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Minority-owned supply chain leader opens new freight service in Lansing

A minority owned global company that helps businesses move products between point A and point B expanded its ability to support customer growth in the Midwest through a new facility and service located near Lansing's Capital Region International Airport.
 
In June, TOC Logistics will start importing container freight from Europe on a bi-weekly basis at a multi-tenant warehouse at 2350 Port Lansing Road. Weekly service will begin within six months. The service leverages the 12,000-square foot Container Freight Station TOC established in 2013 within the 48,000-square foot facility.
 
"We originally expanded in Lansing to be closer to automotive headquarters," says Brent Case, Global Development Executive with TOC Logistics. "The other was to diversify since we knew Lansing wasn't solely about automotive. Being in the Lansing market gives TOC a little more reach in being centralized."
 
The CFS is adjacent to TOC's Foreign Trade Zone and domestic warehouse space, and adds to the company's growing presence in Michigan. The new Europe to Midwest service will simplify imports and exports of international container freight. Freight can be warehoused in Lansing, or distributed throughout the Midwest or Canada.
 
Case says that the launch of the new facility and services in Lansing is a key part of the long-term strategy for supporting existing customers and fostering growth. The service, Case says, could be a model for similar services launched in other regions worldwide.
 
"Lansing is a small part of what TOC does," says Case. "But so many things we bring in go through Lansing. This new service will bring a lot more through, and we expect to add more customers as the service is available."
 
Based in Indianapolis, Ind., with operations in Lansing and Mexico, TOC Logistics specializes in supply chain solutions for international customers. In Lansing, TOC imports and exports products from Europe for more than a half dozen customers, including Roberts Sinto Corp., Aurora Specialty Chemistries and Executive Fan Tape. TOC recently secured four anchor clients to use the new service to import and process automotive goods, with the first containers scheduled to arrive the last week June.
 
TOC Logistics employs one full-time and one part-time person in the Lansing warehouse, with plans to create an additional full-time job in the coming year.
 
Source: Brent Case, Global Development Executive, TOC Logistics
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Painted public pianos provide "Keys in the Cities" to passersby

Everyone loves the piano.
 
Larry Grudt wants to share that love by bringing painted pianos to public spaces.
 
Beginning May 30, about a dozen artfully-painted pianos will premiere in outdoor spaces around East Lansing and Lansing through "Keys in the Cities"—a program spearheaded by Grudt and a committee of five. The outdoor pianos, Grudt says, are for anyone who wants to pull up the bench and play, and are intended to create an engaging street atmosphere for passersby.
 
"Pianos are a strong draw for people," says Grudt. "And painted pianos are so inviting. No one who sees one ever questions if they're good enough. They just sit down and play."
 
"Keys in the Cities" will feature uprights and spinets painted by local artists and community groups in outdoor locations from May through Halloween. Grudt says artists have brought a diverse array of colorful works to their "canvases," with many reflecting landmarks in Lansing and East Lansing.
 
Grudt got the idea for "Keys in the Cities" from a similar program in Fort Collins, Colo. Posts of painted pianos he had seen online and at ArtPrize also captured his imagination.
 
Two Men and a Truck donated moving services for all pianos, and will store the pianos over the winter months. Grudt says the average life expectancy of the outdoor pianos is one to three years, with artwork weathering before the instrument.
 
All pianos are sourced from private donations, while sponsors and individual donations cover artist stipends, liability insurance, paint and materials, and tarps for pianos and benches. The estimated cost for the program's inaugural year is around $15,000. Contributions are welcome the current and upcoming years.
 
"For me, the program is about what it does for individuals and people passing by," Grudt says. "When you see a piano, it affects how you perceive a location. You don't even have to hear the music to feel a deeper relationship with your community."
 
Lansing piano installations include the Lansing Art Gallery by Brendan Romero Martin, Midtown Brewing Co. by Elisa Schmidt, REO Town by Marissa Thaler, REO Town Pub by Alison Alfredson, South Lansing by Broad Art Museum and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Community Development Association and Farmers Market, Turner Mini Park by Debbie Fehrenbach, and Sparrow Hospital by Tiffany Klein. Pianos in East Lansing include the "no name park" at Abbot and Albert by Broad Art Museum and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Fountain Plaza by Jennifer Medler, the Bailey Street Plaza 500 block by Joy Schroeder, and the Wharton Center by Liz Wylegala.
 
Grudt says the group is also seeking funds for piano installations at the Old Town General Store and the Lansing Mall.
 
Source: Larry Grudt, Program Director, Keys in the Cities
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Center for Business Innovation offers new managed IT services

The Center for Business Innovation in Lansing began offering a new level of expertise and resources to customers in mid-May after partnering with a nationally recognized provider of managed IT and cloud hosting services.
 
By joining with All Covered, CBI provides customers access to more resources, a wider variety of technology brands, and a new level of engineering expertise. All Covered, CBI leaders say, will take Lansing-grown CBI to the next level through a combination of skills and infrastructure, while still retaining CBI's signature small business feel and ability to provide onsite support.
 
"Technology has changed how we run and conduct our business," says Katie Saglimbene, CBI marketing and communications director. "We're confident that our customers' networks will be faster, and more secure than ever through this new partnership."
 
The unique relationship between CBI and All Covered will be transparent to customers, Saglimbene explains, since CBI will continue to function as the primary point of contact. All Covered's certified engineers at U.S.-based network operations and remote support centers will resolve back-end infrastructure and technical support issues. All Covered will also offer a three-tiered help desk with 24/7 live-answer support.
 
While All Covered's support center was a big factor in the partnership, Saglimene says CBI also sought out All Covered for their ability to provide robust cloud solutions housed in compliant tier-4 data centers.
 
"CBI was born and raised here in mid-Michigan," Saglimbene says. "We've had several years under our belt as a technology provider and provider of managed print services. This partnership with All Covered will strengthen how we do business and broadens what we can offer to customers."
 
Source: Katie Saglimbene, Marketing and Communications Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

CBI awarded premiere status as KYOCERA dealer

The Center for Business Innovation added some hardware earlier this spring after being recognized as a premiere dealer of KYOCERA document solutions for the fifth consecutive year.
 
The award, says CBI Finance Director Dan Sutter, is awarded to fewer than 10 percent of KYOCERA dealers, and represents the commitment CBI has made to providing innovative document solutions to Michigan businesses through KYOCERA equipment and systems.
 
"We not only provide the hardware to our customers, but we also include the business applications that can be incorporated with the devices to enhance an organization's workflow," says Sutter. "It's all about providing managed print services and total document solutions."
 
CBI has partnered with KYOCERA Document Solutions since the early 1970s, and continues to be a leading, single-line dealer of KYOCERA in Michigan. In that time, Sutter explains, copiers have evolved into multi-functional machines that integrate hardware and software to meet the specific needs of specific industries.
 
"Twenty or 30 years ago, a copier was something you plugged into a wall and it didn't talk to anything else," says Sutter. "Today, a copier is an integral part of a company's workflow."
 
CBI is a Michigan-based managed technology service provider specializing in cloud, imaging, professional and network services. The company serves most of lower Michigan, with many customers in the education, legal and health care sectors. About 60 people work for CBI through a network of offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Flint, Saginaw and Southfield, with headquarters in Lansing. 
 
Sources: Dan Sutter, Finance Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Ashlee Willis Floral takes the sneeze out of flowers with quality artificial arrangements

Sometimes when you say it with flowers, you also say it with a sneeze, watery eyes or an occasional prick of a rose's thorn.
 
Ashlee Willis has a solution: artificial flowers.
 
Two years ago, Willis transformed her hobby of creating floral decor using artificial flowers into a blooming business. And while some may immediately think dollar store when they think artificial flowers, Ashlee Willis Floral Decor looks as fresh and natural as real petals and greenery without the pollen.
 
"Everyone tells me they just love the look and design," says Willis. "Most people can't believe that they're not fresh flower arrangements."
 
Willis is on a quest to remove the stigma surrounding artificial flowers, as well as to bring affordable, maintenance free beauty to any home, office or special event. Her arrangements can be as small or large or as varied as most any bouquet ordered from a florist, and include roses, daisies, tulips, orchids and various accents and greenery.
 
Flowers are available primarily for rental, with some customers renting new arrangements each month for a "pick-me-up" for their home or office. Organizers and hosts of special events and parties also can enjoy the carefree setup and maintenance of Willis' arrangements, with no wilting, falling petals or drooping stems to detract from the ambiance.
 
"I just love the mood and memories flowers can create," says Willis. "I did a wedding recently where I surprised the bride with a bouquet that featured a charm of her mother who had recently passed away. The bride told me it was the best thing she ever had since she got to walk down the aisle with her mom and could keep the arrangement forever."
 
Willis runs her online business from home, and sometimes receives expert advice on arranging and color selection from her two toddlers. She hopes to move to a storefront once her kids are in school. Until then, she's planning to hire an intern or two to help out with her growing calendar of spring and summer events.
 
"I'm really into entrepreneurship," says Willis. "It's my passion."
 
Source: Ashlee Willis, Owner, Ashlee Willis Floral Decor
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
     
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

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
162 Westside Articles | Page: | Show All
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