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Innovation & Job News

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Growing Michigan distillery industry gains representation

Distilleries in Michigan have become such a large industry, ranking # 4 in the nation, that a statewide association has been formed to help unify their interests. The Michigan Craft Distillers Association will give the distilleries in Michigan a voice.  "It's no longer just a business," says Kris Berglund, Treasurer of the association and owner of Red Cedar Spirits, "it's an industry."

That industry is so heavily regulated by the government and yet until now, was always left out of important, legislative conversations. This association guarantees their needs and issues are heard by those that matter. It will also help give the industry the marketing and promotion that the beer and wine industries already receive.

Even before it was formed as an official organization, the association had a hand in making sure distilleries were considered in a "Farm to Glass" bill that did not originally include them. It has opened up communication between distilleries and other associations, and is helping to bring focus to the rapidly growing industry.

According to Berglund, membership is expected to grow, and not only membership, but the distilling industry in Michigan. The industry itself has created a lot of jobs and will continue to do so as it expands and matures.

Source: Kris Berglund, Treasurer Michigan Craft Distillers Association
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor

New 'Pure Michigan" buses promote tourism, ridership

While the brand new Indian Trails buses aren't unusual, their new décor is. The buses are usually decorated with the Indian Trails logo, but these eight new motorcoaches are dolled up with giant photos depicting some of Michigan's most popular travel destinations, and the Pure Michigan logo.

In a partnership with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Indian Trails aims to promote Michigan tourism but also shake the myth that they only provide charter services. The slogan on the buses also contributes to that aim; "We're Going Your Way- Daily" points out to riders that the buses provide daily service and local routes. Many of the cities included in the routes are also listed along the bus.

According to Chad Cushman, Vice President of Indian Trails, "We want to emphasize that a lot of the areas we serve are not served by any other mode of public transportation." The folks in these areas may not have any way to get to jobs or potential employers, and Indian Trails wants to make that possible for them. They hope this piece of the promotion will create jobs for people that previously could not get to one.  These new buses help promote that opportunity along with Michigan destinations and tourism.

Source: Chad Cushman, Indian Trails
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations New Editor

$35 million in grants to Great Lakes Capital Fund to revitalize neighborhoods

The Great Lakes Capital Fund (GLCF) has received $35 million through Federal New Market Tax Credits. The tax credit is a huge source of funding that will support job creation and development.

While the GLCF has been known for supporting housing efforts, this grant is meant to support the retail and commercial side of things, therefore expanding their reach. The project the grant will be used on has not yet been chosen but when it is, it can either be solely retail or a combination of retail and residential.  According to Kelly Bernero, Advocacy and PR Specialist with GLCF, with this grant, GLCF can now consider itself a one-stop-shop when it comes to having the resources that help make the community a better place to live.

The next step for the organization is choosing which project to use the funds on. Any project they choose will create new jobs in the community both permanently and temporarily but according to Bernero, "We want to pick the projects that never would have happened without the grant. When we do make the announcement," she says, "It will be huge."

The fact that the organization was chosen for this grant, according to Bernero, really shows that the administration understands Michigan's needs.

New Greater Lansing Food Bank program shares farm fresh vegetables, creates farmers

The Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) has announced a program through the Lansing Roots farm program designed to fight hunger, create jobs, and help people provide for themselves and their community. The model, called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), is a weekly vegetable subscription that connects local farmers and food consumers. After one payment at the beginning the season, subscribers then receive a box of produce containing 10-15 different items, each week for 20 weeks.

The program also has a low income option, so that low income families have access to affordable, fresh produce. Subscriptions can also be paid for using SNAP/EBT and Double-Up Food Bucks.  According to Alex Bryan, the program manager, it's a great way to connect farmers to those that need food and cut out the middle man.

They are not only feeding families in need, but are also creating jobs by providing the tools, support and marketing components for those that want to farm but may not have the resources or funding to get started. The program provides 10 acres in Mason that was donated to charity as the land the farmers utilize. This two-fold approach is the GLFB's way of assuring there is enough food in the community. According to Bryan, "The biggest anti-hunger movement is economic development," and this program strives to contribute to that.

Source: Alex Bryan, Program Director
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor

Poochie Bowl kicks off production, manufactured in Lansing

Poochie Bowl, the "eargonomically" designed food and water bowl made especially for dogs with long or furry ears, has officially kicked off production in Lansing. The dish keeps your pet's ears out of their water bowl, keeping them dry, clean and free of infection. It is being manufactured right here by the local Diamond Engineering. "We always knew we wanted to keep it in Lansing," says Vice President, Christopher Allen.

Poochie Bowl is currently on sale at Preuss Pets, Annabelle's Pet Station and at stores in Petosky and Grand Haven. They also offer online sales. They are excited to be in production after ten months and have plans to eventually expand nationally.
As they grow, and produce more bowls, they expect Diamond Engineering will have to add to their staff. Poochie Bowl themselves plans to add 2-3 jobs to their company within the next 3-6 months, most likely in the areas of shipping and office work.

You can also find Poochie Bowl on the road, traveling and promoting at events such as Lansing's 4th of July Parade. It may not be the way most companies promote, but it's working for them. "It's a unique way of doing things," says Allen, "But we're a unique company."

Source: Chris Allen, Poochie Bowl
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Turtle Cell, student startup, creates unique product

Michigan State University students have teamed up with students from the University of Michigan to produce a totally unique product.

Turtlecell is a cell phone case that solves the problem of constantly tangled, lost, or broken headphones by storing them right in the case. Its unique design allows the headphones to slide easily in and out for super simple storage.

Turtlecell opened for pre-orders last week and have already received hundreds of orders, even before advertising. They have already received 2 offers for retail sales and expect to be in at least 6,000 stores by Christmas.

Because of this growth, Turtlecell has recently hired an MSU Law Graduate and will be turning to the MSU Career Fair to search out more local talent. "We’ve found some really talented people," says Jeremy Lindlbauer, Director of Sales and Marketing, "and the goal is to grow. We want those really motivated students."

To get where they are, they've utilized many local resources such as The Hatch to provide help with funding, web design, packaging, and more.

With over 100,000 units expected to be produced in the next 3 months, Turtlecell's momentum is not slowing down. They also have plans to produce a case with a battery and eventually have a completely customizable, personal product.
Source: Jeremy Lindlbauer, Turtlecell
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Lansing receives Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation

Lansing has received an exciting growth opportunity in the form of an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation. Because of this designation, Lansing and 12 other counties will now have access to $1.3 billion in federal funding to help support manufacturing jobs and growth. The designation brings with it preference to receive funding in areas such as, automotive efficiency and safety, road repairs and infrastructure improvements and more.

Backed by over 170 partners, a never before seen number according to Ray De Winkle of LEAP, the designation is only one of 12 awarded across the nation. "It's unprecedented for the region to come together the way it did," says De Winkle. To win the designation, the partners involved had to create a set of strategies that would ensure success in areas like business development support, innovation and job creation, and ensuring a steady work force.

With Lansing as one of the anchor communities, De winkle says, "It really sets the region up for success." The potential grants and opportunities will help begin a shift in the regional economy and really help manufacturers focus on emerging technologies.
Source: Ray De Winkle, LEAP
Writer:  Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Sparrow and MSU partner to offer unique, hands on experience for youth

MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and Sparrow Health Systems have teamed up to create a one of a kind experience for a group of Lansing High School students.

FutureDOCS kicked off on June 5th and is giving a group of 16 outstanding students from Eastern, Everett and Sexton High Schools the chance to pursue an interest in a career in medicine. A hands-on experience, Program Director Floyd Hardin says one of their goals is to make students "work force ready." They will learn what it's like to attend medical school, get time in an actual ER and even get instructions on how to create a resume and personal statement.

Since the students are from communities that may be under resourced, Hardin also stressed the importance of helping these students become active participants, or even future leaders, in their community. "We want to instill pride and turn them into leaders that can someday give back," says Hardin.

The program is all about providing resources to under- served populations and providing tangible experience the students can take into the work force. To aide in this, and because of the quick growth of the program, a new Program Assistant was hired and Hardin says they expect to need more.

The students will work closely with MSU faculty, Sparrow physicians and be mentored by MSUCOM students.

Source: Floyd Hardin, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor

MSU research finds enhanced poplar trees become a possible biofuel resource

Research finds that poplar trees can be enhanced to break down more easily and as such, become a more viable resource for biofuel.

“Poplar trees are difficult to breakdown for organisms or enzymes,” says Curtis Wilkerson, plant biologist and lead author of the study at Michigan State University. “We can change the pH of the plant in a chemical treatment facility which will allow the plant to function as it normally does.”

Wilkerson along with his colleague, Shawn Mansfield from the University of British Columbia, identified the gene that produces monomers – molecular bonds – and enhanced their degradability. The majority of the cost associated with processing any type of fuel is transportation cost.  The goal is to place processing plants in the center of the agricultural land where the crop is grown and provide a renewable resource that will help lower C02 emissions.

This research was part of a collaboration intent on making transformational breakthroughs in new cellulosic biofuels technology. Funding was provided by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Source: Curtis Wilkerson, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Camp helps youth improve athletic movement

Young athletes between the ages of 6 and 10 will have the opportunity to improve their athletic movement through an expansion to the Speed and Athletic Enhancement camps offered by the Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program (SNAPP).

SNAPP supports young athletes in the Lansing area by providing training, testing, sports nutrition expertise and a research library at Michigan State University.

“Physical education has been cut out of the public school curriculum in the last decade,” stated Joe Eisenmann, director of SNAPP and professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. “This program is in response to a call out from the community and parents of younger athletes who want to help their children develop fundamental motor skills.”

The FUNdamentals of Athletic Movement is scheduled for every Sunday from 6p.m. to 7p.m. starting April 27, 2014 and ending on May 25, 2014. The camp will be held at Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. For more information or to register, visit SNAPP.msu.edu or call 517-884-6133.

Source: Joe Eisenmann, Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

MSU Law Review Symposium examines desegregation

On April 10, 2011, the MSU Law Review will host a symposium that will feature speakers and attorneys who were involved in the landmark desegregation cases during the Civil Rights Movement.

Coinciding with the yearlong Project 60/50, “Pursuing the Dreams of Brown and the Civil Rights Act: A Living History of the Fight for Educational Equality” will examine the progress of integration and desegregation by examining historic cases.

“Desegregation is an ever present issue in education,” said Shannon Smith, MSU Law Review senior symposia editor. “The symposia will provide students an opportunity to meet scholars and individuals that were involved in historic cases that moved desegregation in education forward for diverse groups of children across the nation.”

The symposium will also provide law students an opportunity to gain professional skills and references through their interaction with experienced attorneys that will help them obtain employment in the future.

For more information or to RSVP, visit http://www.law.msu.edu/60/50/symposium.html.

The symposium is co-sponsored by MSU College of Education; MSU Department of Political Science; MSU LeFrak Forum on Science, Reason and Modern Democracy; MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives; Education Law Association; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Source: Shannon Smith,  MSU Law Review senior symposia editor
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Attracting wild bees to farms proves a good investment

Attracting wild bees to farms by investing in planting their natural habitat will provide higher harvest yields and will pay for itself in 4 years according to research studies out of Michigan State University.

Historically, wild bees would have had access to a more diverse range of wildflowers to sustain them throughout the growing season. Currently, beekeepers transport honey bees into the area incurring a nationwide expense of $14 billion. This practice will not replace that practice but may supplement the cost.

“It will take some time and patience to realize the return, said Rufus Isaacs, professor and extension specialist in the entomology department. “The Initial cost of planting can be covered by government programs that will help farmers see a return more quickly.”

The study was conducted in farms in western and northern Michigan because they are #1 in the nation for blueberry and tart cherry production. However, the research published in the study is useful for farmers across the state that grow fruits, vegetables and nut varieties that require the pollination of bees.

Blaauw was the lead author on the paper and is now at Rutgers University. Isaacs’ research is funded by the USDA and MSU’s AgBioResearch. 
Source: Rufus Isaacs, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

Lansing-area fire initiative honored

Six Lansing-area jurisdictions shared the spotlight at the Michigan Municipal League’s Region 2 Community Excellence Award (CEA) for their winning project, Metro Connection: A Greater Lansing Shared Services Fire Initiative.

“This project was about finding ways to share  policies and procedures that improve the effectiveness of our city’s emergency response teams,” stated City of East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett. “Many would be surprised about how differently area fire departments respond to emergencies.”

Participating fire departments included the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, Meridian, Lansing, Delta and Delhi Township.

“This project is unique to the competition in that it is a collaboration between Lansing-area jurisdictions and not a brick and mortar business innovation,” emphasized Triplett. “It’s also a great example of how municipalities can provide high quality public services with significant budget constraints.”

The joint project received top honors at the League’s 2014 Capital Conference and will now go on to compete for the statewide CEA title in Marquette on October 14-17, 2014.

Latin IS America Festival celebrates latin culture through music

The Michigan State University College of Music invites the Greater Lansing area to explore Latin America through musical, artistic and scholarly expression during the Latin IS America Festival, April 9-19 2014 at various campus locations.

“Although there are 25 million Hispanics living in the United States,” said Ricardo Lorenz, associate professor and chair of music composition and codirector of Lansing IS America. “We fail to see Latin America as embedded in the culture of the United States.”

 The festival is open to the public and will showcase premieres, a Latin soul string quartet, percussive and choral ensembles, a children's ballet troupe dancing to the works of Mexican composers, a Cuban musicologist, and a Tejano panel discussion and dance party.

“The Latin IS America Festival will portray the culture not as foreign or exotic but a community right here in Lansing and Ann Arbor,” said Lorenz.

The festival offers a variety of free and ticketed events. For detailed information and tickets visit LatinISamerica.msu.edu.  People can also “like” the festival on Facebook: Facebook.com/MSUlatinISAmerica
Source: Ricardo Lorenz, Michigan State University School of Music
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Hunt for Points and discover culture in your community

A scavenger hunt app created to help community members discover culture in their own community will be releasing an updated version.  The concept for Pointillism was inspired by the Dirty Feet Adventure race whose tag line is ‘Never Stop Exploring’.

“We wanted to create a similar experience that people could do on their own time,” said Jeff Smith, CEO. “We wanted people to get out into the community and discover it in a fun way.”

 Smith and his team partnered with Lansing Give Camp to create the early stages of the app and eventually developed Pointillism into a mobile map where users could check in to unique local sites and earn points on a leaderboard.
The new version will allow users to create private scavenger hunts with as many points of interest as they want. The potential for commercial use is extensive. Michigan State University is interested in setting up a private hunt for incoming freshman to help them get familiar with the campus. This feature is available for a fee with a cost structure based on the amount of users able to participate.

Pointillism has already been utilized by participants of Be A Tourist In Your Own Town.

 “People may not know the awesome things in their own community. Pointillism works to provide users with an insider’s view on a new community while competing against others.” said Smith.
 Source: Jeff Smith, Pointillism
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor
1349 Articles | Page: | Show All
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