Innovation & Job News

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Home Builders Association pairs skilled students with trade programs

The Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing has teamed up with area businesses and formed a Workplace Development committee that will address the growing need for skilled trade workers in today's job market.

When the economy first took a hit, many tradesmen were left without work and left the state. But now, according to Cindy Kosloski, the CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing (HBA), things are on the rise and "Michigan contractors have the work, but the skilled tradesmen aren't there."

The HBA wants to help connect students that may not want a four year degree with the schools and resources that will get them a career in a trade occupation. Schools like the Capital Area Career Center and businesses that will offer internships where students can learn a trade and create a career are the focus of the collaboration. "The hardest part is connecting with these students and telling them that if they don't want a four year degree, there is still something for them," says Kosloski.

 She adds that at least 12-15 participants from these programs have been hired in full-time to the business where they performed their internship.

Kosloski says there is an immediate need for these jobs and "for the people in the trade, the possibilities are endless."

Source: Cindy Kosloski, Greater Lansing Home Builders Association
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

MSU Bias Busters class creates books to bust stereotypes, answer questions

In the MSU class "Bias Busters" taught by Professor Joe Grimm, and funded by the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiative, journalism students are gaining real, hands on job experience while answering common questions people may have about different ethnicities or cultures.

During the course of the semester, the students in the class do all the legwork; interviewing people, gathering information, and getting the books published. By the end of the class they have a published book they can take to job interviews or add to a portfolio.

"The idea," says Grimm, "is that journalism students have the skills to create valuable content."  The content of these books is very timely and important according to Grimm and he wants to get people talking to each other and understanding each other better.

But the content isn't the only way these books are making an impact and many students who have been in the class have already landed jobs thanks to their work on the project. One student got a job after graduation with the book's publisher and two more are being paid to contribute their skills to the books. 

They have printed 4 so far this year and are planning another in the fall. The publisher they work with allows them to print on demand and the books are available in print and on all electronic platforms.

Source; Joe Grimm, MSU School of Journalism  
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Bio-Based projects get off the ground at MSU

With combined funding of 2.4 million, MSU and the Michigan Strategic Fund, are helping several bio-based researchers out of MSU get on the fast track to development.

Thanks to the Michigan Transitional Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program, promising projects will now have the resources they need to further development and enter a competitive market. The first three projects were chosen at the end of the school year and are getting started right now.

"We want to see that these projects get off to a good start and get the resources they need," says Richard Chylla, Executive  Director of MSU Technologies. The hope is that these technologies will get commercialized or lead to startups that will create jobs and bring capital to the region. They have already contributed to job growth as MSU just hired a Commercialization Project Director.

Additional projects will be considered in January and researchers will be able to apply for funding over the next three years.

Any funding put into these projects is highly justified as the industry of bio-based chemicals is expected to grow by more than $450 billion by the year 2025.

The projects kicking off include ways to increase farmer's profitability and processes that will turn waste into productive materials.

Source: Richard Chylla, MSU Technologies
Writer: Allison Monroe Innovation News Editor

The Hatching celebrates one year of supporting entrepreneurs

The Hatching, a pitch competition that allows entrepreneurs with a business idea to win money and grow their business, turns one-year-old today.

In its first year the competition has helped create 18 jobs and form 12 companies, companies that, according to Tony Willis of Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), may not have gotten their ideas heard otherwise.

The Hatching, a joint effort between Spartan Innovations and LEAP, is a monthly event and the winners of each session are given not only prize money but access to resources that can otherwise be pricey and difficult to obtain such as legal help (provided by Loomis Law) and marketing assistance (from Michigan Creative).

There have been many successes out of the Hatching, including the most televised success, Swaddle-mi-Billi, a wearable jaundice treatment for infants. The company was featured on a startup reality show on A&E and it has become a mainstream product. Other successes include, Eightfold Marketing, Go Green Trikes, Poochie Bowl, What's Mapnin' (who won the year-end Grand prize) and more. All of these companies are growing, hiring, and contributing to economic development in Lansing.  "All of these businesses saw a common problem, and solved it," says Willis, "They created a business that can revolutionize that area."

In their second year, LEAP and Spartan Innovations hope to double the numbers from the Hatching's first year. They hope to see more attendance, more submissions and more jobs.

Source: Tony Willis, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 
 
 

Michigan-Florida Green Corridor gives access to alternative fuels

After five years in the making, the I-75 Green Corridor is in the final stages, offering a way for drivers of alternative fuel vehicles a way to fuel up between Michigan and Florida.

Funded by the Department of Energy and supported by the Clean Energy Coalition, and with assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Green Corridor is one of the world's longest biofuel stations corridors. In Michigan alone there are 12 biofuel stations along I-75. There are 26 E85 (a fuel with 85 percent ethanol) stations, and 9 B20 (a biodiesel blend) stations.

According to John Overly of the Clean Fuels Coalition in Tennessee, the biofuels industry quickly "Went from the thousands, to the billions."The more we can create these stations, the more jobs we can create and the more citizens we can help." The biodiesel industry alone has created 62,000 jobs and many of these jobs have a local impact during projects like this.

The corridor should be completed this summer, with only 40 stations left to install. Most of the work ahead comes with working to promote the stations and making people aware they are available. Overly is hoping that this project paves the way for many more like it, "Michigan has used state funding to support adding stations, and Tennessee is hoping to follow suit." 

Source: Jonathan Overly, Clean Fuels Coalition
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Growing Michigan distillery industry gains representation

Distilleries in Michigan have become such a large industry, ranking # 4 in the nation, that a statewide association has been formed to help unify their interests. The Michigan Craft Distillers Association will give the distilleries in Michigan a voice.  "It's no longer just a business," says Kris Berglund, Treasurer of the association and owner of Red Cedar Spirits, "it's an industry."

That industry is so heavily regulated by the government and yet until now, was always left out of important, legislative conversations. This association guarantees their needs and issues are heard by those that matter. It will also help give the industry the marketing and promotion that the beer and wine industries already receive.

Even before it was formed as an official organization, the association had a hand in making sure distilleries were considered in a "Farm to Glass" bill that did not originally include them. It has opened up communication between distilleries and other associations, and is helping to bring focus to the rapidly growing industry.

According to Berglund, membership is expected to grow; not only membership, but the distilling industry in Michigan. The industry itself has created a lot of jobs and will continue to do so as it expands and matures.

Source: Kris Berglund, Treasurer Michigan Craft Distillers Association
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 

New 'Pure Michigan" buses promote tourism, ridership

While the brand new Indian Trails buses aren't unusual, their new décor is. The buses are usually decorated with the Indian Trails logo, but these eight new motorcoaches are dolled up with giant photos depicting some of Michigan's most popular travel destinations, and the Pure Michigan logo.

In a partnership with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Indian Trails aims to promote Michigan tourism but also shake the myth that they only provide charter services. The slogan on the buses also contributes to that aim; "We're Going Your Way- Daily" points out to riders that the buses provide daily service and local routes. Many of the cities included in the routes are also listed along the bus.

According to Chad Cushman, Vice President of Indian Trails, "We want to emphasize that a lot of the areas we serve are not served by any other mode of public transportation." The folks in these areas may not have any way to get to jobs or potential employers, and Indian Trails wants to make that possible for them. They hope this piece of the promotion will create jobs for people that previously could not get to one.  These new buses help promote that opportunity along with Michigan destinations and tourism.

Source: Chad Cushman, Indian Trails
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations New Editor
 

$35 million in grants to Great Lakes Capital Fund to revitalize neighborhoods

The Great Lakes Capital Fund (GLCF) has received $35 million through Federal New Market Tax Credits. The tax credit is a huge source of funding that will support job creation and development.

While the GLCF has been known for supporting housing efforts, this grant is meant to support the retail and commercial side of things, therefore expanding their reach. The project the grant will be used on has not yet been chosen but when it is, it can either be solely retail or a combination of retail and residential.  According to Kelly Bernero, Advocacy and PR Specialist with GLCF, with this grant, GLCF can now consider itself a one-stop-shop when it comes to having the resources that help make the community a better place to live.

The next step for the organization is choosing which project to use the funds on. Any project they choose will create new jobs in the community both permanently and temporarily but according to Bernero, "We want to pick the projects that never would have happened without the grant. When we do make the announcement," she says, "It will be huge."

The fact that the organization was chosen for this grant, according to Bernero, really shows that the administration understands Michigan's needs.
 

New Greater Lansing Food Bank program shares farm fresh vegetables, creates farmers

The Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) has announced a program through the Lansing Roots farm program designed to fight hunger, create jobs, and help people provide for themselves and their community. The model, called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), is a weekly vegetable subscription that connects local farmers and food consumers. After one payment at the beginning the season, subscribers then receive a box of produce containing 10-15 different items, each week for 20 weeks.

The program also has a low income option, so that low income families have access to affordable, fresh produce. Subscriptions can also be paid for using SNAP/EBT and Double-Up Food Bucks.  According to Alex Bryan, the program manager, it's a great way to connect farmers to those that need food and cut out the middle man.

They are not only feeding families in need, but are also creating jobs by providing the tools, support and marketing components for those that want to farm but may not have the resources or funding to get started. The program provides 10 acres in Mason that was donated to charity as the land the farmers utilize. This two-fold approach is the GLFB's way of assuring there is enough food in the community. According to Bryan, "The biggest anti-hunger movement is economic development," and this program strives to contribute to that.

Source: Alex Bryan, Program Director
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor
 

Poochie Bowl kicks off production, manufactured in Lansing

Poochie Bowl, the "eargonomically" designed food and water bowl made especially for dogs with long or furry ears, has officially kicked off production in Lansing. The dish keeps your pet's ears out of their water bowl, keeping them dry, clean and free of infection. It is being manufactured right here by the local Diamond Engineering. "We always knew we wanted to keep it in Lansing," says Vice President, Christopher Allen.

Poochie Bowl is currently on sale at Preuss Pets, Annabelle's Pet Station and at stores in Petosky and Grand Haven. They also offer online sales. They are excited to be in production after ten months and have plans to eventually expand nationally.

As they grow, and produce more bowls, they expect Diamond Engineering will have to add to their staff. Poochie Bowl themselves plans to add 2-3 jobs to their company within the next 3-6 months, most likely in the areas of shipping and office work.

You can also find Poochie Bowl on the road, traveling and promoting at events such as Lansing's 4th of July Parade. It may not be the way most companies promote, but it's working for them. "It's a unique way of doing things," says Allen, "But we're a unique company."

Source: Chris Allen, Poochie Bowl
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 

Turtle Cell, student startup, creates unique product

Michigan State University students have teamed up with students from the University of Michigan to produce a totally unique product.

Turtlecell is a cell phone case that solves the problem of constantly tangled, lost, or broken headphones by storing them right in the case. Its unique design allows the headphones to slide easily in and out for super simple storage.

Turtlecell opened for pre-orders last week and have already received hundreds of orders, even before advertising. They have already received 2 offers for retail sales and expect to be in at least 6,000 stores by Christmas.

Because of this growth, Turtlecell has recently hired an MSU Law Graduate and will be turning to the MSU Career Fair to search out more local talent. "We’ve found some really talented people," says Jeremy Lindlbauer, Director of Sales and Marketing, "and the goal is to grow. We want those really motivated students."

To get where they are, they've utilized many local resources such as The Hatch to provide help with funding, web design, packaging, and more.

With over 100,000 units expected to be produced in the next 3 months, Turtlecell's momentum is not slowing down. They also have plans to produce a case with a battery and eventually have a completely customizable, personal product.
 
Source: Jeremy Lindlbauer, Turtlecell
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 

Lansing receives Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation

Lansing has received an exciting growth opportunity in the form of an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation. Because of this designation, Lansing and 12 other counties will now have access to $1.3 billion in federal funding to help support manufacturing jobs and growth. The designation brings with it preference to receive funding in areas such as, automotive efficiency and safety, road repairs and infrastructure improvements and more.

Backed by over 170 partners, a never before seen number according to Ray De Winkle of LEAP, the designation is only one of 12 awarded across the nation. "It's unprecedented for the region to come together the way it did," says De Winkle. To win the designation, the partners involved had to create a set of strategies that would ensure success in areas like business development support, innovation and job creation, and ensuring a steady work force.

With Lansing as one of the anchor communities, De winkle says, "It really sets the region up for success." The potential grants and opportunities will help begin a shift in the regional economy and really help manufacturers focus on emerging technologies.
 
Source: Ray De Winkle, LEAP
Writer:  Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
 

Sparrow and MSU partner to offer unique, hands on experience for youth

MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and Sparrow Health Systems have teamed up to create a one of a kind experience for a group of Lansing High School students.

FutureDOCS kicked off on June 5th and is giving a group of 16 outstanding students from Eastern, Everett and Sexton High Schools the chance to pursue an interest in a career in medicine. A hands-on experience, Program Director Floyd Hardin says one of their goals is to make students "work force ready." They will learn what it's like to attend medical school, get time in an actual ER and even get instructions on how to create a resume and personal statement.

Since the students are from communities that may be under resourced, Hardin also stressed the importance of helping these students become active participants, or even future leaders, in their community. "We want to instill pride and turn them into leaders that can someday give back," says Hardin.

The program is all about providing resources to under- served populations and providing tangible experience the students can take into the work force. To aide in this, and because of the quick growth of the program, a new Program Assistant was hired and Hardin says they expect to need more.

The students will work closely with MSU faculty, Sparrow physicians and be mentored by MSUCOM students.

Source: Floyd Hardin, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor


Camp helps youth improve athletic movement

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