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New Mural Project Celebrates History of Lansing's Genesee Neighborhood

A mural is being painted on the east wall of the Black Child and Family Institute (BCFI) in Lansing to honor the past, present and future of the Genesee Neighborhood. The lower portion of the wall is a collection of silhouettes painted by the BCFI fine art camp this summer. Local artists, volunteers and neighbors have been working into the night to prime, paint and trace the rest of the design.

“[Last Tuesday,] from 9:00 p.m. until about midnight the design was traced onto the wall,” says Jeana-Dee Allen, community building assistant at Northwest Initiative (NWI). “We used four extension cords, donated scaffolding, wax pencils, a projector and laptop and a few cups of coffee. Tracing went smoothly thanks to good weather and positive attitudes.”

The overall sponsorship for this project is estimated at $10,000, including artists stipends, supplies, materials and in-kind time and equipment.

"This project and the other youth murals I’ve been involved with are important for the Lansing community because they not only create more beauty in our city, but also because of how that beauty is created — by involving youth and neighbors in the design and production and offering mentoring and learning opportunities," says Jessica Yorko with the NWI.

"There is substantial evidence showing that connection to and involvement in community projects and positive role models impacts how kids see themselves in relation to other people, and therefore their ambitions and decisions," she adds.

The project will hopefully be complete by the fall.

Source: Jeana-Dee Allen, Northwest Initiative

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Lansing JazzFest Receives $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant

The Lansing JazzFest, hosted annually in Lansing's Old Town neighborhood, has been awarded the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America: Reaching Every Community grant.

The grant is offered to organizations providing opportunities for the arts to reach underserved populations, such as those limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.

“The esteemed honor for the Lansing JazzFest to be an NEA grant recipient highlights our commitment to community development as a catalyst for the arts,” says Sharen Lange, executive director for the Old Town Business and Art Development Association (OTBADA), which is responsible for putting on the JazzFest.

Lansing JazzFest is a free community music festival, attracting attendees from across the city, state and region. By providing wider access to artistic and cultural excellence, the festival is making the arts accessible, which is the essential goal of the NEA.

Source: LaToya English, Old Town Business and Art Development Association

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

MSU Grad and Michigan Handbag Designer Creates "Old Town Lansing" Bag

Michigan State University grad and Troy, Mich., native, Jenna Kator, has created an Old Town Lansing bag for her latest collection. The great cities, landscapes and residents in the state of Michigan are the inspiration behind the Jenna Kator collection.

"We are paying tribute, honoring Michigan by naming our designer handbags and accessories after places that reflect great beauty, character and charm,” says Jenna Kator on her website.

“It’s incredibly exciting to hear that Jenna Kator has chosen our very own fabulous neighborhood to be in her collection,” says Summer Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique in Old Town. “The bag has a very Coco Chanel-met-Jenna Kator-for-a-cocktail-in-Old-Town feel," she says. "I am excited to be showcasing this in my store soon.”

The bag should be available at Grace Boutique this November.

Source: Summer Schriner, Grace Boutique

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley


MSUFCU and Employees Raise $26,000 For Boys & Girls Club

Beating their goal of raising $25,000, MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) and its employees raised $26,083 for the Boys & Girls Club of Lansing between January and June of this year.

Employees were excited to surpass the goal through employee donations and fundraisers including raffles, dress down days, a managers’ car wash, bake sales, and a golf putting outing.

“Giving back to the community in which we live, work and play, not only enriches our lives, it helps bring people together and makes our cities stronger," says April Clobes, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for MSUFCU. Our employees go above and beyond every day, and receive great joy out of giving back.

"Each year they decide as a group to support a local organization in need," she adds, "and each year they exceed their contribution goals. It’s amazing to see what can be accomplished with a little effort and determination.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Lansing provides local youth, ages 7–17, with physical fitness, recreation and educational activities, and has been in the area since 1964. 

Source: MSU Federal Credit Union

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Lansing-Based PTD Technology Announces Contract With Colorado Health Center

This month, Lansing-based PTD Technology established a contract with The Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health (CAIANH), on the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado.

“PTD’s role — to build additional functionality and improve usability for the ImmunizeColorado.com site — will benefit the entire state of Colorado,” says Doug Wiesner, vice president of IT Solutions at PTD Technology. “The web site serves as the primary Internet-based tool for the Colorado Adult Immunization Coalition (CAIC) to uphold current immunization information for adults and enable them to find statewide influenza vaccination clinics."

PTD Technology has been working with public institutions for 30 years, offering IT solutions to business, educational institutions, government entities and non-profits throughout the country.

“The local impact is that the project is a nationwide data collection site developed, supported and hosted by a locally owned and operated Michigan company employing local staff,” adds Wiesner.

Source: Doug Wiesner, PTD Technology

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Community Economic Development Association Gets $10,000 Training Grant

The Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), located in Lansing's REO Town neighborhood, received a $10,000 grant from State Farm to support the Comprehensive Community Development Institute (CCDI). CCDI is a training program that will help offer members greater access to safe, affordable housing and address the effects of the foreclosure crisis. 

“The CCDI training will provide another tool for organizations to revitalize their communities,” says executive director, Jamie Schriner-Hooper. "State Farm's support will help to provide a positive impact on the communities they serve."

"As a company with agents located throughout the state, many of us are able to interact first-hand with community development organizations making an impact close to our own homes,” says, Lansing State Farm agent, Jim Hanlin. “We are thankful that these organizations have access to top-notch training opportunities through CEDAM that give them the tools to increase their abilities.”

CEDAM represents about 400 organizations and individuals throughout Michigan who are committed to rebuilding neighborhoods and revitalizing communities.

Source: Jamie Schriner-Hooper, CEDAM

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

MSU Entrepreneurship Network to Provide One-Stop-Shop Services in East Lansing

Budding entrepreneurs in the Lansing region will soon have a one-stop-shop for all the resources they need to get started, thanks to a new venture out of Michigan State University.

The MSU Entrepreneurship Network will be formally unveiled Aug. 19 at a celebration at East Lansing’s Technology and Innovation Center, 325 E. Grand River Ave.

The network is a collaboration of several MSU and local entities dedicated to incubating new business.

“There are so many components to entrepreneurship,” says Bryan Ritchie, network director and a professor in MSU’s James Madison College. “There’s the business side, the engineering and manufacturing side, the policy side. So what we did is bring together all these people who are already doing entrepreneurship activities and said, ‘How do we coordinate all these activities?’

“So we said. ‘Let's create a network of all the assets on campus and give them all the resources in the community so they can sit down with all the right people at the right time.’”

Among other things that will be offered by the msuENet will be a new certificate program called Venture Creation and the Innovative Mindset. Launching this fall, the program features two courses and an experiential component, all designed to introduce participants to all aspects of entrepreneurship – business, psychology, sociology and finance, Ritchie said.

The certificate program is open to 60 people this year – 45 MSU students and 15 non-students. Anyone wanting more information can visit entrepreneurship.msu.edu

Source: Bryan Ritchie

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

NorthWest Initiative Conference Designed to Improve Lansing Neighborhoods

Lansing residents who want to strengthen their neighborhoods are invited to an upcoming conference sponsored by the NorthWest Initiative.

Called “Neighborhood…What? Creating Great Places,” the conference is schedule for Oct. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the South Washington Office Complex, 2500 S. Washington Ave.

“It is a conference designed to engage, inform and inspire residents to take ownership in making Lansing neighborhoods safer, healthier and more connected,” says Stephanie Campbell, community outreach specialist with the NorthWest Initiative.

“We would like everyone to see why it is so important for them and their families to make their neighborhoods the best they can be.”

The conference is open to the public. Registration is $5, which will cover lunch and supplies. Child care may also be available.

For registration information or  other updates, visit www.lansingneighborhoodconference.wordpress.com.

The NorthWest Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the neighborhoods around the Grand River.

Source: Stephanie Campbell

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

$2.5 Million NIH Grant Will Fund New Women's Health Research Program at MSU

Michigan State University hopes to take the lead in boosting the number of researchers dedicated to women’s health, and a new grant will help.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded MSU a $2.5 million grant to create a new program called Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health. The goal is to create a center where young researchers are paired with mentors and given the time and money to pursue research projects.

“This award provides an enormous opportunity for MSU and researchers in women’s health,” says Mary Nettleman, chair of MSU’s Department of Medicine. “This type of training grant not only encourages young investigators to come to MSU but also creates new networks and connections among researchers. It allows scholars to become independently funded women’s health investigators.”

The grant will help cover the salaries of young researchers to allow them time to apply for grants, set up projects and conduct researcher. The program will be open to researchers from across disciplines — not just medicine. 21 mentors have already been selected to work with them.

Source: MSU

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


Capital Region Community Foundation Grants $150,000 to I5 and ITEC

If the Lansing region hopes to continue growing its high-tech manufacturing sector and compete in the future, we must train our youth today to be prepared for those kinds of jobs.

That’s the thinking behind a major grant announcement by the Capital Region Community Foundation, which has awarded two local organizations $75,000 each for programs aimed at introducing science, math and technology to children.

The 2010 Impact Grants went to Impression 5 Science Center and the Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC).

Foundation officials say they hadn’t planned on awarding two grants this year but were so blown away by the parallel goals of Impression 5 and ITEC that it only made sense.

“What impressed the committee about both the I5 and ITEC plans was how they felt like two parts of a larger whole,” says Robin Miner-Swartz, the foundation’s director of communications. “Both focused on developing science and technology training for youth in our region, but in different-yet-parallel ways.

"And the fact that I5 and ITEC already had an established collaboration, it felt like a natural opportunity for the Community Foundation to double down and make a statement: This type of education and training is vital to our community.”

Impression 5 will use the funds to create an Emerging Media and Technology Lab within the science center. ITEC plans to open ITEC Pathways, a learning center that will offer program instruction to train tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.

Source: Robin Miner-Swartz

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


GiftZip.com Founder Sam Hogg Credits Team, Talent for Startup Success

Local entrepreneur Sam Hogg has become a regular face in national media, but he says he’s not letting it go to his head.

Hogg’s company, GiftZip.com, has twice been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine — once last March for being among a handful of young innovators who used class time to develop business ideas and again in June as one of “10 Hot Startups” to watch.

A lot of companies never land that kind of major press coverage, much less within their first two years of existence. But success, Hogg says, isn’t about landing great media coverage.

“It is always great to see folks writing about your business, as it tends to validate why you started it,” says Hogg, an MSU graduate. “However . . . lots of well-covered businesses flame out, and lots of very profitable businesses remain under the radar forever.”

GiftZip.com allows people to buy online gift certificates from popular retailers like Target, Barnes & Noble, Sephora and Home Depot, among many others.

Hogg came up with the idea for the company during a sustainability class at MSU. He started thinking about how much waste is generated from plastic gift cards and wondered if there was a way to supply e-cards instead.

“If there was any secret to how we got to where we are to date, it lies purely in the people that have worked on the venture, from the staff to firms like Netvantage Marketing and Nicholas Creative Media,” Hogg says. “Those are the people that run GiftZip.com on a day to day basis.”

Source: Sam Hogg

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


MSU Student Successfully Lures National Startup Weekend Event to Lansing

Have a great business idea but not sure how to get started?

Your dream may be about to come true. A national nonprofit aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship has chosen Lansing for a weekend-long event designed to pair idea-makers with the right teams to launch new businesses.

Called Startup Weekend, the event has become a global phenomenon in which promising entrepreneurs have the chance to pitch their business ides in roughly 90 seconds to a panel of judges. The best ideas are then assigned teams of volunteers with expertise in everything from marketing to computer programming to come up with a plan for turning idea into business.

MSU student Eric Jorgenson petitioned Startup Weekend to select Lansing after he attended Startup in Detroit a few months ago to pitch his own business idea. His was among those selected, and he’s almost ready to launch his company — before he has even graduated from college.

“It’s an incredible weekend,” says Jorgenson, a business and economics senior. “You show up Friday night, pitch your ideas and then get to work Saturday morning. You have 18 hours of work time to get your company launched. Some people walk away on Sunday with companies, with a website up and running.”

Startup Lansing is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 5-7 at Michigan State University’s Henry Center and at East Lansing’s Technology and Innovation Center. Registration has not yet opened, but updates will be available for now on Twitter with the hashtag #SWLansing.

Source: Eric Jorgenson

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


$1.5 Million Research Project Targets Potential Treatment of Parkinson's

An MSU physician is testing a new theory that may lead to better therapies for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

John Goudreau, director of MSU’s Translational Neurobiology Research Unit, has received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. He’ll use the funding to study whether a protein known as parkin could help the human body fight off the damage caused by Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, and much of the research has been focused on slowing that progression by preventing cell injury and death,” Goudreau says. “But we are looking at why some neurons in the brain are able to fight off the disease through a unique ability to revive after being hit with an injury that kills other cells.”

Goudreau has been studying Parkinson’s at MSU for 10 years. He holds appointments in MSU’s departments of Neurology and Pharmacology/Toxicology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“Understanding how parkin promotes recovery from injury may allow us to provide cells injured in Parkinson’s disease the necessary tools to survive,” he says.

Source: John Goudreau, MSU

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

MSU Secures $60,000 Grant to Engage Students In Engineering, Science

America’s high-tech future demands that more young people today get excited about science and technology.

Which is the thinking behind a $60,200 grant from the Motorola Foundation which will allow Michigan State University to bring in underrepresented students from Lansing and Detroit to participate in a robotics building competition.

MSU’s uG9-12 Robotics Competition-Driven Mentoring Program received Motorola’s Innovation Generation grant, the fourth year the MSU College of Engineering has received the funding.

The grant will allow MSU to pair 20 first- and second-year engineering undergraduates with high school students in schools with predominantly African American and Hispanic students, as well as an all-girls high school.

“It is a service learning opportunity for our students, and it gets the high school kids excited about a future in engineering,” says Drew Kim, assistant to the dean for recruitment and K-12 outreach in the College of Engineering.

The Motorola Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Motorola.

Source: MSU College of Engineering

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Study Says Lansing Stands to Gain from Advanced Manufacturing Boom

Michigan’s public research universities are helping to fuel an advanced manufacturing base in the state, a fact that could position Lansing for a high-tech future, according to a report issued last week.

More than two-thirds of Michigan’s manufacturing jobs today are considered high-tech, the report by the University Research Corridor states.

The URC is a joint effort by Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to align their resources to transform Michigan’s economy.

The report was prepared by East Lansing’s Anderson Economic Group. Among the study’s findings: a third of the research and testing jobs in the Midwest are based in Michigan, and advanced manufacturing jobs fared better in the economic downturn than traditional manufacturing jobs.

Because of the Lansing region’s connections with MSU, the area will benefit in the long run economically, says Jeff Mason, URC executive director.

“You're seeing a greater recognition of the role that MSU and the other research institutions play in benefiting the economy of our local areas,” Mason says. “Not only by leveraging the research strength of these universities, but also through the brainpower that exists in their faculty and students.”

Mason points to the success of Lansing’s Niowave, Inc. as a case-in-point. The company was founded by Terry Grim, an MSU professor who has spent 13 years working in MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.

Source: University Research Corridor

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern
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