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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

LCC Program teaches adults valuable, workplace skills

Lansing Community College is close to wrapping up a month long program meant to help adult students prepare for a better college experience and also better prepare them for the workplace.

LCC's Gateway to Success Adult Boot Camp, taking place until August 6th, is preparing adults that have been out of the workforce or education system to go back to school. They've brought in employers to help with the program who are interested in different strengths from different generations. Cathy Wilhm, Director, Center for Workforce Transition at Lansing Community College, says, "Education isn't just about learning skills, but also learning what employers are looking for."  Having particular skills may be useless if your potential  employer needs you to work with a team and you never have, "We are creating well-rounded employees," says Wilhm.

After completing assessments to identify possible career paths, students meet with program advisors to set goals. They will take courses related to those fields and also in Microsoft and Internet Basics. There will also be one-on-one learning sessions.

To help with the program, 6 faculty members were brought in and some of those were hired specifically for the program. "We have a ton of people that want in," says Cathy of the growth opportunities for next year. "We will continue to identify opportunities and meet employer demands."
 
Source: Cathy Wilhm, Director, Center for Workforce Transition at Lansing Community College
?Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

YMCA offers programs for refugee families

While the YMCA of Lansing has been working with refugee youth for a little over a year, they have recently been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation to extend that service to families. The Refugee Family Strengthening and Parenting Skills Program will begin mid-July at the downtown YMCA.

In the past, refugee adults only received about three months of classes and programming and then were expected to be self-sufficient. According to Kelly King, Executive Director of the Downtown Wellness Center, "There was a need to increase their skill set."

 The program will focus on hygiene, communication, family time and try to teach them what is acceptable in America while urging them to maintain their own traditions and cultures. The hope is that a large percentage of participants will stay on for further programming that will focus on finding jobs, interview skills, resume building, financial management and more.

To help make the program successful, King says they will be hiring translators and interpreters, a few Master's Students from MSU and an immigrant from Iraq to help with both programs. They have also hired on a refugee student from Burma.
King says, "We are really excited to help these folks succeed in the community and call Lansing their home long-term."
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Source: Kelly King, Executive Director of the Downtown Wellness Center
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

The Hatching celebrates one year of supporting entrepreneurs

The Hatching, a pitch competition that allows entrepreneurs with a business idea to win money and grow their business, turns one-year-old this week.

In its first year the competition has helped create 18 jobs and form 12 companies, companies that, according to Tony Willis of Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), may not have gotten their ideas heard otherwise.

The Hatching, a joint effort between Spartan Innovations and LEAP, is a monthly event and the winners of each session are given not only prize money but access to resources that can otherwise be pricey and difficult to obtain such as legal help (provided by Loomis Law) and marketing assistance (from Michigan Creative).

There have been many successes out of the Hatching, including the most televised success, Swaddle-mi-Billi, a wearable jaundice treatment for infants. The company was featured on a startup reality show on A&E and it has become a mainstream product. Other successes include, Eightfold Marketing, Go Green Trikes, Poochie Bowl, What's Mapnin' (who won the year-end Grand prize) and more. All of these companies are growing, hiring, and contributing to economic development in Lansing.  "All of these businesses saw a common problem, and solved it," says Willis, "They created a business that can revolutionize that area."

In their second year, LEAP and Spartan Innovations hope to double the numbers from the Hatching's first year. They hope to see more attendance, more submissions and more jobs.

Source: Tony Willis, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 
 
 

Michigan-Florida Green Corridor gives access to alternative fuels

After five years in the making, the I-75 Green Corridor is in the final stages, offering a way for drivers of alternative fuel vehicles a way to fuel up between Michigan and Florida.

Funded by the Department of Energy and supported by the Clean Energy Coalition, and with assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Green Corridor is one of the world's longest biofuel stations corridors. In Michigan alone there are 12 biofuel stations along I-75. There are 26 E85 (a fuel with 85 percent ethanol) stations, and 9 B20 (a biodiesel blend) stations.

According to John Overly of the Clean Fuels Coalition in Tennessee, the biofuels industry quickly "Went from the thousands, to the billions."The more we can create these stations, the more jobs we can create and the more citizens we can help." The biodiesel industry alone has created 62,000 jobs and many of these jobs have a local impact during projects like this.

The corridor should be completed this summer, with only 40 stations left to install. Most of the work ahead comes with working to promote the stations and making people aware they are available. Overly is hoping that this project paves the way for many more like it, "Michigan has used state funding to support adding stations, and Tennessee is hoping to follow suit."

Source: Jonathan Overly, Clean Fuels Coalition
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor 

Growing Michigan distillery industry gains representation

Distilleries in Michigan have become such a large industry, ranking # 4 in the nation, that a statewide association has been formed to help unify their interests. The Michigan Craft Distillers Association will give the distilleries in Michigan a voice.  "It's no longer just a business," says Kris Berglund, Treasurer of the association and owner of Red Cedar Spirits, "it's an industry."

That industry is so heavily regulated by the government and yet until now, was always left out of important, legislative conversations. This association guarantees their needs and issues are heard by those that matter. It will also help give the industry the marketing and promotion that the beer and wine industries already receive.

Even before it was formed as an official organization, the association had a hand in making sure distilleries were considered in a "Farm to Glass" bill that did not originally include them. It has opened up communication between distilleries and other associations, and is helping to bring focus to the rapidly growing industry.

According to Berglund, membership is expected to grow, and not only membership, but the distilling industry in Michigan. The industry itself has created a lot of jobs and will continue to do so as it expands and matures.

Source: Kris Berglund, Treasurer Michigan Craft Distillers Association
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 

New 'Pure Michigan" buses promote tourism, ridership

While the brand new Indian Trails buses aren't unusual, their new décor is. The buses are usually decorated with the Indian Trails logo, but these eight new motorcoaches are dolled up with giant photos depicting some of Michigan's most popular travel destinations, and the Pure Michigan logo.

In a partnership with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Indian Trails aims to promote Michigan tourism but also shake the myth that they only provide charter services. The slogan on the buses also contributes to that aim; "We're Going Your Way- Daily" points out to riders that the buses provide daily service and local routes. Many of the cities included in the routes are also listed along the bus.

According to Chad Cushman, Vice President of Indian Trails, "We want to emphasize that a lot of the areas we serve are not served by any other mode of public transportation." The folks in these areas may not have any way to get to jobs or potential employers, and Indian Trails wants to make that possible for them. They hope this piece of the promotion will create jobs for people that previously could not get to one.  These new buses help promote that opportunity along with Michigan destinations and tourism.

Source: Chad Cushman, Indian Trails
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations New Editor
 

$35 million in grants to Great Lakes Capital Fund to revitalize neighborhoods

The Great Lakes Capital Fund (GLCF) has received $35 million through Federal New Market Tax Credits. The tax credit is a huge source of funding that will support job creation and development.

While the GLCF has been known for supporting housing efforts, this grant is meant to support the retail and commercial side of things, therefore expanding their reach. The project the grant will be used on has not yet been chosen but when it is, it can either be solely retail or a combination of retail and residential.  According to Kelly Bernero, Advocacy and PR Specialist with GLCF, with this grant, GLCF can now consider itself a one-stop-shop when it comes to having the resources that help make the community a better place to live.

The next step for the organization is choosing which project to use the funds on. Any project they choose will create new jobs in the community both permanently and temporarily but according to Bernero, "We want to pick the projects that never would have happened without the grant. When we do make the announcement," she says, "It will be huge."

The fact that the organization was chosen for this grant, according to Bernero, really shows that the administration understands Michigan's needs.
 

New Greater Lansing Food Bank program shares farm fresh vegetables, creates farmers

The Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) has announced a program through the Lansing Roots farm program designed to fight hunger, create jobs, and help people provide for themselves and their community. The model, called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), is a weekly vegetable subscription that connects local farmers and food consumers. After one payment at the beginning the season, subscribers then receive a box of produce containing 10-15 different items, each week for 20 weeks.

The program also has a low income option, so that low income families have access to affordable, fresh produce. Subscriptions can also be paid for using SNAP/EBT and Double-Up Food Bucks.  According to Alex Bryan, the program manager, it's a great way to connect farmers to those that need food and cut out the middle man.

They are not only feeding families in need, but are also creating jobs by providing the tools, support and marketing components for those that want to farm but may not have the resources or funding to get started. The program provides 10 acres in Mason that was donated to charity as the land the farmers utilize. This two-fold approach is the GLFB's way of assuring there is enough food in the community. According to Bryan, "The biggest anti-hunger movement is economic development," and this program strives to contribute to that.

Source: Alex Bryan, Program Director
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 

Lansing receives Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation

Lansing has received an exciting growth opportunity in the form of an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation. Because of this designation, Lansing and 12 other counties will now have access to $1.3 billion in federal funding to help support manufacturing jobs and growth. The designation brings with it preference to receive funding in areas such as, automotive efficiency and safety, road repairs and infrastructure improvements and more.

Backed by over 170 partners, a never before seen number according to Ray De Winkle of LEAP, the designation is only one of 12 awarded across the nation. "It's unprecedented for the region to come together the way it did," says De Winkle. To win the designation, the partners involved had to create a set of strategies that would ensure success in areas like business development support, innovation and job creation, and ensuring a steady work force.

With Lansing as one of the anchor communities, De winkle says, "It really sets the region up for success." The potential grants and opportunities will help begin a shift in the regional economy and really help manufacturers focus on emerging technologies.
 
Source: Ray De Winkle, LEAP
Writer:  Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 

Sparrow and MSU partner to offer unique, hands on experience for youth

MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and Sparrow Health Systems have teamed up to create a one of a kind experience for a group of Lansing High School students.

FutureDOCS kicked off on June 5th and is giving a group of 16 outstanding students from Eastern, Everett and Sexton High Schools the chance to pursue an interest in a career in medicine. A hands-on experience, Program Director Floyd Hardin says one of their goals is to make students "work force ready." They will learn what it's like to attend medical school, get time in an actual ER and even get instructions on how to create a resume and personal statement.

Since the students are from communities that may be under resourced, Hardin also stressed the importance of helping these students become active participants, or even future leaders, in their community. "We want to instill pride and turn them into leaders that can someday give back," says Hardin.

The program is all about providing resources to under- served populations and providing tangible experience the students can take into the work force. To aide in this, and because of the quick growth of the program, a new Program Assistant was hired and Hardin says they expect to need more.

The students will work closely with MSU faculty, Sparrow physicians and be mentored by MSUCOM students.

Source: Floyd Hardin, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 
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