Innovation & Job News

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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

GTRI and Prima Civitas team up to enhance Michigan's talent pipeline

Global Talent Retention Initiative(GTRI) and Prima Civitas team up to expand Michigan’s talent pipeline in an effort to cultivate greater economic prosperity for the state.

“Our goal is attracting and retaining talent, whether it comes from within our borders or beyond.” said Prima Civitas CEO Arnold Weinfeld. “Michigan is in catch up mode when it comes to having a highly skilled labor force for the kinds of high wage jobs that are present in our economy today.”

Due to the lack of skilled labor in our country, this initiative is one that encourages an enhancement to our statewide diversity while creating a community that is attractive and welcoming to the immigrant population. This diversity is expected to also attract a younger generation that enjoys diverse surroundings and experiences. Additionally, attracting international students and helping employers sponsor them drives up wages in Michigan because of prevailing wages.

“You are losing half of your talent pool if you don’t consider international students,” asserted GTRI's Director, Athena Trentin. “We don’t have enough engineering students with Masters Degrees or PHDs in Michigan right now. “

Currently, 40% of engineering degrees are awarded to international students with 50% of the degrees earned at the PHD level. 

Source: Arnold Weinfeld, Prima Civitas and Athena Trenton, Global Talent Retention Initiative
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Two Men and a Truck launches Career Move Month

Two Men and a Truck launches Career Move Month in March with a goal of accepting 10,000 applications and hiring 1,000 people nationwide, 24 people in the Greater Lansing area.

"This is an opportunity to showcase the careers and potential for career advancement with Two Men and a Truck,” said President Randy Shacka. “It’s also a way to proactively plan for the busy season between May and September.”

Career Move Month began in 2013 with 1,000 applicants and 550 people hired nationwide.  The local business has seen impressive growth this year signing their largest number of new franchisees and hitting their highest revenues ever. As a system, their focus turned towards improving sales processes and finding the right people to help continue this growth.

“It was the perfect storm of people, processes and technology.  We had to ask ourselves what we could do differently to sustain our growth,” said Shacka, who originally started as an intern with the expanding company. “Companies do not make great companies. People do.”

The diverse positions available will range from movers and drivers to sales and management. The increase in staffing at the Lansing corporate office will require a 7 million dollar expansion of the Greater Lansing home office. 

In addition to the reinvestment in the economic improvement of the Mid-Michigan area, Two Men and a Truck will donate $5,000 to 5 different Dress for Success locations to support career advancement for low-income women nationwide.
Interested candidates can search for existing opportunities at

Source: Randy Shacka, Two Men and a Truck
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

City of East Lansing Geographic Information Site enhanced

The Geographic Information System provided by the City of East Lansing has been enhanced for usability 
and increased information.
“The GIS website provides data that people investing in the community would be looking for,” said Lori 
Mullins, Community and Economic Development Administrator for the City of East Lansing. “Although we 
still encourage community members to contact us for assistance on new developments, the GIS website is a good place to start with initial inquiries regarding property.”
The website allows for visitors to view layers of information related to parcel ownership, taxable value, zoning and links to market data. All commercial property listed publicly, as well as listings reported to the City of East Lansing is included on the mapping tool.
"We recognize the way that people do business today. Whether it’s making plans for vacation or any other activity, people go to the web first,” said Mullins. “If they can find info easily, they’ll have a better experience in the beginning and are more likely to take the next step in making an investment.”
The City of East Lansing will continue to add more information as it becomes available and community members are encouraged to submit feedback for improvement in the future.

Source: Lori Mullins, City of East Lansing
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Conferences to help educate emerging cooperatives

The MSU Product Center will be hosting 3 conferences this spring to help groups interested in forming cooperatives answer preliminary questions.

A well rounded group of attorneys, financiers, consumer cooperatives and small cooperative representatives and staff help them investigate what their options might be and discuss topics like 5-year strategic plans, long range planning and financing.

“We want to foster sustainable businesses, said Tom Kalchik, director of the Michigan Cooperative Development Program. “Many times we have individuals working on the same thing. If we can get them to work cooperatively they are in a better position to serve customers rather than trying to compete.”

Growers that work within a cooperative are often times more attractive to buyers because they can deal with one entity for delivery and payment.  A great local example would be the Allen Street Market where they work with growers in the area to deliver food to food hubs that are a part of the project.

Attendees are required to preregister for upcoming conferences. Click here for more information.

Source: Tom Kalchik, Michigan Cooperative Development Program
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

MSU Extension provides fiscal sustainability training for Lansing City Council

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) supports a new program facilitated by Michigan State University Extension that offers City of Lansing officials fiscal sustainability training.

“The financial challenges that the City of Lansing is facing right now are significant,” stated Tim Daman, CEO and President of the LRCC. “Providing an additional outside resource and the tremendous amount of knowledge that Dr. Eric Scorsone of MSU Extension brings to the table will help better educate government officials through this process.”

The training is offered in six modules offered over the course of three 2-hour. Although the modules are geared towards helping Lansing City Council officials make educated decisions that will positively impact the budget, any government official is welcome to attend the interactive workshop sessions.

“We have been working very closely with the City of Lansing and we know the fiscal challenges they are facing,” shared Daman. “We need the City of Lansing as strong and fiscally sound as possible to ensure the fiscal sustainability of our government entity.”

Source: Tim Daman, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

E-commerce community brings student art to area businesses

In October 2013, Victoria Bujney, Ashley Brimley and Caitlin McDonald participated in Startup Weekend Lansing. Within 52 hours they had created a rough concept for Folyo, a social e-commerce community geared toward student artists.

“Even if students had amazing work, they were selling to other students who couldn’t afford their art,” said Bujney, co-founder and CEO of Folyo. “Small and medium businesses don’t have the time or resources to pursue art but they have the budget that can afford student art.”

Folyo creates a bridge between talented artists and a market of small to medium sized businesses that want beautiful original art. The co-founders focus heavily on building a community of art enthusiasts who can get to know and engage with the artists creating their one-of-a-kind piece.  It also provides a space for artists to sell their art as well as an opportunity to learn how to price and eventually market their pieces.

“I think a lot of people, expect something like this to come out of New York and California. We have extreme talent here in Michigan.” said Bujney

Folyo is set to launch in April 2014. There is an open application process for top notch artists in the Michigan area. Visit for more information.

Ashley Brimley is the Chief Operating Officer and the artist who inspired the idea behind the new venture while Katelyn McDonald serves as the startup's Chief Technical Officer.

Source: Victorie Bujny, Folyo
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

4-H Renewable Energy Camp introduces local students to innovative technologies

Local youth between the ages of 13 and 19 are invited to apply to attend the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp.

Starting June 23rd, students will reside in dorms to experience college life and participate in off campus tours around the state to learn about the unique role the state of Michigan plays in renewable energy.

Topics of study will include solar, wind and cellulose power sources. Instructors will show students the process of growing crops like soy beans, corn and sugar cane specifically for the purpose of converting them into energy that can be utilized by the community they live in.

“It will be a dynamic experience that exposes children to renewable energy and how they might be a part of it,” said Jacob Dedecker, Stem Program Leader for MSU Extension. “We provide youth with examples of what careers look like now and what they may be like in the future.”

There will also be a Teen Challenge component of the camp announced in the future.  Participants will work with leading researchers and industry leaders to find solutions to renewable energy problems and make their own experiments.

While creating awareness for the work that Michigan State University and local industries do within the different facets of renewable energy technology, the camp organizers seek to highlight successes and initial endeavors in the field for students interested in pursuing a career in the field.

The application for the camp is available online here. The cost of the camp is $190 for 4-H members and $200 for non-members. The fee includes meals, lodging and camp materials. 

Source: Jacob Dedecker, MSU Extension
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Anthony Hall is Better Buildings Challenge Showcase Project

Michigan State University’s Anthony Hall will be the first to receive energy efficient upgrades as the Showcase Project for the Better Building Challenge.

The Better Building Challenge is a national leadership initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy that partners with public and private entities to improve the energy consumption of their existing building portfolio.  MSU is 1 of only 18 educational partners participating in the challenge.

“MSU has always been committed to improving the quality of life of our community,” said Bill Latta, Assistant Vice President of Operations at MSU. “We take the power of research and the power of education and apply it to real world problems in an effort to improve the lives of everyday people.”

MSU was matched with energy efficiency technology professionals to help them build an energy model that would help them determine which location would be best served by an improvement. The energy transition plans they develop to reduce green house gas emission and increase renewable energy will be available for other campuses to utilize. The improvements to Anthony Hall will likely save 34% in energy costs annually.  

“These improvements will lead to more jobs for contractors in the Greater Lansing area as well as an opportunity for new technologies to be developed right here.” stated Latta.

Source: Bill Latta, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

New website to help new arrivals settle into Mason area

Inspired by the steadily increasing business development in the Mason area, T.A. Forsberg and the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce have launched
The website will provide individuals and families moving into the City of Mason with a comprehensive tool to locate housing and connect them with area local businesses.
"Mason is growing and there are more people coming into the area for employment,” said Brent Forsberg, President of T.A. Forsberg and Broker at Forsberg Realty. “Our hope is to help people get plugged into the community faster as they move in to the Greater Lansing area.”
Visitors to the website will have access to housing listings generated by the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors. The website will also highlight local shopping venues, restaurants, community festivals and events.
“Until now, there wasn't an online resource for people to find information on Mason itself, “stated Forsberg. “Now the information will be aggregated for them.”

Source: Brent Forsberg, T.A. Forsberg
Writer: Tasmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Eli Broad Museum, MSUFCU partner to display preschool artwork

Art created by young artists from the MSU Child Development Lab is on public display in the lobby of MSUFCU thanks to a partnership with the Eli Broad Art Museum.
“Introducing young children to art gives them the opportunity to practice critical thinking in a creative way that is not offered in public schools today,” said Aimee Shapiro, Director of Education for the Broad. “You create lifelong learners when you support a child’s ability to make choices and the confidence that what they choose is important.”
Staff members of the Broad shared the artwork of Beverly Fishman with each preschool class before asking them to create their own masterpieces. Children were able to choose from an abundance of materials supplied by the museum. Students from both the Haslett and East Lansing campuses participated in the project.
“This was an effort to broaden our relationship with different communities and institutions outside of the University”, said Shapiro. “It is really important to us that the people in our area not only view the Broad as a free resource but as a part of their community.”
Members of the community can view the display which includes two pieces of Fishman's own art for the next three months at MSUFCU's headquarters at 3777 West Road, East Lansing.

Source: Aimee Shapiro, Eli Broad Museum
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

CAWLM donates $15,000 to Lansing Promise with partner AT&T

The Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine (CAWLM) and AT&T donated $15,000  to Lansing Promise.

This is the second year that the CAWLM has chosen Lansing Promise as the beneficiary of their annual 80s Flashback Fundraiser. Dedicated to helping students continue their education after high school, Lansing Promise awards college scholarships to Lansing students.

“Anytime we give back to a local cause there is a larger goal of positively impacting the community as a whole, not just the specific organization we give to," said Emily Caswell, Managing Editor of the CAWLM. ”From the start, the event has been, not only totally rad, but a fundraising event for a community cause.”

During the fundraiser, the University Club’s Henry Center is transformed to give guests the feeling that they’ve been transported back in time. Popular 80s cover band Starfarm provides the entertainment while costumed attendees dance, perform in an 80s Idol Contest, enjoy a candy table and a cash bar with a signature 80s drink. AT&T works as a partner to secure funding for the event.
“I believe that students who receive this funding for college or post-high school job training will not forget how their community supported them and in turn, when they are ready and able, will do great things for their community.” asserted Caswell.

The CAWLM 80s Flashback Fundraiser will be held on March 22, 2014 and tickets are on sale now at

Source: Emily Caswell, Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Cooley Law School supports legal writing competition

Students across the state will compete for prize money, publication and recognition through the Innovation and Intellectual Property (IP) Legal Writing Competition co-sponsored by the Intellectual Property Law Section (IPLS) of the State Bar of Michigan and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
“Across the world, the industries generating jobs are those based on new technologies,” emphasized Prof. Barry, “This is one strategy to create an environment statewide where those kinds of business can prosper.”
Professor David C. Barry is a Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a private, nonprofit, independent law school and director of the Graduate Program in Intellectual Property Law.
“Regardless of where Michigan students eventually practice, they will have more insight into IP and be better equipped to advise their future clients.” stated Barry.
Open to all students enrolled in a Michigan law school, the deadline to submit entries is May 15, 2014. The IPLS provides volunteer judges who review the papers and select a winner. In addition to winning prize money, awardees have their original work published in the IPLS Proceedings journal and are recognized at their annual IP seminar in March. 

Source: Professor David C. Barry, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

East Lansing Public Library and Hoopla partnership offers patrons expanded digital offerings

Members of the East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) now have free access to digital media through a new partnership with Hoopla Digital.

Available online at and through the free Hoopla mobile app for Android or IOS device, patrons will be able to access TV Shows, movies, e-books and music from major Hollywood studios, record companies and publishers. Cardholders can borrow, instantly stream and temporarily download thousands of titles without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.

“We keep a close eye on trends and over the last year e-book downloads have skyrocketed,” stated Amber Laude, ELPL Collection Development Librarian. “We exist to serve our patrons and innovative services are what they are looking for.”

The ELPL also recently launched access to digital magazines through Vimeo in August of 2013. This new partnership is an extension of an already beneficial vendor relationship between the ELPL and Midwest Tape, the parent company of Hoopla Digital. 

Free Legal Clinics for Area Entrepreneurs

Mid-Michigan entrepreneurs and inventors will have an opportunity to obtain free legal advice to help them address important issues related to their intellectual property at an upcoming free clinic.
“Great ideas will drive economic and workforce development in the 21st century for the state of Michigan”, asserts Steve Bennett, the Vice President and Chief Program Officer for the statewide nonprofit Primas Civitas.
Primas Civitas coordinated the collaboration between the MSU Bioeconomy Institute and the MSU College of Law to remedy a void in economic and workforce development. Created by Michigan State University in 2006, Primas Civitas prides itself in performing small, nontraditional work while utilizing the unique advantages of working with a large, research university like Michigan State University.
The free clinic will be held by appointment at the MSU College of Law. Interested parties can complete an online application to secure their spot.

Addressing intellectual property law is an expensive but necessary step for inventors and entrepreneurs intending to take their innovative ideas to market. This free legal clinic will assist in mitigating upfront costs while providing law students with practical experience in their field. A practice area of the MSU Law's Legal Clinic, the Intellectual Property Start-Up Project connects interested parties to veteran attorneys who will mentor MSU law students as they discuss options, conduct legal research and set appropriate goals for protection of  new technologies for real clients.
Directly following the clinic, participants will be given an advisory letter generated by law students that will outline recommended next steps. 
“MSU’s commitment to making this initiative a reality has made them equal champions in developing the region's next big ideas,” stated Bennett.

In addition to the free legal clinic offered in East Lansing, there are two other clinics scheduled: January 28, 2014 at the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce and  January 30, 2014 at the MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland.
Source: Steve Bennett, Prima Civitas
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor
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