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Commercial Progression moves to larger office in downtown Northville

A Northville website design and development company that's just turning five is celebrating its success with a move into a larger office in downtown Northville.

Commercial Progression's new office at 115 North Center Street, Suite 203, brings together the company's team of web developers, graphic designers and freelancers who specialize in Drupal, a content management system for mobile or desktop uses. The firm calls itself The Drupal Experts.

A motto of Commercial Progression is to "help you leverage and turn great ideas into reality."

Alex Fisher founded the company in 2008 and not only helps businesses and entrepreneurs build websites they can manage but guides them through digital strategy that speaks to long term goals and success.

"We're a full-service Drupal shop, providing assistance at every step," Fisher says, "from before there's even a test site to many years hence."

Clients include National Geographic Ad Sales, TRW micosites event platform, the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and School of Nursing, Motawi Tileworks and many others.

The company is hiring as more clients sign on.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Alex Fisher, founder, Commercial Progression

No coins to park in Ferndale? No problem. Phone it in.

New Parkmobile parking meters that let users pay by using a a smartphone app are going online this week and next in Ferndale.

Each of Ferndale's 1,200-plus parking meters will have the Parkmobile stickers applied to them. It's a change that could curtail the common scene of scrounging for coins in the bottom of purses or under seats or of rushing from an outing to avoid a parking ticket.

"It's just so much more convenient. It's really the easiest thing in the world to do," says Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of Ferndale's Downtown Development Authority. "For someone like me who works here or for someone who lives and works here, it makes life a lot easier."

She says the city is trying to spread the word to register with Parkmobile. The only way to use it is to pay by phone. Registration is online at Parkmobile and requires information such as license plate and credit card numbers. After that, an app is downloaded and a transaction fee of 35 cents per park or $1.25 a month of unlimited parking is deducted. Once registered, the app is good anywhere, any state, any place, that has Parkmobile meters. To pay by phone, open the app, plug in your parking zone and parking space -- it's on the stickers on the meters -- and parking is paid.

"It hopefully allows people to save money on parking fees and parking tickets," Sheppard-Decius says.

Ferndale is the first Oakland County city to install them, says Chris Hughes, communications and marketing manager for the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority.

According to Parkmobile, Dearborn, Grand Rapids and Petoskey are also part of the system, which has pay by phone meters in more than 20 states. Sheppard-Decius says they're common along lines of mass transit, such as in DC and Massachusetts.

Source: Chris Hughes, communication and marketing manager, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority; Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director Ferndale DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Auburn Hills offers free Wi-Fi

Downtown Auburn Hills is now laptop friendly after installing free Wi-Fi service for the quaint city center.

The new service allows anyone with a laptop or a smartphone to surf the Internet with wild abandon. This came about as one of the recommendations of the city's 2009 HyettPalma Economic Enhancement Strategy for the Downtown.

"That's what people said they wanted to see if they moved down to the area or work there," says Peter Auger, city manager for Auburn Hills.

Local leaders also see the service as a way to make the area a desirable destination. Other suggestions include increasing business development, making public improvements, and marketing and managing the downtown.

"We'll see where it goes," Auger says. "If it reaches the point where we should increase the bandwidth, that's a good story."

Auburn Hills-based Netarx, a Wi-Fi vendor, used Cisco equipment to make the service operational. The total price for installation came to $43,358.78, which was funded by the city's tax increment finance authority.

Source: Peter Auger, city manager for Auburn Hills
Writer: Jon Zemke

Macomb County Courthouse offers free Wi-Fi

Jury duty might not exactly be considered fun, but it's getting easier at the newly Wi-Fi-friendly Macomb County Courthouse. It's just one more benefit for downtown Mt. Clemens.

Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh launched the free wireless Internet program at the courthouse this week. The new service allows patrons to surf the web and do things such as look up case status, confirm which judge is hearing a case, and use the Sheriff's online inmate locator. The County Clerk's office is also working to enable online payment of court costs and services.

"We're looking at things that make our services more accessible to the public," Sambaugh says.

The county paid AT&T $15,458 to make the building Wi-Fi friendly and less than $2 a day for the service. It first provided wireless Internet for jurors in 2006 in what turned out to be a string of small amenities that have enhanced the downtown business environment.

Jurors receive pagers so they can shop nearby while waiting to be called to court and can
arrange books from the Mt. Clemens Public Library to be delivered to them at the jury counter. They are also eligible to receive free SMART bus tickets to and from Mt. Clemens.

"It's true," Sambaugh says. "The little things add up."

Source:
Carmella Sabaugh, clerk of Macomb County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakwood Hospital puts laptops in waiting rooms

The quality of a building doesn't always revolve around its design. Sometimes it's about the amenities inside.

That's an idea that Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center is pushing with its new InTouch program. The health-care provider is providing free laptops to people in its Dearborn waiting rooms. The idea was implemented after a number of patients, their families, and staff requested it.

"People need to surf the web and do work when they are spending time in the waiting room," says Ioan Duca, director of service excellence and corporate volunteer service at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center.

The computers are PCs but can also facilitate programs for Macs. Oakwood plans to expand the program to its other hospitals by the end of the year, including Oakwood Annapolis Hospital in Wayne, Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton, and Oakwood Heritage Hospital in Taylor.

Source: Ioan Duca, director of service excellence and corporate volunteer service at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Borders partners with Verizon for free Wi-Fi

Border is making all of its stores hotspots with the help of Verizon.

The Ann Arbor-based firm is contracting with the cell phone company to provide free Wi-Fi services at every Borders in the U.S. That's 500 more places that people will be able to pop open a lap top or boot up an iPhone and have easy access to the Internet.

"Anyone can come in and access the free Wi-Fi regardless of the provider," says Mary Davis, a spokeswoman for Borders.

Previously, Borders offered Wi-Fi through another wireless carrier where only subscribers to that carrier could access the Internet. Think of the frustrating AT&T-only wireless at Starbucks and you'll get the idea.

Borders expects to have the free Wi-Fi up by mid-October. This is expected to make the stores more engaging for customers and increase foot traffic.

Source: Mary Davis, a spokeswoman for Borders
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland U opens new tech center in Kresge Library

Learning in the 21st Century is getting a boost at Oakland University, thanks to its new Technology Learning Center.

The center is in the university's Kresge Library. It opened earlier this year but will have its grand opening on Tuesday. The new tech center features an information commons, along with e-learning and instructional support.

"We are trying to create synergies between different areas of information technology that help learning and research," says Frank Lepkowski, associate dean of the Kresge Library at Oakland University.

The Rochester-based facility offers computer workstations, laptops, software, peripherals and media computers with large-screen LCD monitors. Students will also have access to the library's wireless network, digital library resources, staff, Web 2.0 and other technologies at their disposal.

"It's very flexible space," Lepkowski says. "If you want to work at a computer with some extra space, you can do that. If you want to convene a study group, you can do that."

Source: Frank Lepkowski, associate dean of the Kresge Library at Oakland University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Schoolpictures.com moves into new Ypsilanti home

Schoolpictures.com is ready to take a few photos as it moves into its new home in Ypsilanti, next to Eastern Michigan University.

Excerpt:

All roads lead to Ypsilanti, at least they do for Schoolpictures.com. And the web-based start-up is coming toward the end of a long road now that it is moving into its new headquarters next to Eastern Michigan University.

"We are moving," says Skip Cerier, president of SchoolPictures.com. "We are in the process of packing."

Schoolpictures.com took over the old Ave Maria University campus, turning the old elementary school into a silver LEED building. The renovated structures will house 41 people in about 21,000 square feet of space.

"We took a 60-year-old building that easily could have been bulldozed," Cerier says. "We're saving millions of BTUs by saving this building."

Read the rest of the story here.

Mt. Clemens Falcon Cam witnesses birth of 2 falcons

If you didn't pay attention to the Falcon Cam this spring then you missed not only one miracle but two.

That's how many baby falcons were born and raised on one of downtown Mt. Clemens' highest perches – the 11th floor of the Macomb County building. Hathor and Nick, Peregrine Falcons, are teaching their two not-so-little-anymore hatchlings how to fly and hunt over the Macomb County seat right now.

"They're just hanging around the building, flying around," says Phil Frame, a spokesman for Macomb County.

Frame set up a web cam just inside of the window, a few feet from the nest. It gives an up-close view of the birds' life to anyone with an Internet connection, and has been up and running since 2005 when Hathor set up her first nest. It also served as the county's first webcast.

Source: Phil Frame, spokesman for Macomb County
Writer: Jon Zemke


Peregrine falcons web cam returns to downtown Mt. Clemens

The Falcon Cam is back on in downtown Mt. Clemens just in time to catch the miracle of life taking place in one of the city's highest perches.

A Peregrine Falcon named Hathor has set up her nest in one corner or another of the 11th floor of the Macomb County building for years now. It is in one of the box corners of the historic building that just happens to face a window to a corner office. Luckily the 11th floor isn’t occupied so the falcons, an endangered species, can roost and breed undisturbed.

"They've tried nesting in all four corners," says Phil Frame, a spokesman for Macomb County.

Frame set up a web cam just inside of the window, a few feet from the nest. It gives an up-close view of the birds' life to anyone with an Internet connection.

Hathor first started nesting with another falcon in 2005. They raised a chick who eventually learned how to fly, but grew tired soon after and died after flying into a car. The pair tried again in 2006 and 2007, but failed. Then they got a divorce.

Hathor stayed in Mt. Clemens while the male started roosting with two other females in the Cass Corridor of Detroit's Midtown neighborhood. Not to be outdone, Hathor nested up with a younger male and they produced three new hatchlings last year named Clair, Clementine and Lenny. They were named after Lake St. Clair, Mt. Clemens and a recently retired Macomb County Commissioner, respectively.

Hathor and her new mate, Nick, have again set up their perch on the Macomb County building. This time they are on the northwest corner. You can watch just about everything in their lives here.

Source: Phil Frame, spokesman for Macomb County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Schoolpictures.com goes for LEED status with new Ypsilanti HQ

Schoolpictures.com is looking to harness some of the wind at its new Ypsilanti headquarters.

Excerpt:

Schoolpictures.com was already going green with its new headquarters in Ypsilanti by reusing the old Ave Maria University campus in the center of a city. But now the web-based firm is going the extra mile, aiming for silver LEED status.

Schoolpictures.com is trying to do this with a combination of recycling and alternative energy. For instance, construction workers removed 70 tons of debris and trash in the initial phase of construction. About 80 percent of that was recycled. It's also working with Eastern Michigan University to install a wind turbine.

"We very much want to put renewable energy on site," says Skip Cerier, president of SchoolPictures.com.

Read the rest of the story here.

ICON Creative Tech buys Ann Arbor Art Center annex

Its musical chairs for creative organizations in Ann Arbor these days.

Excerpt:

Creative people have inhabited 220 Felch for years but the type of creatives are changing now that ICON Creative Technologies Group has bought the building from the Ann Arbor Art Center.

The single story structure, a block west of Main Street just north of downtown, served as an annex for the Ann Arbor Art Center, which has its headquarters in the heart of downtown. ICON plans to slowly yet steadily renovate and move into the space. The idea is to establish a bigger home for the 14-year-old Internet firm, which is about to burst at the beams at its current office.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wireless Ypsi spreads wings, has big plans for second year

Wireless Ypsi isn’t just for Ypsilanti anymore.

Excerpt:

Wireless Ypsi, the little Internet-access engine that could, is picking up speed as it enters its second year of existence.

The free community-based Internet access system has spread well beyond its original boundaries of downtown Ypsilanti. It now covers points all over Washtenaw and Wayne counties and continues to spread. More than 500 people a day are logging onto the system.

"We're going beyond downtown Ypsilanti," co-founder Steve Pierce says. "We can relay wireless Ypsi to anywhere in the world with an Internet connection."

Read the rest of the story here.

Trenton sets up free wireless network to make downtown more attractive

For about $1,000 down and $60 a month, Trenton made its downtown a free wireless Internet playground.

The city used Meraki technology to create a Wi-Fi mesh covering about a mile of downtown. The coverage area stretches along Jefferson Avenue between Elizabeth Park and the old Riverside Hospital.

"It's a great way to get people connected for cheap" says Robert Cady, city manager for Trenton.

Meraki is a Google-funded start-up that makes off-white transmitters that look like a child's walkie talkie. These transmitters (attached to streetlight poles in Trenton) connect Internet hot spots at local businesses, institutions and homes. The transmitters use the extra bandwidth from the hot spots to create a mesh-like net of Wi-Fi coverage.

Similar systems are spreading in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and San Diego. More than 50,000 different people have logged onto San Francisco’s Meraki network, which covers large sections of the city and has the goal of reaching every neighborhood.

A group of community activists formed the first Meraki network in downtown Ypsilanti called Wireless Ypsi earlier this year. That group helped create similar networks in Trenton, Dearborn and Lincoln Park.

Cady says the Meraki network has become a great asset for downtown as far making it more useful and attractive to anyone with a laptop or wireless connection.

"It's a great tool," Cady says. "During our street fair vendors were using it for their transaction sales. There are usually 10-12 people on it at any one time."

Source: Robert Cady, city manager for Trenton
Writer: Jon Zemke

Downtown Lincoln Park goes wireless with help from Meraki technology

Anyone with a wireless connection can pop a laptop or boot up an iPhone and access the Internet for free in downtown Lincoln Park.

The Downriver suburb established a Meraki wireless network earlier this summer and is enjoying success with the new tool. The Wi-Fi network covers about 12 blocks in downtown Lincoln Park.

"It will expand depending on how many people want to join up," says Steve Duchane, city manager for Lincoln Park.

Meraki is a Google-funded start-up that makes off-white transmitters that look like a child's walkie talkie. These transmitters connect Internet hot spots at local businesses, institutions and homes. The transmitters use the extra bandwidth from the hot spots to create a mesh-like net of Wi-Fi coverage.

Similar systems are spreading in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and San Diego. More than 50,000 different people have logged onto San Francisco’s Meraki network, which covers large sections of the city and has the goal of reaching every neighborhood.

A group of community activists formed the first Meraki network in downtown Ypsilanti called Wireless Ypsi earlier this year. That group helped create similar networks in Trenton and Dearborn.

Source: Steve Duchane, city manager for Lincoln Park
Writer: Jon Zemke

Open Dearborn offers free downtown wireless

The new Open Dearborn initiative is making the city's west downtown district more openly Wi-Fi.

The project, paid for by a $5,000 grant from the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, is offering free wireless Internet access throughout the city's western center. The idea is to make the downtown area friendlier to businesses and patrons.

Most of the nodes that enable the city to blanket the district with free Wi-Fi are in place and ready for people to access the Internet on them. The rest will be put into place soon, allowing for free Internet access within the boundaries of Oakwood, Military, Garrison and Newman streets.

The city is also planning to bring free wireless Internet to its east downtown soon. Although $5,000 was put aside to create the West Dearborn downtown network, only about $1,000 has been spent to create it.

Source: Randy Coble, spokesman for the city of Dearborn
Writer: Jon Zemke

Mt. Clemens gets Wi-Fi service up and running for downtown

Pedestrians looking to pop a lap top and surf the Internet in Mt. Clemens can do so easily now that free Wi-Fi, cordless Internet, has been established in the city's downtown.

"It's exciting to have it finally up and running," says Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mt. Clemens Downtown Development Authority.

The pilot program is providing the service to the core of the downtown, along Macomb Place, Walnut, Main and Pine streets. The coverage area also includes the Roskopp parking lot, the main parking lot behind the Emerald Theater.

Making downtown Mt. Clemens Wi-Fi friendly is the first stage of a larger plan to make all of Macomb County Wi-Fi friendly by late 2008. Southfield-based Michigan Internet Communication Association hopes to have the project up and running later this year. By offering lower Wi-Fi Internet speeds for free, it hopes to get paid subscriptions for faster speeds.

Michigan Internet Communication Association is footing the $50,000 bill for the Wi-Fi. 

Source: Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mt. Clemens Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Jon Zemke


Google opening up office, cyber café in downtown Birmingham

Googlers working away in Birmingham will soon be a common site in the city's downtown. The Internet search giant plans to lease 17,000 square feet of Class A office space in the new 325 N. Old Woodward Ave. development.

Google plans to move 150 employees to the location and set up a public cyber café in the building's ground floor retail space on Willis Street.

Bingham Farms-based Burton-Katzman Development Co. built the $35-million mixed-use building, which occupies a full city block at North Old Woodward and Willis. It has 184,000 square feet of space, which includes retail, office and residential space. The first floor will be used mainly for retail and restaurant space. The second and third floors are reserved for 74,000 square feet of Class A office space. The fourth floor is set aside for luxury penthouses priced between $515,000 and $5 million.
 
The building, located at 325 N. Old Woodward Ave., is where the old Jacobson’s used to stand.

Source: Jana Ecker, planning director for the city of Birmingham
Writer: Jon Zemke


Mt. Clemens to provide free Wi-Fi to its downtown

Free Wi-Fi, cordless, Internet connections will be coming to downtown Mt. Clemens later this year.
 
Making downtown Mt. Clemens Wi-Fi friendly will be first stage of a larger plan to make all of Macomb County Wi-Fi friendly by late 2008. Southfield-based Michigan Internet Communication Association hopes to have the project up and running later this year. 
 
"We’re anxiously awaiting it," said Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mt. Clemens Downtown Development Authority.
 
It’s estimated that it will cost $50,000 to make downtown Mt. Clemens Wi-Fi friendly. Michigan Internet Communication Association is supposed to fit that bill.
 
Source: Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mt. Clemens Downtown Development Authority

CVMedia moves to offices in downtown Northville, looks to hire more staff

CVMedia has moved into new offices in downtown Northville from Southfield.

The animation, training-and-events firm found its new home in the second-floor suite of the new Northville Square Building, 133 W. Main St.

Although the space is smaller than its old home in Southfield, the new location is a more efficient use of space, according to CVMedia President Mike Mnich.

The company is also looking at enough growth this year to add half a dozen or more positions, including web designers, producers and videographers.

CVMedia started as a video production company in 1992. Today it has expanded to providing services for video, Flash, Internet and three-dimensional animation, podcasting, interactive training in several languages, and live-event management.

For information visit cvmedia.net or call (248) 358-2828.

Source: Mike Mnich, president of CVMedia.

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