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

Sparrow, Volunteers of America applaud first year of practice, add dental care

The Sparrow Medical Group Volunteers of America practice recently marked its first anniversary of providing care to the area's homeless.
 
Since March 2014, the innovative practice has logged more than 3,100 patient visits and helped individuals regain control of their health. Many of the patients are physically disabled, suffer from mental illness, and unable to access government health benefits to which they are entitled.
 
Located onsite at the VOAMI, 430 N. Larch St., the clinic is believed to be the first practice in Michigan based in a homeless service center.
 
"This is a common sense and compassionate option that makes our community better," says Darin Estep, director of community engagement for the VOA. "When people are feeling better and are healthier, they are better equipped to work on other things in their lives."
 
Estep says that fragile health is the main reason many people end up homeless. Before the clinic, the majority of homeless would tolerate a medical condition until it became an emergency. An ambulance or 911 was often their only option.
 
The clinic operates five days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and consists of six exam rooms, a lab and a room for doing simple procedures like stitches. Financial assistants are also onsite to assist with applications to health insurance and Sparrow's financial aid program.
 
"It looks like any other Sparrow medical practice and is beautifully appointed," says Estep. "It's a measure of respect that our clients can sit on a nice exam table and be treated like you or I would if we went to see a doctor."
 
Plans are underway to build and open a four-chair dental clinic next door to the practice in partnership with Delta Dental. Sparrow is among the groups helping to plan the clinic.
 
"Dental care is a huge part of health care and is sorely lacking among the homeless," says Estep. "The clinic is all part of our interdisciplinary approach."
 
The VOA also opened a legal clinic in December that advocates for the homeless and walks them through the disability process when appropriate. Part of that process, Estep says, involves securing medical confirmation of their disability, often through the in-house clinic.
 
"With the addition of a dental and law clinic, we have a full spectrum of options," says Estep "Our interdisciplinary team can now look at the most urgent homeless cases in the community and determine what may be keeping them from recovery."
 
Sources: Darin Estep, Director of Community Engagement, Volunteers of America Michigan
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

New academy for high schoolers peaks interest in insurance careers

High school students in Ingham County can prepare for careers in the growing insurance industry and earn college credit through a new one-year program unveiled by the Ingham Intermediate School District, Lansing School District, Accident Fund Insurance of America, and the Insuring MI Future Coalition.
 
Available to high school juniors and seniors, the Insurance Leadership Academy provides students the chance to learn about the insurance industry by attending classes three days a week at the Capital Area Career Center or Lansing Eastern High School. Students will also spend two days a week at Accident Fund Insurance where they will job shadow, participate in presentations, and learn job skills.
 
"The insurance industry is facing a future crisis since nearly 40 percent of our workforce in Michigan is 55 or older," says Lori Conartan, communications director for the Insurance Institute of Michigan. "We see a big need to attract young people to our industry."
 
One of the bigger challenges in building that future workforce, Conartan says, is changing the perception of insurance careers as boring or "last resort."
 
"But when they're able to look at it closer, they see the challenges and opportunities," says Conartan. "Jobs in insurance are rewarding because you're helping people. There are a wide variety of jobs, too, likes sales, accounting, IT and marketing."
 
Attorneys, fraud investigators and web masters also find employment within the industry. Mid-Michigan boasts about 6,800 jobs in insurance, as well as a 17 percent job growth in Eaton, Clinton and Ingham counties from 2010 to 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7.4 percent growth for insurance-related jobs in Greater Lansing from 2010 to 2020, while Michigan Labor Market Information reports an average annual wage of $55,000 for the tri-country area.
 
Conartan says the new Insurance Leadership Academy is a win all the way around.
 
"It's a win for students who are exposed to a great career," she says. "It's a win for the industry since students at a younger age are getting to know about careers in insurance. And it's a win for parents since the program provides nine free credits toward college."
 
The program is modeled after an Eaton County collaboration between Eaton RESA and Farm Bureau insurance. The Insuring MI Future Coalition members are the Insurance Institute of Michigan, Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, Michigan Association of Health Plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Life Insurance Association of Michigan, and Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
 
Sources: Lori Conarton, Communications Director, Insurance Institute of America
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Life as a Zebra supports groundbreaking research at University of Toledo Medical Center

The Life as a Zebra Foundation is adding some different stripes to their ways of raising funds, increasing awareness and advocating for the prevention, treatment and research of hard-to-diagnose invisible illnesses.
 
In April, LAAZF will welcome world-recognized expert Dr. Blair Grubb and his associates from the University of Toledo Medical Center as speakers and special guests at the 4th Annual Benefit Concert for Invisible Awareness and Research. Grubb's visit, says co-founder Katie Dama Jaskolski, represents a new partnership that supports the medical center's groundbreaking research into postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome—or POTS.
 
"This research project has the potential to improve the lives of so many who suffer from the often debilitating and life-altering disease," says Jaskolski. "It's a dream come true to have the chance to work with Dr. Grubb in order to make a difference in the lives of so many."
 
Jaskolski says that most of the proceeds from this year's gala will be allocated to Grubb's research only—a departure from previous LAAZF galas that supported multiple foundations. Anything beyond the targeted goal of $10,000 will be applied toward funding general operations for LAAZF—a non-profit supported by volunteers and charitable donations.
 
Grubb is considered a leader in the discovery and use of new approaches for the treatment of POTS—a debilitating disease that causes dizziness, sudden fainting, and an inability to carry on the basic functions of daily life. In 2015, Grubb was named one of the America's Top Doctors by Castle Connolly.
 
Jaskolski and her sister Allie Dama founded the Life as a Zebra Foundation in 2012. Each had lived with debilitating symptoms while searching for correct medical diagnoses. Dama Jaskolski has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and POTS, while Dama was diagnosed with polyarteritis nodosa vasculitis.
 
The 4th annual gala will be held April 11 from 6-11 p.m. at the MSU Kellogg Center. The evening includes cocktails, appetizers, a silent auction, presentations and headliner acts including pop/Americana artist Noah Guthrie from Glee and Boston-based singer-songwriter Chris Trapper of the band The Push Stars. For tickets or more information, click here.  
 
Sources: Katie Dama Jaskolski, Co-founder, Life as a Zebra Foundation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Alchemy Detroit brings timeless tailoring to The Runway

Shelley Van Riper spent years looking for the perfect blazer. Now she's bringing her finds to The Runway.
 
As the owner and founder of Alchemy Detroit, Van Riper was invited to hang her entire collection at The Runway starting this spring. Her line of classic and professional chic includes blazers, scarves and tees—all designed for women with an eye for timeless tailoring.
 
"I have people from age 20 to 65 wearing my pieces," says the Detroit-based designer. "It's classic, and timeless and versatile, and for the professional career woman, stay-at-home mom or the matriarch."
 
Van Riper spent 20 years building a career in the corporate world before leaving to found her women's wear label. Alchemy Detroit, she says, draws inspiration from men's wear with sophisticated, subtle touches that provide feminine appeal.
 
"I wore suits to work every day before corporate casual," says Van Riper. "Even then, I would wear a blazer even if it was with jeans."
 
Van Riper says she struggled with finding simple, classic pieces with clean lines and timeless quality. Sometimes, she says, she even went to men's departments at high-end stores to have them tailor a suit with the same details and craftsmanship she saw in men's suits.
 
While Van Riper eventually found a way to dress for success, she found herself constantly yearning to return to the creative discipline she had first pursued in college: fashion design.
 
"Fashion design never left me," says Van Riper who had switched her major and chose a business track. "It was my core."
 
Last year, Van Riper resigned from her desk job and put together the elements she needed to launch Alchemy Detroit. She devised a business plan, traveled to the garment district in New York, and made the connections she needed to create patterns, source materials, and tailor and produce her first products.
 
Van Riper says working with Lansing's Runway will enable her to make similar connections in Michigan, and provides a creative environment where she can mix with other fashion designers.
 
"I'm really honored to be hanging there with other Michigan designers," says Van Riper. "The Runway is a really exciting opportunity to bring people together to share resources, information and ideas."
 
Sources: Shelley Van Riper, Owner, Alchemy Detroit
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Inaugural leadership program looks to attract and retain Lansing talent

A new leadership initiative through the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce will help the Greater Lansing region identify, develop and retain the next generation of community leaders.
 
Leadership Lansing will offer both established and emerging leaders the opportunity to receive extensive training in leadership skills as well as to gain a greater understanding of how community institutions shape the region's quality of life.
 
The eight-month initiative begins in October 2015 and is currently enrolling up to 30 participants for the inaugural year.
 
"We really wish to encourage a wide range of participation that is reflective of our diverse economy in Greater Lansing," says Kristin Beltzer, LRCC executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Leadership Lansing offers terrific opportunity for large and small businesses to develop their talent."
 
Participants will engage in seven workshops over the course of the program. An overnight retreat will acquaint them with key institutions, industry sectors and business leaders that make up the fabric of the Greater Lansing region. Workshop themes include leadership influence, education, healthcare, home-grown entrepreneurship, engagement and quality of life, and creating a vision for the future. Training on specific leadership skills will be part of each workshop.
 
Certified and credential leadership instructors Ross Woodstock of Kolt Communications and Susan Combs of Susan Combs Coaching and Consulting will facilitate Leadership Lansing. 
 
Combs says the new Lansing program will draw from the best practices of leadership programs across the state, and build an appreciation of the resources that are unique to Greater Lansing—including state government, associations, and Michigan State University.
 
"Our hopes are that participants will walk away with a broader understanding of our community, as well as specific leadership skills that they can put into practice in their organizations," says Combs. "Programs like these help people see the big picture and make connections across sectors."
 
Sources: Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce; Susan Combs, Owner, Susan Combs Coaching and Consulting
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Cuts and Convos provides haircuts and hope to Lansing homeless

When you look good you feel good. Most everyone has heard that. Jonathan Arias took it to heart.
 
In November, Arias founded Cuts and Convos, a Lansing nonprofit that offers beauty and barber services to low-income residents. Arias also provides legal, health and spiritual information to the people he serves—all during or immediately following their hair cut and styling.
 
In just four months, Arias and a cadre of volunteers have cut and styled hair for nearly 70 people through the Lansing City Rescue Mission, Cristo Rey Community Center, Haven House and Homeless Angels. Services are scheduled every-other-week or once a month. On occasion, speakers from local nonprofits or pastors provide the "convos."
 
"Many of the people we meet haven't received any tender loving care in a while," says Arias. "That's the beauty of what we do."
 
Arias says he came up with the idea for Cuts and Convos by combining his passion for justice with his long-time hobby of cutting and styling hair. After discussing the project with classmates and instructors through the MSU College of Law, Arias realized the value his blended service could bring to both individuals and the community.
 
"Sometimes the biggest barrier to employment is not being clean-cut and well-groomed," says Arias. "Our services can help give someone a shot at getting their foot in the door."
 
Arias says his greatest reward is hearing how the services of Cuts and Convos have changed someone's life or perceptions. A high school student, for instance, received compliments instead of taunts after Arias and other volunteers cut and styled her hair. And two men told him how their job interviews had led to employment after Cuts and Convos helped them prep with a shave, hair cut and coaching.
 
"We cut people's hair and we listen to their stories," says Arias. "We feel it gives them hope to know that regardless of where you've been, someone cares about you and wants you to feel good about yourself."
 
Sources: Jonathan Arias, Founder, Cuts and Convos
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Bootcamps hit the ground running for Lansing startups

Bootcamps aren't just for the military or fitness industry anymore. Organizations of all shapes and sizes are putting people to the test with rigorous curriculums or programs designed to build skills and acumen quickly.
 
Lansing's entrepreneurial sector joins the mix. In February, The RING—Lansing's Innovation Network powered by LEAP—partnered with a handful of organizations to host a second year of bootcamps for startups. Seeking to build on the effectiveness of the inaugural year, bootcamp organizers restructured the format from two weeklong sessions to a series of six, one-day bootcamps in 2015.
 
Tony Willis, manager of business acceleration at LEAP, says the bootcamps are a product of like-minded organizations on a mission to nurture Lansing's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Those organizations include the Small Business Development CenterMichigan Creative, MSU Innovation CenterRough Draft Solutions, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
 
"We just threw out the sketch paper and asked ourselves what would make sense for our demographics here in Lansing," says Willis. "By working together we identified subjects that are important for entrepreneurs to master for success."
 
The first educational bootcamp for 2015 focused on branding and marketing, and featured presentations from industry leaders that ranged from connecting key small business development resources, techniques, trends, social media and video marketing, public relations and content creation. Nearly 40 people attended the event held in the 300 Room, located between the Technology Innovation Center and The Hatch incubators in East Lansing. Participants included new startups, established companies, and future entrepreneurs.
 
"Our overall outcome for all our bootcamps is to enhance and increase the knowledge base of our entrepreneurs," says Willis. "At the end of the year, we want participants to be able to say they've increased their business, they've identified things to improve on, and they've taken action that will help move them ahead."
 
Topics covered in upcoming bootcamps include creating business plans, legal issues, investment strategies, contracts and proposals, and attracting and working with lenders. A full slate of workshops and topics can be found here. 
 
Sources: Tony Willis, Manager of Business Acceleration, LEAP
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.

Promotional video targets international visitors, helps build Lansing tourism

Numbers tell the story when it comes to the impact of tourism in Greater Lansing. And tourism watchers with the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau say those numbers will continue to grow as more organizations and individuals pick Lansing as their destination for events, attractions, or just plain R&R.
 
"Associations and sports are our bread and butter," says Tracy Padot of the organizations and travelers who chose Lansing for conventions, meetings and events. "But we're looking to attract more leisurely visitors to the community—including Chinese travelers."
 
Chinese and other international visitors, Padot points out, can be a unique source of tourism given that nearly 8,000 international students attend Michigan State University—with more than 6,000 being Chinese.
 
In early 2015, the GLCVB released a three-minute video that encourages Chinese viewers to consider visiting Greater Lansing. Produced through a partnership with Brand USA, the video features an on-camera host speaking in Chinese and sharing Greater Lansing visitor information in his own cultural style. Shots were taken across the region including the Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing City Market, the Lansing River Trail, the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, and other landmarks.
 
The videos are pat of an initiative by Brand USA to encourage international travel to the U.S., and were produced in cooperation with Travel Michigan. The piece is also being used for international market promotion in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and China.
 
Other recent information campaigns by the GLCVM included "Tourism Counts," revealing the 4.7 million annual visitors to the region, creating a $472 million economic impact, and supporting 6,400 local jobs.
 
"We have a lot of great conventions, meetings and sports tournaments coming to town this year, with some being new," says Padot. "It's should be a great year of events."
 
The GLCVM employs 25 full- and part-time staff, with two part-time positions going to full-time in the past year.
 
Sources: Tracy Padot, VP, Marketing Communications, Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

UZoom Media unites with Michigan Creative to create premier agency

The merger of two small Lansing-based companies promises to make a big impact in helping other businesses meet marketing goals.
 
On March 5, Michigan Creative and UZoom Media will become one, with a focus on being a leading provider of creative and marketing services that include web, video branding and strategy.
 
"The merger will really help us speak to our message of being a company's marketing department," says Melissa Meschke, COO of Michigan Creative. "We can step in now and offer more diversified and enhanced services to all our clients."
 
Operating under the brand of Michigan Creative, the merged company will add additional expertise and services including complex marketing strategies, targeted social media campaigns, inbound marketing, buyer persona research, advanced search engine optimization, and search engine marketing.
 
Anne Craft founded UZoom media five years ago, and began working with Michigan Creative in 2014. The more projects she worked on with Michigan Creative, the more she said it made sense for the two to join forces and offer combined, client-centered services.
 
"I knew I had found a good fit," says Craft. "We're both about fostering entrepreneurship and the local economy, and believe we can do things collaboratively to get the job done for the client."
 
Michigan Creative was founded more than three years ago and operates out of the NEO Center at 934 Clark St. The newly-merged company has 11 staff that includes full-time, part-time and interns. By year's end, Michigan Creative hopes to transition at least three-part time employees to full-time.
 
To celebrate the merger, Michigan Creative and UZoom will host a 'Waiting for Spring' open house, Thursday, March 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the NEO Center. The open house will include live music, light refreshments and drinks. To RSVP click here. 
 
Sources: Melissa Meschke, COO, and Anne Craft, Chief Strategist, Michigan Creative
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

YMCA of Lansing receives grant from Consumers Energy Foundation

A $30,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation will help fund facility improvements to two branches of the YMCA of Lansing, and enable the nonprofit to continue expanding services that focus on health, wellness, and special needs of children, teens and adults.
 
 "Youth development, social responsibility and healthy living are part of our mission," says Cheri Schimmel, development director of the YMCA of Lansing. "We're grateful for support of the Consumer Energy Foundation in helping us reach our goals through our ongoing Capital Campaign."
 
Renovations to the Oak Park branch in South Lansing will include improvements to the childcare center and kids' gym. The Consumers Energy Foundation grant will also be used toward the creation of a recreational outdoor sports park on the branch's backgrounds.
 
The Oak Park YMCA opened in 1982 and provides childcare and recreational programs for the community. Estimates are that 82 children each week will be served by the branch's improved childcare center. About 250 children a week currently use the kids' gym, and will continue to use the improved facilities. The YMCA projects that about 3,000 youth will find a safe, controlled place to play through the new recreational outdoor sports park each year. 
 
At the Parkwood branch, funds will be applied toward extensive renovations to the wellness center and improvements of the indoor track. The Parkwood YMCA was established in 1961 and serves 13,000 people each month. About 750 scholarships are awarded each year to enable qualifying families and individuals to participate in programs and activities.
 
"The Lansing Y has been here for 137 years," says Schimmel. "We reflect the needs of the community and work to serve those needs."
 
The YMCA of Metropolitan Lansing has six operating units, including Mystic Lake Camp near Clare, and branches downtown, on Lansing's west side, in the Oak Park area to the south, in East Lansing, and DeWitt. The YMCA employs nearly 500 individuals, and serves nearly 16,000 memberships throughout the community.
 
Sources: Cheri Schimmel, Development Director, YMCA of Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Collaborative design project celebrates Lansing, raises funds for art education

From T-shirts, to stickers, to tongue-in-cheek humor, Lansing's grittiest, grassroots, art-driven promo company has ventured into fundraising—forever empowered by the #LoveLansing movement.
 
JiveOne5even—a collaborative art project started by Paul Vetne and Marcus Cottom—recently held it's very first fundraiser in the form of a #LoveLansing party at the Green Door. The event was organized to raise dollars for elementary art programs in the Lansing School District. After an afternoon of live music and activities involving local vendors, Cottom says the event pulled in about $3,600 to purchase art materials and fund scholarships for places like REACH and MSU SmART.
 
"We're going to try to do this on an annual basis," says Cottom, a Lansing native. "Both Paul and I are artists, so it was something we felt strongly about."
 
Cottom and Vetne launched JiveOne5even in the spring of 2014. The two came up with a handful of original designs, printed them on T-shirts, and ventured out to test the appeal through local festivals. The T-shirts caught hold, leading them to branch into stickers, buttons and other items that pay homage to the city.
 
While not Versace or Nike, Cottom says the JiveOne5even label projects a certain cache, and celebrates Lansing through an ironic, urban and respectful sensibility. Designs are created using elements from existing concepts—similar to how a rapper or DJ would build music from samples.
 
"Sometimes I think Lansing has a bad reputation," says Cottom. "You can look at it from the outside and say one thing, but when you live here, you see there's a lot of good going on. It's not just potholes and a big cement parking lot where GM used to be. It's a place full of people starting businesses and making music and art—all kinds of things."
 
JiveOne5even currently has eight designs that can be printed on T-shirts, stickers, buttons, and other small novelty items. Most are available through local stores on the East Side, East Lansing and near downtown.
 
Source: Marcus Cottom, Co-Owner, JiveOne5seven
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

SBAM connects businesses with job seekers through cutting-edge recruitment platform

A new cutting-edge job-matching technology recently introduced by the Small Business Association of Michigan through a partnership with WorkFountain can help businesses streamline the recruitment process by connecting them with prospective employees.
 
The SBAM Talent Exchange uses sophisticated matching algorithms to connect employers to candidates based on skills, interests and requirements. Employers who join the exchange create an account and are walked through a series of questions that help them identify the type of employees needed for a particular job or jobs. The system then searches through a pool of job seekers and presents seven candidates for each position specified by the employer.
 
"It's basically a match.com for employer and employees," says Sarah Miller, director of marketing for SBAM. "Candidates are presented to you based on specific job titles to education to skill set—whatever you specify."
 
SBAM says that the talent exchange focuses on small- to mid-sized businesses since companies with 500 or fewer employees are responsible for a sizeable amount of hiring. Just over half of the private sector jobs, and nearly two-thirds of the nation's net new jobs in the past decade-and-a-half, have been created by businesses that range from 1 to 500 employees, according to figures reported by SBAM.
 
"We know that finding qualified talent is one of the most significant challenges for businesses," says Miller. "This technology is a good resource for finding the talent, and can save businesses time, money and resources."
 
Members of SBAM can join the talent exchange for $35, while job seekers can register and post their credentials for free. About 53,000 potential employees have already joined the talent exchange which is available to SBAM members state-wide.
 
SBAM serves about 23,000 small businesses that range from accountants to appliance stores, manufacturers to medical, and restaurants to retailers, in all 83 Michigan counties. Approximately 1,300 businesses of SBAM's membership are in Ingham County.
 
Source: Sarah Miller, Director of Marketing, Small Business Association of Michigan
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.
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