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Stateside Deli to add bar service, 10 jobs to East Lansing location

Since the Stateside Deli opened in Downtown East Lansing two years ago, owner Spencer Soka felt there was something missing.
 
“I felt like, because of the demographics of the area, we wanted to incorporate alcoholic beverages with our food,” says Soka. “So we’re changing the place around a little bit.”
 
The deli will soon expand into a bar and sit-down restaurant. Rather than their traditional counter service, Stateside will offer table service and a new bar area. 
 
“We want to focus on the microbrew drafts, bottle service, whatever the customers want,” Soka says. “It will be a nice atmosphere, where you can come dressed up, dressed down, and get a great appetizer and meal.”
 
The increase in service will require Soka to add about ten new positions to his staff. He hopes to get his renovations underway in December and finish the $40,000-$50,000 project by January. 
 

Old Town firms merge to create Spoke 8 Marketing, create three jobs

Two familiar names in the Old Town creative services scene have joined forces. Lisa Smith of Donovan & Smith Marketing and Media and Ann Siegle of Tria Marketing and Design have merged their companies to create Spoke 8 Marketing
 
“We have both been on each other’s radar for a long time,” says Siegle. After the women began partnering on projects early in 2012, working together more permanently just made sense. 
 
“We both kind of looked out there and said, ‘this is a good thing,’” Siegle says. “We have very complementary skill sets.”
 
The focus of the new company is on what Siegle calls “open source marketing,” that is, applying the concept of open source software to their work to allow their clients to be as involved as they’d like. 
 
“The marketing industry is very protective of their products,” says Siegle. “We want the clients to own this from the beginning.”
 
The merger took place in July. Spoke 8 now employs a staff of eight. One new employee has been added since the two companies joined, and Siegle expects another two jobs to be added soon. 
 

Frandor store expands with new home brew supplies shop

For all the popularity home brewing beer has garnered in the Lansing area over the last several years, many might be surprised to learn that there weren’t many local places to buy home brewing supplies.
 
“Other than the Red Salamander in Grand Ledge, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of resources in the area,” says Brian Devries of the new home brewing shop in Frandor, That’s How We Brew. “We thought we could fill that vacuum.”
 
The shop itself was not brand new. Also known as That’s How We Roll, the store used to specialize in cigarette rolling supplies. When new regulations prevented the sale of their most popular item, Devries says they decided to expand the scope of their venture. 
 
“We thought it would be nice to hve a brew shop closer to town. There was a brew hopin . Some of use were brewers and we decided it would be nice to have something more local.
 
The move has been a good one since the store-within-a-store opened in early August. That’s How We Brew has added a new publicity employee and is working with a few professional local brewers as consultants. Devries says they hope to add an additional employee with brewing experience in the future. 
 
“One thing that we’re about to start is our brew club,” says Devries, “which will offer brewing customers some exclusive deals. We’ll also be having classes with some very knowledgeable people. We’re still coming up with ideas for other things that will benefit our customers.” 
 
Devries says their inventory is continuing to grow and change based on the needs and requests of their new customers. 
 

Coastal-1 Communications to add six Lansing jobs

Michigan-based Coastal-1 Communications is growing its Lansing office with six new employees. 
 
“We are constantly looking for new talent to market our products as Sales Representatives and Residential Sales Consultants, says Coastal-1 Communication’s Holly Ekwejunor-Etchie.
 
According to Ekwejunor-Etchie, Coastal-1 Communications currently employs a staff of 20 with offices in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Novi. The company also owns six AT&T retail locations throughout the state. 
 
“Coastal-1 is a marketing company in Michigan that is focused on acquiring subscribers and expanding adoption rates for our clients,” Ekwejunor-Etchie says. 
 
The recent growth of the company is due Coastal-1 Communications’ expansion into residential sales. 
 

DBI continues growth with three new positions

According to DBI, they key to steady growth in a down economy is building relationships. And they should know. Since 2008, the office supply and furniture design firm has added 10 new positions, three of which were created just this year. 
 
“Doing so much business with people in Mid-Michigan and our neighbors in Downtown Lansing has really helped us to grow,” says Cindy Kangas, Director of Marking. “DBI is a smaller company, but we’re committed to doing business in Michigan. Also, the Governor has made this push for small business, and that has really given us a little boost.”
 
DBI has been in business since 1984 and currently employs about 75 workers. That number includes small offices in Jackson, Alma and the company’s warehouse workers.
 
“Most people who know about DBI, know about the office supplies,” says Kangas, “but we also have these wonderful furniture resources. We’ll do all the layout and design work, and a lot of people don’t know that we do that.”
 
Kangas says DBI’s plans to continue their slow and steady growth, continuing to provide customers with something different than the big box stores, including great customer service. 
 

ITEC grows programs, community partnerships and staff

It’s been a busy year for ITEC, Lansing’s Information Technology Empowerment Center. Since the non-profit moved into their headquarters at the Foster Community Center a year ago, the organization has added one part-time and two full-time employees, not to mention a host of new programs and partnerships.
 
“We’ve been growing by leaps and bounds,” says ITEC Executive Director Kirk Riley. “All of ITEC’s programs are done by contract individuals. One any given day, the number is about ten contractors that are doing programs here at the Foster Community center and out in the community.”
 
In addition to their afterschool programs and Everyday Digital classes, which teach novice computer users basic computer skills, ITEC has partnered with a number of local organizations to expand their programming, including the YMCA of Lansing, Lansing Community College and the City of Lansing. 
 
A recent partnership with the Lansing School District will soon bring a new afterschool math program, iMath, to fourth and sixth grade students. 
 
“It’s a major undertaking by ITEC,” says Riley, “a new direction and new program.” 
 
In addition, ITEC has partnered with the City of Lansing’s Office of Community Media, working with Michigan Creative to provide the educational component of Lansing Public Media Center's efforts. ITEC has also started a small operation in Flint in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, Flint Community Schools and the Northeast Village Neighborhood.
 
“We rely on and benefit from our partnerships,” says Riley. “We are all about being stronger by working together. Without other organizations’ contributions, ITEC would not able to do what we do.” 
 

State of Fitness grows staff, renovates workout space

State of Fitness brought a new kind of workout to East Lansing when they opened their doors more than two years ago. The training-focused facility has been growing ever since, and has recently completed a major renovation. 
 
“When we first moved into the facility it was beautiful, and it was already built out really well for a gym,” says State of Fitness Trainer Justin Grinnell. “But the way we train our folks is different than your traditional gym.”
 
A 2,000 square foot space in State of Fitness has been transformed into a field turf area, where a variety of training and exercise can take place. Grinnell also swapped out some of the facility’s more traditional cardio equipment for newer, more cutting edge machines. The renovations represent an approximately $40,000 investment. 
 
“It’s been great,” says Grinnell. “People like that they have more space to workout in. We have a lot of fun. It’s like an adult playground here.” 
 

Gone Wired becomes The Avenue Cafe, to add up to seven staff

A favorite local hangout on Lansing’s Eastside has received a makeover and new identity. After eight years as the Gone Wired Café, the business has added a bar, alcohol sales, an entertainment stage and a new name: The Avenue Café. 
 
“Eight years ago, most bars and most restaurants didn’t have wifi,” says Alex Rabe, bar manager at The Avenue Café, “but now that name is kind of stale; it kind of promotes something that everyone has.” 
 
With the new amenities and services, The Avenue Café is seeking to instead promote several things that make the venue unique, such as a selection of Michigan beers on tap, using local produce in their updated menu and retaining their reputation as a great place for groups to meet for studying, meetings or fun. 
 
“We’re thinking about doing beer dinners soon,” says Rabe. “We’re working with the breweries to have a line up of beer to build a menu around.” 
 
The Avenue Café’s staff is changing as well. The café traditionally maintained a staff size of five to six employees, but are now increasing those numbers to 12 to 15. The Avenue Café also features new entertainment, such as live bands, open mic nights and film screenings. 
 

Michigan Economic Center at the Prima Civitas Foundation to support "green" and "blue" economies

Michigan’s  “green” and “blue" economies will soon be getting a boost from a new advocate, The Michigan Economic Center (MEC). The MEC will operate through the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF), organizing citizens and leadership around strategies for economic growth.
 
Heading the new initiative is John Austin, President of the Michigan State Board of Education and a non-resident Brookings Institution Senior Fellow. Austin will join PCF in making MEC an independent policy and action organization. 
 
“We started talking and thought it would be natural for me to focus on these issues about a year ago,” says Austin. “And we decided, ‘Hey, let’s do it together.”
 
The MEC will begin by diving into such projects as building support for emerging sectors and technologies through education, research and development; helping to implement an urban innovation strategy as proposed by the Brookings Institution and Public Sector Consultants for Business Leaders for Michigan and capitalizing on Michigan's “blue economy.” 
 
“One of our greatest economic assets is our water, in multiple ways,” says Austin. “We can make and export water efficiency projects. We can be the center of clean water research. We have an incredible piece of real estate in our waterfronts. People around Michigan are starting to see that water is a magical resource that we have.” 
 
The MEC has also received a $225,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement an initiative called "Michigan Dream Restored," which will develop policy proposals to help Michigan better support investments in economy-growing public assets. 
 

MSU to receive $45M to support African scholars

Engagement in Africa is nothing new to Michigan State University, having more than 50 years of history working with students and organizations there. Now, MSU has announced it will deepen its ties with the continent as a partner with The MasterCard Foundation on its $500 million education initiative, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.
 
“The MasterCard Foundation did a preliminary scan for universities that were actively involved in Africa,” says MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “They wanted to make sure the students could go back home and tap into existing networks. Because of MSU’s fifty-year history in Africa, we were selected to submit a proposal.” 
 
The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program’s goals are to provide talented, financially disadvantaged youth with access to high-quality education. MSU is the only institution in the Midwest to be a part of the program. The school will receive $45 million to support 185 scholars throughout the nine-year program, including 100 undergraduates and 85 master’s degree students. Six African students – four graduate and two undergraduates – have already begun their work.
 
President Simon says MSU’s participation in the program is not only beneficial to Africa, but also to the Greater Lansing region. 
 
“We already have about 200 students form Africa,” says President Simon. “It’s also important to think about the connections we’ve made over the years to Africa and their emerging economies. There will be a number of business opportunities that can evolve through this network.” 
 
MSU will host the more students than any other of the six U.S. partner institutions. The university will also organize an annual conference for scholars.
 

REACH teens build rhino sculpture for Potter Park Zoo

Just when it seemed like Potter Park Zoo was as fun as it could possibly be, the artists of REACH Studio Art Center’s Teen Open Studio program found a way to make Lansing’s local zoo even better. Last week, Potter Park officials and REACH unveiled a new, eight-foot sculpture of a rhinoceros made by the teens themselves.
 
“Toward the end of REACH’s spring classes,” says Marketing Coordinator for Potter Park Zoo, Payal Ravani, “one of [REACH Outreach Coordinator Jeana-Dee Rogers’] students mentioned that it would be nice to do an art project at Potter Park Zoo. Jeana-Dee called me to see if it was something we would be interested in, and of course it was.”
 
The unique rhino sculpture was constructed by nearly 20 Lansing-area teens out of such materials as bicycle rims and tubes, polyurethane expanding foam, chicken wire, PVC pipe, ultracal and more. 
 
“The zoo takes great pride in exhibiting art at Potter Park,” says Ravani. “It’s a natural fit, seeing as the park has plenty of space to offer and a captive audience nearly every day. Placemaking means creating spaces that people feel connected to, and we are proud that Potter Park is one of those places.” 
 
The joint project between Potter Park Zoo and REACH was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, City of Lansing, Youth Action Committee of Capital Region Community Foundation, Lansing Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts Council of Greater Lansing and the staff and volunteers of REACH Studio Art Center Community Art Projects.
 

Local martial arts expert launches world's first online martial arts school

Martial arts expert Chief Master Richard McDowell knows there is an array of things that prevent people from attending training, even if they want to learn martial arts. 
 
“People don’t have the time anymore to go to a school,” says McDowell, “And some people may be too shy to come to class. But they still want to learn, they want their kids to learn”
 
McDowell created a solution for those obstacles by creating the first online martial arts school, Martial Arts Online University.
 
“We made it very affordable,” McDowell says. “You train at your pace, not anybody else’s. If it takes you six years, if it takes you six weeks, that’s up to you.”
 
The school gives students of all ages and in any location the opportunity to train up to black belt level. Twenty-five instructors – nine of whom are in the Lansing area – teach video courses available in 13 languages. As students become ready to test for the next level belt, they simply submit a recorded video to the master instructors for evaluation. 
 
“You can also download everything to be a black belt, and never have to test,” McDowell says.
 
The unique online school began this month and already has students in Canada, Europe and Jamaica, as well as throughout the United States. Here in Lansing, the Westside Community YMCA serves as the home for Martial Arts Online University, as the setting for the filming of the course videos, as well as the location where 60 students attend non-virtual classes.
 

Williamston tanning salon changes hands, creates three jobs

After taking time off from her career as an entrepreneur to spend more time with her children, Kelly Driver was looking for a new opportunity. When she noticed that a tanning salon on Grand River in Williamston had closed, she saw her opportunity. 
 
Driver and her oldest daughter purchased and re-opened the 900 square foot Bronzed Tanning Salon in the spring and have been busy serving the community ever since.
 
“We’re pretty competitively priced,” says Driver. “It’s very homey in here. We don’t try to push stuff on people, so people are just really comfortable here.” 
 
One of the things most people don’t realize about tanning, says Driver, is that it’s not all about cosmetics. Bronzed Tanning serves a number of clients who tan for medical reasons. 
 
“I have several people in here for psoriasis and eczema,” Driver says. “We try to educate people, whether they’re here for health reasons, or to have a healthy glow.” 
 
Bronzed Tanning Salon currently employs Driver and her two daughters. She hopes to expand the salon’s services to include hydromassage. 
 

MSU diverts 9,320 lbs. of recyclables to achieve first time zero waste event

An annual Michigan State University event became an unprecedented zero-waste event in August when 9,320 pounds of recyclables were diverted during the 2012 Spartan Spectacular cookout.
 
"Since the beginning we have been working hard to educate participants on how to lessen waste at the event,” says Diane Barker, sustainability officer for the Residential and Hospitality Services Sustainability Office. “The goal for the event was to continue to challenge ourselves and look for ways to reduce our waste and see how we could divert more waste then the previous year.” 
 
More than 11,400 students attended the August 28 cookout, which had recorded between 35 and 40 percent of recyclables diverted in years past. With the help of more than 100 volunteers, the RHS Office was able to achieve a 96 percent waste diversion rate. The Zero Waste International Alliance standard for zero waste is 90 percent or higher.
 
“A team of campus professionals from Residential and Hospitality Services, MSU Recycling Center, and our Anaerobic Digester Research Center worked together to lay plans and expedite a green event at Spartan Spectacular and lessen the waste,” says Barker. “The zero waste event was a result of a lot of collaboration and planning.”
 
An estimated 3,500 pounds of food waste collected at the event was taken to MSU’s Anaerobic Digester in the MSU Dairy Barn. According to Barker, the RHS Office plans to continue to use the Spartan Spectacular as an annual opportunity to educate students on recycling and waste diversion.
 

DRM Genesis celebrates 10 years, expansion and 10 new jobs

Ten years ago, Re'Shane Lonzo learned firsthand about the need for a local quality home healthcare provider. When her friend’s daughter suffered a severe injury, she watched her spend countless hours caring for the girl without sufficient help. Though Lonzo worked full-time for Lansing Community College, she couldn’t help but volunteer to help. 
 
“After two years and about 2,500 hours of volunteering, my friend said, ‘Re'Shane, you should start your own company,’" Lonzo says. “I researched the thought, obtained the proper insurances, and 10 years later here I am.” 
 
Now with 50 employees and more than 40 clients, Lonzo is celebrating her tenth anniversary of her company, DRM Genesis with additional growth. She added 10 employees over the last year, and expanded the company with a new office in Warren.
 
“We were introduced to a physician there with 30 plus years of experience and he was looking to add another discipline to his office complex, says Lonzao. “It was a great opportunity for us and that office is actually growing at a faster rate than our Lansing office.” 
 
In addition to DRM Genesis’ growth, Lonzo started the DRM International Learning Center in 2007.
 
“Once we got into the groove of hiring healthcare staff to work with our clients, we realized there was a need for more healthcare training,” she says. “What better way to ensure that you have the most competent, compassionate home healthcare employees than to train them?”  
 
Now celebrating its fifth year, the school now trains between 200 and 250 students per year.
 
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