Innovation & Job News

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East Lansing 54B District Court offers online ticket review

The East Lansing 54B District Court joined a handful of courts in Michigan using an online platform that allows defendants, police and judges to conveniently resolve minor traffic violations.
Matterhorn by Court Innovations walks individuals through a series of qualifying questions that assess whether they can resolve their violation online. Defendants then submit their position online for review by the East Lansing Police Department, and the outcome determined by one of the two 54B District Court judges. Defendants can follow the progress of their case and will be notified by text or email of the judge's final decision.
"The defendant does not have to come to court to have his/her case resolved," says Chief Judge Andrea Andrews Larkin. "The program is voluntary and defendants can still choose to come to court for an informal hearing before a judge if that is their preference."
District Court Administrator Denise McCrimmon says the new system is part of the court's efforts to provide better services to traffic customers by creating more efficiencies and fairness. The system is available to anyone issued a traffic citation from the East Lansing Police Department.
"It's a great customer service opportunity," McCrimmon says. "If someone from Ohio were issued a speeding ticket for 5 mph over and qualified, they would be given the same opportunity as an East Lasing resident with the same circumstances."
Minor traffic violations that can be reviewed through the Matterhorn system include those related to improper or prohibited turns, driving up to 10 mph over the speed limit, failures to stop or yield, improper passing, and other violations three points and under.
East Lansing's new online program is among several initiatives that leverage technology to improve the court's customer service. In 2014, the city made it possible for court customers to view public cases online instead of having to fill out a form and pay for printed information. Real-time dockets were also added for both judges so people could look up their court case, time and date online.
"We continue to strive to provide service for our customers," says McCrimmon. "We believe our customers come first."
The online ticket review program is modeled after programs being used in 14A District Court in Pittsfield, 30th District Court in Highland Park, and courts in Bay County. The East Lansing program started June 1 and can be accessed here.
Source: Denise McCrimmon, Court Administrator, 54B District Court, East Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Food entrepreneur chills out with new farm to table concept

Danielle Welke put the idea of farm to table on ice when she launched her own business based on a chilly trend she noticed on the east and west coasts.
Beginning in early spring, Welke ramped up her production of handcrafted ice pops from Michigan ingredients—and began her quest to freeze the season at its best. MI Pops debuted at the Allen Street Farmer's Market in late May, quenching thirsts and satisfying cravings with flavors like hibiscus rhubarb, rhubarb elderflower, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, Thai ice tea and coffee.
"I think we're ready for this in Michigan," says Welke of the artisan ice pop experience. "We have fresh fruit here, the combinations will be good, and there's nothing like it here in the Lansing area."
Earlier this year, Welke invested in an ice pop machine, molds and got licensed to produce her icy treats at a shared commercial kitchen in Webberville. She says she came upon the idea after months of soul-searching and realizing that her path to career happiness resided in the food business.
"Plus, I love Michigan," she says. "I'm a Michigan girl all the way—grew up in Detroit, went to school in Marquette, lived in Traverse City, and now live here in Mason, traveling around the state and picking fruits to make pops."
Welke says the flavors of her artisan pops will parallel Michigan's growing season. Currently rooted in rhubarb, she'll begin crafting cool flavors based on what she can pick: from strawberries, to blueberries, to melons, to apples and peaches. She'll also venture into creative combinations of fruits and herbs, sourcing many of her ingredients from local farms. Her goal, she says, is to have at least 75 percent of her flavors derived from Michigan—with no preservatives, colorings and dyes.
"It's all trial and error," she says. "I'll be spending my days picking and processing and freezing, and then getting them out for packaging and out to customers."
Welke says she'll be doing a farmer's market circuit that started with Allen Street, and will extend to South Lansing. She'll be vending at events in REO Town, and is available to create and provide pops for children's parties, bridal showers, and other private gatherings. She's also investigating the possibility of partnering with other farmers in community supported agriculture ventures over the winter months.
Source: Danielle Welke, Owner, MI Pops
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Mid-Michigan jobs event fills key role in new global economy

A quarterly event that connects employers and job-seekers is filling a crucial need as Michigan strives to keep pace in an ever-evolving global economy.
Now in its sixth year, the Mid-Michigan Talent Connection brings job-seekers and employers together in a low-pressure networking environment. Events take place four times a year, with the next connection slated for June 4 at Meridian Christian Church in Okemos.
Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily over the past five years and dipped to 5.4 percent in April 2015—the same as the national jobless rate. Despite the improving job market, many employers struggle to find qualified workers in an economy increasingly reliant on high-tech jobs.
“We know many companies have an increasing number of open positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates,” said event partner Edythe Hatter-Williams, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works!. “Many job-seekers are in a position where they may need to refocus their job search and look at transferable skills they have, or even consider retraining. The Mid-Michigan Talent Connection is an ideal place to network with potential employers to see what it takes to be successful in the new global economy.”
The Talent Connection was founded in September 2010 (formerly Pink Slip Mid-Michigan) by a small group of citizens who saw a need to connect and educate job-seekers and local businesses. The event combines elements of standard job-fair with workshops and panels, as well as networking opportunities.
“What makes this different from other employment events is that there are no resumés passed at this time,” said Rick Stacy, founder of the grassroots initiative and president of Meridian Christian Community Ministries, an event partner. “There is no pressure for a job-seeker to ‘sell’ themselves, nor for an employer to hire on the spot. This time is about learning how we can help each other.”
The Mid-Michigan Talent Connection has drawn an estimated 750 job-seekers and 200 employers, ranging from Jackson National Life Insurance Co. to Dart Container Corp. Key speakers have included Bob Fish, cofounder of Biggby Coffee, and Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.
For more information and to register for the free event, click here.
Source: Rick Stacy, Founder, Mid-Michigan Talent Connect
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Minority-owned supply chain leader opens new freight service in Lansing

A minority owned global company that helps businesses move products between point A and point B expanded its ability to support customer growth in the Midwest through a new facility and service located near Lansing's Capital Region International Airport.
In June, TOC Logistics will start importing container freight from Europe on a bi-weekly basis at a multi-tenant warehouse at 2350 Port Lansing Road. Weekly service will begin within six months. The service leverages the 12,000-square foot Container Freight Station TOC established in 2013 within the 48,000-square foot facility.
"We originally expanded in Lansing to be closer to automotive headquarters," says Brent Case, Global Development Executive with TOC Logistics. "The other was to diversify since we knew Lansing wasn't solely about automotive. Being in the Lansing market gives TOC a little more reach in being centralized."
The CFS is adjacent to TOC's Foreign Trade Zone and domestic warehouse space, and adds to the company's growing presence in Michigan. The new Europe to Midwest service will simplify imports and exports of international container freight. Freight can be warehoused in Lansing, or distributed throughout the Midwest or Canada.
Case says that the launch of the new facility and services in Lansing is a key part of the long-term strategy for supporting existing customers and fostering growth. The service, Case says, could be a model for similar services launched in other regions worldwide.
"Lansing is a small part of what TOC does," says Case. "But so many things we bring in go through Lansing. This new service will bring a lot more through, and we expect to add more customers as the service is available."
Based in Indianapolis, Ind., with operations in Lansing and Mexico, TOC Logistics specializes in supply chain solutions for international customers. In Lansing, TOC imports and exports products from Europe for more than a half dozen customers, including Roberts Sinto Corp., Aurora Specialty Chemistries and Executive Fan Tape. TOC recently secured four anchor clients to use the new service to import and process automotive goods, with the first containers scheduled to arrive the last week June.
TOC Logistics employs one full-time and one part-time person in the Lansing warehouse, with plans to create an additional full-time job in the coming year.
Source: Brent Case, Global Development Executive, TOC Logistics
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Arts Council of Greater Lansing expands scholarship program

Within weeks of announcing the 2015 summer-time recipients of scholarships through the Young Creatives Program, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing unveiled plans to expand the seasonal program to one that will run year-round.
The Young Creatives program provides grants of up to $1,500 that support arts scholarships or free arts educational programming for underserved youth. Awards are competitive and provided to selected organizations. The program is funded by the Arts Council through the Arts Endowment Fund and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
"Expanding the program gives organizations more opportunity to be creative in what they do," says Josh Holliday, program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "It also provides opportunities for organizations that don't have summer camps."
Grant applications became available June 1 for the expanded program that will run on an October 1 through September 30 cycle. Applications are due August 1, with full or partial awards provided to about five organizations.
"We've been fortunate to be able to expand the program with the support of the MSU Federal Credit Union," Holliday says. "They've made it possible for us to provide more opportunities than we have in the past."
The Young Creatives program has awarded grants in support of summer programming for four years. Selected organizations provide scholarships for youth ages 5-17 with financial need to attend arts-related classes and programs. Recipients of the 2015 summer grants include All-of-us Express Children's Theatre, the Lansing Art Gallery, MSU Community Music School, and REACH Studio Arts Center.
Holliday says that increasing access to arts and culture through a year-round program can help better communities in the short- and long-term.
"These dollars are helping organizations that are already doing great work," Holliday says. "They're making arts and culture accessible to youth who will be our future leaders."
Source: Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Painted public pianos provide "Keys in the Cities" to passersby

Everyone loves the piano.
Larry Grudt wants to share that love by bringing painted pianos to public spaces.
Beginning May 30, about a dozen artfully-painted pianos will premiere in outdoor spaces around East Lansing and Lansing through "Keys in the Cities"—a program spearheaded by Grudt and a committee of five. The outdoor pianos, Grudt says, are for anyone who wants to pull up the bench and play, and are intended to create an engaging street atmosphere for passersby.
"Pianos are a strong draw for people," says Grudt. "And painted pianos are so inviting. No one who sees one ever questions if they're good enough. They just sit down and play."
"Keys in the Cities" will feature uprights and spinets painted by local artists and community groups in outdoor locations from May through Halloween. Grudt says artists have brought a diverse array of colorful works to their "canvases," with many reflecting landmarks in Lansing and East Lansing.
Grudt got the idea for "Keys in the Cities" from a similar program in Fort Collins, Colo. Posts of painted pianos he had seen online and at ArtPrize also captured his imagination.
Two Men and a Truck donated moving services for all pianos, and will store the pianos over the winter months. Grudt says the average life expectancy of the outdoor pianos is one to three years, with artwork weathering before the instrument.
All pianos are sourced from private donations, while sponsors and individual donations cover artist stipends, liability insurance, paint and materials, and tarps for pianos and benches. The estimated cost for the program's inaugural year is around $15,000. Contributions are welcome the current and upcoming years.
"For me, the program is about what it does for individuals and people passing by," Grudt says. "When you see a piano, it affects how you perceive a location. You don't even have to hear the music to feel a deeper relationship with your community."
Lansing piano installations include the Lansing Art Gallery by Brendan Romero Martin, Midtown Brewing Co. by Elisa Schmidt, REO Town by Marissa Thaler, REO Town Pub by Alison Alfredson, South Lansing by Broad Art Museum and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Community Development Association and Farmers Market, Turner Mini Park by Debbie Fehrenbach, and Sparrow Hospital by Tiffany Klein. Pianos in East Lansing include the "no name park" at Abbot and Albert by Broad Art Museum and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Fountain Plaza by Jennifer Medler, the Bailey Street Plaza 500 block by Joy Schroeder, and the Wharton Center by Liz Wylegala.
Grudt says the group is also seeking funds for piano installations at the Old Town General Store and the Lansing Mall.
Source: Larry Grudt, Program Director, Keys in the Cities
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Three communities receive public art grants for placemaking vision

Lansing will do a mural on the side of a building overlooking the Nuthouse restaurant. Grand Ledge will do a sculpture on the river and in view of the city's opera house. St. Johns will make a new sculpture part of the city's upcoming Splash Park.
They're all new works of art that are joining the growing roster of public art pieces popping up around Greater Lansing. And they're funded through $10,000 grants awarded through the Lansing Economic Area Partnership's Public Art for Communities program. All three should be finished by November.
"We're hoping we continue to see new communities come to the table for these grants in future years," says Sara Parkinson, director of talent and communications for LEAP. "We're ready to help any community create a public art program to help recruit the world class talent the Lansing region deserves."
Since it's inception in 2012, the LEAP program has awarded 11 grants to mid-Michigan communities. Past recipients include the cities of Mason, East Lansing, St. Johns and DeWitt, as well as the townships of Meridian, DeWitt, Delhi and Delta. St. Johns is the first community to receive a second grant for public art.
Parkinson emphasized that LEAP invests in public art since a vibrant arts and cultural atmosphere can elevate Lansing's ability to attract and retain talent. She says that the grants have become exceptionally competitive, which further shows the region considers "sense of place" or placemaking a priority.
"We want to reward communities that include the arts in their strategic planning," says Parkinson. "Each day, LEAP works to attract and support companies that are looking to thrive in the Lansing area. Attracting the best talent to these companies is a huge piece of the puzzle."
By year's end, the total roster of public art funded through LEAP's Public Art for Communities Grant Program will include 16 pieces of public art, six bike racks, and one mural. PNC also contributed $10,000 to the yearly program.
Source: Sara Parkinson, Director of Talent and Communications, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Center for Business Innovation offers new managed IT services

The Center for Business Innovation in Lansing began offering a new level of expertise and resources to customers in mid-May after partnering with a nationally recognized provider of managed IT and cloud hosting services.
By joining with All Covered, CBI provides customers access to more resources, a wider variety of technology brands, and a new level of engineering expertise. All Covered, CBI leaders say, will take Lansing-grown CBI to the next level through a combination of skills and infrastructure, while still retaining CBI's signature small business feel and ability to provide onsite support.
"Technology has changed how we run and conduct our business," says Katie Saglimbene, CBI marketing and communications director. "We're confident that our customers' networks will be faster, and more secure than ever through this new partnership."
The unique relationship between CBI and All Covered will be transparent to customers, Saglimbene explains, since CBI will continue to function as the primary point of contact. All Covered's certified engineers at U.S.-based network operations and remote support centers will resolve back-end infrastructure and technical support issues. All Covered will also offer a three-tiered help desk with 24/7 live-answer support.
While All Covered's support center was a big factor in the partnership, Saglimene says CBI also sought out All Covered for their ability to provide robust cloud solutions housed in compliant tier-4 data centers.
"CBI was born and raised here in mid-Michigan," Saglimbene says. "We've had several years under our belt as a technology provider and provider of managed print services. This partnership with All Covered will strengthen how we do business and broadens what we can offer to customers."
Source: Katie Saglimbene, Marketing and Communications Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

MSU startup TheraB receives funding from medical investment firm

A new medical device that will change the way families treat infant jaundice is one step closer to market thanks to a partnership between a Michigan State University startup company and a medical investment firm based in Michigan.
Conceived by MSU students and nurtured through the MSU Innovation Center, TheraB Medical Products, Inc., received $150,000 this spring in pre-seed stage funding from Quantum Medical Concepts. The funding, says CEO Ryan Jankovic, will be applied toward product development, further strengthening TheraB's ability to provide a product that offers an intimate and cost-effective method of treating jaundice in newborns.
Jaundice is caused by bilburin—a high level of pigment in the blood that causes the skin to look yellow. In newborns, the still-developing liver may not be able to remove bilburin from the blood, resulting in infant jaundice. Traditional treatments for newborns may involve therapies that separate mothers and babies, including light therapies and bulky non-portable blankets.
The SnugLit Portable Phototherapy Blanket treats infant jaundice by providing the blue light needed to help the newborn break down bilburin molecules. The wearable swaddle also facilitates skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and other essential elements of mother-baby bonding.
"We've worked to make SnugLit easy to use so parents can have the treatment they need for their infant and also be able to conduct their daily activities," says Jankovic. "The blanket can be used both at home and in the home for mild cases."
The idea for the SnugLit blanket resulted from a student research project, and was developed with extensive feedback from healthcare professionals. TheraB was founded in 2014 through the MSU Innovations Center, won several pitch and startup business competitions, and has been featured on a variety of local, regional and national media. Jankovic says the coming year will involve final fundraising and product development, with the first products expected to be available in 2016.
Source: Ryan Jankovic, TheraB Medical Products, Inc.
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Entrepreneur returns home to grow social media company

When Courtney Maki was ready to graduate college and start her career, it was as if the stars aligned when she landed a job in social media.
"I fell in love with social media," says the now business owner of a growing social media company in Lansing. "I've always been social, so to have the opportunity to connect with people world-wide is just an amazing feeling."
Maki has transformed a passion that started with Disney and an Atlanta-based TV network into a small business focused on social media strategy. She founded Glow Social Media in Atlanta in 2012, then leveraged the virtual qualities of the business to move back to Lansing in November 2013. Since her homecoming, Maki has remained true to her nature, renewing old acquaintances and cultivating social media networks for a variety of businesses and organizations in mid-Michigan.
"Atlanta was a good place to start a company," says Maki. "But Lansing is a good place to grow one. There are not a lot of other firms here that offer exactly what we do."
Glow specializes in developing brand awareness, generating inbound traffic, and encouraging product and brand adoption through the use of social media. Maki's company also provides marketing and public relations services that support a company's mission, and ensure consistency in voice while building a social media network.
Maki says that Glow doesn't just post to blogs or websites or to social media platforms. Her staff, she says, essentially function as the social media leg of a company's marketing department, coming up with content and strategy that reflects the products, services, community work, and other key features of the business.
"We have a team of specialists with niche expertise," says Maki. "You might not get that if you hire a social media specialist right out of college."
Glow works within a variety of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Plus. The company also specializes in LinkedIn, providing optimization services for clients.
"We're here to help the community," says Maki. "And one of the best ways to help as a social media specialist is to help individuals in the community find jobs and be successful."
Glow recently began inhabiting a brick-and-mortar residence on the second floor of the Co:Space in REO Town. The 15- by 15-foot office at 1146 S. Washington provides just enough seating for Maki and her three employees, plus access to shared conference and meeting spaces. 
Source: Courtney Maki, Owner, Glow Social Media
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Sparrow earns special designation in patient-centered maternity care

Sparrow recently achieved a national benchmark in quality care by being certified "baby-friendly" by the World Health Organization and the United Nation's Children's Fund.
Certification as a Baby Friendly Hospital means Sparrow demonstrates excellence in providing evidenced-based, patient-centered maternity care that promotes mother-baby bonding and best practices in infant feeding. Sparrow is one of only six hospitals in Michigan and 245 in the nation that hold the Baby-Friendly designation.
"I hear daily from our patients how much they like the approach," says Kathy Marble, director of women and children at Sparrow. "It's the voice of the customers saying 'you're doing it, and we're appreciating it.'"
The term "baby friendly," Marble says, simply refers to providing care considered best for mother and babies. Examples include immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth, and keeping mother and baby together through the entirety of their hospital stay. When possible, all exams are done in-room, with physicians and nurses doing everything bedside with mother and baby together.
Sparrow delivers 4,500 babies each year, and has a 43-bed maternity area at the main hospital near downtown Lansing. All physicians, residents and nursing staff received extensive training in baby-friendly practices. About 100 nurses and 25 physicians currently work in labor and delivery and OB special care areas.
Marble added that the overall goal of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, and in turn, the greater community.
"If you look at Sparrow's mission you see that we want to take care of people in our community," says Marble. "The baby friendly designation and way of doing things makes a difference in the lives of every baby born in our community, now and into the future."
Sources: Kathy Marble, MSN, RNC-NIC, Director Women and Children, Sparrow
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

CBI awarded premiere status as KYOCERA dealer

The Center for Business Innovation added some hardware earlier this spring after being recognized as a premiere dealer of KYOCERA document solutions for the fifth consecutive year.
The award, says CBI Finance Director Dan Sutter, is awarded to fewer than 10 percent of KYOCERA dealers, and represents the commitment CBI has made to providing innovative document solutions to Michigan businesses through KYOCERA equipment and systems.
"We not only provide the hardware to our customers, but we also include the business applications that can be incorporated with the devices to enhance an organization's workflow," says Sutter. "It's all about providing managed print services and total document solutions."
CBI has partnered with KYOCERA Document Solutions since the early 1970s, and continues to be a leading, single-line dealer of KYOCERA in Michigan. In that time, Sutter explains, copiers have evolved into multi-functional machines that integrate hardware and software to meet the specific needs of specific industries.
"Twenty or 30 years ago, a copier was something you plugged into a wall and it didn't talk to anything else," says Sutter. "Today, a copier is an integral part of a company's workflow."
CBI is a Michigan-based managed technology service provider specializing in cloud, imaging, professional and network services. The company serves most of lower Michigan, with many customers in the education, legal and health care sectors. About 60 people work for CBI through a network of offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Flint, Saginaw and Southfield, with headquarters in Lansing. 
Sources: Dan Sutter, Finance Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Fourteen nonprofits receive funding to promote cultural tourism

Part of that tax your friends and relatives pay when staying in a hotel or motel in Ingham County will go to encourage more friends and relatives to take in the area's arts and culture thanks to recent grants awarded to more than a dozen nonprofit organizations.
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for the Arts and Tourism awarded funding totaling $103,741.05 to 14 arts and cultural organizations to support the production of publicity and promotional materials used to attract out-of-town visitors. Awarded in mid-April, the total grant for 2015 was divided among the recipients and is administered by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
"We're proud to be handling the grant on behalf of the county," says Josh Holliday, program manager of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "We're happy to see the continued investment in a program that supports organizations who bring people into our community."
The Williamston Theatre was among the 2015 grant recipients, and will use the funds to expand their presence on NPR affiliates in surrounding counties.
"We're so grateful for the opportunity to be able to expand our presence on the radio," says Emily Sutton-Smith, development director for the Williamston Theatre. "A grant like this makes it possible for a small organization to do something that we wouldn't ordinarily be able to do. It makes a big difference for our marketing programs."
Sutton-Smith says that about 40 percent of people attending a show at the theatre come from outside of Williamston or Ingham County. That percent, she says, represents what marketers and developers refer to as "cultural tourism"—or people who travel to a destination for activities related to the visual or performing arts.
"Those individuals not only buy a matinee or evening ticket from us, but then they go on and spend money at a restaurant, hotel or retailer," says Sutton-Smith. "So by virtue of what we do, we draw in people who then benefit another business, too."
The Ingham County Hotel/Motel Funds for Arts and Tourism grants are supported by five percent of Ingham County hotel/motel revenues, and were established by a resolution by the Ingham County Board of Commissions about 20 years ago. Recipients of the 2015 grant are the Capital City Film Festival, Community Circle Players (Riverwalk Theatre), Downtown Lansing, Inc., East Lansing Art Festival, Happendance Inc., Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, MSU Community Music School, MSU Museum, Old Town Commercial Association, Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, Wharton Center for Performing Arts and Williamston Theatre.

Sources: Emily Sutton-Smith, Development Director, Williamston Theatre
Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

East Lansing Library receives $1.5 million gift

A $1.5 million gift made by an anonymous donor will allow the East Lansing Library to undertake capital improvements that will help bring 21st century technology to a mid-century modern building.
"We were elated when we heard about the gift," says Director of the East Lansing Public Library Kristin Shelley. "It's such a wonderful selfless gift to the entire community. It's truly humbling that the individual wants no recognition."
The library announced the gift in mid-April, and added that a capital campaign will follow to build on the tremendous contribution. The goal, says Shelley, is to raise an additional $1.6 to $2 million in matching community funds by May 2016 and renovate the entire library building.
Shelley says library renovations will begin in September to create a more open floor plan, group computers and other technology in a logical space, and provide more technology in places where it's needed. The recent gift will fund the first phase of capital improvements, with additional renovations dependent on the success of the capital campaign.
"Libraries are businesses driven by technology now," says Shelley. "We're not just about books, or about being within our four walls. It's important for us to keep up and become an even better resource for our community in the years to come."
The library selected the Lansing-based C2AE architecture firm to execute renovation work. The 25,800-square foot East Lansing Library at 950 Abbot Road was built in 1963 and underwent a renovation and moderate expansion 20 years ago in 1996.
"We want to preserve the mid-century character. It's important and lovely," says Shelley. "Our goal is to make this a beautiful building and place for the entire community to gather."
Source: Kristin Shelley, Director, East Lansing Public Library
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Crowdfunding underway for downtown soccer field

Crowds will be gathering on a new public soccer field in downtown Lansing if a crowdfunding campaign reaches its goal.
The campaign to fund development of a new field launched Friday, April 24, at the opening game of the Lansing United Soccer Team. The $60,000 fundraising campaign through the crowdfunding site Patronicity had been previously announced in mid-April by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and business and community leaders.
The $200,000 Beacon Field is envisioned for the southeast corner of Ferris Park. Plans call for a 60- by 120-foot synthetic turf field enclosed by a kick-board, as well as solar lighting for extended play into the evening.
The Capital Area Soccer League says about 5,000 kids in the Lansing area currently play youth soccer. No reservations will be required to use the neighborhood field that will be available to anyone regardless of their connection to an organized team or league.
Beacon Field organizers also plan to apply for a Public Spaces Community Grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The grant provides 1:1 matching funds if organizers can meet the $60,000 goal within one month. The city of Lansing would then contribute $80,000 toward the project to complete the funding.
The vision for Beacon Field rose from a public-private team that includes the city of Lansing, Wieland Davco, the Capital Area Soccer League, Traction and Truscott Rossman. Emergent Biosolutions donated $10,000 and Jackson National Life $20,000 in financial sponsorship.
Beacon  Field is modeled after mini soccer fields built in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The fields were created as safe gathering places for youth in urban neighborhoods.
"Soccer is a global sport that bridges communities," said Bernero in a statement. "With the community's support, this field, located in the heart of downtown Lansing, will be a place where people from all backgrounds can come play a sport they love."
Supporters of Beacon Field can contribute via credit card toward the $60,000 goal by visiting Contributions via check can be mailed to the Capital Area Soccer League at 1427 W. Saginaw, Suite 175, East Lansing, MI 48823.
Sources: Josh Hovey, Vice President, Truscott Rossman
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.
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