistician, ventured into the fashion business about seven years ago, aiming to combine evangelism and fashion with his business, Kingdom Dreams.

According to excerpts from the Article:

Jackson, 52, started off about seven years ago with an online business selling T-shirts with the logo for his brand, originally called Kingdom Wear.

He grew the label by selling clothes at Christian music concerts, fashion shows and other events.

In October 2008, Kingdom Dreams, as the company was renamed, expanded into a kiosk at the Lansing Mall, selling sweatshirts, jeans and other apparel.

Now, Jackson has a full line of men's and women's casual and formal clothing he sells online and at a recently opened a 2,020-square-foot storefront in Lansing Mall.

Read the entire article here.

Emergent Biosolutions Contract Could Be Worth $186 Million, 25 New Jobs Planned

Emergent Biosolutions has secured another federal contract, this one worth as much as $186 million. The company plans to add 25 new jobs at its Lansing facilities.

According to excerpts from the article:

Emergent said Friday it signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services worth $51 million during the first two years, with options for three more years.

The company has reported plans to manufacture the next-generation [anthrax] vaccine in Maryland, though Adam Havey, president of Emergent's Lansing operations, said the manufacturing site has not been determined.

Development of the vaccine will be carried out in Maryland and Lansing, he said.

The company employs more than 400 in Lansing, up from nearly 340 at the end of 2008.

Read the entire article here.

Why The Capital Region Is A Great Place To Be An Entrepreneur

According to Doug Stites, of Capital Area Michigan Works!, entrepreneurship is possible for nearly everyone, and the Capital region is emerging as a great place for people to start a new business, take risks and seek out their passion or innovative idea. 

According to excerpts from the article.

Entrepreneur Magazine named East Lansing one of the top 10 college towns to start a business, CNN Money named Greater Lansing one of the 50 most business-friendly cities.


And most recently, well-known financial news organization Kiplinger's named Lansing one of the top 10 cities in the country for young adults.

Incubator space such as the East Lansing Technology Innovation Center, NEO Center and the Hatch is making it easier for individuals with great ideas and solid business plans to put it in action without needing much capital to start.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing State Journal Highlights the Capital Region's Architectural Gems

From the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Okemos to the interior of the BWL building, the Capital region is sprinkled with architectural quality.

According to excerpts from the article:

When sculpture is something more than art, when it’s to be worked in and lived in and played in, we call it architecture. 

Functional sculpture — architecture of significance — is part of Greater Lansing’s landscape from the state Capitol and much written about Frank Lloyd Wright house in Okemos to the bits of gingerbread that dangle from the eaves of your own home.
We are surrounded by it. . . .

“The country is becoming really homogenous,” said Laura Rose Ashlee, communications director for the state Historic Preservation Office. “The older buildings are what sets communities apart.”

Read the entire article here.


Kiplinger Names Lansing One of Nation's Top Ten Best Cities For Young Adults

Lansing is among the 10 best cities for young adults, according to a national financial news magazine. Kiplinger cited Lansing’s low rent and high-paying technology job opportunities in its list of cities, which also included Chicago, Austin and Portland, Ore.

According to excerpts from the article:

We began our search using the criteria we used to select our overall list of Best Cities for the Next Decade: healthy economies fueling new job growth.

We fine-tuned our search using other youth-friendly factors such as large percentages of people under 35, cost of living and rental costs, culture, nightlife, and the time you're likely to spend in traffic.

Home to five medical schools, two law schools and Michigan State University, Michigan’s capital is a little-known hotbed for young professionals. Granted, this Great Lakes community can’t quite compare to the larger cities on our list in terms of job prospects or things to do. But it has a relatively low cost of living. And its youthful population, downtown renewal projects, and emerging technology sector make Lansing a stand-out in mid-sized cities.

Read the entire article and view the slideshow here.


Lansing Competes For $190 Million GM Plant Upgrade

Lansing hopes to entice General Motors to invest $190 million in a Lansing plant to ramp up for production of a new vehicle.

According to excerpts from the article:

The city of Lansing could end up offering General Motors Co. $9.8 million in tax incentives if the automaker picks a Lansing plant for a new vehicle.

That is the amount of a personal property tax abatement Mayor Virg Bernero wants the Lansing City Council to approve to help persuade GM to invest $190 million to add an unnamed vehicle — and about 600 jobs — to its Lansing Grand River assembly line.

The abatement would be spread out over 25 years — or about $390,000 a year.

GM isn't saying what other sites it's considering for the work.

However, GM has said it plans to bring the work to an existing factory. In addition to Lansing Grand River, GM currently has assembly plants elsewhere in Michigan as well as in Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas and Louisiana.

Read the entire article here.

Capital Region Concerts Work to Build On Area's Quality of Life

As Lansing kicks off its Common Ground Music Festival, the region takes stock of the myriad benefits of its growing concert and festival lineup.

According to excerpts from the article:

From city-sponsored events to events sponsored by arts councils and businesses, organizers say the main goal is to increase the quality of life in the community.

Businesses near free-concert venues also find themselves often benefiting, creating a mix that seems to make free concerts pay off for everyone involved.

The East Lansing Summer Concert Series helps draw people to the downtown business area. But it's also a way for the city to express how much it values community events, arts and culture, and bringing the community together, said Ami Van Antwerp, East Lansing's communications coordinator.

"One of the things people really value about living here is all of the festivals and events you can attend," she said.

Read the article here.

On Earth Magazine Touts Lansing's Entrepreneurial Culture, Sustainability

MSU student and periodic Capital Gains contributor, Kelly Steffen, writes in On Earth magazine about the four key things Lansing is doing to support more innovation, sustainability and young talent in the Capital region.

According to excerpts from the article:

Many people have this perception of Michigan and even more specifically of Lansing, that is clogged with a generic negativity. I will even admit that before I plugged myself into this whole vibrant and innovative scene, I thought only "losers" who couldn't find a job in Chicago or elsewhere, stayed here.

Now, I know I couldn't have been further from the truth. Both young and old students, professionals and entrepreneurs here in Lansing work endlessly to create green cities, collaborative co-working spaces and a vibrant nightlife.

So, before you even start with "there's no opportunities nor a fun nightlife in Lansing (or Michigan)," come hang out with me and my friends for a day, we'll change your mind.

My life is booming with innovative ideas, entrepreneurial resources, incredible mentors, impressive friends in Lansing; yours could be too.

Read the entire article here.

Companies Making Dollars and Sense of Lansing’s Old School Buildings

The national magazine Next American City has taken notice of Lansing’s recent success in turning vacant neighborhood school buildings into spaces for high tech, medical and creative industries. The buildings are being scooped up by companies desiring large, relatively cheap start up space.

According to excerpts from the article:

Nanotechnology, biotechnology, and health care companies are scooping up abandoned school buildings ranging from 20,000 square feet to more than 50,000 square feet in size. After purchasing them for $100,000 to $400,000 or less than $20 a square foot, these firms are rehabbing them and turning them into economic generators.

“Over the last 20 years, we have taken five buildings that had really begun to be eyesores on the community and converted them into offices and manufacturing space,” says James Herbert, founder and CEO of the Neogen Corporation.

Neogen is a publicly traded company that develops food and animal safety products. Each year Neogen manufactures more than $50 million worth of product at its Lansing headquarters, which is divided into two campuses, both of which are situated in old school buildings.

The Lansing School District has sold more than 20 school buildings in the last four decades to a small group of tech companies, including Neogen.

Read the entire article here.

Picture Brightens as Local Auto Suppliers Anticipate Second Quarter Boost

Now that General Motors is kicking up its production, local auto suppliers are preparing for a boost in business.

According to excerpts from the article:
 
Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc.'s national employment outlook survey shows Lansing-area employers have more optimistic hiring expectations for April, May and June from the first three months of the year.

Manpower reported 61 percent of more than 100 Lansing-area employers surveyed plan to keep their current staffing levels for the second quarter, while 22 percent expect to hire workers and 14 percent anticipate cuts.

That's better than the first quarter, when 70 percent of roughly 150 local employers surveyed said they planned to maintain their existing workforce, 21 percent expected to cut jobs and 6 percent planned to add workers.

Read the entire article here.

Charrette Institute Co-Founder Brings Planning Ideas to 28 Regional Leaders

Charrette anyone? More than 20 urban planners and developers met with the co-founder of the National Charrette Institute to discuss how collaboration could help with Capital region building and zoning improvements.

According to excerpts from the article:

“Charrette” has become the term of art for gatherings of developers, officials, citizens, and anybody else in town with an interest in a proposed redevelopment project or zoning overhaul.

Bill Lennertz, co-founder in 2001 of the Portland, Ore.-based National Charrette Institute, came to Lansing last week to tutor 28 urban planners, developers and students from all over Michigan in the delicate art of running a charrette.

Municipalities sometimes run charrettes, but usually they are run by a team of professional designers and planners who are certified by a trainer like Lennertz.

Read the entire article here.

Science Program Funds High School Students To Intern As MSU Researchers

This summer six-to-eight science minded high school juniors will receive $2,000 stipends to spend the summer working as Michigan State University (MSU) researchers.

According to excerpts from the article:

Sexton High School junior Jade Frazier said she has wanted to get into the medical field since she was about 5, when she had trouble breathing and was rushed to the hospital for asthma treatment.

The 16-year-old could come one step closer to reaching her goal of becoming a radiologist if she is selected to participate in the Future Scientist Program, a paid summer internship announced Thursday.

Six to eight Lansing high school juniors will be chosen for the pilot program, giving them the opportunity to work with Michigan State University researchers in campus laboratories.

Read the entire article here.

Lansing EDC Expands Loan Program to Include More High Tech Companies

The Lansing Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is broadening the geographic coverage of its business loan program services to include more high tech companies.

According to excerpts from the article:

Historically, the Business Finance Assistance Program targeted specific areas such as Old Town, Michigan Avenue and downtown. It provided loans to several bars and restaurants.

"We've got to think about how we're going to help small businesses—in particular, how to diversify them," said Bob Trezise, the LEDC's president and CEO.

"The downtown has taken off. Maybe the loan and other efforts did their jobs."

Read the entire article here.

Auto Suppliers Prepare for GM Employee Boost of Up to 1,000 Workers

Local auto suppliers are preparing for GM’s plan to hire up to 1,000 workers in April by strengthening their own workforces.

According to excerpts from the article:

The additional workers - 450 to 525 combined at Ryder Logistics, JCIM and Android Industries - are needed as GM prepares to add a third shift of 900 to 1,000 workers in April.

The shift is needed because production of the Chevrolet Traverse crossover - made in Spring Hill, Tenn., until November 2009 - is being brought to the Delta plant. Two sister crossovers - the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia - are already made there.

GM is filling spots at the assembly plant with transferred workers from Spring Hill and laid-off workers from the Lansing Grand River assembly plant and elsewhere. But suppliers are hiring new workers.They typically are paid from $12 an hour to $15 an hour, said Doug Stites, CEO of local work force development agency Capital Area Michigan Works.

Read the entire article here.


Vietnamese Refugee Serves Up Some of Asia’s Finest

Vietnamese refugee Mary Ann Le serves a trifecta of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine at her restaurant, Asia’s Finest.

According to excerpts from the article:

She opened it after moving to the United States in 1989after a brief stay in the Philippines as a Vietnamese refugee. She took classes at Lansing Community College to learn English, worked in a few local restaurants, then opened shop on the south side. She cooks, cleans and manages— the typical busy life of an independent restaurateur. After seven years in business, it’s safe to say her food has given her some success.

“We’re very famous for our Vietnamese and Thai food,” Le says. “Thai food, spicy food, is very popular in Michigan. Hot flavors in cold weather.”

The Chinese menu is popular and filled with the usual culinary suspects: lo mein, fried rice, General Tso’s chicken, etc. The Thai menu features spicier fare, and the pad thai — sautéed meat with stir-fried noodles,bean sprouts and green onions — is oft requested. But for a taste of authenticity, go for a Vietnamese soup.

Read the entire article here.


Potential For More Passenger Rail Service Sparks Development Dreams

The prospect of bringing more passenger rail service to the Capital region has residents and city officials discussing its implications in terms of public transit and economic revitalization.

According to excerpts from the article:

Every morning around 8:30, an Amtrak train on the Blue Water Line rolls into the East Lansing station on its way from Port Huron to Chicago. As the train continues west from the station, which is located near the intersection of Harrison and Trowbridge roads, it passes by a relic of passenger train travel, the Grand Trunk Western Rail Station in Lansing’s REO Town.

The architecturally and historically significant Grand Trunk depot is abandoned and deteriorating, its windows busted out, its parking lot empty and its roof crumbling. It was, most recently, a restaurant, but has been empty since the 1990s.

But, the case for train travel might also be economic stimulus. Proponents of rail travel — either high speed rail between states, or light rail trains in cities, or commuter rail lines connecting close cities — say that trains improve people’s quality of life; trains are good for the environment because they take cars off the road; and, building rail infrastructure can create new jobs.

And, locally, some would like to see the old Grand Trunk rail station in REO Town revived and made into a hub for travelers to and from Lansing — the station is centrally located and along existing bus lines (the East Lansing station is, too).

Read the entire article here.


Time for Chickens: New County Ordinance Opens Door to Poultry in the City

The City of Lansing is examining how a new Ingham County ordinance that allows for chicken raising in non-agricultural urban areas should be handled within city limits.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lansing resident Dale Huber had not announced his three new chicks to his neighbors yet when one did the job for him.

“When they are smaller, they’re not as smart as they are when they’re older. One of them actually got out and there was a knock at the door and here’s the neighbor holding a chicken and he goes, ‘I think this is yours, we see them in the backyard every once and a while,’” Huber said.

Huber, who grew up on a farm, purchased his three hens last March and began raising them in his backyard.

The Ingham County ordinance allows nonagricultural properties in urban areas to keep up to five hens, which cannot be slaughtered an the property.

Read the entire article here.


City of Lansing Receives $17.4 Million to Help Improve Target Neighborhoods

The City of Lansing has received $17.4 million to improve area neighborhoods overburdened with foreclosures as part of $223 million in federal funds awarded to Michigan cities.

According to excerpts from the article:

"It's a great opportunity for Lansing and will be a great benefit to our neighborhoods in fighting the negative impacts of foreclosure," said Randy Hannan, Mayor Virg Bernero's deputy chief of staff.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the money as part of $2 billion in Recovery Act funding to states, local governments and nonprofit housing developers. The money is distributed through HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

In Lansing, city officials and the Ingham County Land Bank Fast Track Authority plan to demolish 258 housing units, rehabilitate 98 and construct four new ones, said Bob Johnson, Lansing's director of planning and development.

Read the entire article here.

State Housing Agency Rolling Out New "Pure Michigan Living" Campaign

Issue Media Group, the parent company of Capital Gains Media, is working with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to launch the “Pure Michigan Living” campaign, a site designed to draw positive attention to the state.

According to excerpts from the article:

“’Pure Michigan Living’ is dedicated to sharing the quality of life stories in Michigan communities, stories about individuals moving their families and businesses to Michigan,” said Joe Borgstrom, a Division Director with MSHDA. “It seeks to raise the visibility of new economy opportunities in Michigan, to highlight the people who are choosing Michigan as a place to live, shaping what is next for our state.”

To help draw attention to the site www.puremichiganliving.com, which is inspired by Travel Michigan’s national award-winning Pure Michigan campaign, MSHDA and MEDC officials are hosting a weeklong online rally that invites state residents to tell their “Why I Choose Michigan” stories. Entries will become eligible for three randomly selected weekend getaway packages at Michigan resorts and hotels. The packages are being donated by the resorts and hotels. The goal is to collect at least 1,000 entries during Jan. 26-Feb 1. Winners will be randomly selected and will be announced the first week in February.

Two randomly selected entrants will win either a “Two Night Mountain Getaway Package” donated by Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa of Thompsonville or a “Downtown Detroit Getaway” donated by the Westin Book Cadillac.

For more information, click here.


Lansing Receives Chunk of $223 Million Federal Neighborhood Housing Grant

Lansing is one of a dozen cities that will benefit from a $223 million federal grant designed to demolish blighted buildings and revitalize neighborhoods.

According to excerpts from the article:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday announced the money as part of $2 billion in Recovery Act funding to states, local governments and nonprofit housing developers under its Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority last year applied for $290 million in federal money under the program and proposed launching what's called the "New Michigan Urban Neighborhood" plan with the funds.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Making Strides To Become a More Walkable and Attractive City

Lansing isn’t the most walkable community in the Capital region, at least not yet. Several organizations both private and public, are working to make the Capital Region much more pedestrian friendly.

According to excerpts from the article:

Only about one in every 40 residents walks to work, according to U.S. Census data. Compare that to about one in five in East Lansing.

But in the past several months, a movement to take the city in the opposite direction has gained traction.

Last year, the Lansing City Council passed what's called a complete streets ordinance, essentially pledging the city will make its transportation network more accommodating to pedestrians and bicyclists.

But what makes a city walkable is about more than sidewalks and trails. It's about the way a city is built, the look and feel of the streets, about what there is to walk to.

That means the Lansing Walking & Bicycling Task Force—a coalition of public officials, nonprofits and city residents that hopes to double the number of walking trips in the city in five years—has its work cut out.

Read the entire article here.


Innovations and New Developments Mark Bright East Lansing Economy in 2009

2009 was a good year for the Capital region, which welcomed several important economic investments including the $550 million FRIB facility, the Technology Information Center (TIC) and IBM’s move to East Lansing.

According to excerpts from the article:

While Michigan felt the pain of the highest unemployment in the nation, the bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler, a tanking housing market and a sharp slowdown in commercial sales, East Lansing could point to the following developments:

1.) FRIB, okay, Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. The $550 million Department of Energy-funded nuclear physics research facility will be a science facility dedicated answering complex questions about the structure of matter, about the stars, about basic elements on our plan, event how the planet came into existence.

Its practical benefits, as well: $1 billion economic impact over the first decade, 180 new jobs for scientists, 5,800 one-year construction jobs, 220 spin-off jobs.

Read the entire article here.


CATA Using $1.7 Million to Assess Michigan/Grand Avenue Transit Options

The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) is using $1.7 million in federal funds to determine how to improve public transportation through the region’s main business corridor.

According to excerpts from the article:

The money was made available to CATA in February, and the Michigan/Grand River Transportation Study Group was formed four months later. It's goal is to figure out what the business corridor could become.

"What we're looking for here: Is there a better way to handle transportation in the corridor, making it more attractive?" said Jon Coleman, executive director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.

About 1.5 million people use CATA public buses in the Michigan/Grand River corridor each year. That represents more than 13 percent of CATA's ridership in the area.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing/East Lansing Area Rated Among Top Five Most Affordable Family Places

MSN has rated the Lansing/East Lansing area number two on its Top Five list of the most affordable places in the country to live for median income families.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lansing, located on the banks of the Grand River, is the state capital. A two-hour drive from Detroit, it is next to East Lansing, home of Michigan State University's 5,200-acre campus. Like much of the Midwest, prices in the Lansing area never skyrocketed during the housing boom and remain affordable for most people with a median income.

Homes affordable to median-income families: 96.2%

Affordable homes Q2 2004: 90.6%

Median home price: $88,000

Median family income: $67,000

Unemployment rate: 12.7%

Read the entire article here.


Capital Area IT Council Will Use $200,000 Grant to Support LINUX Training

Capital Area Michigan Works! is retraining workers in information technology fields with a $200,000 grant issued by Michigan State University (MSU).

According to excerpts from the article:

There has been a recent surge in demand for candidates with LINUX skills, according to Chris Knapp, executive director of the Capital Area IT Council, a private-sector led group of IT businesses in greater Lansing.

Capital Area Michigan Works will use the $200,000 in funds to immediately enroll candidates into fast-track training in LINUX fundamentals. LINUX skills are critical to landing certain entry-level positions in IT.

“Companies such as Liquid Web, ACD.net and Great Lakes Comnet need candidates with demonstrated skills and aptitude for LINUX,” Knapp said. “Even some of the data centers at the region’s major insurance companies seek the skills.”

Read the entire article here.


City of Lansing Invests In New Cell Phone-Based Text Alert System

The City of Lansing is investing in a program that will allow Lansing residents to receive tornado warnings and other alerts on their cell phones.

According to excerpts from the article:

The city is launching a community information text-messaging service designed to deliver timely information about emergencies and other events.

With the launch, Lansing will join a growing list of public entities utilizing services that allow residents to receive emergency information via text messages, e-mails and online, said Trent Atkins, Lansing's emergency management chief.

The text-messaging service, projected to go live Dec. 14, will be provided free to the city through Nixle LLC, a privately funded startup that offers secure texting services to public entities and other organizations nationwide. Individuals who sign up for the alerts will receive texts as part of their individual text-messaging plan.

Read the entire article here.


Mixed Use Plans Overshadow Strip Malls at First Design Lansing Workshop

As part of the planning phase for the new Lansing master plan, Lansing residents are giving their input as to what they’d like the city to look like and that vision could include nixing surface parking lots or strip malls.

According to excerpts from the article:

The first “Design Lansing” community character workshop was held Thursday at the Lansing Center, giving residents an opportunity to “vote” on changes to the city’s first comprehensive master plan effort since the last one was completed in 1958.

The main question now for planners and residents is, “What do we want to transform into?”

“We’re after the big picture,” said Bob Doyle, a project manager from JJR, the firm contracted by the city Planning and Neighborhood Development Department to develop the new master plan. “We try to get a sense of the big picture ideas people are supporting.”

Read the entire article here.


MSU Journalism Students Show Off Their Favorite Late Night Hangouts

The Capital region has plenty of late night hangouts. But if you’re not a night owl, it’s hard to find them. Several Michigan State University (MSU) students have set out to introduce the city to their late-night haunts.

According to excerpts from the article:

Late at night, Theio’s “feels like Christmas.”

Regular Sarah Sturgeon said so on a recent Thursday night visit, and taking a step back to watch the bar crowd congregate well into the lazy hours of the early morning, it makes sense.

Like Sturgeon said, it’s like being with your family.There are the drunk and boisterous aunts and uncles and assorted cousins — from those who always know the coolest new bands to the ones sitting in the corner playing Magic cards; there are the quiet types and the gossipers, and, playing the role of grandparents, there’s the waitresses holding it all together.

Sturgeon, 27, said she’s been “doing this” for 13 years. “This” means joining in the kind of atmosphere you can only find in the middle of the night at a 24-hour diner. Theio’s is one of those places that have become a regular part of her routine. “If you’re having a bad day, coffee can fix anything,” she said, gripping a mug in one hand and a hand-rolled cigarette in the other.

Read the entire article here.


$278 Million Sewer Overflow Project Improving Lansing’s Rivers

A $278 million combined sewer overflow (CSO) project has improved Lansing’s rivers, vastly reducing and nearly eliminating the amount of untreated sewage seeping into the Grand and Red Cedar rivers.

According to excerpts from the article:

Last spring, a foot of rain that nourished lawns across the city also imposed an environmental cost.

Nearly 200 million gallons of untreated water — murky with raw sewage — emerged from the city's antiquated network of underground pipes in March, April and May, according to city reports marking the progress of Lansing's combined sewer overflow project.

Where the most expensive public works project in the city's history has laid new pipes for sewage and converted old pipes to handle storm water, the spill off into the Grand and Red Cedar rivers is virtually clear of untreated sewage.

Read the entire article here.


MSU Receives B Grade for Implementation of New Sustainability Efforts

Michigan State University got a respectable B grade for its efforts to implement more sustainable management practices, including areas of environmental management and recycling.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Sustainable Endowments Institute’s 2010 college sustainability report card was released Oct. 7 and gave letter grades to schools across the country based on their campus sustainability.

MSU received a B, something university officials said adequately reflects MSU.

Jennifer Sowa, project coordinator in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Operations, said she anticipates the grade improving in the future, but is not disheartened by the B.

“A B is certainly not a bad grade,” she said. “It does reflect where we are.”

MSU’s grade was on par with other Big Ten schools. The University of Minnesota received an A-, one of the highest grades in the Big Ten, and University of Iowa received a C, which was one of the lowest.

Schools were graded based on various areas of campus sustainability efforts, such as student involvement, administration and food and recycling.

Read the entire article here.


Michigan Tax Benefit Program Could Help Address Lansing’s Food Desert Issue

Lansing residents are starting to take note of, and are looking to change, the many city “food deserts” — large areas of a city that do not have direct access to healthy food choices.

According to excerpts from the article:

For Westside Lansing resident Marvin Harden, there are not any grocery stores in his neighborhood that offer a bounty of fresh produce, meats and dairy products.

“You have to drive out to Wal-Mart, or Meijer, or Kroger,” he said. “If you ain’t got no car, you got to (take the bus) and that’s about three or four hours.”

Harden's neighborhood is what experts would call a “food desert,” an area with little or no access to healthy food. These areas are often saturated with unhealthy fast foods outlets. Between Harden’s home near the corner of Capitol and Oakland avenues, and Mt. Hope Avenue — an area that contains most of Downtown Lansing and the Westside neighborhood — there isn’t one full service grocery store to be found.

Read the entire article here


City of Lansing Master Plan Update Looks to Foster Unique Neighborhood Character

The City of Lansing’s master plan, which is expected to be adopted in 2010, is designed to encourage developments that will create unique, sustainable identities for Lansing’s neighborhoods and downtown corridor.

According to excerpts from the article:

The goal is to nurture development of the city's business corridors and transition zones between neighborhoods so they develop uniquely. It's a vision that, if set in an approved master plan, can be used to guide city growth for decades to come.

So, what is it exactly city planners are trying to create? A Lansing where the character of owners past welcomes you, said Bob Johnson, city director of Planning and Neighborhood Development.

Since April, the city has surveyed 750 residents with questions such as the name of their favorite city park, what they want to preserve in their community and what they want to change.

The city also has hosted 30 Workshop-in-a-Box meetings, where small groups of residents sit down with a community coordinator, ask questions and offer their thoughts.

Residents looking for a less intimate discussion can attend Design Lansing meetings, such as one scheduled for Oct. 29 at the Lansing Center.

Read the entire article here.


Popular Ramon’s Restaurant Reopens on Lansing's Westside

Ramon’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Lansing, reopened in a new Westside Lansing location on Saginaw Street earlier this year and has seen a steady increase in business.

According to excerpts from the article:

The restaurant, which opened in January, has seen a steady increase in costumers since its new start. Many of them were patrons of the restaurant’s previous incarnations on Washington and East Grand River avenues.

For store owner Rieger (ne Fuentes), the new location on Saginaw Street is a slow return from the renowned Lansing restaurant her parents owned. But for Rieger and her husband, Steven, the return of her family-oriented Tex-Mex restaurant is a dream come true. "I daydreamed about when I would get my own restaurant," she said. "I think I’m a dreamer. I mean, how else do you get what you want than to have dreams?”

Out at 806 1/2 Saginaw St., Lansing, the primarily take-out restaurant, which shares a building with Pope´s House of Style, is a sight for sore eyes for former patrons who remember the original, pure Tex-Mex flavor of her parents´ cooking.

The small, white sign out on the parkway that reads "Ramon´s. We´re back," points to the rich and often painful history of the restaurant and the family behind it.

Read the entire article here.


Capital Region's $3.3 Million Summer Youth Work Program Helps Employ 700

Capital Area Michigan Works! put roughly 700 teens to this work this summer using $3.3 million from the federal government to find jobs for at-risk individuals age 14-24.

According to excerpts from the article:

Dominique Kowalk has been awake at 4:30 a.m. each weekday this summer so she can take the bus, drop her 6-month-old daughter at day care and get to work by 9 a.m.

The 23-year-old single mother doesn't complain. She says she's grateful for her full-time, minimum-wage summer job doing clerical work at Woldumar Nature Center.

Kowalk, of Lansing, got the job through Capital Area Michigan Works' summer youth employment program.

"Without this, I'd probably still be out there just filling out applications and not having any luck," she said. "This has helped tremendously."

Read the entire article here.


Feds Approve Trade Incentives for Capital Region International Airport

The federal government approved a foreign trade zone request that will allow companies to use tax incentives for business done through the Capital Region International Airport.

According to excerpts from the article:

"It was a little longer than we anticipated, so there was some fear there was maybe going to be a 'no' in the works," said Bob Selig, executive director of the Capital Region Airport Authority. "Of course, we're excited to basically be launching another component of our international development that's so critical to the region and the state at this point."

The zone is part of the airport's push for international cargo and air travel. The airport became an official U.S. Port of Entry last year. In May, the airport opened a $4.3 million U.S. Customs and Border Protection station.

These developments should help make Lansing a distribution and logistics hub for international trade, said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Read the entire article here.

Consumers Energy Updates Apartments as Part of Michigan Efficiency Program

Okemos-based Central Park Apartments is the first apartment complex in the Capital Region to participate in a Consumers Energy program designed to help green residential buildings and help the utility meet the requirements of a new state efficiency program.

According to excerpts from the article.

The 402 units at the apartment complex owned by East Lansing-based Eyde Co. are getting the upgrades this week. In coming months, similar work will be done at complexes near Michigan State University that are operated by DTN Management Co. of Lansing.

Consumers plans to spend $500 million over the next 5 1/2 years on energy saving programs such as this one. A surcharge Consumers started adding to customer bills in June will pay for the program.

The program, and similar efforts under development at the Lansing Board of Water & Light and other utility companies around the state, are part of a response to a state law passed last year that requires utilities to help customers save energy.

"This is probably the largest energy efficiency program that Michigan has ever launched," Consumers spokesman Dan Bishop said.

Read the entire article here.


$300 Million Casino Yields 90 Jobs, $50 Million in Local Construction Contracts

The $300 million, 236,000 square foot FireKeepers Casino being constructed along Interstate 94 near Battle Creek has a total workforce of 1,500, including 90 Lansing-based employees.

According to excerpts from the article:

"We were focusing on keeping all the business in Michigan," said Laura Spurr, chairwoman of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians, which owns the casino.

FireKeepers could be more than a good bet on jobs and contract work for mid-Michigan. The casino, located about 45 minutes from Lansing, could draw patrons from the area who are willing to travel around an hour and 15 minutes north to Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, or 1 1/2 hours to Detroit's MGM Grand, Greektown and Motor Citycasinos.

About $50 million in contracts went to 10 Lansing-area construction-related companies and one local public relations firm. And roughly half of the 700 construction jobs came from the Lansing area, said Duane Wixson, senior project manager at Lansing-based Clark Construction Co., the casino's general contractor.

Read the entire article here.


New Website Touts FRIB Opportunities and Capital Region Assets

Michigan State University (MSU) and Capital region leaders recently developed a website to market the Capital region and help attract new employees to the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) project.

According to excerpts from the article:

“This Web site sends a clear message throughout the world that the Greater Lansing region is one of the most livable, affordable, culturally diverse and exciting regions anywhere,” said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Web site uses the theme "Greater Lansing—Where it All Comes Together," and features detailed information on schools, transportation, housing, major employers, healthcare, and cultural attractions in the region. The Web site places special emphasis on growing sectors of the regional economy including cutting edge technology, advanced manufacturing and the financial and insurance sectors.

“For FRIB to realize its full potential as a world-competitive laboratory, we must be able to recruit the best scientists and researchers to test, build and operate the facility,” said Denyse Ferguson, president and CEO of Lansing Economic Area Partnership Inc., which managed the design of the website. “This Web site gives potential FRIB employees and their families an opportunity to get a feel for what our region is really all about.”

Read the entire article here.


Company Hoping to Build Solar Powered, High Speed Train System in Michigan

The Interstate Traveler Company says it could build a solar powered train system that would run from Grand Rapids to Lansing to Detroit.

According to excerpts from the article:

Imagine traveling from Grand Rapids to Detroit in a half-hour. One company says it can make that happen, and now lawmakers are deciding whether to move forward.

It's not a high-speed rail, but a really high-speed rail, that would use futurist technology.

"It's a very important infrastructure, it's what built our country 100 to 150 years ago, but it has its limitations," said Justin Sutton of the Interstate Travel Company.

Read the entire article here


MSU Professor Says Challenged Economy Offers Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

The economic challenges facing the nation also offer economic opportunity to entrepreneurs willing to face them, says Michigan State University (MSU) Accounting Professor Sanjay Gupta.

According to excerpts from the article:

“There always are challenges in setting up a new business, whether in good times or bad,” said Gupta, chairperson of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems in the Eli Broad College of Business.

“However, there are some unique challenges budding entrepreneurs face, especially during the current economic downturn,” he said.

New entrepreneurs willing to take a chance may be catalysts in turning around the entire economy, but they need to adhere to sound business principles to succeed.

Read the entire article here.


Congress Advances $500,000 for BWL's Plug-In Car Charging Stations

The U.S. Congress is working on legislation that could result in $500,000 in federal funds for Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) operated electric car charging stations.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Lansing Board of Water & Light is on track to receive $500,000 in federal funds to install electric car charging stations in Delta Township.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the funding Friday, said Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

The funds are part of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Schauer said in a statement constructing and operating the stations will create about 40 jobs.

The stations initially would be used by BWL vehicles to demonstrate the capabilities of plug-in hybrids and could later be available for public use, Schauer's press secretary, Zachary Pohl, said.

Read the entire article here.


Laid Off Auto Workers Find Opportunity in Reinventing Their Careers

Some laid off auto workers are making the best of their situation by taking advantage of higher education programs and internships in the area, using them to reinvent their careers.

According to excerpts from the article:

Alicia Azzopardi was laid off just before Christmas. It couldn't have happened at a better time.

"I was so upset when I left my job," said Azzopardi. "I was crying, and I just didn't know what to do."

The same week that she got laid off, Michigan State University accepted her into its accelerated nursing program. Even better, she learned she qualified for a grant from the Michigan Nursing Corps. The state-funded initiative, which provides her with a $25,000 stipend, is addressing Michigan's nursing shortage in part by rewarding workers who have been laid off.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing and East Lansing Leaders Partner to Boost Arts and Culture Economy

Artists, politicians and other interested Capital region community members are working together to identify ways to boost interest in local arts.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lori Mullins, with the City of East Lansing, is part of a group in the early stages of identifying how to stoke more interest in arts, as both a reaction to the recession and part of a way out of the state's economic quicksand.

"The bottom line is to improve our economy. Each one of the sectors within our economy is very important; this is one sector that has jobs and is very important to our local economy." said Mullins

One local artist points to the more than $1 million dollars in work at the Riverwalk Theatre downtown that brought skilled-trades jobs.

Read the entire article here.


Local Science and Technology Camp Strikes Chord With Future-Focused Children

More than a dozen kids recently showed up at Lansing's Impression 5 Science Center to participate in a week-long, hands-on technology camp designed to get kids interested in science and technology.

According to excerpts from the article:

Loren Todd, of East Lansing, joined more than a dozen 7th-, 8th- and 9th-graders at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing this week for a technology camp.

Okemos-based TechSmith Corp. funded the camp. The Information Technology Empowerment Center of Lansing, or ITEC, provided instructors.

On Monday, the first day of camp, Loren created a zombie cat character for a computer program.

"I just thought it'd be interesting to have a camp that's all about science and making stuff with computers and building robots with LEGOS," Loren said. "I thought it would be kind of interesting to have all those different activities, as opposed to just sitting around the house all day or going to some more boring camp."

Read the entire article here.


Investors Push to Build Prototype of $2.3 Billion Elevated Magnetic Rail System

Private investors say they have enough money to build a prototype for an elevated rail system that would connect Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

According to excerpts from the article:

State Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, who heads a taskforce looking into whether the state should grant easements for the rail line along Interstate 96, U.S. 23 and I-94, said the system is possible—provided there's private funding to meet the $2.3 billion price tag.

"If they truly can finance it, I don't know why it couldn't exist," Rogers said. "I just don't know if the money is there."

The "MagLev" rail line would incorporate hydrogen and solar technology, and magnetic forces would help propel train cars along stainless steel tubes. Other tubes could serve as conduits for fiber opticcable, electrical lines and utilities like water and natural gas. All are technologies in use in high-speed rail systems in Japan, China and Portugal, its developers said.

Read the entire article here.


60 Students Graduate from Film Program

Sixty students recently graduated from a $195,000 state funded program designed to retrain workers for the state’s budding film industry.

According to excerpts from the article:

They finished a three-week crash course on the basics: cameras, set design, lighting, sound, makeup and wardrobe and how to resolve the last-minute issues that give directors headaches.

Like: “You’re on a set in Oscoda and the director needs a 50-pound white dog that can sit and stay on command. You have three hours, what do you do?”

That was one of the essay questions used to whittle down 1,000 applicants to the 60 slots. The course was sponsored by a $195,000 state grant with instructors from Michigan State University and Lansing Community College.

Read the entire article here.


Apartments Could See $300 Million Boost From Federal Housing Program

Several apartment complexes in the Capital region are hoping to get a $300 million boost from the federal government’s stimulus plan.

According to excerpts from the article:

One apartment complex that says the money would benefit the entire community. Lansing's Ballentine Stepping Stone apartment complex may not be the most visually stimulating, but it serves the greater good.

Lynn Martinez, Greater Lansing Housing Coalition: "It's really valuable to the community. It's been serving homeless people for about twelve years, and it needs some rehab, and it needs a new direction."

Lynne Martinez directs the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition. She says the program plans to revamp the facility, including fixing the wheelchair ramp—adding two units to the building, improvements typically made possible by the state.

Read the entire article here.


Capital Region Celebrates Summer with Barbecue's Best

The Capital region is known for a lot of things, and barbeque is one of them. This summer, dive face first into barbeque from one of these six Capital Region-based vendors.

According to excerpts from the article:

After six full months of winter—that’s right, folks, we had snow on the ground from November through April—did you notice that familiar aroma in the air?

That indistinguishable smoky/savory smell hitting your nose is the first sure sign that it’s barbecue season, and, like sex, there is no such thing as bad barbecue.

The City Pulse Food Fight team—this time featuring intern Liz Reyna, writer Joe Torok, and City Council members Kathie Dunbar and Derrick Quinney—ranked five local barbecue establishments. The results are far from scientific but should provide a handy primer. All were ranked from 1 to 5 keeping in mind taste, atmosphere, service and cost.

Read the entire article here.


Minneapolis-Based Culture Consultants Give Capital Region Thumbs Up

Two consultants from Minneapolis-based Creative Community Builders who were sent to Lansing to assess the area’s cultural assets and walked away impressed with the abundance of cultural resources in the Capital region.

According to excerpts from the article:

Consultants Tom Borrup and Erik Takeshita were in town May 2 through 6 for the first of three visits to mid-Michigan to evaluate the region’s arts and culture scene and opportunities, and if we’re hearing them right, the guys were impressed with what they saw.

“The breadth of the arts community and quality of arts activities and organizations is pretty remarkable for a relatively small community,” said Borrup during a post-trip interview.

Borrup and Takeshita were sent by Minneapolis-based Creative Community Builders as part of a $65,000 collaborative project by the Lansing Economic Development Corp., East Lansing, Michigan State University, Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Michigan’s History, Arts & Libraries Department. The collaborators hope the results of the study will help grow arts and culture’s role in the local economy. 

While in town, Borrup and Takeshita conducted interviews, held meetings and led focus groups. They visited Impression 5 Science Center and the REO Olds Transportation Museum, took part in Old Town’s First Sunday gallery walk and, based on a recommendation, ate breakfast at Golden Harvest Restaurant. 

Read the entire article here.


New Report Says Green Jobs Growth at 7.7 Percent in Michigan

From 2005 to 2008, the state’s green industry grew by 7.7 percent, according to a study released by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.

According to excerpts from the article:

It (the green industry) employs more than 109,000 people.The largest sector of the green industry, clean transportation and fuels, employs 40% of the state's green jobs workers.

Andy Levin, Deputy Director, DELEG: "These are people who need to put together the business and the education to create these green jobs, 'cause they know this is the future, they know this is where there's a chance to make money, and so they're coming together to figure it out."

The green energy event drew some high-wattage politicians. The US secretary of labor joined Governor Jennifer Granholm at the Lansing Center. Governor Granholm says creating green jobs is the key to pushing the state through these tough times. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis backs her up, calling green jobs the jobs of the future.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing's 33-Car Police Fleet Gets High Tech Upgrade

The 33-car Lansing Police fleet is getting a technology upgrade that includes laptops, high speed broadband and 3G technology.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lansing officers are armed with state of the art technology to target troublemakers.

"We're always looking for ways to free up patrol time for our officers, we decided that we were going to take an aggressive approach and get the equipment out there to our officers so they can be more effective and efficient," said Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley.

All 33 cars in the fleet are the same vehicles, but will have new equipment, like laptops with high-speed broadband 3G technology.

"This does give the officer the ability to control the camera," said Lansing Police technician Jeff Kludy.

Kludy showed us how officers can now see live video from their laptops of the city's public surveillance cameras throughout Lansing.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Police Introduce New Tip Line Aimed at Tech-Savvy Young People

The Lansing Police Department is setting up an anonymous tip line designed to encourage young people to call in.

According to excerpts from the article.

They're calling it tip 411, an easy to use program for real time, two-way chat with anyone who has an anonymous tip.

Lansing police can then talk with the anonymous tipster via cell phone or web text.

"This is geared toward younger people or people who are savvy with technology and if they have access to a cell phone or a camera phone or something like that if there is something occurring and they are able to snap a picture or video," Detective Sergeant Susan Baylis said.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Artist Inspires Genesee Neighborhood with Community Mural

Local artist Erika Magers supervised children in the basement of the Black Child and Family Institute as they worked on a mural representing Lansing’s Genesee neighborhood.

According to excerpts from the article:

Erika Magers is trying to strengthen a community with art.

In the basement of the Black Child and Family Institute in Lansing, Magers and her assistant, Tom Sheerin, supervised Saturday while children worked on a mural representing the city's Genesee neighborhood.

Magers, a 29-year-old mural artist from Lansing, said the project was intended to represent the history and the future of the neighborhood.

The mural, which will stand seven feet tall and 14 feet wide, will eventually be moved to the institute's east wall, facing a playground.

"We're doing this so that these kids know what their community was in the past and what it can be in the future," Magers said. "It gives the kids something to do, but more importantly, it gives them the feeling that they have a voice in their community."

Marquan Sams, 10, of Lansing, who was drawing a computer on the mural, said he hopes the project can help educate residents.

"I can have this experience to tell people about what happened in the past and what's going to happen in the future," Marquan said.

Read the entire article here.


Capital Area Michigan Works Launches New Summer Youth Work Program

Capital Area Michigan Works is using federal recovery funds to offer summer work to young people in the Lansing community. Interested companies can use the extra helping hands for a range of jobs, from administrative tasks to marketing research.

According to excerpts from the article:

An exciting new program will place 600 at-risk youth, ages 14 to 24, into summer employment throughout the community, and it won't cost businesses a penny.

With funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Capital Area Michigan Works will have the opportunity to place summer help at private companies, nonprofits, government entities and more from June through August. We'll pay the wages, and you can reap the benefits. We'll even train the students and supervise them.

The goal is to help youth get real on-the-job experience, put money into young peoples' pockets to spend in our community, and give businesses additional help during these trying economic times.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Robotics Competition Draws Techies from Around the State

The FIRST Robotics Competition (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) , which was held in the Capital region for the first time, attracted participants from all over the state.

According to excerpts from the article:

The tournament brought together robotics teams from all over the state looking to qualify for the Michigan State Championship in April, and ultimately advancing to the International Championship in Georgia.

It's the first time the tournament was hosted in Mid-Michigan.

"Kids need to learn that the exciting jobs and careers are for people that think, for people that have learned the skills of science and technology, and here, that's what they're seeing," said Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics.

Students exploring careers in science, engineering, math, medical technology and other related fields took part in today's competition. 

Read the entire article here.


IBM Hiring at New East Lansing Facility

IBM has started interviewing candidates to fill the first round of jobs available at its new  East Lansing center, scheduled to open by June 1.

According to excerpts from the article:

"We plan to have 100 jobs by June and expect the center to grow as quickly as possible," IBM spokesman Randy Zane said.

Officials announced the facility in January. State officials claim it could eventually help create 1,500 direct and indirect jobs in five years.

Recruiters are targeting college students graduating in May and recent college graduates, said Kate Tykocki, spokeswoman for work force development agency Capital Area Michigan Works.

Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a computer science-related field. Officials also are targeting for applicants with a grade-point average of at least 3.0, and internship or co-op experience.

Read the entire article here.


$20 Million in Federal Earmarks Still Headed To Lansing Area

The Capital region stands to get more than $20 million in dedicated funding from the federal government, a move that will fund various projects and programs in the Lansing area.

According to excerpts from the article:

Despite a federal effort to cut back on earmarks, the massive spending bill approved Tuesday by the Senate includes plenty of local projects requested by lawmakers, including more than $20 million for the Lansing area.

There's money for: multiple research projects at Michigan State University, buses and bus storage, new equipment for Lansing and Ingham County police officers, curriculum development at Lansing Community College and a study of the Grand River waterfront restoration project.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Police Department to Get $600,000 in JAG Program Funding

The Lansing Police Department is set to receive more than $600,000 in Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding from the federal government to help police officers keep their jobs and fight crime.

According to excerpts from the article:

"Generally speaking, the rules are, we have to come to a memorandum of understanding with some other Ingham County-area police departments, the sheriff department, on how we're going to spend the money," said Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley.

Those rules are in place because the JAG grants come every year. Except this year, they're coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or more commonly referred to as the 'stimulus').

Other local agencies will get varying amounts, including the Jackson Police Department getting about $140,000, East Lansing getting about $90,000, and Ingham County getting about $60,000.

Read the entire article here.


New Market Study Says Downtown Lansing Could Support More Growth

The City of Lansing is working with an area consultant to develop a market study that will hopefully help business and government leaders decide what type of developments will fair well in downtown Lansing.

According to excerpts from the article:

Bob Trezise, Lansing Economic Development Corp.:"When people come downtown, they need to really say to themselves, wow."

Which is why the Lansing Economic Development Corporation hired a consultant to study the area and provide hard numbers on what developments could prosper on Washington Square and beyond.

Jay Schlinsog, conducted market study: "We've had more than 600 people participate and provide input in part of the process, people that know about this area, that live here, that work here."

And the results show a downtown on the brink of something more.

In fact, the study proves there's a demand for growth in many areas.

Read the entire article here.


Local First Group Seeks to Keep Dollars in Lansing's Economy

The Capital Area Local First group is revitalizing the Capital region’s fervor for buying all things local, a movement that is helping keep local dollars at home.

According to excerpts from the article:

There is a simple idea behind a Local First drive. One dollar, spent locally, may end up in two, three, four or more nearby tills, enriching local coffers like a magic bean until somebody drops it at Wal-Mart, blows it on a Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse or mails it off in a mortgage check to Countrywide.

Capital Area Local First follows similar movements in forward-thinking metro areas like Austin, Texas, San Francisco and Grand Rapids. The Lansing group was officially formed two years ago, with fits and starts going back to 2002, but it has been slow going. Getting busy local businessmen to agree, cooperate or find time to volunteer is not easy.

Now the group is beginning to feel its oats. Local First stickers are proliferating in windows and doors of locally owned businesses. There are plans for cross-promotions, a discount coupon book and ad campaigns hammering on the virtues of buying local.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Area Library Check-Out Rate Up Nine Percent For the Year

Capital region libraries have seen a massive influx in visitors during the last several months and are becoming an Internet café of sorts for job seekers.

According to excerpts from the article:

Eunice Ortiz, 30, had a deadline to meet.

Her resume was due at 11 a.m. Thursday, and to finish it and get it to where it had to go, she needed the Internet. Or rather, she needed her local public library.

The South Lansing Library, a branch of the Capital Area District Library system, offers free wireless Internet. So Ortiz, like thousands of others looking for work in a slumping economy, leaned on a system already paid for with taxes.

"Today is the last day they're accepting resumes," she said with a half-hour to spare before her paperwork had to reach Kelly Services, a job placement company based in Troy. "So, I'm trying to get it done."

Year over year in the CADL system, the number of items checked out—or circulated—has increased more than nine percent.

Read the entire article here.


Ingham County Part of $2.6 Million Federal Health Clinic Grant Program

Lansing and Inkster, Mich., received $2.6 million in federal health care grants to assist community clinics that service low-income residents.

According to excerpts from the article:

The grants will go to the Western Wayne Family Health Center in Inkster, which also serves residents of Romulus and Taylor, and the Ingham County Health Department in Lansing, which has seven clinics. 

"This is really important," said spokesman Marcus Cheatham of the Ingham County Health Department.

"People are losing their health care services, and there is a big demand for our help. This will be really good for the Lansing area," said Cheatham, adding that the grant money will enable the Ingham County clinics to provide services to up to an additional 5,000 people.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing School District Starts Construction of New 45,000 Sq Ft Charter School

The Lansing School District is starting construction on a new public charter school that’s set to open in the fall of 2008.

According to excerpts from the article:

Construction of Lansing Charter Academy will begin this month at 3200 Express Court in Lansing. The 45,000-square-foot free, public charter school will open in the fall for 480 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Since several schools within the Lansing School District are located nearby, the district is "developing some strategies to maintain or even grow our student enrollment," Superintendent T.C. Wallace Jr. said.

"We don't see them really as external competition, but it's an opportunity for us to prove our advantages," he said. "It encourages us to shore up what we're doing to maintain our edge. It gives us even more incentive to improve services and deliver what parents are asking for.

"We believe we're going to stem the loss of students in that area by being proactive."

Read the entire article here.


East Lansing Joins Discussion of New Two-City Light Rail Transit Line

The City of East Lansing is joining the City of Lansing in discussions about possibly constructing a light rail transportation system that would connect the two cities.

According to excerpts from the article:

East Lansing and other area officials are conducting an analysis of whether adding a light rail that connects cities near Lansing would be feasible.

City Manager Ted Staton said it would likely take several years before any construction would begin, but the study is the first step in the process.

Possible light rail systems include a rubber-tired vehicle with designated lanes in the road, a vehicle that runs on a railway or an elevated vehicle. Staton said installing a light rail could provide several economic benefits.

“In many cities where a light rail has been developed there’s been extensive development along the corridor, so I think you could see more commercial involvement and more entertainment options for students and nonstudent residents,” Staton said.

Read the entire article here.


Sparrow Partners with MSU to Recruit More Health Care Specialists

Michigan State University (MSU) and Sparrow Health Systems have worked out an agreement both institutions hope will encourage more health care specialists to come to the area.

According to excerpts from the article:

The affiliation agreement the university and the Lansing-based operator of Sparrow Hospital announced Monday at the Sparrow Professional Building aims to recruit more medical specialists to the area. MSU and Sparrow also will look for ways the hospital and the university's medical and nursing schools can collaborate.

Sparrow and MSU already have partnerships, but there hasn't been a coordinated effort to develop more of them.

Officials from Sparrow and MSU said the agreement will lead to an expansion of medical research, and clinical and teaching programs in the area.

Read the entire article here.


MSU Students Trade Spring Break for Job Shadow Opportunity

Several hundred Michigan State University (MSU) students will spend their spring break job-shadowing businesses across the area as part of a March 10 event hosted by MSU’s Career Services Network.

According to excerpts from the article:

The effort is part of a larger program officials hope will connect area college students with entertainment and job prospects, helping to keep them in the area after graduation.

About 65 businesses had signed up for the event as of Monday, said Paul Jaques, internship developer for MSU's Career Services Network. That's a few more than last year, but Jaques figures there would be even more businesses if it weren't for the national recession.

Businesses have until Wednesday to sign up for this year's job shadow day.

"I want it to be a lot bigger," Jaques said. "I guarantee that I'm going to have more students than businesses."

Read the entire article here.


Lansing School District Works Toward New Scholarship Program

The Lansing School District is hoping to become one of 10 districts in the state to receive a Promise Zone certification from the state, which would create up to four-year scholarships for Lansing School District children.

According to excerpts from the article:

“We believe that this is a very beneficial effort to our students and to our community,” Superintendent T.C. Wallace Jr. said at Thursday’s meeting. “We’re optimistic that the establishment of this Promise Zone will help us to maintain enrollment, to attract new families to Lansing, to our community and to our school."

For students living within the district, the scholarships could cover the tuition required to earn an associate degree or its equivalent at a Michigan community or junior college. The scholarships potentially could cover a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent at a Michigan post-secondary institution.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm plans to establish 10 Promise Zones across the state. Dennis Fliehman, president and chief executive officer of Lansing’s Capital Region Community Foundation, said establishing a Promise Zone would create a more educated work force in Lansing.

Read the entire article here.


Job Prospects Prompt Michigan Citizens to Look Toward Lansing

Lansing is a popular destination for families in Saginaw, Mich., who say once they receive their rebates, they will move to the Capital City because it has better job opportunities.

According to excerpts from the article:

Jamie R. Williams and her kids are ditching Saginaw and moving to Lansing to find a job when they receive their $1,100 tax refund.

Williams is one of 3,000-plus residents expected to take advantage of free tax preparation services offered by the United Way of Saginaw County to low-income, elderly, handicapped and non-English speaking residents.

The group prepared tax returns for 25 residents at Hoyt Library in Saginaw on Friday and a session is scheduled for Butman-Fish Library today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"There are more and better jobs there (in Lansing)," said the 25-year-old single mother of three who lives in Buena Vista Township.

Read the entire article here.


Pure Michigan Tourism Web Site Is Most Visited Travel Site in the Nation

For the second time in a row, the state’s tourism web site, Michigan.org, received more traffic than any other state tourism web site, according to online measurement company, Hitwise.

According to excerpts from the article:

With 11.7 million web visits in 2008, Michigan's tourism Web site, michigan.org, tallied 30 percent more visits than in 2007. Click-throughs from the site to Michigan tourism industry Web sites also set a new record, averaging 16,074 clicks per day.

Among the custom category of the 50 U.S. state tourism web sites, michigan.org had 8.2 percent of the market share for state tourism sites, more than four times the national average. Michigan.org features information on more than 12,000 Michigan attractions, events, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses.

"Our award-winning Pure Michigan branding campaign continues to produce great results, including these record volumes at michigan.org," said George Zimmermann, vice president for Travel Michigan at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "And this year we added a winter campaign for the first time in fifteen years."

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Proposes $107 Million in Infrastructure from Federal Stimulus

The City of Lansing is putting together an infrastructure-based wish list for $107 million of President Barack Obama’s new stimulus package.

According to excerpts from the article:

"It's a pretty lofty list," Lansing City Council President Derrick Quinney said. "I'm glad we moved something forward. We've all identified that we have a worn, stressed infrastructure. We certainly need all the help we can get to improve it."

The Lansing School District, Lansing Board of Water & Light, and Capital Area Transportation Authority also have their wish lists, and across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties, requests total well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

That could mean 4,000 jobs within the city limits alone, according to Lansing officials.

Read the entire article here.


Townsend Seeks Input on Changes to $12 Million Ottawa Block Project

Gene Townsend is checking in with the Downtown and Genesee Neighborhoods before finalizing plans to change the retail/residential makeup of his proposed Ottawa Street project.

According to excerpts from the article:

Townsend appeared Jan. 22 at a joint meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood and the Genesee Neighborhood associations—for the third time—to explain a change to his Ottawa Block project, a mixed-use development that would occupy a block along Ottawa Street between Butler Boulevard and Sycamore Street.

Townsend wants to make sure that it’s OK with locals that one of the buildings in the project, which would sit on the corner of Sycamore and Ottawa, might change from residential space above ground floor retail space to office above retail. The development still will include 76 condominium residences

The reason for the change, Townsend said at the meeting, which included At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries and Economic Development Corp. CEO Bob Trezise, is that over the last year the interest in new residential units has declined. However, interest in office leases have stayed flat. Another large part of the meeting was Townsend ‘s zoning contract. He’s needs to re-zone parts of the land for commercial use (that’s F-1 Commercial Zone for local zoning wonks).

Read the entire article here.


Michigan Flyer Ridership Up Between Lansing and Detroit Metro

More people are getting on the bus, opting to take the Michigan Flyer to the Detroit Airport rather than driving their cars.

According to excerpts from the article:

As Michigan Flyer enters its third year in business, a healthy number of people seem to be choosing it over flying from Lansing. Ody Norkin, the Flyer’s president, claims that on some days in December and January, his service shuttled more people to Detroit than flew there out of Lansing.

On Dec. 13, for example—which was a Saturday, a day that airlines typically cut flights — Norkin claims that the Flyer carried between 500 and 600 travelers to and from the Detroit Metro Airport; the Lansing airport on those days has a total flight capacity of 454—and that’s if all planes are 100 percent full. In the month of December alone, Norkin claims, the Flyer carried 10,500 travelers.

“On Saturday, Jan. 10, we didn’t have enough capacity,” Norkin said. “We had standbys. We could have accommodated even more.”

Read the entire article here.


10,000 New Jobs Help Michigan Win “State of the Year" Accolades

Business Facilities magazine recently designated Michigan as the “State of the Year” due to the 10,000 new jobs and nearly $14 billion in corporate investment that’s been driven to the state.

According to excerpts from the article:

The call for entries for Business Facilities' second annual State of the Year Award sparked a palpable excitement within economic development agencies across the United States.

They submitted data for their five largest projects (measured by total capital investment and by creation of new jobs) announced between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008. The Business Facilities editors analyzed and tabulated these numbers using a predetermined formula to determine 2008's State of the Year. The resounding winner—bolstered by nearly 10,000 new jobs and, most notably, one jaw dropping, multi-billion-dollar business partnership—is the crown of the Midwest: Michigan.

A dual-peninsula poised along four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan's triumph is a well-deserved accolade for a state that recently has been linked to unflattering headlines pertaining to the struggles of the U.S. automotive sector—a long-standing pillar of the state's economy.

But those headlines don't portray the complete picture of Michigan. In fact, Governor Jennifer Granholm announced in September the state's approval of a whirlwind of incentives to allow General Motors (GM) to develop and produce the Chevrolet Volt, a revolutionary electric car, along with additional advanced energy and conventional fuel vehicles and components.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Proposes $107 Million in Federal Stimulus Package Projects

The City of Lansing is hoping President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan will result in a $107 million boost to the city’s economy.

According to excerpts from the article:

Randy Hannan, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, noted that the inventory provided to the governor's office on Friday included more than 50 projects.

If money is delivered to the city, there could be several million dollars for expanded or improved community centers, which would encompass $600,000 for a new Baker Donora Center, and more than $10 million for local road and street improvements.

"All of these projects benefit our community," Hannan said. "Every last one of them."

Read the entire article here.


Michigan Film Incentives Increase Interest in Agricultural Locales

Area farmers could find themselves and their land flashed across movie screens if the Michigan Film Office’s achieves its goal to attract movie executives to the area by highlighting agricultural locations.

According to excerpts from the article:

Is it plausible to think that Michigan could be a destination site for film and television producers looking for that "Field of Dreams" on a Michigan farm?

That's the aim of the Michigan Film Office, which is trying to reach state farmers and agribusiness organizations to develop a pool for agricultural locations to be used in feature films, documentaries, television shows and commercials, print ads and catalog photographs.

"We're trying to work with a variety of state agencies," said Mike Grabemeyer of the Michigan Film Office. "Specifically, we're looking for locations—we get quite a few requests for sets."

Read the entire article here.


Capital Region Vying for $4.6 Billion Piece of Federal Stimulus Package

Eaton, Clinton and Ingham Counties are expecting to get a piece of the estimated $4.6 billion in federal stimulus money that’s headed to the state.

According to excerpts from the article:

Nearly every municipality has or is creating its own wish list for the stimulus package
—some modest, some not—and lawmakers are urging them to move quickly to submit their requests.

Mid-Michigan communities already are listing nearly $824 million in 169 proposed infrastructure projects that could be funded by the stimulus package, according to the Michigan Municipal League, which represents cities and other municipalities.

Those projects include $30 million for an expansion of the Lansing Center and $84 million to improve the water system in Lansing, millions for road improvements in East Lansing and $10 million for a new library in Meridian Township.

Read the entire article here.


MSU Students Volunteering to Help with Tech Communications Projects

More than a dozen teams of Information Technology Management Specialization students at Michigan State University (MSU) are offering free technology help to businesses and nonprofits.

According to excerpts from the article:

As part of their final course in their Information Technology Management Specialization, the students are required to work in cross-functional teams, on a real-world IT project. And they just need a few more volunteer “clients.”

Professor Constantinos Coursaris, who will be teaching the course through MSU’s Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, says the students are capable of taking on a wide range of technology-related projects, because each team will comprise of undergraduate students majoring in telecommunications, computer science, and business.

Read the entire article here.


Bowling Tournament to Pump $5 to $7 Million into Lansing Region

The State USBC Bowling Association’s 106th state tournament will be held in Lansing from January to May, pumping $5 to $7 million into the state and local economy.

According to excerpts from the article:

About 12,000 bowlers and 2,300 teams from around the state are expected to visit the area for the Michigan State USBC Bowling Association's 106th state tournament, which continues today and 15 other weekends through May 3.

The tournament is returning to Lansing after a 16-year hiatus.

Battle Creek and Jackson were the other contenders, but association officials chose Lansing instead, said Mike Price, sports development manager for the Greater Lansing Sports Authority, a division of the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Read the entire article here.


GM Bar Harry's Place Hosts LBGT Networking Event

Harry’s Place, an old stomping ground for thirsty GM employees ,recently hosted a successful networking event for Lansing’s gay community.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Westside neighborhood, which is roughly bordered by Verlinden Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Saginaw Street and Michigan Avenue, has many gay residents, making Harry's a natural place for Suits and the City, which is a networking club for the professional LGBT community.

Emily Horvath, a Suits attendee, said that she lives in the Westside neighborhood but had been to Harry's "only once."

"I always forget it's here," she said. "I moved in here about 1 1/2 years ago and I thought that this bar wouldn't make it (without the auto plant). I hope this will bring in more business — the food is great."

Read the entire article here.


Runner Recognizes Capital Region for New Trail Connections

The Capital region is making efforts to make 2009 greener by extending river trails and outdoor opportunities for residents.

According to excerpts from the article:

Sometime in the not too distant future, you will be able to head out for a long run on a continuous trail that extends all the way from Haslett to the outskirts of Holt.

For years, walkways have skirted the Red Cedar River through the Michigan State campus. In addition, the Lansing River trail extends from just west of MSU through Potter Park and the downtown area to where it now ends in North Lansing. There is also a spur that runs into Moores Park.

This past summer, new sections of the Lansing River Trail were opened from Potter Park to Scott Woods, and from Cavanaugh Road to Jolly Road. With these sections complete, the Lansing portion of the trail system is mostly finished, though some expansion is included in long-term plans.

"My focus now is going to be on assisting Delhi Township in going south," said Murdock Jemerson, the director of parks and recreation for the City of Lansing. "Another challenge will be paying for ongoing maintenance of the river trail."

Read the entire article here.


Gillespie Touts Strength of Downtown Lansing Housing Market

Lansing Developer Pat Gillespie was recognized by weekly Lansing publication, the City Pulse, for making multiple significant development contributions to the city.

According to excerpts from the Q&A with Gillespie:

The market has shifted. We have projects around the state, and our strongest market is downtown Lansing. Strongest absorption, strongest rent per square foot. We have a waiting list at Prudden Place [condos], which we’re expanding by 72 units, and the Stadium District will be full by spring. If you had told me that 10 years ago, I’d have told you you’re nuts.

Read the entire article here.


Rebuilding Project Renovating Ingham County Homes

Volunteers who are a part of the Rebuilding Together project are traveling around Ingham County making repairs to the homes of low-income senior citizens to improve the aesthetics and value of the homes.

According to excerpts from the article:

The work was free, part of the annual Rebuilding Together project, which sends teams of volunteers across Ingham County to make needed repairs at the homes of 20 to 25 low-income senior citizens or disabled people.

Joseph Bowler's and Ursel Sevic's homes were repaired last April.

Applications are due Jan. 20 for the 16th annual volunteer help blitz, scheduled for April 25.

Volunteers are expected to tackle everything from yard work to painting, plumbing and electrical work.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Energy Auditors Tout Basics of Conservation and Efficiency

Wind, solar and other forms of alternative energy are great, but leaders around the country, including those in Lansing, are also turning to the cheapest form of energy—the kind you don't have to generate.

According to excerpts from the article:

As fossil fuels bake the planet and nascent technologies like wind and solar take precious time to develop, experts agree that tightened energy efficiency and conservation is the quickest and cheapest way to squeak our way through to a clean, renewable energy future.

“Fix the hole in the side of the boat that’s leaking water and then we’ll worry about getting a little better motor,” says Brad Mann, certified energy rater.

Mann is a local foot soldier in an unsung fossil fuel liberation army — not the designers of $40,000 hybrid plug-in cars or sleek wind turbines, but rear-guard, demand-side soldiers with a wad of caulk in their pockets.

Read the entire article here


Capital Region Boasts Excellent Facilities for Events and Activities

Home to a major university, law school and the state capital, the Lansing area has facilities and hotels that host a range of academic, executive and diplomatic events.

According to excerpts from the article:

Event planners have long admired mid-Michigan’s selection of diverse meeting space. From small meeting rooms and banquet accommodations at area hotels, to the huge column-free open space of the Lansing Center, the region offers many options to private and public sector clients.

Versatile convention and special purpose rooms dot the region, according to the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau. Meeting planners can choose from hundreds of thousands of square feet of meeting space.

Among those sites is the James B. Henry Center for Executive Development, on Forest Road near the campus of Michigan State University. The James B. Henry Center, which opened in 2001 and is named after a former dean of the Eli Broad College of Business, houses MSU’s weekend MBA program and provides a professional environment for executive education and corporate learning.

Read the entire article here


Lansing Boosts Enforcement, Motivates Action on Red-Tagged Houses

The City of Lansing is working hard to get red-tagged houses out of the public domain to increase safety and neighborhood aesthetics.

According to excerpts from the article:

The city of Lansing has increased its code enforcement over the last few years, tagging homes for three levels of safety violations—green, yellow and red. That has meant a spike in tags after 2004, when only 223 were issued. For this year, the city had issued 920 tags through Oct. 10.

Officials say heightened enforcement has resulted in more demolitions of the worst homes and quicker repairs for the rest.

Read the entire article here.


$6 Million Federal Boost Set Aside for Lansing Neighborhoods

Soon Lansing residents will see the demolition and renovation of houses in eight neighborhoods that have high foreclosure rates and an abundance of construction “eyesores.”

According to excerpts from the article:

Imagine waking up one spring morning and seeing the vacant house down the block buzzing with activity: Roofers carrying shingles up ladders, the sound of nail-guns and belt sanders drifting out onto the street.

Imagine the activity is contagious: Suddenly the chipping paint on your front door or the broken window in the garage soar to the top of your “to do” list. Imagine none of your neighbors want to own the shabbiest house on the block. Imagine it happens all across Lansing.

That’s the vision behind the proposed plan for nearly $6 million in federal funds available to the city. Mayor Virg Bernero said neighbors “will see some of those (empty homes) being worked on instead of sitting still. Hopefully that means more houses will be attended to. It’s a start.” 

Read the entire article here.


Smart Office Systems Calls Westside Lansing Home to New HQ

Smart Office Systems owner, Paul Covert, is putting $800,000 into the former ASC Inc. warehouse on Lansing’s Westside, giving his expanding furniture business room to grow.

According to excerpts from the article:

The founder of Lansing-based Smart Office Systems sold his company to publicly traded Open Plan Systems for $6 million in 1996.

But that sale left Covert, a native of Eagle, with a question:

Now what?

Covert came up with the answer over the ensuing months, as he watched the office furniture company he founded founder under new ownership. Covert returned to the helm of the business he started and helped re-establish Smart Office Systems as an independent company.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Poetry Club Keeping Prose Alive in Mid-Michigan

The Lansing Poetry Club has been supporting poets and advocating for a state poet laureate for 70 years.

According to excerpts from the article.

Now celebrating its 70th year of existence, the Lansing Poetry Club has been a longtime advocate for verse in Michigan’s capital city, including a stalled effort to create a poet laureate position for the state. 

Len Petersen, of Lansing, who has been a club member for 10 years, said bills that would have created the mostly symbolic position passed the House and Senate in 2000 but were never signed into law by Gov. John Engler. Dennis North, president of the Lansing Poetry Club, said more than 40 states have poet laureates.

At one time (1952-1959), Edgar Guest was Michigan’s. Guest, Michigan’s only formal poet laureate, was mostly known for his daily, syndicated poems, which appeared in the Detroit Free Press and 300 other newspapers from the 1920s to the 1950s. North, who writes poetry in rhyme, free verse and haiku, said the idea of having a poet laureate goes back several hundred years to Britain. The United States has had a poet laureate since 1937.

Read the entire article here.


Local Distillers Hope to Take Michigan Liquor Worldwide

A new state law freeing up restrictions on the distilling of liquor could fuel the growth of Michigan’s liquor-producing industry.

According to excerpts from the article:

So far, there are 11 distilleries in Michigan, including Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville, Uncle John's Cider Mill in St. Johns and a research distillery run by Michigan State University.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States expects U.S. revenue to spirits makers to reach $19 billion this year. Revenue rose 5.6 percent to $18.2 billion in 2007, the Washington-based group reported earlier this year.

Michigan residents spend $800 million to $850 million a year on spirits, said Kris Berglund, a professor at MSU who teaches how-to distilling workshops and runs his research lab out of Michigan Brewing Co.

"We produce less than 1/20 of a percent of that," he said.

Read the entire article here


Mid-MEAC Lunch Series Targets Land Use Policy, Innovation

The Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council (Mid-MEAC) is hosting a lunch series focused on land policy in the Capital region. The events are held the first Friday of every month from 12 to 1 p.m. at the historic Central United Methodist Church in Downtown Lansing. The next meeting is November 7.

According to excerpts from the article:

Our region is facing a profound transformation in land-use practices—driven by large economic and social factors: rising fuel costs, the expense of maintaining public infrastructure, an aging population, the need to deliver social services efficiently, the growing interest in cities for the richness of human interaction they provide, a desire for healthy living and the need to protect the environment.

As patterns of personal and public investment shift from suburbs to cities, we will have to plan wisely for the changes to come.

Read the entire article here.


15,000 Member Medical Society to Expand Electronic Records System

The Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) has a plan to create a Web-based system that will give all 15,000 members access to electronic medical records.

According to excerpts from the article:

The East Lansing-based Michigan State Medical Society plans on Jan. 1 to launch its MSMS Connect under a contract with Covisint, asubsidiary of Detroit-based Compuware Corp. The system will act like a homepage for various computer- and Web-based health care programs used by physicians.

Officials expect the system will complement an effort in the Lansing region to electronically link hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers. That effort, in the works for nearly three years, is expected to officially launch within a few weeks.

Advocates for such systems say they reduce costs and improve patient care by preventing mistakes and making it easier for doctors and providers to share information.

Read the entire article here.


Public and Private Partners Work to Promote Local Biotech Opportunities

The Mid-Michigan region is a prime location for biotech firms looking to locate in areas with access to higher education facilities and strong K-12 systems, according to the Lansing Tri-County Bio-Manufacturing Feasibility Study.

According to excerpts from the article:

Last week, the authors of the Lansing Tri-County Bio-Manufacturing Feasibility Study came together with members of the Capital Area Manufacturing Council to try to fit together the last piece of the puzzle—private sector engagement in what has largely been a public sector effort.

As David Hollister of Prima Civitas Foundation told the group, we have everything we need. We just lack the will to do anything about it.

Read the entire article here.


MSU Alums Say Movie Industry Drawn To Midwestern Work Ethic

The film incentive package has increased Hollywood activity in Michigan, but movie executives say the Midwestern work ethic is also attractive.

According to excerpts from the article:

"The Michigan work ethic is actually talked about in (Los Angeles)," filmmaker Greg Harrison recently told Michigan State University students.

He and other MSU alumni said show-business competition isn't too tough.

"You'd be amazed by the lazy, unmotivated (people)," Aaron Bleyaert said. "One of our interns consistently spelled President Bush like the beer."

Read the entire article here.


Biggby Coffee Adds Proprietary Marshmallow Sauce to Product Line

The ever growing East Lansing-based coffee franchise, Biggy, has added yet another product to its menu—B Mellow. B Mellow is a marshmallow sauce used in signature coffee drinks.

According to excerpts from the article:

Biggby Coffee developed its unique marshmallow sauce over a four-month period of trial and error with the help of Ohio-based Phillips Syrup, a leading manufacturer of specialty syrups and flavorings. Biggby Coffee is the first retailer to introduce the marshmallow to the gourmet coffee segment.

"Our goal was to introduce something that is totally innovative, unique, against the grain and tastes amazing," said Michael McFall, president of Biggby Coffee. "The result is a new flavor sauce that's fun, delicious and takes us all back to our childhood when marshmallows held a prominent place in the food pyramid."

The B Mellow marshmallow sauce is a sweet, opaque syrup that looks and tastes just like a melted marshmallow, only it pours like a chocolate or caramel sauce typically would. The result is a unique and tasty solution to the sticky mess of real melted marshmallows, and a boon for the coffee retailer and marshmallow-loving consumers around the country.

Read the entire article here.


New Renewable Energy Law Already Boosting Local Business

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed two bills into law designed to encourage energy efficiency and create alternative energy-related jobs. Local component manufacturers are already seeing increased interest as a result.

According to excerpts from the article:

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law a package that will require more electricity to come from renewable sources, raise residential rates, restrict competition among power companies and encourage energy efficiency.

Granholm had two energy bill-signing ceremonies, one in Detroit and one in Eaton Rapids. She said the new measures will create new renewable energy jobs.

Workers at Dowding Industries in Eaton Rapids looked on at a new manufacturing plant as she signed the bills.

Dowding President Jeff Metts said the factory is poised to build components for wind turbines once orders come in. He's already heard from three companies in the two-and-a-half weeks since lawmakers passed the package.

Among other provisions, the package requires that 10 percent of Michigan's power come from renewable sources by the end of 2015.

Read the entire article here.


Nomination Deadline Nears For Michigan Small Business Awards

Nov. 14 marks the deadline to nominate businesses that are fueling the state’s economy for a 2009 Michigan Celebrates Small Business award.

According to excerpts from the article:

On April 30, 2009 the Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards will put the spotlight on companies that fuel Michigan's economy. If you know a growing company that's fueling Michigan's economy nominate them today for a Michigan Celebrates Small Business award. Nominations are due November 14th with applications due December 5th.

Small business is the lifeblood of Michigan's economy. Not since the early years of the era of mass production has that statement been more true. The five founding organizations that support and celebrate entrepreneurism in Michigan have banded together to create Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the state's premier awards ceremony for entrepreneurs and small business leaders.

Read the entire article here.


48 Years Later, Business Continues to Grow for DeLuca’s

Family-owned and craved by its many fans, DeLuca’s Restaurant is one of Lansing’s most well-known pizza shops and Italian restaurants. Employing 52 people, the crew is working hard to keep up with the vegetarian "craze" while celebrating a successful 48 years in business.

According to excerpts from the article:

DeLuca’s, arguably Lansing’s most famous pizzeria, if not restaurant in general, began life as the Willow Bar in 1960. Started by Pat DeLuca and his brother, it became Pat’s sons’ (Chuck, Tom and John) first and last jobs in their early teens, even though their father tried to dissuade them from coming to work there, let alone buying the restaurant (in 1981).

“He wanted us to go to school and get a good education, but I was stupid,” Chuck said with a dry chuckle. “I went to school, but my heart just wasn’t in school, so I started working here and then all of us did.”

“It just kind of happened,” John broke in. “It just kind of consumed us.”

The DeLucas know better than to mess with success, which is why “the house special has been here from day one."

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Secures $6 Million in Federal Foreclosure Aid

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $6 million to Lansing to help the region recover from the national foreclosure crisis.

According to excerpts from the article:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the City of Lansing nearly $6 million to help revitalize neighborhoods across the city that have been affected by the nationwide foreclosure crisis.

The HUD funds are part of a nationwide $3.92 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program that is part of the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Program funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to the purchase and redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed properties, direct homeownership assistance and counseling for individuals and families threatened by foreclosure.

Read the entire article here.

 


Westside Neighbors Open Doors for Advent House

Homeowners in Lansing’s beautiful Westside neighborhood opened their doors to the public to raise money for the Advent House, a charity that looks after the homeless population.

According to excerpts from the article:

The tour gave people a glimpse inside seven 1920s-era homes in Lansing's Westside neighborhood. Funds will assist Advent House in helping the homeless with food, shelter and job searches.

The hosts of some homes on the tour estimated that a couple hundred people had come through their doors at a steady pace.

"We've had a great turnout. It's been standing room only sometimes. We need a traffic light for our hallway," said Mary Ann Mink, who showed the home she shares with husband, Paul, at 324 Jenison Ave.

Read the entire article here.


Housing Market Experts Anticipate Growth in Urban Areas

Real estate markets are down, but experts predict that housing in urban areas will experience a sales boost in the near future.

According to excerpts from the article:

Condominium units in East Lansing aren’t selling quickly, but experts say the market for urban housing is expected to grow.

The West Village project has sold 21 of its 46 units—the same number of units that had been sold in April. The units were placed on the market in early 2007, when construction began. Tim Dempsey, economic development administrator for East Lansing, said although the city is keeping an eye on the sales, it’s something he feels comfortable with.

“The overall slowdown in the housing market is impacting demand everywhere, so I don’t think it has anything to do with the condominium project or location,” he said. “It’s a symptom of a larger problem out there.”

Read the entire article here.


MI Retailers Offering More Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Retailers in the Lansing area are making 50,000 energy efficient light bulbs available at reduced rates to encourage energy efficiency in Michigan.

According to excerpts from the article:

Starting Wednesday, about 500,000 compact fluorescent bulbs will  be available for as little as 99 cents at Kroger, Meijer and Menards stores across the state. They also will be sold at Ace Hardware stores in the Lansing area and Upper Peninsula.

The bulbs are cheaper thanks in part to a state grant. The Michigan Public Service Commission says compact fluorescent bulbs save at least $30 in energy costs over each bulb's lifetime. They use less energy than incandescent bulbs and last longer.

The announcement of cheaper bulbs is part of a national effort encouraging simple ways to preserve energy resources and address climate change.

Read the entire article here.


Big Three Research Universities Bring $13.3 Billion to Michigan

Michigan State University (MSU) is one of the state’s three largest research and development universities; together, these institutions contributed $13.3 billion to the economy in 2007.

According to excerpts from the article:

One of every $50 earned in the state of Michigan can be attributed to the economic impact of the state's three research universities, according to a new report.

The University Research Corridor—which consists of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University—registered a net economic impact of $13.3 billion in 2007, up 3.5 percent from 2006, the report concluded.

That figure is a "conservative estimate" that only counts wages that would not have been earned if the universities didn't exist, Anderson said. The report asserts the URC accounted for 69,285 Michigan jobs in 2007.

The report underscores the URC's concerted effort to play a greater role in the Michigan economy—which has led to the mobilization of technology licensing departments and resulted in entrepreneurial professors starting more businesses.

But it also reflects the sheer girth of the universities themselves—which directly employ 48,760 full-time workers, up 2,362 from 2006, and spend about $6.2 billion a year.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing-based Music Production Company Releases New Michigan Anthem

Harvest Music + Sound Design, a Lansing-based production company, recently created an anthem highlighting the state.

According to excerpts from the article:

"Speak to Me (My Michigan)" was released today by Harvest Music + Sound Design, a 26-year old music production agency, which lists as clients Meijer, Chevrolet, Ford Motor Co., Herman Miller, among others.

The sweet, melodic and uplifting song was written and is performed by award-winning and versatile lyricist Jules Anna Jones, a member of the Harvest Creative Team, who says the words to the four minute anthem came t oher easily.

"'Speak to Me (My Michigan)' is really a love song," says Jones. "I was inspired by the incredibly beautiful place I call home, and the remarkable people who live here."

Harvest President and Executive Creative Director, Steve Curran, says the company produced the piece as a gift to those who live and work in Michigan.

The single is available now at julesannajones.com and can be downloaded for 99 cents, or the CD single can be purchased for $2.99 at the same site.

Read the entire article here.


Creative Cities Summit Registration Extended to September 19

The registration deadline for the upcoming Creative Cities Summit 2.0 has been extended to September 19.

According to excerpts from the article:

"Due to heavy interest and demand we have decided to extend the early bird registration fee of $250 by one week," said CCS2 producer Peter Kageyama. "We want as many people as possible to be able to come, to hear and to participate in this not to be missed event."

The Creative Cities 2.0 Summit will provide a next-generation look at how communities are integrating innovation, social entrepreneurship, arts & culture and business to make vibrant economies.

Highlights include a special Big Creative Three session on Tuesday, October 14 featuring Richard Florida, John Howkins and Charles Landry, the originators of the concepts of the "creative class", the "creative economy" and the "creative city" respectively. Having all three together is akin to having Ford, GM and Chrysler on stage to talk about the future of the auto industry.

Read the entire article here.

 


Businesses See Boost as More Shoppers Opt to Stay Local

Smaller area shops are reclaiming their hold on retail business as customers ration their gas tanks and look for nearby shopping options.

According to excerpts from the article:

As many large retailers struggle with slipping sales during an economic downturn and gas around $4 a gallon, some rural shops have gotten a boost from customers staying close to home.

Store owners in more rural tri-county areas have noticed some new faces, too, as high fuel prices make customers think twice before driving to shop in Lansing, East Lansing or other urban areas that are farther away.

"Because of the cost of gas, they're thinking now that, 'OK, I may save a couple of dollars, but I'm spending a lot more than that in fuel costs.' So, they are making the decision to stay closer to home," said Jim Cicorelli, owner of Frank's Food Mart stores in Charlotte and Potterville.

Read the entire article here.



Lansing Takes Steps to Woo Burgeoning Michigan Film Industry

The Michigan legislature recently passed an incentive package that has Hollywood talking and looking at Michigan as the next hot spot for movie and sitcom production.

According to excerpts from the article:

Within days of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s signing the legislation, the amount of inquiries pouring into the Michigan Film Office grew tenfold. With Michigan’s high unemployment rate, stagnant economy and declining revenue, officials from the Michigan Film Office predict that the state will add hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, not to mention a few movie stars. Clint Eastwood selected Michigan for the sixth installment of his Dirty Harry series. The Drew Barrymore-directed feature film Whip It picked Detroit and Ann Arbor for its location. Michigan’s reputation is growing so much that Madonna joined Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival in August to showcase her new documentary.

Communities around the state realize their role to woo these projects and bring much-needed dollars into their economies. But to do that, they need the right infrastructure in place.

Lansing has taken a serious step forward in this effort, with the proposal of the city’s new soundstage, City Center Studios. The place will be top of the line, modern, and fully capable of accommodating big projects, rain or shine. It will offer two 24-thousand-square-foot stages thatare soundproof, lightproof and technically state-of-the-art.

Read the entire article here.


Green Thumbs Create Sustainable Communities in Mid-Michigan

Lansing-area gardeners are sharing their excess produce with area residents, perpetuating a more sustainable and harmonious Mid-Michigan community.

According to excerpts from the article:

It's August, harvest time, and that means that everyone with a garden is looking to feed everyone else.

Veggie-phobes best be a feared. But for the rest of the populace, food doesn't get any better than fresh and free.

Asbury United Methodist Church near Eastwood Towne Center, like many offices and gathering places, has a spot indoors where gardeners bring excess produce.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Ingham County capitalizes on the overabundance of local gardens and accepts donations of homegrown vegetables at its locations in Williamston and Mason.

Read the entire article here.


Michigan Students Continue to Deliver High SAT Scores

Michigan students are not only scoring higher than average nationally on SATs scores, but they’ve raised their in-state scores over last year as well.

According to excerpts from the article:

Relatively few Michigan students, 7,178, took the SAT college entrance exam this year. That was down from 9,684 in 2007 and far fewer than the at least 112,000 who took the ACT as part of the Michigan Merit Exam.

But those students also scored relatively well, with average scores of 598 on mathematics, 581 on reading and 572 on writing. Nationally, the averages were 515 for math, 502 for reading and 494 for writing.

The 2008 Michigan students also scored better than their counterparts in 2007, when average scores were 579 for math, 568 for reading and 553 for writing. The national scores were unchanged from 2007 to 2008.

Read the entire article here.


Mid-Michigan Job Fair Proves Popular With MSU Students

Michigan State University (MSU) is increasing its efforts to keep student talent in the Mid-Michigan area after college graduation. Introducing students to employers is one way to show there is life after graduation in Mid-Michigan.

According to excerpts from the article:

Organizers of the "Earn, Learn and Intern" job fair hope their work to connect college students to area jobs and internships will help boost the region by keeping young, bright professionals from leaving after they graduate.

In the first three hours of the fair, 1,100 job seekers attended, according to John Hill, director of Career Services for Alumni at MSU.

He expected upward of 1,400 by the end of the day.

"This is off the charts," he said.

Read the entire article here.


Health Care Changes Could Mean Jobs for Lansing

The anticipated increase in demand for health care providers is likely going to have a positive impact on medical jobs in the Mid-Michigan region.

According to excerpts from the article:

With a push toward outpatient services and changes in medical coverage, demand for outpatient infusion therapy nurses is expected to rise.

And that could mean jobs for those in this specialty nursing field.

Outpatient infusion therapy — the practice of administering medicines and fluids into patients' blood streams through intravenous devices — could gain in popularity as hospitals try to free up beds, said Carole Adams, an infusion therapy nurse at Ingham Regional Medical Center, the Lansing hospital owned by Flint's McLaren Health Care Corporation.

Read the entire article here.


Meridian Mall Adds Family Theater to Mid-Michigan Repertoire

Lansing’s Meridian Mall has more to offer than a typical shopping center, having recently added a family-oriented theater to its array of stores.

According to excerpts from the article:

Bill Gordon, founder of Mid-Michigan Family Theatre, hopes people will soon visit the Meridian Mall for more than name-brand clothes, trendy gadgets and soft pretzels. After his company, based inside the mall next to Macy’s, makes its debut this week with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Gordon anticipates people to count live theater among the reasons to visit the Okemos shopping center.

“We hope that some people will come to the mall just to see our shows,” Gordon said. “Others might come to the mall just to shop and accidentally stumble upon one of ours shows and end up really enjoying it.”

Gordon chose “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as the company’s first production because the show’s family-friendly feel is what Mid-Michigan Family Theatre is all about.

Read the entire article here.


Second Annual Westside Summer Draws 5,000 to Key Business Corridor

The Second Annual Westside Summer Fest was a success, drawing more than 5,000 people from around the area to Westside Lansing's main business corridor.

According to excerpts from the article:

Organizers estimate about 5,000 people passed through the festival over the course of the day, far exceeding their goal of 3,000.

The second annual festival featured food, music and lots of activities for children. Trophies were given to winners of the popular three-on-three basketball tournament, and kids seemed pleased with their many prizes from the day, including bird houses, balloons and lots of frozen treats.

Organizer Jessica Yorko said planners worked hard to make sure the event was family friendly. In addition to a full slate of activities for kids, admission was free and no alcohol was served.

The festival is part of the revitalization work of the nonprofit Westside Alliance, which Yorko said has an overall goal of revamping business and residential areas along Saginaw from the Grand River Avenue to Stanley Street, just east of where Saginaw and Oakland come together to become Saginaw Highway.

 Read the entire article here.


New Michigan Laws Target Downtown Redevelopment to Attract Talent

The state Legislature passed a series of laws designed to give Downtown Development Authority boards more power to revitalize downtown areas and attract young talent.

According the excerpts from the article:

“[The laws] will create tools and enhance existing ones to help in reinvigorating downtowns across the state,” said Bridget Beckman, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The legislative package, spearheaded by Rep. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, contained 10 bills, six of which have been signed into law.

The laws allow Michigan DDA boards and city governments to offer loan programs, business incubators and tax abatements to foster redevelopment and business growth in downtowns, said Joe Agostinelli, a legislative director for Allen.

Agostinelli said the legislation was created to rejuvenate Michigan’s downtowns to attract young college graduates who want their hometown to be a place to live, work and play.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Hosts Many Past and Future GM Innovations

Lansing is home to numerous vital components of General Motors’ auto technology, which has been evolving throughout the company’s 100-year history.

According to excerpts from the article:

There's a lot of Lansing tied up in that piece of machinery.

After all, the gas-powered engine, the automatic transmission, the front-wheel drive feature and the manufacturing process itself all trace their roots to technologies and processes developed at General Motors Corp.'s Lansing-area operations or the Oldsmobile operation it bought.

And as GM marks its 100th anniversary this year, the Detroit automaker continues to look at innovations that could find their way to Lansing assembly lines.

The area's two assembly plantsLansing Grand River and Lansing Delta Townshiphave won praise and sales by turning out six popular vehicles for GM. But the facilities also draw visitors who want to see how those vehicles are made.

That's because the two plants are among GM's most innovative, using new technology and unique processes and designs.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing and MSU Host African Leaders For Development Conference

Last week, political and governmental delegates from five African countries met with Michigan State University (MSU) leaders to discuss agriculture, development, education and health issues impacting the U.S. andAfrica.

According to excerpts from the article:

Wednesday’s gathering came prior to the beginning of the three-day 17th annual U.S.-Africa Sister Cities Conference, held annually as a means for promoting peace and economic development within African countries.

The conference, which is being held in Lansing, brought delegates from Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The delegates, along with MSU experts, spent the day touring MSU and discussing new ideas and solutions that can contribute to addressing some of the challenges facing Africa.

The conference was held in Johannesburg, South Africa last year and was awarded to Lansing for the 2008 conference, due to MSU’s continuing involvement in Africa said Matt Hund, communication assistant to the dean of international studies and programs.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Housing Coalition Offers Tools to Residents Fixing Houses

The Greater Lansing Housing Coalition has a Mobile Tool Lending Library that's providing area residents who want to fix up their houses with the proper tools to get the job done.

According to excerpts from the article:

It's a sound that's music to the ears of Lansing resident Ed Bailey, catching up on some long awaited yard work that he didn't have the tools for until now.

"To have access to these tools, I didn't have them; now I can do the things I couldn't do before," Bailey said.

That's because Bailey is just one of several residents reaping the benefits of the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition's Mobile Tool Lending Library

"We got a chainsaw, leaf blower, drill, a ladder," Bailey said.

Read the entire article here.


Tourism Board Helps Drive $500 Million Lansing-area Industry

The Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) is a major player in driving the more than $500 million in tourism revenue the Lansing region pockets each year.

According to excerpts from the article:

While the natives may not know it, tourism contributes greatly to the tri-county area.

“It is not well understood in terms of its overall impact, but tourism in this community is a major economic driver,” Hladki stated. “The economic impact is consistently around a half a billion dollars a year. It creates 7,500 jobs, and those run the gamut from seasonal part-time work all the way up to thousands of full-time jobs with benefits. We’re fortunate because of the educational institutions and that we’re a state capital, which maintains a flow of business and leisure visitors, keeping those jobs stable.”

Read the entire article here.


Women Breaking Glass Ceiling In Lansing-area Auto Dealerships

Area women are breaking the auto industry’s glass ceiling, using their skills and business sense to successfully own and operate car dealerships.

According to excerpts from the article:

Sherrill Freeborough was a young widow with a small child who needed to find a way to support her family.

Now, she's the owner of Saturn of Grand Ledge and Saturn of Okemos.

Lisa Schuesler heard a rattle in her car and wanted to learn more about the auto service business. She now works in it, managing the service department at Freeborough's Okemos store.

Deanna Criscuolo started selling cars at her father's dealership, Spartan Toyota in Lansing, when she was in college. She's now on track to someday take over the dealership with her brother, Derek.

These women, and others climbing the leadership ladder at area car dealerships, didn't set out to break through the glass ceiling in an industry that's predominantly male.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Business Leaders Turning to Internship Program

Michigan State University (MSU), the Lansing Economic Area Partnership Inc. (LEAP) and area businesses are getting ready to launch a local job and internship fair, “Earn, Learn & Intern,” to help link MSU students with area job creators. 

According to excerpts from the article:

"We're pushing local companies to show the students what's available to them," said Paul Jacques, MSU's internship developer.

"A lot of (students) are coming to us saying, 'I've got to go.' We're saying, 'No, you don't. Look at all these businesses.' "

The Aug. 27 event aims to draw thousands of students to the Student Services Building on campus. It's free for companies.

MSU already has worked with several area firms to create internship programs, Jacques said.

Read the entire article here.


Five Lansing Area Companies Competing for $30 Million in Tech Funding

Five Lansing area tech companies are competing with 95 other Michigan firms for $30 million in state-funded 21st Century Jobs Fund low-interest loans.

According to excerpts from the article:

"It's an excellent program and a great opportunity for these companies, some of whom just need that extra couple of million dollars to put into play some things to create a great amount of jobs," said Denyse Ferguson, vice president for new business development at Lansing Economic Area Partnership Inc., which helped two companies looking to locate in the area apply for funding.

The competition is different from earlier rounds of the Jobs Fund, which has doled out $126.3 million to 78 companies, universities and other organizations doing work in the fields of alternative energy, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and homeland security and defense.

This time, the competition is only open to for-profit companies in late stages of bringing products to market, MEDC spokeswoman Bridget Beckman said.

"It's focused on companies that are set up to create jobs in the near-term," Beckman said.

Read the entire article here.


New Study Shows Small Business Owners More Upbeat About Economy

Area businesses are have more faith in the Michigan business marketplace than they did six months ago, according to a survey conducted by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM).

According to excerpts from the article:

There’s even a slight up tick in the number of employers who say they hired more workers over the past half year.

Small business owners say there are still plenty of problems that need to be addressed: Decreasing sales and profits, poor access to credit, a lousy business climate and a continuing slide in perceptions of the fairness of the tax system.

The Barometer also flashes a warning sign to state legislators: only 6 percent of respondents give a positive rating to the performance of the Legislature.

Survey participants were asked if the number of employees on staff has increased, decreased, or remained stable over the last quarter. Employment appears to be inching slowly towards the historical average hiring level and becoming relatively more positive for small businesses in Michigan. Thirteen percent of those surveyed reported that they had hired more employees over the past quarter, a three percentage point increase over the past wave in January.

Read the entire article here.


L.A. Architect with Michigan Roots Brings Fashion to Lansing

After spending years in California working as an architect, Lansing native Michael Doherty has returned to Michigan, but he’s here as the owner of his own fashion line, not an architect.

According to excerpts from the article:

Michael Doherty’s search for “truth” and “self” inspired him to create his own clothing line “DEFYE,” an acronym for DEFine Your own Existence. He says from a young age, people are faced with pressures of what to do with their life. Everyone seems to preach college and a “real-world job” he says.

“Life is a struggle,” Doherty says.

The goal is to let people, mainly young adults, know they are not alone in their struggles. He says everyone fights for their own definition of “truth” and “reality,” and one should defy the pressures and avoid the mundane and routine.

“It relates to everybody,” he says. “Every day is a battle of some sorts. It’s a tool to bring people together, but something for them to fight back with.”

Read the entire article here.


Westside Community Mural Gets Modern Look

The Westside community and local artists are teaming up to create new, more politically and socially relevant murals for the area’s most prominent outdoor walls.

According to excerpts from the article:

A two-story mural on the west wall of Shanora’s Wig and General Merchandise (formerly Shanora’s Beauty and Barber Supplies), at 829 W.Saginaw St., was painted white two years ago.

Orabe “Ora” Fuller, owner of Shanora’s, said the mural was in bad shape.

A second mural, facing north onto the same parking lot, is still hanging in there, a peeling time capsule of black entertainment and sports stars from the mid-‘90s.

The blank wall will be completely painted over with fresh faces. The other one will probably stay, Fuller said, but she wants O.J. Simpson out and Michael Jackson off the wall.

“I want no blemishes,” Fuller said. “Just people that are having fun and living good.”

Read the entire article here.


Lansing’s Homeless Program Praised by State Housing Agency

Lansing’s new initiative to fight homelessness is being lauded by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) as a model for delivering services to the area’s homeless.

According to excerpts from the article:

MSHDA had nothing but praise for the city of Lansing and the Greater Lansing Homeless Resolution Network for the overwhelming success of a Homeless Connect project that delivered much needed services directly to more than 700 of Lansing's homeless population last week on the campus of Lansing's Eastern High School. The first Project Homeless Connect took place in San Francisco in 2004 to put the needy in direct contact with services and has served as a model ever since.

"These events are an important component of MSHDA's 10-Year Campaign to End Homelessness and a compelling part of our overarching mission," said MSHDA Interim Executive Director Keith Molin. "We're committed to providing support for the homeless and special needs populations and encourage the same commitment from every county in Michigan."

The 10-Year Campaign to End Homelessness is based on 60 comprehensive plans submitted by Continuums of Care that represent every county in the state. The Campaign's focus is on "Housing First," the belief that housing attached to supportive services is the key to ending homelessness by 2017.

Read the entire article here.


Gas Prices Push Local Consumers Toward Smaller Used Cars

In light of gas that’s soared well above $4 a gallon, Mid-Michigan consumers are trying to consume less petrol by buying smaller, more efficient older cars.

According to excerpts from the article:

The cars of choice: Hondas (Civic and Accord), Toyotas (Corolla and Camry) and Fords (Focus and Fusion).

Loved for their efficiency and reputation for reliability, these cars are now drawing offers far higher than their Blue Book value. Some sellers report bidding wars that would make a new car dealer envious.

But at some Lansing-area used car dealerships, the trend isn't quite as pervasive. Prospective buyers are asking about gas mileage and looking more toward cars than gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs, but it still comes down to the price in the window, no matter the vehicle.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing-based Writer Launches New Music Zine

Lansing-based blogger and music buff, Rich Tupica, has launched his Mid-Michigan music zine, "Turn it Down."

According to excerpts from the article:

Tupica says the zine will focus on Lansing artistic events and people. Unlike other publications in town, Tupica says “Turn it Down” will exclusively cover “creative people and their endeavors.”

To gather material for the first issue, Tupica has been checking out a live show or a band practice almost every night. He says artists lug heavy equipment to shows and rehearse several times a week while working day jobs and going to school. “They need support, otherwise they will likely stop playing music,” he says.

Tupica says these artists and what they bring to the city should not be ignored.

“These guys are not making a lot of money, they don’t have record deals,” he says. “They do it because they love it, and that makes for a lot of good stories.”

Read the entire article here.


Healthy Coffee Shop Percolating in Lansing Mall

LaPriest Blocker's new store, The Healthy Coffee Stop, is giving Lansing Mall visitors a healthy option for a mid-day shopping pick-me-up.

According to excerpts from the article:

Blocker said it's the first business of its kind in Michigan.

Blocker says his potential customers are legion. "There are 1.4 billion cups of coffee poured on a daily basis," he said. "More people drink coffee than anything else except water."

If coffee's not your thing, The Healthy Coffee Stop also stocks tea, mocha and hot chocolate.

Blocker, who has owned the business since January, swears you can get the boost you need without the jitters, stomach upset or acid reflux that often accompany regular coffee. Even more important, you can reap some health benefits.

Read the entire article here.


CADL Increasing Resources for Local Businesses

The Capital Area District Library (CADL) is upping its efforts to help local business owners create business plans and market their products by offering classes and other resources to new business owners.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lansing even has a business librarian who does one-on-one counseling and assists in the development of business plans entrepreneurs can take to the bank.

With that in mind, meet Marsha Madle, president of Madle Marketing, LLC, who served on the CADL advisory committee, is a founding memberof the Meridian Area Business Association (MABA), chairperson of the Meridian Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Meridian Township Entrepreneurial Asset Movement (MTEAM), the latter of which counts as its primary accomplishment the formation of the Meridian Assets Resource Center(MARC).

Madle’s groups make use of the Hope Borbas Okemos library extensively and she said that head librarian Joan Smith is “very proactive with business.” The Okemos Library is purchasing books to enhance their business collection for small business, and Madle said, “That has been driven because ofthe MARC, but Joan has always been very business oriented long before the MARC.”

Read the entire article here.


Parents Moving Kids to Popular Lansing Magnet Schools

Lansing magnet schools are becoming increasingly popular among parents who want to send their students to schools that specialize in art and music.

According to excerpts from the article:

Amaru Abdullah-Raheem, her 6-year-old stepson is a "musical child," Jenine Abdullah-Rahim said, and that's why the Holt parent has enrolled him in Lansing's Pleasant View Magnet School, a K-8 school focused on the performing arts, for first grade next year.

"I think he'll get some opportunities kids in other schools won't get just because Pleasant View is a magnet program," Jenine Abdullah-Rahim said.

That view is fueling a growing trend of families from suburban school districts, charter, private or home schools who are choosing Lansing's magnet schools.

About 80 such elementary students will enter the district next year, a number expected to climb as middle and high school student applications are processed.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Community College Leads in Green Development

Lansing Community College’s (LCC) West Campus is well on its way to becoming one of the first community colleges in the country to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lansing Community College's West Campus has a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system that saves the college more than $100,000 a year in energy costs.

Motion sensors shut off the lights when a room stays empty too long. Sensors on the outdoor sprinklers keep them from operating in the rain.

The building has low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints on the walls, which emit fewer noxious fumes, and low-volume water fixtures in the bathrooms.

Read the entire artice here.


Economic Analysis Says Michigan Universities Can Lead in Renewable Energy

A new study released by the University Research Corridor, a group of universities that includes Michigan State University (MSU), shows that the state is capable of being a leader in the alternative energy industry.

According to excerpts from the article:

"The University Research Corridor will play a vital role in making alternative energy an important driver of economic growth in the state," said Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group LLC and a co-author of the report.

AEG found the URC received more than $79.5 million in alternative energy research grants in 2007, with 77 percent coming from federal grants and 11 percent from business, which currently invests $16.7 billion in Michigan R & D each year, more than any state except California. The preliminary report was made public to advance ongoing conversations at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference.

URC leaders also announced the winners of a URC grant competition seeking "revolutionary but feasible" energy ideas from researchers at member institutions Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. The winners are two joint collaborations aimed at efficient development of cheaper forms of electricity and fuel.

Read the entire article here.


Area Financial and Insurance Industry Grows by 13 Percent

The Mid-Michigan insurance and financial industry grew by 13 percent in 2006, a growth trend that’s expected to continue bringing high-paying jobs to the area.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Lansing area has grown into a hub of insurance and financial activity, according to a report released last week by Capital Area Michigan Works! and Leap Inc., a Lansing-area economic development group.

“Even though we’ve been losing jobs in the region, these jobs seem to swim against the tide,” said Doug Stites, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works! “Other than health care, they are the only ones gaining jobs since 2000.”

Helping to bring in those jobs were major insurance companies like Lansing-based Jackson National Life Insurance Company and Accident Fund Insurance Company of America.

The industry, which is fifth-largest in the Lansing area, attracted 13 percent more jobs to the region from 2000-06, when the study was conducted. Total jobs in the area decreased by 3 percent.

Read the entire article here.


$11 Million in Airport Developments to Include New Name

Lansing's Capital City Airport is in the middle of an $11 million expansion, but before that expansion is concluded, the airport will have a new name: The Capital Region International Airport. The new name reflects the airport’s status as an international port.

According to excerpts from the article:

"Over the next five years, we're going to change the whole complexion of the airport," said Robert Selig, executive director of the Capital Region Airport Authority.

The work could start this summer, pending state legislative approval to accept nearly $10.8 million in federal grants for the airport.

That money, along with millions more slated for other Michigan airports, is tied up in the state capital outlay budget. House Democrats and Senate Republicans have been arguing for weeks about whether to include spending for college and university projects along with the airport funds in that budget.

Until that money flows, the projects are stalled, Selig said. And if work doesn't get done this year, costs could rise.

Read the entire article here.

 


Commission Awards $6.5 Million in Energy Efficiency Grants

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has issued $6.5 million in energy efficiency grants to 14 organizations.

According to excerpts from the article:

“My fellow commissioners and I are extremely pleased to announce these grants,” said MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu. “The grants awarded today will help the state promote and move forward in the development and application of energy efficient technologies.”

The Commission on March 21 issued a request for proposals for Michigan energy efficiency grants for all customer classes with three distinct focuses: plug-in hybrid electric vehicle pilot programs; compact fluorescent lamp programs; and green community programs.

Based on its review, the MPSC awarded grants to the University of Michigan, the Superior Watershed Partnership, East Lansing’s Urban Options and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council to name a few.

Read the entire article here.


Season of Summer Festivals Brings $18 Million to Mid-Michigan

Mid-Michigan’s summer festivals bring an estimated $18 million to the region every year. The festivalswhich range from art, blues and folk festivalsstart in early spring and end in the fall.

According to excerpts from the article:

“Changes in the economy don’t seem to have a huge impact on total sales,” Corinn VanWyck, program coordinator for the City of East Lansing Art Festival, said. “Obviously there’s some fluctuation [but] people still come. They plan for it all year.”

The East Lansing Art Festival is held on the streets of downtown East Lansing, off of Grand River Avenue, between Abbot Road and MAC Avenue.

With a budget of $130,000 to $140,000, the non profit entity rents tents, equipment and stages for the event, while relying heavily on fundraisers and sponsors. This year’s sponsors include the Ingham Regional Medical Center, Summit Community Bank and the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America.

Read the entire article here.


State Launches New Round of Award-Winning Tourism Ads

The State of Michigan has launched another season of its Pure Michigan advertising campaign, a tourism campaign that has won national recognition for driving tourism revenue to the state.

According to excerpts from the article:

According to Travel Michigan, the state's official tourism promotion agency, the industry contributes $18.8 billion to Michigan's economy each year, accounts for 200,000 jobs and generates $1.1 billion in state tax revenues.

Travel Michigan head, George Zimmermann, expects the Pure Michigan television and radio ads, billboards and state tourism website will attract more tourists to the state than even last year's successful campaign. Follow-up surveys found that the 2006 Great Lakes, Great Times campaign was responsible for drawing about half a million visits to the state from the Chicago, Indianapolis and Cleveland areas, Zimmermann says.

Last year's Pure Michigan campaign drew 1.3 million people from the same three markets, the surveys found.

"We basically more than doubled (tourist visits) with the same budget just by switching campaigns," he says.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing and Ingham County Receive National PR Award

The City of Lansing and Ingham County recently won an award from the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) and the Central Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for collaborating on the Hold on to Your Home campaign.

According to excerpts from the article:

Hold on to Your Home received top honors from the NAGC, taking first place in the combined Blue Pencil and Golden Pen Award category—a category developed to honor organizations across the country that have achieved excellence in print and online communications.

In the organization's annual competition, the City of Lansing and Ingham County were recognized for the effective branding of the Hold on to Your Home campaign. On the local level, the PRSA Central Michigan Chapter awarded the Hold on to Your Home campaign its Award of Excellence in the Public Service category for 2008.

Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing said, "We are pleased with the success of the Hold on to Your Home campaign. The resources provided through the program have supplied invaluable support to residents facing foreclosure."

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Makes ‘Cool Capitals’ List

After spending 50 weeks touring the country’s 50 capital cities, California native Sue Parks placed Lansing on her list of top “10 Cool Capitals” and recognized Lansing as having the best river walk.

According to excerpts from the article:

"I think your city's so pretty," said the walking advocate and founder of WalkStyles, Inc., a company that sells walking-related products. "I had never been to Lansing so I had no idea what the city was going to be like. We had just a gorgeous morning."

The 51-year-old walked the city's river trails on Oct. 4. A group of about 30 accompanied her as she zipped along the trails where she could see the state Capitol and the charm of Old Town.

Read the entire article here.


Library Board Advances $93.6 Million Millage

The Capital Area District Library (CADL) board recently approved a proposal to place a millage on the Aug.ust 5 ballot that would ask voters to fund $93.6 million in improvements and expansions to Ingham County libraries.

According to excerpts from the article:

"The cost is not that high, and we would hope that people would see how important this could be to their community," CADL Director Sue Hill said after the board passed the ballot item. "This is a great opportunity for us. Our services have just grown and grown and grown, and our buildings haven't."

Lansing resident Debra Hinkle, 44, said she welcomes the new proposed millage, which could mean an improved downtown Lansing branch where her twin sons, Calvin and Elijah, do homework, use computers and receive tutoring.

Read the entire article here.


MI Information Protector Named Security Officer of the Year

SC Magazine recently named Dan Lohrmann, chief security officer for the State of Michigan, the 2008 Chief Security Officer of the Year for outstanding achievement in information technology security.

According to excerpts from the article:

“Dan does a fantastic job for us and for the citizens of Michigan,” said Ken Theis, Director of the Michigan Department of Information Technology and CIO for the State of Michigan. “We battle new threats to our information security every day, and Dan is at the forefront of that battle, making sure we protect the state’s vital information.”

“Dan Lohrmann represents one of the industry’s leading lights,” said SC Magazine Editor Illena Armstrong. “Moving into 2008, our judges recognize that Mr. Lohrmann is helping them identify and address the emerging security issues of tomorrow.”

Read the entire article here.


European-style Coffee Spot Opens on Lansing's Westside

Lansing’s Westside just got a little more European. A 1,200 square foot coffee shop, Brewster’s Beanery, recently opened on West Saginaw, bringing a little European flair to the area.

According to excerpts from the article:

Brewster’s Beanery has the European coffee lounge look. The 2,100-square-foot space includes a fireplace surrounded by leather chairs, a waterfall, booths and tall bistro tables and outdoor seating when the weather gets nice. Along with coffee, they serve paninis, bagels, scones, croissants, muffins, wraps and salads.

Also like European coffee lounges, Brewster’s baristas are well trained. Manager Jason Westenbroek, a member of the Barista Guild, trains baristas in pulling shots of espresso, steaming and foaming perfect milk and tasting coffees from several different areas of the world.

“Our baristas have to pull their own shots and tamp their own beans, which makes the shots perfect, so each latte or mocha at the store is the best it can be,” Brim said.

Brim said Westenbrock’s specialties include the popular latte art. “In the finishing touch with the whip, he makes flowers and other designs in the lattes (a heart is a favorite, but there are also designs like flowers),” Brim said. “I want a visit here to be an event.”

Brim also plans to host events at the shop, and has planned her first book-signing event with local children’s book author Judith Wade on April 26.

“We have large, open space, because I wanted to bring in groups for meetings, and we can arrange special hours for any other groups that would like to meet here,” Brim said.

Brewster’s Beanery, 6003 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Sunday. (517) 886-6300.

Read the entire article here.


Additional Mega Credits Keeping Businesses In-State

The state legislature is working on a series of bills that would revamp current Michigan Economic Growth Authority tax credits to help keep businesses in the state. The credits, which include Mega Credits, are 13-years-old and arguably outdated.

According to excerpts from the article:

The timing is opportune, as the impact of Michigan's new business-tax structure continues to unfold and one neighboring state has stepped up its efforts to woo Michigan business.

Senate Bill 1189, sponsored by Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit,would make more businesses eligible for MEGA incentives, including eliminating the Michigan vs. non-Michigan comparison that companies now must make.

Mark Morante, director of policy and legislative affairs at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the requirement can effectively force companies to look elsewhere to seek competitive offers, and “that's not necessarily always a good thing.”

Instead, companies must show why the project is necessary and what the credit will do to advance the project, and the MEGA program will evaluate that when deciding the size and length of tax credit, Morante said.

The bill reduces from 100 to 50 the minimum number of new jobs a business must create or retain to qualify for a MEGA tax credit.

The bill also provides for MEGA tax credits targeting historic buildings in downtowns. And the measure changes the state's credit limits, from annually granting up to 25 new tax credits of up to 20 years each under the general MEGA program to instead allow the state to annually sign agreements totaling up to 400 credit years.

Clarke's bill also expands the state's use of a“clawback” provision in MEGA agreements, and requires a business to repay tax credits if it moves jobs outside Michigan during the agreement and for a period of years after the agreement ends, as determined by the MEGA board.

Read the entire article here.


$100,000 Communications Competition Kicks Off

Small businesses in the area are competing for a $100,000 communications makeover that will give the winning business a more visible presence in the state. The makeover is being sponsored by several Mid-Michigan businesses.

According to excerpts from the article:

Any business located in Ingham, Eaton, Clinton or Jackson County that has 500 or fewer employees is eligible to enter. The winner will be announced June 19 at the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) annual meeting in East Lansing. 

Winner does not have to be present. The winning company will receive more than $100,000 worth of equipment, services and advertising.

The winning company will receive a brand makeover, Cisco phone system and installation, voice and data service and installation, multi-function office equipment, exposure on radio and TV spots including the Big Show, hosted statewide by Michaels Patrick Sheils; and a feature in the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.

In addition, all contest entrants will receive a 90 day free membership in SBAM, the top 10 entrants will receive a 1-year membership in SBAM and the winner will be featured in an article in SBAM’s publication, Focus on Small Business.

Read the entire article here.


Career Connections Program Links Clinton County Grads

Career Connections, a 10-course program put together by the Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) and Lansing Community College (LCC), is connecting high school juniors and seniors with job options. The program exposes kids to allied health, auto service, business management, computer support systems, construction trades, criminal justice, EMS/fire, teacher prep and TV/radio careers.

According to excerpts from the article:

Justin Proper is a 2006 graduate of Ovid-Elsie High School and a sophomore at Ferris State University where he is studying TV production. Proper did two years of TV/Radio.

"It was really great," said Proper. "Before I took the class, I didn't know what I wanted to do. James Ford (the instructor) gave us a lot of information and made it clear there are a lot of options."

In the second year of TV/Radio, Proper did a senior project.

"I'm way ahead of the other freshmen and sophomores in the program at Ferris," he said. "A lot of the kids were totally stressing out over video projects, but I was so used to it.

"My best high school experience was that class."

Emily Schrauben graduated from Fowler High School in 2007. She took the Early Childhood. Now she is studying nursing with a goal of becoming a pediatric nurse.

"I learned a lot about child development from birth to age 8," said Schrauben, "and I learned a lot about developing plans for children ? routines and activities."

Though Schrauben in going into nursing, she stills feels the Early Childhood program was worthwhile for her.

"It was good for nursing because you need to take psychology for nursing and we did a lot of child psychology in Early Childhood," she said. "It was really helpful for babysitting. I got a lot of ideas for activities, art projects, seasonal ideas."

Read the entire article here.


$5 Million Would Finalize Move to Lansing for Israeli Startup

An Israeli pharmaceutical company is scheduled to open shop in the Lansing area in the next three to four months. RenoPharm, an Israeli startup, is waiting on $5 million from investors before putting down roots in Lansing.

According to excerpts from the article:

The operation could be the first success story of a volunteer group looking to build business ties between Michigan and Israel. It also would be the first recruitment win for the fledgling Lansing Economic Area Partnership Inc.

"Our goal is to get closer to the U.S. market," said Peter Assaf, chief executive officer and founder of RenoPharm Ltd., which operates from a for-profit business incubator in Nazareth. "I'm planning in three to four months to be there."

RenoPharm officials visited Michigan in October and returned in February to scout possible locations, meet with local leaders and connect with companies with which it likely would do business.

The last remaining hurdle is raising $5 million from investors for the move and Phase I clinical trials for its patented drug compound.

Assaf said he found the right mix in Lansing because of potential research resources at Michigan State University and access to life sciences service companies in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

The one-hour drive to those cities should be easy for company officials used to flying 15 hours to reach business partners, said Matt Dugener, president and chief executive officer of regional economic development group LEAP.

"The southern part of Michigan has all the resources a biotech firm needs to be successful," he said. "They're just not all in one community."

Read the entire article here.


City of Lansing Spending $150,000 on Master Plan Update

The City of Lansing has committed at least $150,000 to update a comprehensive master plan that hasn’t seen a major update since 1958. Though only $150,000 has been committed, the city estimates that as much as $350,000 could be spent on the project.

According to excerpts from the article:

Bob Johnson, the city's Planning and Neighborhood Development director, said during a media roundtable that the city has at least $150,000 budgeted for the project and there's a possibility that Lansing could spend a total of $350,000 for the work involved.

"The master plan is one of those living documents that the community looks to in terms of inspiration," Johnson said. "It will help shape Lansing as we go forth."

Johnson announced that Ann Arbor-based JJR will manage the project. JJR is a nationally recognized leader in landscape architecture, planning, urban design, civil engineering and environmental science.

Both Johnson and Robert Doyle, a JJR associate, agreed that the 18-month master plan endeavor might seek public input as early as May.

The result will be a document that touches on development, bike paths, cell phone towers, historic preservation and other city features that tend to be both popular and unpopular with residents.

Doyle said JJR will update the master plan with assistance from LSL Planning Inc. in Royal Oak; Landscape Architects and Planners in Lansing; and Anderson Economic Group, which has its main office in East Lansing.

Doyle said updating the comprehensive master plan will involve three steps: determining what's already in place, getting community input, and going through the planning process.

Read the entire article here.


Big Three Automakers May Hire 36,000 New Skilled Workers

The Big Three are gearing up to hire roughly 36,000 workers over the next four years. The companies are primarily looking for a younger, more educated workforce.

According to excerpts from the article:

The three automakers will hire about 36,000 hourly and salaried workers in Michigan over the next four years to replace those who are taking buyouts or retiring, a study from Ann Arbor's Center for Automotive said recently.

The bulk of those Michigan jobs will be hourly production positions. But the new hires will need different skills than those who went before them, said Dan Flores, a spokesman for GM.

"Some of the key skills we look for are problem-solving ability, communication skills, having the ability to work with a team and collaborate," Flores said.

That's because GM's new manufacturing system, already in place at the Lansing Delta Township and Lansing Grand River plants and being rolled out internationally, relies on hourly workers to find solutions to production problems and inefficiencies.

Prospective new hires are tested for those skills by a third party, Flores said. And only those who demonstrate an aptitude for working in that environment can earn a spot on the work floor.

"Generally speaking, we have some of the best manufacturing jobs in the world," Flores said. "We need the best people available."

Taking additional colleges at a community college also might give job seekers an edge, said Bob Sherer, executive director of the Capital Area.

Skills such as computer aided design and engineering and a knowledge of manufacturing systems can be picked up at two-year colleges such as Lansing Community, he said. LCC also offers training in alternative fuels, a topic increasingly important to the auto industry.

New high school graduates could see the benefit of the hiring boom next year, researchers from the Center for Automotive Research said, largely because the new nonassembly production jobs will pay an average of $14 an hour, about half of the current average wage for hourly workers at GM.

Read the entire article here.


Demand for Medical Specialists Growing Along with Lansing-area Hospitals

The demand for doctors who specifically care for patients in hospitals is growing in the Mid-Michigan region. The hospitalist specialty has grown as more primary care physicians seek to focus on seeing patients in their offices.

According to excerpts from the article:

Hospitalists, who also can be found on staff at Lansing-area hospitals, are doctors who care for patients when they're in hospitals. Lansing-area hospitals - Sparrow Hospital, Ingham Regional Medical Center and Hayes Green Beach Hospital - are among the health care systems nationwide with such programs.

The specialty has grown as financial pressures drive primary care physicians to focus more on seeing patients in their offices.

Louise Keen said "it's not an issue" that her 79-year-old husband isn't being treated by his doctor of almost 50 years.

The hospitalists are "taking good care of him," she said.

"It's very good for the patients because there's a physician here to address their needs at all times," said Mary Ording, a pediatric hospitalist at Ingham Regional Medical Center since 1998.

Ording works 24-hour shifts about eight times a month and sees 18 to 25 children each day.

Because patient stays tend to be short, hospitalists increase the likelihood patients are "seen by one doctor the whole time," said Emily Davis, spokeswoman for Ingham Regional, the Lansing hospital owned by Flint's McClaren Health Care Corp., which has five hospitalists.

The arrangement is appealing for doctors because it's often difficult for them to juggle seeing patients in their offices and admitting patients to a hospital. The admissions process can take two hours, said Dr. Kimberly Bell, medical director of Centennial's hospitalist program.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Schools Invest $122,000 To Prep Juniors For Federal Tests

The Lansing School District is investing $122,000 in district juniors by offering to pay for Michigan Merit Exam (MME) preparation classes for all students. Offering these classes is expected to help students do better on their annual tests and help schools meet No Child Left Behind standards.

According to excerpts from the article:

"That's huge, it is," Everett High School Principal Howard Cousins said. "When I heard about it, I was like, whoa! I just stood up and shouted on that one."

The annual exam for high school juniors is used to determine whether schools have achieved adequate yearly progress as defined by federal No Child Left Behind standards. Neither Everett, Sexton, Eastern nor the Hill Center for Academics and Technology have hit target scores in the five years since the standards took effect.

Lansing public schools Superintendent T.C. Wallace Jr. said the district's goal for next year isn't that every school make adequate yearly progress this year, but that students show improvement.

Additionally, students who score high enough on the test will receive a $4,000 Michigan Promise Scholarship from the state. More than 94 percent of test-takers statewide in 2007 got such scholarships.

The Kaplan MME Advantage program usually retails at $700 but will cost Lansing $115 per student.

"Not too many students are walking around with $700 to go through Kaplan training," said Chief Academic Officer Julie Lemond in explaining why the district opted to foot the bill.

The program continues through Feb. 26, after which state rules prohibit teachers from test-specific preparation activities.

The Michigan Merit Exam is scheduled to begin March 11. The multi-day test includes the ACT exam, which many universities require for admission.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Mayor Proposes Tax Breaks for Home Improvement

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has proposed to give tax payers a 50 percent break on the increased taxes they have to pay after making improvements to their home. Bernero hopes the proposal will encourage homeowners to spruce up their property.

According to excerpts from the article:

City officials classify "qualified improvements" as additions and expansions that can cost thousands of dollars.

"This goes beyond your general maintenance," acknowledged Bob Johnson, Lansing's Planning and Neighborhood Development director.

Roof repairs and new paint, which do not affect a home's taxable value, would not be considered, he said.

Still, some are applauding the residential tax break program Johnson said will be part of the spring budget negotiations between Bernero and the City Council.

"It's encouraging," said Joan Nelson, director of the Allen Neighborhood Center.

A significant number of homes on Lansing's east side were built in the first half of the 20th century.

"Old housing stock needs constant upkeep," Nelson said.

Read the entire article here.


City of Lansing Adds Innovative Program To Improve Service Delivery

The City of Lansing is using a new accountability tool called Citistat in order to provide citizens better, more effective service. The tool tracks calls and complaints and holds the proper city department accountable for taking care of the situation.

According to excerpts from the article:

With Citistat, City Hall will not only know that your street hasn’t been plowed, but it will also help hold someone accountable; the fire chief will know how many house fires have been in your neighborhood; and the Parks and Recreation Department will know that there’s graffiti scrawled all over the playground.

In its physical form, Citistat is just a meeting. But the form and substance of the meeting is what counts. Heads of every city department come together at Citistat meetings to share data about their operations. Everyone is together in one place sharing and learning. And that high level of intercommunication is the difference between a traditional government and a Citistat government. Once a problem is identified, that department head will be roasted by the administration until it’s fixed.

Lansing has tapped Dr. Eric Scorsone, a Michigan State University professor who runs the school’s state and local government program, to help implement Citistat. Scorsone likened Citistat to a car’s dashboard for the mayor’s office.

“They can gauge where things are heading as opposed to making a decision with a gut feeling,” he said. “It’s a performance management system designed to very quickly, in real time, assist the city in reallocating resources to address critical needs and to seize opportunities.”

Recently the city has been conducting Citistat meetings about once every two weeks. But the system will eventually be folded into weekly cabinet meetings, said Scorsone. Ten issues were identified in early Citistat meetings, and each issue (some items include refuse and recycling; neighborhood watch programs; mowing of city properties; snow removal; parking enforcement; and road maintenance) will be on the table at least once a month. Data on city issues will be updated monthly, and department heads must respond to queries about problems within that same time period.

Citistat is also a part of the city’s “goals and objectives,” says Jerry Ambrose, chief of staff of the Bernero administration. Some items on the highly pragmatic list include increasing public safety; attracting new businesses and residents; improving public infrastructure and developing stronger neighborhoods.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing Schools Marketing International Baccalaureate Program to Suburbanites

The Lansing School District has launched a huge marketing campaign geared at suburban households. The campaign includes sending 25,000 East Lansing, Okemos, Grand Ledge and DeWitt households a flier about the district.

According to excerpts from the article:

Worsie Gregory, head of the district's magnet office, said the move was in recognition of the fact that many parents now evaluate schools like they do consumer goods.

"(Students are) very happy in the elementary schools, but when they get in fifth grade, the parents go shopping."

The move comes in advance of the district's magnet fair Feb. 9 at Eastern High School and a schools of choice enrollment period in March.

The Lansing School District is the area's largest district, serving more than 15,000 students. However, the district has lost more than 4,000 students in the last 15 years, and loses more students to suburban districts through schools of choice than it gains back.

The focal point of the effort is on the magnet schools' expanded programs, including the popular International Baccalaureate program.

Lansing has added a new K-10 aspect to its International Baccalaureate program, currently available to juniors and seniors at Eastern High School.

The International Baccalaureate program is an advanced course of study that focuses on an international mind-set. In addition to their other classes, which are comparable to advanced placement and honors studies, students are expected to be fluent in a second language and learning a third.

To that effect, a Mandarin Chinese immersion program already at Post Oak Elementary will eventually expand throughout the International Baccalaureate program, offering a second language choice of Spanish, which is already available, magnet schools spokesman Mark Mayes said.

Read the entire article here.


20,000 Manufacturing Jobs Keep Sector Strong in Lansing Area

Bob Sherer, executive director of the Capital Area Manufacturing Council says that manufacturing is continuing to thrive in Mid-Michigan, with more than 20,000 jobs in the region.

According to excerpts from the article:

Last week, the council brought more than 60 manufacturers together to meet with Daniel Luria, research director at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, to figure out how to keep manufacturing both alive and well in Lansing.

Luria said the one reason this region is more insulated than other areas of the state from the manufacturing losses is government. While the rest of Michigan relies on manufacturing for almost 18 percent of all jobs, the Lansing area looks to manufacturing for just over 9 percent.

The Lansing area looks to government, including state government and Michigan State University, for 30 percent of its jobs, while the rest of the state only has about 14.5 percent of its jobs in government.

Another reason the region's manufacturing is alive and ticking? Many local companies are good at what they do, Sherer said. Examples include General Motors Corp.'s Lansing Delta Township plant, which has brought jobs at suppliers as well as the factory. Other local companies also are expanding.

Read the entire article here.


New Projects Attest to Growing Financial Hub in the Lansing Area

The Lansing area is a magnet for Michigan’s financial and insurance industries. Companies such as Jackson National Life, Delta Dental and the Accident Fund are investing in the area by expanding and creating jobs.

According to excerpts from the article:

Capital Area Michigan Works and the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, or LEAP, have gathered a group of these growing companies to take an in-depth look at the finance and insurance industries' work-force concerns.

In May, the advisory group will release a study of the industries' work-force implications to help guide future education, economic development and work-force strategies in the region.

In the interim, here are some preliminary findings:

• According to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, the finance and insurance industry in the region provided more than 11,000 positions, accounting for 7 percent of private sector jobs.

• The region possesses a higher-than-average share of employment in finance and insurance - 7 percent locally versus 4 percent in Michigan and 5 percent nationally. What's more, no other metro area in Michigan boasts finance and insurance services' share of employment above 5 percent.

• In 2006, there were about 650 finance and insurance companies or operations in the region, ranging from major insurers' headquarters to bank headquarters and branches to independent insurance agencies.

Read the entire article here.


Innovators Converge on East Lansing for Mid-Michigan Entrepreneur Day

Entrepreneurs from around the state took a trip to East Lansing last week to present their ideas to investors and other entrepreneurs during Mid-Michigan’s Entrepreneur Day. The eight presenters included Pardalis, Rapid Biosense and Cerious Technologies.

According to excerpts from the article:

"We're constantly looking for investment, but it's also for other kinds of contacts," said John Cunningham, chief executive officer of Lansing-based startup Rapid BioSense, which is working to produce a new type of test to quickly and inexpensively detect bacteria.

"We find these forums extremely valuable as a way to build our network of people."

Economic development officials say making those kinds of connections are integral to building a regional economy based on entrepreneurship and innovation.

That's why the Prima Civitas Foundation, with support from the Flint-based C.S. Mott Foundation, plans to spend $45,000 over the next few months to help bring inventors, entrepreneurs and investors together across a 13-county region, in communities such as Saginaw, Flint and Lansing.

"I'm quite energized at what I'm seeing around the region," said David Hollister, president and CEO of the Lansing-based nonprofit economic development organization.

Tuesday's event was the third Entrepreneur Day for Prima Civitas in the Lansing area. Hollister said the organization hopes to hold similar events about every other month in cooperation with other area economic development groups and educational institutions. He said the idea is to help create a better climate for small business startups by linking entrepreneurs with coaches, investors and each other.

Read the entire article here.


ConnecTech Expands Benefits for Area Business Professionals

ConnecTech, a statewide network for technology professionals, has expanded its benefits in all ConnecTech areas including Lansing. The expanded benefits will help technology professionals succeed by using experienced professionals and multiple business resources.

According to excerpts from the article:

ConnecTech, Michigan's all-new, premier network for technology professionals, debuts with expanded benefits and a restructured network, as it replaces the GLIMA network.

"ConnecTech members are truly one-of-a-kind -- creative, passionate, engaged and excited about technology, and they keep abreast of the latest and greatest trends," said Danielle DeLonge, network manager, ConnecTech."ConnecTech will better address the needs identified by our members and will focus on offering additional opportunities such as professional development, technology training, connections with members around the state, the ability to post podcasts online and access to a new mentoring program."

ConnecTech, powered by Automation Alley, helps solidify the eight statewide chapters while providing a stronger financial and organizational structure. A Web-based component allows members across the state to share best practices, discuss technology trends and pose questions to the overall membership. ConnecTech is also partnering with several associations and groups to help technology professionals across Michigan succeed in their careers, and will invite high-level speakers to discuss useful and practical technology trends and business practices.

"With the wealth of knowledgeable technology workers in Michigan, I am certain ConnecTech will be a strong force in promoting and strengthening Michigan's workforce and new economy," said Ken Rogers, executive director, Automation Alley.

Read the entire article here.


$100 Million Michigan Wine Industry Growing

The 50 commercial wineries that make up Michigan’s $100 million wine industry produce more than 357,000 cases of wine each year and are expected to generate even more revenue for the state in the upcoming years.

According to excerpts from the article:

 Michigan winemakers are unique in that they are known for both cool-weather wines, such as white Riesling, and warmer weather reds like Pinot Noir. You might even be surprised to know the state produces a fine Ice Wine. The diversity of Michigan wines is enough to make a viticulturist blush with excitement!

It’s a fact that wine grapes love Michigan’s mesoclimate created by Lake Michigan. The vast majority of Michigan grapes are grown within 25 miles of Lake Michigan, which provides a favorable “lake effect” microclimate of more moderate temperatures compared to interior portions of the state.

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, which was founded in 1985 to support development of the state’s wine growing industry and is a division within the Michigan Department of Agriculture, estimates that 1,800 agricultural acres in the state are cultivated to grow wine grapes. That makes the state eighth in wine grape production in the nation.

“The Michigan wine industry is growing quite rapidly. There is great interest in wine development and investment around the state,” said Linda Jones, executive director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. “The priorities of the council are encouraging growth of the winemaking industry, promotion of Michigan wines and funding research to support wine grape growing in Michigan.”

The council also publishes the Wine Country magazine and sponsors numerous wine tasting events and competitions across the state each year.

The more than 50 commercial wineries in Michigan produce over 375,000 cases of wine annually, Jones said. The wineries are a popular destination for wine connoisseurs, attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually. Wine and wine tourism are estimated to be a $100 million industry in Michigan.

Read the entire article here.


Power of We Keeps Lansing Art Gallery in Town

A $15,397 grant from the Power of We Consortium for Ingham County helped the Lansing Art Gallery keep its doors opened this summer. The donation was a key element in the in the $25,200 the gallery raised this summer to stay in business.

According to excerpts from the article:

Catherine Babcock, the gallery’s executive director, said the gallery has raised 63 percent of its goal, or about $25,200, since the board of directors sent letters to members and gallery supporters in May requesting financial help. Babcock said the money will be used for operating expenses.

Babcock called the response “heartwarming” and said board members and staff are looking hard at what needs to be done to keep the gallery alive downtown.

In addition to fundraising efforts, the gallery has also received a $15,397 grant from the Power of We Consortium. The gallery was one of 25 organizations selected to receive funds, as well as training in areas including Web design, database management and program development.

Babcock said the grant money will be used to help make the gallery run more efficiently, whether that means bringing in a new fax machine or restructuring the board of directors.

Some of the funds will be used to hire a consultant to help beef up the gallery’s board and fund development. “It’s really unusual when a grant allows you to hire a consultant,” Babcock said. “To me, that’s the most exciting news. Instead of just going to people for support and saying ‘we need your help,’ we can say, ‘This is what we’re doing to avoid this happening in the future.’”

Read the entire article here.

 


Local Nonprofit Gets $2.75 Million Grant

The Early Childhood Investment Corp. in Lansing recently received a $2.5 million grant to help oversee programs in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. The grant is part of a $10 million grant awarded to local nonprofits through the Kresge Foundation.
    
According to excerpts from the article:

The Kresge Foundation last week approved nearly $10 million in grants to 20 Michigan nonprofits for efforts to revitalize the area and work with area youth.

The two largest local grants by the Troy-based foundation were made to youth programs:

- $2.75 million to the Early Childhood Investment Corp. in Lansing to oversee the planning, development and implementation of early childhood systems in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

- $1.5 million to Detroit Youth Foundation to fund programs at YouthVille Detroit, a neighborhood youth center.

Read the entire article here.


New Grants to be Invested in Ingham County Development

Ingham County-based the Power of We Consortium is giving 25 Ingham County faith-based and community organizations $317,691 for organizational capacity-building. The grants will be used to fund community development, community leadership and program development.

According to excerpts from the article:

The Power of We Consortium for Ingham County has secured a total of $798,191 to engage in a capacity building initiative including: $500,000 in federal funds through the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration of Children and Families, complemented by $298,191 in local cash match and in-kind investments, including $40,000 from nongovernmental sources.

"The funding provided through this initiative is an investment in Ingham County. It will help maximize the leadership, programming, revenue-generating, and engagement capacity of faith-based and community organizations in Ingham County," stated Dr. Dean Sienko, Director of the Ingham County Health Department.

Each grantee organization has completed a needs assessment and has developed a unique capacity building action plan. In addition to the grants, each organization is eligible to participate in capacity building training workshops offered through February 2008.

Read the entire article here.

Capital Area Looks to Expand Library System

Capital Area District Library (CADL) wants voters to approve a millage so it can expand services and build new libraries in Lansing, Meridian Township, Williamston, Mason and Delhi Township. The CADL also wants to expand and renovate libraries in Stockbridge, Leslie, Dansville, Haslett, Webberville, Aurelius Township, South Lansing and the Eastside.

According to excerpts form the article:

The expansions would require a millage election; equally critical would be gaining the cooperation of 11 communities to amend the library district’s management formula.

The library is expected to consider a plan at its meeting today to raise an estimated $189 million over 20 years to finance the expansion as well as current costs, CADL Executive Director Sue Hill said.

The plan would add a 1.2 mill to 1.4 mill property tax to the existing 1.56 mill tax that already funds CADL. The existing tax is set to expire at the end of 2009. Under the plan, voters would be asked in 2008 or 2009 to approve the new tax for 20 years plus renew the existing tax for 20 years.

A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value of property, and taxable value is at least half of what a property is expected to sell for. Thus, if both millages passed, the owner of a property with a tax value of $50,000 (such as a $100,000 house) would pay an additional $60 to $70 per year or a total of $138 to $148 to support CADL. It would be paid by Ingham County residents except those in East Lansing, which operates it own library.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing-based Emergent BioSolutions Grabs $448 Million Contract for Vaccine

Lansing-based Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. recently signed a $448 million three-year contract with the federal government to supply the anthrax vaccination for the country's biodefense stockpile.

According to excerpts from the article:

In a conference call, CEO Fuad El-Hibri said the contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the largest deal in the company's history.

HHS is buying 18.75 million doses of BioThrax (anthrax vaccine adsorbed) - the only FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of the anthrax infection - for a fixed price of $400 million. The fixed price, El-Hibri noted, means the government is "committed" to purchasing all 18.75 million doses. HHS had specified 18.75 million as the maximum number of doses in the agency's May 2007 request for proposal, he added.

The vaccine, El-Hibri said, will supplement the 10 million doses of the vaccine already included in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) - a national cache of vaccines, anti-infectives, chemical antidotes and other medical supplies that can be deployed within 12 hours to anywhere in the U.S. or its territories in the event of a disaster.

Emergent BioSolutions' earlier agreements with HHS for the 10 million doses were worth more than $240 million, El-Hibri noted.

If the FDA approves the firm's pending supplement to its biologics license application to extend the shelf life of BioThrax from three years to four years, the company will receive an additional $34 million, El-Hibri said.

Read the entire article here.


Lansing's Neogen Corporation Jumps 25% Over Last Quarter

Lansing's Neogen Corporation saw a 25 percent increase in its net income over last year's first quarter earnings. Net income per share for the first quarter of FY 2008 was at .21 cents a share. It was at .17 cents per share last year.

According to excerpts from the article:

First quarter revenues increased 13% from the prior year's $20,220,000 to $22,909,000 -- representing a record for revenues in any quarter for the 25-year-old company. The first quarter marked the 58th consecutive profitable quarter from operations for the company, and was the 62nd of the past 67 quarters when Neogen reported revenue increases as compared with the previous year.

"Our first quarter was a great start for our new fiscal year. We are proud to report that we have once again delivered on the trust that we have earned from our shareholders and customers," said James Herbert, Neogen's chief executive officer and chairman. "During the quarter we were able to increase sales in most product groups, indicating what we believe to be both market growth and growth in our share of the market. We expect this trend to continue."

The first quarter also saw Neogen continue its progress in controlling costs to help improve operating results. Neogen's operating income increased 27% in the first quarter of FY 2008 to $4,547,000. The company's gross margin as a percentage of sales increased to 53.7% in the current quarter, up from 51.0% in the prior year's comparable quarter.

Read the entire article here.

Lansing Original Baryames Cleaners Going Green

Baryames Cleaners is instituting the Earth First system, which requires the company to use environmentally friendly cleaning fluid and a water-based, wet cleaning process.

According to excerpts from the article:

Baryames Cleaners is leading the industry in going green and becoming environmentally friendly.  

Baryames’ is Lansing’s only Certified Master Cleaner, and is proud of its origin in 1922 on Washington Avenue in downtown Lansing. Led by Chuck Baryames, the founder’s son and the current owner’s father, the company grew rapidly in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as it expanded emphasizing quality and same day service. With 19 locations in the Greater Lansing area, Baryames Cleaners is conveniently located for most Lansing residents.

Read the entire article here.


Indigo Financial of Lansing Leader in Eco-Friendly Green Mortgages

Lansing-based mortgage company Indigo Financial Group is offering bigger home loans to those who make energy-efficiency improvements to their homes. Borrowers are allowed to borrow more money based on the estimated utility bill savings realized from the improvements.

According to excerpts from the article:

Lenders are the latest group to jump on the environmental-marketing bandwagon by pitching mortgage products that offer homebuyers bigger loans or discounts if they are making energy-efficient improvements - or if their new home meets certain efficiency standards. Last month, Citigroup Inc.'s mortgage division launched a program that offers $1,000 off closing costs with its energy-efficient mortgage through the end of the year. Also last month, Bank of America Corp. launched an Energy Credit mortgage, which offers a $1,000 credit toward closing fees for mortgages on new homes that meet efficiency requirements set by the government's Energy Star program. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s mortgage division recently began offering Expanded Energy Conservation Mortgages in some markets that give borrowers more credit, as well as $500 off closing costs, if they find a builder who will use a specific type of spray-foam insulation.

Smaller lenders, too, are promoting energy-efficient mortgages. Indigo Financial Group, based in Lansing, Mich., started selling such mortgages in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Florida in 2005, and this year expanded its services into Kentucky and Missouri.

While energy-efficient mortgages have been available from many lenders for some time, they are receiving renewed attention. They allow borrowers to qualify for bigger loans because lenders permit the estimated savings on utility bills to be added to the borrower's qualifying income. For example, energy-efficient improvements could save a homeowner $50 a month. The $600 extra a year could allow a person to borrow about $10,000 more on a 30-year mortgage, depending on the interest rate, says Mark Wolfe, executive director of the Energy Programs Consortium, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps coordinate state and federal energy policy.

Read the entire article here.


Cargo Shipments Increasing Through Lansing Capital City Airport

Capital City Airport in Lansing is seeing an increase in the frequency of cargo shipments filtering through the airport. This year cargo shipments are up 14 percent.

According to excerpts from the article:

When it comes to cargo, business is growing at Capital City.

Cargo shipments this year through July are up 14 percent from the same period a year ago, according to data from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Statewide, that puts Capital City behind only Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids in total pounds of cargo shipped.

There were 37.13 million pounds of cargo flown in and out of Lansing during the first seven months of 2007.

Read the entire article here.

Westside Lansing Leaders Discussing Options for Pine and Saginaw Traffic

Local and state officials are discussing new approaches to the Pine and Saginaw street area on Lansing's Westside, in hopes that the area can soon reemerge as a hot spot for new investment and residents.

"The latest call for action by the NorthWest Initiative community improvement group would covert Saginaw to a more pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-accepting area that could boost positive change. Likewise, city and state leaders are once again acknowledging the need for major fixes to Saginaw with urban redevelopment in this resident-rich pocket of Lansing."

The wide, one-way traffic patterns have made building more commercial and residential amenities challenging, but residents and leaders are optimistic about changing the paradigm. Click to 
read more.



FinCor profit soars on acquisitions

Delta Township's FinCor Holdings Inc., which insures hospitals, health care facilities and physicians reports second-quarter earnings are up 77 percent.

"The privately owned health care risk management and insurance provider said Tuesday it earned $4.8 million, or $7.74 per diluted share, for the three-month period that ended June 30. That was up from a profit of $2.7 million, or $4.57 per diluted share, one year earlier. Officials said the growth was led largely by FinCor's October 2006 purchase of Washington Casualty Co. and its takeover in May of the Insurance Services and Employee Safety and Disability Management divisions of MHA Service Corp. FinCor also had a 95 percent retention rate of its hospital and facility business."

FinCor has 125 employees in its Lansing office. . . . read more

Tourism industry seeks $30M in annual funding

Legislators in Lansing are trying to find space in the budget to boost the state's tourism funding by $30 million a year. 

"A coalition of Michigan tourism business interests that seek to boost Travel Michigan advertising spending from the $5.7 million in general-fund money that’s been spent in past years. . . . The coalition says every $1 spent on tourism promotion generates $2 to $3 in new sales-tax revenue. And it points to the state’s current Pure Michigan campaign as indication of what adequate promotional spending can mean."

The Pure Michigan campaign was named the top state tourism ad campaign in the country by the Travel Industry Association of America. The campaign also took top honors from the association for the best state tourism TV commercial. . . .read more.
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