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In Detroit, a shipping container called home

GM is teaming up with a local nonprofit - Michigan Urban Farming Initiative - to provide homes made out of shipping containers. That's pretty dang cool.


Organizers hope the container project can lure millennials who don't want their grandfather's bungalow yet also provide predominantly poor, longtime residents with a low-cost housing alternative.

"Finding a place where both those communities can find common ground is beautiful," said Gersh, president and co-founder of the group that operates a farm and owns property in the North End, where blight and vacancy are common, but so are signs of residential and commercial renewal. "It's scalable, works for everyone and it's also not going to ruin the environment. It's easier to maintain and can repurpose existing materials."

Read the rest here.

Henry Rollins digs obscure Detroit bands

Ever heard of long gone metro Detroit rock bands like Sonic's Rendezvous Band or Death? Henry Rollins has. And he considers them top o' the underground heap.


"One of the most undermentioned American rock bands of the last century. It was, literally, a Detroit supergroup. Fred 'Sonic' Smith of the MC5 on guitar, Scott Morgan of the Rationals on guitar and vocals, Gary Rasmussen of the Up on bass, and Scott Asheton of the Stooges on drums. This is both post-Stooges and post-MC5. In my opinion, both Smith and Asheton, two of the most solid musicians to come out of the entire Detroit late-'60s, early-'70s scene, both realized their mightiest playing in this band. Most of their recorded output is live material that is fairly easy to locate. They made a single of one of their best tracks, 'City Slang,' and released it in 1978. In a little over 5 minutes, the band delivers some of the most thrilling, blowout, burn-up rock and roll. Smith's tone and attack is without peer, Asheton's solid drive is the epitome of rock drumming. The band is a cohesive thing of perfection. I was introduced to this song in the early '80s and have never recovered."

Read the rest here.

Made in Michigan: Failure: Lab

A Grand Rapids company has come up with a new spin on the storytelling craze - an evening of screw ups, bad ideas and set backs. 


The founders had held events in Detroit, Chicago, and other Michigan cities, when requests from Australia and India started to come in.

In mid-December, Failure: Lab launched a website that encourages its storytelling event planners to connect. The company relies on sponsorships and ticket sales to generate revenue, and they are looking to sign up global sponsors as part of its expansion plan.

Read the rest here.

McClary Bros. delivers on new taste for craft vinegar

Vinegar is much more than the standard base of garden-variety salad dressings, or even balsamic. Here's an artisan maker that's using fruits and vegetables to craft gourmet, drinkable vinegars, soon to be found in stores around the country.


"While craft beers and spirits are gaining much of the buzz, craft cocktails are also seeing a rise in consumer interest. With bars like  Sugar House  and  Punch Bowl Social  in Detroit and  The Oakland  in Ferndale wowing their customers with craft cocktails, there is also a DIY movement for those looking to change up their at-home imbibing. 

That’s where  McClary Bros.  drinking vinegars come in.

Farmington-based McClary Bros. uses locally grown fruits and vegetables to create drinking/culinary vinegars. These vinegars are not like the ones you use to clean out the coffeepot. These are considered “colonial-era drink mixers” in that these recipes are formulated using unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with added natural ingredients...

A semifinalist in the 2014  Comerica Hatch Detroit  business competition, McClary Bros. expects to have distribution for its infused vinegars in 13 or 14 states soon, thanks to word-of-mouth among high-end retailers operating in several states."

More here.

Thrillist ranks Detroit as one of nation's best food cities

When it comes to eats, Detroit is fat city (in the best way). Thrillist applauds metro Detroit's culinary diversity and quality, putting it no. 14 out of 40 of the nation's largest populations centers. We want seconds!


"When  Detroit  became the magnet for American dream-seekers, it also became the Midwest’s most  diverse and fascinating  food scene. Southerners brought soul food andBBQ  that often stand tall against the cuisine’s origins. Polish food? There’s a whole city within the city --  Hamtramck  -- where you can get some of the country’s best, along with tons of Middle Eastern foods. Greek food and Mexican? Head to Greek Town or Mexico Town. You get the idea.

This is a place where coney has nothing to do with New York, but rather  hot dogs  made exclusively (it’s a law) with real cuts of meat and topped with a meaty coney sauce that will basically ruin all other hot dogs to come. It’s a spot where pizzas are square and thick, with cheese caramelizing the edges. It’s a city where traditions are embraced, adopted, and adjusted to fit a certain Motown mentality. If Detroit was half its size, it would be the most dense and rich food scene in the world. But where it loses points (with the Lions, they’re used to it) in sprawl, it more than makes up for with destination foods scattered across the metro area waiting to be discovered."

More here.

Former Hamtramck restaurateur, AKA the "revolving chef," goes on national cooking spree

Sometimes the chef changes as often as tonight's specials. It's good to see this culinary concept that became rooted in Detroit and Hamtramck way back when go national.


"Since our email filters were tightened up a few years ago, the number of entreaties I receive from Nigerians has dropped considerably.

One that made its way through came from a chef, Tunde Wey. He sought attention, not my bank account number.

Wey, 31, born in Lagos and living in Detroit for the last 14 years, co-founded a restaurant in Hamtramck, Mich., called (revolver) that rotates guest chefs every weekend.

Wey also cooked pop-up Nigerian dinners, based on the Yoruba and Igbo food of his youth.

After selling off his shares in (revolver), Wey began he called a haphazard cooking tour of the cities he had always dreamed of seeing."

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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. 


"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."

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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.)


"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?


"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.


"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. 


"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.


"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."

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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.


"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.


"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.


"...[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.
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