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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.

Celeb chef Anthony Bourdain gets a taste of Metro Detroit dining

Here's food for thought: The Eater Detroit website reports that celeb chef Anthony Bourdain was allegedly checking out Metro Detroit's top tables this past weekend.

Excerpt:

"Either celebrity chef / wayward TV personality  Anthony Bourdain  really did come to Detroit this weekend, or he's engaged in an elaborate form of social media tomfoolery.  Just kidding – he was here.

It's been a vaguely confirmed fact that the former Travel Channel (now CNN) host would be visiting the Motor City while filming the second season of his show,  Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown...

Though Bourdain continued to play social media maven throughout the weekend, tweeting at popular local chefs like Birmingham's  Brian Polcyn  and complimenting Michael Symon of Roast, the only point of food consumption that Eater can confirm is based on those same tweets."

More here.

Oakland County's job market is healthiest in years

This is the best it's been in years for job seekers in Oakland County, economists say. And the jobs pay well above the minimum wage.

Excerpt:

"On the heels of its strongest two-year job growth in almost 20 years, Oakland County's economy will add nearly 42,000 jobs through 2015, say University of Michigan economists...

In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, Fulton and colleague Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy say that high-wage industries—with average pay of more than $62,000—accounted for more than half of the new private-sector jobs created during the recovery, a trend that will continue throughout the forecast horizon...

Overall, Fulton and Grimes say that Oakland remains among the better local economies in the nation, ranking 10th among 36 comparable U.S. counties on a series of measures that indicate future economic prosperity."

More here.


Downtowns say no to blank walls, yes to active facades

In Oakland County's downtowns these days, businesses that want to put a blank face to the street have to keep walking.

Excerpt:

"Last fall, a developer approached West Bloomfield trustees asking for a zoning change in order to place a storage unit business at Orchard Lake and 14 Mile. Then, a business owner approached asking for approval to open a fitness club in a former dealership on Orchard Lake Road.

"The new businesses didn’t conform to our (zoning)," said Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste.

The requests were for properties in the township’s "town center" — defined back in 2007 as Orchard Lake Road between 14 Mile and Maple roads. In the area, zoning rules require active first floors, not blank walls, which was intended to make that area more appealing to people walking...That desire is enthusiastically echoed in communities across Oakland County."

More here.


Metro Detroit ranks 14th nationally in percentage job growth

In a good comeback story, Metro Detroit is no. 14 in the country in terms of percentage job growth from 2011 to 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More here.


Post-industrial? Detroit needs a new word

Detroit's economy is facing forward. Now it just needs some new verbiage.

Excerpt:

"Former heavy manufacturing hubs around the Great Lakes like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee often get roped together under the heading of "post-industrial" (when, that is, we're not otherwise identifying them by their prevalence of rust). The term poses at least two problems, though: Industry still exists in many of these places, and the very notion of defining them by their relationship to the past can hamstring us from planning more thoughtfully for their future.

"You've got the 'post-war,' you've got 'post-modern,' you've got 'post-9/11,'" says Paul Kapp, an associate professor in the school of architecture at the University of Illinois and an editor of the book SynergiCity: Reinventing the Postindustrial City. He was speaking Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Planning Association (hosted in what's often considered the post-industrial city of Chicago). "You get to a point," Kapp says, "where you've got to say, 'When does post-something end and you do something new?' I think with 'post-industrial,' we're at that opportunity now. I think it's now time to come up with a new term."

More here.

Atlantic Cities maps Metro Detroit's creative class

A great, comprehensive article on how the 7.2-square-mile greater downtown Detroit is growing posher by the minute, it seems, and how and why its deindustrialized metros (and certain Detroit neighborhoods) are landing the creative class.

Excerpt:

"Two of the top 10 creative class tracts are in Birmingham; two are in Bloomfield Township, and another is in Bloomfield Hills, home to some of the priciest real estate in the U.S. and the Cranbrook educational community. Designed by Finnish architect  Eliel Saarinen, the architecture critic  Paul Goldberger  called Cranbrook "one of the greatest campuses ever created anywhere in the world." University of Michigan's  Little  points out in an email to me: "Cranbrook graduates have added to the cutting edge design and creative communities of Detroit and the nation for decades."

Another top creative class tract is in nearby Troy, a sprawling middle-class suburb with excellent public schools, and the site of a high-end mall, the Somerset Collection. Two are in Huntington Woods, a leafy neighborhood that boasts such notable amenities as the public golf course  Rackham and the Detroit Zoo. Two more are in the "Grosse Pointes" — Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Park — the communities of choice for many of Detroit's old industrial magnates, whose lakeshores are lined with sprawling Gilded Age mansions."

More here.

Birmingham skaters to represent Team USA at the Nations Cup

We can't say we exactly know what theatrical skating entails, but the Harmony Theater Company, based out of Hartland, will be representing the U.S.A. in Spain for the Nations Cup. We're guessing it's a bit more complicated than the stuff they do at Disney On Ice.
 
Excerpt:
 
"With 48 young skaters representing towns across Michigan, the skaters will perform a long program and short program in a combination of theater and skating.
 
“Theater on Ice is a combination of technical skating and theatrical skating, it’s like musical theater on ice,” coach Michelle Hunt said. “It’s done in six minutes and we can have up to 30 on our team and we tell a story from beginning to end.”"
 
Read the rest here.
 

Birmingham's downtown shopping district hits 96% occupancy

What a difference a decade makes. Birmingham's Principal Shopping District has not only seen a rebound in retail and the opening of new office spaces, but by creating a better mix of businesses and amenities, the city has seen their downtown become a shopping, dining, entertainment, and community destination.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Yet, a philosophical change had already taken shape in Birmingham. A concerted move toward creating a better mix with retail, eateries, residential, entertainment venues and office space for financial, banking, legal, advertising and marketing professionals reignited the downtown.
 
The improved mix of uses, however, was accompanied by ample parking, an increased number of citywide events, aesthetic improvements and increased marketing that today even targets Canada."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Coldwell Banker picks 5 metro Detroit cities as hippest in Michigan

Coldwell Banker Real Estate has started to enter the "Best Of" game, ranking communities by what they think their customers are seeking. For their first (of five) lists they evaluated the social scene in cities around the country and picked the places they thought were hippest. Nothing in Michigan made the Top 10, but within the Mitten Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Huntington Woods, and Rochester came out as tops.

Check out their list here.


Richard Florida asks: Is Detroit becoming a suburb?

In a provocative article, the Creative Class guru talks about the distinction between city and suburb today. He compares Motown to Urban-burbs like Ferndale, Royal Oak, Birmingham and Ann Arbor, metro Detrtoit communities that are evolving their urban design to adapt to changing community standards.

Excerpt:

"The old distinctions between "city" and "suburb" do seem to be blurring. Urban neighborhoods are improving safety, upgrading schools, adding parks and bike lanes to their existing urban fabric, while suburban ones are adding density, walkability and mixed-use districts to their existing safe streets and good schools."

Read the rest here.


Birmingham's Brogan and Royal Oak's ILG bring home industry awards

Two words: Mobile learning. Could be the future. And Royal Oak-based Innovative Learning Group took home a Gold Hermes Creative Award for their multi-part learning series.

Excerpt:

"Royal Oak-based Innovative Learning Group has won a Gold Hermes Creative Award in the categroy of E-Communication Series for its email and video series, Mobile or Not…Here It Comes!, which is about applying mobile technology to learning."

Read the rest here.

BUT WAIT, there's more. Brogan beat out 11,000 other competing entries to win Telly Awards.

Excerpt:

"he Telly Awards, the premier award honoring local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs, video and film production and online commercials, has named Brogan & Partners a multiple winner of its 33rd annual awards. Brogan & Partners is honored to have its projects selected among nearly 11,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries. The announcement was made by Brogan Managing Partner, Ellyn Davidson.

Two Brogan & Partners projects – “STEM Interview” on behalf of the National Defense Education Partnership and “Secondhand Rose, Secondhand Smoke” on behalf of the Michigan Department of Community Health – were honored, the latter in two separate categories. “STEM Interview” received a Silver Telly, the Awards highest honor, in the not-for-profit category. “Secondhand Rose, Secondhand Smoke” was awarded both a Silver Telly in the public service category and a Bronze Telly in the not-for-profit category. "

Read the rest here.


Magic Mustache 'damages' Birmingham parking garage

This just cool. Really cool.

Watch.



The Free Press explains...


"A Birmingham design studio called Pluto released a 45-second video on YouTube that will knock your socks off. Pluto (hellopluto.com) is a media company that creates CGI content for television commercials, websites and other applications. They’ve been in Birmingham for 15 years."

Actress waxes poetic about hometown Birmingham

Actress / singer Alexandra Silber has moved onto London's West End and spotlights beyond... but her heart is still in Birmingham, Michigan.

Excerpt:

"There are so many beautiful nooks and crannies in this seemingly sleepy, Wonder-Years-y suburban town complete with wide American streets peppered with Labradors, slip-n-slides and children on bicycles. There is a buzzy downtown with two cinemas, boutique-y shopping, and utterly glorious places to eat for every budget.

But part of the peculiarity of metro-Detroit is that no single neighborhood is like another and they are all too nebulously nuzzled and inter-mingled up against one another to know where one begins and another ends. It is, of course, a driving city too, so as a kid you are stuck riding your bike to downtown Birmingham (scores of 12-year-olds wander the streets outside the cinemas at weekends) and as a teenager you are suddenly in a car and 40 miles away within 15 minutes on the giant American highways with nothing particularly important to do. Something about that dilemma feels charmingly typical to American suburbs— having been the plight of youth from the 60s until now.

Birmingham is 4.8 square miles, 12.4 square kilometers, 2 High Schools, 17 churches. 3 post offices. 1 train station. 3 golf courses. 2 cinemas. 4 seasons. 1 river. 1 annual Spring carnival. And 20,000 really nice Midwestern people and probably 1000 assholes. Give or take."

Read the rest here.

Birmingham brings big value to investors

It looks like Birmingham is becoming one of metro Detroit's hottest real estate markets for investors. Hmmm. Could it be the increasing density of its developing 24-hour downtown and walkable neighborhoods?

Excerpt:

"Birmingham land has more value than anyplace else in metro Detroit," said Bob Pliska, managing director of the Sperry Van Ness office in Birmingham.

"There's a high value for small parcels of land because everything is built up, and it's in the center of everything. It's Birmingham."

Read the rest here.

Two Metro Detroit chefs are semifinalists for James Beard Foundation Best Chef award

Looking for that post-Valentine's dinner date? Ring ahead for a table at Birmingham's Forest Grill or Bacco Ristorante in Southfield. Chefs David Gilbert (Forest Grill) and Luciano Del Signore (Bacco) are contenders for a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region.

More on this story here.

Mike Binder brings a taste of Metro Detroit to Hollywood

He may have gone Hollywood but Birmingham native Mike Binder (The Upside Of Anger, Reign Over Me) missed his favorite hometown hot dog hangouts so much he decided to open his own Coney Island Hot Dog joint... in Los Angeles. No word on whether the dogs will be emblazoned with "Imported From Detroit" logos.

Excerpt:

Actor-director Mike Binder, who grew up in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, plans to open a 65-seat restaurant called Coney Dog in Los Angeles in May or June, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday. The 24-hour restaurant will feature hot dogs and spicy chili inspired by downtown Detroit's Lafayette Coney Island.

"As soon as I got out here, I said, 'If anyone ever put a Coney Island on Sunset Boulevard, it would be huge," said Binder, who moved to California 25 years ago. "And as the years went on ... I had so many other Detroit friends say the same thing."

Read the rest of the story here.



Oakland County surfs for new ideas via crowdsourcing site

Lots of politicians pay lip service to listening to their constituents' ideas and even implementing a few here and there. Oakland County is looking to take that a step further with its new online crowdsourcing initiative.

Excerpt:

Every city, county and state these days is faced with hard decisions about budget cuts and reorganization — and even harsher feedback from residents after the cuts are made. Oakland County, Mich., has found a way to use technology to spark that citizen-to-government communication during the decision-making process. County officials launched an online public forum so residents can be an integral part of making tough budget decisions.  

The website, http://oakgov.ideascale.com, gives citizens the opportunity to respond to questions, make suggestions and post comments. Citizens can also rank the county's proposals by voting for the ideas they like best on every issue, from technology to parks and recreation.

"Since we are using social media in so many different ways here, we thought … what is the next wave of how we engage our citizens in the process?" said Phil Bertolini, Oakland County's deputy county executive and CIO. "In a focus group, you put 20 people in a room, you ask the idea and you get 20 opinions. If you use crowdsourcing, you put out an idea and you get thousands of opinions. More minds and more ideas make for a better product."

Read the rest of the story here.

Chicago Sun-Times is on board with Michigan's high-speed rail

Metro Detroit recently received $161 million in federal funds to improve high-speed rail service on Amtrak's Wolverine line between Pontiac and Kalamazoo. The Chicago Sun-Times takes a good look at the potential of this investment and how it breaks down.

Excerpt:

About $150 million of the money awarded to Michigan will be for the section of track between Kalamazoo and Detroit. This is owned by Norfolk Southern, which wants to sell it, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Michigan may buy it with a portion of the high-speed rail money. Discussions are ongoing about how much of the funds would be for the track and how much for track improvement, Magliari said.

Track improvements would increase speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph, which would bring it in line with the track Amtrak owns from Kalamazoo to the state line.

At greater speeds, Amtrak could double the number of round trips from Chicago to Detroit from three to six, Magliari said. Ridership on this route already has increased 8 percent in the past year.

The rest of the high-speed funding would be used to improve the connection from Pontiac to the state line.

Read the rest of the story here.

Woodward corridor suburbs = inner ring renewal

The inner-ring suburbs along the Woodward corridor got some good national ink last week when The Wall Street Journal explored why older suburbs could be the launchpads for new growth in the U.S.

Excerpt:

In Lakewood, Colo., a long-shuttered mall is being rebuilt into a 22-block area with parks, bus lines, stores and 1,300 new households. Tysons Corner, Va., is undergoing a full transformation from an office park to a walkable, livable community. And officials in Ferndale, Mich., are promoting the arts scene and building affordable housing in an attempt to revitalize the small city outside Detroit. Remaking America's sprawling suburbs, with their enormous footprints, shoddy construction, hastily built infrastructure and dying malls, is shaping up to be the biggest urban revitalization challenge of modern times—far larger in scale, scope and cost than the revitalization of our inner cities.

Read the rest of the story here.

Woodward Dream Cruise's beginnings in the New York Times

The Woodward Dream Cruise many things for many people. For car restorers it means a time to shine, for some it's a time for nostalgia, and yet for others, who live near Woodward, it's a time of car congestion and having your own street blocked off for parking. Regardless, what happens during the cruise is what made Detroit, well, Detroit. That's changing now-a-days... but, as the New York Times says, it's still the beating heart of the American automobile biz.

Excerpt:

Today, you won’t see much real racing on Woodward, and the Detroit Three are fighting their battles in other arenas. You will see some machinery that is obviously built more for go than show, and quiet negotiations are sometimes conducted at the side of the road. But if races take place, they’re probably held in some obscure and distant place.

For most Detroiters, Woodward is more about entertainment than competition. And perhaps more about the past and the future than the moment. Today, Woodward is the cruise, the party, the celebration and the affirmation. It’s a place where car folk can go to dream about the way things were and hope for better days. It’s the beating heart of the American automobile business.

Read the entire article here.

Size Matters: Detroit measures up on HBO show about world's oldest profession

There's always another option for Desperate Housewives. A provocative new show about a high school gym teacher reinventing himself as a gigolo, shot and set in the Metro D, has recently premiered on HBO.


Excerpt:


The new HBO series Hung premiered last night, and while the premise of the show makes it intriguing enough alone (the main character becomes a male escort to solve his financial woes), as a Detroiter, the real anticipation was in finding out how much the city would be used in the plot.

At least in this respect, it did not disappoint. The pilot was shot entirely in Detroit, Birmingham, Livonia, Clarkston and West Bloomfield Township, as was part of the rest of the season (the rest was filmed in L.A.).

The opening sequence (which you can watch here) is jam-packed with familiar Motor City signposts, from the first shot of a barge gliding over the Detroit River, to Thomas Jane as Ray Drecker walking through Hart Plaza, below the People Mover and in front of the Joe Louis fist, Lafayette Coney Island and the abandoned Packard plant.

Read the full story here.

And read here for a review of the show.


Going green with lofts in Birmingham

Birmingham's newest loft development is pretty slick... and green.

Excerpt:

Take 735 Forest, a new 35,000-square-foot, three-story, brick-and-steel-panel "green" building in Birmingham's evolving Triangle District, for instance.

Today, the three-story structure houses the contemporary, street-level Forest Grill manned by chef Brian Polcyn; the offices of developers Mosher, Dolan, Cataldo & Kelly Inc.; Templeton Building Co.; and 10 chic urban lofts, which range in size from 763 to 1,236 square feet, on the third level. But it's taken four years of planning, designing, campaigning, negotiating and redesigning to get the green project off the ground.

Interior designer Ann Heath, a co-owner of the property (near the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Maple Road) and wife of builder Steve Templeton, took Homestyle on a tour of the model lofts, including her own, and explained what makes the building green.

Read the entire article here.

Freep finds the best burgers in town

Whether you like Dearborn's Miller's Bar or Royal Oak's Red Coat Tavern, you favorite burger joint is bound to show up somewhere on the Freep's list of best burgers in town. Not into red meat? Don't worry, check out No. 24. Ferndale's Flytrap has a salmon burger just waiting for consumption.

Excerpt:

When we asked readers this fall to point us toward Detroit's best hamburgers, hundreds of you sent recommendations. We read every one, picked the places that sounded best and then hit the streets in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to taste them. Six weeks and innumerable antacids later, here are our favorites.

Read the entire article here.

Suburbs down, Birmingham up?

As the nation's population turns back toward downtowns, the country's suburbs may become the next ghettos, The Atlantic reports. Among the happy few likely to retain property values and viable populations? A little burg we like to call Birmingham.

Excerpt:

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.


Read the entire article here.


Metro Times releases annual 'Best of Detroit'

As they wont to do each year, the Metro Times has released its annual "Best of Detroit" awards.

Check them out here.

Metrotimes publishes area-wide food guide

The Metrotimes annual restaurant guide runs the gamut: from coneys to caviar, from haute to simply hot.

Categories include eggs, buffets, steaks and vegetarian-friendly. Check it out here.

Crain's names its annual 40 under 40

Crain's has released its annual "40 in their 40s" list. It includes success stories from all over Southeast Michigan and from numerous industries.

The front page of the feature is here.

Go Solar headed to Oakland County

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing its Go Solar program to Oakland County, utilizing bulk purchasing methods to lower to cost of solar products for homeowners.

Excerpts:

Program options include a solar domestic hot water system or a one-kilowatt photovoltaic solar electric system or both.

The systems in the Go Solar program are standardized. Therefore, as the contractor continues installing identical systems, they are able
to reduce labor costs. All of this translates into savings for the homeowner.

During 2007, federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing solar electric and solar water heating systems. In addition to savings, program participants get the satisfaction of working with a local business.

Read the entire article here.



High school robotics competition returns to Oakland County

The Oakland County Competitive Robotics Competition pits high schoolers against one another in the design and assembly of robots.

Excerpt:

OCCRA generates enthusiasm for technical and academic disciplines such as design, engineering, physics, and electronics. These competitions provide recognition and encouragement for students who devote their energies to these areas of studies. OCCRA participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the diverse technical career options available in our county and state.

Read the entire article here.

Pure Michigan ad campaign nabs top award

The "Pure Michigan" advertising campaign was named the best state advertising campaign by the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

Excerpt:

Travel Michigan vice president George Zimmermann said the Pure Michigan campaign had "driven the dramatic increase in volume" at the state's tourism and economic development Web site, www.michigan.org, which attracts more traffic than any other state tourism Web site.

Read the entire article here.

Keep up with the Dream Cruise on Jalopnik

If you're curious about the Dream Cruise but have no interest in actually being there in person, Jalopnik.com will be blogging the entire time.

The top of the site is a frequently-updated photo blog and the Woodward Dream Cruise tag is news. Head to Jalopnik.com.

Belly dancing shakes its way to Birmingham

Belly dancing will be allowed at Elie's Mediterranean Bistro in Birmingham, a city that typically does not allow liquor to be sold in places where there is entertainment of any kind.

Excerpt:

"This form of entertainment is a culture, it’s an art," Commissioner Julie Plotnik said.

Read the entire article here.

Birmingham to celebrate Lebanese culture July 25

Birmingham will celebrate Lebanese culture with a festival, also known as a MAHRAJAN, on July 25 in Shain Park.

Excerpt:

The Baalbeck-style live concert on the Paramount Bank Stage will present "An Evening of Lebanese Stars" under the Birmingham skies, with a special appearance by Detroit superstar Karen Newman from the Detroit Red Wings singing the U.S. national anthem, and feature Jimmy A & his Rat Pack Rollers, the international folk dance Troupe Layalina, Detroit Bellydance featuring Lana, Zeffa, Inc, teenage singing sensations Lance Attalla and Ashley Peters, Lebanese crooner Usama Baalbaki, who will delight the audience with a medley of Lebanese patriotic songs. Headlining the evening will be Lebanese diva Amalia Kaddo and her Mediterranean Music Ensemble.

Read the entire article here.

Woodward Avenue's 200th birthday celebrations kicks off July 19

This year marks Woodward's 200th birthday -- and the party starts July 19 at Detroit Historical Museum at 10 am.

More events can be found at Woodward Avenue Action Association's website.



metromode publisher Brian Boyle talks about retaining the region's talent in the Detroit News

Brian Boyle, metromode's founder and co-publisher, talks about Detroit Renaissance's efforts to retain the region's creative talent in the Detroit News.

Excerpt:

Unfortunately, our creative community is scattered in pockets throughout the region, making it difficult to showcase the true depth of talent and "energy" evident dense creative hubs like Brooklyn, Austin or Seattle.

With creative density as a driving theme, the Road to Renaissance task force will work with the creative community to document and interactively map all creative-related assets in the region.

Visually showing the world the depth of advertising agencies, music venues, video production facilities, architectural wonders and more is an important tool in substantiating our claim as a creative hub.

Read the entire piece here.


"Dump the pump!" on June 21

Thursday, June 21 is the second annual "Dump the Pump" day that calls for the parking of cars and the riding of public transit as a way of calling attention to the environmental and economic benefits of using public transit.

A transit fact:

From 1995 through 2006, public transportation ridership increased by 30 percent, a growth rate higher than the 12 percent increase in US population and higher than the 24 percent growth in use of the nation's highways over the same period.

Find out more here.



Oakland Land Conservancy hosts native plant sale

The Oakland Land Conservancy will host its annual native plant sale on June 3 in Auburn Hills and in Oxford.

A special purchase is a 32-plant balanced butterfly and bird garden, which is available as a package for $64.

Find out more at oaklandlandconservancy.org

Detroit area to see AT&T U-Verse TV, voice and data service

AT&T has announced an IP-based TV, voice and data service to launch in the Detroit area, the first of its kind.

Excerpt:

"It's an IP network for the home, and on that IP network wlll be a variety of applications, one of which is television," said Jennifer Jones, AT&T vice president and general manager for Michigan.

Jones also assured GLITR that the service will provide local cable access channels to schools and communities -- although those schools and communities must take the initiative to send their content to AT&T for display on TV channels.

Read the entire article here.



Michigan tourism website busiest in nation

Michigan's tourism website, Michigan.org, was the busiest in the nation in April, according to web trackers at Hitwise.

Excerpt:

"We view this as a clear and important signal that people are looking to Michigan for their leisure travel," said George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan. "We know from independent research that 65 percent of consumers who use Michigan.org for tourism information, then travel to and within Michigan. So more web traffic means more business at Michigan destinations. We believe our efforts inside and outside of Michigan are making a substantial difference."

Read the entire article here.



MDOT offers public chance to review its transportation plan

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released a draft version of its long-range transportation plan for the state and is requesting public input.


A link to the plan and to the questionnaire can be found here.

 


Oakland County luncheon to talk job forecasts

Today, the 22nd Annual Oakland County Economic Outlook will feature University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes discussing the county's job prospects for the coming years.

Excerpt:

Last year, the pair predicted that Oakland would add 14,000 jobs through 2008.

Their forecasts in the last six years, however, have been overly optimistic for Oakland County as the auto industry has shrunk.

The county lost 53,000 jobs during 2000-04, led by significant losses in the automotive industry, but gained 1,900 jobs in 2006.

Read the entire article here.

Birmingham ranked in top 100 of American cities for relocation

Relocate-America.com ranks Birmingham in its top 100 places to live in 2007.

Excerpt:

Here's what the list has to say about Birmingham:

"For people in Michigan, the name 'Birmingham' conjures up images of a vital, growing, and rather exclusive enclave, one where people from other communities come to enjoy all the wonderful activities that are available."

Read the entire article here.



Oakland County's 8th community bank in 2 years scheduled to open in September

Level One community bank is scheduled to open in Farmington Hills in September. The bank is one of a growing number of community banks in Oakland County filling niche markets.

Excerpt:

The investment group, which has retained the Grosse Pointe investment banking firm of Donnelly Penman & Partners Inc., plans to open Level One at Northwestern Highway and 14 Mile Road in Farmington Hills.

The site has some 7,700 businesses within a three-mile radius and 14,000 within five miles.

"We're certainly not focused on a niche," [investor Patrick] Fehring said. "We're going to be a full-service bank for growth throughout the region."

Level One could lend up to $2 million-$3 million to small- and medium-sized businesses, Fehring said, though a lending limit has not been established.

Read the entire article here.

Cranbrook Institute of Science receives $7M donation

Susan E. Cooper has made a $7 million donation to The Campaign for Cranbrook that will be used to support its Institute of Science.

Excerpt:

"Cranbrook Institute of Science and its dedicated people play a large role in teaching the wonders of the natural world to learners of all ages all over Michigan," said Cooper, who is also a Cranbrook Institute of Science Governor and a graduate of Cranbrook’s Kingswood School. "I believe it is essential for all children to be exposed to science in order to fall in love with it. I want to help make that possible."

Read the entire article here.

Environmentalists call for expansion of bottle deposit law

Environmentalists are calling for an expansion of Michigan's bottle deposit law to account for water and juice containers.

Excerpt:

By most measurements, Michigan's law has been an unqualified success. Folks return more than 97 percent of the 4.3 billion bottles and cans of carbonated beverages sold here each year, according to state records. That tops the return rate of all other states and ranks Michigan's as America's No. 1 bottle recycling program.

Read the entire article here.

State launches first-ever tourism industry plan

A team working on behalf of the 9,000 businesses, attractions and groups that comprise Michigan's tourism industry have devised a strategic plan.

Excerpt:

The plan's recommendations include:
  • Marketing the state nationally with a $30 million tourism promotion budget.

  • Boosting relationships with policymakers.

  • Promoting collaboration.

  • Expanding tourism-related research.

  • Improving hospitality training.
Read the entire article here.

Immigrants positive force for Metro Detroit's economy

Immigrants to the area are positively contributing to Metro Detroit's economy.

Excerpt:

A study [director of research for the United Way of Southeastern Michigan Kurt] Metzger conducted in 2000 showed that about three-quarters of Asian Indians had graduated from college. More than 60 percent of Chinese and Japanese had received four-year degrees, and almost 50 percent of those of Korean descent had.

“We are getting this educated, young immigrant group that can provide that base that businesses are looking for,” he said. “They’re educated and talented enough to start new businesses.”

And they are coming at a time when Detroit’s native-born are leaving.

Read the entire article here.

Regional Chamber to host economic climate forum

The Detroit Regional Chamber will host a forum on the region's problems -- and proposed solutions -- on March 27.

Excerpt:

Neal Peirce, chairman of The Citistates Group and a frequent guest on "Meet the Press," National Public Radio and "The Today Show," will offer a keynote address on the region’s challenges.

A panel, including Kramer, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and New Detroit Inc. Chairman John Rakolta, will lead an interactive exchange.

Read the entire article here.


State's green energy future has potential to do more than just clean the air

With everyone talking about what direction Michigan's energy future should go, many are pointing out that the greener it goes, the better for the economy.

Excerpt:

"We could become the alternative energy state," says Mark Beyer, spokesman for the Detroit nonprofit NextEnergy.

When the facility opened, with its 80-seat auditorium and offices and research labs, the goal, said CEO James Croce, was to position both Detroit and Michigan at the "focal point of the emerging alternative energy industry."

Much of NextEnergy's efforts are focused on working with the Big 3 automakers to develop alternative fuels such as biodiesel, hydrogen and ethanol. But it offers alternative energy companies of all stripes research facilities, office space and access to government funding sources and private venture capital.

Read the entire article here.



Oakland County to host 22nd Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon

Oakland County will host its 22nd Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon on April 26.

Excerpt:

The report is provided to Oakland County Planning & Economic Development Services by the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan.

Make reservations early, as the event has sold out for several years in a row.

Find out more here.


Oakland County officials recognized in top 25 tech execs

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Deputy County Executive and County CIO Phil Bertolini were named to the list of the top 25 government tech execs in the nation by Government Technology magazine.

Excerpt:

Said Steve Towns, editor of the magazine: "Mr. Patterson and Mr. Bertolini were selected to be in the Top 25 because of their track record of successful, high profile information technology projects that not only create better service for Oakland County residents, but also lead to more efficient government operations."

read the entire article here.

Wall Street Journal nationwide burger tour gives Miller's, Slow's props

The Wall Street Journal tours the country's best burgers, and certainly likes the ones at Dearborn's Miller's Bar and Detroit's Slow's Bar BQ.

Excerpt:

In Detroit, where I consumed my first hamburger in 1944, the returning native can motor from one end of a metropolitan area devastated by urban renewal and economic implosion to the other, tasting excellent burgers in settings that preserve or recreate the ambiance of better days. Miller's Bar serves handmade hefty, grilled-to-order burgers -- nicely charred, with optional slices of raw onion, on waxed paper without plates -- to capacity lunch crowds in a cheerful, low-key bar-restaurant on Michigan Avenue near the once-worldbeating Ford Rouge Plant in downriver Dearborn.

Ford's, as older locals call it, is, to put it politely, on the wane, but inside Miller's, it's easy to feel like it's the day the place opened in 1950 and the Tigers still are playing in Briggs Stadium at the downtown end of Michigan Avenue. An eight-point buck's head is etched in the mirror behind the bar, and the bartender reminisces with a regular about the most burgers eaten at Miller's in one sitting: "I've seen 11."

The portions are much smaller at The Hunter House in the posh northern suburb of Birmingham. Just a mouthful, really, but a mouthful topped with fried onions, the same way they did them here back when the Red Crown gas pump in the corner of the little diner was still filling 'em up.

By the time it took to drive the 15 miles downtown to Slow's Bar BQ, I was ready for a burger with a forward-looking attitude. The people who opened this temple of eclectic barbecue two years ago this St. Patrick's Day had to be optimists. Slow's is at the bleak edge of Detroit's Corktown, the Irish enclave where Briggs (later Tiger) Stadium now stands derelict and the most prominent competition for Slow's is a bar called O'Blivion's; aross the way is another monumental hulk, Michigan Central Station, where we once caught the Wolverine to Chicago and no trains chug any more. Inside Slow's, customers start arriving around 11 a.m. Premium beer flows. Pulled pork is pulled. And I get my best sandwich of the day. The beef is charred. The cheese is Gouda with a nice snap. The bun doesn't ooze away under finger pressure.

The entire article is here, but you must be a subscriber to read it.

Granholm heads to Germany to court business

Governor Jennifer Granholm heads to Germany and Austria to encourage international investment in the state.

Excerpt:

Granholm said Michigan is competing with other states and countries for business investment.

"We've got what no other state has — this incredible footprint of automotive suppliers, research and development, engineers," she said.

Read the entire article here.



Michigan sports and leisure monthly to debut in April

Michigan in Play, a monthly sports and leisure magazine, will debut this April.    

The magazine promises to cover everything from basketball, football and baseball to dogsledding, wrestling and boating.

Locations where Michigan in Play can be picked up are listed here.

Find out if your company is venture capital-worthy at upcoming Crain's event

Crain's will host "Following the Money: Where Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists See Opportunity" on Mar. 19 with panelists Ian Bund of Plymouth Venture Partners and
David Weaver of Great Lakes Angels.

Excerpt:

Is your Company venture-worthy? Find out what panelists Ian Bund, chairman of Plymouth Venture Partners and David Weaver, president of Great Lakes Angels, look for in a company- and which sectors they think show the greatest opportunity in metro Detroit.

Find out more and register here.

Transit plans gain momentum

Mass transit initiatives gain speed, momentum as  the public and local officials get behind efforts. The Establishment of a commuter rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit and north of Ann Arbor is moving forward.

Excerpt:

From proposed commuter trains to regional bus service, the long-failed effort to establish mass transit in car-crazy Metro Detroit is building steam, officials say.

Bringing the issue to the forefront are increasingly congested roads, soaring gas prices and the fact that Democrats -- who historically have championed public transportation -- now control the state House, governor's office and Congress.

Advocates say city after city has benefited from building a transit system, creating jobs and economic development along the routes. With the possible exception of Los Angeles, Detroit is the only major U.S. city without effective mass transit, critics say.

"I think it's really important that we develop an effective and efficient public transportation system if we're going to move ahead with economic recovery in this state," State Rep. Marie Donigan told a standing-room-only crowd at a public transit meeting last week in Royal Oak.

"We think there's an urgency in our work. We know the status quo's not working."

Read the entire article here.





Amtrak ridership increases statewide

Increased gas prices and airfare have increased the number of people in Michigan riding Amtrak trains.

Excerpt:

Amtrak's popularity in Michigan is soaring. State ridership, which hit a record last year of nearly 665,000, has jumped 47 percent since 2002 -- far outpacing the nationwide increase of 12 percent.

read the entire article here.

New Metro Times columnist calls for regionalism

Larry Gabriel, former editor at Metro Times, debuts his new bi-monthly column for the publication with a call for regionalism with regard to the proposed Cobo Hall expansion.

Excerpt:

"You might be able to make the case that the auto show in and of itself is a special reason why a convention center matters more for metro Detroit than other reasons. That's a sensible argument," says Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, Inc. "The region and the state really benefit for making the auto show work as a premier event. ... Oakland County needs to help, not be a roadblock. Brooks is being shortsighted that the auto show isn't a regional asset. It's an example of how the region works against itself. ... The auto show is really important both symbolically and also strategically. ... If we were to lose the auto show, it would be a big black eye for the area."

Read the entire column here.

Transit subcommittee formed by State House

The Michigan House of Representatives has convened a subcommittee devoted to public transit.

Excerpt:

The committee is designed to address transit issues including the improvement of bus systems, funding issues, accessibility and the development of public transit systems in communities around the state.

Read the entire article here.


E85 becoming more cost-effective as price of gas rises

As the price of gasoline continues to increase, ethanol blends are becoming increasingly cost-effective at the pump.

Excerpt:

In Michigan, ethanol is gaining momentum as a viable alternative to conventional gasoline. There are three stations already pumping out ethanol with one currently under construction.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently announced plans to build 1,000 ethanol and biodiesel pumps across Michigan by the end of next year.

Read the entire article.

Automation Alley added 39 members in January

39 new members joined Automation Alley, the tech trade group based in Troy, in the month of January - a single month record for the organization.

The sectors with the biggest gains were IT, with 15 new members and manufacturing, with six.

Read the entire article here.

Local professionals passionate about careers with non-profits

The non-profit sector - including health care and education - accounted for 62% of new jobs created in Michigan in 2005 and local professionals are finding themselves rewarding careers.

Excerpt:

The non-profit sector - including health care and education - accounted for 62% of new jobs created in Michigan in 2005 and local professionals are finding themselves rewarding careers.

Read the entire article here.

Ficano working towards Cobo compromise with Patterson

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is confident that a compromise can be reached with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson over the funding of the proposed expansion to Cobo Hall.

Excerpt:

"We need to get our staffs working together on this outside of the public forum," [Ficano] said. "We all agree Cobo needs to be expanded for the benefit of the entire region. We need to move forward and soon."

Red the entire article here.

Patterson addresses Cobo Expansion, promotes Wireless Oakland

At his annual state of the county address, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson proposed 5 ways to fund a Cobo expansion and discussed progress with the installation of Wireless Oakland.

Excerpt:

The other major topic of Patterson’s speech was Wireless Oakland, the plan to make wireless Internet access available to all 910 square miles of the county.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as we speak tonight, the wireless trucks are out on the streets of our pilot communities starting with Troy and Birmingham, and the installation of Wireless Oakland is now underway,” he said.

$400,000 awarded to arts community to establish Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan

The Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan has received $400,000 in start-up funding from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan along with the McGregor Fund and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. The Alliance will work to increase collaborations between and visibility of arts and cultural organizations in the seven-county SEMCOG region.

The Cultural Alliance will represent the arts and culture community in regional planning efforts and will market the programs and amenities of member organizations to a diverse group of audiences.

The chairman of the Cultural Alliance’s board will be Steven K. Hamp, former president of The Henry Ford and Chief of Staff of Ford Motor Co. “The Cultural Alliance represents a new era for the arts and culture in our region,” he said in a release. “It embraces all dimensions of the cultural community: performing arts, visual arts, history and historic preservation, community cultural activities, arts education, science and nature, libraries and literature. Our goal is to foster innovation and creativity and enable our many and diverse cultural resources to contribute more dynamically to the people and communities of southeastern Michigan.”

All participating parties stress the Alliance’s inclusiveness, as organizations both big and small, fledgling and established, will have access to the collective’s resources and expertise.

More than 60 organizations from across all seven counties participated in an 18-month planning process to develop the Cultural Alliance, and several hundred will be invited to participate.

Source: CFSEM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


D-Rod, to be built by local company, will promote Detroit as travel destination

DMCVB has tapped Holly-based Detroit-muscle to build a custom hot rod, the D-Rod, to showcase Detroit's appeal as the Motor City and as a travel and leisure destination.

Excerpt:

Rick Dyer, Detroit Muscle project manager for the D-Rod, said the company's extensive knowledge and technical ability allowed Detroit Muscle put to put together, with passion and style, a street legal vehicle that represents the best of Detroit's past and future to prospective visitors.

Read the entire article here.

Study shows, Metro Detroit most gay-friendly housing

Michigan's Fair Housing Center conducted a study of discrimination towards gay and lesbian couples when looking for housing. The study showed the least discrimination in Metro Detroit, including Detroit, Ferndale and Birmingham.

Excerpt:

However, discrimination was far lower in Metro Detroit, where just three of the 36 tests revealed discrimination. Montgomery and others said Detroit's existing ban on gay discrimination, as well as similar bans in Birmingham, Ferndale and elsewhere in the region, may have "set the tone" that discrimination is not condoned in the area.

Read the entire article here.

RO couple find niche by offering cooking classes

Bill and Shanny Apodaca have turned their love of cooking into a growing business. They currently offer cooking classes at their Royal Oak home, but will soon begin to utilize a Birmingham location.

Excerpt:

The Apodacas started their Simply Good Kitchen cooking classes in November 2002. Originally, Shanny taught alone, but Bill joined her a year later. Each year they've served more and more students -- they now teach 70 classes a year and have 3,200 people on their mailing list -- and they recently released a cookbook, Simply Good Kitchen, containing 12 menus from their classes and available at www.simplygoodkitchen.com.

Read the entire article here.


Non-profits hold seminar on reducing global warming

Transportation Riders United and the Sierra Club will hold a seminar at 10 a.m. Saturday (1/27) in the Birmingham/Baldwin Public Library, 300 W. Merrill.

The lecture will cover the impacts of and solutions to global warming pollution, including the role of transit in preventing it. The event will also go over what other cities are doing to reduce their global warming impact and what citizens can do to encourage their local government to reduce it’s footprint on climate change.

For information, call Leigh at (248) 425-5277 or send an e-mail to leigh.fifelski@sierraclub.org.

Source: Transportation Riders United.


United Way CEO urges regional solutions to area's problems

United Way for Southeastern Michigan CEO Michael Brennan discusses the agency's survey process that has led them to begin working on solving the region's major problems in three key areas: educational preparedness, economic stability and basic needs. He urges the region to work together in a collaborative manner to acieve success.

Excerpt:

During the course of our research at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we collected more than 20,000 comments from 7,000 residents, and one theme reverberated consistently: This region aspires to be a place where all people have the educational and economic opportunities needed to succeed and to thrive.

Read entire editorial here.

Scholarships, stipends available for tech-savvy women

Women pursuing IT careers can apply for over $50,000 in scholarships and technology stipends from the Michigan Council of Women in Technology.

Read more at MCWT's website.

Local music gets spotlight on new weekly PBS show

Local PBS station WTVS has started a new weekly hour-long music series focusing on top independent talent in Metro Detroit.

Excerpt:
The whole idea began with footage that metro Detroiters James McGovern and Greg Sharrow originally produced for www.canyouhearmetv.com, an online platform the two created to showcase select indie artists from around the country. Ultimately, Detroit Public Television picked up the Detroit episodes and packaged them for the series.

"Detroit is known for its music scene -- it's Motown," says McGovern. "It's our hometown and there's so much respect we have for the city. We hope to create a better image for it by bringing music here and promoting the local scene."

Click here for the full story.

Former GM exec will now lead Birmingham

The newly elected mayor of Birmingham, former GM Executive Tom McDaniel, wants more green space in the town - and a larger Cobo Hall for the region.

Read a prfile of and interview with McDaniel here.
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