Redevelopment :Innovation & Job News

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Lansing-Headquartered Green Industry Certification Program Launches in the U.S.

The Society for Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF) is a new and innovative membership and certification organization designed to offer property owners the ability to highlight their commitment to environmental responsibility.

By receiving SERF certification, property owners and businesses can promote their eco-friendly facilities and economically responsible property management style. This creates awareness and guides individuals to properties and facilities that operate in a sustainable manner.

“We want to recognize those who exhibit practical environmental stewardship,” says Joe Maguire, president of SERF. “This program rewards the efforts of builders and property owners who practice environmentally sensible property management.”

Two buildings — the rehabilitated YMCA building at 119 North Washington Square and the eco-friendly lofts at 107-111 East Allegan — are receiving green industry recognition through SERF certifications this morning.

Source: Anna Dougherty, M3 Group

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Regional Arts Council and East Lansing Partner to Boost Creative Economy

The City of East Lansing will be now be partnering with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to co-administer its Downtown East Lansing Cultural Entrepreneurship Program.

The program is designed to help local artists, creative entrepreneurs and arts-based businesses in East Lansing by providing loans and micro-enterprise grants to help these businesses start and sustain creative and profitable businesses in downtown East Lansing.

“This is an important recognition of the power of the creative sector to enrich the community,” says Katie Robiadek, program manager for the Arts Council. “By supporting [these businesses] to take firm root, the City of East Lansing is actively recognizing the talent we have grown here — and that differentiates our region.”

In working with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to administer the program, East Lansing hopes to strengthen its potential and the ability of both agencies to maximize arts and cultural initiatives for the economic development of the Capital region, which in turns gives residents an enriched community to enjoy.

Source: Katie Robiadek, Arts Council of Greater Lansing

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Clinton County’s Motz Park is a Finalist for International Accessibility Award

The Motz County Park development project near St. Johns is one of four finalists for a DaVinci Award in the Environmental Adaptation/Daily Living/Work Aides category.

Clinton County worked in partnership with local community organizations and local residents to create a special outdoor recreation area at the park. The area aims to serve county residents and visitors regardless of their physical abilities.

“The project is already having an impact on the region, Michigan and beyond. Several Michigan park departments have called for information about the project, intending to incorporate design features in their own park developments,” says Jerry Jaloszynski, coordinator of the Clinton County Parks and Green Space Commission.

“I also received emails from a study group in England inquiring about development of the park’s swimming beach. Apparently, England does not generally use former gravel pits for public recreation. Our beach development will be used as a case study in the group’s efforts to change the status quo.”

A worldwide panel of judges reviewed nominations received from across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Denmark.

Source: Jerry Jaloszynski, Clinton County Parks and Green Space Commission

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

NorthWest Initiative Conference Designed to Improve Lansing Neighborhoods

Lansing residents who want to strengthen their neighborhoods are invited to an upcoming conference sponsored by the NorthWest Initiative.

Called “Neighborhood…What? Creating Great Places,” the conference is schedule for Oct. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the South Washington Office Complex, 2500 S. Washington Ave.

“It is a conference designed to engage, inform and inspire residents to take ownership in making Lansing neighborhoods safer, healthier and more connected,” says Stephanie Campbell, community outreach specialist with the NorthWest Initiative.

“We would like everyone to see why it is so important for them and their families to make their neighborhoods the best they can be.”

The conference is open to the public. Registration is $5, which will cover lunch and supplies. Child care may also be available.

For registration information or  other updates, visit

The NorthWest Initiative is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the neighborhoods around the Grand River.

Source: Stephanie Campbell

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Ingham County Land Bank Program Trains Workers In Historic Window Rehab

Fresh off the success of its first YouthBuild home renovation collaboration, the Ingham County Land Bank is now partnering with another nonprofit to train local workers in a new skill necessary for rebuilding older neighborhoods.

The Land Bank and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network are offering a two-week workshop to teach craftspeople the art of historic window preservation beginning July 26.

Participants will learn how to repair and rehabilitate wooden, double-hung windows in older homes while also helping renovate a Land Bank property.

Project coordinators say the project – which is based on a similar program in Kalamazoo – brings two benefits to the community.

First, craftspeople will gain new skills they can put to use in the job market.

Second, there will now be more people with the knowledge necessary to rebuild aging homes in neighborhoods that could be important to regional revitalization.

“Many of these targeted neighborhoods contain buildings that are older and historic,” Land Bank chair Eric Schertzing says in a statement. “Many of these buildings, both commercial and residential, will require rehabilitation to remain functional and efficient properties.”

For more information about the class, visit the MHPN’s website at

Source: Ingham County Land Bank

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Habitat for Humanity Invests $65,000 in Foreclosed Lansing House

Habitat for Humanity Lansing is unveiling the completion of the first home in the foreclosure remediation program. Thanks to a partnership with the Ingham County Land Bank, Capital Region Community Foundation and the City of Lansing, Habitat for Humanity Lansing has been able to invest $65,000 in the purchase and rehabilitation of 1719 Robertson Ave. in northwest Lansing. 

Through the foreclosure remediation program, Habitat for Humanity Lansing specifically selects neighborhoods that will benefit from such an investment. According to Julie Burtch, development director for Habitat, the home is in a Lansing neighborhood that needs investment but is poised to rebound quickly.

"On an individual basis, this program helps families move into affordable, safe housing," says Burtch. "At a macro-level, we are able to make neighborhoods better through home rehabilitation. We hope to see property values and owner-occupancy rise as a result of this project."

Habitat has already selected the second home for the remediation program and plans to build this summer.

Source: Julie Burtch, Habitat for Humanity Lansing

Airport Pods Help Boost Architectural Solutions’ Revenue by 25 Percent

Perhaps most recognized for its unique airport pods, Lansing-based Architectural Solutions tracked an estimated 25 percent increase in revenue during 2009.

“Airport architecture is a specialized niche and we’re very good at it,” says Architectural Solutions President Brad Williams.

Several years ago, the company started expanding into markets outside of Michigan, eventually grabbing contracts for airport retail space build-outs.

At the end of 2009, the company landed a contract to oversee $1.5 to $2 million in construction and installation of the first airport pods in the United States.

Referred to as Unique Retreats, the pods provide privacy, entertainment and relaxation for weary travelers. Fourteen of the units will be constructed in Michigan and shipped to the San Francisco airport by spring 2010.

Though the company is landing national contracts, Williams says he has no plans to add out-of-state offices.

“The way the business has developed we don’t really need to have offices in other states because we do everything electronically,” he says. “The Mid-Michigan workforce is hardworking.”

Source: Brad Williams, Architectural Solutions

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Same Company, New Positioning: Vision Creative Gains Traction

After 15 years of developing the Vision Creative brand and more than a year revisiting Vision Creative’s identity, Camron Gnass has renamed the company Traction.

“We are repositioning what we are in the marketplace, and we really want to make sure that we are projecting the culture of what it is that we do,” says Gnass.

Gnass says several people were confusing Vision Creative with retail graphic design companies or web developers.

“They thought we did we did one or the other,” Gnass says. In fact, Traction supplies a combination of these services and works in several different mediums including naming and identify design, social media and outdoor strategies.

“We provide unique branding solutions by creating identities, advertising and marketing campaigns through print or interactive design,” he says.

Gnass says Traction is designed to “make people act” and was created to continue the growth established by Vision Creative, meeting growing local, regional and specifically, national demands.

“By adding incredible staff and positioning ourselves, we’re getting some attention regionally and nationally,” he says.

Source: Camron Gnass, Traction

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Lansing-Based Granger Energy Builds Fifth Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

Lansing-based Granger Energy Services has added five landfill gas utilization projects this year and is looking to add at least two more by the end of the year.

The landfill gas utilization projects allow Granger to generate electricity by using engine generators set to recover methane gas produced by the landfill. The generated renewable energy is then sold to a local utility.

The Michigan-based projects that went online this year include the Wood Road Generating Station, South Kent Generating Station and White Feather Generating Station. Granger also brought the Conestoga Landfill Gas Recovery Project in Pennsylvania and the Trans-Jordan Generating Station in Utah online.

"We believe this type of renewable energy is the most reliable form of renewable energy because all plants are online 98 or 99 percent of the time," says Granger Chief Executive Officer Keith Granger. "Other sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, may only remain online less than 20 percent of the time."

Granger also builds "direct-use" fuel partnerships with landfills across the nation. These partnerships allow Granger to pipe the landfill gas fuel to nearby industrial users.

Combined, Granger has 14 direct use and landfill gas-to-electric projects online in six states. Granger is looking to add more sites as demand requires.

Granger was the first company in Michigan to sell landfill gas and is one of the few such companies that also develops these projects.

Source: Tonia Olson, Granger

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Building Group Gets New Name, Posts 420 Percent Revenue Increase

East Lansing-based Kincaid Building Group has added a name to its flag, although the players are the same.

Soon after Ryan Kincaid started the building and development company, Ryan Henry joined his boyhood friend. Now, the company name reflects their partnership:  Kincaid Henry Building Group.

In business five years, the company posted a 420 percent increase in gross revenue in 2008 over the previous year and Henry expects 2009 to look good as well. Kincaid Henry can no longer be called a start-up.

Henry projects the company will hire another project manager and an assistant project manager later this year, taking its employee base to nine to handle the growth he foresees.

“We have some very neat private development projects coming up in a few months that I can’t talk about yet,” he teases. And he will not give hints.

Big projects in 2008 included the relocation of Career Quest Learning Center into a 50-year-old rehabbed building, DBI’s renovation, the expansion of the Riverwalk Theatre and the repurposing of Cedar Street School into the Old Town Medical Arts Building.

Kincaid Henry’s new marketing plan features a revamped website, complete with video describing a few past projects.

“We’ve taken on some projects others wouldn’t do, because they didn’t know how to figure the costs,” Henry says. Opening an old building can bring unpleasant surprises requiring experience and commitment to thinking green.

The company specializes in “brown on green” development, using government brownfield incentives that apply to contaminated sites, and turning them into productive urban projects.

“There is nothing more green than re-using an old building,” Henry says.

Source: Ryan Henry, Kincaid Henry Building Group

Gretchen Cochran, Innovation & Jobs editor, may be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Granger Hires 16 in 2009, Focuses on Strategic Investments in Energy Projects

In 2009, Granger hired 16 employees including a specialist whose single purpose is to make Granger Energy more efficient.

Granger is a Lansing-based management company that has also moved into the energy business, developing landfill gas recovery projects that use methane gas produced by landfills to create power.

“Growth is a little trickier now,” says CEO Keith Granger. “What we’re really focused on is maximizing the existing assets that we have.”

The 16 hires are split between the company’s waste services and energy services and seven of them are new hires.

Granger has 14 energy projects in six states. Some of the sites have gas deficits. Adding engines can expand access to gas and therefore make the project more productive.

“By doing that, we’re growing as a company,” Granger says. “We’re creating something that’s in high demand.”

Granger is also pursuing new energy projects and predicts some growth in 2010.

“We’re fortunate we’re able to plan for some growth,” he says. “We’re not exempt from where the economy is.”

Source: Keith Granger, Granger

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Great Lakes Cap Fund Earmarks At Least $5 Million for Capital Region Projects

Lansing-based Great Lakes Capital Fund (GLCF) will likely allocate at least $5 million to one or more Capital region projects before the end of the year, says Aaron Seybert, fund specialist.
The money comes from $28 million dispersed from the U. S. Department of Treasury’s New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program and must be used for job creation and retention.

The GLCF, or "Cap Fund" as it is known locally, covers four states — Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin — and will fund at least one project in each state.
“We want to be careful to be supporting sustainable jobs—not just 500 construction jobs and then they’re done,” Seybert says. Projects will focus on the sustainable energy industry and other emerging New Economy jobs, he says.

The competition is stiff, with $1.5 billion in projects vying for the $28 million available.
Potential candidates for the Capital region include developer Gene Townsend’s mixed-use project on Ottawa Street, west of the capitol building; rehabilitation of some commercial buildings around Lansing’s Stadium District; or the creation of a film production center with sound stage.
One proposal for an Ingham County location is for a start-up car company that would make high efficiency vehicles with internal combustion engines, although the investors are looking at a number of sites, Seybert says.

The NMTC fund accrues from tax incentives to induce private investors to invest in businesses and real estate development projects located in low-income and rural communities.

A portion of the $28 million will go to rural areas, such as parts of Williamston or St. Johns, he says.

Source: Aaron Seybert, Great Lakes Capital Fund

Gretchen Cochran, Innovation & Jobs editor, may be reached here.

Prima Civitas Invests $200,000 In Three Targeted Entrepreneurship Programs

Lansing-based Prima Civitas is using its second $200,000 Mott Foundation grant to continue three programs designed to foster entrepreneurship in the region.

The grant funds three specific areas that fall under the Moving Ideas to Market (MI2M) initiative. The first, IGNITE (not to get confused with IgniteLansing!), focuses on integrating entrepreneurship into the K-12 education system.

“It also looks at components (projects) that are fun that can get kids interested in entrepreneurship,” says Holly Hetzner, special projects administrator and legal affairs specialist for Prima Civitas.

The second piece, EnGen, works toward creating entrepreneurial opportunities for college students.

“We’re building a network that universities can use to collaborate and feel free to talk about the programs going on in their host communities,” she says.

The last component, Jumpstart is “for everyone else.”

“This is for everyone who is not a child or a college student and wants to learn how to pitch before a venture capitalist,” she says.

All three of the teams are comprised of 20-25 volunteers. A MI2M conference is being held during Global Entrepreneurship Week starting at 9:30 a.m., Nov. 17 at the Lexington Hotel in Lansing. The event is open to the public and will feature each group. To RSVP by Nov. 13, click here.

Source: Holly Hetzner, Prima Civitas Foundation

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Invests in Downtown, Brings in 250 Employees

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) is moving 250 of its employees to the soon-to-be-vacated Accident Fund headquarters in Downtown Lansing.

The employees will be transferred from BCBSM’s existing location in Delta Township to Downtown Lansing in 2011. BCBSM’s move is predicated on Auto-Owners Insurance expansion, which will engulf BCBSM existing Delta Township space.

“We have a commitment as an organization that really is aligned purposefully toward urban centers as locations for our business,” says BCBSM Vice President for Corporate Communities Andy Hetzel. “We have significant locations in downtown Detroit and in downtown Grand Rapids.”

Hetzel says moving the 250 employees to Downtown Lansing continues that commitment.

“We think it enhances the employee experience to work in a thriving downtown setting,” he says. “It contributes economically to core cities and the economic viability of core cities.”

Hetzel says the building, which is located at 232 S. Capitol Ave., has enough space for BCBSM to grow. The Accident Fund will move into the former Ottawa Power Station in Downtown Lansing once renovations are complete.

Source: Andy Hetzel, BCBSM

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

Lansing-Based Moebius Technologies Diversifies Manufacturing, Adds Jobs

Moebius Technologies, a Lansing-based medical device manufacturing company, plans to add six to eight new jobs by the end of the year.

Moebius is winning national contracts and needs additional workers to fulfill those obligations.

“We’re trying to create a very highly innovative medical company,” says Sagar Sheth, Moebius managing director and partner. For the last two years, Moebius has been transitioning away from the auto industry and toward the medical industry, focusing on the manufacturing of knee, hip and other implants.

Sheth worked with the City of Lansing to find its current 2127 W. Willow facility, which Sheth says is large enough to accommodate future growth.

“The LEDC (Lansing Economic Development Corporation) showed us quite a few different options, and the goal between us and the City of Lansing was to find a location that fits our needs in an area that could help with economic growth,” Sheth says. “I think the key word there is growth. Now that we’ve set the foundation for the business and have really started to be placed as a medical company, the next step really is going to the next level and letting growth happen.”

Sheth is looking to fill engineering positions as well as highly skilled manufacturing positions.

Source: Ken Szymusiak, Lansing Economic Development Corporation

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

60 Redevelopment Articles | Page: | Show All
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