Innovation & Job News

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Sparrow Medical Group VOA Practice treats area homeless

Since the Sparrow Medical Group VOA practice launched six months ago, serving the area’s homeless, they have averaged over 100 visits per week. 

“The way we provide care is very innovative,” says Patrick Patterson, the physician on staff, “But we are really just touching the tip of the iceberg.” It takes a lot, he added, to set a route to good health in the homeless community. 

They look to help in four areas; medical and mental health, stability, and a place to live/source of income. To help in these areas, the clinic brings together 14 different programs that help with a variety of different conditions. Mental health, addiction, and many disabling conditions are often problems that many homeless can’t get treated for. When they can’t get treatment, they are are unable to work. 

“The most rapid place for innovation is the healthcare system,” says Patterson. By cutting down the number of ER visits and ambulance calls, costs can be lowered all across the community. When someone is kept out of the hospital, the bill isn’t generated and the cost to the taxpayer is lower. When people have decent healthcare, says Patterson, “it’s not always a calamity.” 

The program has also created eight jobs and Patterson says they are just getting started. 

Source: Patrick Patterson, Volunteers of America
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio to open and encourage community creativity

While many thought libraries were on their way out with the invention of the internet, and then again with the appearance of e-books, they are simply, according to the director of the East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) Kristin Shelley, finding ways to reinvent themselves. One of those reinventions will premiere on October 1st with the grand opening of the ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio. 

Only the second of its kind in the area, Detroit being the closest, the Studio will offer a space that provides the public somewhere to create and share ideas. There will be a 3D printer, recording equipment, design supplies, sewing machines, bike repair facilities, and much more.The public can cut an album, design a brochure, or produce a podcast.  

This reinvention of the library, says Shelley, “gives people the opportunity to create the information. Instead of people just consuming our materials, they can create it themselves.” It’s taking the library beyond books and story time and Shelley is excited that the public will be able to choose the direction they want the space to go. 

There will also be a community loom that will represent the community weaving together. 

The space is possible due to the fundraising efforts of the library and also because of an anonymous donor. 

Source: Kristin Shelley, Director ELPL
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Mahabir Spa introduces new skin care line, offers "whole approach"

Gita Mahabir has always loved making others feel good about themselves. Cosmetology didn’t take her passion far enough so she got her Masters in counseling and focused on combining her desire to treat outside as well as inside beauty. 

She has taken that concept and opened the Mahabir Spa in Lansing, and introduced a new skin care line. The spa focuses on a “whole approach.”  It opened on September 10th and takes a unique approach on beauty. “Even if you look fabulous,” says Mahabir, “If you’re not feeling fabulous, I didn’t do my job.” Those that come to the spa of course get typical spa treatments but she also asks how she can make customers feel better about themselves. 

Mahabir will be offering a webinar on how taking care of yourself and your skin can help your self-esteem overall. “It’s a step by step process, but I would eventually like to be seen as an educator.” 

Her brand new, unique skin care line, sold in the spa and online, is medical grade and different because of it’s small molecules that are able to sink to a second layer of skin. It also has peptides that put collagen back into the skin. The unique, feathery   cream, complete with Amino Acids, protects and repairs the skin at a cellular level.

Source: Gita Mahabir, Mahabir Spa
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

REACH Art Studio's crowdfunding campaign will allow for expansion

REACH Studio Art Center will be the first organization in nine counties to benefit from a new and unique partnership between the crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Patronicity is a Michigan-based site that helps local non-profits raise the funds they need. If REACH achieves their goal, the MEDC will match the funds giving the Center a total of $96,000 to put toward a new expansion. 

Having outgrown their 1,000 square foot building, the art studio is expanding to 9 times it’s original size. Kim Brock says the “expansion is necessary to serve the youth in the area and give them the proper space to learn through art.” 

The studio bought 5 store fronts along Washington Ave in REO Town and will use the funding to give them a completely new facade. Brock says there will be a courtyard, a sculpture garden a gallery and more. The students will benefit from the expansion but Brock says, “It’s not just exciting for REACH, but also the community and this neighborhood. There are a lot of kids here that need positive things to do.”  The expansion will also clean up the area, adding beautiful things to unused buildings. 

The expansion is already a community project involving the local Studio Intrigue Architects and Van Ermen Commercial Development. 

Source: Kim Brock, REACH Art Studio
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

College of Music endowment encourages MSU music students to become entrepreneurs

The Withrow Career Building Endowment in the College of Music, created by long time donors and supporters Jack and Dottie Withrow, is helping talented students gain the skills they will need no matter what type of career they pursue. Though, the intent, says David Rayl of the College of Music, “is to give them the chance to pursue non-traditional music careers that will enhance the community.” 

There are a wide range of goals surrounding the endowment and a major one is to help students develop an entrepreneurial mind set that will lead to valuable, art-related businesses within the community. “The presence of art in a community makes it more vibrant,” says Rayl. The purpose of this endowment is to show students there are a lot of ways to make a living and contribute to the community with a music degree. 

Funds from the endowment give support to a wide range of activities. A music business class teaches students how to put together a business plan, and guest speakers that come in from the community include successful alumni that have taken non-traditional paths. 

While many of the students will become performers or play in orchestras, they can’t be present in the community if they can’t make a living. This endowment helps them do just that. 

Source: David Rayl, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Music
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

M3 Group acquires new publication, expands reach

Since recognizing a need for niche magazines in Lansing 7 years ago, Tiffany Dowling, President and CEO of M3 Group has been steadily expanding their publishing department. Their most recent addition is the student publication, ing Magazine. “Niche magazines are an innovative way to get news out there,” says Emily Caswell, editor at M3 Group publication, Greater Lansing Business Monthly, “Not to my knowledge has any other branding agency reached out in that way.”

ing Magazine was acquired from Spartan Printing and will be primarily run by students at MSU by way of a journalism class. Publishing opportunities will also be available for freelance writers that want to participate but can’t take the class. It will be a great opportunity for students to get experience and build their portfolios to help them land journalism jobs after graduation. “It’s very hard to get hired without having something that shows what you can do,” says Caswell. 

The expansion means growth for M3 Group as well and they have added a sales position. Also, they would like to help grow the reach of the publication. “We want to pass that invisible line between Lansing and East Lansing,” says Caswell, “Let the students know what’s out there.” 

Source: Emily Caswell, Greater Lansing Business Monthly
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

EduSTEM offers job training to a very specific audience

EduSTEM is reaching out to a group that may normally have a hard time gaining skills for meaningful employment. 

They provide assessment and computer training for individuals with high functioning autism (HFA) to allow them to find careers in software testing and development. 

Many may not be aware that the traits that many HFA individuals display (extreme focus and highly analytical minds) are the same traits that many IT companies are looking for in new hires. EduSTEM offers basic, intermediate  and advanced computer language programming to help them land jobs as software engineers or in data quality assurance. “Those that leave our company find pretty easy employment in the surrounding areas,” says Jeremiah Orians, Chief Technical Officer. 

The companies’ ultimate goal is to establish an infrastructure of smart, capable individuals with at least a moderate level of creativity. Orians says innovation is ultimately about using risk and accepting it as the cost of going business. And they hope that any risk they may be taking pays off, “By the number of people we have working, hopefully one of them will be the next Facebook or Google.” 

They are currently working with at least a dozen students they expect to graduate in the next year. “And at least of few of them,” says Orians, “have shown great potential to be employed.” 

Source: Jeremiah Orians, EduSTEM
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Life Saving Technology introduced to Tri-County ambulances

In America, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every minute someone dies from the same ailment. Every second counts when a patient in cardiac arrest is en route to the hospital. “The quicker we can get those arteries open, the better,” says John Dery, Sparrow's Associate Director of Critical Care Transport and EMS, “But the systems we have now take a lot of time.” 

Funded through a partnership between Sparrow and McLaren Greater Lansing, the wireless LIFENET system allows first responders to send patient information and ECG readings from the field to the hospital. This allows the hospital to prepare for the patient, helps reduce time to treatment and improves efficiency. 

All the ambulances in the Tri-Country area have been outfitted with this technology, a major benefit to those who may not live close to a hospital or medical facility. “They are getting state of the art care, rather than being sent to a small facility that can’t treat them,” says Dery. 

With the introduction of this technology and the growth opportunities it will present, qualified people with a knowledge of technology will need to be hired. The opportunities this, and all future technology that spins from it, present are limitless. Dery says, “Integrating technology into medicine is a huge opportunity.” 

Source: John Dery, Sparrow
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Driver on Tap hiring drivers, aims to eliminate drunk driving

While some may compare Driver on Tap to Lansing's recent addition, Uber, they are more than simply a ride share program; they are trying to solve a dangerous and disturbing problem. Michigan has the highest number of DUI's per capita, Driver on Tap wants to help lower this number and eventually eliminate the problem. 

"There is absolutely no reason to drink and drive," says Founder Jose Ramirez, "especially when there are services like this." This service provides an option for those that don't want to drive, but don't want to leave their car behind. If you have been drinking and needs a ride, simply call Driver on Tap and they will get to you and drive you home in your own car. 
They are in the process of hiring and before they launch at the end of the month will have hired at least 10 drivers with the hope of eventually hiring 50-100. The hiring process could take a while though since, as Ramirez states "we have to be very comfortable with who we hire." 

Driver on Tap will launch on August  27th at The Hatching at Beggar's Banquet. "We will learn a lot in the first three months," says Ramirez, and then, "Ideally we will completely eliminate DUI's in the area." 

Source: Jose Ramirez, Founder
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Trap, Neuter, Release Program decreasing population of feral cats

The population of Feral Cats has been on the rise over the years and has become a significant problem in certain neighborhoods in Lansing. While for a long time the solution was to trap and kill these cats, Holly Thoms of Voiceless-Mi says, "If that was a good idea, it would have worked by now." Since it hadn't, it was time to try something else. Spurred by local organizations that were fed up with the cats, Voiceless-MI and The Capital Area Humane Society teamed up to try and new solution. 

The Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) program, does just what it says. They trap the animals, neuter them and return them to their home. While this doesn't get rid of the animals immediately, it prevents them from reproducing and deters new cats from entering their territory. Once the cat dies (feral cats have a much shorter life expectancy than house cats) no new cats will come to the area. 

The organization, while purely volunteer based, uses local vet offices, and spay and neuter clinics to fix the cats. "We are keeping the clinics very busy," says Thoms. And while they hope to grow, their ultimate goal is to put themselves out of business by bringing the feral cat population down. 

Source: Holly Thoms, President, Voiceless-MI
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

East Lansing Police offer program to engage, educate the public

Registration is now open for the returning, Citizen's Police Academy hosted by the East Lansing Police Department (ELPD). Last held in 2009, the academy was brought back this year because of interest from the City Manager. 

Participants in the program will be able to learn more about the role of the ELPD in the community. It will benefit both the residents and the department by helping them to communicate better with each other. According to Lieutenant Thomas VanDerWoude , "It puts the police in touch with the residents and helps them see us as people." Through the program, the ELPD hopes to become more aware of the needs of the community. 

The academy will feature both classroom and hands on instruction and include topics such as; Use of force, the legal system, neighborhood watch and more.  Taught by sworn, East Lansing police officers, It will last for six weeks. After that, according to VanDerWoude, they will depend on feedback from participants to decide whether it should be extended. "We want to keep it going," he says, "But it depends on the interest." So far though, the idea has been very well received. They have already received applications and are anticipating more. 

Source: Lieutenant Thomas VanDerWoude, East Lansing Police Department
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Greenlight Bootcamp educates, prepares entrepreneurs

In two weeks the The Greenlight Entrepreneurial Boot Camp will help first-time entrepreneurs through the beginning stages of starting a business. A partnership between Spartan Innovations, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and the MSU Innovation Center, this week-long course will provide all the research and instruction a startup could need in one central location.

Starting on August 18th, the boot camp serves multiple purposes within the startup community. Amber Shinn, Marketing Director for the MSU Innovation Center, says, "The more normalcy we can create around starting businesses and a community that is comfortable with taking business risks, the better for the community."  

It also helps keep entrepreneurs in the community. According to Paul Jaques, Director of Student & Community Engagement at Spartan Innovations, before this program, "we had to send people to Ann Arbor, Detroit, or out of state for similar programs." By offering these resources right in the community, Lansing can provide, " strong curriculum, and built-in integration into the local startup community and support."

In addition to creating a supportive community and hands-on help, the camp also gives these businesses a way to quickly assess the viability of their product or business instead of wasting valuable time and money. It also helps the successful ideas, like Poochie Bowl, quickly move into the hiring stage and contribute to the local economy.

Source: Amber Shin, Paul Jaques, MSU Innovation Center
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Life as a Zebra Foundation goes to Washington, raises awareness for invisible diseases

When Katie Dama Jaskoski  and  her sister Allie Dama were both diagnosed as "Zebras" (those with rare, chronic, often invisible diseases) they decided to take their experience and passion and try to help others. 

What started as a simple fundraiser to raise money and awareness, turned into the Life as a Zebra Foundation (LAAZF).  The foundation raises funds and awareness for those suffering from Dysautonomia, Ehlers-Danlos Sybdrome, or Vasculitis. All of these can be debilitating diseases but often invisible and almost impossible to diagnose.

The foundation's most recent accomplishment was a trip to Washington DC to speak with congressional leaders about starting a national day of awareness. The LAAZF was triumphant on the state level in May of 2014 when the Michigan senate unanimously adapted Invisible Illness Awareness Week. "Everyone on both sides was supportive," says Katie Dama, "So we decided to shoot for the National level." Now, after a successful series of meetings in DC with Senators Mike Rogers, Debbie Stabenow and many more, all the LAAZF can do is wait.

In the meantime, their team is growing and Dama says, "Different doors are opening."  They have expanded their board of directors and picked up an advisory board, and a legislative advisor. "It's just a matter of educating the community and finding backers for the foundation."

Source: Katie Dama Jaskoski, Co-Founder
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation New Editor

Uber comes to Lansing, changes transporation, creates jobs

Mayor Bernero was one of the first to utilize the newest mode of transportation to come to Lansing, Uber Car Service. An innovative way to catch a ride, users communicate to drivers through an app on their phone and even pay via credit card so no cash changes hands.

Lauren Altmin, a spokesperson for Uber says, "We want to change the way people connect with their cities and transportation."

Altmin says they were eager to come to Lansing as there was a high demand. They'd had many customers requesting a presence in Lansing through their app. And, she adds, "Lansing is an area that attracts a lot of innovative opportunities."  And Uber Ride Share is just that. The service available in Lansing, Uber X, is an affordable alternative to a Taxi Service.

Uber Partners, those doing the driving, essentially build their own small business, a small business that can create a decent income. Across the country, the Uber Platform is creating 20,000 jobs a month and while that may vary in Lansing, Uber is always looking for people who want to earn additional income.

Now they are focused on the future; on finding more users, drivers, and expanding their services. Altmin says they are looking forward to seeing it evolve. 

Source: Lauren Altmin; Spokesperson, Uber Ride Share
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

MSU Extension hosts Friends Day Camp, teaches health, nutrition

Earlier this month, MSU Extension hosted the Friend's Day Camp; a camp that focuses on health, nutrition and keeping kids active.

The major goals of the camp, according to Suzanne Pish, Extension Educator, are to teach kids that physical activity can be fun and affordable and you don't have to go to the gym to stay active. They also learn about nutrition, 4-H and being a good friend.

The camp relies heavily on the support of the community, volunteers and grants to keep growing but this year they were able to hire summer help to assist with the program. They utilize youth assistants, many of who are past participants in the camps. When they are too old for the camp, and not old enough to become a counselor, they can still participate as volunteers and Pish says that's one of the most positive experiences from the camp. "We've had participants who have gone from campers, to volunteers, to counselors. It's great to see their willingness to come back."

The coordinators of the camp are always trying to top the previous year, and this year the campers were given the opportunity to visit the MSU Gardens. Pish says, "For many it was their first experience on a college campus."

The program also has scholarship opportunities for those that can't afford it, "We don't ask questions, we just offer the scholarship." 

Source: Suzanne Pish, Extenstion Educator
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
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