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Charter air service makes $5.8M investment in the Aerotropolis

A charter jet company is expanding at the Detroit Aerotropolis.

Kalitta Charters' $5.8 million investment will pay to move part of its operation from Willow Run to a new facility in Ypsilanti Township and also for an expansion of two of its buildings at Willow Run Airport. About 80 jobs will be created, most of them in Ypsilanti Township, Wayne County spokesperson Brooke Blackwell says.

Kalitta, which also has an operation in Tennessee, considered moving either there or to California but was enticed to expand in Michigan with incentives offered by Wayne's County's Economic Development Growth Engine, or EDGE. EDGE cut some of the improvement costs to Kalitta, a company founded in 2002. At that time, Kalitta had 81 employees. Currently it employs 210 people and provides corporate charters, air ambulance, cargo transportation and other air services.

EDGE is part of a plan to create a Detroit Region Aerotropolis for transportation related businesses to locate near each other in the Aerotropolis boundaries that stretch across Wayne and Washtenaw counties and include Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports.

"We're excited both by Kalitta's decision to stay and by the fact that this investment signifies the future growth in the Aerotropolis," Turkia Awada-Mulllin, EDGE's chief development officer, says in a statement.

Source: Brooke Blackwell, Wayne County spokesperson
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nearly $200M federal grant accelerates high speed rail in Metro Detroit

Metro Detroit and Michigan's high speed rail system moved into the fast lane this week with the announcement of nearly $200 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve lines from Dearborn to Kalamazoo.

The grant goes toward the purchase of tracks, signals and other rail infrastructure that will address congestion points and separate rail and freight trains -- currently the reason train travel is slower than ideal. The changes will allow trains to travel up to 110-mph along certain portions of the line. This will also decrease the travel time between Chicago and Detroit by one hour on what is known as the Amtrak Wolverine line. The 135-mile-long corridor will receive $196.5 million in funding while a separate $2.8 million will pay for a new train and bus station in Ann Arbor to serve Amtrak and other local transit providers.

Michigan will also receive funding to purchase the latest in locomotives and coaches as part of a joint application with Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri. The new cars will be added to Amtrak's Wolverine, Blue Water, and Pere Marquette lines.

The projects are expected to start next year and be completed by 2013 or 2014. Once the new rail network is built, Michigan workers and residents will have greater access to high speed rail than most states. According to the Michigan Municipal League, 69 percent of Michigan residents and 71 percent of employers would be within 15 miles of a station, including Pontiac, Detroit, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Albion, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

The announcement comes at a time when ridership on the trains is rising substantially, an illustration that high speed rail is desired by Americans and will be a part of American life across the nation, as Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said during the accelerated high rail funding announcement in Detroit Monday.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other transportation advocates say the high speed rail projects will mean jobs and economic development, but critics complain that Michigan is not a high speed rail or mass transit kind of market and the money is a waste.

"Accelerated rail service has the ability to enhance our economy, environment and overall quality of life," Gov. Snyder said in a statement. "An investment of this magnitude can spur economic development in our communities with rail stations, and provide access to a 21st century rail system that will help Michigan citizens compete in a global economy. Reliable, fast train service is attractive to businesses that want to locate or expand near it. This investment in our rail system is critical to Michigan's recovery."

Michigan Municipal League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin says the funding caps many years of working in unison.

"Here in Michigan, we have been fortunate enough to have strong bi-partisan support for high-speed rail. Our political leaders on both sides of the aisle fully understand how important this money is to creating jobs, increasing affordable transportation options, and jump-starting our economy."

Source: Sara Wurfel, spokesperson for Gov. Rick Snyder; Dan Gilmartin, executive director, Michigan Municipal League
Writer: Kim North Shine

U.S. Census numbers as development tools

While population declines were the mostly the rule, according to U.S. Census data released last week, many metro Detroit communities are using news of their population gains to lure business and attract more residents.

Sterling Heights, Macomb County's second largest city and the state's fourth largest, and Rochester, one of the fastest growing cities in Michigan and Oakland County's fastest with an increase of 21.4 percent from 2000-2010, have already hailed their growth as harbingers of future prosperity.

Rochester officials are calling their population jump from 10,439 in 2000 to 12,711 in 2010 evidence that a formula of mixed housing options, a vibrant downtown, access to trails and water and a solid commercial base has worked and is reason to show other prospective businesses and residents that the city is on solid ground and poised for economic prosperity.

Sterling Heights, which grew 4.2 percent from 124,471 in 2000 to 129,699, in 2010, is spreading word about how it got here.

"Sterling Heights is known as one of the safest cities in America," Mayor Richard Notte says. "Businesses have seen fit to reinvest, build and relocate in our city, as witnessed by $1 billion in development over the past year. Sterling Heights is still experiencing a strong housing market with two residential developments in full swing. And finally, residents choose the city because of our excellent public school systems and proximity to world-class higher education opportunities."

Other population gainers include Birmingham, Dearborn, Macomb Township, Brownstown Township, and Romulus.  Losers include Royal Oak, Pontiac, Ferndale, Warren, Mt. Clemens and Livonia.

Overall, Southeast Michigan lost 2.7 percent of its population, dropping from 4,833,368 in 2000 to 4,704,743 in 2010. However, the number of households remained nearly the same.

A large part of the loss is due to a 25 percent population decline in Detroit. According to SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, population of many of the nations' cities declined. However, many of those same urban centers are experiencing an economic rebirth, according to SEMCOG.

Wayne County, Michigan's most populous county with 1.8 million people, lost 11.7 percent of its residents.  Its neighbors in the tri-county area, Macomb and Oakland, saw population gains. SEMCOG's Southeast Michigan figures cover seven counties in addition to these three: Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw.

In metro Detroit, Oakland County came up with a 0.7 percent increase in the 10-year span while Macomb registered a 6.7 percent gain.

Whether the population gains were minimal or substantial, communities are celebrating the upticks and awaiting anxiously a demographic breakdown, namely age groups which point to a community's attractiveness and chance for thriving. Those numbers will be released by the U.S. Census Bureau this summer.

Source: SEMCOG, city of Sterling Heights and Mayor Richard Notte, Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino
Writer: Kim North Shine

Michigan is national leader in street design that serves cars, bikes and pedestrians

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition is cruising down a path of success as it spreads its campaign of "Building roadways that move people not just automobiles" around the state.

Not only did the organization win Campaign of the Year from the Alliance for Biking and Walking at a national summit last week, each week more and more municipalities are signing on to the Complete Streets approach, which means road construction and improvements will take into account non-motorized uses.

A total of 32 Michigan communities have passed ordinances or resolutions in support of Michigan Complete Streets. That's the most in the nation, says John Lindenmayer, co-chair of the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition. The coalition is made up of the League of Michigan Bicyclists, the Michigan Environmental Council and AARP.

Earlier this month Allen Park became the fourth Wayne County community to pass a resolution. Ann Arbor also signed on last week and Detroit, Ferndale and Royal Oak are among cities working to include all forms of transportation in their road planning.

"There's been an incredible amount of momentum in this last year," says
Lindenmayer, "and it's picked up since August when legislation was adopted
that makes communities with Complete Streets policies more eligible for
non-motorized funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation."

Lindenmayer believes an approach like this not only keeps people safer but makes places more livable. And, he believes communities that make themselves more accessible to walkers and bicyclists will be more attractive and successful.

"You look at all the young talent that's leaving Michigan. They're going to communities where they can walk, ride their bikes, that are more livable," he says. "We're really moving in the right direction -- especially to be known as the auto state, to be leading in this, really says a lot."

Source: John Lindenmayer, co-chair Michigan Complete Streets Coalition
Writer: Kim North Shine

New link added to 50-mile Downriver Greenway

$800,000 in grants will pay for the latest link in a trail, which when completed, will be the largest greenway connector of Metroparks in Southeast Michigan. How long? Fifty miles!

The grants are earmarked for a 4-mile link to connect 24 miles of trails from Huron Park in Flat Rock to Oakwoods Metropark on the border of Belleville, making the entire Downriver Greenway a 50-mile path. The trail will take outdoor enthusiasts through trees, by waters, across open land, and more.

"It's huge. It traverses communities, historic areas, natural resources," Twardesky says. "People can use it to commute to work, schools, recreational facilities," says Anita Twardesky, co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, a consortium of groups that have worked for at least a decade on projects from a vision to lay a continuous trail from the Detroit on the Detroit River DLGI.

More than being a nature-rich spot for walking, running, kayaking, fishing and more, the trail could draw visitors from around and outside the state, Twardesky says.

"Through these greenways we are starting to reinvent our region and look at it as a tourist opportunity," Twardesky says. "Basically from the City of Detroit, down to Monroe over I-275 I consider a hidden jewel within the state. There are lotus beds, sturgeon spawning in the Detroit river. History, Henry Ford's village in Flat Rock, the building of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

Making it possible are grants to the City of Flat Rock from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund to the City of Flat Rock.

The longer-term goal is to connect the Downriver system of trails to Monroe and, finally and eventually, Toledo.

The newest link fulfills a dream of Metroparks planners going back to the 1940s for the park system to be linked. DLGI Co-Chair Mary Bohlng, a Michigan Sea Grant educator, and a number of nonprofits and governmental bodies have worked for at least a decade on creating the system.

"In just over 10 years, the Downriver community has come together to provide its residents with an impressive network of greenway trails," Congressman John D. Dingell says in a statement announcing the grants.  "These trails greatly improve the quality of life in the region by providing a means of transportation and an outdoor recreational activity."

Source: Anita Twardesky, co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative and public relations and marketing manager for Riverside Kayak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Virtual 8 Mile shows sky-high views of the 3D street-level

Technology and marketing are converging in a push to promote business, transportation, and commercial development along 8 Mile.

If Virtual 8 Mile, an application developed by the Eight Mile Boulevard Association and Plymouth-based Luna Tech Designs, goes as planned the 27-mile corridor can be viewed on a 3D virtual interface using Google Earth.

Ideally, visitors to the site can zoom in on member businesses, which also will get Google priority listings during searches for businesses of their type.

The $5,000 in funding for the application came from the Michigan Dept of Transportation.

Virtual 8 Mile will also show visitors development possibilities and real estate opportunities, including details and photos of available land and property, along the stretch of road that cuts through Wayne and Oakland counties.

In addition, the site shows improvement projects, including facade renovations and median gardens, and public transportation routes and other information that can make patronizing a business or starting one easier.

For a business such as the Belmont Shopping Center, which now is viewable by visitors, "it is another way to promote an existing tenant mix and is also a business attraction tool for vacancies," says Tami Salisbury, executive director of the 8 Mile Boulevard Association.

The 13 communities bordering the Eight Mile corridor, which spans Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, stand to gain from increased exposure, Salisbury says.

"It really is a snapshot of 8 Mile, what's going on there and the potential that is there," Salisbury says.

In a larger sense, she says, the project helps the association in its mission to change the reputation, accurate or not, that 8 Mile Road is a has-been.

"It's equally as important to change the mental landscape as it is to change the physical landscape," Salisbury says. "We are changing mental perceptions people have of 8 Mile by showing them these physical transformations."

Source: Tami Salisbury, executive director, Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

State grants enable dozens of Michigan schools to turn up solar and wind power

An innovative program that takes energy efficiency and renewable energy projects into Michigan schools is expanding, offering 90 new schools a share of $4.4 million.

Energy Works Michigan, an arm of the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, awarded its first round of $3.5 million in Michigan Renewable Schools grants in November 2009 and will distribute the next round in September to schools that are selected as good candidates to undergo energy efficiency audits and implement new energy programs. The next round will include colleges and universities, in addition to K-12 schools.

Winners use the money to cut energy costs, install solar and wind energy-generating systems, and to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy studies in the classroom. The outcome is not only energy savings but a decrease in emissions into the environment as well as educated students who ideally will change their energy consumption ways.

The Michigan Public Service Commission provides the money for what is seen as "a pretty unique program…There's not another organization doing this on a such a large scale," says Kendal Kuneman, project associate for Energy Works Michigan.

Energy Works Michigan administers the program that has its employees showing schools how to be more energy efficient, how to install solar panels or wind turbines and training teachers in renewable energy and energy efficiency curricula.

Currently 67 schools, including Allen Park Middle School, the Advanced Technology Academy in Dearborn, Pierce Middle School in Grosse Pointe Park, the South Lyon School District, and several Detroit Public Schools, including Cass Tech High School, are participating.

"All of the projects are currently being wrapped up. Most are completed by now," Kuneman says. Experience from those projects will be used to make the next phase of the project even more effective, she says.

The grants help pay to send engineers into schools to identify energy waste and show the schools how to correct it. Once a school is deemed energy efficient, it can choose to install a small, medium, or large solar or wind energy generating system.

The schools provide matching money to their grants.

"We prioritize how to get a return on investment in 5-8 years," Kuneman says. "So schools are seeing some significant cost savings. Some are getting return in less than five years."

Source: Kendal Kuneman, project associate, Energy Works Michigan
Writer: Kim North Shine

Woodward Avenue gets 50 new signs, All American Road designation

More than 18 months of regional planning and state-local cooperation culminates this week with the installation of federal All American Road signs along a 27-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue.

A total of 50 signs worth $45,000 will be installed as part of the 2009 All American Road project, a U.S. Dept of Transportation program that awards funding for roadways deemed worthy of distinction and therefore dollars that make the roadways more appealing, useful, recognizable and memorable. Many such roadways around the country have been deemed scenic parkways, historic routes and such. The majority of Woodward signs will be installed this week by the Michigan Dept of Transportation (MDOT) with a few not coming until spring.

Royal Oak-based WA3, the Woodward Avenue Action Association, is the local administrator of the program and worked with MDOT, all cities along the route, and DTE on the best placement and process for the sign installation

"The intent is to really bring awareness that this is an exclusive and important designation so that when visitors are here they say, 'Wow I've seen that in other parts of America,' and they understand this is an important part of history," says Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3.

"They're very different signs, not your typical MDOT road sign...It was a long process, 18-20 months. It was very challenging to get these different signs, but MDOT was very accommodating," Carmona says. "We were able to do something that was outside of the box and get something that was eye catching and appealing and safe."

A prototype sign is located at McDonald's on Woodward near 13 Mile.

Of the 50 signs, 23 will be installed in Detroit. The remainder run north through Oakland County communities.

Source: Heather Carmona, executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

Case for Detroit light rail grows with $25M federal grant, 23% growth in Amtrak ridership

A system of regional mass transit in southeast Michigan has moved further down the track thanks to a $25 million federal grant and an Amtrak ridership survey that shows the number of train commuters continues to increase.

"I believe that southeast Michigan is as close as it has ever been to implementing higher levels of transit," says Carmine Palombo, transportation director for SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. 

He says SEMCOG and the Michigan Department of Transportation "continue moving forward on the commuter rail project from Ann Arbor to Detroit. Amtrak ridership on the Pontiac to Chicago line is up significantly. These are all positive signs that could lead to enhanced transit being in our future in the not too distant future."

The positive prognosis comes after the award of a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the building of the Detroit Light Rail Line. The grant comes from the Transportation Investment Generating Recovery - TIGER, a program of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. 

The first phase is the construction of a light rail line that runs 3.4 miles along Woodward and has 12 stations connecting downtown Detroit to Grand Blvd in the New Center area. The second phase would extend the light rail line 5.9 miles from Grand Blvd to 8 Mile Road near the Michigan State fairgrounds.

Separately, according to a report from the Michigan Dept of Transportation (MDOT), Amtrak ridership and ticket revenue increased again.

From October to December, 130,683 passengers took trains on the Pontiac/Detroit-Chicago corridor -- or Wolverine line -- for an increase of 22.7 percent from a year ago. Ticket revenue increased 26 percent to $4,949,889, according to MDOT. Ridership and revenue also increased on the Blue Water train that goes between Port Huron and East Lansing and the Pere Marquette line between Grand Rapids and Chicago. 

Janet Foran, a spokesperson for MDOT, which helps fund the Pere Marquette and Blue Water lines, says "certainly there is a lot more effort in southeast Michigan to get new projects off to a start, one being the Woodward light rail line…Clearly there is much more defined interest train travel."

Palombo and Foran say, as always, funding will have to follow the interest.

Source: Carmine Palombo, director of transportation for SEMCOG and Janet Foran, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation

Writer: Kim North Shine

Streetscape grants from Royal Oak's WA3 help unify Woodward Corridor

Five cities and communities with Woodward Avenue as their spine now have money to spend on projects to make their street fronts more appealing, inviting and useful.

The money, $53,000 split among them, comes from the
Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) via Federal Highway Administration Scenic Byway funds. WA3, a Royal Oak-based economic and community development organization with the mission of improving the visual, economic, function and historical character of the 27-mile long avenue, hands out the grants as part of its Streetscape Grant Program.

The 2010 recipients run from Detroit north through Oakland County and up to Berkley. In 2009, WA3 awarded $118,000 in mini grants.

"We're looking for areas that can enhance Woodward as an entire corridor and also help communities fulfill their individual goals," says Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3. The projects are not only aesthetic but practical, she says.

And the added bonus is that the grants bring federal tax dollars back home. Woodward Avenue, a history-rich and storied thruway, is designated an All-American Road, making it eligible for the funding.

The allocations were:
  • City of Berkley - $8,000 for median improvements
  • Ferndale Downtown Development Authority - $10,000 for Wayfinding Kiosks, high-tech, outdoor directories
  • Arden Park-East Boston Historic District - $7,000 for historic entry grates
  • The Park District (between 6 and 8 Mile roads) - $5,000 for beautification
  • South Oakland county - $13,000 for median improvements
The program provides a simplified process to generate physical improvements for Woodward as a connected region by celebrating and promoting the byway and the communities it runs through.

Source: Heather Carmona, executive director, Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

Chug no more: $150 million for regional high-speed rail

Michigan will be receiving $150 million to help develop a high-speed rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.

News came out Monday that the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program will be awarding the money, along with a $3.2 million planning grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Michigan has the existing rail lines from Chicago to Detroit, but is lacking the upgrades to get the trains up to a higher speed.

Although it won't be announced until today as to how the $150 million will be allocated, Carmine Palombo, transportation director for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, says the announcement was great news overall. "Being able to make that sort of investment in that high-speed rail corridor is great," he says.

Among the beneficiaries will be Amtrak and freight rail, but also everyone trying to establish a commuter rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor, too. One project that was identified as necessary was the connection west of Detroit, where there is consistently a bottleneck between usage of the track by freight and passenger services. Fixing that alone would take about 5-7 minutes off the time between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Palombo says.

"That's a pretty good chunk of time that would be saved as a result of this project," he says.

It was also announced in January that Michigan will be receiving $40 million for train station development.

Source: Carmine Palombo, transportation director for SEMCOG
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

SEMCOG receives Green Streets grant to manage runoff

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is one of several agencies that will receive grant funding to help clean and protect the Great Lakes.

SEMCOG will be awarded $500,000 for its Restoring the Lake Erie Corridor Through Green Streets program, which will be used to construct bioswales, tree trenches, and grow zones to manage stormwater runoff. The funds will also go toward reducing stormwater runoff volumes and sediment, the development of a Great Lakes Green Streets Guidebook, and installation of signage.

Amy Mangus, SEMCOG's coordinator of environmental programs, explains that our roads are one of the region's largest impervious surfaces, so managing stormwater runoff is important. "Stormwater runoff is the No. 1 pollutant source to our rivers and lakes, and if we all enjoy recreating in our rivers and lakes, we need to keep the pollution out," she says.

One project to which SEMCOG will be passing funding will be a bioswale, similar to a ditch but with vegetation, into which stormwater will be directed. Also slated for funding are grow zones in Wayne County, similar to areas of vegetation that filter stormwater runoff along Hines Drive.

The grow zones and bioswales replicate nature, acting like a natural filter before the water seeps back into the ground. "It's all about trying to bring back the balance of nature into a more urban area," she says. "The purpose is to protect our rivers and lakes so we can enjoy them and recreate in them."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the grants as part of President Obama's $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. A total of 99 grants for an estimated $63 million are expected to be awarded in Michigan; locally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Wayne State University will also be receiving funding. Priorities are cleaning up toxic material, combating invasive species, protecting watersheds, restoring wetlands, and outreach.

Source: Amy Mangus, SEMCOG's coordinator of environmental programs
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

WA3 offers streetscape grants to improve Woodward corridor

The Woodward Avenue Action Association has $40,000 to give away in mini-grants for benches, signage, crosswalks, or other projects that will improve the region's M-1 corridor.

The 2010 Woodward Avenue Action Association Streetscape Grant Program funds, provided through the Federal Highway National Scenic Byway program, will be awarded in amounts of $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the project. Different this year is that funding can be used for implementation of the plans, a request WA3 had heard from applicants previously, says WA3 outreach and promotions coordinator Nicole Brown.

The projects could include everything from a welcome sign to a particular neighborhood, or adding benches and trash cans to a downtown. "It's the small things that really enhance a community's image and make it more livable," Brown says.

The deadline is Nov. 15, and groups who plan on applying do have to meet with the association. Eligible applicants include the cities, townships, and counties along Woodward Avenue, nonprofit venues, district organizations, and chambers of commerce.

"We are excited to see what these groups are eager to have funded," Brown says. "And, we're really excited to see the final impact this project will have on the community, particularly because it takes it from being just a design element to actual implementation, so members of the community can see their dollars at work."

Applications are available here or by calling (248) 288-2004.

Source: Nicole Brown, outreach and promotions coordinator, Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Detroit Mayor Bing, local leaders to speak on mass transit, urban vitality

Trucks, trains, boats, and planes are all important to sustainability, and a symposium at University of Detroit Mercy tonight will discuss that.

"Riding Trucks, Trains, Boats, and Planes to Urban Vitality," presented by the university's College of Engineering and Science and its School of Architecture, is the theme for the 2010 Designing Sustainable Detroit Symposium. Detroit's mayor and other business leaders are expected to participate in the symposium, scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight in the Fountain Lounge, on the university's McNichols Campus.

Up for discussion is how transportation initiatives bring about economic development, job creation, and livability to Detroit. Speakers include David Bing, Detroit mayor; Matthew Cullen, president of the board of M1 Rail; Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano; and Melissa Roy, senior director of transportation policy and government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Leo Hanifin, dean of the College of Engineering and Science at UD-Mercy and director of the Michigan and Ohio University Transportation Center, will moderate the gathering. "I think transportation systems have enormous potential for stimulating economic development, making the city more livable -- everything from jobs, entertainment, health care, education," he says. "There's a lot of different impacts."

Other cities, specifically Portland, Ore., have used light-rail transit as a driver for transit-oriented development. Portland put in a three-mile route downtown for $100 million, and within seven years had $3 billion worth of investment within two or three blocks of the system's route. "They realize that once people start circulating on this transit system, they stop, and they shop, and they eat and they drink, and they do all the things that people do in a vibrant city," he says.

The foundations for light rail exist in Detroit, Hanifin says, and he's confident it will eventually come to the city. "It's also very attractive to the young creative class that we want to retain," he adds. "They like that kind of transportation, they like that kind of environment that springs up around light rail."

In addition to transit-oriented development, also to be discussed are The Detroit Aerotropolis Initiative and Detroit's TranslinkeD Strategy, which identifies key projects to stimulate economic development and help the area serve as a port for global trade.

RSVP for the free event at (313) 993-1540 or click here.

Source: Leo Hanifin, dean of the College of Engineering and Science at the University of Detroit-Mercy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Pontiac, Detroit to make mini-parks out of parking spots

Parking spot enjoyment has taken off in Grand Rapids and other big cities across the nation and world, and now Sean Mann wants to get people loving parking in southeast Michigan.

Parking should be appreciated not just because you grab the space right in front of the coffee shop, either. Park(ing) Day encourages people to make a mini-park out of a metered spot for one day -- Sept. 17 this year -- to celebrate public spaces with friends.

Sean Mann, founder and program coordinator of Let's Save Michigan, a project of the Michigan Municipal League, says a few communities in southeast Michigan, including Pontiac, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, and also in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City, will likely be participating in this quirky day of awareness. There's still plenty of time to sign up, and parking spots don't need an elaborate makeover. A couple of lawn chairs and a potted plant will do.

With graduates fleeing the state, oftentimes what they're looking for is a better quality of life above jobs -- and that includes public places. "It's a fun way to highlight bringing people together to show they can create those places," Mann mentions. "Our whole campaign is about moving Michigan forward."

The end-of-summer event also allows for one last (hopefully) warm-weather celebration before the mitten state gets cold and dark.

Click here to learn more or to sign up.

Source: Sean Mann, Let's Save Michigan, founder and program coordinator
Writer: Kristin Lukowski
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