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The most interesting billionaire in metro Detroit you've probably never heard of

Manoj Bhargava is the 62-year-old, ex-ashram monk creator and founder of 5-Hour Energy, a company headquartered in Farmington Hills. 5-Hour Energy's 2-oz. bottles, now ubiquitous at party stores and gas stations around the country, revolutionized the energy drink market and made Bhargava a very rich man (he estimates his fortune at $4 billion).
But what's most interesting about Bhargava, however, is what he plans to do with his wealth. In addition to pledging to give 90 percent of it away to charity, he also runs a $100-million private equity fund called Stage 2 Innovations, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, is "dedicated to advances in water and energy technology."
Read about Bhargava's investments, as well as his daily routine, in this recent profile in the Wall Street Journal.

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.

Metro Detroit home prices climb 20% in June

The spring home-buying season proved to be a bountiful one for regional property values as buyer confidence increased.


"The median selling price in Metro Detroit rose on an annual basis for a 16th straight month in June, according to figures released Monday by Farmington Hills-based Realcomp, the multiple listing service for southeast Michigan and a small portion of northern Ohio.

The median selling price in Metro Detroit climbed 20.2 percent year-over-year to $149,000 in June. Realcomp defines Metro Detroit as Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties."

More here.

"Ask Dr. Nandi-Season 3" films, "American Muscle" TV series premieres in Metro Detroit

A physician talk show and another series chronicling pro athletes working out with mere mortals are rolling (and creating over 50 jobs) in Metro Detroit.


Ask Dr. Nandi is a physician talk show filmed, produced and edited in Michigan dealing with medical and lifestyle issues. It is an hour long show where patients and practitioners discuss diseases or problems in detail and develop solutions for the patients and their families. The show airs on Impact Network, Doctor Television Channel (DrTV) and Diya TV network.

American Muscle will premiere July 9 and follows Michigan gym owner and health guru Mike Barwis and his staff as they work to train professional athletes and the middle-aged dads that work out alongside them."

More here

Farmington Hills-based Kybba makes Inc. "Build 100" list

Just out: Inc. magazine's list of companies that have consistently upped their headcounts every year, recession or not. IT and staffing firm Kybba is one of the very few that did so.


"We began the Build 100 project by collecting  data  on more than 100,000 U.S. midmarket companies (those with 85 to 999 employees). We then looked at how many increased head count in every year from 2007 to 2012. Remarkably, fewer than 1.5 percent of the companies met that standard...We focused on head count rather than revenue because we found that increased hiring is more predictive of future sustained growth, and that’s what this project is all about."

More here.

Farmington ranks in CNN Money's top 50 best places to live

Farmington is right on the money when it comes to America's best places to live.


"Farmington is largely residential, with most residents commuting to other Detroit metro towns for jobs in information technology, engineering or the auto industry. Homes are extremely affordable, with a median sale price just over $100,000.

Farmington boasts a historical downtown, alongside some more modern shops and restaurants. The area is currently being renovated, with over $3  million invested toward increasing retail opportunities and walkability."

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.


"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.


"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.


"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.


"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.

Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Novi awarded sustainability award

Little by little Metro Detroit communities are adopting sustainable practices. Huzzah!
"The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments presented a Sustainable Community Recognition Program Award at the City Council meeting Dec. 4.
According to SEMCOG, “sustainability is about achieving economic prosperity while protecting the environment and providing a high quality of life for residents.”"
Read the rest here.

Farmington equity firm director writes about cutting-edge tech investment

Jeff Bocan of Farmington's private equity firm Beringea talks about his time at the National Science Foundation's I-Corps, a program at U-M designed to fast-track research from the lab to the real world, and how the government can help foster greater entrepreneurship by funding cutting edge R&D
"I have just completed a tour of duty as a venture capital faculty member at the National Science Foundation's I-Corps (short for NSF's Innovation Corps - a program designed to fast-track research from the lab to the real world), delivered in partnership with the University of Michigan. I-Corps is like the scientific version of PBS' Antiques Roadshow -- NSF-funded technological gems that have largely been tucked away in the labs of America's research institutions are being dusted off, given a heavy dose of commercial polish and have been unearthed to unlock the potential to create a lot of value for the technologists, their universities and society in general."
Read the rest here.

Farmington Hills biz behind $1B 5-Hour Energy

Put this in the "Betcha didn't know" column. Living Essentials, the company that makes the 5-Hour Energy drink (and has sued out of existence the 6-Hour and 8-Hour Energy copycats) is a billion-dollar company in our own backyard. That's right, billion -- with a "b".


"The privately held Living Essentials doesn’t report revenue or profits, but a source with knowledge of its financials says the company grossed north of $600 million last year on that $1 billion at retail. The source says the company netted about $300 million. Checkout scan data from research firm SymphonyIRI say that 5-Hour has 90% of the energy-shotmarket. Its closest competitor, NVE Pharmaceuticals’ Stacker brand, has just over 3%.

Yet Bhargava, 58, is so under the radar that he barely registers on Web searches. His paper trail is thin, consisting primarily of more than 90 lawsuits. This is his first press interview. “I’m killing it right now,” he says, adjusting a black zip-up cardigan from behind the table of a soulless conference room in a beige low-rise building in a suburban business park in Farmington Hills, Mich. “But you’ll Google me and find, like, some lawyer in Singapore.”

Read the rest here.

Farmington music firm scores Super Bowl ads

It used to be a bait shop. Now, it's home to Yessian music, a firm that's created soundtracks for Budweiser and Hyundai commercials. At this year's Super Bowl their musical efforts could be heard in five different commercials.


"Generally, Yessian will compete with several other companies to produce the best music for a particular commercial. For the Budweiser "Eternal Optimism" commercial, they wowed ad agency Anomaly with a mash-up of "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult and "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida that matches a visual movement through time, from the early 1940s to today. Rapper Flo Rida's 2011 hit doesn't readily evoke a 1950s aesthetic, but Emmy Award-winning composer Dan Zank, who works out of the New York office, was able to make the sound fit a different time period."

Read the full story here.

Farmington Hills' Grace & Wild makes vid for Etch A Sketch company

Teaming up with Team Detroit, Grace & Wild produced a series of five stop-action promos for The Ohio Art Company.


"Grace & Wild's team worked in collaboration with Team Detroit Pulse to create a series of five stop motion character monologues titled "Small Spiels" and a full CGI spot.  The Small Spiels were shot as "audition reels" to show each product's unique personality and answer the question, "why should you put me on your desk?"   Each "spiel" included a CGI product build, an artful cascade of hundreds of colorful micro-sized blocks raining down to form the completed nanoblock character.  In the full CGI spot, titled "How big are you?," the magnitude of moving nanoblocks was over 100,000. "

Read the rest here.

Is Farmington Hills' Mango Languages the next Rosetta Stone?

Watch your back Rosetta Stone, Mango Languages is poised to become a market heavy-weight in the language education market. After all, do you offer lessons in how to talk like a pirate?


"Mango’s digital products were first introduced in hundreds of libraries across North America and now are expanding to a wide range of consumer and educational products that include dozens of courses in 49 languages, including 15 English as a second language courses, each with about 10 lessons. The products are being sold to libraries, educational outlets, military branches and departments and, more recently, consumers.  

Mango has gone from developing practical, smart products to now developing a religious scholarly course. At the same time, Mango tries not to take itself too seriously. It offers a course, for example, in “pirate” language, mocking the sea bandits’ way of speaking."

Read the rest 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.


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.

Venture capital gains traction in Metro Detroit

Venture capital is starting to gain some momentum in Metro Detroit. A couple of stories, both local and national, are talking about how local VC funds are gaining more and more investors. Could the VC ground hog finally overcome the fear of its shadow and help thaw the financial markets for local start-ups? Some prominent people are starting to think so.


"Leading the cleantech revolution," or "Leveraging the intellectual property of our major research universities" -- such hopeful and visionary statements are just a sampling of various mantras that have echoed the chambers of Midwestern capitals and filled the pages of local newspapers for the past several years. In the face of the recent economic despair that has besieged the regional economy, numerous Midwestern politicians, economic developers and regional venture capitalists have been, somewhat counter-intuitively, touting the notion that Midwest states like Michigan actually present excellent, yet overlooked, venture capital investment opportunities (including yours truly, as I did in "America's Midwest: Cashless Chasm or The Valley of Opportunity?").

Skeptics (which predominantly include frustrated Midwesterners, some business journalists and dismissive coastal venture capitalists) have generally disregarded such optimistic economic proclamations as desperate political hand-waving and hopeful, yet hollow hype to win votes, mollify the economically depressed and justify their own existence. I can understand why one would be doubtful -- it is easy to be negative these days. But today, I write to tell you that the skeptics and defeatists look to be wrong, and we have some early evidence to prove it.

Read the rest of the story here and a Crain's Detroit Business story about how investing in local venture capital firms is trending upward here.

Beringea's Jeff Bocan talks up Michigan and LEDs in HuffPo

LED lights have been a catchphrase around southeast Michigan for years as a way to save local governments boatloads of cash in energy savings. Now they look like a way for Michigan firms to make boatloads of bucks while adding even more jobs.


Before the "Great Recession," the state of Michigan was in its own one-state recession of sorts thanks in part to our well-documented over-dependence upon the struggling auto industry. Yes, the economy is still recovering, and things are still dark, but I can see the light! Yes, dear readers, I have seen the light at the end of Michigan's proverbial economic tunnel, and that light shines bright with LEDs. Can I get an "Amen"?!

Read the rest of the story here.

Xconomy reviews VC activity in Metro Detroit

The new news site in town takes on Metro Detroit's emerging venture capital scene and the streak of investments it has been on lately.


There are three reasons Michigan can feel good about a recent $8 million venture capital investment in Detroit-based medical imaging company Delphinus Medical Technologies.

  • It is an investment in a Michigan company;
  • The investment comes from an all-Michigan VC team;
  • It is an investment in Michigan-grown technology developed in one of the state's premier research institutions—one that deals with real-life cancer cases every day.

Delphinus Medical’s breast-cancer-detection technology, SoftVue, has been undergoing development at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit for the past 10 years. Unlike mammography, it does not use radiation or compression to image the breast to detect early stages of breast cancer.

Read the rest of the story here and more here and here.

Farmington Hills pizzeria hits the pages of GQ

Recently a GQ writer went on a 20,000-mile trek looking for the best pizza within 10 metropolises. He came to Detroit and three of them made it on the list. One of those was Farmington Hills' Weinstein's pizzeria.


Weinstein grew up a short bike ride away from his shop, which back then was called Romano's. He went off to study at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, apprenticed himself to master pizza makers in New Haven, Conn., and came home to convert the masses to thin-crust works of art with crab, mozzarella, crushed garlic and lemon wedges.

At 10:30 one recent morning, he was adding undisclosed spices to a large vat of red sauce. Then he pulled out a tray of dough patties wading in olive oil, rolled them in flour and began hand-tossing them into crusts for the lunch rush.

"The wetter the dough, the harder it is to deal with," he says, "but the better the pizza."

Weinstein has the sort of build and wardrobe you want from your pizza maker: Khaki shorts, white T-shirt, a very large white apron.

He can rhapsodize about coal ("I call it buried sunshine"), perfectly cooked white crusts with brown spots ("The absolute epitome of what pizza is"), the true key to pizza ("It's about the toppings") and wait, the other true key ("It's about the edge").

Read the entire article here.

Move over Teletubbies! Oogieloves movie to be made in Michigan

Teletubbies were lovable and cute... or like nails on a chalk board, depending on how old you were. Yet, it's hard to deny their popularity blitz in marketing and retail. Well, the guy behind that is coming to Michigan because of the tax breaks with another show: the Oogieloves.

The title sounds lovable and cute... or like nails on a chalk board.


Viselman has come from Los Angeles to Farmington Hills to produce a children's film called "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure." As he describes the mood inside the building that serves as the movie's home base, he oozes enthusiasm.

"Oh my God, it's like maybe we should bring the Oogieloves to the Middle East. Maybe they'll solve the Middle East problems! It's a very unexpected, joyous place here," he says.

Viselman, 48, has been called a marketing genius for his role in the selling of the Teletubbies and Thomas the Tank Engine in America. He didn't invent those characters, but he helped make them must-have toys.

In 1998, the New York Times described him as "the whiz behind the 'Teletubbies' blitz." An Inc. profile from 2003 said "when he picked up the phone, the CEOs of FAO Schwarz and Toys 'R' Us took the call."

Read the entire article here.

Body by Bollywood

Innovation is a state of mind – and body. Area exercise classes are turning fitness groupies into drummers and Hindi movie dancers. Oh Slumdog Millionaire, what have you wrought?


A class called "Bollyfit" in Ann Arbor merges culture and fitness by incorporating Bollywood dance into workouts. Farmington Tennis Club and Birmingham Racquet Clubs offer cardio tennis, a combination that puts less emphasis on technique and more on drills, rallies, and an aerobic workout. And Vixen Fitness in Detroit makes workouts of belly dancing, salsa, pole dances and even lap dances.

Read the full story here.

Coming soon: Film schools near you

Now that Michigan will be the set for nearly 70 Hollywood movies in 2009, new film schools in several Detroit area communities are offering classes to train crew members.

Wanted: Gofers for George Clooney and Hilary Swank.


Six weeks ago, Ferndale resident Julie Goode was making $54,000 a year working as a textiles designer and engineer for supplier Lear Corp. Then, three days before Christmas, she was laid off. Goode, 28, now is preparing to start a new career.

She is one of hundreds of Michigan residents who have enrolled in a film industry training program, at least four of which have sprung up across the state since last April...

“The first thing (film production companies) ask is, "Who do you have for a crew base?'” said Jeff Spilman, co-founder and managing partner of S3 Entertainment Group, which is offering classes in Ferndale in a partnership with Oakland Community College.

Read the stories here and here.

'Tis the season to save energy

The holidays are a time of giving, not usually saving. However, for some cities across SE Michigan they are doing just that, and in a festive way. These cities are turning toward cost-saving, energy-efficient LED lights for their holiday displays.

Now, residents not only can enjoy the Christmas lights but they can do it with a clear conscience.


In Southfield, city workers typically spend a week of "frustration" going through light strings determining which ones work and replacing bulbs, said Bob Murray, parks and operations supervisor. The five-man crew spent only a day decorating this year because of the new LED lights.

The new lights at the civic center are expected to last up to 100,000 hours, which should span at least a 20-year period, he said. Instead of abrupt burnouts, the lights dim gradually over time and use less energy.

"We are looking at a savings of about 98 percent than with normal lights, which will be huge for the city," Murray said. "And we don't have to worry about blowing fuses anymore and spending money every year to replace defective bulbs."

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.


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.

Dream homes in dream neighborhoods may now be affordable

Now would be a good time to find your dream home in your dream neighborhood. As prices drop, houses in some of the area's more desirable cities become more affordable - actually, a lot more affordable.


Since the market's peak in 2005, home prices have fallen about 23.2% in metro Detroit, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Record foreclosures in the past two years have also created a drag on home values as foreclosed properties compete head-to-head with owner listings.

So, for the first time in years, buyers can find many choices in the under-$200,000 price range in communities such as Allen Park, Westland, Dearborn, Ypsilanti, Detroit, Howell, Harrison Township, Fraser, Clinton Township, Warren, Holly, Farmington Hills, Keego Harbor, Waterford, Monroe, Royal Oak and Ferndale, according to data compiled by Realcomp in Farmington Hills.

Read the entire article here.

Local students use Rouge River as classroom

More than 500 students from 10 Southeast Michigan schools will participate in this year's Rouge Education Project and will survey the Rouge River as part of their studies.


"The Rouge Education Project is a hands on learning program for students in K-12 schools to experience real-world science in the field while learning about their local ecosystem and gaining respect for the community in which they live," said Emily Johnson, Rouge Education Project Assistant Program Manager.

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.

Farmington Heritage Festival runs through Sunday

Farmington wraps up its annual Heritage Week with a festival on Sunday, October 14 at the Costick Activities Center.


Cultural booths, set up and manned by community volunteers, will provide a glimpse into a wide variety of cultures and traditions. This year's booths are sponsored by the American Association of University Women.

Crafters will bring their wares from the Finnish Cultural Center, Bosnia, Mexico, Russia, Africa, Thailand and Argentina.

Children will not want to miss the activities in the Children's Area, including making crafts from around the globe and special entertainment.

Read the entire article 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.


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.


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.

Despite perceived economic slump, retailers still flocking to area

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding Southeast Michigan's economy, retailers from across the country are moving into the area and local stores are expanding.


A recent report by the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that more than 30 retail projects worth more than a total of $1 billion are being developed in the area.

Retailers say even though times are a bit tough in Michigan, Metro Detroit consumers have plenty of money to spend. That said, retailers expect the next couple of years will be on the lean side. Profits -- if there are any at all -- will be marginal.

Yet industry experts say business will pick up when the economy improves by the end of the decade, and retailers want to be here when that happens.

Read the entire article here.

Farmington ranks 55 in "best places to live"

CNNMoney.com has ranked Farmington 55th in its listing of the 100 best places to live in the United States.


"Farmington is a town with a strong commitment to family and community, as evidenced in the large number of initiatives and events focused on bringing the town together," according to the Web site. "The downtown has recently added the Sundquist Pavilion and Riley Park, opened in 2005. Those sites host weekly farmer's markets and free concerts on Friday evenings. The town's commitment to the local Civic Theatre has made the theater a popular family destination. Commuters to Detroit or Ann Arbor find Farmington an easy commute."

Read the entire article 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.

Michigan Suburbs Alliance breakfast to focus on healthcare legacy costs

The Michigan Suburbs Alliance next Mayors & Managers breakfast will focus on healthcare legacy costs. It is set for June 29 and will be held at Macomb Community College.

Find out more and register here.

Farmington businesses eligible for "Tech Makeover"

Farmington Hills-based Dynamic Computer Corp. is holding an "extreme Tech Makeover" competition for Farmington and Farmington Hills businesses in need of a technological update.


"This is our chance to show our neighbors that good technology can make the difference," said Dynamic President and CEO Farida Ali. "Our makeover will demonstrate that a sound technical plan is critical to the overall success of any organization."

Companies and organizations in the Farmington/Farmington Hills area who wish to be considered can pick up an application at the Chamber of Commerce, or fill one out online at www.dcc-online.com.

Read the entire article 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.


"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.


"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.

Michigan Suburbs Alliance annual meeting to celebrate "One Million Strong"

Michigan Suburbs Alliance's annual meeting is set for May 11. Entitled "Five Years. One Million Strong," the keynote speaker is former chair of the National League of Cities’ First-Tier Suburbs Council and current mayor of Bedford, Ohio.


Five years have passed since a small group of mayors and managers formed the Suburbs Alliance. Five years since these municipal leaders realized we must unite to achieve change. Today, we are nearly one million strong. The Suburbs Alliance currently represents 28 cities in southeast Michigan, and we’re still growing! This May we'll celebrate our accomplishments over the past half decade and talk about how we can harness our collective strength moving forward.

Read more and register 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.


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.

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.


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.

Automation Alley membership continues to grow

Automation Alley, the Troy-based tech business promotion group, continues to grow, adding 18 new members in March.


IT companies led all sectors with six new members: Mighty Key LLC of Farmington Hills, Millennium Software of Southfield, NextUS Group Inc. of Warren, OAS Group Inc. of Troy, Semtrom Inc. of Flint and TVI Logistics of Warren.

Read the entire article here.

Farmington Hills boasts high recycling rate

Farmington Hills exceeded state and regional recycling rates in 2006.


Mike Csapo, general manager at Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, reported Farmington Hills' recycling rate is 33 percent and the city diverted about 11,000 tons of trash from landfills during 2006.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


"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.


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.


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.

Granholm heads to Germany to court business

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


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.


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.

But what about earaches caused by cell phones?

Farmington Hills spa is now offering a hand massage to help ease the pain that comes with Blackeberry Thumb.


"Farmington Hills spa has developed a service for those who suffer from “Blackberry Thumb.”

Tamara Spa + Wellness has come up with a 30-minute hand massage that begins with placement of a warm stone in each hand followed by an intense hand, finger and arm rub that uses a host of acupressure and massage techniques to alleviate some of the discomfort and tension associated with the rigors of texting and typing on small communication devices, such as Blackberrys."

Read the complete 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.


"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.


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.


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.

F. Hills OCC to host discussion on walkability

At noon on Feb. 21, The Farmington Hills campus of Oakland Community College will host a presentation and panel discussion on the area's walkability and transportation.


Speaker will be Dan Burden, an authority on sustainable communities. Burden is the executive director of the nonprofit Walkable Communities Inc. and has 25 years experience developing, promoting and evaluating alternative transportation facilities, traffic "calming" processes and sustainable community design.

Read the entire article here.

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.


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.


"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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.
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