Innovation & Job News

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WetFusion Creative expands team, set sights on continued growth

WetFusion Creative is a marketing and design consulting firm that specializes in helping businesses "get creative" in their branding and marketing.
"We work with small and medium sized businesses on projects from simple design work, through complete branding campaigns, using a combination of traditional, digital and social media," says Jason Aten, WetFusion Founder and Creative Director.
Founded in 2009, WetFusion is looking to the next few years with excitement for staying ahead of the curve and helping their clients take advantage of new technology to meet their customers where they're at.  
"We continue to grow and expect to expand our ability to provide a full-service creative team to meet client needs," says Aten.
WetFusion currently has a staff of five, three of whom were hired over the last year.  As their client base continues to grow, Aten anticipates doubling staff size over the next 12 months. 
Aten says the Lansing area has had a significant impact on WetFusion's on business. 
"The level of creative talent based here - both as a result of Michigan State University and the various other colleges and the base of innovative companies that call the Lansing area home - has had a positive impact on our company."
Source: Jason Aten, WetFusion Creative
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Ele's Place recognizes Jackson National Life for over $700,000 in contributions

Michigan’s First Lady Sue Snyder, who serves as the statewide spokesperson for Ele’s Place, presented a special award to Michael A. Wells, Jackson National Life Insurance Company President and CEO, for the profound impact their Lansing associates have made on the lives of grieving children at Ele’s Place. The award was presented on June 6 at an Ele’s Place donor appreciation event at the Michigan Governor’s Residence.
“Jackson’s continued financial support is especially important to Ele’s Place as we support more grieving children than ever before,” says Laurie Strauss Baumer, Ele’s Place President and CEO. 
Having contributed over $700,000 to programs over the past 10 years, Jackson’s support includes the title sponsorship and host of Ele’s Race 5K and the presenting sponsorship of the Ultimate Spartan Challenge.
"Our employees give time and money to countless charitable causes, but Ele’s Place has a special place in the hearts of many Jackson employees," says Danielle Robinson, Jackson Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist.
Since 1991, Ele’s Place has provided grief support services at no cost to families whose children are grieving the death of a parent, sibling or other loved one. Ele’s Place supports an average of 350 children plus their family members each week through its Lansing and Ann Arbor branches. 
Source: Molly Day, Ele's Place
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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GreenStone awards $21,000 in scholarships to MSU veterinary medicine students

GreenStone Farm Credit Services, an agricultural lender based in East Lansing, recently announced $21,000 in scholarships for seven Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine students.
"We believe in supporting the education of those who are our potential future customers and helping to make sure agricultural businesses are profitable down the road by strengthening the resources of the future," says Melissa Rogers, GreenStone's Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations.
GreenStone is committed to preparing tomorrow's leaders for their careers in the diverse agriculture industry. The scholarship recipients are passionate about veterinary medicine and help preserve the legacy of Michigan's agriculture industry. GreenStone feels it is important to help these students succeed, as they will be the next generation of veterinarians helping members maintain healthy and productive herds.
"It about more than just the bottom line for us," explains Rogers. "It's about being involved in and delivering quality resources to our local communities."
A member-owned cooperative, GreenStone owns and manages approximately $6.3 billion in assets and serves more than 23,000 members with 37 branch locations in Michigan and northeast Wisconsin.
Source: Melissa Rogers, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Michigan Humanities Council builds staff, remains committed to high-quality cultural programming

The Michigan Humanities Council, based in Lansing, is a statewide cultural agency, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council coordinates several humanities programs in addition to grant giving.
In the past few months, the Council has launched a statewide literary discussion program – the Great Michigan Read, announced that they have awarded more than $300,000 in major grant funds to financially assist Michigan nonprofits with programming opportunities, and has wrapped up one statewide tour of a Smithsonian Institution exhibition while another is just kicking off.
MHC currently staffs eight; four of which were hired in the past year. The Council plans to hire at least one more in the next year, filling the Fiscal Officer position.  
The Council stays innovative by being resilient in making sure it shows the impact of need for the humanities.
"The humanities don’t always receive much attention and that means it is a constant battle for us to prove that there is a need for cultural programming in our state," says Executive Director, Erik Nordberg.
MHC has great relationships with local nonprofits and organizations, including the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Library of Michigan and Michigan Historical Center, and the many branches of the Capital Area District Library.

"Lansing is an arts and culture community – there is an appreciation here and that has positively impacted us in many ways," offers Nordberg.
Source: Erik Nordberg, Michigan Humanities Council
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Technisch Creative adds employees, continues to "Make Waves"

Locally owned event management and production company, Technisch Creative, has added two new members to their team. Technisch Creative has been “Making Waves” in the Lansing area with their events since 2005.
The company, formally known as Event Depot, strives to produce experiences that engage audiences and reach client goals through event management, technical direction and experience design. Headquartered in East Lansing, Michigan, they provide corporations, associations, government and charitable organizations with the expertise needed to create memorable events.
Technisch currently has four full time employees and two part time employees. We also have several on call employees who work on specific events for our clients. 
"Last year we introduced an extensive intern program, working with 10 interns from Michigan State University," explains General Manager, Heidi Brumbach.
The positions ranged from an audiovisual intern to client communications and the company plans to repeat the program again starting in the fall.
Last year, Technisch opened in office in Orlando to support clientele around the country, many who organize large conferences and events in central Florida. The company is currently building business in that area and has plans to further expand with more offices around the country.
"At Technisch Creative, we use our experience in events and entertainment to tap into the senses and create engaging experiences for event attendees," says Brumbach.
Source: Heidi Brumbach, Technisch Creative
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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LEPFA announces staffing changes and additions, continues driving economic impact

As leaders of Michigan’s entertainment and convention industry, Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA) announces new key associates and promotions across departments.
Six staff members recently joined the LEPFA team, ranging in positions such as Marketing Services Coordinator to HR Specialist to Event Coordinator. Promotions for six additional staff members round out the staffing changes.
"LEPFA looks to continue to drive economic impact in the Greater Lansing community through the various facilities and events we manage," says Marketing Services Coordinator, Shawnna Henderson. LEPFA manages the Lansing Center, Lansing City Market, Cooley Law School Stadium, and operates the Common Ground Music Festival.
"We are particularly focused on galvanizing Lansing’s status as hub for large regional events," Henderson adds.
Additionally, LEPFA sees an opportunity to be a main player in providing quality entertainment to the Greater Lansing community, the state of Michigan and beyond.
Source: Shawnna Henderson, Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Foundations of Science Massive Open Online Course launches at MSU

A new kind of course is launching at Michigan State University, new both in content and context. The Foundations of Science is a MOOC, that is, a massive open online course. It's completely online with no location requirements and it's free to both the general public and students alike.
"People from this area are hungry for this type of experience," says developer and founder Dr. Stephen Thomas. "People are trying to figure out how they can broaden their exposure to different educational experiences." Foundations of Science promises to help participants think, see, speak, and act like a scientist, all within exploration of distinguishing science from pseudo science.
"The course will help a diversity of folks develop critical thinking skills," explains Thomas. Students will study the differences between astrology and astronomy, witches and cognitive bias; explore psychics, homeopathy, and ghosts; and will use modules in biology, physics, chemistry, and psychology to evaluate many of scientific myths we're so familiar with.   
Registration is currently open and operates on a rolling basis, so students can join at any time. Thomas is optimistic that the blending of both formal and informal education methods will help engage participants, allowing them to truly get something out of the course, leaving them with a positive emotional connection to the topics.
Source: Stephen Thomas, Foundations of Science
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Public relations consultant launches company, Piper & Gold Public Relations, grows team

When the demand became too much for Kate Snyder, APR to keep up with on her own doing public relations consulting work, she started working with a part-time associate and two student interns in December of last year.
"That growth of the team really led me to start thinking about growing a company, not a consultancy," Snyder explains. She attributes having the right people on board and amazing support for convincing her to take the entrepreneurial plunge into launching Piper & Gold Public Relations
Along with the new company name, identity, and office at The NEO Center,  the part-timer has now joined the company as a full-time Associate Strategist. Piper & Gold also continues to have two student interns per semester to help with pro bono projects and provide a value add for clients. 
Snyder has a pretty traditional background when it comes to an emphasis on research and strategy, but has really focused on using digital tools to build meaningful relationships over the past several years. "That blend of the core PR principles and the new tools is one of the things it's important to me to keep as we grow," she says.
Ultimately, Snyder would like to see Piper & Gold grow in a responsible and sustainable way, so they're focused on finding the right client mix for their backgrounds and personalities and creating opportunities when the perfect people come along.
Source: Kate Snyder, Piper & Gold Public Relations
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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The New Citizens Press celebrates 12th year of publishing, expands sales team

The New Citizens Press and publisher Rina Risper are celebrating the 12th year of publishing in Lansing and are beginning to expand their sales team. "We're expanding to capitalize on the under-served small businesses market with an alternative to expensive advertising," says Risper. TNCP is also now offering online advertising through web ads and social media plugs.
TNCP currently has a staff of 4, in addition to several contributing writers. They're seeking to fill to two part-time sales positions with in the next year. Patrick Duke, former Ad Director for the City Pulse has been contracted as a business consultant to oversee the execution of the new TNCP marketing and sales strategy, and new hires.
Of future goals, Risper says, "We plan to continue being a local aggregate of critical social information, events, and reviews."
TNCP and TNCP CAN (Community Action Network) have helped tens of thousands of community members through the efforts fellow community members participating in fundraisers, resource-raisers, and community workshops promoting literacy and domestic violence awareness.
Source: Rina Risper, The New Citizens Press 
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Boxcar Management re-brands, re-invigorates annual DJ competition

Boxcar Management has recently re-branded its annual statewide DJ competition to the Michigan DJ Olympics. "The re-branding now captures the full spirit of the event," explains Boxcar Management principal and co-founder, Patrick Duke. 
For the past couple of years the competition has drawn DJs from all of the state, and the new brand reflects that. The re-branding is also an effort to appeal to more DJ's by giving some "statewide credibility."
Innovation is important to the MDJO for two reasons, offers Duke. First, the event pushes DJs involved each year to expand their skill set to better compete. "This, in effect, makes them stronger all-around DJs and is innovating the DJ scene statewide by pulling DJs out of their 'comfort zone,'" he says. Second, as this is a 3-season event - with trials in the fall, showcase in the winter, and finals in the spring - innovation is called upon to keep attendance up. "In recent years we have added a visual graphic element to the show, this year we are adding a couple of game shows, a dating game and newlywed game, and a comedy show to open each night of the finals.
Duke adds that there currently is not a DJ competition in the state of Michigan that highlights DJs of all music genres from all across the state like the MDJO. 
Source: Patrick Duke, Boxcar Management
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News

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Such Video adds limited production camera to technology arsenal

The high-end production and post boutique, Such Video has always been early adopters of new technology. Their most recent acquisition is the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera, a limited production product.
"As a simplified comparison, moving from high definition to the Cinema Camera today, is comparable to our leap from standard definition to HD a decade ago," says Such Video Partner Karen Stefl. "Adopting new technology changes project approach, methodology, and workflow. As a company, you have to be ready for that."
Such's style of storytelling and the ideas that they develop for their clients can be executed with this new technology and workflow. "This isn't just about the camera," Stefl explains. "This acquisition requires a sophisticated workflow and finishing process that propels us forward significantly."
The Blackmagic Cinema Camera answers the problems limited by even the highest end HDSLRs. Clients can now get a look that was previously unavailable. Such anticipates setting their clients' apart from their competition because of their unique role as storytellers using filmmaking tools.  
Such Video has also added a piece of post-production software called DaVinci Resolve, the color correction tool regularly used in major motion pictures that is now designed to work with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. 
Source: Karen Stefl, Such Video
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

NEO Center celebrates first anniversary amid rapid growth & successes

As Lansing's first business incubator, innovation is the golden standard for The Center for New Enterprise Opportunity. "It's been an exciting and productive learning experience," says founding member, Thomas Stewart. "We're still developing and tweaking our programming and trying to figuring out the best methods for accelerating entrepreneurial success."
The NEO center was created in response to the growing need for an environment that supports small business ecology and that is unhindered by the existing boundaries. Promoters of sustainable economic development and preventers of deterioration, the NEO Center is looking to expand programming to other incubators in the region and the state.
"We'd like to develop a wide network of entrepreneurs and help standardize entrepreneur education across the state," says Stewart.
The past year has been an exciting and productive one for the incubator, graduating four client entrepreneurs from the incubation program and receiving additional support from major corporate sponsors. NEO Center alumni include: VizKid DesignsFlightLead DevelopmentTucknologies, and Oceanvue.
10 clients call the Center home, in what is primarily called a mixed-use incubator. Most clients are service-based businesses. Stewart says they're currently accepting people interested long-term leases and new clients to our incubator program.
Source: Thomas Stewart, NEO Center
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Wharton Center unveils NextGen@Wharton ticket group

Created to engage the next generation of Wharton Center patrons, NextGen@Wharton seeks to connect with people who aren't all that familiar with the Wharton experience and give them a way to get to know the performing arts center amidst a group of their peers.
"The 'unknown' of any experience is very often a barrier to people to take a chance — especially when it's an experience that comes with a ticket price," explains Advisory Councilmember, Robin Miner-Swartz. NextGen@Wharton is a group of active professional and creative minds, who will get to see some fantastic shows, but also have access to backstage tours and social opportunities centered around Wharton events.   
"We wanted to create a program that was a fun, easy way for young professionals to get to know Wharton Center better and make it a destination for them to meet new and existing friends," says Miner-Swartz.
A free kick-off event is scheduled for May 16. Attendees can look forward to a mix and mingle evening that includes a peek behind the curtain, seeing what's coming up for the new season, enjoying some treats from Red Haven and thinking about adding a show or two to their social calendar next season.
Event details can be found at:
Source: Robin Miner-Swartz, Wharton Center Advisory Council
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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East Lansing-based Oetzel-Hartman Group partners with national advisory group

The Oetzel-Hartman Group, a real estate appraisal firm specializing in appraising commercial properties and based in East Lansing, announced that it has combined with 41 other appraisal firms to form Valbridge Property Advisors, which provides independent valuation and advisory services to local, regional, multi-market and national clients.
"Becoming part of Valbridge Property Advisors will enable us to better serve our local, state wide and regional clients," says Principal, Jim Hartman.

Oetzel-Hartman embraces innovation outside of this national partnership, as well. Hartman explains: "Innovation allows us to continue to produce high quality appraisals more efficiently. As market data become more readily available, managing, sorting and analyzing the data has become more critical."   

Valbridge immediately ranks among the top three national commercial real estate valuation and advisory services firms, with 145 MAI designated appraisers, 59 office locations and 600 staff across the U.S.
Source: Jim Hartman, The Oetzel-Hartman Group      
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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MSU kicks off a first-of-a-kind science celebration

The MSU Science Festival is hosting more than 150 diverse scientific offerings in a ten-day festival on campus. With something for everyone, the festival celebrates the science that touches every day lives. Subjects span the science spectrum, from astronomy to human behavior to robotics to zoology.
"We see science as opening doors to the future," says Festival Coordinator, Renee Leone. Organizers hope that by making the festival free, that those doors are made accessible to everyone.
Events, held April 12 through 21, are presented by members of the MSU scientific community, as well as a number of science and technology community participants. Community participants include organizations like Fenner Nature Center, the Boys and Girls Club of LansingLansing Makers Network, and Impression 5.
"Research shows that attendees haven't had a substantive exchange with a science professional," explains Leone. "We'd love to help encourage an interest in science and provide a new experience for young people and lifelong learners alike."
A detailed schedule can be found at:
Source: Renee Leone, MSU Science Festival
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.
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