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The Errand Man helps busy professionals reclaim leisure time

While everyone talks about the secret to work-life balance, it can sometimes be the little everyday tasks that threaten to tip the scales.
 
Enter The Errand Man—a man with a mission to help people reclaim and transform otherwise hectic hours into sensible leisure time.
 
"I know what's it like to be juggling so many things that you feel there's just not enough hours in the day," says Skip Lare, a retired career Coast Guard officer and human resource executive. "I used to feel that way, but now I'm here to help people with those everyday tasks that can eat up all your spare time."
 
Lare started his personal concierge service in August. His goal? To be the extra hands people sometimes need to keep up with the pace of modern life. He's there to pick up that bike at the repair shop, deliver garden mulch, and do weekly grocery shopping. No task or errand is too small or too large. He'll find a way, he says, to make it work.
 
"Wouldn't it be nice to be able to shoot me a text asking me to pick up eggs, bread and milk so you can avoid yet another trip to the store on your way home?" Lare asks. "I can do that."
 
Lare got the idea for The Errand Man from his daughter, and set out to model his business after concierge services he had seen in metropolitan areas like Detroit, St. Louis and D.C. He runs errands, shops, and provides pick-up and delivery services for both individuals and businesses. He's also there to help transport or do everyday things for the elderly. Lare is licensed, insured and bonded, and a mobile notary. Above all, he says, he's among one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs: senior citizens.
 
"I like helping people out because now I have the time to do that," says Lare. "I can do things last minute or at a scheduled time. If you need something done, I can help."
 
Source: Skip Lare, Owner, The Errand Man
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Lettuce Live Well weighs in with free nutritional programs

Kelly Zielinski has a losing proposition that promises to be a winner for Greater Lansing.
 
As the co-founder and president of Lettuce Live Well, Zielinski and her business partner Ashley Logan got Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero to "weigh in" and launch Lansing Loses a Million at his recent State of the City address.
 
The free initiative, Zielinski explains, is modeled after a program in Oklahoma City in which city residents pledge to lose a combined 1 million pounds. Participants can log into a website to track food and calorie intake, fitness, blood pressure, body measurements and other wellness indicators. The Lansing program also offers participants the chance join online groups or community activities for additional support.
 
"We're looking to get as many people signed up as possible," says Zielinski, mentioning that more than 400 people are already on board. "It's ongoing, so there's no end date. We figure it will take a few years at least to lose a million."
 
Lansing Loses a Million is just one part of Zielinski's efforts to provide free community resources focused on nutrition and wellness. She and Logan founded Lettuce Live Well in July 2014 to provide nutritional and fitness coaching to groups and individuals through pre-arranged sessions at community centers, businesses and other public sites.
 
Lettuce Live Well also holds educational grocery store tours that provide advice on how to buy healthy foods on a budget. Each participant receives a $10 gift card to spend toward a meal that includes all five food groups. The program is supported through the national Cooking Matters at the Store Program, with tours conducted at local ValuLand, Meijer, Wal-Mart and Aldi stores.
 
"I'm just incredibly passionate about nutrition and want to help people," says Zielinski who learned about nutrition from volunteering at food banks and interning with dieticians. "There's not a lot of free nutritional resources out there. But more important, eating is the most important thing we do every day, and sometimes no one shows us how to do it properly."
 
Lettuce Live Well is a volunteer organization supported by sponsors. As programs and initiatives grow, Zielinski hopes to move into a brick-and-mortar location by late spring, and to add to her roster of more than a dozen volunteers and business interns.
 
Source: Kelly Zielinski, Co-founder and President, Lettuce Live Well
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

St. Vincent's partners with Firecracker Foundation

A limited number of child survivors of sexual trauma will have access to therapeutic services through a new partnership between the Firecracker Foundation and St. Vincent Catholic Charities. The services are free and available to children whose families would not otherwise be able to afford high-quality, consistent care.
 
"This is one more step in helping us make valuable services available to people who lack the financial resources," says Tamra Johnson, community relations and marketing director for the Lansing-based St. Vincent's. "We are looking to serve as many children as possible."
 
The program began January 1 and is already serving one client. St. Vincent's provides therapists with specialized skills for working with survivors of sexual trauma, while the Firecracker Foundation provides funding supported through community donations. Clients may be referred to St. Vincent's through the Firecracker Foundation, or may call St. Vincent's directly for information on how to access services.
 
National statistics reveal that one in three girls and one in six boys will experience sexual trauma before the age of 18. Of those children, many will be among the 25 percent of children who live in poverty in Michigan. Further statistics reported by the Firecracker Foundation indicate that the lifetime economic burden of child abuse is estimated to be about $124 billion for communities across the United States.
 
"We are excited to partner with a local organization that is an essential resource to so many in need," says Tashmica Torok, executive director of the Firecracker Foundation. "This collaboration will help us extend treatment and prevent the consequences of untreated trauma for some of the youngest survivors in the tri-county area."
 
Torok says donations from the community will be crucial to sustaining the services of the Firecracker Foundation and the partnership with St. Vincent's.
 
"Every little bit helps," says Torok. "We hope to raise $65,000 by the end of 2015."
 
To learn more about services and how to apply, call St. Vincent's at 517-323-4734 or visit the Firecracker Foundation here. 
 
Source: Tamra Johnson, Community Relations and Marketing Director, St. Vincent Catholic Charities
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Area partners invests in kids with innovative education savings initiative

Families of kindergarteners in Lansing are getting a boost toward saving for their future education thanks to a new financial program unveiled in mid-January through the City of Lansing, the Lansing School District, and the MSU Federal Credit Union.
 
Lansing SAVE—or Student Accounts Valuing Education—involves opening up an MSUFCU savings account for 357 kindergarten students at five schools to help families save for their child's post-secondary education. Students at Cumberland, Lyon, Reo, Riddle and Willow schools were enrolled in the first phase of the program. Other schools and groups of elementary students will join over the next four years, with the end goal being an MSUFCU savings account for every kindergartener in the Lansing School District.
 
"We all have the same goal to see our children be successful in life and be a positive contributing member of the community," says April Clobes, MSUFCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "That ultimately leads to a better community for everyone."
 
The MSUFCU provided the initial funds to open up the individual accounts for students. Lansing SAVE will seek private sponsors to contribute to accounts, while family members and friends are encouraged to make regular contributions. The credit union has also committed to provide a $100 graduation gift to students that complete the program, graduate from high school, and go to college.
 
Lansing SAVE account holders will also receive in-school financial education from the MSUFCU in cooperation with the Lansing School District. The programs will include teaching children about money through a progression of age-appropriate courses. Subjects will include how to save, spend and donate, as well as future lessons on budgeting and understanding credit. All the lessons are paired with activities children can do at home with their family.
 
"Our children are our future," says Clobes. "They're our future employees, parents and elected officials. Investing in children and helping them to be successful is how we continue to have a vibrant and successful community."
 
Source: April Clobes, Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, MSU Federal Credit Union
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Orchid Orthopedic Solutions expands, hires thanks to community grant

Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, a world leader in medical device design and manufacturing, has had steady growth in the area over the years and is currently operating at maximum capacity. “We just can’t get anymore out of the people and machinery we have,” says Keith Wasilenski, tax accountant for the company. Luckily, a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant will offer Orchid the funds needed for both machinery expansion and employee training. 

The company, and state, has faced a lack of qualified candidates for manufacturing positions over the years, and this grant will give them the funding to provide on the job training. “Schools aren’t pushing manufacturing positions and people are leaving the state,” says Wasilenski. These dollars will take candidates with basic skills and train them to become quality operators. 

The grant will specifically benefit Orchid’s Delhi Township plant, contributing to growth and job creation in the Lansing area. 18 of the 35 jobs available will be given to moderate to low income persons. 

They have had 10-15% in sales growth and the expansion of machinery and employees is needed to help maintain that growth. “The new machines will operate faster and will increase efficiency.” 

Source: Keith Keith Wasilenski, Orchid Orthopedic Solutions
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

"Launch Your City" initiative builds brand awareness and presence for local businesses

The “Launch You City” initiative, a partnership between the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) and Google, is designed to help local businesses expand their Google listing. 

The free initiative offers kits and services that will allow businesses to make sure they are getting the most out of a Google listing. All the business has to do is go to GYBO.com/Business and click “Find Your Business.” They will then be able to see their Google ranking, add their business if it’s not there, or update their information. Many businesses forget to update their Google listing and that can result in lost business. Google can help your business get discovered locally and globally. “The Google platform is functional and dynamic,” says Michelle Rahl, Director of Marketing & Events at the LRCC, “But you have to be on it to be found.” 

“Businesses who are online, grow at a much faster rate than others,” adds Rahl. The initiative gives them the opportunity for brand awareness and growth and gives them the chance to get their name out there. 

The “Launch Your City” kits, that include posters, email templates, social media copy and more, will be distributed to partners in; Lansing, East Lansing, DeWitt, Grand Ledge, Charlotte, Williamston, Mason, Eaton Rapids, St. Johns and Delta, Delhi and Meridian Townships. 

Source: Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Simple Recycling adds new features to existing recycling programs

Many cities, including Lansing and East Lansing, have recycling programs in place. But, despite the ease with which residents can recycle, there is still a huge amount of material getting thrown in the trash. Traditional curb side recycling programs don’t take materials such as clothing, housewares, tools, kitchenware, etc. Simple Recycling does. 

Because these materials can’t be recycled and because it’s often time consuming to take them to Goodwill, they often end up getting thrown away. Simple Recycling is introducing a new, free, program that will take care of these materials. “Most people just want this stuff out of their house,” says Adam Winfield, President of Simple Recycling, “and 85 percent of it ends up in the trash.” 

Simple Recycling’s program will follow the already existing programs in Lansing and East Lansing and they will provide residents with Green bags to store the items. Then, all they have to do is set the bag by the curb to be picked up. “It’s a new concept applied to an old category,” says Winfield. And he also adds that it will not cost the city or the residents a dime. 

The program will launch in November and they will need to hire at least five drivers and office and support staff. “We are the only company in this area offering this service.” 

Source: Adam Winfield, President, Simple Recycling
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
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Mahabir Spa introduces new skin care line, offers "whole approach"

Gita Mahabir has always loved making others feel good about themselves. Cosmetology didn’t take her passion far enough so she got her Masters in counseling and focused on combining her desire to treat outside as well as inside beauty. 

She has taken that concept and opened the Mahabir Spa in Lansing, and introduced a new skin care line. The spa focuses on a “whole approach.”  It opened on September 10th and takes a unique approach on beauty. “Even if you look fabulous,” says Mahabir, “If you’re not feeling fabulous, I didn’t do my job.” Those that come to the spa of course get typical spa treatments but she also asks how she can make customers feel better about themselves. 

Mahabir will be offering a webinar on how taking care of yourself and your skin can help your self-esteem overall. “It’s a step by step process, but I would eventually like to be seen as an educator.” 

Her brand new, unique skin care line, sold in the spa and online, is medical grade and different because of it’s small molecules that are able to sink to a second layer of skin. It also has peptides that put collagen back into the skin. The unique, feathery   cream, complete with Amino Acids, protects and repairs the skin at a cellular level.

Source: Gita Mahabir, Mahabir Spa
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Life Saving Technology introduced to Tri-County ambulances

In America, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every minute someone dies from the same ailment. Every second counts when a patient in cardiac arrest is en route to the hospital. “The quicker we can get those arteries open, the better,” says John Dery, Sparrow's Associate Director of Critical Care Transport and EMS, “But the systems we have now take a lot of time.” 

Funded through a partnership between Sparrow and McLaren Greater Lansing, the wireless LIFENET system allows first responders to send patient information and ECG readings from the field to the hospital. This allows the hospital to prepare for the patient, helps reduce time to treatment and improves efficiency. 

All the ambulances in the Tri-Country area have been outfitted with this technology, a major benefit to those who may not live close to a hospital or medical facility. “They are getting state of the art care, rather than being sent to a small facility that can’t treat them,” says Dery. 

With the introduction of this technology and the growth opportunities it will present, qualified people with a knowledge of technology will need to be hired. The opportunities this, and all future technology that spins from it, present are limitless. Dery says, “Integrating technology into medicine is a huge opportunity.” 

Source: John Dery, Sparrow
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Trap, Neuter, Release Program decreasing population of feral cats

The population of Feral Cats has been on the rise over the years and has become a significant problem in certain neighborhoods in Lansing. While for a long time the solution was to trap and kill these cats, Holly Thoms of Voiceless-Mi says, "If that was a good idea, it would have worked by now." Since it hadn't, it was time to try something else. Spurred by local organizations that were fed up with the cats, Voiceless-MI and The Capital Area Humane Society teamed up to try and new solution. 
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The Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) program, does just what it says. They trap the animals, neuter them and return them to their home. While this doesn't get rid of the animals immediately, it prevents them from reproducing and deters new cats from entering their territory. Once the cat dies (feral cats have a much shorter life expectancy than house cats) no new cats will come to the area. 

The organization, while purely volunteer based, uses local vet offices, and spay and neuter clinics to fix the cats. "We are keeping the clinics very busy," says Thoms. And while they hope to grow, their ultimate goal is to put themselves out of business by bringing the feral cat population down. 

Source: Holly Thoms, President, Voiceless-MI
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Lightspeed Communications brings fast, affordable internet, jobs to Lansing

Lightspeed Communication's mission is to bring 1 and 10 gig speed internet into homes at an affordable price. Lightspeed is an internet provider that is building a brand new fiber optic network in cities around Michigan, starting in Lansing. "The internet is where most people get their media and information," says Jason Schreiber, CEO of Lightspeed. They want to make it practical and affordable.  

They are making a significant investment in Lansing and according to Schreiber, "No other carriers have made a move to make an investment in the state." The investment will lead to significant job creation and growth in Lansing. Lightspeed has recently hired 6 people to their construction team and as they prepare to build the fiber optic network they will need to hire even more.

 As they continue to grow and expand to other cities they will also need to add to other departments including marketing and IT. They expect to hire over 50 people in the next six months to a year as they make a move into other cities within the next year.

Schreiber says the response to the service has been overwhelming, signing up 1500 hundred homes in their first 6 weeks. "There is a tremendous need for this service in the area."

Source: Jason Schreiber, CEO Lightspeed Communications
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs introduces app to share Michigan art

A project that has been in the works for a few years, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) has introduced an app that will send tourists and residents on an art tour of Michigan.

According to John Bracey, the Executive Director of the MCACA, there is art all across Michigan that even residents don't know about. He wanted a way to let people know about that art.  The building of the app was made possible because of funds provided by the Michigan Economic Development Cooperation, and they made a connection with Venturit out of East Lansing to build it. Bracey says they were excited to be able to hire a local company.

The app will allow users to input their location and then show them the locations of all kinds of art from fountains to sculptures.  They will be able to view individual pieces or build a customized art tour. "The idea is to show a different image of the state of Michigan," says Bracey.

Once the app has been in use for a while, Travel Michigan should be able to provide numbers to show the impact it is having on tourism. While it may be indirect, it will hopefully allow people to visit new neighborhoods and cities and then visit local businesses in those areas.
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Source: John Bracey, Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor 

MEDC announces funds to support entrepreneurship, technology

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced the approval by the Michigan Strategic Fund of Entrepreneurial Service Provider Request for Proposals awards. These awards will, according to Paula Sorrel of the MEDC, go toward creating early stage technology companies and will also generate more than $15 million new investments in the state. "We are focused on creating a strong pipeline of companies," says Sorrel.

The funds are going toward entrepreneur services all across the state, and $500,000 is coming into Lansing through the Michigan State University Foundation and Spartan Innovations. The funds will be distributed over two years to help grow the GreenLight Business Model Competition. The last GreenLight Competition had nine universities compete, which according to Sorrel is an impressive number. She says it's the basis for a strong pipeline, a pipeline they hope to grow.

The MEDC tracked 30 new tech companies in the state last year, and the hope is that with these awards, that number will grow. "The tech sector is always evolving and we are trying to evolve with it," says Sorrel.

Other approved proposals came from programs such as, Invest Detroit, Ann Arbor SPARK, NextEnergy, BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting, Inforum Center for Leadership, UofM Center for Entrepreneurship and the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

Source: Paula Sorrel, MEDC
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor 

Gourmet Gone Wild cooking class reconnects participants to hunting and fishing

The group Gourmet Gone Wild began with the goal of reconnecting people, particularly the age group of 20-40, to hunting and fishing. Many in the older generation are used to getting their own food, and there are programs to help the younger generation connect, but according to Ryan Griffith the program director, that age group got kind of lost.  And now Gourmet Gone Wild has introduced a cooking class to further that reintroduction.

The class will be a hands on experience, teaching participants how to tie a fly fishing line, prepare any salmon they may catch, cook the dish, and much more. It will teach participants how to go about getting the proper licenses, and once they have them, how to use them. "We are more than a foodie group," says Griffith, "our focus is on changing the perceptions of hunting and fishing."

The goals of the program and the class are to improve; awareness, image, opportunity and conservation. The success of the class, and the reach of these goals, can be measured by the sales of hunting and fishing licenses. If those numbers go up, the money is going back into the state, towards conservation, and they know the program is making a difference.

Source: Ryan Griffith, Gourmet Gone Wild
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Home Builders Association pairs skilled students with trade programs

The Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing has teamed up with area businesses and formed a Workplace Development committee that will address the growing need for skilled trade workers in today's job market.

When the economy first took a hit, many tradesmen were left without work and left the state. But now, according to Cindy Kosloski, the CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing (HBA), things are on the rise and "Michigan contractors have the work, but the skilled tradesmen aren't there."

The HBA wants to help connect students that may not want a four year degree with the schools and resources that will get them a career in a trade occupation. Schools like the Capital Area Career Center and businesses that will offer internships where students can learn a trade and create a career are the focus of the collaboration. "The hardest part is connecting with these students and telling them that if they don't want a four year degree, there is still something for them," says Kosloski.

 She adds that at least 12-15 participants from these programs have been hired in full-time to the business where they performed their internship.

Kosloski says there is an immediate need for these jobs and "for the people in the trade, the possibilities are endless."

Source: Cindy Kosloski, Greater Lansing Home Builders Association
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
157 Westside Articles | Page: | Show All
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