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Rumors of the Rustbelt's demise are premature

The common wisdom is that while the coasts ascend the Midwest will continue to decline. SF is Nirvana, Detroit is a wasteland. But wait a minute. Funny things like facts and nuanced analysis get in the way of such sweeping attitudes. Go figure.

Excerpt:

"Still, the notion of “loser” for Wayne and Cuyahoga County sticks, despite evidence to the contrary. But why? Why the constant “poor post-industrial people” sentiment, if not a low-grade captivation that comes with “ruin porn” rubbernecking?

Well, if an ideal exists—you know, the experts beckon: be the “new” city, the “hot” city, the “creative” city—then a study in contrasts is necessary. The Rust Belt, with its connotations of smoke stacks and demographic decline, fits the bill."

Read the rest here.
 

The bad and good news about metro Detroit walkability

So, which do you want first? Good news or bad news. Yeah, probably best to get the negative stuff out of the way first.

Okay, when it comes to walkability, our region is looking pretty bad. We rank 22 out of the 30 biggest metro regions. Buuuut, as this mlive article points out, we are on the path to turning those rankings around.

Excerpt:

"“While Detroit experienced the most substantial and well-publicized economic decline over the past decade, its future for growth in walkable urban development seems promising,” the report says. “Recently, it experienced some of the fastest-growing GDP and job growth among metros, much of it in revived (walkable urban areas), particularly in downtown and Midtown.”

The report notes that a lightrail line, alluding to the M-1 Rail, will connect what it says are three of the metro area’s walkable urban places: downtown, Midtown and New Center."

Read the bad news here
Read the better news here

A call to make metro Detroit "Drone Alley"

California can have it's silicon, Motown has got the makings of a automated technical hub. Or so says Politico.com in their interesting essay suggesting that metro regions focus on what they do best then working overtime in policy, investment and experimentation to own that space. Personally driverless but be a better bet than drone, but the point is well taken.

Excerpt:

"But policymakers shouldn’t be trying to copy Silicon Valley. Instead, they should be figuring out what domain is (or could be) specific to their region—and then removing the regulatory hurdles for that particular domain. Because we don’t want 50 Silicon Valleys; we want 50 different variations of Silicon Valley, all unique from each other and all focusing on different domains.

Imagine a Bitcoin Valley, for instance, where some country fully legalizes cryptocurrencies for all financial functions. Or a Drone Valley, where a particular region removes all legal barriers to flying unmanned aerial vehicles locally. A Driverless Car Valley in a city that allows experimentation with different autonomous car designs, redesigned roadways and safety laws. A Stem Cell Valley. And so on."

Read more here.

Brookings Institution calls Detroit's Midtown and downtown "innovation districts"

As great minds think alike, they also stick together. The Brookings Institution has noticed the recent spate of tech start-ups in Detroit.

Excerpt:

"As far as clustering innovation in an urban setting goes, Detroit’s Midtown and downtown areas are putting the city on the Brookings Institution’s radar of places in the U.S. where close collaboration is becoming an alternative to urban sprawl and suburban, corporate office islands.

In the Washington, D.C.-based group’s report on rising “innovation districts,” authors Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner describe the areas as compact and transit-friendly, and anchored by educational institutions and large companies.

The authors point to Boston’s South Waterfront, San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Seattle’s South Lake Union area, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard as examples.

In Detroit’s case, the report highlights Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State University leading the charge in Midtown. It says downtown Detroit’s innovation district was “catalyzed” by the decision of mortgage lending giant Quicken Loans to relocate its headquarters there in 2010."

More here

In new vehicle innovation, Michigan stands on its own two wheels

With alternative transportation continuing to make inroads worldwide, Michigan could become as known for its two-wheel vehicles as it is for cars.

Excerpt:

"A few weeks ago, at the annual conference of the  Indus  Entrepreneurs  in Silicon Valley, I was on hand to watch the global launch of the  GenZE, a hip, new two-wheeler brought to you by  Mahindra, the Indian conglomerate that makes everything from tractors to cars and also is one of the largest technology companies in the world.       The GenZE is one of the latest’s products designed to meet the needs of Millenial’s and those seeking to reduce their environmental foot print.   What is most important about its launch from my perspective, is how GenZE is the product of three great ecosystems – that of Mahindra itself, of Silicon Valley, where it is headquartered, and of Michigan, where it is being produced.

The GenZE strives to redefine the two-wheel riding experience in the United States.   It has a storage bin behind the seat that can comfortably hold groceries, books or small boxes.   Its aluminum exo-skeleton is strong, and trendy enough for today’s college hipsters.   And of course, it has a computer touch screen complete with navigation, weather and downloadable apps to help you with your riding experience.   The GenZE also made sure to have power ports for your cell phones and laptops."

More here

Rockbridge Growth Equity fills Gas Station TV with new investment

In an e-world, consumers can now get their fill of TV at the gas station, all brought to them by Birmingham-based Gas Station TV.

Excerpt:

"Rockbridge Growth Equity pumped new capital into Gas Station TV, a company that provides pretty much exactly what you would think -television at gas pumps.

Consumers have likely seen Gas Station TV network without even realizing it. It’s currently in 42 states, and at more than 2,600 stations, featuring content from AccuWeather, Bloomberg TV, ESPN and CNN."

More here.

Michigan adds biofuels stations as part of I-75 Green Corridor Project

With two new biofuel stations near I-75, it's now almost entirely possible to make a green trip down I-75 from Michigan all the way down to Miami.

Excerpt:

"Thanks to a huge, six-state partnership, Michigan drivers now have greater access to the biofuels E85 ethanol and biodiesel in a B20 blend. One E85 station is now open at the BP station in Romulus and one B20 station located at the Oasis Trucking Center in Detroit.

The week of June 9-13, 2014 marks the celebration of this project that is five years in the making. In 2009, an ambitious, multi-state project started in Knoxville, Tennessee. Through a grant funded by the Department of Energy Clean Cities Program, the I-75 Green Corridor Project began with the goal of allowing any American driver to traverse any portion of I-75 and be able to make the entire trip running on either biofuel."

More here

Failure is in the eyes of the beholder at Failure: Lab events

In a refreshing twist on the arguably cliched "failure breeds success" stories told at conferences around the country, at Failure: Lab events, entrepreneur presenters leave it up to the audience to make what it will of their failure stories.

Excerpt:

An entrepreneur told a Detroit audience about how he had failed as a father, husband and businessman.

In the crowd sat a riveted Jordan O'Neil. At least until the speaker intoned in the inevitable "but," followed by his tale of second-chance success.

"He basically told a story that grabbed the full attention of the 800 people in the crowd because it was so different," O'Neil said. "What if he had dropped the mic and walked off the stage — just left it there?"

Thus was born the idea for Failure: Lab. He gathered three friends and developed what would become an event featuring six speakers sharing 10-minute failures — straight with no "lessons learned" chaser. The audience is left to glean the meaning and encouraged to share its thoughts on social media as well as notecards that are collected afterward.

It's working, at least in O'Neil's home state of Michigan. During the past year, Failure: Lab has come to theaters in Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Detroit, and its return Friday to Grand Rapids is sold out. Now, his team believes stumbling self-help for the 21st century can succeed beyond its comfy confines — they're planning shows in New Orleans, Mexico City, Brooklyn, New York, and possibly Baghdad."

More here.

Why people don't say they're from Detroit

Jalopnik Detroit gives the skinny on the ins and outs of Metro Detroit's suburban personalities.

Excerpt:

"So why do people get all offended about mistaking Detroit and [insert suburb here]?

Like a lot of things around here, it's tied to the race and class divisions that were drawn decades ago. If someone's from Highland Park, TX, they're going to say they're from Dallas. If someone's from Highland Park, MI, they're going to say they're from Highland Park.

It's not as easy to say "I'm from Detroit" when so many politicians and residents over the years have done all they could to disassociate themselves from the city. And as I've pointed out several times here, Detroiters themselves have an odd complex about identifying themselves that's a mix of city pride and stubborn resistance."

More here.

Construction on the comeback in Southeast Michigan

Thanks to new investment in Detroit-area businesses and public transportation, the construction industry is finally hammering away again.

Excerpt:

"The construction industry in Metro Detroit and Michigan as a whole is part of a comeback story that needs to be told, an expert in the field told a local news website.

Chris Fisher, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, told CBS Detroit  the state is undergoing a true renaissance  after years of dormant activity.

"We’re seeing more jobs, we're seeing better jobs and we're building again," Fisher said. "We suffered more than most industries did in Michigan and to see folks getting back to work, to see backlogs improving — it's quite a comeback story and we're thrilled to be a part of that."

There are several projects in downtown Detroit that have appeared to lead the way in Southeast Michigan including  renovation of the David Whitney Building  and plans for the $140 million M-1 Rail project."

More here.

Detroit's Midtown one of 10 best up-and-coming neighborhoods, says USA Today

USA Today mentioned Detroit's Midtown in the same breath as must-visit (or must-live) neighborhoods in Portland, New Orleans, Santa Fe, and the like.

Excerpt:

"The heart of the city,  Detroit's Midtown  is rapidly developing into a surprisingly well-rounded residential area while featuring an abundance of restaurants, galleries, community gardens and markets. Dedicated local entrepreneurs have made Midtown an attractive hub for small businesses with high-end shops like  Hugh  and  Nora, eateries like  Maccabee's at Midtown  and  Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company  and  Shinola, which makes American-made bicycles, watches, leather goods and journals. Midtown is at the core of the city's M-1 Rail development and non-motorized transportation plans will soon connect the district to Eastern Market and other neighborhoods via greenways and bike paths."

More here

Royal Oak named to national Top 10 Best Cities for Kids list

Royal Oak's schools and high quality of life make it one of the country's best places to start and raise a family, according to Livability.com.

Excerpt:

"Royal Oak, Mich., offers children a significant advantage with its highly-rated schools, progressive library system and strongly supported recreational programs. Both parents and children will benefit from Royal Oak’s funky, fun downtown. The city’s more than 50 parks and fun attractions, such as the John Lindell Ice Arena and Detroit Zoo, give kids plenty of fun things to do. Parents will appreciate the city’s below-national-average crime rate."

More here.

National Main Streets conference & events land in Detroit, Ferndale this weekend

Detroit and area downtowns are serving as the backdrop for 1,200 of the nation's leading downtown revitalization experts, who are convening in downtown Detroit and Ferndale starting this weekend.

Excerpt:

"The Detroit suburb of Ferndale is among Michigan communities where downtown revitalization efforts are considered successful. Work has turned West Nine Mile from a bleak, dusty four-lane road into a walkable commercial strip with most storefronts filled...

"There's so much enthusiasm," said Patrice Frey, the Main Street Center's president and CEO. "After I visited Detroit last May, I told my husband, 'There's a really cool energy in Detroit. It feels like the next big thing.'"

More here.

Register by June 6 for Michigan Shifting Gears job re-training program

Register by June 6 for Michigan Shifting Gears, which kicks into session on June 17.

Excerpt:

"The program is designed to help experienced professionals, returning veterans, stay-at-home parents and others facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to fit the needs of small businesses, entrepreneurial start-ups, and non-profits.  Launched in 2009 by Ann Arbor SPARK and Sensei Change Associates, Michigan Shifting Gears is a unique opportunity for seasoned professionals and other transitioning job seekers to learn how to put their talent and experience to work in "new economy" career opportunities."

More here.

In time for grill season, stuffed chicken burgers become a Michigan & East Coast delicacy

Stuffed chicken burgers have lit a fire under their maker, Great Fresh Food, which is rushing to meet the demand.

Excerpt:

"Most burgers can be made on a grill in just a few minutes, but Jack Aronson and Dave Zilko's burger business strategy took about 2 ½  years to reach serving temperature for the masses.

Now their time and $6 million investment appear to be paying off as their  Jack's Special Grilled stuffed chicken burgers have hit the shelves in Michigan and on the East Coast, and the 26-employee parent company, Clinton Township-based  Great Fresh Food, fights to keep up with the unexpected level of demand."

More here.
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