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GM makes headway in Consumer Reports' quality rankings

After decades of losing sales to Japanese automakers, now GM is increasingly making it worth buyers' while.

Excerpt:

"Consumer Reports  pulled its recommendation for Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry sedan and said post-bankruptcy  General Motors  Co. is among the automakers cracking Japanese brands’ dominance in fielding reliable  cars...

Consumer Reports last month awarded the new Chevrolet Silverado with the highest rating among all pickups after giving the Chevy Impala the best marks among all sedans in  July.

"Post-bankruptcy GM has just gotten its stuff together," said Fisher, a former development engineer at the Detroit-based automaker who worked mostly on theCadillac  and Saturn brands. "The vehicles that have been produced and designed” after bankruptcy have shown "marked change in terms of  performance."

More here.

Detroit talks transit, local food at Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

It was evident, after last week's Initiative for a Competitive Inner City conference in Cleveland last week that Detroit's wheels are turning on mass transit and urban ag, among other things.

Excerpt:

"If Detroiters wish to know what benefits may come from the new M1 light rail line that will soon start construction on Woodward Avenue, they need look no further than Cleveland.

Cleveland’s HealthLine, a bus rapid transit system that connects downtown Cleveland with the hospitals and universities in the University Circle district four miles to the east, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. And in those five years, ridership has soared 60% from the first year and development along the route has boosted property values more than 300%...

A lot of the discussion at the two-day ICIC summit centered on local food economies and the promise they hold for new jobs in cities like Detroit...

Right now, Carmody said, most people get only about 3% of their food from local sources, and the rest comes from distant locales like Mexico or California. If that increased to 20%, he estimated it would create 5,000 jobs and $125 million in new household income for Detroiters."

More here.

Moving Our Metro event explores pace of transit to come

Save the Date: The public is invited to the Michigan Suburbs Alliance annual meeting and Transportation Mini-Conference on Monday, Nov. 18 at the Adoba Hotel Dearborn.

Excerpt:

"Spend a day learning tactics and tools you can use to shape a greater Detroit though transportation funding and planning. We're bringing in experts on scenario planning, MAP-21, performance metrics and cargo-oriented development to help us work together toward a better transportation future for metro Detroit.  With several sessions to choose from, you can tailor your experience to meet your interests and needs."

Click here for more details.

How Utah turned an unpopular transit system into a hit

How does a regional transit system go from angry protests and scorn to citizen's taxing themselves $2.5 billion to complete construction faster in just 10 years? With all the rancor aimed at developing local transit options, maybe there's something to be learned from Salt Lake City's build it and they will love it approach.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Oddly enough, one of UTA's most effective strategies for uniting people was targeting those who don't use public transit. The agency and its advocates pointed out that TRAX ridership saves 29,000 trips — or two full freeway lanes — in the Interstate-15 corridor every day. Road-reliant businesses like UPS ran ads explaining that FrontLines would help residents get their packages quicker by reducing traffic.
 
UTA also worked hard to create what Meyer calls an "inter-local agreement" among cities up and down the Salt Lake Valley corridor. Transit officials explained the basic infrastructure that would be put in place in every city and told local officials that they would have to pay for any extra amenities themselves. That early clarity prevented cities from withholding support unless they got a better deal than others."
 
Read the rest here.

Ford and U-M team up to open battery lab

Developing the next generation of hybrid and electric battery for autos is tricky business. Innovations don't always square with nusiness needs. Ford and U-M are hoping to close that gap by joining forces.

Excerpt:

"The center, on the university's campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles.

Ted Miller, who manages battery research at Ford, said the lab will be unique in the U.S. He said that labs currently testing new battery chemistries can't produce them in the amounts or formats needed for automotive research. And battery companies aren't always sure that what they're developing could be useful to the automotive industry."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail plans move forward

How does commuter rail service with stops in Ann Arbor, Westland, Dearborn and New Center in Detroit sound? Pretty good to us as well.  Semcog gave a presentation of what the new MiTrain line would look like for residents of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.

Excerpt:

"Officials are looking at providing five round trips a day when service begins in about three years. It will be run as a demonstration for the first two years. After the first two years, officials will evaluate the project and its feasibility.

They have leased 23 bi-level rail cars, rehabilitated them and have been showcasing them in various areas along the proposed line. "

Read the rest here.

Schramms Mead sweetens Ferndale's bar scene

The Metro Times (Ferndale's newest media resident) has a terrific profile of mead connoisseur  Ken Schramm and his newly open tasting room.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Now, at 54, Schramm is finally getting into the production game. With laughing candor, he says, “I’ve had the books out for 10 years, and now I’m finally getting into the business when other people have had a five-year head start — and I’ve told them all my tricks! What kind of a businessman goes out and teaches everybody everything they need to know to be more successful than you are? Apparently that’s me.”"
 
Read the rest here.
 
 

Ford Motor Co. & U-M to open battery research & manufacturing lab

It seems the days of charging our cars to fuel them are drawing ever closer.

Excerpt:

"Ford Motor Co. and the University of Michigan are opening a new battery research and manufacturing lab that they hope will speed the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars...

The center, on the university's campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles.

Ted Miller, who manages battery research at Ford, said the lab will be unique in the U.S. He said that labs currently testing new battery chemistries can't produce them in the amounts or formats needed for automotive research. And battery companies aren't always sure that what they're developing could be useful to the automotive industry."


More here.

Freep Film Festival to make its premiere

The new Freep Film Festival will showcase Detroit and its metros in spring 2014.

Excerpt:

"Detroit may be ailing, but a new film festival there intends to give it a good dose of positive attention.  The Freep Film Festival,  presented by the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit Media Partnership, which manages the newspaper’s business operations, will screen around a dozen documentaries in four days, all of which focus on Detroit and its surrounding regions.

Themes range from the city’s industrial wastelands to Michigan’s abundance of new craft breweries to the city’s music history, from Motown to the birth of techno pop raves...

The festival also intends to get community leaders and urban planners involved, with a series of post-film discussions with filmmakers."

More here.

LiveWorkDetroit! career event to be held at Ford Field on Oct. 19

If you're looking to kick off a new career or a new reason to move to Detroit, come to Ford Field this Sat. Oct. 19.

Excerpt:

"LiveWorkDetroit! is an MEDC initiative designed to connect Michigan’s college graduates to Detroit job opportunities and promote the city of Detroit as a preferred post-graduation talent destination...

Participating students will have the opportunity to network with a wide range of Detroit employers, seasoned professionals and peers already working in sectors of Detroit’s emerging economy. The event will include a keynote address by Moosejaw President and CEO Eoin Comerford, panel discussion with some of Detroit’s young leaders, and a tour of Ford Field. Participants will also learn about Detroit’s high-tech startups, medical researchers, fashion trendsetters, restaurants, museums, and affordable places to live."

For more details and to register, click here.

The housing boomlet is back in Metro Detroit

If you're in the market for a home, better bring your checkbook with you to the showing. Even the pricier homes are going fast.

Excerpt:

"Across four counties that comprise metro Detroit, the median home price jumped 48% in September over a year ago, and the number of sales rose 7%, according to sales figures compiled by Realcomp, a multiple-listing service in Farmington Hills, Mich.

"It's like someone turned off the water five years ago and just turned it back on," said John Hannett, a real-estate agent based in the tony northern suburb of Birmingham who has sold property for almost a half-century."

More here.

Detroit-based Chalkfly makes national list of "Best Young Companies to Work For"

Chalk it up to giving customers and employees what they want. Chalkfly, a start-up e-commerce office- and school-supply company in Detroit that returns 5% of sales back to teachers, is one of 15 companies nationwide that garnered a new award.

Excerpt:

"What sets ‘Best Young Companies to Work for' apart from the countless other listings out there is that there were no self-nominations," said Peter Cappelli, Wharton professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources.

The companies were nominated by industry leaders and peers, partners, customers or other professionals who witnessed their success in building a place where everyone wants to work."

More here.

Car shoppers can bypass dealer showroom with GM's Shop-Click-Drive app

Time-starved customers and those who find a visit to a car dealership showroom akin to getting a root canal will be able to close new car deals right from home.

Excerpt:

"General Motors Co. plans to expand a new online shopping tool that allows customers to bypass showrooms when buying new cars...

By the end of this year, GM plans to extend a Web-based application, called Shop-Click-Drive, to its entire dealer network. The app would let new-car buyers use their computer screen to lock in the price of a new car, get an estimate of the trade-in value of their old car, apply for financing and even arrange a test drive or delivery of their new vehicle."

More here.

Amtrak, state on board with higher speeds, Wi-Fi on Michigan trains

High-speed, wifi, and bike storage to boot are coming to Michigan 's trains.

Excerpt:

"Amtrak and the state of Michigan plan to invest millions of dollars over the coming years to improve service on the state's three passenger train lines, resulting in quicker trips and more amenities for  travelers.

Upgraded tracks between Kalamazoo and Dearborn will allow trains to travel up to 110 mph in that area...

Most passenger trains through Michigan travel at a top speed of 80 mph, so the track improvements between Kalamazoo and Dearborn will be  noticeable.

To draw passengers, Amtrak opened up space for bicycle storage on its Blue Water line. Packing a bike costs a passenger an extra $10. The  Michigan Department of Transportation  also will spend about $1 million to bring Wi-Fi to the three lines by  January."

More here

Wayne County opens new 30-mile greenway to the public

Get in that last long run or bike ride before winter sets in. Wayne County's got a new 30-mile path to celebrate.

Excerpt:

"Events are planned this week to mark the completion of a 30-mile greenway for bicycle riders, walkers and runners in southeast Michigan...On Saturday, a community celebration takes places at Huroc Park in Flat Rock.

The mile-long trail is the final piece of a 30-mile east-west greenway connecting Oakwoods Metropark and Lake Erie Metropark."

More here.
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