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U.S. factories humming with activity

The growth in U.S. manufacturing bodes well for Detroit, which has started retooling former auomotive operations into production facilities for unique goods.

Excerpt:

"U.S. factory activity expanded in November for the sixth straight month, signaling stronger demand at home and abroad that could boost growth prospects into next year....

"Ultimately, it's consumer spending" providing the support for increased factory activity, said Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the ISM's manufacturing-survey panel.

That's good news for Detroit-based watch maker Shinola. Founded in 2011, Shinola took the brand of a defunct American shoe-polish maker and set up shop in a building that formerly housed a General Motors research lab. It has hired more than 170 people since its launch and continues to add workers, Chief Executive Steve Bock said."

More here.

Mt. Brighton ski resort receives $10M facelift

This week Mt. Brighton opened for skiing with a fresh coat of snow – and brand new facilities.

Excerpt:

"Since recently purchasing Mt. Brighton, Vail Resorts has sunk $10 million in improvements into the slopes at 4141 Bauer Road in Genoa Township...

Heffernan visited the skiing facility so her sons, Jake, 13, and Brandon, 10, could go snowboarding. Heffernan, who used to live in Colorado, said Mt. Brighton now has the look and feel of a lodge in Colorado.

Jake Heffernan said the chairlifts are more comfortable, and he’s excited to try the new terrain park when it opens."

More here.




Detroit to be site of Acoustic Guitar Project TV pilot

Motown's unsung guitar heroes will be getting a shout-out on a new TV pilot to be filmed locally.

Excerpt:

"Globe-trotting acoustic guitars have been passing through the hands of songwriters from Helsinki to Haiti, Bogota to the Big Apple. Now, Detroit — home to the Motown Sound, modern techno and the Queen of Soul — has its own ax circulating among unsung musicians.

There's a different guitar in each city, but the premise of The Acoustic Guitar Project is the same: Give the guitar to a songwriter for a week, in which he must compose and record a song, and upload the recording and a photo with the guitar. The instrument then is signed and delivered to another artist...

The fifth town on the project's itinerary is more than a pit stop. It's also the site of another project of Adams', a crowd-funded TV pilot about the guitars. Donors contributed $20,000 and picked Detroit as the destination."

More here.

Michigan more economically competitive, but there's room to improve

Heading into 2014, overall Michigan is gaining on other states, but a new study out by the Michigan Chamber Foundation says it still has a ways to go.

Excerpt:

"Overall, the Northwood University Competitiveness Index ranked Michigan 39th this year, up from 47th in 2012.

Northwood University  conducted the study, which looked at more than 200 variables grouped into five categories: general macroeconomic environment, state debt and taxation, workforce compensation and cost, labor and capital formation and the regulatory environment."

More here.

Immigrant entrepreneur finds dream at the end of the rainbow

Which young teen doesn't have a handful of those colorful rubber band bracelets? A Metro Detroit immigrant has created a new craze.

Excerpt:

"MY model American entrepreneur of the moment is Cheong Choon Ng. He has not attracted a $3 billion bid from Facebook, like the young inventors of the photo-sharing service Snapchat. Wall Street is not cooking up an I.P.O. But Ng is a star in my household. He is the creator of the  Rainbow Loom, which in the middle-schooler market is the hottest device not called iSomething. If you have noticed that half the children in America — and a fair number of adults — seem to be sporting bracelets that are braids of brightly colored rubber bands, then you have seen the fruits of the Rainbow Loom....

He is a cheerful advertisement for the American dream. "The longer you stay, the more you see the opportunity," Ng told me from his home in Michigan, where he is working on a loom upgrade and his next invention. "Whatever you work for, you can own."

More here.

Detroit watchmaker Shinola makes the big time

Will a Detroit-made Shinola become the new Rolex? Time will tell.

Excerpt:

"Three years ago, in autumn 2010, a small group of businessmen, consisting of watch industry stalwarts from Swiss movement manufacturer Ronda and strategic developers from Dallas-based  Bedrock Brands, came together to discuss the possibility of regenerating the long-defunct U.S. watch industry. What emerged was the Shinola watch factory, which established itself on the fifth floor of Detroit's College for Creative Studies.

According to its CEO, Steve Bock: "We are not doing this out of philanthropy, we chose to come to Detroit for practical business reasons. It is a city of heritage and of global recognition—just look at what has come out of Detroit—the motor industry, World War II manufacturing, and music. Craftsmanship and a first-rate work ethic emanate from the city."

More here.

Local turkey farmers have full plates of business this Thanksgiving

Detroit-area turkey farms see demand for local, organic as something to be thankful for this year.

Excerpt:

"Christine Roperti, owner of Roperti's Turkey Farm in Livonia, is gearing up for Thanksgiving.
"People are always thanking me for being here," she said. "They say, 'I don't care if it's $5 a pound. You can't beat your turkeys.' I love doing it."...

Mike Liabenow, manager of meat and seafood at Joe's Produce in Livonia, said his department began carrying organic turkeys raised in Michigan for the first time this year.

"It's something that's been on the rise a couple years in the  business," he said. "Everyone wants to keep everything in Michigan."

More here.

Four Metro Detroit cities make list of best places to find a job in Michigan

According to Nerdwallet.com, Livonia, Dearborn, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, and Novi are cities with good job markets where your paycheck actually buys you something! That's not as common as you'd think.

Excerpt:

"...NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Michigan, and we did so by asking the following questions:

1. Is the city growing?  We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.

2. Can you afford to live in the city comfortably?  We looked at a city’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the city had a reasonable cost of living.

3. Are most people employed?  We looked at the unemployment rate."

More here.

U-M Dearborn's eCities study recognizes Sterling Heights for supporting entrepreneurs

U-M Dearborn's iLabs has selected Sterling Heights as one of eight cities statewide that goes above and beyond to foster entrepreneurship.

Excerpt:

“These communities are being recognized for the best practices they utilize, which include the right mix of tools and resources for their business community,” said Tim Davis, director, iLabs. “They listen to companies, help them with governmental processes,  connect  them with other companies and listen to what both new and  existing  businesses are saying. They are the definition of partners in the process and not just a service provider.”

More here.

Superfly Kids finds flyaway success with superhero capes business

What started as a sewing hobby has achieved liftoff for a pair of intrepid entrepreneurs in Livonia.

Excerpt:

"...one Michigan company is moving faster than a speeding bullet — by  selling superhero capes.

Livonia-based Superfly Kids makes and sells capes — custom capes, to be exact — for kids and a few adults. And their sales have taken off like, well, Superman.

From 2010 to this year, the company, owned by Holly Bartman and Justin Draplin, has seen its revenues leap from about $260,000 to an estimated $2.4 million. They are expected to double next year."

More here.

Metro Detroit home prices jump 42% in October

Buyers are willing to put more money where their mouth is when it comes to purchasing a home this year.

Excerpt:

"October marked the eighth straight month that the median selling price in Metro Detroit rose by double digits annually.

According to Realcomp, the Farmington Hills-based Multiple Listing Service for southeast Michigan, the median selling price for homes in Metro Detroit was up 41.9 percent year-over-year last month to $127,000...

Homes sold quicker in October of this year, spending 22 fewer days on the market at 56 days."

More here.

Anthony Bourdain digs Detroit's underground dining scene

From front-yard BBQ to a kitchen in a firefighters' station, Detroit's underground dining scene is being broadcasted to the nation.

Excerpt:

"Detroit-connected Facebooks went abuzz this weekend when chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain  wrote a love letter to Detroit  in anticipation of the season finale of his show "Anthony Boudain: Parts Unknown",  set in Detroit, which aired Sunday night.

In his Tumblr post Bourdain gushed about his trip to Detroit, saying, "I love Detroit. I think it's beautiful. I think it's one  of the most beautiful cities in America—still."   He also said, "I love Detroit. I love Detroiters. You've got to have a sense of  humor to live in a city so relentlessly fucked. You've got to be  tough—and occasionally even devious. And Detroiters are  funny, tough—and supreme improvisers." As such, the episode's narrative focused on the more DIY and under-the-radar dining experiences in the D."

More here.

Michigan growers use new technology to put apples to sleep

After last year's pittance of an apple crop, Michigan apples are an economic sweet spot again.

Excerpt:

"This year's Michigan apple crop is expected to be 10 times as plentiful as last year's puny output.

While the big bounce-back is welcomed in the nation's third-largest apple-producing state, the bounty presents its own challenges: How do growers, packers and processors maximize storage to avoid flooding stores with the fruit, thus crashing the market and lowering growers' profits?...

A fairly recent innovation called 1-methylcyclopropene, or 1-MCP, temporarily stops apples' ability to respond to their own cues for ripening...

Known commercially as "SmartFresh," it "has been a game-changer for apple storage and is partly responsible for the up-trending consumption of apples in the U.S. over the last 5 to 10 years," Michigan State University horticulture professor Randy Beaudry said. He is involved in updating a traditional apple refrigeration method known as "controlled-atmosphere storage," or "CA," to double the time Honeycrisp apples can be stored.

In a typical year, Michigan's 9.2 million trees produce 20 million to 23 million bushels, pumping up to $900 million into the economy...The state distributes to 26 states and 18 countries."

More here.

New skate ramp to become art exhibit at Cranbrook Art Museum

You've got until Nov. 12 to go make your mark on the new ramp at Modern Skate Park in Royal Oak before it becomes an art exhibit at Cranbrook. If you're not a skater, you can still come check out this 25-foot-long art installation. 

Excerpt:

"Cranbrook Art Museum just completed the installation of a new half-pipe skate ramp at Modern State Park in Royal Oak. Skaters are encouraged to use the ramp over the next few weeks and leave their mark, then the surface will be peeled away and it will become part of the Museum’s new exhibition,  My Brain Is in My Inkstand: Drawing as Thinking and Process, which opens on  November 16.

The exhibition examines the work of 22 artists from around the world as they show how the act of drawing impacts both artistic and scientific thinking. This project is directed by Chemi Rosado-Seijo, an artist whose  History on Wheels  project is an ongoing exploration of the correlation between skateboarding and artistic practice."

Watch the video to see the ramp in action. And for more info, click here.



Michigan's cider mills make national hit list of fall travel getaways

Rochester's historic Yates Cider Mill has cropped up on a list of autumn trips to make around the nation.

Excerpt:

"For a farm-style adventure that's full of flavor, make Michigan's cider mills part of your travel itinerary. There are more than 100 of them in the state, many of which offer free admission. Prices per tasting and bushel vary, but a family of four can typically enjoy an afternoon at one of the mills for less than 50 bucks. One popular example is Yates Cider Mill. A working water-powered cider producer since 1863, it is an authentic piece of American agricultural heritage that's bursting with home-spun fun."

More here.
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