Innovation & Job News

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Mason resident creates website to find deals, coupons

Mason resident Chris Bishop has always been someone who hunted for deals. He became so adept at it, that he became the go-to guru for many of his friends when it came to finding coupons. After he got three questions in one night, he decided to build a website and was born. 

The site’s goal is to be a one stop shop for information on budgeting, finding coupons, and saving money. Bishop says it can be hard to find the information you need online, but the site can help. It also gives guidance on how to save daily and how to use the stores you like but pay less. 

When the site went up, it only took a few weeks to gain a large following. The more content he added, the more attention he got on social media until eventually maintaining the site became another full-time job. He’s getting calls from across the country and multiples countries with requests for content and has also been in touch with the television show, Shark Tank. 

If the site continues its growth rate, Bishop could definitely see hiring in the next six months to a year. “I’m having a hard time keeping up, and we have a chance to be very large.”

Source: Chris Bishop, Founder-Deal Baby
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

400,000 gallon tank at MSU creates renewable energy

The gas coming out of the 400,000 gallon kettle on Michigan State’s campus is more than just hot air. 

The waste, manure or compost that goes into the kettle will produce gases, methane being the most preferred, that will support electrical generation. The tank is located next to MSU’s dairy farm and because of its partnership with Meijer and other local restaurants and cafeterias, the tank produces more energy than other dairy farms twice its size. This production rate also has to do with, according to Dana Kirk, Assistant Professor and manager of MSU's Anaerobic Digester Research and Education Center, that they are “using organic waste to power it.” They are not only creating energy but also keeping more waste out of landfills by extracting the nutrients from it and reusing them. 

The project has created energy, reduced waste and also created jobs, and will continue to do so. While the project itself created one full-time position, it also creates more service jobs through the servicing of the machine and the delivery of the waste materials. As more are installed throughout the state, more businesses will be created to maintain them. It also offers valuable work in the way of experience for the students who help run the project. 

Source: Dana Kirk, Assistant Professor
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Hatching contestant pitches Mini Maker Space

With the introduction of various Maker spaces in the area, inventors and creatives are getting more opportunities to bring their ideas to life. But, with all these opportunities, Melissa Rabideau Allen noticed a particular group that was being left out. “Kids are pretty much geniuses,” says Rabideau, “but their creativity isn’t always harnessed.”

As part of the team that brought us The Poochie Bowl, Rabideau presented her idea for a Mini Maker Space at last months’ Hatching and brought home the grand prize. The space will be open to kids ages 4-12, but Rabideau says they won’t exclude those older or younger that would like to participate. “A lot of the time kids have ideas, they just don’t know how to make them happen,” says Rabideau. 

The space will have hands on tools, technology and other inventors available to them that can help with the logistics of their idea. They will have access to 3D printers and scanners, motors, circuits and anything else that will help them take an idea and turn it into a product. 

The Mini Maker Space will have a flagship store in the Meridian Mall and will look to other Maker Spaces to connect with them. They expect to hire at least 10-12 people within the next 6-12 months. 

Source: Melissa Rabideau Allen, Founder
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

LEAP launches foreign investment program, welcomes new companies, jobs, to the area

As manager of business attraction for the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), David Olson is currently in Italy as a part of the newly launched Direct Foreign Investment Attraction Program. Here, he will spend three weeks connecting with businesses and firms interested in expanding and bringing new business and jobs to the region. 

Many other regions in the state have had great success with programs like this over the last few decades and Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP, is happy that it’s happening here. “We are very excited that with David Olson’s leadership and a very targeted and smart approach, the time is right for us to be able to attract investment in Lansing.” 

There are many reasons the time seems to be right for Lansing to launch a program like this one one of the biggest being that, for the first time in a long time, Lansing has a story to tell. “We really are a great place to invest,” says Trezise, “we are a fired up, emerging, global economy.” 

And while it may take a few years for the program to have maximum effect, it has already landed a few contracts with smaller plants, a typical starting point. These contracts will bring at least 5 jobs to the area and are just a jumping off point. 

Source: Bob Trezise, President and CEO, LEAP
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

MSU chosen to screen unique, violence prevention video

Michigan State University is one of four colleges chosen to pilot test and screen the One Love Foundation’s relationship violence prevention educational video. MSU was chosen because it has one of the top violence prevention programs in the country.

The video is the first in the nation and breaks ground by following an abusive relationship from the very beginning to its heartbreaking end. No other video has touched on those crucial, early stages in an abusive relationship. “It touches on all the nuances of abuse,” says Dr. Amy Bonomi Professor and Chair of the Human Development and Family Studies Department at MSU, “Not just the physical, but the emotional as well.” 

The video also takes a unique view at the role that technology plays in abuse; the control strategies that can be used through texting and social media to track a victim's whereabout and harass them. 

Those screening the video have the opportunity to discuss what they saw and voice their opinions. So far, around 100 students have seen the video and Dr. Bonomi says the overall reactions have been positive. Many who have had the experience said it was very realistic, others said they recognized behaviors, and others were inspired to enter careers in violence prevention. 

Source: Dr. Amy Bonomi, Michigan State University
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Prima Civitas, Maker's Coalition push for re-growth of the cut and sew industry

Prima Civitas is working with the Maker’s Coalition to re-establish an industry that has been brought back to Lansing’s attention through the establishment of The Runway Fashion Incubator; the Cut and Sew Industry. While the incubator has sewing machines that will take a design from prototype to product, this industry is much more than clothes. 

The Cut and Sew Industry can include awnings, tarps, clothing, boat covers, leather goods and much more. But whatever they produce, they need human hands to create it. And, in many of the companies in this industry, those human hands are about to retire. Prima Civitas and the Maker’s Coalition want to work with community colleges to provide the training one would need to enter the growing industry. “We want to couple the curriculum with a workforce development program,” says Prima Civitas CEO, Arnold Weinfeld, “Hopefully to get people on the job and re-establish the industry in Michigan.”

The program has already been initiated in Southeast Michigan but they see Lansing as a great future city. They are looking to establish a program of six months or less that would teach sewing techniques, preparing people for a career with good wages and bright future. 

Source: Arnold Weinfeld, Prima Civitas 
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

BWL announces smart meter pilot program

On Thursday, November 6 the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) General Manager J. Peter Lark announced the launch of the community smart grid pilot project. 

Beginning on November 20 with the Bailey neighborhood in East Lansing, the BWL will install 140 smart meters in homes. They decided to start the pilot in this neighborhood because, according to Amy Akers of the BWL, “There are a lot of students there. We will be able to test the features that allow us to turn the features on and off remotely.” 

The hope is that meter readers will no longer need to be sent to homes. Residents will be able to get an energy reading every fifteen minutes and see exactly where energy is being used. “They can see where their money is being spent and why their bill is what is,” says Akers. The meters will also instantly inform the BWL when and where the power goes out instead of waiting for a call. They will then be able to dispatch someone immediately. 

“It’s something people have wanted,” says Akers. There will be no charge to those having meters installed now. This pilot phase is simply to see how customers feel about the meters. 

Source: Amy Akers, The Lansing Board of Water and Light
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Quantum Medical Concepts invests and brings Advanced Amputee Solutions to East Lansing

Advanced Amputee Solutions will receive the first investment from Quantum Medical Concepts, a partnership between Michigan State Medical Society and Common Wealth Enterprises. The goal of the partnership is to provide early-stage funding for developing medical advances. Advanced Amputee Solutions uses the Cushioning Implantable End Pad (CIEP) a polymer-based cushioning device, to eliminate pain and discomfort associated with amputated limbs. 

While the business is based in Metro-Detroit, they will be moving to the Michigan State Medical Society Headquarters in East Lansing. “We are drawn to Lansing because of the amount of resources,” says Gordon Maniere, Founder, “The network in Lansing is unbelievable.” Maniere says it’s that network, and the plan put in place by Tom Stewart of Common Wealth Enterprises, that will help take them past the startup phase. “There are a lot of people here with a lot of influence.” 

Advanced Amputee Solutions produces an innovative product that looks to change the way prosthetic sockets are made. “The product will have a dramatic result across the country and hopefully internationally,” says Maniere. There are an estimated two million amputees in America that will benefit from the product. It is currently in development and the investment will help with further prototyping and testing. 

Source: Gordon Maniere, Founder Advanced Amputee Solutions
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program makes funds available for job training

The Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund, will give Michigan community colleges access to $50 million to provide job training in high-wage, high and middle skill, and high-demand occupations. The money will allow them to purchase the equipment needed to provide training in trade and skills positions. 

According to Amy Cell, Senior Vice President of Talent Enhancement at Michigan Economic Development Cooperation, there is a skills gap between those looking for work and the 89,000 jobs available. A third of those jobs are in that mid-level range where the skills and certification needed to fill them are somewhere between a high school diploma and a four-year degree, “So partnering with the community colleges made a lot of sense.”  

Providing this training becomes difficult when the equipment needed is expensive and always changing. The funds will provide them with the equipment needed to provide the training to enter a skilled trade occupation. 

“By investing in the jobs pipeline, we will attract new businesses and retain existing ones. It makes Michigan attractive to companies and entrepreneurs,” says Cell. 

There will also be the added benefit of collaboration between colleges and developers as they work on the application process and decide what occupations should benefit from the program. 

Source: Amy Cell, MEDC
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Center for Innovation and Research funds allow research for possible diabetes tracking app

A $9,000 award from MSU and Sparrow’s Center for Innovation and Research will allow awardee Bree Holtz to gather baseline research on adolescents with Type-1 diabetes (T1D). Holtz, PhD, Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Department of Media and Information, hopes to use the data provided to win a grant to build an app meant to help teens manage their diabetes. 

“There comes a time,” says Holtz, “When parents have to allow teens to start managing their own health,” says Holtz. The app will, hopefully, make that transition easier on both the parent and the teen. While teens often don’t want to acknowledge their health issues, or answer to their parents, the app will allow them to quickly and privately track their insulin levels and report the numbers. “We are hoping to reduce conflict and promote management skills,” says Holtz. It will also connect them with other teens living with diabetes.

If awarded the grant, the building of the app will be handled by students, giving them valuable skills they will need to land jobs in the future. 

The focus groups being studied will be adolescents with T1D, parents of those adolescents and pediatric diabetes nurses. The information gathered will hopefully the show the areas where the app will be able to help. 

Source: Bree Holtz, MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Orchid Orthopedic Solutions expands, hires thanks to community grant

Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, a world leader in medical device design and manufacturing, has had steady growth in the area over the years and is currently operating at maximum capacity. “We just can’t get anymore out of the people and machinery we have,” says Keith Wasilenski, tax accountant for the company. Luckily, a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant will offer Orchid the funds needed for both machinery expansion and employee training. 

The company, and state, has faced a lack of qualified candidates for manufacturing positions over the years, and this grant will give them the funding to provide on the job training. “Schools aren’t pushing manufacturing positions and people are leaving the state,” says Wasilenski. These dollars will take candidates with basic skills and train them to become quality operators. 

The grant will specifically benefit Orchid’s Delhi Township plant, contributing to growth and job creation in the Lansing area. 18 of the 35 jobs available will be given to moderate to low income persons. 

They have had 10-15% in sales growth and the expansion of machinery and employees is needed to help maintain that growth. “The new machines will operate faster and will increase efficiency.” 

Source: Keith Keith Wasilenski, Orchid Orthopedic Solutions
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Artistic Bike Racks bring art and engagement to downtown East Lansing

Today, downtown East Lansing gets a little brighter with the addition of six artistic bike racks designed by local artists. At 11:00 am the racks will de dedicated and the public will have the opportunity to meet the artists and view them together before they are distributed across town. The racks will include designs such as “Bicycle Yoga,” “Peace Tree,” “Circle Back,” and more. 

Thanks to a $10,000 LEAP Public Art for Communities grant (and collaboration from the East Lansing Art Commission and the DDA), these racks will, according to Ami Van Antwerp, Communications Coordinator with the City of East Lansing “Make the downtown a more fun and attractive place to be and visit.” 

The racks came from a need for more bike racks downtown and the opportunity to add more art. Other cities have done it and been successful. “It’s functional art,” says Van Antwerp. They are the first of their kind to be installed in the area but hopefully not the last. If it’s successful there will be additional, similar installations. “It’s things like this that get people excited about the community,” says Van Antwerp. This, combined with everything else happening downtown, makes it an area that attracts people and businesses. And, eventually, they would like to spread out from the downtown area. 

Source: Ami Van Antwerp, City of East Lansing
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

"Launch Your City" initiative builds brand awareness and presence for local businesses

The “Launch You City” initiative, a partnership between the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) and Google, is designed to help local businesses expand their Google listing. 

The free initiative offers kits and services that will allow businesses to make sure they are getting the most out of a Google listing. All the business has to do is go to and click “Find Your Business.” They will then be able to see their Google ranking, add their business if it’s not there, or update their information. Many businesses forget to update their Google listing and that can result in lost business. Google can help your business get discovered locally and globally. “The Google platform is functional and dynamic,” says Michelle Rahl, Director of Marketing & Events at the LRCC, “But you have to be on it to be found.” 

“Businesses who are online, grow at a much faster rate than others,” adds Rahl. The initiative gives them the opportunity for brand awareness and growth and gives them the chance to get their name out there. 

The “Launch Your City” kits, that include posters, email templates, social media copy and more, will be distributed to partners in; Lansing, East Lansing, DeWitt, Grand Ledge, Charlotte, Williamston, Mason, Eaton Rapids, St. Johns and Delta, Delhi and Meridian Townships. 

Source: Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Mason Today expands from online to print

While most publications are making the shift from print to online, those behind Mason TodayWilliamston Today and Okemos Today are going the other direction. Originally online publications, they have seen so much success that, Josh Curtis, one of the founders, says they wanted to give the community a free, printed news source. You can now pick up a copy of Mason Today or have it delivered.

Mason Today was launched when Curtis and his wife Katy, and his mother Kathy Morse, noticed Mason was missing a news source meant to focus on in depth coverage of the local community. There was an extremely positive response and in the last quarter Mason Today and Williamston Today boasted 251,000 page views. 

Curtis says both the community and advertisers have shown an interest in the print edition, so much so they decided to print monthly instead of quarterly. “The newspaper isn’t really dying,” says Curtis, “many just have gaps where there should be local content.” The paper will fill that gap by providing information on city council meetings, school news, local history and even a student of the month (sponsored by a local Verizon store). 

Between the sites and the printed version, they have around 6 writers and two full-time employees helping make the publications possible. 

Source: Josh Curtis, Mason Today
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Simple Recycling adds new features to existing recycling programs

Many cities, including Lansing and East Lansing, have recycling programs in place. But, despite the ease with which residents can recycle, there is still a huge amount of material getting thrown in the trash. Traditional curb side recycling programs don’t take materials such as clothing, housewares, tools, kitchenware, etc. Simple Recycling does. 

Because these materials can’t be recycled and because it’s often time consuming to take them to Goodwill, they often end up getting thrown away. Simple Recycling is introducing a new, free, program that will take care of these materials. “Most people just want this stuff out of their house,” says Adam Winfield, President of Simple Recycling, “and 85 percent of it ends up in the trash.” 

Simple Recycling’s program will follow the already existing programs in Lansing and East Lansing and they will provide residents with Green bags to store the items. Then, all they have to do is set the bag by the curb to be picked up. “It’s a new concept applied to an old category,” says Winfield. And he also adds that it will not cost the city or the residents a dime. 

The program will launch in November and they will need to hire at least five drivers and office and support staff. “We are the only company in this area offering this service.” 

Source: Adam Winfield, President, Simple Recycling
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
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