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Urbanizing Metro Detroit's Suburbia

The lines between suburban and urban are finally blurring in some Metro Detroit communities. And none too soon. Though our region ranks last in terms of urban revitalization among the 25 largest metros, things are looking up. "You're moving in the right direction," says Christopher Leinberger, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.

AfterHouse: Fighting Blight by Growing a Greenhouse

Fire and blight have left more than a few holes in metro Detroit's neighborhoods. AfterHouse has an idea for a temporary solution: below-ground greenhouses. The organization, inspired by South American farmers who build subterranean 'walipinis' to grow crops year-round, is using a burnt-out house in Detroit as its prototype.

Ann Arbor: Birthplace of the Ultimate Mobile Device?

Are you ready for your car to go driverless? While it's arguable as to whether Michigan will remain the international manufacturing center for auto bodies and interiors, the Ann Arbor area is likely to remain the industry's brain center as research ramps up on wirelessly connected, self-driving car systems.

Guest Blogger: Courtney Randolph

The new year offers up the opportunity to act upon old resolutions, or to make new ones. Courtney Randolph, program manager and volunteer coordinator at nonprofit 826michigan, outlines all the reasons to get involved in the community by volunteering at a host of worthy organizations.

Power Sharing is Tougher Than You Think

How does a company's sole owner and founder transition to the power-sharing structure of executive leadership? That's the challenge that faces Billhighway, a Troy-based firm that's looking to enter its second stage of development. Metromode's Jon Zemke looks for lessons from successful (and less-than-successful) local businesses.

IdeaLab: A Look into the Future

Issue Media Group is excited to partner again with the Revitalization and Business Conference to present "IdeaLab," a fast-paced, two-hour session with a stellar line-up of Detroit innovators. Hosted by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, this Dec. 6 event is free and open to the public. Sign up now!

The Stories Metro Detroit Tells

Heard any good stories lately? If you live in Metro Detroit there's no excuse for you haven't. Between TED talks and MOTH story competitions and Nerd Nite show and tells, locals have been telling tales worth listening to. Metromode's Nicole Rupersburg rounds up who's yammering where.

Building a World of Glass

From restoration to creation to innovation, Rocky Martina's life is centered around glass. If you've been to the Fox Theatre, you've seen his stained glass work. And like many self-made entrepreneurs, this Oakland County artisan is expanding his interests by helping to launch a new masonry coating start-up.

Guest Blogger: Tom Woiwode

Metro Detroit is inching ever closer to being criss-crossed not just by roads, but a network of trails, or greenways. The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan has made over 150 grants to this end. Greenways Initiative Director Tom Woiwode maps out the where and why of this greenway network.

Getting to School on Their Own Two Feet

Suburban sprawl has led to a new generation of children being driven to school instead of walking or biking. But with Michigan's Safe Routes to Schools program funding sidewalks and other infrastructure, walking and biking are the new educational path. 

Edmund Lewis: Doing Good, Looking Good

There's been a lot of discussion about the fates and fashions of young African American males. For Edmund Lewis, however, the topic has been his life focus. Only 27 years old, he has found a way to connect a masters degreee in social work, a fashion consulting business, and his mentorship non-profit, Minority Males for Higher Education, into an impressive campaign for change.

The Co-Working Space Roundup

Co-working spaces are hardly breaking news in metro Detroit. What's exciting, however, is how they've grown in scope, services, size and availability over the last few years. Submitted for your approval: a roundup of the region's more interesting shared work spaces.

Guest Bloggers: Chris Duncan & Roddy Hyduk

Life and career lessons often come in seemingly small bites. Chris Duncan and Rodney Hyduk, new graduates of U-M's Screen Arts and Cultures program and co-founders of the Filmic creative agency at U-M, write on their "Cinema Everywhere" approach to projects, and its application to career choices in any field.

The Stuff You Must Do in Metro Detroit This Summer

Barbeque. Swimming pool. Bike rides. Local summer festival. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Same old, same old. Metromode's Nicole Rupersburg has some different ideas for what makes summer special in Metro Detroit. 

Where's the Beef in Metro Detroit? (& Lamb, Pork, & Duck)

Man does not live by gluten-free vegan cuisine alone. Some might argue that's not living at all. For all the love that's given to the how-green-is-my-garden folks, Metromode's Nicole Rupersburg feels it's time to give a big bloody hug to locals who want to put their incisors to good use.

A New Breed of Restaurateurs - Pt 2

Metromode continues Nicole Rupersburg's two-part series on the region's new generation of restaurateurs and how they're changing Metro Detroit's dining landscape.

A Dozen Game-Changing Buildings in Metro Detroit

Architecture can catalyze a neighborhood or change the way we think about our community. It can be inspiring, iconic, or even controversial. So which buildings rate as game-changers in Metro Detroit? We asked a quartet of prominent local architects to select twelve buildings worth paying attention to.

The Big Salad Aims To Get Bigger

John and Elizabeth Bornoty are on a mission: To change people's opinions about salad. And it seems to be working. As the founders and owners of Grosse Pointe Woods' The Big Salad, the couple is building a fast-growing franchise that puts produce front and center as a healthy meal.

The Apps Metro Detroit CEOs Can't Do Without

It's an app app app world. Metromode's Jon Zemke quizzes some of Metro Detroit's CEOs on which business apps they can't live without, which apps others should use, and which locally produced apps are worth checking out.

Detroit, One Invention at a Time

This point cannot be labored enough: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office affirmed Detroit's growing manufacturing and knowledge economy by opening its first-ever satellite location in Detroit. Metromode examines the U.S.P.T.O's activities in the region, and what its presence means for the area's economy.

10 Things To Do In Metro Detroit Before Summer Ends

The countdown has begun, summer is winding down. And if you're like us, there's a list of stuff you meant to do while the weather was warm and the days were long. But where to start? Well, we've got some thoughts about that...

Beer & Bikes: A Match Made In Heaven

Beer. Bicycles. Two great tastes that taste great together. Or so the slogan goes. With the ever-growing popularity of breweries and cycling, it was inevitable that Metro Detroit (like many other parts of the country) would figure out a way to combine the two.

Movies By Moonlight

The popularity of the drive-in movie theater may have faded but come summertime Metro Detroiters still seem to crave the experience of outdoor cinema. Metromode takes a quick tour of communities offering movie nights in their parks and downtowns.

Fests and Fundraisers Go local

If you want further evidence that locally sourced food and craft-brewed beverages are becoming the new normal, consider any local festival or fundraiser worth its salt. Michigan-made products have become event necessities, culinary carrots that are dangled in front of enthusiastic attendees.

All Things Pickled

Metro Detroit's got pickle pride! This humble, homegrown, and oh-so tasty snack has a long history in Motown, and now a new generation of briners and picklers are ready to carry the torch ... or wield the jars, as the case may be. From gherkins to kimchi to sauerkraut and all points between, food fermentation is our new black.

A Semester In The D

It's where the academic rubber meets the real world road. U-M's "Semester In The D" program places 25 students in Motown for a semester to learn how Detroit defines Michigan's past and its future.

Density Vs. Transit

The argument against mass transit in Southeast Michigan has always hinged on the region's lack of density. But that hasn't stopped sprawling metros like Phoenix and Salt Lake City from building highly successful light rail systems. Metromode reruns a story that's as relevant today as it was four years ago.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Metro Detroit's Coffee Chemists

Craft beers, heirloom produce, artisanal breads - not all foods are created equal. Now a network of local cafes are looking to get Metro Detroiters to reconsider that most sacred of beverages - the cup of Joe. Unconvinced? Consider this:  Wine has 750 flavor profiles; coffee has 1500.

What Makes Metro Detroit Stick?

Last winter the Knight Foundation and Gallup released a survey that found that cities do better economically when the people in them want to stick around. So, what do Metro Detroiters value most when it comes to place? Cultural amenities, education, and community openness. Metromode takes a deep dive into the survey's results.

Accelerating SE Michigan's Business Ecosystem

In the shadow of this past weekend's Big Chill hockey extravaganza, The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition --an American Idol-style contest for start-ups-- was held in Ann Arbor. More important than the $1 million in cash and support handed out was the collaboration exhibited by regional business leaders. Is there a new age of cooperation dawning in SE Michigan?

2010: A Year of Entrepreneurship And Innovation

If anyone doubts that Metro Detroit is a hotbed of invention, entrepreneurship and creative thinking they just haven't been paying attention. Metromode once again unearthed a treasure trove of people, companies and communities that are evolving our sense of place, building our new economy, and promoting innovation at every turn. As we ring out the year we look back at a baker's dozen of stories that inspired us!

Beer Is Fun! Q&A with entrepreneur Mike Plesz

Beer here now! If anyone knows the meaning of those word it's Mike Plesz. The serial brewpreneur has been launching local microbrew pubs since 1994. His latest endeavor --Rochester's Mind Body & Spirits-- is a successful sustainability-oriented restaurant. Plesz talks with Metromode about beer, local food production, green practices, and more beer. Bottoms up!

Metro Detroit's Pitmasters

To some it's cheap comfort food. To others, a highly nuanced cultural cuisine. Either way barbecue has become the go-to dining trend in Metro D. Whether it's Texas, Carolina, or Louisiana-style, local fans are passionate about their pit, rub, and sauce preferences.

From Blogs To Bucks

Everyone and their granny has a blog. But how many web-based wordsmiths know how to earn a buck for their efforts? From blog-based record labels to Internet journalists to movie deals for embarrassing text messages, some Metro Detroit bloggers are turning their passions into paychecks.

Metro Detroit DJs: From A - Z

Whether you're a techno veteran or a newbie, it's hard not to notice Detroit's notoriety for beat-matching talent. But how to encapsulate a music scene that we export all over the world? Metromode offers an A-Z primer for those who are looking to wrap their heads around the sounds that make us spin round.

Concentrate Speaker Series: A Shadow Art Community

Ypsilanti has developed a rep for being the place for local artists and do-it-yourself creatives. The Shadow Art Fair has played no small part in making this happen. Concentrate's Speaker Series has invited the organizers --members of the Michigan Design Militia-- to talk about their experiences and what their success means for our region's future. Sign up now for this November 10th event!

Welcome To Halloweentown

From Berkley to Romeo to Ann Arbor, Metro Detroit is all about All Hallow's Eve. And we're not talking about the commercial scare factories and creepy corn mazes that dot SE Michigan's landscape. These are homegrown, neighborhood efforts that turn quiet residential streets into a free-to-see Halloween hullabaloo.

Zingerman's Seeds Entrepreneurship

It's no surprise that Zingerman's breeds a love of food in its staff, but entrepreneurship? Julianne Mattera talks to a trio of former employees who have taken what they've learned from Ann Arbor's beloved deli and turned it into successful businesses across the country.

Metro Detroit By the Book

University presses have found a unique niche in the publishing world, producing books by local writers with a decidedly local focus. Dennis Archambault looks at how Wayne State and U-M are evolving their imprints in the age of shrinking higher ed funding and digital innovation.

Sign Up For Concentrate's Speaker Series Event: Why Public Art Matters

Whether it's inspiring community conversation, helping to establish a sense of place, or fueling economic development, Marc Folk believes that public art matters. As executive director of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, he oversees the oldest Percent For The Arts program east of the Mississippi. Marc will be talking about why public art is a wise investment and taking your questions at Concentrate's next Speaker Series event - Thursday, August 5th.

Metro Detroit Needs More Disruptive Thinking

"Game changing technologies". "Thinking outside the box". "Bucking the status quo". Business is big on innovative jargon, but what does it really take to remake the economic landscape? Whether it was the automobile a hundred years ago or last year's iPad, disruptive thinking is more than just risk-taking entrepreneurship, it's the business of course-altering creation. And the financial impacts are staggering.

Generational Sounds: Rock Icon Ivan Kral Listens To Metro Detroit

He penned Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot," played with Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Blondie, and thinks Metro Detroit is the perfect place for him to write his music. Rock icon Ivan Kral chats about the region's rock scene, reminisces about the past, and previews his newly remastered punk rock documentary, The Blank Generation.

When Slow Growth Means Smart Growth

For most companies the mantra is: grow big and grow fast. Of course, given the current economy, any growth would be a blessing. But what if slow growth were the long term strategy? With a focus on work/life issues, purpose, and entrepreneurial pride, some Metro Detroit firms have consciously decided they'd rather be the tortoise than the hare.

Hungry For Success

Metro Detroit's young gun restaurateurs are thriving in an otherwise tough economy. Balancing style, location, and affordability, they've created popular eateries that cater to hip and enthusiastic crowds.

A Microbrew By Any Other Name...

What's in a name? When it comes to Metro Detroit microbrews a whole heckuva lot. From Bam Biere to Ghettoblaster, Luciernaga to Final Absolution, Melinda Clynes gets the skinny on where the names and wonderful beer labels come from for some of our favorite local libations.

Could Film Be Michigan's Gold Rush? A Q&A with Harvey Ovshinsky

"It's in our DNA to do amazing things," says Harvey Ovshinsky. Metromode's Jon Zemke sits down with the veteran video producer and screenwriter to talk about Michigan's Film Incentives and their potential impact on the state's investment opportunities, job growth, and brain drain.

An Open Ceiling for Non-Profit Leadership

Shoot the moon! There are over 900 non-profit organizations in Washtenaw County, and most are headed up by women. Leia Menlove talks to a quartet of young women about the personal and professional rewards of non-profit leadership.

The Land Of Small Giants

Sometimes bigger isn't better. In Ann Arbor the small giant movement is catching on, and it's attracting some Metro Detroit companies as well. Their philosophy? Profit is good but the bottom line should not be the be all / end all of your company's existence.

Know Y: Young and Entrepreneurial (a.k.a Doin' Stuff)

Throw a stone in the air in Ann Arbor and if you miss a student or professor you're bound to bruise an entrepreneur. Writer Kate Rose decided to seek out a few of the city's young start-up types to better understand what drives them to succeed and how they turned obstacles into opportunities.

Hacking Metro Detroit

It's about innovation and invention, not stealing your credit card info. With a trio of open-source, boundary-pushing hackerspaces opening in the last year, Metro Detroit has joined the international ranks of hackerdom. More than gadget-obsessed misfits, these make-geeks are out to make our world a little bit better... and more interesting.

A Company Of Experts

From deli sandwiches to digital advertising, some Metro Detroit companies are reinventing the employer-employee relationship. The result? A happy band of brand experts ...and evangelists.

Building A Start-up City

Adversity is the mother of invention. Or so they say. And Michigan is proving them true. While the rest of the country has seen a decline in business formation, cities like Ann Arbor are experiencing a start-up spike.

Sign up for Concentrate's Speaker Series: Downtown Development - A Generational Divide

Who decides what a downtown looks and feels like? Are we making our downtowns a place where young and talented people want to be? Concentrate will be looking for answers at their very first Speaker Series tonight (March 4th) at the Michigan Theater. Sign up to attend now.

Metro Detroit Is Abuzz

His labor is a chant, His idleness a tune; Oh, for a bee's experience Of clovers and of noon!-Emily DickinsonSpring will soon be sprung and local fields will be busy with more bees than ever. Metro Detroit bee keepers are growing their hobby into a honey of an industry.

Pizza 2.0

It was only a matter of time before pizza went high-tech. From web tracking to on demand orders from your TiVo, Ann Arbor-based Domino's has created a brave new world of snarfing.

The Making Of An Angel

Innovative ideas? Check. Enthusiastic management team? Check. Capital? Er... working on it. For all Michigan's talk of developing a new economy, its start-ups still need local investors. More specifically: Angel investors. Now, a few VC-savvy players are trying to encourage a new way of thinking in the state's old world entrepreneurs.

Turn Up The Heat: Salsa Dancing In Metro Detroit

Oh, the weather outside is frightful... but inside it's sweaty, sexy and shakin'. Welcome to Metro Detroit salsa dancing,  a nighttime dance scene that's pulling in locals of every class and color. From clubs to classes to a vibrant web-based community, Metro Detroiters are discovering the fun of becoming a fierce hot mess.

The Armory For Democracy Goes Suburban

War is hell. It's also very profitable for some Metro Detroit suburbs. Billions of dollars in defense contracts are pouring into communities like Troy, Sterling Heights, Warren and Ann Arbor, and the companies there are finding new jobs for auto engineers who are willing to adapt.

Regenerating Our Economy With Stem Cells

Not only does stem cell research offer a lifeline to patients with life-threatening diseases, it may also provide an economic lifeline to Southeast Michigan by growing our life sciences industry.

Turning Metro Green

With all the talk of going green and clean, just how sustainable is Metro Detroit becoming? Over the last year Metromode has run across a growing number of businesses, leaders, and initiatives that are nudging Michigan's economy and lifestyle toward the green end of the spectrum. This week we round up evidence that our region is putting its money where its mouth is.

Startups That Stay

In Ann Arbor a buyout doesn't always mean a sellout. Even though innovative startups like Fry, Healthmedia, and T/J Technologies have been snapped up by larger out-of-state companies, they have decided to stay in the city that birthed them.

The Best Of Metro Detroit's Rude Food

No soup for you! There's something strangely satisfying about the the culinary war wounds you earn from restaurants that specialize in great food and bad service. Metro Detroit has more than its share of inglorious joints, places where even Seinfeld's Soup Nazi might feel right at home.

The State Of Metro Recycling

Curbside recycling is not a new fangled idea. Communities across the nation have commited themselves to the practice. So, why is most of Metro Detroit lagging behind? Metromode looks at where we are, where we're going and who's on board.

Got Apps?

Over a billion downloads can't be wrong! iPhone apps are the new gold rush of software development, turning backroom start-ups into overnight successes. And Metro Detroit is getting in on the action.

The High Life

You don't have to go to New York City or Chicago to get top-of-the-world views. Urban professionals are rethinking the traditional big house, big yard template of living, and moving into downtown high rises. From Royal Oak to Birmingham to Ann Arbor, Metromode gives you a sense of what it means to be "movin' on up" in Metro Detroit.

Ethical Entrepreneurs

Making good and making a buck are not necessarily contradictory ideas. Metromode introduces you to a quartet of green collar companies who are trying to do right by both Michigan's economy and the environment.

Metro Detroit Goes Slow And Tastes The Difference

Largely citified Metro Detroit has been lauded for its soul food, and lately, for its slow food. Rooted in locally grown, sustainable, healthy foodstuffs, the national leader in urban gardening is fertile grounds for the slow food supporters cropping up around the region.

Cheap Ways To Revitalize Your Downtown

From households to businesses to city government, everyone is in belt-tightening mode. But if there's one thing Metromode believes, it's that necessity is the mother of invention. A few Metro Detroit communities have come up with innovative and inexpensive ways to revitalize their downtowns. Time to take notes!

Michigan Masala

The recent Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire reminds us that the Indian subcontinent, with a population of nearly 1.2 billion, occupies a rather large corner of the world. It also represents a growing demographic in Metro Detroit. South Asian culture as expressed through Bollywood films, dance and specialty foods has moved beyond local enclaves onto Main Street Michigan.

Necessary Entrepreneurs

Sometimes a pink slip is a ticket to a new and better way of working. Meet three Metro Detroit entrepreneurs who turned economic down-sizing into personal right-sizing, by starting their own companies.

Upscale Markets In A Down-Sized Metro

In a region littered with Krogers, high quality, locally owned food markets are not only holding their own, they're attracting a loyal fanbase of Metro Detroit foodies.

The Amazing Adventures of Metro Detroit's Comic Industry

Star Wars. Cynicalman. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Mouse Guard. Metro Detroit is home to an ecclectic and fiercely independent group of graphic novelists, cartoonists, and comic book artists. This is their story.

The Next Generation In Invention

Meet the wunderkinds behind Titanium Expo Robotics, a company created by three high school kids from Royal Oak. Their land mine-detecting robot not only took top awards at Lawrence Tech's Robofest, it heralds a potentially game-changing industry for Southeast Michigan, while prompting deep ethical questions about where our technological innovations are headed.

Virtual Health, Real Success

Michigan could take a lesson from Healthmedia. From it's early struggles to find local investment to its recent purchase by Johnson & Johnson, the innovative software-as-service company has stayed committed to remaining in Ann Arbor.

From Scratch: ThinkStretch

Summer break is a plus for students' bodies but a minus for their minds, according to research from Johns Hopkins University. Enter Donna Lasinski, an Ann Arbor entrepreneur and the brains behind ThinkStretch, a summer learning program for public and private elementary school students.

Downtown and Underground: Parking is an Art in Ann Arbor

Parking in Southeast Michigan usually means surface lots, driveways and the occasional garage. Ann Arbor's leaders are turning local conventional wisdom on its head, choosing to store cars underground and out of sight as a way to grow development, commerce and urban vibrancy.

Young Guns In Metro Politics

They're under 35 and they got elected. Meet a trio of young Metro Detroit politicians, all determined to bring new ideas and new perspectives to their communities. Can they facilitate the changes SE Michigan so desperately needs?

The New Business Casual: Social Media

Detroit area businesses are all atwitter about social networking websites like Facebook and LinkedIn, which are the interactive pages in the corporate brochure. Metromode links up -- makes friends -- and messages with high-profile denizens of the online scene. The word? Socializing on company time makes good business policy.

Incubating Change

They're where new businesses are hatched. Where start-ups start up. Southeast Michigan's business incubators offer everything from office supplies to professional mentorship,& helping new economy companies to stand on their own two feet.

Metro Detroit's Middle Management Shifts Gears

Sometimes size does matter. Working for a large company like Visteon can be very different than taking a position at a start-up. As Michigan's new economy seeds the ground with small tech firms, transitioning employees must adapt to changing job expectations. Enter Ann Arbor's SPARK with a program to ease the way.

The Brew It Yourself Culture

Homegrown, homemade, home brewed. Whether it's the faltering economy or a rejection of what prefab corporate America has to offer, Metro Detroit do-it-yourselfers are taking matters into their own hands. And it's good libations all 'round for local beer aficionados, who are learning to handcraft their own buzz.

Metromode Radio: Mass Transit Now

Interest in transit for Southeast Michigan is gaining ground but no ground has been broken. Even with plans for easy on and off trains from Detroit to Pontiac and Ann Arbor to Detroit no one seems to be able to close the deal. Michigan Now’s Chris McCarus compares Michigan's lack of action with Boston's investment in rail and its $16 billion big dig.

The Future Of Metro Mass Transit

For generations getting around Metro Detroit meant one thing: four wheels. Local leaders are pushing hard to give Detroiters the option to travel on two rails. The Woodward light rail and Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail lines are tantalizingly close to becoming reality. Metromode takes a look at the viability of these projects and their potential impact 10-20 years from now.

Metro Detroit's Hookah Scene

Smoky bars are nothing new in SE Michigan but ones that smell like apple and peach? Hookah culture is becoming more and more popular with young Metro Detroiters, and Dearborn, with its large Middle Eastern population, is ground zero.

Let The Sun Shine In

The race is on! States around the Union are looking into alternative energy strategies big and small. And Michigan is no exception. With all the talk of wind power and alternative fuels, discussions of solar have been pretty absent. Is it our notoriously grey winters? Kelli Kavanaugh checks out who's looking to let the sun shine in in Metro Detroit.

Metro Detroit's CineMagic

While there's no shortage of big box multiplexes in Metro Detroit, the region also boasts a handful of vintage and offbeat movie houses that make a trip to the theater all the more magical. Not only do these venues offer a wider range of cinema, we at Metromode swear the popcorn tastes better.

Reinventing The Mundane: Detroit Design Center

Most designers want to make bold statements, to put their signature on high profile projects. Brothers Erik and Israel Nordin of Detroit Design Center have more modest goals. They want to make their mark in the mundane, reinventing the functional design of components in residential and commercial spaces while bringing a new aesthetic to Metro Detroit.

Metro Detroit's Real Radio

As corporate radio blands out the airwaves with lowest common denominator programming, local college radio remains the last bastion for original and ecclectic soundscapes. And with the Internet, these student-run shows are finding listeners all over the globe.

Chicks With Sticks

At hockey rinks around Ann Arbor, "You shoot like my mom," is not necessarily an insult. Scores of local women are tossing their figure skates aside, shredding ice and aiming to put their own 'bisquit in the basket.' Alaska's got nothing on SE Michigan when it comes to hockey moms.

Metromode Radio: Making Electricity Underwater

In the race to produce cheaper renewable energy, one U-M professor is looking to harness electricity from the Detroit River using experimental cylinders. Chris McCarus has the story on Metromode Radio's latest podcast.

Got DDA?

Grosse Pointe really wants a Downtown Development Authority. Three quarters of Metro Detroit's cities already have one. So, what do these governmental organizations do and why does it matter? Metromode takes a look at how Ann Arbor and Royal Oak leverage their DDA's to create a vibrant, healthy urban core.

A New Way To Work

Everyone is talking about how Michigan's economy needs to evolve, but what about our local businesses? The old model of assigned cubicles and sanctioned coffee breaks is being rejected by the next generation of talent and some high tech companies in Ann Arbor are getting the clue.

To W2 or 1099? That Is The Question

Forbes says SE Michigan is among the 5 worst places in the US to find a job. W2 jobs, that is. Not only do 60% of businesses employ 1099 workers, their ranks are quickly growing --particularly in communities like Ann Arbor and Royal Oak. So, how does the state accommodate this new class of highly educated, independent employee?

Tech Transfer: Banking On SE Michigan's Universities

There's a lot of talk about Tech Transfer but not everyone understands what it is, and what it could mean to Michigan's new economy. Metromode gives you the lowdown along with a snapshot of how U-M, WSU and Lawrence Tech intend to leverage their innovations into marketplace successes.

Metro Detroit Rocks YouTube

It wasn't what Gil Scott Heron envisioned, but the revolution just may yet be televised. As YouTube becomes the place to be seen, Metro Detroit's savvier rock bands are using Internet video to create their own scene.

Metro Detroit Spins

Despite the all-encompassing digital age, vinyl has gotten its groove back, filling a high-end niche that CDs and MP3s just can't seem to scratch. Metromode crunches the numbers, charts the trends and points you toward Metro Detroit's best (and still thriving) LP peddlers.

Ann Arbor's On The List

Ann Arbor's one of the brainiest, greenest and most walkable cities in the country. Not to mention a great place for sandwiches, bicycling and getting pregnant. Too bad it's also one of the worst places to find a job. This SE Michigan community sure ends up on a lot of lists. Best of, Worst of, what does it all mean? 

Could Life Sciences Become Michigan's Core Industry?

The handwriting is on the wall: SE Michigan's economy needs to develop new industries in order to thrive. Given the power and prestige of our local research universities and the fact that biotech startups are popping up like dandelions, some see the life sciences industry as our next best hope.

Ready, Set, Print

Jokingly referred to as the 'Michigan Mafia', book printers like Edward Brothers, McNaughton And Gunn, and a veritable bookshelf of other binding, printing and publishing companies bring millions of dollars and well over a thousand jobs to Washtenaw County. Whether it's Harry Potter, college text books, or U-M's partnership with Google's book digitization project, it's clear that the last chapter in Ann Arbor's publishing history has yet to be written.

Tech Banking In SE Michigan

New economy start-ups need banks that offer new economy know-how. Enter Bank of Ann Arbor's Technology Industry Group, the only program of its kind in Michigan. Modeled after the ground-breaking Silicon Valley Bank, it supports local emerging technologies and entrepreneurs in ways corporate banking giants can't.

A Growing Concern

Toss that bag of Funyuns. Instead, grow some real onions! Area agriculture gurus offer up some sage advice on how and why Michigan's second largest industry should get its fair share of attention.

Michigan Growth Capital Symposium

Once upon a time, Detroit's auto industry was founded on the visions of its leaders and the risks investors made supporting them. So, where do promising new local companies go today to raise the funds they need? For 27 years the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has helped provide an answer. The annual two-day event starts today in Ypsilanti. Could it provide the missing link to Michigan's economic evolution?

Information Evolution

Computer science + design + social science = Innovation. Concentrate checks out the student projects at the University of Michigan's School of Information and witnesses the next evolutionary stage in information technology.

Nanotechnology: SE Michigan's Industrial Revolution

Got nanotech? Southeast Michigan does. Metromode has seen the future even though it's invisible to the naked eye. The next evolution in technology is occurring at the atomic level and it just may usher in a new industrial revolution.

SE Michigan Wind Power

"The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind..." Kelli B. Kavanaugh takes an in-depth look at how Michigan can leverage its engineering and manufacturing assets to become a world leader in wind power technology.

Boutique Sweets

No longer content to sup on artisanal wine, bread and cheese, SE Michigan's foodies have extended their quest for the authentic into the realm of desserts. From old world pastries to gourmet chocolates to high-falutin' cupcakes, Metro Detroit's sweet tooth has grown sophisticated. And a few smart cookies are cashing in on their cravings. 

SE Michigan Ramps Up

Ollie up, folks! Ride Metromode's skateboard to the bowls, ledges, and rails of Farmington Hills' future Riley Skate Park …and then read about Ann Arbor's roll towards building its own skater sanctuary.

Ghostly International

From Halo to Hummer, Ann Arbor-based Ghostly International may be musical tastemakers to the world but founder Sam Valenti IV is really just preserving his legacy as the cool neighborhood record-store guy.

SE Michigan Brews Mean Business

Black Lotus, Dragonmead, Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak. They're more than just cool names. Michigan's beer industry accounted for $133 million of the state's economy last year and, despite the current market, business is growing. Melinda Clynes chats with several of the region's microbrewers about what's on tap this season and where things are headed next.

Who's Your City?: Richard Florida And The Geography Of Talent

Are you part of the Creative Class? Richard Florida has become the bell of the new urbanist ball, dividing the world into "spiky" mega regions with psychological personalities all their own. Translation: Where the nation's best talent chooses to live says as much about you as it does about them. So how does southeast Michigan stack up?

Local Alternative Energy Initiatives

Some SE Michigan communities are determined to drop their rustbelt in favor of something a bit more au natural. But it's not trendiness that inspires cities like Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Wyandotte to implement the holy trinity of sustainability --wind, solar, conservation-- but rather the greenbacks they'll save by doing so.

Got LEED?

After years of lagging behind the west coast of the state, SE Michigan is turning green in leaps and bounds. Climb aboard for a discussion of what the green building standard LEED actually means, and check out some prime examples of its application here in Metro Detroit.

The Metro Toddler

As Generations X and Y reach their childrearing years, they find few family-time options that reflect their desire to swim against the mainstream. From urban to urbane, there's a growing national trend for play spaces and social groups that cater to hip kids.

Double Lives: Chris Rizik

Wunderkind Chris Rizik gives new meaning to the word, "multitasking." From his simultaneous careers as an entrepreneur and financier to the writer and publisher of the most popular soul music website in the country, this Ann Arborite's life has hit one high note after another.

Two Wheel Revolution

Long intimidated by automotive roadhogs, cyclists are reclaiming their rightful place along the nation's highways and byways. From hilly Seattle to dense beyond dense New York City, bike lanes are becoming the urban standard. Metromode's Tanya Muzumdar looks at how Metro Detroit stacks up.

MODErn Living

Basho said, "Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home." Some Metro Detroiters are taking those words to heart and making their house the adventure.

Write Where You Know

Southeast Michigan is replete with literary talent, drawing from the corridors of its hallowed halls of higher learning, the working class experiences on the shop floors and the rough edges of its gritty inner city. 

The D Brand and You

The 'D' brand isn't just about pulling in conventions and tourists. With the D Brand Summit, branding gurus are showing us how the power of the 'D' can also attract more talent and business to the region.

A Hand Out

Looking for a New Year's resolution? Whether it's teaching kids to write or maintaining park trails, volunteerism is changing Metro Detroit for the better. As anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."

Investing In Transit

If you view mass transit as merely a means of getting from Point A to Point B or as a social service for those who can't afford to buy a car, think again. Mass transit attracts investment. Big investment. Community changing investment. The kind of investment that could revitalize not only Detroit but most of southeast Michigan.

Drilling Deep: Geothermal Heat

If the thought of plummeting temps and skyrocketing heating costs make you want to bury your head in the sand, maybe you should dig a little deeper and start drilling for energy. Geothermal heating systems have long been touted for their "green" benefits. Who knew its supporters were referring to cold hard cash?

City Vs. State

Some say the same top-down mentality that has stymied Michigan's ability to expand and diversify its economy is also preventing local governments from initiating bold new policies, putting the breaks on everything from smoke-free spaces to cable access to green building incentives. How does Michigan encourage its cities to think outside the box if the Capitol keeps a firm hand on the lid?

SE Michigan's Blogger Nation

Whatever your opinion, there's no denying that bloggers are dismantling the wall between the public and the press, creating a virtual underground for ideas and opinions. And SE Michigan has more than its fair share of citizen journalists, armchair politicos, cultural pioneers and cranks just sportin' for a fight.  

SE Michigan: Blog Style

Experience SE Michigan through the eyes of its best bloggers.

Downtowns Become Boomertowns

As Gen-Xers become homebuyers and baby boomers become empty nesters, seniors are reconsidering their suburban retirement options and choosing downtown living. These "ruppies" bring more than just money to urban neighborhoods, they also bring a commitment to getting involved.

Michigan's Foodie Nation

Once upon a time ketchup was the most exotic spice found in Midwest pantries. No more. Foodie-friendly shops are are popping up all over SE Michigan to satisfy our new found craving for exotic, gourmet and artisan foods. Metromode points you toward a few of the best.

A Delectable Directory Of SE Michigan's Foodie Shops

Food, glorious food. What more could you ask for?

From Plot To Plate: SE Michigan's Urban Gardens

From fresh veggies to healthier neighborhoods; SE Michigan's communities are learning that when it comes to the benefits of community gardens, food is just the beginning.

Restoration = Evolution

They're building up but not knocking down — area developers are choosing to redevelop and retrofit Southeast Michigan's historic buildings, and there are more than just tax incentives behind the trend. A look at why the hottest real estate in metro Detroit involves recycling old spaces and what that means for local communities.

Michigan's Great Indoors

Expecting to slow your physical activity in the chilly season? Keep moving. Southeast Michigan offers a host of stimulating ways for the mind and body to play.

Size Matters

To touch the sky or keep things human size? SE Michigan's revitalized downtowns are struggling with the size of their buildings as young professionals look for a more urban experience, leaders see density as a way to combat sprawl and long-time residents worry their community's unique character is compromised.

In Pfizer's Wake

Pfizer walks out the door and opportunity comes in through the window. Ann Arbor takes inspiration from another Michigan community's post-Pfizer successes and seeds the ground with start ups, SPARK and state support.

University, Inc.

For more than a century, Michigan's esteemed universities have exported their best and brightest to the rest of the world. But some are asking, why aren't we preparing these future inventors and innovators to set up shop here?

Place Matters

Job, schmob. Location is where it's at. More and more young professionals are settling into communities that match their lifestyle, then finding jobs that complete the picture.

Michigan Jobs 2.0

As Michigan evolves its economy, innovative high-tech companies are successfully planting their flags in uncharted territory. For job seekers, however, it means applying for a position that didn't exist five years ago. Kimberly Chou takes a look at three local companies and the cutting edge jobs they're creating.

Summer On Ice

Forget air conditioned movie theaters and malls. Why not beat the heat and burn a few calories while you're at it? Southeast Michigan is home to three world-class ice skating facilities, training both national champions and Olympic competitors.

Parking 2.0

Rack 'em, stack 'em and move 'em underground.  As southeast Michigan communities build better, more compact downtowns new ideas about parking are being put into place.

Accent Reduction Institute

Judy Ravin has helped people speak clearly for 15 years, but her accent reduction business is booming as the world gets smaller and the workforce gets more diverse.

Greenways = Greenbacks

Green spaces are not only good for quality of life, environment and recreation, they can also boost the local economy. Think of them as a way to increase your bottom line while reducing your bottom size.

Google High

Along with the promise of 1,000 new jobs, Google's Adwords office is embracing Ann Arbor in unexpected ways: assisting local non-profits and even teaching high school.

Good Things Come In Small Packages

Since the decline of the Big Three, it's become clear Michigan businesses need a new model. As technology firms pop up, and global communications allow small companies to compete internationally like never before, more start-ups are realizing that it pays to be David when you're battling Goliaths.

Busking Up Downtown

Southeast Michigan is alive with the sound of music... and the silence of mimes. If you want a barometer of how happening your neighborhood is, check out who's playing on the corner. More than just local color, buskers are a leading indicator of downtown vibrancy. After all, when's the last time you saw a drum circle at the local stripmall?

From Scratch: whiteMAKO

Ready or not here he comes! There are plenty of 20 year-olds who think they can change the world but how many of them have started a lucrative web design and multimedia firm at age thirteen? Meet Chris Mwakasisi, CEO of whiteMAKO.

Guest Blogger: Ron Suarez

Dr. Ron Suarez is our guest blogger this week. Ron is a serial entrepreneur and Arbor City Councilmember and founder of Promovuz, a company offering digital music promotion, statistics and sales.

Check back here each week day to read Ron's thoughts on media, technology and how to do your own podcast.


The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium: More Than Money

Like American Idol, each year local startups strut their stuff at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, presenting in 'lightning round' pitch sessions for the attention of venture capital managers and angel investors. But support can mean more than just a quick infusion of cash, it can also spell success for Michigan's economy.

Michigan Music Fests: Mozart To Mosh Pits

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are." Clearly the man loved his polka. metromode offers up a Summer Music Festival guide worth singing about.

Guest Blogger: Maud Lyon

Our guest blogger for this week is Maud Lyon. Maud is the founding director of the Cultural Alliance, and a consultant for numerous nonprofit organizations.Check back here each week day to read Maud's thoughts on the state of arts and culture in Michigan.

Discipline Five: Get on Base

United Way president Michael Brennan examines the importance of continued success over time in the fifth installment of his series on a Community of Progress.

Green Urbanism

Green and urban. More than a contradiction in terms, they're now a movement. Local architects and developers are starting to adopt 'bioregional' philosophy that asks: What does it take to build a sustainable city?

The Kids Are Alright

When we talk about quality of life issues, who considers the region's sizable teen population? Ann Arbor's Neutral Zone is setting the bar for teen community centers, making use of the latest technologies and trends while nurturing the kind of homegrown talent Michigan desperately needs.

Guest Blogger: Tracy Koe Wick

Our guest blogger for this week is Tracy Koe Wick. Tracy is Principal of The Kirkwood Group, a real estate consulting firm that markets and promotes new mid-rise and high-rise condominium and loft communities. Check back here each week day to read Tracy's thoughts on the emerging trend of Live/Work residences in suburban Detroit cities.

From Scratch: Oliebollen

"No, that bib doesn't come in scotch plaid." Fashionable kids clothes really are out there--and Oliebollen, an Ann Arbor online store, helps sartorial young parents find them all in one place.

RAZ Survey: Regional Transit

Mass transit is a hot topic at water coolers throughout southeast Michigan. United Way and Metromode are interested in your thoughts on our region’s transportation options.

Guest Blogger: Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin is our guest blogger this week. He is the youngest executive director in the 108 year history of the Michigan Municipal League. Dan previously served as the League's deputy director and as an advocate in Lansing and in Washington, where he concentrated on transportation, land use and urban redevelopment. Check back here each week day to read Dan's thoughts on regionalism and how we can build the kind of community that attracts knowledge-based workers.

Survey: Race Relations

While Metro Detroit has been identified as one of the most racially segregated regions in the nation, our growing diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Metromode, United Way, and New Detroit are interested in your thoughts on race relations in this community.

Michigan Freakonomics

"Conventional Wisdom is often wrong." Whether he's writing about abortion, crack dealers or penalty kicks in soccer, "Freakonomic's" author Steven Levitt raises eyebrows and blood pressures with his findings. After a recent lecture at WSU, the rogue economist trained his sights on the Mitten State.

Guest Blogger: Todd Palmer

Todd Palmer is our guest blogger this week. Todd founded Diversified Industrial Staffing, a company that provides staffing for manufacturing, construction and logistics businesses, and Diversified PEOple, a professional employer organization for small businesses. He sits on the board of directors for the Detroit Chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization, and is a recent graduate of the Birthing of Giants class held at MIT. Check back each week day to read Todd's thoughts on keeping, identifying and attracting talent.

Fuelish Thoughts

As the buzz for biofuel grows, Michigan has the opportunity to capitalize on its rural and auto-based communities and emerge as a true innovator. Can a state historically dependent on mineral-based energy play a leading role in the national movement toward alternative fuels?  

Guest Blogger: Brian Balasia

Brian Balasia is our guest blogger this week. Brian founded Digerati Solutions while an aerospace engineering student at U of M. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Detroit Regional Chamber, WIRED, and the U of M Alumni Society.  Check back here each week day to read Brian's thoughts on attracting talent to SE Michigan and nurturing innovation.

Three Big Ideas For Michigan

The time has come for Michigan to make bold choices about how to transform its economy, communities and culture. metromode offers up a trio of initiatives and ideas that challenge conventional thinking and dare the state to think big.

Home Grown

Food that travels 1500 miles to reach your table defies anyone's notion of "fresh." Isn't it time we traded in McDonald's for Old MacDonald?

We Got Game

We've come a long way from the days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Computer games brought in $14 billion in revenue last year and several Michigan companies are claiming their stake in this ever-expanding technology.

Biting Into Downtown

Armed with only a saute pan and a vision, restauranteurs have become urban pioneers, transforming neighborhoods (even whole communities) one meal at a time.

Meet The High-Tech Neighbors

With all the news of companies moving out, two firms have decided to settle in SE Michigan, bringing with them hundreds of high-tech jobs. Spurred on by available engineers, a favorable legal climate, and the "midwest work ethic," they may just represent Michigan's future.

Running Michigan

Pick a path and pound the pavement. From novice joggers to world-class sprinters, Southeast Michigan has everything you need to maintain a constant level of runner's high.

Guest Blogger: Roger Gullickson

Roger Gullickson is our guest blogger this week.  Roger is the President and CEO of MVP Collaborative since 1996.  He moved to Michigan in 1989 to head FTD's Marketing Group after an international career with Tenneco and Case Corporation.

Check back here each weekday to read Roger's thoughts on Michigan's need for renewal and how it can achieve it. 


Running Michigan: Resources

If you've got two good legs, a few hours a week and a whole lot of willpower, SE Michigan has got pretty much everything you need to maintain a constant level of runner's high.

Industrial Strength Ideas

Michigan's economic forecast may be chilly but a trio of local ad agencies just see it as reason to stoke the furnaces of innovation and flex their creative muscle.

Guest Blogger: Dennis King

Dennis King is our guest blogger this week. Dennis is President of American Institute of Architects, Michigan and Chairman and CEO of Harley Ellis Devereaux, an award-winning, full-service archittecture firm. Check back here each weekday to read Dennis' thoughts on National Architecture Week and how design and architecture have a profound impact on quality of life. 

Urban By Design: Why Architecture Matters

In celebration of Architecture Week metromode chats with Royal Oak architect Frank Arvan about how architecture and urban design can improve Metro Detroit.

Pass the Torch of Leadership

To be a community of progress, the development of next generation civic leadership is a requirement of current leadership, says United Way for Southeastern Michigan president Michael J. Brennan.

Guest Blogger: Pavan Muzumdar

Pavan Muzumdar is our guest blogger this week. Pavan is the CEO of MV Software Company and a coach for the Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest business plan competition.Check back here every weekday to read Pavan's thoughts about competing in the global marketplace. 

Some Assembly Required

Come and get it! For some, the sit down family meal may sound like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. But prepared gourmet meal services and personal chefs are turning grab-and-run meals into dinner hour adventures.

Feel Da Noise

From Parliament-Funkadelic to the Stooges to the entire stable of Motown artists to today's techno pioneers, metro Detroit isn't the next anything, it is a musical force of nature. Panelists at a recent MOCAD event waxed poetic about our region's reputation for revolutionary sound.

Guest Blogger: Jim Townsend

Jim Townsend is our guest blogger this week. He is the executive director of the Tourism Economic Development Council, serves on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, which he founded in 2002, and lives with his family in Royal Oak. 

Check back here every weekday to read Jim's thoughts about branding our region.


Film Fest Frenzy

Could Traverse City or Saugatuck be the next Cannes? As Michigan becomes home to a growing number of film festivals, an enthusiastic band of cineastes are bringing Hollywood to the heart of 'fly-over' country.

The World Is Their Cubicle

Professionals across Metro Detroit are ditching their cubicles and "Office Space" culture for cafes, coffee shops and libraries. All these 21st Century professionals need is a lap top, a Wi-Fi connection and a hot cup of Joe to make their way in Michigan's new knowledge-based economy.

Put Your Money Where Your Art Is

Some neo-realism with your money market account? How about fairy dust with that root canal? Local businesses are partnering with artists to help sculpt an identity that stands out against a landscape littered with cookie-cutter chainstores.

The World At Our Doorstep

It's a small world after all. As Southeast Michigan plugs into the global marketplace, it finds a world of investors, partners and corporations interested in setting up shop here.

A Golden State Touch

This money manager left the Golden State for the Midwest and got a chance to nurture Southeast Michigan's venture capitalist investment community.

From Rust Belt to Green Belt

Metro Detroit has a rep for being more rusty than green around the middle, but sustainable initiatives are taking hold. The real question is not if S.E. Michigan can go green, but just how green it will go.

From Scratch: Jolly Pumpkin Ales

In just a few short years, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales has established itself as one of the premiere microbreweries in the nation. A family operation, its award-winning ales may just turn Michigan into the go-to state for hand crafted beers.From Scratch puts the spotlight on individuals and companies in SE Michigan that are building their businesses from the ground up. They are true pioneers in the new economy, reinventing the state's identity and laying the foundation for Michigan's future.

A2 Rallies for Rails

Ann Arbor has become a leading advocate for regional mass transit, lobbying hard for a pair of commuter train lines that could connect key parts of Metro Detroit and be an important part of the region's transformation.

Guest Blogger: Mahendra Ramsinghani

Mahendra Ramsinghani, our guest blogger this week asks: "By attracting a few entrepreneurs, a lot of economic challenges could be addressed. But could a bumper sticker attract the right entrepreneurs?"  Read his final post to learn the answer.Ramsinghani is with Plymouth Venture Partners in Ann Arbor. Check back here weekdays for more posts.

Building the Third Coast

Venture capital long has been the province of the Silicon Valley and Boston-area firms. It helps create fertile ground for entrepreneurs — just the folks who hold the keys to Michigan's economy in the long-run.

Guest Blogger: Lou Glazer

Here's Post No. 4 from Lou Glazer, the president of Ann Arbor-based Michigan Future Inc., a think-tank that is a resource of ideas for how Michigan can and should reshape its economy. Check back daily for more of Glazer's thoughts.

The Real Big Three

What drives the economy? The real Big Three — the big universities in Detroit, Ann Arbor and E. Lansing, bringing in hundreds of millions of research dollars, and fostering jobs and start-up companies.

Design Evolution

The basic tenet of Darwinian evolution is "adapt or die." With today's expanding global market and its ever-shifting demands, the mantra for business survival could easily be "innovate or vanish."

Ann Arbor, Welcome Detroit

Ann Arbor needs Detroit. Detroit needs Ann Arbor. As much as these places are their own communities, they need one another more than ever.

Guest Blogger: Doug Rothwell

Metromode's guest blogger this week is Doug Rothwell, president of Detroit Renaissance. Here's what he has to say about transforming the region's economy.
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