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PNC Bank and Learn Live Lead Entrepreneurial Academy partner to open an in-school bank

Students at Learn Live Lead Entrepreneurial Academy (L3) can now add money management skills to their young resumes. In an exciting partnership between the Lansing Academy and the PNC School Bank Program, L3 students are getting hands-on banking experience with the grand opening of an in-school bank.
"L3's cutting edge approach to education offers a perfect fit for the PNC School Bank Program, which has several features aimed at developing good savings habits and money management skills," explains PNC Retail Market Executive, Jim Paul. The program is part of PNC's Grow Up Great initiative, which has served more than 1.5 million at-risk children nationally.
The bank will open twice a month during the school year. Five L3 students will staff the branch during lunch periods, opening bank accounts and taking deposits. The program provides an opportunity for students to establish their first bank accounts, as well as improve their math skills as they track their savings and calculate interest earned.  
"PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow," says Paul.
Source: Jim Paul, PNC  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Liquid Web increases staff by 260 percent in two years

When we last spoke with Liquid Web in March of last year, they had marked a milestone of doubling their staff. Growth appears to be on their permanent agenda, as evidenced by the addition of nearly 100 employees in the past 12 months.
"We're continuing to average about 10 new hires per month," says Public Relations Specialist, Cale Sauter. Liquid Web hopes to continue at that rate to accommodate their rapidly expanding services and data centers.

Sauter draws attention to a recent Pingdom study, which investigated the hosting locations of the world's one million most popular websites. The study revealed that Lansing hosted the 13th most of any city in the world, which puts the city squarely in the company of formidable world tech leaders. "These results illustrate the continued development of Lansing as a tech hub, which we feel has been significantly aided by Liquid Web's meteoric growth," he says. 

Recently expanding their services to Phoenix, Liquid Web has their sights set on international centers and additional centers throughout the US to remain close to their ever-growing customer base. That's not to slight Lansing, Sauter notes. On the contrary; "Having bright and talented individuals locally to support us has been crucial in providing the base on which we're able to grow."
Source: Cale Sauter, Liquid Web  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here

Lansing Symphony Orchestra polls public for free Summer Pops Concert

As one of the recipients of the City of Lansing's "Sense of Place" grants, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra will do something they've never done before: offer a free Summer Pops concert in downtown Lansing. The catch? The community will be able to vote for the theme of the concert through social media.
LSO Executive Director, Courtney Millbrook, is enthusiastic about the concert, which will feature the full Orchestra alongside a special guest artist in a program of popular music, as determined by the public. "It’s going to be great!" Milbrook says. "But you have to vote – Michael Jackson, Rolling Stones or the music of the 1980’s - you decide!"
The grant, which was awarded to a total of four Lansing area organizations, is given to increase the visibility, access, and celebration of the arts to the public while impacting the creation of a sense of place in the city.
Voting is currently open on LSO's website and closes April 8. The concert is scheduled for June 5 at Adado Riverfront Park. "We are proud to perform for everyone in the city," says Milbrook, "and hope that a lot of new people come out to hear their orchestra."
Source: Courtney Millbrook, Lansing Symphony Orchestra  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Lansing Lugnuts hiring 200 seasonal employees, ramps up 18th season offerings

The 2013 season is shaping up to be an exciting one over at Cooley Law School Stadium. With an impressive list of updated food options, renovations, new promotions, and entertainment highlights, the Lansing Lugnuts are pulling out all the stops as they inch closer to their 20th anniversary.
Fans can look forward to new Mediterranean and custom oven-fired pizzeria stands. The renowned Thirsty Thursday will now include $1 beer selections. And this is just the short list of updates. "The combination will feel like an entirely new food experience at Cooley Law School Stadium this season," Director of Marketing, Jeremy Smoker says.
With a full-time staff of 22, the Lugnuts provides employment for nearly 350 seasonal employees. They're currently hiring for a Special Events Development Manager with the goal of increasing non-baseball use of the venue, with the goal of helping downtown Lansing continue to grow as a destination for entertainment or recreation.
"As a community that takes such great pride in where they come from, the fans have been vital to the success of the Lugnuts organization," says Smoker. "We don’t take that lightly – it’s absolutely the reason we continue to listen, innovate and adapt to ensure that the fan experience here at Cooley Law School Stadium is second to none."

Source: Jeremy Smoker, Lansing Lugnuts 
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Publicom wins national creative awards, continues to experience growth

East Lansing based marketing communications firm, Publicom, Inc., has won six national creative awards at the 10th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards competition. This, in addition to successive growth, has Publicom poised for an outstanding 2013.
The national awards included work for Lansing's Gateway Community Services and Peppermint Creek Theatre Company.
"Our growth is organic in that much of our business comes from client referrals," says Public Relations Specialist, Erin Incarnati. "Despite the down economy, each of the past five years has each been successively better than the previous year."
Publicom employs a total of 11 staffers and three paid interns, and anticipates hiring an additional two to three team members in the upcoming year.
Of building their staff, Incarnati says: "We've been able to attract some top talent to and from the Greater Lansing area. Publicom is always looking for talented people who fit well with our professional, high-quality culture."
Source: Erin Incarnati, Publicom, Inc.  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

MSU grad builds mobile app for area LGBT-friendly businesses

Recent master's degree recipient, Emily Brozovic, can't stand to not be learning something new at any given time. Pair that with creative problem solving, a knack for online development, and a passion for promoting the positives for the LGBT community, and you have an innovator with an itch to scratch. That itch is the mobile app, People Like Me.
"I feel as though we always hear about where we should boycott, but not as much about where we could take a date or grab a coffee or see a doctor that's LGBT-friendly," says Brozovic. The app will provide local, location-based business information to users and allow the LGBT community to rate and review these businesses based on their perspective as an LGBT individual. 
Currently in Kickstarter mode, funding would go mostly to the app developer. Brozovic will handle design. People Like Me could provide a go-to solution for this type of information in Lansing and help businesses to connect with the LGBT community. 
"I believe that if we focused more on those good places, dollars would naturally flow more in that business's direction, creating a positive outcome for them, as well as a positive experience/place for LGBT individuals," says Brozovic.
Source: Emily Brozovic, People Like Me 
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Student owned and operated cheese steak stand opens in East Lansing

It's not often you hear of a 19 year old and a 20 year old opening a business, and creating their own business plan to boot. But that's just what MSU students and long time friends Alex Lennard and Hunter Mowers did when they launched State's Cheese Steaks last week.
"We wanted to start our own business and had originally thought about opening a hot dog stand," explains Lennard. The City of East Lansing wouldn't grant a permit for that, which got Lennard thinking.
While in Panama City for Spring Break, the friends came across a cheese steak stand that had a line that lasted throughout entire day. Pair that inspiration with an entrepreneurial drive to provide something new in the East Lansing culinary scene, and you've got the recipe for a food stand.
Located on the corner of Abbott and Albert, the stand is open Thursday through Sunday. They hope to be able to hire 2 to 3 employees beyond themselves once business gets further off the ground.
A finance student, Lennard says "This is teaching us way more than the classroom could; we're dealing with real people and a real business."
Source: Alex Lennard, State's Cheese Steaks
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Williamston's Red Cedar Grill debuts new owners & management

As self-professed foodies, Mike and Amanda Luther always had the plan of opening a restaurant floating around in the back of their minds. The opportunity to make good on that plan came to fruition when they found out the Red Cedar Grill in Williamston was for sale.
"We wanted to breath new life into a restaurant people knew and loved," explains Amanda. "We're leaving some of the favorite menu items, like the carrot cake, but we're exploring some new options that will change seasonally and will offer some flavor experiences you can't get anywhere else."
With a focus on providing local fare and partnering with local vendors and farmers, the Luthers also keep their eyes on providing a value to their guests. They're happy to announce their daily Bar Bites menu, which offers entrees and drinks for $3 to $4, a la happy hour style from 3:00 to 6:00 during the workweek.
They anticipate hiring 5 to 10 new staff members for a variety of positions including servers and line/prep cooks, after promoting many of the existing staff to full time status. Their motto? "Big city tastes in a small town," says Luther.

Source: Amanda Luther, Red Cedar Grill
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here

Collaborative Art@Work installation debuts at Peckham

"Art@Work is a celebration - a celebration of a successful partnership and collaboration between Peckham, Inc. and MSU's Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) and College of Engineering," says Shavonne Singleton, Peckham Public Relations Specialist. The partnership brings together higher education, the arts, accessibility and technology to highlight the abilities and diversity of each individual artist.
With Peckham’s emphasis on diversity and therapeutic and creative self-expression through art, and RCAH’s focus on civic engagement, community, and experiential learning in the arts and humanities, the two realized this collaboration would be an excellent opportunity to create a visual representation reflecting innovation, and inclusiveness. Students from the College of Engineering worked specifically to develop a proposed solution to install the art display, and most recently, collaborated with RCAH students to develop viewing technology for the installation.
"For the artists," Singleton explains, "we hope the Art@Work is a source of pride – to be able to express themselves and their stories artistically, and also share that story with the community at large."
The unveiling will take place on Saturday, February 23, from 10AM to 1PM at Peckham and is a free event open to the public.
Source: Shavonne Singleton, Peckham, Inc.
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Great Lakes Capital Fund celebrates 20-year anniversary, $130 million in local investments

Situated in the heart of REO Town, Great Lakes Capital Fund  is celebrating 20 years of local and national service and investments; $2.6 billion across the Midwest and $130.3 million in the Lansing Tri-County area.
"Twenty years of operation means twenty years of building vibrant, healthy, and sustainable communities," says GLCF advocacy specialist, Kelly Bernero.
GLCF is able to leverage private equity that otherwise would likely not be invested into local community development projects, through tax credits, mortgage and debt financing, grants, and other financing tools. Through $2.6 billion worth of investments, GLCF has supported 35,000 units of housing, 1 million square feet of commercial space, and in its 20 year history the Housing Credit has helped leverage 52,588 jobs.
Bernero says of GLCF and innovation: "As a full service community development finance institution, our organization is constantly seeking the most efficient, and flexible ways of doing things for people and communities."
In the Lansing Tri-County Area alone, GLCF has contributed $116.2 million to local incomes and $14.2 million in local government tax revenue. This amount of investment has leveraged 1,736 jobs in the Lansing Tri-County Area since 1993.
Source: Kelly Bernero, Great Lakes Capital Fund
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here

Wireless Developer Agency plans for doubling sales and expanding staff

Wireless Developer Agency (WDA) puts relevant information in front of the people at the right time and in the right way. The East Lansing based high-tech mobile marketing company believes that special technologies need to provide customers with a more enriched experience.
President and CEO, Konny Zsigo says, "Consumers are looking for a more enchanting experience with their personal devices as they gain more control over them; the world is going to demand advertising as less of an interruption and more of a presentation of valuable information."
WDA is managing toward growth with that demand in mind; they’re looking at doubling their top line of sales in 2013 and plan to expand staff in response. An anticipated 16 employees will be added to the existing staff of 40 by the end of the year.
A big part of the WDA story is that they don’t generally hire people who are in their industry; they hire local and welcome them to an incubative culture. Of the choice to remain in the Lansing area, rather than head to other tech hubs like NYC or LA, Zsigo says: "We’d rather provide the culture that makes the magic, not move somewhere that has the culture."

Source: Konny Zsigo & Brennan Hayden, WDA
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association improves air quality through EPA grant

Through a pioneering Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strategy focusing on the nation’s often-unseen sources of pollution (such as heavy construction, locomotive and marine engines) Okemos-based Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) collaborated with the state’s largest construction contractors to accomplish this goal.
"Were interested in the economic engine of Michigan," says Vice President of Membership Services, Rob Coppersmith. "What’s good for Michigan is good for contractors, so we’re always looking for opportunities to keep them going."
The EPA Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative targets large, off-road diesel engines using old technology to power high-performing, heavy construction equipment. Targeting engines causing the most pollution offers the greatest impact in managing air quality in the state. The older, less efficient engines are replaced with new, clean burning components that meet more stringent emission standards.
Of this $1.26 million grant, Coppersmith says: "People who normally would have been laid off and businesses that would have been forced to close due to outdated equipment were spared by this grant. It’s a real win-win for Michigan’s economy and environment."

Source: Rob Coppersmith, MITA
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Smart Homes/Smart Offices continues hiring as automation systems business grows

Smart Homes, Inc./Smart Offices’ mission is to be Mid-Michigan’s preferred technology provider. The Okemos-based home automation systems provider strives to provide excellent home and office technology products and services within an environment of respect, innovation, continual learning, teamwork and fun.

"We currently have 20 employees on staff," says President, John Gilluly. "Of those 20, we added 7 in the past year and hope to add another programmer and senior automation installer soon.  A complete listing of available positions can be found on our website."

The Smart Homes element of the company specializes in a variety of home automation systems, including Lighting Control, Audio and Video Control, HVAC Control, Security System Control, plus the Ultimate Home Theater experience. Whereas the Smart Office, the technology and business consulting division, offers a wide variety of software and hardware solutions and network installations (from large, corporate Wide Area Network with advanced security to simple in-home networks for sharing internet connection or files and printers between home computers).

Of the region, Gilluly says: "We are truly grateful for the support that the Greater Lansing Area has given us.  We value our clients and seek to build long-standing, personal relationships with each of them.  Without them, we would not exist."
SHSO will host an open house event in the spring, where potential clients can personally see and experience smart living solutions. Also look for them at the 2013 Lansing Home & Garden Show, March 14-17 at the MSU Pavilion. 

Source: John Gilluly, Smart Homes/Smart Offices
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

King Media anticipates 10-20% job growth in 2013

King Media, a boutique, full-service advertising, marketing, and public relations firm based in East Lansing, "delivers the right message, at the right time, to the right audience every day," says marketing coordinator, Kerri Molitor.
The firm, founded in 1999, currently staffs 10, and intends to hire 1 to 2 people in the next year; a job growth of 10-20%.
Of being part of the Lansing area, Molitor says: "We are a woman-owned small business and we have always loved being rooted in the Greater Lansing community. Because of the State Capital and the University, the local economy has been surprisingly stable. It has been this economic stability and growth even in the recent economically challenged times that we have been grateful for.  In addition, we love the diversity of our great State of Michigan and as the capital; Lansing is the perfect example of that diversity."
King Media keeps focus on their customers and growing those businesses even more, knowing that if their clients are successful, they are successful. Additionally, they understand that technology has changed the way people shop, how they receive information, and how they communicate. Molitor says that continued education is mandatory for each member of the King Media staff in order to stay head of trends and to know where the market is going.

2012 a year of expansion for Michigan Creative, 2013 slated for the same

Over the past year, Michigan Creative has expanded quite a bit in both customers and in staff.  They have begun to expand their reach to both small and large Michigan businesses and are continually investigating and adding more services to better serve their customers. CEO Brian Town says: "we are working towards being a marketing company that anyone can come to for any business need."
Michigan Creative currently has a core staff of 5 in addition to 9 interns. The fluctuation of student interns is vital to the company, as it brings in new faces and new knowledge. Town says they’re looking to grow as much as they can, to as many people as they can.
Of the future, Town says: "We are always coming up with wild and crazy dreams and very lofty goals.  I have a team of very ambitious staff members that are always looking to help move us to that next step.  Long term, we want to turn Michigan Creative into a truly full service marketing company; video recording studios, photography studios, a large venue for company events, and so much more." Michigan Creative is also looking into a few different small business ventures of their own; which include a tie company as well as a food truck.  Short term, Town looks to hire full time staff and expand the intern program.
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