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State, foundation grants spread across Michigan

Grant money continues to pour into Metro Detroit from a number of different sources. The latest comes from the state of Michigan, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the McGregor Fund of Detroit.

Making the biggest splash is the $716,000 recently awarded by the Community Foundation's New Economy Initiative. Among the recipients are Macomb Community College ($35,110 to help grow defense industry research), Oakland County-based Michigan Security Network ($300,000 to help grow the local defense and homeland security sectors), Michigan Opportunities and Resources for Entrepreneurs Program ($356,250 to help foster entrepreneurs) and the Brookings Institution ($25,000 to help automotive communities). More grants are expected to come out within the next few months.

"They're constantly approving grants," says Theresa Fraley, communications director for the
Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. "They approve them as soon as they’re ready."

The Michigan College Access Network also dished out $250,000 in grants. Among the local recipients are Career Transitions (Inkster and Wayne/Westland), Northwest Detroit Neighborhood Development (Brightmoor neighborhood) and the POH Riley Foundation (Pontiac), which received $8,000 each. The Early College Alliance in Washtenaw County also received a slice of that pie.

The $8,000 grants will allow local education and community leaders to determine what their areas can do to encourage more people to achieve a college education. This will serve as the basis for the creation of a broader plan that incorporates mentoring, career exploration, tutoring, college placement test preparation, and college admission advising.

The McGregor Fund of Detroit also gave $250,000 over two years to Madonna University. This will help support development of new science courses and other enhancements in conjunction with opening a new science building.

Source: Theresa Fraley, communications director for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Michigan College Access Network and the McGregor Fund of Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ypsilanti's New Eagle plans to add 10 engineers

There is a lot of the word "new" associated with Ypsilanti's New Eagle. There is the new hybrid-car technology it's developing. The new clients it's attracting. There are also the new jobs it's creating.

Excerpt:

A little more than a year ago, Rich and Mickey Swortzel started New Eagle. Today the Ypsilanti-based start-up cuts paychecks for 12, including independent contractors and interns. It hopes to hire another 10 engineers by summer.

New Eagle specializes in creating electronic control modules (think of the computer systems that help make your car run) for hybrids and the engineering services that support them. The Swortzels started New Eagle after the company they worked for (MotoTron) was acquired and moved many of its operations to Colorado.

"We wanted to start our own company," says Mickey Swortzel, business manager of New Eagle. "We wanted to enter this market."

Read the rest of the story here.

Michigan Microloan Fund makes $170K in new loans

Small businesses are gathering at the trough of the Michigan Microloan Fund to feed, feed, feed on the available capital.

Excerpt:

The Michigan Microloan Fund Program has struck again, continuing what promises to be a common occurrence in 2010.

The program made $170,000 in loans to CTC Holdings, Energy Management Devices, MemCatch, and Motor City Wipers. All of the companies are from southeast Michigan and half of them are from the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area.

The micro loans provide funding for start-ups so they can either commercialize their product or accelerate their business growth. The $1.5 million program will make anywhere from 2-4 loans of a few thousand dollars each per month for 2010. That's another 24-48 fledgling local businesses receiving financing during a time when loans for small businesses are almost non-existent.

"I don't think the demand is going to decrease," says Skip Simms, fund manager for the Michigan Microloan Fund Program. "It has become a very popular way for start-ups to get a small amount of capital to get them to a significant milestone."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti's Clean Energy Coalition lands $15M federal grant

The Clean Energy Coalition looks to bring more than a few jobs to Ypsilanti's Depot Town with the help of a $15 million federal grant.

Excerpt:

The Clean Energy Coalition will take a major step forward this fall now that it has roped in a $15 million federal contract, a hit that is expected to result in an expanded staff at the Ypsilanti-based non-profit.

"Obviously our staffing could grow significantly from this," says Sean Reed, executive director of the Clean Energy Coalition.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor SPARK's Micro Loan Fund takes aim at Ypsilanti

Ann Arbor SPARK is paying more and more attention to business acceleration in the Ypsilanti area these days.

Excerpt:

Business on the east side of Washtenaw County is getting some special love from Ann Arbor SPARK.

The business development agency and Washtenaw County have teamed up to create the Eastern Washtenaw Micro Loan Fund. The $225,000 will provide precious capital for start-ups based on the east side of the county.

Read the rest of the story here.

ISSYS creates partnership and hires in Ypsilanti

ISSYS goes to Switzerland, creates a partnership and then adds more jobs in Ypsilanti.

Excerpt:

Good things come in threes for ISSYS. First the Ypsilanti-based firm hired two people since the last time we checked in with it earlier this year. Second it formed a partnership with a Switzerland-based firm, a move that is expected to (thirdly) create more jobs in Ypsilanti.

As of today ISSYS employs 32 people and has a couple of positions open right now. It expects to hire another 5-6 people by the end of the year. The Swiss firm, Endress + Hauser, might also open an office nearby.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti's LookInTheAttic named one of Michigan's 50 Companies to Watch

Don't lose sight of Ypsilanti's LookInTheAttic, because it's one of Michigan's 50 Companies to Watch.

Excerpt:

It's not hard to find LookInTheAttic these days, especially now that the downtown Ypsilanti-based firm has been named one of the Edward Lowe Foundation's Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.

It's easy to see why when you look at the company's year-to-year growth. Steady success has allowed the eight-person firm to add one more person to its staff and open yet another position. It hopes to create yet another job later this year, as the company continues on its growth track.

"We're consistently seeing 20-30 percent growth every year, even in this recession," says John Coleman, president of LookInTheAttic.

Read the rest of the story here.

Metro Detroit scores $2.8 million in federal earmarks

Business development in Metro Detroit is getting a little venture capital from Uncle Sam. The recently passed federal Omnibus bill includes $2.784 million in earmarks for regional business development.

Omnibus is short for an Omnibus Appropriations Act, which is basically a budget bill that Congress passes each year. These are notorious for earmarks (federal dollars set aside by members of Congress for projects in their districts) which make up a fraction of the overall bill. What some talking heads like to decry as pork often turns out to be valued funds for getting stuff done outside the beltway.

These get-stuff-done funds include:

  • $100,000 for a micro business incubator at Cleary University
  • $73,693 for the Detroit Creative Business Corridor
  • $343,900 for business retention and attraction programs at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
  • $385,000 for the Macomb County Business Accelerator
  • $225,000 for an entrepreneurship center on the Oakland campus of Wayne State University
  • $245,643 for an ex-offender Entrepreneurship Program at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan
  • $245,643 for a telecommunications portal and logistics center at the Aerotropolis
  • $167,676 for the small business clinic at Wayne State University Law School
  • $285,000 for planning and reconstruction of an international business center for business incubation at Automation Alley in Troy
  • $285,000 for the DREAMS teacher training initiative at Eastern Michigan University
  • $333,000 for curriculum development for an associate of applied science degree in energy management at Macomb Community College in Warren
  • $95,000 for the Institute of Radio Frequency Electronics and Nanoelectronics at Oakland University in Rochester

Source: Offices of senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow
Writer: Jon Zemke

GREEN SPACE: A2 & Ypsi undergoing holistic sustainability training this weekend

This weekend, about 50 participants from all over Southeast Michigan will gather to undergo training in the Transition movement, which emphasizes a local solution to the global issue of oil dependence.

Transition was founded by Rob Hopkins in the UK, and has spread across the world -- Boulder, CO, Portland, ME, and Ketchum, ID are all Transition towns. It addresses food and farming, medicine and health, the prison industry, education, the economy, transportation, energy and housing -- all with an eye towards local, sustainable thinking.

"We're working towards an effective and meaningful response to global warming and the end of cheap energy," says organizer Lisa Bashert. "Through this process, we hope to come up with some plans towards a more localized culture and way of life."

The planning team will be led by trainer Michael Brownlee from Boulder County in Colorado, who has been trained by Hopkins. The group consists of representatives from the Ypsilanti Food Co-op, Growing Hope, the City of Ann Arbor's Energy Office, Bioneers, Sustainable Ypsi and members of the Sustainable Michigan/Peak Oil Meetup group. Bashert hopes the training will encourage collaboration between participants.

While registration for the training is closed already due to the high level of interest, there are a couple of public events tied in. On Thursday, January 29, from 7:30 to 9:30, the Detroit Evolution Laboratory will host a welcome event for Brownlee in Eastern Market's Shed 5, on Russell Street. On Friday night, the group will show the film The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil at the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting house.

To learn more about the Transition movement, check out these websites:
http://www.transitiontowns.org/
http://www.hopedance.org/cms/content/view/540/86/
http://www.transitionus.org/
http://TransitionMichigan.ning.com

Source: Lisa Bashert
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Ann Arbor SPARK raffles off Ypsilanti incubator space at ACE

A new, free office space for start-ups is up for grabs in downtown Ypsilanti thanks to Ann Arbor SPARK.

Excerpt:

Everything an ambitious start-up needs to be successful will be up for grabs at the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship tomorrow.

A whole lot of start-up know-how will be available at the conference, but something more valuable will also be on hand – free space in Ann Arbor SPARK's new East Business Incubator in downtown Ypsilanti. Ann Arbor SPARK plans to raffle off one free year's lease.

That free space, worth $4,800, will include access to a VOIP phone system, T-1 internet connection, a full kitchen, two conference rooms, free parking and administrative resources such as copiers and cleaning services. There will also be access to Ann Arbor SPARK's business acceleration services.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ensure Technologies to create 3-5 jobs as it expands in Ypsilanti

Ensure Technologies is in the black by keeping snoops in the dark.

Excerpt:

One day a disgruntled employee hacked into his company's human resources computer, printed a spreadsheet of what everyone made and posted it for all to see. That inspired Tom Xydis to create Ensure Technolgies 11 years ago.

Today the Ypsilanti-based firm has survived the death of its founder (two years ago in a car accident) and managed to grow to a staff of 16 people, four contractors and the occasional intern. The company is capitalizing on protecting confidential and intellectual property and expects to create 3-5 new jobs in the next few years.

"We have a significant foothold in the healthcare industry and we have great growth prospects there," says Dennis Blanchette, President and CEO of Ensure Technologies.

Read the rest of the story here.

First Source Partners looks to add 18 jobs to the Ypsilanti area

First Source Partners is working to make a name for itself in southeast Michigan. The company started by two former Compuware executives is looking to grow and create more than a few new jobs this year.

Excerpt:

For most students, math class alone is more than enough. But for Joe Dylewski, he needed something more ...than teaching it, that is.

"I got a little bored," Dylewski says.

But instead of starting a hobby, the math professor at Eastern Michigan and Madonna universities started First Source Partners with his friend Andy Trestrail last fall, bridging Ypsilanti and Bloomfield Hills respectively as their home base.

The two former Compuware executives decided they could put their human resource expertise to good business use by helping companies find IT workers. The company has been so successful in the short time it has been around that it expanded to six staff members with hopes to add another 18 people within the next year.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti's ISSYS plans to add six jobs in coming year

Companies spun-off from institutions of higher learning are creating jobs left and right in Michigan. Add Issys, a University of Michigan spin-off, to that list as it looks to create six jobs this year.

Excerpt:

Not all University of Michigan spin-offs live in Ann Arbor. Issys was born from the university in 1995 but it now calls Ypsilanti its home ...and it's creating more and more jobs there.

The high-tech company makes big bucks off of little fluids, specializing in microelectromechanical systems for medical and scientific sensing applications. In everyday English that translates to using micro fluids for research in things like fuel cells. It's hard-to-understand stuff but there's no mistaking the contracts the company's been attracting.

Read the rest of the story here.


Ypsilanti's ShadePlex ready to launch, looks to add five

A glass of beer, a good friend and a hot summer's night. That’s the genesis of the idea behind the ShadePlex startup in Ypsilanti.

ShadePlex is a company that specializes in making tents with solar panels built into them. Brian Tell, the president and co-founder of the company, came up with the idea two years ago while drinking beer on his porch with his brother in-law from Iowa and talking about ways to lessen global warming.

"He went back to Iowa and I became obsessed," Tell says.

That obsession turned into ShadePlex. The idea is to sew solar-cell enabled fabrics into larger tents, such as those used by retailers to shade outdoor customers. That way the solar heat that would normally bounce off the blacktop of a parking lot is used to generate large amounts of electricity. In this case a 90 square foot panel can generate between 200 and 500 watts of electricity.

"So instead of a basic shade canopy they might use our product so they can still provide some shade and generate some electricity for their building," Tell says.

Tell and co-founder Jeff Peelman have been toiling to make the idea work for the last couple of years. But this year they expect to breakout and start hiring as many as five people by the start of next year, up to a dozen by 2011. Their business plan calls for $15 million in revenue by 2012, which Tell says is a conservative estimate.

"We’ve been boot strapping it up until now, but we’re looking to begin an angel seed round," Tell says. "We’ve been doing well, but now we’re looking for some help to get us to the next step.”"

This will be quite a few steps from the conversation over a beer on a hot night that started it all, but only the first few steps in what the ShadePlex guys hope will be a long journey.

Source: Brian Tell, president and co-founder of ShadePlex
Writer: Jon Zemke


Robotics competition heats up in Detroit March 13-15

Beep! Clank! Whirr! 

Let's get ready to rumble!

The Detroit Regional branch of the annual FIRST Robotics Competition will heat up from March 13 to 15 at Wayne State University. Thirty-two teams are registered from high schools all over southeast Michigan -- from Berkley to Hamtramck to Detroit to Pontiac to Dearborn.

California-based Autodesk began sponsoring the competition 17 years ago, not just for fun and games, but to attract teens to careers in engineering. The school teams are linked in with area corporations -- like Ford, Chrysler, GM and DTE Energy -- which puts the students in direct interaction with professional engineers.

Why go through the trouble? A steady decline in math and science score among US students coupled with a growing number of engineers retiring each year could spell a disaster for this country's math and science industries.

And FIRST appears to be working. A Brandeis University study proved that FIRST students were three times more likely than their peers to major in engineering.

This link takes you to the Detroit Regional site, where you can check out the team websites (Recommended: L'anse Creuse and Rochester Adams.). Later this month, 63 teams will compete in Ypsilanti in the Great Lakes Regional.

Regional winners will advance to the FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, being held April 17 to 19. Last year, four local schools -- Detroit Country Day, Lake Orion, Saginaw and Berkley -- made the trip down south.

Source: Autodesk
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
103 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All
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