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East Lansing-based Oetzel-Hartman Group partners with national advisory group

The Oetzel-Hartman Group, a real estate appraisal firm specializing in appraising commercial properties and based in East Lansing, announced that it has combined with 41 other appraisal firms to form Valbridge Property Advisors, which provides independent valuation and advisory services to local, regional, multi-market and national clients.
 
"Becoming part of Valbridge Property Advisors will enable us to better serve our local, state wide and regional clients," says Principal, Jim Hartman.

Oetzel-Hartman embraces innovation outside of this national partnership, as well. Hartman explains: "Innovation allows us to continue to produce high quality appraisals more efficiently. As market data become more readily available, managing, sorting and analyzing the data has become more critical."   

Valbridge immediately ranks among the top three national commercial real estate valuation and advisory services firms, with 145 MAI designated appraisers, 59 office locations and 600 staff across the U.S.
 
Source: Jim Hartman, The Oetzel-Hartman Group      
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

MSU kicks off a first-of-a-kind science celebration

The MSU Science Festival is hosting more than 150 diverse scientific offerings in a ten-day festival on campus. With something for everyone, the festival celebrates the science that touches every day lives. Subjects span the science spectrum, from astronomy to human behavior to robotics to zoology.
 
"We see science as opening doors to the future," says Festival Coordinator, Renee Leone. Organizers hope that by making the festival free, that those doors are made accessible to everyone.
 
Events, held April 12 through 21, are presented by members of the MSU scientific community, as well as a number of science and technology community participants. Community participants include organizations like Fenner Nature Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing, Lansing Makers Network, and Impression 5.
 
"Research shows that attendees haven't had a substantive exchange with a science professional," explains Leone. "We'd love to help encourage an interest in science and provide a new experience for young people and lifelong learners alike."
 
A detailed schedule can be found at: http://sciencefestival.msu.edu/schedule
 
Source: Renee Leone, MSU Science Festival
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

City Salon celebrates one-year anniversary and continued growth

Heather Jarous couldn't imagine a year ago that things for her business could be this positive and good. "The salon has been supported by amazing team, and every single client has been wonderful," she reports.
 
Jarous, owner of City Salon, celebrated one year in the salon's new digs on North Cedar on March 14th. She purchased the business in January of 2012 and counts it as the biggest blessing of her life.
 
It's been a busy year for the salon, with the recent hiring of two new stylists and the scouting of two more to round out the team. Jarous also believes passionately in giving back to the community that's supported her endeavor. In the past year, City Salon has sponsored a family over the holidays, a high school girl for prom, and a news publication for supply needs, to name just a few.
 
For the future, Jarous plans to continue to provide a happy place for staff and clients alike. "It's so fulfilling to provide a secure job for my employees and a comfortable and fun environment for our clients," she says. She doesn't count out a City Salon II as part of that future.
 
Source: Heather Jarous, City Salon    
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
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Just B Yoga growing staff, offerings, and community ties

Just B Yoga loves Lansing. "I like to call us The #LoveLansing Yoga studio. We wouldn't be what we are if the #LoveLansing community hadn't embraced us," says owner Belinda Thurston.
 
The studio is involved in activities with the Derby Vixens, Dragon Boat, Mid-MEAC, Art Alley, Reach Studio Art, the Greater Lansing Women's Center, Capital City DJ Olympics, Allen Neighborhood Center, the Lansing City Market, and the list goes on. "So, how has Greater Lansing positively impacted Just B?," asks Thurston. "Greater Lansing inspires, creates and recreates Just B all the time."
 
Currently operating with a staff of eight, Thurston is looking to add additional massage therapists, a studio assistant, and an online sales specialist (for LansingYoga.com, a hub for information, services and profiles of the New Age community), after expanding her team by three in the past year.
 
New ventures fort the Just B crew include Lansing's first LGBTQ Yoga Flow, an LGBTQ-friendly class; DOGA at Annabelle's Pet Station, a class for yoga with your canine; and Thurston has been selected to present a workshop at the Michigan Yoga Fest this summer on "Building community with yoga."
 
Source: Belinda Thurston, Just B Yoga
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
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Tomie Raines increases sales volume, grows and fortifies team

East Lansing based real estate broker, Tomie Raines, Inc., finished 2012 up 26% in sales volume from 2011, in addition to being up 27% for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012. This growth, in addition to an increased staff, is welcome after years of reductions.
 
As to the reason behind this encouraging growth, President and CEO, Debbie Barnett offers: "Michigan’s economic recovery is well underway and Greater Lansing is leading the way. We are benefitting from this, but since housing is a primary driver of the economy we are also a participant."
 
Tomie Raines has over 70 agents who are independent contractors and 12 employees. Their agent base is growing and employee count is stable and plan to expand their office to accommodate that growth. Barnett says, "The most important thing, even amidst growth, is to ensure we're investing in our staff; this is what ensures sustained growth and the ability to face the recovery productively." 
 
Barnett is positive about the future of Lansing, calling on major community assets like General Motors, insurance companies, MSU, and the State government as drivers of the positive housing trends the area is experiencing.
 
Source: Debbie Barnett, Tomie Raines, Inc.     
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
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Rizzi Designs announces launch of 3D animation division, RD3D

Rochelle Rizzi is passionate about creating creative jobs and providing an environment where that creativity can blossom. RD3D is a direct result of that passion. The biggest significance of this 3D animation offering for Rizzi Designs is the support of a dream of a team member. "Tony Sabo is an amazing 3D illustrator and animator and his talents have been fun to support over his near three year tenure," Rizzi offers.
 
This new offering provides a unique way for clients to enhance their promotional and internal materials, with applications in everything from architecture and product modeling, to logo animation and landscaping. Sabo, who is the Senior Media Developer, will be heading up the division.
 
"Our clients have enjoyed this fun offering to add that special sparkle to their print and multimedia pieces," Rizzi explains. The division grew organically to a point where they knew they had a great thing right under their noses; Rizzi is excited to make the division official with the RD3D name. Rizzi Designs looks forward to continuing to grow the division with new equipment and plans to create more creative jobs.
 
Rochelle has been asked to speak at the Small Giants International Summit in San Diego in June 2013, an honor she attributes to the company's innovation, core values, and vision-driven culture.
 
Source: Rochelle Rizzi, Rizzi Designs
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
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Ayers Basement Systems celebrates 32 years in business, continues in growth mode

After 32 years in business, Ayers Basement Systems has no plans of slowing down. The Lansing-based company provides basement waterproofing and foundation/crawl repair services not only to the Greater Lansing area, but throughout the lower peninsula.
 
"We've been in growth mode for the past 4 years," reports Marketing Manager, Cathy Burke. Ayers currently has a staff of 41 and is in the process of hiring management level and sales representative staff.
 
Ayers is part of a network of more than 300 basement systems dealers throughout North America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. No strangers to innovation, Basement Systems, Inc. has been awarded 28 patents and 19 innovation prizes on waterproofing products, including a battery back-up sump pump system. "That's innovation Ayers is bringing to the Lansing area every day," Burke says.
 
Spending the past 31 years in the Greater Lansing area has been good to the company, allowing them to cultivate a new, alternative energy branch of the company, Dr. Energy Saver. 
 
Source: Cathy Burke, Ayers Basement Systems    
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing provides energy saving audits, experiences 92 percent growth

Built upon the expertise of the professionals at Ayers Basement Systems, is the home energy efficiency company, Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing. Established in 2009, the home energy audit network strives to help make homes comfortable, energy efficient, and affordable for Lansing residents.
 
Fully experiencing the growing green movement, Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing is riding a growth wave. "Dr. Energy Saver currently employs 25 staff members," says Marketing Manager, Cathy Burke. "At this time last year, we had a staff of 13." The growth doesn't stop there: Burke says the company anticipates building the staff to 35 by the end of 2013.
 
Dr. Energy Saver technicians are thoroughly trained, certified, and updated at the National Energy Conservation Center. Local partnerships are important, too, explains Burke. "We have a great relationship with the Alternative Energy program at LCC," she explains. "In fact, we've hired 20 people to date that have graduated from the program."
 
The company works closely with DTE, Consumers Energy, and the BetterBuildings for Michigan program, all helping to bring home energy efficiency and savings to Lansing area customers. 
 
Source: Cathy Burke, Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing   
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Holt's Music in the Garden program to benefit from state arts grant

The Holt Community Arts Council is the recent recipient of a $4,000 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "This award will help us present our sixth consecutive season of free concerts without compromising the quality of the music," says Council president, Kara Hope.  
 
Families of all income levels can attend this free event. The location, Veterans Memorial Gardens, adjoins a senior apartment complex, so seniors are able to enjoy the shows without traveling too far. "Music in the Garden is really unique in that way: it's one place in Holt where you'll find a multi-generational audience," Hope explains.
 
The Holt Community Arts Council started as a grassroots effort to raise the arts' profile in Holt. Council members tapped into pent-up demand for family-friendly summer concerts, among other things. People wanted to hear music in their community in a setting that is comfortable for the whole family; Music in the Garden provides that. The Council emphasizes quality music from diverse genres.
 
Shows are July 11, 18, 25, and August 1. They begin at 7 p.m., and take place in Veterans Memorial Gardens, right behind the Delhi Township Hall, 2074 Aurelius Road, Holt.
 
Source: Kara Hope, Holt Community Arts Council  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
 
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LAFCU combines social media savvy and charitable giving in one scholarship

 One high school senior will receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend Lansing Community College based on a one-page essay. LAFCU's "Write to Educate" Essay Contest focuses on the topic of social media and asks applicants to make some predictions as to the future of social media.
 
"We always want to encourage our youth to get the education needed to pursue their professional and personal dreams," says LAFCU's vice president of community and business development, Kelli Ellsworth-Etchison. With only one-third of Michiganders 25 years or older having an associate degree or higher, LAFCU strives to open doors for those who might not otherwise be able to attend college.
 
A unique facet of this program is that the winner selects which of four charity organizations will receive a $500 donation from LAFCU. "This community-giving component is part of LAFCU's long-standing 'people helping people' mission," Ellsworth-Etchison notes. It's a rewarding experience for the winner to help a charity and to feel the impact of bettering their community.
 
The deadline for applications, which can be submitted online or mailed, is March 29. Winners will be selected April 5. 

Source: Kelli Ellsworth-Etchison, LAFCU  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Pine Needle People looking to begin biomanufacturing, have eyes set on long-term hiring

Kevin Karpinski is dying to make things. As President and CEO of the Pine Needle People, an ambitious bio refinery and manufacturing company, Karpinski is ready to get his product in the marketplace for many reasons. "We can help the economy, help feed more people, and help farmers," Karpinski says.
 
The Pine Needle People, or PNP, are Karpinski, Waylon Sanford, Mansour Ashtiani, and Nader Ashtiani. By trade, they represent a variety of fields: chemical and manufacturing engineering, urban planning and infrastructure, and bio matter technology. The team has developed a number of products intended for patenting, the most prominent being the Cellulosic Residue Refinery for Advanced Manufacturing, or CRRAM.
 
"CRRAM essentially allows us to make products from agricultural scraps; we take corn stalks to carbon fiber," Karpinski explains. The refinery system allows PNP to create a Bio Energy Pathway system, which is a sidewalk system manufactured from biomaterials produced by the CRRAM. Karpinski hopes to have the pathway system in production soon.
 
Things are ramping up for PNP as they work with investors and industry. Karpinski anticipates being able to hire 30 to 50 employees over the next 2 to 3 years.
 
Source: Kevin Karpinski, Pine Needle People  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
 
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

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.
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