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New campaign school trains artists to run for elected office

Artists and members of the cultural community across Michigan can learn how to successfully run for elected office through the first-ever "artist campaign school" in late October in Detroit.

The inaugural event kicks off a series of all-expenses-paid trainings that will be held semi-annually across the United States. Applications for the Artist Campaign School Detroit are being accepted through September 15. Up to 100 applicants will be accepted.

The Detroit and Lansing-based Creative Many Michigan is among a consortium of nine community impact organizations involved in the effort. Fractured Atlas—one of the nation's largest arts service organizations—will lead the group.

Creative Many Michigan's Sarah Gonzales Triplett says that the Artist Campaign School enables artists to inspire deeper political engagement by seeking elected office. The school will teach practical skills needed to run successful political campaigns and will be facilitated by top-tier campaign veterans from across the political spectrum. Topics include voter targeting, message and policy development, media training, fundraising and social media strategies.

"Artists are naturally skilled at taking the complicated and distilling it to a powerful image, sound, feeling or idea and then moving others to take action,” says Triplett, the director of public policy and advocacy for Creative Many Michigan. “We are excited to partner on this effort to insert more diverse voices at the policy decision-making table.”

Triplett says the 2018 election cycle is an ideal time for the school to recruit and train political candidates, particularly those that understand the role that the arts can play in community development, education, place making and more. She says that Greater Lansing is replete with potential candidates, given the slate of current and successful revitalization efforts influenced by the arts.

"The Greater Lansing region is only growing in their unique artistic offerings," says Triplett. "The City of East Lansing is the only city in the state to have a Percent for the Arts ordinance. We are seeing the arts as a direct link to the revitalization of Old Town and REO Town in Lansing."

Organizations involved in the effort include Fractured Atlas, Alternate Roots (Atlanta), Art Up (Memphis), Creative Capital (New York), Creative Many Michigan (Detroit), For Freedoms (D.C.), The Laundromat Project (New York) and National Performance Network (New Orleans). Additional partners are expected to join.

To learn more or to apply, click here.

Source: Sarah Gonzales Triplett, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Creative Many Michigan.
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Small theatre in small town continues to grow big successes

Eighty artists. Six productions. And more than 11,000 tickets sold annually.

Numbers reveal the success of Greater Lansing's only professional resident theatre. Since 2006, the Williamston Theatre has fostered the artistic vision of primarily Michigan artists, delivering a regional art form that enriches the culture and economy of Mid-Michigan.

"We're providing opportunity, but we're also providing the local part of it," says Williamston Theatre Development Director Emily Sutton-Smith. "When we choose a play, we have our audience in mind here in central Michigan and reflect our community and their desires."

The Williamston Theatre employs five full-time people and two apprentices. Funding and support come through box office sales, grants and donations from individuals and area businesses. In return, the theatre attracts theatergoers from across the state who support area businesses and add to the cultural buzz of the growing town.

Sutton-Smith says about 80 percent of people attending plays at the theatre come from outside Williamston. And of the people who come to town, 93 percent combine their trip with a visit to a restaurant, a trip to a shop, or a stay at a lodging facility.

"All you really need to do is come downtown to Williamston and look around to see the economic growth we've helped foster," says Sutton-Smith. "When we opened in 2006, there was one restaurant in town with a high-end experience. Today, there are six."

The Williamston Theatre kicked off its 12th season in September and will run through August 2018. Artistic Director Tony Caselli says theatre lovers have a lot to look forward to, including world and Michigan premieres by Michigan playwrights.

"One of the things we try to do is to have plays that people can relate to," says Caselli. "One of our upcoming plays, for instance, takes a warm and humorous look at the challenges of people who live in our state. 'Doublewide' is the kind of play we can connect with and relate to, and shows what our world is and how we can make it better."

Caselli and Sutton-Smith point out that in addition to supporting Michigan playwrights and actors, the theatre also provides opportunities for faculty and students from Michigan State University.

"I love the relationship we have with the MSU Department of Theatre," says Caselli. "We give students a lot of opportunities to start their path toward professional union membership and to build their careers. We take a lot of pride in being an equity theatre."

For information on the 2017-18 season and for tickets, call the Williamston Theatre at 517-655-SHOW (7469) or visit here.

Source: Emily Sutton-Smith, Development Director, Williamston Theatre
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Former ArtPrize piece installed on Lansing River Trail

Walkers, bikers and runners on Lansing's River Trail are discovering philosophical pathways through a new set of directional signs installed in late August through the city's public art program.

Designed by Lansing visual strategist and designer Ben Graham, "Sign Language" consists of seven individual signs that present positive, uplifting statements. Messages such as "Peace & Love," "Smell the Roses," "No Whining," "Aspire," and "Be Happy," appear on signs in the traditional shapes, sizes, and colors of those used to direct traffic.

The idea behind the work, Graham says, is to encourage people through simple assertions. He says an installation resembling directional traffic signs was a perfect medium for presenting positive messages.

"I became very intrigued with traffic signs as a communication device," says Graham. "We follow and pay attention to what they tell us without even thinking or knowing we are. They give us a command and we just do it. And they take us where we want to go and are very successful for the most part."

"Sign Language" was featured at ArtPrize 2015, and was noticed by a board member of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. Graham says he was later approached by LEAP to permanently install the artwork on the River Trail beginning at Impression 5 and stretching north along the Grand River.

"This is a great piece that makes a strong statement, and inspires really interesting conversations," says Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP. "It's the kind of piece that works to shift us away from the antiquated 'rust belt' moniker that doesn't match with where we currently are."

The acquisition and installation of "Sign Language" was coordinated through LEAP's new place making pilot program ENGAGE. Funding was provided by the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau's Greater Lansing Destination Development Foundation.

Source: Ben Graham, Visual Strategist and Designer, Ben Graham Group
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Salus Center to provide resources, gathering space for LGBTQ community

When Phiwa Langeni returned to Greater Lansing after being gone for 10 years, the ordained Christian minister noticed a general gap in the services, resources and gathering spaces available for the LGBTQ community.

In September, Langeni will open the doors to a nonprofit center that looks to fill that gap.

Named for the Latin word meaning wholeness or well-being, the Salus Center will provide a physical space for LGBTQ individuals, families, friends and allies to gather, find resources, and participate in activities and services. The comprehensive community center will offer education, meeting spaces, medical and housing resources, a Sunday afternoon worship service, and access to holistic services onsite.

"This is a culmination of spaces I've encountered that were useful and transformative to me," says Langeni. "I'm creating an oasis where people can just be their most full and whole selves as LGBTQ folks."

The Salus Center will be open part-time hours beginning September 9, and will be staffed solely by volunteers. The 1,500-square foot space is divided into two main areas with large windows, as well as a smaller community room, office and restrooms. Local artwork will fill the walls, and be changed up through rotating exhibits of local artists.

"Typically, a lot of gathering spaces for LGBTQ people are bars," says Langeni. "Many of those spaces have closed, and that's devastating. But even so, those places only serve a portion of the community. My hope is that this space will increase the age of people who can be here, and offer a type of programming that can bridge gaps between communities."

The Salus Center is located at 624 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing and will host an open house on September 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The center will be open Sunday through Thursday, with hours to be announced. Langeni says the facility may also be rented for events during non-business hours.

The multi-faith Salus Center is supported through donations from the United Church of Christ and private gifts. Grant support is being sought. To find out more about the Salus Center click here.

Source: Phiwa Langeni, Founder, Salus Center
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Belle Row Boutique reshapes business, combines online and pop-up shopping

Devon Bradley launched her clothing boutique in a traditional brick-and-mortar fashion. Today, she's transformed her business into a combination of online sales, pop-up shops and girls night out events that reach markets in multiple locations.

Belle Row Boutique moved to a new service model after a three-year run in a small retail space on E. Lake Lansing Road. As her shop captured the interest of fashion-minded customers from areas like Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and southeast Michigan, Bradley decided to make a bold move. She closed the physical shop in early 2017, pushed traffic to her online storefront, and upped the number of creative on-the-road shopping experiences she offered.

"One of the fears of closing my brick-and-mortar store was that I would lose contact with my customers," says Bradley. "But now that I'm doing more pop-up shops, it allows me to keep and have that interaction which was the favorite part of my business."

Bradley describes her boutique as a trendy women's clothing shop that carries premium denim, dresses, coats, sweaters and plush staples. Shoes and accessories round out the eclectic mix of exclusive, feminine designs at prices that range from $20 to $80. A fashion enthusiast, Bradley handpicks each item with fashion vendors, and typically only purchases one to two items in each size. That, she says, ensures each customer walks away with something unique.

Since early 2017, Bradley has held regular pop-up events at The Runway in Lansing. It's a way, she says, that her online customers can come in and try on items to get a feel for the fabric and fit. Bradley stocks each event with her total inventory so a customer can buy what they like on the spot. She also features a special sale rack at each event that includes items that don't appear on her website.

"This model has been really beneficial," says Bradley. "I can travel around more and expand my market."

Bradley has grown her inventory from 25 vendors to nearly 100 in three years, and regularly travels to fashion shows to check out new and exclusive clothing lines. To discover a pop-up event, browse available fashions, or to schedule a girls night out with Belle Row Boutique, click here.

Source: Devon Bradley, Owner, Belle Row Boutique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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LAFCU offers slate of free seminars to up financial savvy

A leading credit union serving Greater Lansing and beyond continues to offer seminars to members and nonmembers on topics ranging from identity theft and fraud to home buying. In late August, about 100 people attended a LAFCU seminar to hear Eaton County detectives and credit union managers speak about spotting and preventing identity theft. The seminar also featured an individual who had been a victim of the growing crime.

Marketing and Communications Specialist Alyssa Sliger says that more than 15 million American were affected by identity theft and fraud in 2016. Personal finance crimes are on the rise as more consumers use online and mobile platforms to do their banking, finances or shopping. She added that consumers who are familiar with the signs of fraud can spot things more quickly, and minimize the damage.

"We see the need for more education, especially with the increase in fraud every year," says Sliger. "Our goal is to provide resources to the community and help people understand a variety of topics that affect their finances."

The recent identity theft seminar was part of LAFCU's ongoing Cyber Scout program launched more than a year ago. The program is designed to decrease the incident of fraud and identity theft among LAFCU members, and to provide general education to interested residents of nearly a dozen counties in Mid-Michigan.

The 81-year-old credit union offers seminars year-round on a variety of topics, including mortgage and home buying, financial planning, and Medicare and long-term care. Seminars are free and open to the public.

"Finances can be scary for some people," says Sliger. "We want to be a source of reference, and set people up with the education and information they need to understand their finances, regardless of their age."

Source: Alyssa Sliger, Marketing and Communications Specialist, LAFCU
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Silver Cafe to Go brings Airstream nostalgia to outdoor events

Jaisy Spinazzola was en route to band practice when her trek took her in a different direction. There, catching the sun by the side of a country road, was the magic bullet that would change her way of life: A vintage Airstream.

Within days, Spinazzola had gently convinced her partner Eric McVay to add a third dimension to their business as the acoustic duo Fringe. McVay would become a master at barbecue. She would summon her culinary talents and acumen for small business. Then, with the 1970s Airstream in tow, the two would combine music and food at public and private events--both local and statewide.

Silver Cafe to Go launched in 2015 and has been steadily picking up acclaim from Williamston to the Upper Peninsula. McVay and Spinazzola remodeled the interior according to health code and other regulations, while retaining original interior features like the stove and oven. Spinazzola even went in search of late 1960s and early 1970s utensils and small appliances to evoke the period flair of the 29-foot trailer.

"It's just beautiful," says Spinazzola. "It's mostly wood cabinets. All of the hardware is mid-century modern. There are Jetson handles on the stove and olive green cabinets. And we added a dark teal blue to bring out the color of the wood."

Based out of McVay's hometown of Fowlerville, Silver Cafe to Go goes on the road for weddings; birthday and retirement parties; flea markets, fairs and festivals; and other family- and friend-based events of 100 or more people. The trailer has also appeared on approved business sites in Williamston. Customers can walk up and enjoy the signature barbecue, as well as sides that change with the seasons including mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, cranberry stuffing and pasta.

"I love to cook, so it's very creative," says Spinazzola. "And we've also incorporated his mom's recipe for chili. It's kind-of southern."

Spinazzola equipped the Airstream mobile diner with a collection of outdoor chairs and plaid blankets. Depending on the event, Spinazzola packs orders into picnic baskets, and provides customers with blankets and chairs to enjoy their meal al fresco. Spinazzola and McVay also occasionally perform—she on vocal and guitar, him on bass—featuring original compositions and covers in the pop-acoustic vein.

"There's never a dull moment," says Spinazzola. "I was previously a hairdresser, and was so accustomed to meeting people. This is another great way to do that."

Silver Café to Go can be booked for events six to eight weeks in advance with more information here. Spinazzola says the diner has the capacity to serve up to 500 people per event, and occasionally hires staff to help with larger events.

Source: Jaisy Spinazzola, Co-owner, Silver Café to Go
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Thriftique combines quality with thrift for unique shopping experience

Although the sign on the outside of Atalie Buyck's shop is somewhat new, everything inside isn't.

In early summer, Buyck finally decided to hang a shingle on the front of Thriftique—a business she moved to REO Town about three years ago. She'd been carrying the professionally-made sign in and out of her shop most days, remembering how it had attracted attention at her previous location near S. Cedar and Holmes.

"They say that signage can be 80 percent of the business," says Buyck. "I've always believed that mantra but I hadn't been living it. I did notice a huge difference when I finally had the sign put up, and people saying to me 'I didn't even know you were here.'"

A peek through the picture window at 1137 S. Washington reveals a well-curated mix of collectibles, vintage clothing and housewares. It's a blend that lends itself to a niche Buyck calls "departmentalized thrift"—or quality, reclaimed items organized in aisles and on clean, tidy shelves.

And while she has at least 200,000 items in the storefront that once housed the long-time biz Betty's Buttons, Buyck can tell inquiring customers exactly what she has and point to where it is.

"I hand-pick the majority of my merchandise," says Buyck. "I do a lot of estate buying, and I'm a salvage picker. I pick up anything I think is unique or cool, and I have people who come trade things, too."

Buyck says the backbone of her business is to redo, reuse and recycle. She wants to teach people not to be so hasty with their spending, and to slow down, shop around and look for something that's secondhand or can be reused. What's more, she's in to the boutique side of thrift, providing a heavy dose of customer service and sales that complements her merchandise.

Buyck says she learned the boutique side of the thrifting biz from her grandma, Rachel Green. Originally from Mexico, Green had a passion for secondhand goods that she curated and gave away through frequent trips to poor areas of Mexico and Texas.

"She taught me a passion for quality," says Buyck. "She really invested time in showing me how to find quality in secondhand goods and resale items like linens, dishes and clothes."

Buyck grew up on the Southside and graduated from Michigan State University in 2000 with her bachelor's in criminal justice and psychology. She got into thrifting about 10 years ago working at the previous University Resale Shop on Homer near Frandor. She eventually purchased the store and all its contents, sold off the goods, and founded Thriftique.

Buyck moved to REO Town in 2014 after moving twice: first from a location near Old Town, and the second time from a location on S. Cedar.

"Being here is awesome," she says. "It's historic and near downtown and the space is just right," she says. "When I first got here, it was a little sparse, but now with all the new developments, it's the place to be."

Source: Atalie Buycks, Owner, Thriftique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

First Impressions Program empowers artists to contribute to regional growth

The City of Lansing reaffirmed its commitment to investing in arts and culture as a way to drive economic development through a recent reshaping of a program that provides funding in support of the arts.

In late July, the city unveiled the First Impressions Program—a cooperative program involving the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. The new program ups the amount of funding available through arts-related grants by $20,000 for a total of $140,000. Formerly known as the City of Lansing Sense of Place in the Arts Program, First Impressions offers three types of funding and support to Lansing creatives, artists and arts organizations.

The three categories include Creative Placemaking Grants, Arts Impact Projects, and Programmatic Support. The Creative Placemaking Grants provide from $1,000 to $20,000 to a variety of specific projects by arts and arts organizations. Arts Impact Projects provide $75,000 in funds for an individual permanent project and installation. Programmatic Support is by invitation and provides $45,000 to supports arts organizations that meet specific criteria.

"We know that intentional strategic planning placemaking efforts are a driver for attracting new talent and businesses, and for keeping the great talent and businesses we already have, right here," says LEAP President and CEO Bob Trezise. "The City of Lansing continues to be a true leader in placement activity within our region, and this increase in funding for the arts and culture underscores that commitment."

The First Impression Program strives to do just that: provide a positive first impression of Lansing through a strong arts-focused community. That image, say organizers, invites tourists, visitors and potential new residents to the area and creates pride for current residents.

"We are so proud of our city for its support of the arts in Lansing and the region as a whole," says Arts Council Executive Director Deborah E. Mikula. "The arts play a huge role in creating successful cities, and we are so pleased to present the program that helps put our city in this league."

For guidelines and eligibility criteria for all First Impression categories visit the Arts Council funding page here. Deadlines for Creative Placemaking and Programmatic Support grants are Sept. 15, 2017, with grant periods running Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018. The 2017-18 Arts Impact recipient was selected through the previous program, with activities underway to install a permanent artwork and create a town square in Southwest Lansing.

Source: Victoria Meadows, Marketing, Communications and Talent Director, LEAP
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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MSU alum transforms underused park space into meditative labyrinth

Ken Hunter saw a lot during his time as a seasonal staff helping to maintain the grounds at a popular park in the City of East Lansing. The biggest was the beauty of an abandoned space, once reserved for the by-gone era of outdoor shuffleboard at Patriarch Park. Immediately, he saw the potential.

As a 2016 graduate of Michigan State University with a dual bachelor's in fine arts and arts and humanities, Hunter applied his creative thinking to reimagining the space as a retreat or meditative outpost.

"My initial thought was how to recreate the space and make it user-friendly," says Hunter. "At first, I thought of some sort of mural and place for picnics. But after seeing how people engaged with the space, how they came there to be alone or to eat their lunch, I went in another direction."

Hunter took his idea for a meditative labyrinth to the City and was given the go-ahead to transform the neglected 58- by 26-foot space. He applied for and received a $3,000 grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, then proceeded with plans to create a contemplative garden from 1,000 square feet of moss and succulents planted within 1,200 feet of edging arranged in semi-circular patterns.

"His vision for an underused and abandoned space turned out fabulous," says Cathy Shambo, environmental services administrator for the City of East Lansing. "That part of the park is quiet and shaded. The rest of the park is very active and athletic, so if you're looking to enjoy nature, it's a lovely area to sit and visit."

Hunter spent about 40 hours on the physical creation of the labyrinth that was dedicated in late May. Since then, people have come to stroll within the peaceful pathways created by the unique design or to simply sit in the shade and enjoy the visual qualities and tranquility.

Hunter resides in Chicago and attends Northwestern University where he leads Design for America—a group that challenges students to apply design for the social good. The recipient of numerous awards for printmaking and painting, Hunter says he views art as a communicator that unites people and community.

"This idea for this labyrinth was born from the idea of how I can make this place better," says Hunter. "I'm not anyone special. I was just a person with a vision and sought after it. I would love to encourage others to do the same."

The meditative labyrinth can be found off the southernmost drive of Patriarch Park, located at the corner of Alton Road and Saginaw Street in East Lansing.

Source: Cathy DeShambo, Environmental Services Administrator, City of East Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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On the Rocks climbs ahead of competition with delivery service

The owner of a local, independent party store believes being small allows him to compete in a big way—particularly when it comes to getting out in front of the chains with the delivery of alcoholic beverages.

Beginning April 1, On the Rocks began delivering products to customers—in keeping with the growing trend for personalized delivery of food and other consumables. Owner Rocky Singh began transporting products from store-to-door just three days after the Michigan law went into effect that allowed expanded in-state retailer privileges regarding shipping and delivery of alcoholic products within the state.

"Being small allowed us to implement delivery as soon as it was available," says Singh. "It is a service that benefits customers, and no app, membership or subscription is needed."

On the Rocks will deliver to locations within six miles of the store, which is located in the Carriage Hills Shopping Center at the intersection of Hagadorn and Lake Lansing Roads. Singh says he started the program to provide top service to customers.

"We treat everyone like family, and just like in the TV show, Cheers, we get to know everyone's name," says Singh. "The majority of our customers live close. We're convenient for them. And, because we're small, we have time to get to know our customers and what they like. If we don't have what they want, we order it."

On the Rocks attests to carrying every single bottled Michigan beer, and can order keg-only Michigan beers on request. The party store also carries more than 3,000 wines and every artisan option available in the liquor book. Customers will also find an assortment of soft drinks and mixers, snacks, bulk candies, and every day staples on the shelves of the 4,000-square foot store.

Singh opened the store in October 2014 and employs three full-time and two part-time staff. Two full-timers have been added since the store opened.

Delivery is available Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Orders for same-day delivery must be received an hour before the service concludes for the day. Delivery is free for orders $40 or more, and $10 for orders under $40. Orders are placed by phone, and customers must provide a valid driver license number and payment information at the time of the call.

Source: Rocky Singh, Owner, On the Rocks
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Southwest Lansing Arts Impact Project kicks off with community charrette

Southwest Lansing residents have been gathering and sharing ideas about recreating a pivotal point in their district as the City of Lansing's 2017 Arts Impact Project ramps up.

Administered by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, the project activates city spaces through artistic and permanent placemaking. This year's $75,000 grant was awarded to fund the planning and implementation of a new town square, green space and public art installation at the corner of Pleasant Grove and Holmes Road in Southwest Lansing.

The project was proposed by At-Large City Councilmember Kathie Dunbar and was selected from a field of 15 proposals in early 2017. The public art will be designed and constructed by local artists David Such and Fred Hammond, while Elements Studio is the project's landscape architect.

"This project is all about letting the community express themselves and show how they live and do business in the area," says Kris Klein, LEAP economic development specialist. "It's giving people a chance to show what Southwest Lansing is and can be."

Expressways, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Mount Hope, and the zigzag of the city limits define the borders of Southwest Lansing. That vast area is often regarded as a part of the city without specific points or landmarks. Klein says the outcome of the project will be to provide a focal point for the community and redefine the district's image.

Community charrettes and planning meetings began in mid-June, with ideas and visions underway for the 100- by 80-foot town square. Benches, shade trees, sidewalk accessibility, and other landscape features are among the ideas, as well as a 20-foot steel sculpture with different panels that represent neighborhood diversity. Community members and planners hope to involve adjacent businesses in using the surrounding parking lot for food truck rallies, musical events and a farmer's market.

"This effort will involve a layering of projects, resources and partners," says Klein. "It's incredibly important to have the sustained engagement of the community to make this happen."

Klein anticipates the town square and art installation will be completed by summer of 2018. A crowd funding campaign kicks off this fall to supplement the $75,000 slated to fund planning and implementation.

Source: Kris Klein, Economic Development Specialist, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Recruitment Management Consultants adds three jobs, eyes expansion

An IT recruitment and consulting company headquartered in East Lansing continues to expand its abilities to match qualified talent with area businesses with the addition of three new employees.

Two of the three new staff at Recruitment Management Consultants will be based in East Lansing, while the third will work from the Novi branch of the small business on the rise.

"Our new talent staff helps to meet our clients' growing demand for qualified technical talent," says Adrienne Moulton, RMC marketing and communications specialist. "The IT field is very tight, especially with unemployment at a 10-year low in Lansing."

The two IT recruiters joining the East Lansing team are Joel Maurer and Rachel Given. The third, Nathan Bristow, will join the Novi team after recently graduating from Michigan State University.

Recruitment Management Consultants was founded in 2010 by Jim Beiermeister and Jamie Lytle, and is headquartered at 321 W. Lake Lansing Road. In the last seven years, the company has grown its staff by 38 percent year-over-year to 12 employees, with eight of those working in East Lansing.

Moulton says the company's expansion mirrors the unwavering growth of the information and technology market and the need for qualified IT candidates to fill vacant positions. Company clients include major insurance companies, universities, Fortune 500 companies, and small businesses, including start-ups. The company is eyeing a third office in Grand Rapids in 2019.

Recruitment Management Consultants has been honored as one of the Top 50 Companies to Watch on the 2016 Michigan Celebrates Small Business list. The company was also a 2015 and 2016 Inc. 5000 awardee.

Source: Adrienne Moulton, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Recruitment Management Consultants
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Lansing City adds kick to mid-Michigan with professional futsal team

The fast and the furious has come to Lansing's in a big league way.

Futsal—or the official indoor version of soccer—has established a foothold in the metro area with a growing fan base for the professional team and youth academies for attracting and developing ongoing talent.

"If you enjoy fast-paced action that is high scoring with a lot of exciting moments packed into an hour and 20 minutes, you'll like futsal," says Jeremy Klepal, owner of Lansing City Futsal. "We've never heard of anybody who's come to watch that has said this isn't their cup of tea. That's why we've grown our fan base so much. Everyone just loves it."

Lansing City Futsal opened its 2017 professional summer season June 23 on its home court at Aim High Sports Complex near Dimondale. The team plays five games at home and five away, and competes against six pro franchises on the East Coast, including Baltimore, New York, New Jersey, Boston and Philadelphia. During playoffs, the team also takes on competitors from the West Coast. The winter season is more regional, with competitions among teams from Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit.

Futsal is played five-on-five on a hard surface like a basketball court. Differences from outdoor soccer include a smaller court—which adds to the faster, goal-driven play—and a smaller, weighted ball with less bounce height.

Klepel is among 16 Lansing City players, which includes athletes from Grand Rapids, Lansing and across the state, as well as a student from Liberia. Several of the players have represented the U.S. in international competitions.

Born and raised in Grand Ledge, Klepel learned the game at an academy in Flint, then went on to play in Brazil. And while he was offered a contract in Sao Paulo, he decided to come back to Lansing and bring the game to Michigan.

The team practices from a training facility at a 7,000-square foot space in the Prudden Tech Center. The training facility is also home to the Lansing City youth program, which trains both girls and boys age 9 to 18 for summer and winter futsal seasons.

"Lansing is in a growing stage as a city," says Klepel. "And I think those conditions lend themselves well for a spot like futsal. We have a diverse culture here in Lansing, and the game is very popular in a lot of different cultures. That bodes well for us."

For dates and times of home games at the Aim High Sports Complex, visit

Source: Jeremy Klepal, Owner, Lansing City Futsal
Writer Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Smart Homes Smart Offices intelligently grows with automation boom

Smart is as smart does when it comes to a growing technology provider in Okemos, Michigan.

Founded in 2001 by company CEO John Gilluly, Smart Homes Smart Offices has grown from a staff numbering in the single digits to one that employs 22. Three of those employees were added in the last year, joining engineers, project managers, IT specialists, sales personnel, installers, administration and leadership.

"Our sales are increasing and we're looking to add up to 10 more staff within the next few years," says Joel Childs, sales engineer. "We'll also be looking for a new space since we're outgrowing our current one."

Smart Homes Smart Offices specializes in a variety of home automation systems. The company also offers a multitude of software and hardware solutions and network installations for an equally broad range of businesses from home offices to larger corporate companies.

Childs says the company's goal is to be the go-to people in Mid-Michigan for IT needs. The company team completely engineers all products including lighting, audio and video controls, HVAC and security system controls, video conferencing capabilities, or the home theater experience.

"There are other IT companies around the state, but we're one of the few that offers every service," says Childs. "Be it commercial or residential, we do it all. Others just specialize in a few things."

Most of the company's commercial clients fall within the scope of bigger companies like insurance, automotive, medical or dental practices, distribution centers or warehouses. On the residential side, staff assists with installing smart systems related to thermostats, appliances, security and surveillance in new homes, or in upgrading existing homes with cutting edge systems.

"Everyone is getting on board now with smart systems," says Childs. "Four years ago, people weren't sure. Now it's more of the norm."

Childs cites a 1 million growth in sales since 2013 as an indication of the increasing popularity of smart systems for residential and commercial use. The company currently occupies a 2,200-square foot office near the heart of Old Okemos on the Red Cedar River.

Source: Joel Childs, Sales Engineer, Smart Homes Smart Offices
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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