Innovation & Job 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
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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
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City Salon celebrates one-year anniversary and continued growth

Heather Jarous couldn't imagine a year ago that things for her business could be this positive and good. "The salon has been supported by amazing team, and every single client has been wonderful," she reports.
Jarous, owner of City Salon, celebrated one year in the salon's new digs on North Cedar on March 14th. She purchased the business in January of 2012 and counts it as the biggest blessing of her life.
It's been a busy year for the salon, with the recent hiring of two new stylists and the scouting of two more to round out the team. Jarous also believes passionately in giving back to the community that's supported her endeavor. In the past year, City Salon has sponsored a family over the holidays, a high school girl for prom, and a news publication for supply needs, to name just a few.
For the future, Jarous plans to continue to provide a happy place for staff and clients alike. "It's so fulfilling to provide a secure job for my employees and a comfortable and fun environment for our clients," she says. She doesn't count out a City Salon II as part of that future.
Source: Heather Jarous, City Salon    
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Just B Yoga growing staff, offerings, and community ties

Just B Yoga loves Lansing. "I like to call us The #LoveLansing Yoga studio. We wouldn't be what we are if the #LoveLansing community hadn't embraced us," says owner Belinda Thurston.
The studio is involved in activities with the Derby VixensDragon BoatMid-MEACArt AlleyReach Studio Art, the Greater Lansing Women's CenterCapital City DJ OlympicsAllen Neighborhood Center, the Lansing City Market, and the list goes on. "So, how has Greater Lansing positively impacted Just B?," asks Thurston. "Greater Lansing inspires, creates and recreates Just B all the time."
Currently operating with a staff of eight, Thurston is looking to add additional massage therapists, a studio assistant, and an online sales specialist (for, a hub for information, services and profiles of the New Age community), after expanding her team by three in the past year.
New ventures fort the Just B crew include Lansing's first LGBTQ Yoga Flow, an LGBTQ-friendly class; DOGA at Annabelle's Pet Station, a class for yoga with your canine; and Thurston has been selected to present a workshop at the Michigan Yoga Fest this summer on "Building community with yoga."
Source: Belinda Thurston, Just B Yoga
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Tomie Raines increases sales volume, grows and fortifies team

East Lansing based real estate broker, Tomie Raines, Inc., finished 2012 up 26% in sales volume from 2011, in addition to being up 27% for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012. This growth, in addition to an increased staff, is welcome after years of reductions.
As to the reason behind this encouraging growth, President and CEO, Debbie Barnett offers: "Michigan’s economic recovery is well underway and Greater Lansing is leading the way. We are benefitting from this, but since housing is a primary driver of the economy we are also a participant."
Tomie Raines has over 70 agents who are independent contractors and 12 employees. Their agent base is growing and employee count is stable and plan to expand their office to accommodate that growth. Barnett says, "The most important thing, even amidst growth, is to ensure we're investing in our staff; this is what ensures sustained growth and the ability to face the recovery productively." 
Barnett is positive about the future of Lansing, calling on major community assets like General Motors, insurance companies, MSU, and the State government as drivers of the positive housing trends the area is experiencing.
Source: Debbie Barnett, Tomie Raines, Inc.     
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Rizzi Designs announces launch of 3D animation division, RD3D

Rochelle Rizzi is passionate about creating creative jobs and providing an environment where that creativity can blossom. RD3D is a direct result of that passion. The biggest significance of this 3D animation offering for Rizzi Designs is the support of a dream of a team member. "Tony Sabo is an amazing 3D illustrator and animator and his talents have been fun to support over his near three year tenure," Rizzi offers.
This new offering provides a unique way for clients to enhance their promotional and internal materials, with applications in everything from architecture and product modeling, to logo animation and landscaping. Sabo, who is the Senior Media Developer, will be heading up the division.
"Our clients have enjoyed this fun offering to add that special sparkle to their print and multimedia pieces," Rizzi explains. The division grew organically to a point where they knew they had a great thing right under their noses; Rizzi is excited to make the division official with the RD3D name. Rizzi Designs looks forward to continuing to grow the division with new equipment and plans to create more creative jobs.
Rochelle has been asked to speak at the Small Giants International Summit in San Diego in June 2013, an honor she attributes to the company's innovation, core values, and vision-driven culture.
Source: Rochelle Rizzi, Rizzi Designs
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Ayers Basement Systems celebrates 32 years in business, continues in growth mode

After 32 years in business, Ayers Basement Systems has no plans of slowing down. The Lansing-based company provides basement waterproofing and foundation/crawl repair services not only to the Greater Lansing area, but throughout the lower peninsula.
"We've been in growth mode for the past 4 years," reports Marketing Manager, Cathy Burke. Ayers currently has a staff of 41 and is in the process of hiring management level and sales representative staff.
Ayers is part of a network of more than 300 basement systems dealers throughout North America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. No strangers to innovation, Basement Systems, Inc. has been awarded 28 patents and 19 innovation prizes on waterproofing products, including a battery back-up sump pump system. "That's innovation Ayers is bringing to the Lansing area every day," Burke says.
Spending the past 31 years in the Greater Lansing area has been good to the company, allowing them to cultivate a new, alternative energy branch of the company, Dr. Energy Saver. 
Source: Cathy Burke, Ayers Basement Systems    
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing provides energy saving audits, experiences 92 percent growth

Built upon the expertise of the professionals at Ayers Basement Systems, is the home energy efficiency company, Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing. Established in 2009, the home energy audit network strives to help make homes comfortable, energy efficient, and affordable for Lansing residents.
Fully experiencing the growing green movement, Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing is riding a growth wave. "Dr. Energy Saver currently employs 25 staff members," says Marketing Manager, Cathy Burke. "At this time last year, we had a staff of 13." The growth doesn't stop there: Burke says the company anticipates building the staff to 35 by the end of 2013.
Dr. Energy Saver technicians are thoroughly trained, certified, and updated at the National Energy Conservation Center. Local partnerships are important, too, explains Burke. "We have a great relationship with the Alternative Energy program at LCC," she explains. "In fact, we've hired 20 people to date that have graduated from the program."
The company works closely with DTE, Consumers Energy, and the BetterBuildings for Michigan program, all helping to bring home energy efficiency and savings to Lansing area customers. 
Source: Cathy Burke, Dr. Energy Saver of Lansing   
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
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Holt's Music in the Garden program to benefit from state arts grant

The Holt Community Arts Council is the recent recipient of a $4,000 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "This award will help us present our sixth consecutive season of free concerts without compromising the quality of the music," says Council president, Kara Hope.  
Families of all income levels can attend this free event. The location, Veterans Memorial Gardens, adjoins a senior apartment complex, so seniors are able to enjoy the shows without traveling too far. "Music in the Garden is really unique in that way: it's one place in Holt where you'll find a multi-generational audience," Hope explains.
The Holt Community Arts Council started as a grassroots effort to raise the arts' profile in Holt. Council members tapped into pent-up demand for family-friendly summer concerts, among other things. People wanted to hear music in their community in a setting that is comfortable for the whole family; Music in the Garden provides that. The Council emphasizes quality music from diverse genres.
Shows are July 11, 18, 25, and August 1. They begin at 7 p.m., and take place in Veterans Memorial Gardens, right behind the Delhi Township Hall, 2074 Aurelius Road, Holt.
Source: Kara Hope, Holt Community Arts Council  
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News.
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.
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