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Lansing Bike Co-op offers a shared space to keep cyclists rolling

Building on the bones of an old mechanics garage, a group of innovative bike enthusiasts are providing a space where Lansing residents can rebuild, repair and tune-up their bikes with a little help from their new-found friends.
 
In the works for about a year, the Lansing Bike Co-op opened for spring and summer hours, offering tools, space and knowledge for anyone wanting to learn the mechanics of their non-motorized two-wheelers.
 
"There are a lot of people who need to know how to fix their bikes, or have a bike that isn't worth taking to shop," says co-op president Aaron Fields. "Whatever the case, they rely on their bike for transportation. We saw that need and in the community and wanted to provide the resources."
 
The idea, Fields says, is for people to come to the co-op, get a diagnosis on what needs fixing, and then receive guidance on the tools and steps to follow to keep their bike rolling.
 
"We provide the guidance, you do the fixing," says Fields. "We're an educational resource."
 
The Lansing Bike Co-op received a $3,000 grant this spring from the Tri-County Bicycle Association and matching funds from the Ingham County Land Bank to renovate and equip the garage with plumbing and heat. 
 
"After we get those things installed we can go year round," says Fields. "For now we can only store stuff here and work in the parking lot."
 
The co-op is typically opened Wednesday nights until nightfall, with other hours posted on Facebook. The co-op also holds a "judgment free zone" Ladies Night on the first and third Sundays of the month.
 
"I learned how to fix bikes here," says Fields. "Taking a bike apart demystifies things pretty quickly. There's not as much to them as you think, and once you start messing around with them, you find out that they're pretty straight forward."
 
The co-op shares the two-bay building with Go Green Trikes—Greater Lansing's trike courier service. The Lansing Bike Co-op is all volunteer-based, with board members including Fields, Mike Tostoh, Emily Petz and Carrie Nelson. About 15 to 20 people on average stop in during open nights, with a donation of $10 per hour of stand time suggested but not required.
 
Source: Aaron Fields, President, Lansing Bike Co-op
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

New trail attracts thirsty visitors to Mid-Michigan

Visitors and "staycationers" in Greater Lansing can follow an additional path to leisure and entertainment through the area's new beer, wine and spirits trail.
 
Inspired by the legendary Kentucky Bourbon Trail as well as winery and brewery tours across Michigan, the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitor's Bureau banded with area wineries, distilleries, cider mills, breweries and brewpubs to form the new Makers and Shakers Trail.
 
The trail highlights 13 members of Mid-Michigan's growing libations industry, stretching from downtown Lansing to St. Johns. Trailblazers can go online for a brochure and map, as well as suggestions for eateries, transportation resources, and festivals that celebrate Greater Lansing's culture of craft beer, wine and spirits.
 
"The trail is a great way to get people excited about all the new places," says Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing and communications for the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "Our mission is to attract people from outside the region to come to town, spend the night, and see and experience the attractions along the trail."
 
The CVB introduced the Makers and Shakers Trail during the recent Tourist in Your Own Town celebration in late May. Padot says the concept has been bubbling since fall as a way to collectively market area attractions and build Greater Lansing as a tourist and "day-tripper" destination.
 
"People from outside the region will be more surprised than residents about all we have to offer," Padot says. "Residents have been tied in for years. The trail gives us even more cache as a place to visit."
 
Source: Tracy Padot, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Ma Ma C's sauces it up with new deli in Lansing City Market

For Carol Davis, the secret has always been in her sauces.
 
But recently, the food entrepreneur from Laingsburg has ventured into serving deli-styled sandwiches for the lunch crowd through the Lansing City Market.
 
Ma Ma C's  offers daily combo specials that range from specialty hot dogs to tacos to pita sandwiches. Open since March, Davis also provides yogurt and fruit cups, bottled water, and gourmet popcorn for the diner looking for a lunch or snack on the lighter side.
 
"We're completely homemade, and everything we have is primarily made with Michigan products," says Davis. "We try to keep our prices around $6 for lunch. That's a good deal."
 
Davis says her son and co-owner John Buono persuaded her to start the deli based on the success of her popular line of Ma Ma C's sauces and other core products. Since 2008, Davis has been concocting and canning flavorful gourmet finishing sauces, glazes, marinaras, guacamole and pickled vegetables like asparagus.  Davis says she's perfected her line of 12 core products made with tomatoes, onions, celery, green and red sweet peppers, salt, vinegar, sugar and spices that can be paired with meats, pastas, chips, and added to recipes and sauces.
 
Deli customers can sample sauces and core products on particular lunch selections, as well as purchase them through the City Market site. Sauces and core products are also found at area stores including Merindorf Meats, up north around Houghton Lake and Harrison, at the Flint City Market, and at occasional craft shows.
 
"The location here is a good start to see if we want to do a deli," Davis says. "I just like meeting new people and having a good time making food."
 
Ma Ma C's is located near the south door of the Lansing City Market in a 16-by-12 foot vendor space. Davis runs the deli with her son, and hopes to move to a brick-and-mortar location depending on customer response.
 
Source: Carol Davis, Owner, Ma Ma C's
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

River Town Adventures grows fleet in second season

Nate Williams says missing out on a Cedar Point trip two years ago was one of the best things that ever happened to him—at least from a business perspective.
 
Instead of getting wet on splash rides, Williams went kayaking with friends on Lansing's Red Cedar River. That day, he says, literally "launched a thousand ships"—or at least the idea behind the growing number of water vessels available to rent through River Town Adventures.
 
Williams opened the kayak and canoe rental business with his lifelong friend Paul Brogan in June 2014. Since then, River Town Adventures has grown from a fleet of eight kayaks and six canoes to 43 single kayaks, four tandem kayaks, 10 canoes, two paddle boards, and two paddle boats. A pontoon may join the fleet as the summer progresses.
 
"The very first weekend we were opened, we had every single boat on the river," says Williams. "We just kept buying boats all summer."
 
River Town paddlers can cruise 12 routes on the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers, meandering from Williamston to downtown, and from Dimondale to Grand Ledge. Paddlers meet outside the Lansing City Market on the River Trail and are shuttled with their rented boat of choice to their selected drop. Once on the water, paddlers make their way back downstream to River Town headquarters.
 
"You get to see the city from a totally different perspective when you're out on the river," says Williams. "It's really cool to go through downtown and see the Boji Tower and the Accident Fund and to go by the REO Museum. Plus, there's lots of nature within the city. You feel like you're 100 miles from everywhere."
 
Williams says he never expected River Town Adventures to grow so fast since he and Brogan were initially interested in simply providing a casual option for folks in town over long weekends.
 
River Town Adventures runs May through October, weather permitting, and employs six staff—four new this season. Williams and Brogan are also looking to build an "off season" business that involves providing limousine bus service for private parties.
 
Source: Nate Williams, Co-owner, River Town Adventures
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Mid-Michigan jobs event fills key role in new global economy

A quarterly event that connects employers and job-seekers is filling a crucial need as Michigan strives to keep pace in an ever-evolving global economy.
 
Now in its sixth year, the Mid-Michigan Talent Connection brings job-seekers and employers together in a low-pressure networking environment. Events take place four times a year, with the next connection slated for June 4 at Meridian Christian Church in Okemos.
 
Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily over the past five years and dipped to 5.4 percent in April 2015—the same as the national jobless rate. Despite the improving job market, many employers struggle to find qualified workers in an economy increasingly reliant on high-tech jobs.
 
“We know many companies have an increasing number of open positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates,” said event partner Edythe Hatter-Williams, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works!. “Many job-seekers are in a position where they may need to refocus their job search and look at transferable skills they have, or even consider retraining. The Mid-Michigan Talent Connection is an ideal place to network with potential employers to see what it takes to be successful in the new global economy.”
 
The Talent Connection was founded in September 2010 (formerly Pink Slip Mid-Michigan) by a small group of citizens who saw a need to connect and educate job-seekers and local businesses. The event combines elements of standard job-fair with workshops and panels, as well as networking opportunities.
 
“What makes this different from other employment events is that there are no resumés passed at this time,” said Rick Stacy, founder of the grassroots initiative and president of Meridian Christian Community Ministries, an event partner. “There is no pressure for a job-seeker to ‘sell’ themselves, nor for an employer to hire on the spot. This time is about learning how we can help each other.”
 
The Mid-Michigan Talent Connection has drawn an estimated 750 job-seekers and 200 employers, ranging from Jackson National Life Insurance Co. to Dart Container Corp. Key speakers have included Bob Fish, cofounder of Biggby Coffee, and Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.
 
For more information and to register for the free event, click here.
 
Source: Rick Stacy, Founder, Mid-Michigan Talent Connect
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Arts Council of Greater Lansing expands scholarship program

Within weeks of announcing the 2015 summer-time recipients of scholarships through the Young Creatives Program, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing unveiled plans to expand the seasonal program to one that will run year-round.
 
The Young Creatives program provides grants of up to $1,500 that support arts scholarships or free arts educational programming for underserved youth. Awards are competitive and provided to selected organizations. The program is funded by the Arts Council through the Arts Endowment Fund and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
 
"Expanding the program gives organizations more opportunity to be creative in what they do," says Josh Holliday, program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "It also provides opportunities for organizations that don't have summer camps."
 
Grant applications became available June 1 for the expanded program that will run on an October 1 through September 30 cycle. Applications are due August 1, with full or partial awards provided to about five organizations.
 
"We've been fortunate to be able to expand the program with the support of the MSU Federal Credit Union," Holliday says. "They've made it possible for us to provide more opportunities than we have in the past."
 
The Young Creatives program has awarded grants in support of summer programming for four years. Selected organizations provide scholarships for youth ages 5-17 with financial need to attend arts-related classes and programs. Recipients of the 2015 summer grants include All-of-us Express Children's Theatre, the Lansing Art Gallery, MSU Community Music School, and REACH Studio Arts Center.
 
Holliday says that increasing access to arts and culture through a year-round program can help better communities in the short- and long-term.
 
"These dollars are helping organizations that are already doing great work," Holliday says. "They're making arts and culture accessible to youth who will be our future leaders."
 
Source: Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
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.

Three communities receive public art grants for placemaking vision

Lansing will do a mural on the side of a building overlooking the Nuthouse restaurant. Grand Ledge will do a sculpture on the river and in view of the city's opera house. St. Johns will make a new sculpture part of the city's upcoming Splash Park.
 
They're all new works of art that are joining the growing roster of public art pieces popping up around Greater Lansing. And they're funded through $10,000 grants awarded through the Lansing Economic Area Partnership's Public Art for Communities program. All three should be finished by November.
 
"We're hoping we continue to see new communities come to the table for these grants in future years," says Sara Parkinson, director of talent and communications for LEAP. "We're ready to help any community create a public art program to help recruit the world class talent the Lansing region deserves."
 
Since it's inception in 2012, the LEAP program has awarded 11 grants to mid-Michigan communities. Past recipients include the cities of Mason, East Lansing, St. Johns and DeWitt, as well as the townships of Meridian, DeWitt, Delhi and Delta. St. Johns is the first community to receive a second grant for public art.
 
Parkinson emphasized that LEAP invests in public art since a vibrant arts and cultural atmosphere can elevate Lansing's ability to attract and retain talent. She says that the grants have become exceptionally competitive, which further shows the region considers "sense of place" or placemaking a priority.
 
"We want to reward communities that include the arts in their strategic planning," says Parkinson. "Each day, LEAP works to attract and support companies that are looking to thrive in the Lansing area. Attracting the best talent to these companies is a huge piece of the puzzle."
 
By year's end, the total roster of public art funded through LEAP's Public Art for Communities Grant Program will include 16 pieces of public art, six bike racks, and one mural. PNC also contributed $10,000 to the yearly program.
 
Source: Sara Parkinson, Director of Talent and Communications, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Sparrow earns special designation in patient-centered maternity care

Sparrow recently achieved a national benchmark in quality care by being certified "baby-friendly" by the World Health Organization and the United Nation's Children's Fund.
 
Certification as a Baby Friendly Hospital means Sparrow demonstrates excellence in providing evidenced-based, patient-centered maternity care that promotes mother-baby bonding and best practices in infant feeding. Sparrow is one of only six hospitals in Michigan and 245 in the nation that hold the Baby-Friendly designation.
 
"I hear daily from our patients how much they like the approach," says Kathy Marble, director of women and children at Sparrow. "It's the voice of the customers saying 'you're doing it, and we're appreciating it.'"
 
The term "baby friendly," Marble says, simply refers to providing care considered best for mother and babies. Examples include immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth, and keeping mother and baby together through the entirety of their hospital stay. When possible, all exams are done in-room, with physicians and nurses doing everything bedside with mother and baby together.
 
Sparrow delivers 4,500 babies each year, and has a 43-bed maternity area at the main hospital near downtown Lansing. All physicians, residents and nursing staff received extensive training in baby-friendly practices. About 100 nurses and 25 physicians currently work in labor and delivery and OB special care areas.
 
Marble added that the overall goal of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, and in turn, the greater community.
 
"If you look at Sparrow's mission you see that we want to take care of people in our community," says Marble. "The baby friendly designation and way of doing things makes a difference in the lives of every baby born in our community, now and into the future."
 
Sources: Kathy Marble, MSN, RNC-NIC, Director Women and Children, Sparrow
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Fourteen nonprofits receive funding to promote cultural tourism

 
Part of that tax your friends and relatives pay when staying in a hotel or motel in Ingham County will go to encourage more friends and relatives to take in the area's arts and culture thanks to recent grants awarded to more than a dozen nonprofit organizations.
 
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for the Arts and Tourism awarded funding totaling $103,741.05 to 14 arts and cultural organizations to support the production of publicity and promotional materials used to attract out-of-town visitors. Awarded in mid-April, the total grant for 2015 was divided among the recipients and is administered by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
 
"We're proud to be handling the grant on behalf of the county," says Josh Holliday, program manager of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "We're happy to see the continued investment in a program that supports organizations who bring people into our community."
 
The Williamston Theatre was among the 2015 grant recipients, and will use the funds to expand their presence on NPR affiliates in surrounding counties.
 
"We're so grateful for the opportunity to be able to expand our presence on the radio," says Emily Sutton-Smith, development director for the Williamston Theatre. "A grant like this makes it possible for a small organization to do something that we wouldn't ordinarily be able to do. It makes a big difference for our marketing programs."
 
Sutton-Smith says that about 40 percent of people attending a show at the theatre come from outside of Williamston or Ingham County. That percent, she says, represents what marketers and developers refer to as "cultural tourism"—or people who travel to a destination for activities related to the visual or performing arts.
 
"Those individuals not only buy a matinee or evening ticket from us, but then they go on and spend money at a restaurant, hotel or retailer," says Sutton-Smith. "So by virtue of what we do, we draw in people who then benefit another business, too."
 
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for Arts and Tourism grants are supported by five percent of Ingham County hotel/motel revenues, and were established by a resolution by the Ingham County Board of Commissions about 20 years ago. Recipients of the 2015 grant are the Capital City Film Festival, Community Circle Players (Riverwalk Theatre), Downtown Lansing, Inc., East Lansing Art Festival, Happendance Inc., Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, MSU Community Music School, MSU Museum, Old Town Commercial Association, Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, Wharton Center for Performing Arts and Williamston Theatre.

Sources: Emily Sutton-Smith, Development Director, Williamston Theatre
Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Crowdfunding underway for downtown soccer field

Crowds will be gathering on a new public soccer field in downtown Lansing if a crowdfunding campaign reaches its goal.
 
The campaign to fund development of a new field launched Friday, April 24, at the opening game of the Lansing United Soccer Team. The $60,000 fundraising campaign through the crowdfunding site Patronicity had been previously announced in mid-April by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and business and community leaders.
 
The $200,000 Beacon Field is envisioned for the southeast corner of Ferris Park. Plans call for a 60- by 120-foot synthetic turf field enclosed by a kick-board, as well as solar lighting for extended play into the evening.
 
The Capital Area Soccer League says about 5,000 kids in the Lansing area currently play youth soccer. No reservations will be required to use the neighborhood field that will be available to anyone regardless of their connection to an organized team or league.
 
Beacon Field organizers also plan to apply for a Public Spaces Community Grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The grant provides 1:1 matching funds if organizers can meet the $60,000 goal within one month. The city of Lansing would then contribute $80,000 toward the project to complete the funding.
 
The vision for Beacon Field rose from a public-private team that includes the city of Lansing, Wieland Davco, the Capital Area Soccer League, Traction and Truscott Rossman. Emergent Biosolutions donated $10,000 and Jackson National Life $20,000 in financial sponsorship.
 
Beacon  Field is modeled after mini soccer fields built in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The fields were created as safe gathering places for youth in urban neighborhoods.
 
"Soccer is a global sport that bridges communities," said Bernero in a statement. "With the community's support, this field, located in the heart of downtown Lansing, will be a place where people from all backgrounds can come play a sport they love."
 
Supporters of Beacon Field can contribute via credit card toward the $60,000 goal by visiting www.patronicity.com. Contributions via check can be mailed to the Capital Area Soccer League at 1427 W. Saginaw, Suite 175, East Lansing, MI 48823.
 
Sources: Josh Hovey, Vice President, Truscott Rossman
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Capital City Comic Con to debut at Haslett High School

Dennis Louney drove to Grand Rapids with his son and came back with an idea for Lansing.
 
It was a dream, he says, he'd had for some time. And after seeing the thousands of people spilling out the doors at a comic convention, he knew the timing was right to bring a similar event back home.
 
Now, after eight months of planning, Louney and a group of like-minded professionals will unleash what promises to be a super-powered extravaganza. The first Capital City Comic Con—affectionately known as C4—will take place May 2-3 at Haslett High School. The convention will sprawl from the north end of the school, throughout two gymnasiums, a 700-seat performing arts center, dressing rooms, expansive hallways and cafeteria space.
 
"We knew we could build this," says Louney. "The most important thing now is to get people to come."
 
Louney and other members of the "Phantom Five" have planned an event based on people's love of comics, games, movies and television. Between 2,000-3,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event that will feature a variety of multi-media exhibitors and vendors of comic books, card and board games, action figures, merchandise, videos, apparel and more. Attendees can also participate in or observe costume and cosplay competitions, performance art, improvisational and interactive cosplay, panel discussions, and gaming tournaments.
 
"Our goal is to open things up to a wider audience," says Louney. "We've worked to make it family friendly and fun."
 
The convention will feature special guests, graphic artists and writers—both from the national and local arenas. Among the scheduled guests are Michigan novelist and screenwriter Rick Chambers, and actor Mark Boyd from Twelve Monkeys. 
 
"This is just a great way to bring people together," says Louney. "Lots of people follow sci-fi, read graphic novels or play online or board games. With all the high-tech coming to Lansing, it promises to be an event that will appeal to a lot of people."
 
Organizers of the inaugural Capital City Comic Con include Phantom Five members Christina DeJong, James Curtis, Malinda Barr, Randy Chapel and Dennis Louney. For a schedule of events and a list of participating vendors, artists and organizations, visit the website here or follow on Facebook.
 
Sources: Dennis Louney, Co-Founder, Capital City Comic Con
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Stadium renovation features options for the multi-faceted fan

When the lights shone on the $13.5 million renovation to Cooley Law School Stadium on opening day, spectators saw there was more on deck than simply baseball.
 
With an updated concourse, picnic and play areas, and new top-of-the-line food venues, take-me-out-to-the-ballgame has grown to be more than a sporting experience restricted to the stands. And come mid-season, a special events venue will be available at the home of the Lansing Lugnuts for organizers of everything from corporate meetings to wedding receptions.
 
"We're very excited to present all these options for people who live here," says Linda Frederickson, assistant general manager of marketing and special events for the Lugnuts. "The stadium is a great place."
 
Among the newest concourse options energizing America's favorite pastime are the expanded Tailgate Terrace picnic area in right field. Groups, too, can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet for $30 through the new Pepsi Porch. Originally the Bullpen Bar and Grill near the third-base line, the venue was expanded from 40 to 150 seats. Any open seats not taken by a group will go on sale to individuals one week before the game.
 
Then, come June, the stadium will unveil The View—a spacious alternative to typical meeting and event spaces. Overlooking centerfield, The View features luxurious indoor seating for 150 guests, with additional room provided on an outdoor patio.
 
The View will be open year-round for meetings and special events, and available for private groups on game days. Meeting planning packages are available, with food options that include catering and the standard menu. The gourmet burger bistro Good Hops also relocated from the main concourse to offer patrons at The View additional choices.
 
Room set up, conferencing systems and other meeting amenities are available based on customer needs. And while a unique setting for corporate meetings, The View can also be set up for birthday parties, anniversaries and family-related events. 
 
"It's one of the most distinctive meeting space in the region," says Frederickson. "It provides a beautiful view for any kind of event—hence the name."
 
While renovation is nearly complete for the main stadium, construction recently began on The Outfield, one of the country's first upscale residential units at a professional minor league ball field. The new development by the Gillespie Group will rise above right center field, and will feature more than 80 residential units. The public-private development is slated for completion in spring 2016.

Sources: Linda Frederickson, Assistant General Manager of Marketing and Special Events, Lansing Lugnuts
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Rough Draft Solutions provides strategic writing and editing for small businesses

Amanda Washburn understands what a blank screen is all about. She's a writer.
 
Armed with that core knowledge, Washburn decided she would help others fill the void and fine-tune what they had started. So in January 2014, she filled her virtual red pens and sharpened her cyber pencils and set in motion a business that provides strategic writing, editing and marketing solutions for small businesses.
 
Rough Draft Solutions works with clients to identify objectives, create content strategies and take customer relationships to the next level. Washburn says she can jump in to craft messaging, tweak and organize concepts, and get points across through the most cost-effective and efficient communication channel. Whatever stage a company is at with a project—be it a blank slate or communications in process—she's there to help.
 
"I realized that many small or local businesses don't have anyone doing marketing for them," says Washburn. "So while they may be doing great things and making great products, no one really know about the value of what they're providing."
 
Rough Draft Solutions has worked with about 25 clients including engineering firms, insurance agents, financial advisers, web and graphic designers, health care organizations and city administrators. In each instance, Washburn sits down to tailor solutions through a content-marketing toolbox that includes blog and web posts, newsletters, press releases, social media, and internal communications.
 
Washburn breaks her services into three key phases: strategizing, creating and polishing. She says she firmly believes that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing tactic or plan, and adds that she can jump in at any point of the process.
 
"We're specialists in helping businesses communicate in authentic and engaging ways," says Washburn. "Anything that has to do with writing, we'll do it."
 
While currently a one-person shop, Washburn plans to take Rough Draft Solutions to the next level. She's currently looking to hire interns over the summer and to build a for-credit internship program.
 
Sources: Amanda Washburn, Rough Draft Solutions
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Prima Civitas and MEDC join forces to boost Michigan's economy

Prima Civitas and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have formalized their longstanding working relationship through a cooperative agreement aimed at promoting economic development throughout Michigan.
 
Signed earlier this spring, the agreement sets the stage for broader collaboration on ongoing projects or those in the works.
 
"We felt it was important to formalize our relationship and work to continue to improve Michigan's economy," says Arnold Weinfeld, CEO and board chair of Prima Civitas. "The more formal relationship will allow us to expand our services across the state and work with more partners involved in the same type of work."
 
The two organizations will continue to collaborate on worker recruitment and training, as well as projects that support businesses in creating and retaining jobs. Other key efforts will encourage the export of Michigan products and services, and foster private sector involvement and support for the state's economic development.
 
Prima Civitas and MEDC are currently coordinating the Michigan Supply Chain Innovation Summit slated for this August. The conference provides a forum for thought leaders to explore innovative business solutions within the supply chain, and to showcase Michigan's logistical assets and resources.
 
Other ongoing collaborations include rebuilding the cut and sew industry; assisting, retraining, and securing employment for displaced professionals; and building and maintaining a statewide internship initiative.
 
Prima Civitas is a nonprofit community and economic development organization supported by Michigan State University, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and other partners. The organization promotes collaborative relationships across government agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector to promote the state's economic growth.
 
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state's marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, talent and jobs, tourism, film and digital media incentives, arts and cultural grants, and overall economic growth. The MEDC offers a number of business assistance services and capital programs for business attraction and acceleration, entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships, talent enhancement, and urban and community development.
 
Sources: Arnold Weinfeld, CEO and Board Chair, Prima Civitas
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
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