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DFCU Financial breaks ground on Plymouth branch

DFCU Financial, Michigan's largest credit union, is opening a new branch in Plymouth.

Ground was broken in late August on a 4,583-square-foot facility that will open in the first quarter of 2015 at Ann Arbor Road and Main Street.

The branch will be the 25th for the credit union that formed in 1950, started by seven Ford Motor Co. engineering employees. President and CEO Mark Shobe says the Plymouth location will serve more than 4,000 families.

The branch, which will sit on about one acre of land, will have two drive-through teller lanes, a drive up ATM and full services inside.

DFCU currently has branches in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Source: Peggy Richard, spokesperson, DFCU Financial
Writer: Kim North Shine


Shinola bikes for rent in downtown Birmingham



Shinola and The Townsend Hotel, two brands cementing reputations of luxury, are pairing up to offer Shinola bikes to hotel guests and to Birmingham residents.

The Shinola bike rental program at The Townsend launched about a month ago as a new amenity that offers an easy and stylish way to see downtown Birmingham.

The bikes are for rent by the half hour for $15, an hour for $25 and for a day for $125. Bike helmets and locks are also available.

Operators at The Townsend, a Euro-styled hotel in Birmingham, and Shinola, which promotes American- and Detroit-made products and operates a factory and retail store in Detroit, say Shinola's Runwell and Bixby models are a great way to see how walkable -- or rideable -- Birmingham can be.

"We've only had a few rentals so far, but we have a sign at the concierge desk in the main lobby announcing the offering, and we've had many inquiries," says Lynette Zebrowski, The Townsend's chief concierge. "So we are expecting to see this pick up."

Source: Hope Brown, principal PublicCity PR
, and Lynette Zebrowski, chief concierge, The Townsend Hotel
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Advantage Health Centers unveils mural at newest clinic in Warren

A community healthcare practice that treats low-income, uninsured, underinsured and homeless patients is brightening up its clinic in Warren with a mural that tells the story of what community health care means to people with little or no access to doctors, dentists or mental health treatment.

The mural at Advantage Family Health in Warren -- the newest of the federally-funded practices operated by Advantage Health Centers -- is being unveiled this week during a presentation that includes video interviews with patients and employees. The interviews were compiled in January and February, about a month after Advantage moved one of its Detroit clinics into a renovated warehouse in Warren. The interviews with patients -- new ones and old ones who followed the clinic from Detroit -- were interpreted by a storyteller and then made into the mural by an artist, says Joseph Ferguson, executive director of Advantage Health Centers.

"The mural depicts the community's feelings about our role in their lives," says Ferguson, adding that community health clinics such as his and others that serve some 170,000 patients in greater Wayne County are preventing the over and unnecessary use of emergency rooms and are also giving care that leads patients to be healthy enough to work: "to be productive again."

The mural decorates the lobby of the clinic on 8 Mile Road, and the artwork will also appear in patient education materials. It was made possible by a $35,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation through its Health and Arts & Culture Healing Spaces initiative.

A mural that already decorates the clinic's community room was paid for by the Kellogg Foundation.

Advantage Health Centers operates seven practices, Warren being the newest. Its other clinics are located in Detroit and are seeing increases in patient numbers. AHC is hiring, and has added several employees to its staff in recent months as it works to complete community outreach and provide education in neighborhoods used to relying on the emergency room as their primary form of medical care. Dental care and behavioral health care are also offered to adult and pediatric patients through Advantage Health's clinics and practices. Outreach workers are also teaching patients how to use the Affordable Health Care Act and the Healthy Michigan program to find appropriate and affordable health care rather than using hospitals they can't pay or forgoing medical care until treatment becomes more costly and taken on by hospitals.

Since 2008, Ferguson says, the number of patients has increased from about 8,000 to more than 20,000. By the end of the year, that number will be up to 25,000 or 26,000, he says.

The Health Centers originally started in 1986 and targeted the homeless and veterans due to the high number of homeless vets. Eventually it grew to also serve uninsured, underinsured and neighborhoods with little or no access to doctors.

Source: Joseph Ferguson, executive director, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Royal Oak's Citizen Yoga expands to second location in Detroit

Less than a year since opening a yoga practice in a meticulously renovated space in downtown Royal Oak, Citizen Yoga is opening a studio in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit location is part of a Dan Gilbert-backed boost of Detroit. The owner of Bedrock Real Estate, Quicken Loans, the Cleveland Cavs and an all-around doer for Detroit's revitalization is behind the Z, a retail space that opened in January. Citizen Yoga will open in a 2,300-square-foot space at 1234 Library Street, next to NoJo Kicks and 7 Greens. An anchor tenant of the Z, across the street, is 24,000-square-foot Punch Bowl Social.

The 535,000-square-foot Z building covers an area from the corner of Broadway and East Grand River to the corner of Gratiot and Library.

Citizen Yoga Detroit is scheduled to open in the fall.

The Detroit location fits with Citizen Yoga owner Kacee Must's desire to do good for the community. Being a part of a retail return to downtown Detroit fits with her philanthropic side. It was always a part of her plan since opening Citizen Yoga on Washington Ave. in downtown Royal Oak last August.

While the Detroit opening is exciting, Citizen Yoga has also aligned itself with Brian Lively, a local master of "customer cultivation," whose success at Moosejaw, J. Crew, Gap, and other big names has won him many admirers.

Citizen Yoga was opened in honor of Must's late sister, Miya, with the plan to  share with her clients the knowledge she gained while traveling to India.

Her grand opening was a fundraiser for the charity, Born and Raised in Detroit, an organization committed to creating enriching and entertaining events for Detroiters.

She also hopes to use Citizen Yoga to spread the word of suicide prevention in honor of her sister.

Source: Kacee Must, Citizen Yoga
Writer: Kim North Shine

Detroit BBQ & ice cream maker Treat Dreams team up in Ferndale

Downtown Ferndale's Treat Dreams is pulling in customers not for its creative and creamy ice creams, but for barbecue from Detroit.

The two small businesses are in a partnership that has Detroit BBQ Company setting up sell-out popups inside Treat Dreams.

Detroit BBQ sets out regularly from its home base on St. Aubin in Detroit to locations around metro Detroit.

Its success at Treat Dreams brought the company back for a return engagement last week and made the barbecue caterer turned pop-up restaurant into yet another metro Detroit food biz to see the benefit of sharing space and fan bases.

Source: Detroit BBQ Company & Treat Dreams
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Arab-American youth focus of Oakland U nursing school grant

A grant awarded to Oakland University's School of Nursing will test the effectiveness of community health education of Arab-American youth.

A nearly $80,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation will pay for a program that will pair Arab-American students from Dearborn with teen mentors who guide them through healthy eating and lifestyles. The students' responses, lifestyle changes and health will be compared to the effects of similar lessons given to them by teachers in a classroom setting. The effect of parental involvement will also be measured.

The grant is part of BCBS Foundation's program called Improving Health Behaviors in Arab American Youth.

“This project has a special emphasis on obesity prevention and is targeted at reducing the number of chronic illnesses for young Arab Americans,” says Dr. Suha Kridli, the grant’s principal investigator. “We are going to offer specific guidance and provide practical tools that can improve students' overall health while lowering health care costs."

Dr. Kridl says Type 2 diabetes and obesity in Arab-American youth is increasing, while preventive programs are not.

The program begins this month in Dearborn, where the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the U.S. live, and will be administered in partnership with Wayne State University, Dearborn Public Schools and the Dearborn Board of Education.

Sources: Brian Bierley and Suha Kridli, Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nom Nom's Cupcake Factory to add third shop & pizzeria in Detroit

After building a successful bakery in Westland and then Northville, Nom Nom's Cupcake Factory & Sweets Shoppe is taking its baked goodies to a third location, this one in Midtown Detroit. It's also building a pizza restaurant next door.

Nom Nom's Midtown is expected to open in late spring or early summer at 15 E. Kirby in Midtown, says Michelle Meador, project manager for LA Wier, which owns Nom Nom's, Rockstarz Karaoke Bar in Garden City and the future Detroit Pizza Co., which has no opening date set as the owners want to go slow with their first pizza restaurant. It will be located next door to Nom Nom's, within walking distance of some of Detroit's largest institutions.

They chose to expand from the suburbs to the city to be a part of the Midtown business boom, Meador says.

"We got a really great opportunity to go into that location and Detroit is just buzzing with entrepreneurship and new small businesses," she says. "We are excited to be a part of it."

Midtown draws customers from two of the city's largest employers: Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University. Wayne State students and employees and visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts are potential customers as well.

Detroit Pizza Co. will not "be just a fast food pizza. We want a slice of pizza that tastes great and is affordable, a good quality product at a great price…There's a little rumor we will have beer to go with your pizza."

"It's going to take us longer to do Detroit Pizza Co. because we've never done it before. The cupcake shop is pretty cookie cutter. We learned how to do it with our first location in Westland. The pizza place is very different and detailed…The amount of good, quality equipment, training a great staff, will be more intensive. We don't want to slap something together to make a quick buck. We want this to succeed just like Nom Nom's."

Nom Nom's is known for its fresh-baked favorites, such as booze cupcakes like Amaretto Sours and Irish Car Bomb, candy sweet treat cupcakes such as Butter Finger, Almond Joy and and Heath Bar, and soda pop and cheesecake flavors. It's a takeaway bakery as well as a thriving special-order business that makes different items, such as edible business cards.

Mother-daughter team Laura Wier and Jennifer Ryan have caught on in a short time with Nom Nom's. The Westland shop opened in April 2011. The Northville location launched in November 2013. In that time, it's also been voted "best cupcakes" for three years by readers of Real Detroit.

Source: Michelle Meador, project manager, LA Wier
Writer: Kim North Shine


Woodward Ave. transformation revealed

Plans to redesign Woodward Avenue between Detroit and Pontiac into a thoroughfare that will be prepared for mass transit as well as welcoming to bikers and walkers are being aired on public access cable channels in Oakland County.

Some of the organizations behind the plan, the Woodward Avenue Action Association, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the municipalities that line the avenue, are looking for public feedback as local, county and state officials get behind the Complete Streets plan.

Steven Huber, a spokesperson for Oakland County, says the plan could transform Woodward into a scenic thoroughfare in ways to promote business and usability.

Engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff came up with a redesign of the 27-mile stretch of road in a master plan that's believed to be one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

The planning and public feedback are moving at a faster pace as Oakland County and several municipalities work to prepare for the arrival of light rail on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

The idea is to unite metro Detroit through a major corridor that's easy to travel, to stimulate transit-oriented development, and to create jobs.

Source: Steve Huber, marketing and communications officer, Oakland County
Writer: Kim North Shine

Blumz growing Ferndale-based flower biz with new Ann Arbor store

Blumz by JRDesigns is expanding its floral and event planning services to Ann Arbor.

The owners, Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton, have established the business by becoming known for a knack for locating exotic blooms and for a fun attitude. After cementing sales and a following in downtown Detroit and Ferndale they felt the obvious move was to extend its reach to Ann Arbor.

The new store is located at 540 Avis Drive, and if like the other stores, it will connect it to major university and community events as well as become a go-to for weddings, funerals and special occasions. Blumz is a staple on the charity party scene and is connected to major events in Detroit and Ferndale.

Its Ferndale space is rentable and the floral design studio in Ann Arbor will also be a place for students to learn from the owners who are certified floral educators.

Source: Jerome Raska, co-owner, Blumz by JRDesigns
Writer: Kim North Shine


Ink Detroit's new online store promotes Michigan-made goods

  

Ink Detroit
 started out as a company focused solely on making shirts and such that express Detroit love, and now the eight-year-old company is spreading its love to the whole of Michigan by turning out a new line of products that  show statewide pride.

The I Love Michigan line can be found at the newly launched I Love Michigan Shop, the newest addition to www.thegreatlakesstate.com, which was started several years ago by Ink Detroit co-founder Paul Marcial as a marketplace for Michigan businesses.

Marcial and Steven Mansour formed Ink Detroit in 2005 with the mission of creating hip and fun graphics for quality t-shirts and other garments and accessories that Motor City natives "can wear proudly like a badge of honor."

"It kind of started as a hobby. We were just doing shirts on the side for years. We weren't really pushing it. Then it started growing little by littler and it got to the point where one of us had to leave our job," Marcial recalls.

Mansour, who has a background in the garment industry, left his job and is full-time with the ventures. Marcial, a graphic designer and landscape architect, spends countless hours on the start-up. The company's offices and product development are handled from Marcial and Mansour's Royal Oak homes. They have a warehouse in Southfield.

After Ink Detroit got rolling, the Michigan pride vibe got stronger, Marcial says. It became clear the buyers were very different.

"We did a few Michigan designs before, and they did OK," Marcial says. "When we started a whole separate division that's where it took off."

He says a large number of sales are coming from Instagram posts, simple pics like one of his son in a I Love Michigan shirt at the apple orchard last weekend.

The next big step for Mansour and Marcial is the launch of a catalog, which is being printed and bound as the pair prepares to approach retailers about stocking their products. Currently about 10 stores sell their goods.

Source: Paul Marcial, co-founder Ink Detroit and I Love Michigan Shop
Writer: Kim North Shine

Federal grant funds speedier trains between Dearborn and Kalamazoo

A 135-mile stretch of railway that runs from Dearborn to Kalamazoo will undergo $9 million in improvements to prepare it for a 110-mph regional commuter rail service between Detroit and Chicago.

The federal TIGER grant announced this week is one of several meant to create jobs and improve mass transit infrastructure in the Midwest and across the country. The Michigan Department of Transportation will oversee the project.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Service will run on an AMTRAK line that will eventually provide higher-rate service on a Pontiac and Ann Arbor line through Michigan, to Chicago and other parts of Illinois and Indiana.

“These transformational TIGER projects are the best argument for investment in our transportation infrastructure,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement announcing a total of $474 million in grants. “Together, they support President Obama’s call to ensure a stronger transportation system for future generations by repairing existing infrastructure, connecting people to new jobs and opportunities, and contributing to our nation’s economic growth.”

In Dearborn, where an intermodal passenger rail station is to open in mid-2014 on Michigan Avenue near Brady, mass transit improvements are seen as a way to "draw more visitors, businesses and residents" and "support the city's largest institutions and their employees: Ford, U-M Dearborn and The Henry Ford: America's Greatest History Attraction," says Dearborn Mayor John B. O'Reilly.

Source: Nick Schirripa, spokesperson, Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Kim North Shine

Computing Source legal evidence business hires 20, makes acquisition

Theresa Webster, a former legal assistant turned litigation graphics expert, is merging her company, Evidence Express, with Computing Source, a full service legal support firm in Southfield.

Computing Source's acquisition of Evidence Express in Detroit is the latest in a series of expansions and investments that CEO Mark St. Peter says will serve attorneys and their clients arguing legal cases in "today's visually-intensive world."

Computing Source has hired 20 employees this year as part of a plan to provide more and higher-tech visual aids, specialized presentations and forensic and other forms of evidence as well as documents and other communications to attorneys.

Merging with Evidence Express's team will add allow Computing Source to offer more services, including 2D and 3D animation to help attorneys successfully tell their stories.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Andrea Trapani, spokesperson and Identity PR and Mark St. Peter, CEO and managing director, Computing Source

Detroit Regional Aerotropolis takes off again with new name and new leader

Goodbye, Detroit Regional Aerotropolis. Hello, VantagePort.

The economic development effort to attract transportation-centered companies and industries to developable land between Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run airports is taking off with the naming of its first CEO and the launches of a new rebranding strategy and marketing plan.

The new name, VantagePort, and the new CEO, Tim Keyes, will carry on the work -- and successes -- of what was the Detroit Regional Aerotropolis, which formed in 2006 and in the nearly seven years since claims to have facilitated nearly 2,500 new jobs and more than $300,000 million in investment by small and large businesses.  While economic development has materialized, much of the work by the Aerotropolis board, including Wayne and Washtenaw County and state officials, has focused on information gathering, planning and preparation to achieve the goal of creating as many as 60,000 jobs and $10 billion in investment in 25 years. 

The goal is to shape 100,000-plus acres of land in, around and between the two airports into a global logistics hub by spreading the word about the area's convenient, potentially money-saving access to air, water, rail and highway and to make clear the benefits that might be reaped by companies needing these things to move their products, people and information all over the world.

Keyes,the new CEO and former director of economic development for the city of Romulus, has been a part of Detroit Regional Aerotropolis since the beginning and is charged with executing a new strategic and marketing plan that was written by Greyhill Advisors, a global site selection and and economic development consultant from New York, and the rebranding that was the work of Applied Storytelling, which has offices in Detroit and Oakland, Calif.

Metromode took a look at the plans and the concept of airport-centered economic development, in this 2011 story.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kelly Chesney, Business Leaders for Michigan

Metro Detroit towns, groups get grants for tree plantings

About 15 metro Detroit cities, schools and community groups are sharing in tree-planting grants awarded by DTE and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A total of 34 grants were awarded statewide. The amount of grants totaled $75,610 and will lead to the planting of more than 1,000 trees. Locally, communities such as Lincoln Park, Warren, Grosse Pointe Park and Pleasant Ridge will plant trees in the fall and spring.

Schools such as Commerce Elementary in Oakland County and Romeo Community Schools in Macomb County, as well as community groups such as the International Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson East Business Association and Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education, all in Wayne County, are also receiving grants.

The program is intended to increase the number of proper tree species and encourage properly planted trees and to also help reverse the loss of tree canopy in urban areas.

In the 15 years since the Michigan program began more than 20 million trees have been planted throughout the state, according to the DNR.

“The trees planted through this program will help to improve public areas in communities throughout the state,” said Kevin Sayers, coordinator of the DNR’s Urban Forestry Program. “This program also helps raise awareness about the importance of planting the right tree in the right location to avoid utility and tree conflicts.”

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Scott Simons, DTE Energy and Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority

Woodward Ave Complete Streets project called largest in the nation

A plan to turn a busy 27-mile, automobile-loving stretch of Woodward Avenue into a road that's safe and welcoming for all forms of transportation is rolling along with a series of public planning events to begin soon.

The changes -- part of the Complete Streets approach that's happening in cities around Michigan and across the country -- would move Woodward away from a wide-swath of auto-centered roadway to one that's inviting and safe for bicyclists, pedestrians, disabled users, bus riders -- and, if it comes to pass, light rail passengers.

The Woodward Avenue Action Association, WA3, is heading up the effort in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff. Working with them are reps and policy makers from 11 Wayne and Oakland county municipalities that have Woodward running through them. The Michigan Department of Transportation, M1 Rail, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments are also part of the project that's been in the works since August 2011 and has $752,000 in federal funding to work with.

The next step is to host five interactive public events, a design charrette, in several of the Woodward-connected communities. From those meetings could come a master plan that will determine what changes and updates are needed to accommodate public transit, pedestrians, bicyclists and, ideally, economic development.

“We want to create a street that truly works for everyone. Imagine a corridor that accommodates people of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, seniors, mobility-challenged individuals, transit riders and motorists,” says Jason Fowler, WA3 and Woodward Complete Streets program manager. “By engaging the residents and businesses along the corridor, as well as industry experts in this visioning process, we can develop a wide variety of innovative solutions and create a successful master plan.”

The first meetings, a three-day event, will focus on north Woodward in Detroit from McNichols to 8 Mile and Ferndale and be held at St. James Catholic Church, 241 Pearson Street in Ferndale, April 17-19.

During the meetings in Ferndale, Dan Burden, a walkability expert from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, will present a walking audit of Woodward and explain what lies ahead for a re-design he says "could be the single largest Complete Streets planning effort ever undertaken in North America.”

Other meetings will be held in Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills, May 20-22; in Bloomfield Township/Pontiac, June 3-5; Pleasant Ridge through Berkley, June 10-12; and in downtown Detroit/Highland Park, June 17-19.

Click on www.transformwoodward.com for exact locations, times and topics to be discussed.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Lori Ella Miller, spokesperson, Woodward Avenue Action Association
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