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Teen center double size, adds skatepark in new Mason location

Mason-area teens now have more room to explore their interests in a safe environment now that the non-profit Building Twentyone has expanded to a new location. The teen center includes drop-in space, tutoring, and now, a skate park. 
 
"We have a whole lot more room," says Benjamin Schartow, who founded Building Twentyone a few years ago. "It's just two miles down the street, but it's a great location, right on a lake."
 
The original Building Twentyone shared a 3,000 square foot space with other tenants, but the new, N. Cedar St. location is 7,000 square feet in size and is dedicated just to the teen center. The new skate park inside not only adds a new attraction to the center, but also creates a revenue source for the non-profit. 
 
"The students really love it," Schartow says of the 30 to 40 students who regularly come to the teen center. "We just opened the skatepark in November, and we've had a lot of positive feedback."
 
The new location opened in Sept., and also includes a new computer lab, stocked with computers donated by Delta Dental. Remodeling work was made possible through a grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation. While Building Twentyone is a non-religious organization, they have partnered with Journey Life Church, which is their new landlord.
 
Schartow is looking forward to expanding Building Twentyone's programming in the new location, including arts, poetry and DJ workshops. 
 

Source: Benjamin Schartow, Building Twentyone
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Haslett enrichment center to bring afterschool activites to area families

As anyone with kids active in extra curricular activities knows, weekday evenings can be hectic. In helping with her six grandchildren, Debra Ellis experienced the hustle from school to practices to recitals firsthand, and felt that something should be done to make life easier on parents and to create more opportunities for family time. 

"I thought there has to be a better way," says Ellis. "So we started to write this curriculum for this program a few years ago. It was all to give family time back."

The result was the Children's Enrichment Center in Haslett, a place where children can enroll in classes and activities immediately after school, so parents can pick them up after work with their activities and homework completed. 

The 4,000 square foot facility is accessibly to both local elementary schools and will offer dance, martial arts, music and art classes, as well as rotating activities. Classes will begin in January, and enrollment for up to 50 students has begun. A grand opening will take place for the public this friday. 

Initially, Ellis will work with six contracted instructors and three employees at the Children's Enrichment Center. As the organization, which has applied for non-profit status, take up only two-thirds of the building, Ellis hopes to see their presence there grow. She also plans to add one new Children's Enrichment Center per year in new communities in the future. 

Source: Debra Ellis, The Children's Enrichment Center
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Children's Therapy Corner brings kid-focused therapy to Okemos

Children may look like little adults, but when it comes to physical, occupational and speech therapy, their needs are very different. That's the foundation upon which Midland-based Children's Therapy Corner has been built, and it's what families can expect to find in the company's third location, which recently opened in Okemos. 
 
"We specialize, we train, and we send our therapists to conferences on children's therapy," says Matthew Bartels, Children's Therapy Corner's Lansing director and speech and language pathologist. "Our therapists do nothing but kids, so they're really good at it." 
 
Kids have different therapy needs, says Bartels, because unlike adults, they are both healing and growing. Though an adult may need to re-learn how to walk after an injury, a child may be learning to walk for the first time. 
 
"It's a whole different approach," Bartels says. "It's about getting down on the floor with the kids and having fun."
 
The Children's Therapy Corner in Okemos opened in a 3,000 square foot Woodlake Dr. space on Aug. 19. The large space appealed to the business because of its high ceilings and ability to house climbing ropes, crashpads, swings and other equipment that offers children both fun and therapeutic benefits. 
 
The office currently employs a staff of five. Bartels says he hopes the offices will continue to grow, offer families in the Lansing areas a kind of therapy experience, and eventually expand into a new, custom-built facility, similar to their Traverse City and Midland locations. 
 

Source: Matthew Bartels, Children's Therapy Corner's Lansing 
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New Teen Zone gives Ele's Place teens a place to interact and heal

As anyone who knows a teenager knows, teens like to have their own space to hang out. Thanks to four years of hard work and $75,000 worth of donations and volunteer labor, Ele's Place can now offer their teens exactly that. 
 
"It's very exciting. Our teens are thrilled," says Managing Director of Lansing's Ele's Place Lori Bosch, "They can't wait to get in there and get going on some hands on the activities."
 
Ele's Place celebrated a ribbon cutting on their new Teen Zone yesterday, unveiling a renovated space in the lower level of their W. Oakland Ave. facility where teens can interact, role play, use technology-based communications and express themselves through art and music. 
 
"All of those physical experiences, gives them a way to express themselves with other teens who understand what they're going through," says Bosch. "They form strong relationships and trust while they're interacting together."
 
Though space for these types of activities had been previously available for younger children, the healing center for grieving kids has been working for years to create the same environment for teens. Bosch says the renovation was a true community effort with donated labor and a generous cash donation from Celink. 
 
Ele's Place is always looking for more volunteers, and those interested may contact the organization for information on volunteer training. 

Source: Lori Bosch, Ele's Place
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Buttons and Beanstalks brings kiddie chic to Williamston

As a stay-at-home mom, Danielle Mackay loved to shop for her kids at children's boutiques, but kept running into the same problem: there just weren't enough options for boys. As both of Mackay's children are boys, this posed a problem for a boutique shopper like herself that she was determined to solve. Her answer was opening Buttons and Beanstalks.
 
"I do everything one-for-one between girls and boys," says Mackay. "I carry a lot of accessories that are really hard to find. I hand-make a lot of the hair ties and ties for little boys."
 
The children's boutique began online about a year ago, and has now expanded into a physical shop in Williamston's Keller Plaza. The new Buttons and Beanstalks opened on April 13 in a 220 square foot shop.
 
"I like that it is all indoors," Mackay says. "The size of the space is perfect."
 
Mackay now operates the shop on limited hours, but hopes to soon expand into full retail hours. She anticipates hiring up to three employees once Button and Beanstalks has expanded its hours. 

Source: Danielle Mackay, Buttons and Beanstalks
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Vortex Midwest opens Williamston office, adding up to three jobs

If you’re a frequent visitor to playgrounds in Michigan, you’ve probably noticed a trend spreading throughout the state: splashpads. 
 
“Splashpads have been a hot item,” says Cory Anderson, owner and general manager of Williamston’s new Vortex Midwest office. “We have over 115 splashpads in Michigan and over 350 in the Midwest.”
 
Though affiliated with Montreal-based Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the new local business is owned and operated by Anderson and provides service and customer support to those many splashpads. 
 
Andreson opened the business out of his home in January of 2012, and it quickly grew to the point of needing staff and office space. Four months ago, Vortex Midwest officially opened it’s Grand River location in Williamston. Anderson currently has one staff member is looking to quickly add two more. 
 
“I moved in, and the landowner was very nice and gave me the possibility of expanding into more space,” says Anderson of the 600 square foot office and 1,500 square feet of storage space he currently occupies, “and it looks like I’m going to be needing it sooner than later. Things are just kind of booming.”
 

Assistance dog training non-profit opens Grand Ledge storefront

In her work with students with physical and cognitive needs at Lansing’s Beekman Center, Dr. Nikki Kersey witnessed a notable difference in children’s development when interacting with dogs. 
 
“The kids would talk to the dogs or throw the ball to the dogs, which helped them reach some of their goals,” says Kersey. “We started thinking that these goals are usually worked on at home with their parents too, so why can’t they have dogs at home to help them do that?” 
 
That inspired Kersey to help connect families who could benefit from such interaction to well-trained assistance dogs. Seven years ago, Great Lakes Assistance Dogs, or G.L.A.D. was born in Kersey’s living room. 
 
“My partner and I are social workers, and we work with the families who work with the dogs,” says Kersey. “Nobody else offers that. When a person calls us to get started, we pair them up with puppies and start them in the bonding process right away.”
 
Though the non-profit started out slowly, Kersey says it was about two years ago when the phone really began to ring. The increase in need has led to growth in the organization, and now G.L.A.D. is celebrating its new 1,000 square foot storefront in Grand Ledge. 
 
G.L.A.D. is always looking for volunteer puppy raisers, and relies nearly entirely on volunteers and donations. The new Grand Ledge location allows for the organization to rent space to a dog groomer, who also donates a portion of her profits back to G.L.A.D.
 
Kersey plans to continue to grow G.L.A.D. and provide assistance dogs to families in need. The cost to raise each dog is estimated at $25,000, and families are asked to contribute $12,500 for their dog. Kersey hopes to eventually provide dogs to families at no cost.
 

Nexus Academy to bring blended learning, 12 jobs to 15,000 sq ft high school

After being one of the first two cyber charter schools allowed in Michigan in 2010, Connections Education noticed that for all the added benefits of online learning, some of their students were looking for a little something more. 
 
“It’s known as blended learning,” says Mickey Revenaugh, executive vice president at Connections Education. “It’s where you’re combining online education, with all its personalization and flexibility, and in person education, with all the guidance that brings.” 
 
Connections Education is now using the blended learning format to create two new high schools in Michigan, one in Grand Rapids and the other in Okemos. Revenaugh is providing technical assistance to the board of the Nexus Academy of Lansing.
 
“Michigan is known nationally as having a really robust charter school landscape,” says Revenaugh. “We found that there are quite a few really high quality charter schools in the area, but not a lot of high school options.”
 
The new, 15,000 square foot school will be located on University Park Drive in a building previously utilized for offices and is currently undergoing $300,000 in renovations. The school will have an open floor plan without traditional walls and will include such features as a fitness center and lounge with couches for students to use during their online courses.
 
Nexus Academy of Lansing will be rolling up to 250 high school students this fall. Twelve instructors will be employed to work on-site, and students will benefit from an online community of more than 50 virtual instructors. 
 

AL!VE set to open final, 20,000 sq ft phase, add 20 jobs in December

After five years of planning and development and a year after its first phase opened its doors, Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital will celebrate the completion of AL!VE’s second and final phase this December in Charlotte. The community health and well-being facility has already received 65,000 visits to the 45,000 square foot location and is looking forward to even more visitors and expanded programming when it opens the additional 20,000 square feet of space this year. 
 
“The mission of AL!VE is to enhance the overall heath and vitality of the region. Expanding the indoor walking path, adding more conference space and making AL!VE more accessible to families by offering childcare will further allow us to reach our mission,” says Patrick Sustrich, MS, director of health and wellness services at HGB. “Additionally, moving HGB's existing wellness center to AL!VE will increase traffic into the building and provide a tremendous expansion of programs and services available to these members.”
 
The new area will include a child development area, locker rooms, fitness center and conference space offering a boardroom and two additional meeting rooms. Forty workers are currently employed at AL!VE, and an additional 20 will be added with the opening of the new phase.
 
Sustrich notes that the truly community-minded facility is, and will continue to be open and free to the public. 
 
“Things such as indoor walking, rock climbing, social and gathering spaces, etc. are free to everyone,” he says. “Additional classes and programs are offered on a fee per service basis.  These programs include, but are not limited to, cooking classes, spa treatments, clinical services and a healthy eating cafe.”
 

$2.1M Live, Learn, Lead Academy development to teach entrepreneurship, add 15 jobs

A lot of people don’t start receiving bank statements until after they’ve stopped receiving report cards. At the new Learn, Live, Lead Entrepreneurial Academy on West Miller Road in Lansing, students will receive both. 
 
“Every child inside of our school will have jobs,” says founder, Paula Diane Cunningham “They will apply for it, and they will interview. In addition to a report card, they will get bank statements. They have to understand that time is money. There are no excuses in this school.”
 
Cunningham is a former president of Lansing Community College and CEO of Capital National Bank. Cunningham says the school, which meets all Michigan certifications for K-6 schools, will be a free public institution  for students and parents who want a rigorous learning environment. 
 
“It is for students who want to be in an environment with high expectations and students who are creative,” says Cunningham. “Students will each have their own learning plans.”
 
The innovative academy will be held inside a former church. The 134,000 square foot building was purchased for $1.35 million and is currently undergoing $750,000 million in renovations. Enrollment is underway now, and Cunningham plans to admit 140 K-6 students the first year. Twelve to 15 staff will be employed for the new school. An affiliated high school is planned for the future.
 
“It’s been a labor and a journey of love,” Cunningham of the academy’s development. “We believe students needs more entrepreneurial skills and the tenants of entrepreneurialism should be beginning early on.”
 

Goldfish Swim School to open in Okemos, add 25 jobs

Future swimmers and their parents will soon have a new option for getting their bearings in the deep end. The Birmingham, Michigan-based Goldfish Swim School will be opening a location in Okemos soon.
 
“We are really excited to be moving into the Lansing area,” says Rebecca Burlingame, general manager of Goldfish. “We have a very specialized curriculum that has been proven. The instructors are very well trained, and are passionate about swimming and getting children the swim skills necessary for confidence.”
 
Goldfish accepts children from four months through 12 years of age and teaches them to swim in a 90 degree pool set in a 92 degree environment. Goldfish currently operates five locations and will soon expand to ten, including the Okemos facility.
 
The Okemos Goldfish will be located in an 8,000 square foot facility near Meridian Mall and will employ 25 workers upon opening, with a goal of reaching 45 after a year and a half of operations. Burlingame expects renovations to be complete in time for a late winter opening.
 
“We’re going to have to dig a pool,” she says. “And we have really unique, tropical décor for our facilities, so we’ll be making it look like our other locations.” 

Kick It Out Competitive Dance to open in 1,000 square foot East Lansing studio, adding four jobs

Denise Krumm wants Lansing area dancers to unlearn some of the lessons they may have retained about competitive dance on shows like Dance Moms. 
 
“I‘ve seen way too many children and adults turned away because someone says, ‘You’re not good enough,’” Krumm says. “I think if you have your heart and soul in it, there is a spot for everybody.”
 
Krumm’s new Kick it Out Competitive Dance will give all dancers the chance to compete. The new dance studio will place all students into appropriate levels so everyone from children to adults can learn dance, as well as enjoy the fun of competing. 
 
“I had been coaching dance for over 15 years. I’ve been coaching the ages form kindergarten through high school. I decided it was time for me to branch out and get into business for myself. I’ve got a really good staff behind me of teachers and instructors."
 
Krumm’s new studio will employ two instructors and two assistant instructors specializing in lyrical, jazz, hip-hop and pom dancing. 
 
“Our instructors are fantastic,” Krumm says. “They’re young, fresh and they know what they’re doing. They’ve done a lot of training, and I’ll also be sending them to additional trainings. I feel that they are going to pull in a lot of people because of their expertise and their enthusiasm.”
 
Kick it Out Competitive Dance will open on July 1 in a 1,000 square foot studio renovated by Krumm’s friends and family on Haslett Road in East Lansing
 

Little Scholars Preschool to add Mason location, up to 10 staff

Little Scholars Preparatory School just opened in Downtown Lansing in 2010, and already, the childcare center and preschool are full to capacity with a waiting list. Owner Audrey Pallone says that the focus on education and low ratios of children to staff have made the center a success. 
 
Pallone hopes to experience the same kind of success in DeWitt with Little Scholars North Campus, which recently opened in two classrooms of the former Gunnisonville Elementary School. The school was recently purchased by Brandino Properties, who will soon open a charter school to share the 26,000-square foot space. 
 
“We’re proving that continuum of care,” says Brandino Properties’ Tim Brannan of the site that will, in total, house the childcare center, charter school and an assisted living facility. “[Pallone’s] focus is getting these kids ready for kindergarten. Her area of expertise is development and early child development.”
 
Little Scholars North Campus is licensed for 38 students and maintains a one to four teacher-to-student ratio, which exceeds state requirement. At full capacity the center could employ up to 10 workers. The center serves children ages six weeks through six years of age.
 

Mathnasium brings specialized tutoring, adds four jobs to Okemos

When Joel Tillman was working as an alternative education and substitute teacher, he enjoyed working with the kids, but   he felt that there was something missing in the way in which he was able to meet their needs in the classroom. 
 
“I didn’t feel like I was able to reach as many kids as I could,” says Tillman. “With the restrictions on how classrooms are, there are always students who need more help, and then there are kids who are bored because they learn so quickly.”
 
That’s when Tillman came across the Mathnasium concept, a math tutoring franchise that allows students to learn in individualized ways that make sense to them. The center is designed for both students who need additional help to keep up, and gifted students who are ready to move ahead of their peers.
 
“They explain math in terms that students have already been exposed to,” Tillman says. “With this individualized approach, I can reach more kids and help them overcome their fear toward math.”
 
On June 18, Tillman will open the Lansing area’s first Mathnasium in a 1,200 square foot space within Jolly Oak Convenience Center at the northeast corner of Jolly and Okemos Roads. CBRE|Martin now reports that the center is at 100 percent occupancy.
 
“When I moved to Okemos, I got to know the community,” says Tillman. “I realized it was a community that cares about education.”
 
Tillman will hire four part-time instructors to help him run Mathnasium. Should the Okemos center be well received, he hopes to open additional Mathnasium centers in the future.
 

Eco-friendly baby goods store expands into new space, rebrands, adds four jobs

Stephanie White started Z Bear Diapers in Holt when her first child was a year old and the woman from whom she purchased her cloth diapers and accessories was moving out of town. 
 
“I honestly started the whole thing as a hobby,” White says. “When she moved, I decided to start up.”
 
The hobby grew into a business operation out of White's home, which then expanded into an office space in Holt. The business is now in a brand new location, with a new name and expanded inventory. The new location is next to Play and the East Lansing Food Coop. Little Green Branches celebrated its grand opening last week in its new 950 square foot spot. 
 
“It’s right next door to Play, which is the exact same market I want to be in,” says White. “We’re also so fortunate with the community gardens and the East Lansing Food Coop right here. It’s a fun little strip.”
 
In addition to cloth diapers, White now carries a variety of eco-friendly baby items, such as toys made from recycled plastic and cornstarch runoff, nursing covers and pads, reusable lunch kits and more. 
 
“The Okemos and East Lansing area is a community that is getting into the eco-friendly side of things,” White says. “I’m really excited about being here.”
 
With the opening of Little Green Branches, White has added four new part time positions to help staff the store. Eventually, she would like to expand her inventory to include more home goods and continue to grow into her new location. 
 
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