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'Money is Money' and 'Division 19' to film in Metro Detroit

When it comes to filming in Metro Detroit, the money is green. 

Excerpt:

"The Michigan Film Office announced today the feature film  Money is Money  has been approved for a film incentive from the state.   The twist-filled thriller is set in Detroit and the surrounding areas and is scheduled to film later this summer...

The project is expected to hire 144 Michigan workers with a full time equivalent of 46 jobs.

In Money is Money, three childhood friends – James, Eric and Alex - find themselves aspiring to live a more comfortable lifestyle than their current situation, especially after James has to borrow money from a loan shark to pay for his daughter’s medical procedure.   After a burglary gone wrong the friendship turns to betrayal as the passage into the world of “every man for himself” drives the characters to make radical choices."

And a political thriller, Division 19 is set to begin filming in Detroit and its surrounds later in August. More here

The Detroit region's new landscape: Urban farming?

As the old prospecting cliché goes, "There's gold in them thar hills!" Or in the Detroit region's case, in the dirt. The Chicago Tribune has a good piece on how vacant dirt is being turned over to cropland in Detroit and its neighboring cities.


Excerpt:

"So-called retail agriculture, which includes direct-to- consumer, organic and local-foods sales, had revenue of $8 billion in the U.S. farm census in 2007, compared with $7 billion combined for cotton and rice, according to a 2010 study done by Local Food Strategies for the Farm Credit Council, the trade group representing small-town credit unions and other rural banks...

The vision is drawing attention from landowners ranging from Willerer, who is making enough money from farming to give up a teaching job and is snapping up vacant lots, to John Hantz, a financial services professional and entrepreneur who has pledged to buy blighted properties to create the world's biggest urban tree farm.

By selling at farmers markets, local restaurants and a community-supported agriculture project that sells his goods directly to consumers, Willerer said he can make $20,000 to $30,000 per acre in a year. In addition to the acre he farms on vacant lots, Willerer cultivates another three acres outside the city and is preparing to start a fourth.

Michigan has the fourth-biggest number of farmers markets, trailing California, New York and Illinois, according to a USDA report this week. Among its attempts to nurture small-scale agriculture and the businesses that arise from it, the state is home to 140 craft breweries, sixth-most in the nation. Grand Rapids, the state's second-largest city, was named Beer City USA 2013 by Examiner.com."

More here.

Macomb-OU Incubator launches blog for entrepreneurs

Add this to your reading list: The Macomb-OU incubator is spawning not only new business, but a new communications forum. For the word on all things entrepreneurial, check in (and chime in!) to this new blog.

An excerpt from the first post:

"Are you familiar with the saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease?” The basic idea is that the loudest or most noticeable problems get solved first. The first time I heard this was from my parents at age 15. I was applying for jobs, and whenever I wouldn’t get a response, they would recommend I follow up with a phone call.

While it seemed pushy at the time, I now embrace this concept. What I used to consider brash, I now consider assertive. Whether it is applying for jobs or seeking capital, do not be timid of reminding others of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. Remember, you are not their first priority.

I put this advice into action most recently when creating a promotional video for my business. I needed legal rights to a song, but after emailing and calling the artist’s management and even the record label, I received no response. The next week, the artist happened to be performing in a nearby city. My partners and I arrived at the concert venue an hour early and managed to give the artist our t-shirt and business card. The next day, we received an apologetic call from his manager, and eventually we received the rights."

More here.

We all deserve a little bit of yoga

Who says you have to run a marathon to feel good ( and do good) ? Try a Yogathon instead.

On Sunday, September 1, the Yoga By Design Foundation will host an all-day Yogathon at Karma Yoga in Bloomfield Hills. Additional classes will be held that same weekend at Red Lotus Yoga in Rochester Hills, Be Nice Yoga in Detroit, House of Yoga in Berkley and Shine On Yoga in Ferndale.

All fees will go to the foundation, which funds yoga programs for underserved populations. Classes start at  6:30 a.m.  and continue back-to-back until  6 p.m.  A $20 donation per class minimum is requested; participants can pre-register or drop in.

Click here for more information, or contact Lynn Medow at ybdfoundation@gmail.com, or 248.939.1367.


Bye Bye Brooklyn, Hello Detroit

Business-minded couples getting squeezed out of Brooklyn are taking the combo of affordable rents and the supportive arts-minded communities of Detroit and its close-in city cousins.


Excerpt:

When Sandi Bache Heaselgrave and Andy Heaselgrave made the well-worn migration from New York City to Detroit, they didn't realize they'd be starting a trend...

But when the couple, who worked in the photography industry, decided to leave in 2010, they were the first of what would become six couples (and counting) relocating from the tiny enclave of Red Hook, Brooklyn, with entrepreneurial pursuits in mind....

So when Ann St. Peter, owner of  Pinwheel Bakery,  offered to let them open in the front half of her shop in Ferndale, the couple jumped. Bache Heaselgrave had planned to sell Pinwheel pastries anyway. 

She spent $35,000 renovating the space, buying her equipment and giving the shop an airy feel. She also took over responsibility for sales so St. Peter could focus on pastries instead of running a retail location. Bache Heaselgrave increased prices and improved the coffee, becoming the only café in the Detroit area to sell Portland, Ore.-based  Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

More here.

How a company purchased for $25K yields $20M in sales

After the great housing collapse, Marketplace Homes put some liquidity into a weak housing market.

Excerpt:

"Around 2006 Kalis noticed a lot of potential clients telling him that they wanted to buy a home, but they couldn’t get rid of their other home.   At Pulte, Kalis put together a program that helped people get out of their other homes using a method known as “solution-based selling.”   This meant that if you helped solve someone’s problem, they would likely become a customer.    The company sold around 20 homes with this solution.

Dick Chelten founded Marketplace Homes in 2002.   Chelten become one of Kalis’ biggest investors and is a mentor to him.   Kalis felt like this solution-based program could be much bigger so he bought the business from Chelten for $25,000.   The company grew to 100 homes sold in Metro Detroit shortly after that, which is around the same time that the housing market fell 90%.   Marketplace Homes is expected to do around $20 million in revenues this year.

...While many banks were telling people to foreclose on their properties, Marketplace Homes said that people should keep their homes and try to save their credit.   Marketplace Homes allows people to buy a new construction home, while listing their old home for 1%.   You can lease your home for up to 6 years."

More here.


LTU receives $40M software grant & kudos in Princeton Review

It's a double whammy of good things for LTU: a major software grant and a naming to the Princeton Review's "Best of the Midwest" list.


Excerpts:

"Lawrence Technological University has received an in-kind software grant with a commercial value of $40 million from Siemens PLM Software. It is one of the largest in-kind grants in the university’s history.
  
The in-kind grant gives LTU students access to the same technology that companies around the world use every day to develop innovative products that are engineered for manufacturability in a wide variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, defense, machinery, medical, high-tech, electronics and many more."

And...

"Lawrence Tech was among the 155 colleges in the 12-state Midwest Region and 643 colleges overall – representing 25 percent of the nation’s 2,500 four-year colleges – selected for the “2014 Best Colleges: Region by Region” list...

According to the Princeton Review, Lawrence Tech is a university armed with a great local and a growing national reputation. In the survey, students reported the university manages to feel “like one big family.”  
  
Undergrads value that LTU promotes both “theory and practice” and “hands-on experience."
  
More here and here.

Farmington ranks in CNN Money's top 50 best places to live

Farmington is right on the money when it comes to America's best places to live.

Excerpt:

"Farmington is largely residential, with most residents commuting to other Detroit metro towns for jobs in information technology, engineering or the auto industry. Homes are extremely affordable, with a median sale price just over $100,000.

Farmington boasts a historical downtown, alongside some more modern shops and restaurants. The area is currently being renovated, with over $3  million invested toward increasing retail opportunities and walkability."

More here.

Automakers go head-on with Silicon Valley to recruit talent

As cars become increasingly software-driven, the automakers are recasting themselves as promising venues for software engineers.

Excerpt:

"U.S. automakers have embarked on an ambitious drive to hire software "codaholics," an effort that is increasingly pitting Detroit against its technology partners in Silicon Valley...

Four years after a sweeping industry restructuring that included massive job cuts, Ford and its U.S. rivals need to hire thousands of engineers at a time when software is playing a much more prominent role in vehicle design than even a few years ago.

Millions of lines of computer code increasingly govern core vehicle functions like braking and air-conditioning. Electronic parts including sensors and microcontrollers, used in laptop computers and smartphones, are the backbone of such vehicles.

The shift has General Motors Co, Ford and Chrysler Group LLC vying for a new kind of talent — engineers with software, electronic and computer network skills — that has typically ignored Detroit...."

More here.


The new CSA: Community-Supported Art

For consumers, it's believing before seeing. Farmers started selling shares of their harvest through community-supported agriculture programs, and now, artists are banding together to sell shares of their portfolios through community-supported art groups.

An excerpt:

"For years, Barbara Johnstone, a professor of linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University here, bought shares in a C.S.A. — a community-supported agriculture program — and picked up her occasional bags of tubers or tomatoes or whatever the member farms were harvesting.

Her farm shares eventually lapsed. (“Too much kale,” she said.) But on a recent summer evening, she showed up at a C.S.A. pickup location downtown and walked out carrying a brown paper bag filled with a completely different kind of produce. It was no good for eating, but it was just as homegrown and sustainable as what she used to get: contemporary art, fresh out of local studios....

Prices range from $450 for a share in  Miami  to as low as $50 a share in a  craft-art program in Flint, Mich."

More here.

Lake St. Clair a Top 10 Fishing Hole

Macomb County's pretty Lake St. Clair has caught the eye of the bass fishing world. Dinner should be an easy catch.

An excerpt:

"Ranked this year as the top bass lake in the country by Bassmaster, the Detroit-area fishing hot spot sits on the border between Michigan and Canada and is part of the Great Lakes ecosystem. It's especially welcoming during the summer fishing season, Hall says. "The fish are everywhere, and typically, they are really big. A first-timer can go out there and catch bass."

More here.

This Saturday is the Detroit Burger Brawl

Seventeen chefs enter, one chef leaves. Six restaurants from Wayne County, seven from Oakland and three from Macomb square off against in each other in a bid to become the champion burger master. Be there or be hungry!

Sat., Aug. 10 at Eastern Market

Click here for more information.



Detroit's Derby All Stars rank 15 out of 155

The Detroit Derby Girl Allstars, who represent the best of Detroit’s five derby league home teams on the road, flew to Boston to show Beantown what the Motor City has to offer. We won't spoil the outcome here but for an inside peek at the sport that boast the best-named players anywhere hit the link below.


Excerpt:

"There’s a growing movement to make derby an Olympic sport. Detroit’s Racer McChaseHer (Amy Ruby) also plays on Team USA — the current world champion team — in the international Derby World Cup.

The players on the Detroit team have been skating for 7-8 years, while the average career of a derby girl is just 4 or 5. The women range in age from 25 to 40, with Fatal Femme (Danielle Simone) as the eldest — and also a grandmother. The women range in occupations too, including nurse, lawyer, teacher, hairdresser, wedding designer and school bus driver."

Read the rest here.


Rainbow Loom bracelet kit is nation's hot craze this summer

Metro Detroit inventor Cheong-Choon Ng has a hit on his hands. Youth across the country are keeping their hands busy with this new bracelet kit.

Excerpt:

"First there were slap bracelets, then friendship wristlets and Silly Bandz, and now comes the newest youth accessory obsession, the Rainbow Loom. It differs from its predecessors in that kids can express their creativity by forming the colorful rubber-band bracelets themselves. 

"We are selling the Rainbow Loom like crazy!" says Christine Gorham, owner of Cherry Hill's Sweet & Sassy. The summer obsession, also sold at Learning Express, Michaels, Hallmark, and various independently owned toy stores as well as online, is flying off shelves so quickly that stores can't keep them in stock for long..."

More here




New hotels, hotel occupancy on rise in Metro Detroit

High-end hotel chains and boutique properties are building on Metro Detroit's improving economy and cachet as a travel destination.

Excerpt:

"Detroit might be in bankruptcy, but its hotel industry is on an upward trajectory. Three casino hotels have opened in recent years. A new Starwood Aloft hotel is set to open next year in a landmark building in Grand Circus Park downtown. And developers have proposed turning a historic firehouse across from the Cobo Convention Center into a boutique hotel....

Hotel occupancy rates in the metropolitan Detroit area have gone from 47.5% in 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection, to 61.3% so far this year, according to hotel industry tracking firm STR. That's in line with the national average. Last month, hotel occupancy levels reached 70.3%."

More here.
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