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New Dearborn Amtrak station gets kudos for size, amenities, and convenience

In time for the busy holiday travel season, it's looking like Dearborn's new train station will spur more leisure and business traffic into the city. 

Excerpt:

"The federally funded, $28.2 million, 16,000-square-foot center is designed as an intermodal passenger rail station on the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac. It's near the Rouge River Gateway Greenway Trail that connects to the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford College campuses, and a pedestrian bridge should make it easy for passengers to enter the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village, Dearborn city spokeswoman Mary Laundroche has said...

It's the third train station to open in Michigan in recent months. In October, the long-delayed $6.4 million Troy Transit Center and the $6.1 million Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station opened in Grand Rapids opened for business."

More here

Brooklyn's famed Galapagos Art Space to move into nine Detroit buildings

Detroit will get a new center for burlesque, visual, and other performing arts when a (soon to be former) Brooklyn institution, Galapagos Art Space, moves into rehabbed buildings, including an old power plant, in Corktown. (The new lake planned for the property should make a big splash.)

Excerpt:

"The  Galapagos Art Space, a performance center and cultural staple in Brooklyn for nearly 20 years, will close this month, another casualty of rising rental prices that its founder says are making it difficult for independent arts organizations to survive in New York...

Although the last night of programming is likely to be Dec. 18, the center will have a second life — more than 600 miles away, in Detroit. Over the past year, Mr. Elmes and his wife, Philippa Kaye, have bought nine buildings totaling about 600,000 square feet in that city’s Corktown neighborhood and in neighboring Highland Park, paying what he described as the price of “a small apartment in New York City” for the properties....

One of the places where “young artists and thinkers” appeared to be gravitating, he said, was Detroit."

More here.

That being said, while luxury Detroit apartment rents are nowhere near those in NYC, is the Brooklynization of Detroit coming? Check out this report in the Detroit Free Press

 

University tech transfer offices bridge gap between academia and commerce

In Michigan's growing tech economy, there's no doubt that many of the innovators are coming from the halls and labs of academia. But how to get from concept to commercialization?

Excerpt:

"Coming up with a technological breakthrough is a feather in a university researcher's cap. 

But taking that brilliant notion, and forming a profitable business, involves another degree of difficulty. So professors and other researchers who want to turn their intellectual gifts into gold will probably need a little help along the way. 

"It takes more than a great idea," said Paul Riser Jr., managing director of technology-based entrepreneurship for Detroit business incubator  TechTown. "Professors sometimes are great technologists or great engineers and sometimes they don't have the know-how, from a business perspective."

The place to start may be the university's technology transfer office."

More here.

Four new film, digital media incentives announced for projects in Metro Detroit

The last round of Michigan Film Office incentives has been issued to close out 2014, including a mobile app for sports fans and a series on the lives of religious leaders in Detroit. These projects filimg or being produced in various Metro Detroit locales are expected to employ about 250 people. In total, all projects approved in 2014 are expected to create 2,181 hires with a full time equivalent of 1,298 jobs.

Excerpt:

"Oxygen Media’s  Preachers of Detroit  is a television series that will focus on powerful themes of faith, family and friendship as seven men and women of the cloth share their lives, transformations and triumphs in and out of the pulpit in Detroit....

The feature film  Destined  is set in Detroit with one event setting in motion two very different stories. Each storyline involves the same characters whose paths are altered by this one event, and the different paths main character Rasheed takes in each tale. Filming will take place in Detroit and Ann Arbor...

Tommy Battles the Silver Sea Dragon  is a feature film where Tommy Silver faces the guilt he carries from the loss of his mother who died in childbirth. This unbearable weight is now threatening to destroy his closest relationship. Filming will take place in Detroit, Wayne and Novi..."

More here.

Somerset Collection CityLoft expands pop-up retail in Detroit

Troy's Somerset Collection is expanding its temporary urban outpost to fill the shopping bags of Detroit's growing population of professionals. 

Excerpt:

"The Somerset Collection CityLoft opened what Somerset representatives are calling a bigger, better location in the First National Building in downtown Detroit Wednesday morning...

Linda McIntosh, marketing director for the Somerset Collection, said this year, Somerset is sticking around downtown for a longer period of time and will offer a wider selection of goods from more vendors than they've hosted in the past...

The collection of retailers should help turn Detroit into a destination for those who would typically jet out to Troy, Novi or Livonia to to their holiday shopping."

More here.

A call for unifying Michigan's "three economies"

Three different types of businesses tend to congregate in different regions of Michigan, leading to lost opportunities and uneven economic growth. A U-M professor suggests a solution.

Excerpt:

"When it comes to economic growth in  Michigan, one size does not fit all. Take a look at the varying scope and scale of companies here and you’ll find a general pattern of three different types of businesses associated with different regions:   large multinational corporations in Southeast Michigan, small high-tech start-ups in Ann Arbor, and family-owned, mid-size companies in Western Michigan...

In an ideal world, these three different economies would be interconnected like concentric circles with the large companies at the center, encouraging the growth of adjacent mid-size companies, in turn promoting the development of surrounding smaller companies.

The problem is that these three economies simply don’t sync up. They are so disconnected from each other, both ideologically and economically, that we don’t benefit from the rewards of their potential synergistic relationships. It’s time to bridge the gaps between these three regions."

More here

Michigan should invest in Detroit's recovery, survey says

A recent Crain's survey of 300 business owners and executives revealed their sentiments on priority areas for state spending, the state of the economy, and other important concerns heading into 2015.

Excerpt:

"Optimism about Michigan's economy continued to soar, with 78 percent saying they were satisfied with how it affected business, compared with 70 percent in May...

"I used to meet folks out of town about adding new retail markets, and people would almost immediately tell me, "Michigan's near the bottom of our list.' But now it's become fashionable to become associated with projects in Detroit or at least in metropolitan Detroit," said Cindy Ciura, principal of  CC Consulting LLC  in Bloomfield Hills.

"Some of the coverage and national attention to our bankruptcy is turning a negative into a positive. People are seeing, I think, that now it's working to our advantage. It's almost an impetus to get people talking about the comeback."

More here.

Former GM facility converted to high-end car condos in Pontiac

Don't just garage your car – condo it. Area residents are spending well north of six figures to house their cars in a swank new development that could contribute to Pontiac's revitalization.

Excerpt:

"Half of the units at M1 Concourse have sold since sales  began earlier this month  for private car condominiums at the $40 to $60 million automotive development.

The garages will be finished spaces that can house between two and five cars at a  project that includes plans for a 1.5-mile performance track, restaurants and automotive retail on a historic former 87-acre General Motors property."

More here

Skilled Trades Training Fund to award $8.6M in job training grants

Heading into 2015, the money pool for training in Michigan's high-demand skilled trades is getting $8.6 million deeper.

Excerpt:

"...[Skilled Trades Training Fund] recipients will distribute the funds to 236 Michigan employers in their regions, who will use the funds to upskill 6,085 current employees and 2,529 new employees and create up to 771 new jobs as a result of the training. Employers will leverage the grants with an estimated $99 million in additional funds."

More here.

Berkley ranks in nation's top 50 suburbs

Among other factors, good-quality schools and a short commuting time means the Oakland County city of Berkley is a place you'll want to nest, according to an analysis from MSN.com.

Excerpt:

"After examining data on nearly 300 suburbs, we put together a list of the 50 best suburbs in America. For this list, we considered suburbs with populations between 5,000 and 100,000 within 40 kilometers of the nearest metropolitan area...

A suburb of the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn area, Berkley benefits from a low poverty rate (2.7%) and good public schools. Folks in Berkley spend an average of 21.8 minutes commuting to work."

More here.

Shinola watch company to add retail outlet in Washington, D.C.

Shinola, a manufacturer and retailer of watches and other high-end goods, is putting the shine on with its latest retail store.

Excerpt:

"Detroit-based Shinola continues to expand its retail presence beyond the Motor City, with a permanent, brick-and-mortar outlet reportedly in the works for the nation's capital.

The company, which makes watches in Detroit, in addition to crafting bikes, journals and leather goods at a variety of mostly-American locations, last month said it was opening shops in London, Los Angeles and Chicago...

Shinola had previously said it will have six brick-and-mortar stores once the Chicago one comes online in the Wicker Park-Bucktown neighborhood. Shinola’s flagship Detroit location is at 441 W. Canfield in Midtown, and the company also has stores in Manhattan and Minneapolis.

It also has a presence in Paris' ultra-trendy Colette shop and in the Abu Dhabi airport."

More here.

Forbes magazine spotlights business acumen of Fathead's CEO

Forbes recently profiled the CEO of Detroit-based Fathead, a leading national supplier of life-sized vinyl wall graphics.

Excerpt: 

"The ‘Core-Trust-Loyalty’ belief system has remained with McInnis over the past five years as Fathead recently  shifted from sports-specific offerings to being a lifestyle consumer company. Now, as the company’s leader, part of McInnis’ role is that of a “psychologist,” somebody who understands the makeup and personality of the senior leadership team and, in turn, can motivate people in different ways."

More here.

Crowdfunding campaign for Detroit community skatepark gets rolling

Skateparks are not only recreational, they're economic and community development tools in southeast Michigan. Following the tide of popularity of the Ann Arbor Skatepark and Riley Skatepark in Farmington, a campaign is afoot for a new skatepark in Detroit.

Excerpt:

"The campaign will support phase two of “The Wig,” a community-led project to transform the vacant and blighted Wigle Recreation Center in Midtown into a new skatepark.

Located at 801 Seldon St., the once vibrant Wigle Recreation Center has sat vacant since 2005. This past summer, Community Push, an organization started by skateboarders to bridge the gap between skateboarding and the community, officially adopted the center’s park from the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department to build a community skatepark...

With the foundation for a great skatepark in place, phase two will involve expansion elements, including new skateboarding obstacles (concrete and steel), artistic beautification, public seating, and programs to introduce youth and students at surrounding schools to skateboarding and the social benefits it brings – civic participation, health and wellness, cultural creativity, risk-taking and supportive community building.

If Community Push attains its crowdfunding goal of $20,000 by  December 13, MEDC will provide a $20,000 matching grant."

For more information and to donate, click here.

Detroit region's economy most high-powered in Michigan

Despite past setbacks, southeast Michigan is still the state's significant economic engine – and that's not likely to change.

Excerpt:

“The southeast side is going to be the center for economic activity for many years,” said George Erickcek, an analyst for the Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “It is going to be a long time before the west side of the state matches the east side of the state....

The Detroit region’s share of the state economy has dropped, however, from 54.7 percent in 2001 to 52 percent in 2013. And the area’s GDP last year is 8 percent below its peak in 2005. But the Detroit-area’s most critical business sectors are gradually clawing back, with health care emerging as a vital new area of growth."

More here.

Ghost tours add life to Pontiac's redevelopment

At The Artist Lounge in downtown Pontiac, take a ghost tour along with your painting class.

Excerpt: 

"The Artist Lounge, which moved into 31 N. Saginaw about a year ago and has locations in Grosse Pointe Woods and Madison Heights, is part of what more than 50 private investors plan as a $40 million to $50 million revitalization of the historic but underutilized downtown area. Fournier said that’s part of what drew her to open a new location in Pontiac in the first place: the opportunity to help rebuild a downtrodden downtown. The ghost tours are just a small part of that, she said."

More here.
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