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LCC ranked No. 1 in online programs offered by Michigan two-year colleges

Lansing Community College is No. 1. Again.

The Community for Accredited Online Schools recently released its 2017 list of best online college programs in Michigan, and ranked LCC first among 12 other two-year colleges that made the grade. The ranking positions LCC alongside 36 four-year schools deemed the best of online programs in the state, including Michigan State University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.

This is the second No. 1 ranking for LCC in fewer than six months. The recent accolade from—a leading resource for information on higher education—follows LCC's November 2016 ranking by as the top community college out of 27 public two-year institutions in Michigan.

"Making back-to-back best lists demonstrates our commitment to student success and to innovative delivery methods for effective 21st century learning," says LCC President Brent Knight. "We are proud to be among the educational leaders providing access to quality education that leads to bright futures—both for our students and our state."

Colleges and programs on the list must be accredited, public or private not-for-profit schools. Each college is also analyzed and ranked based on data in areas like availability of academic resources, student-teacher ratios, graduation rates and financial aid opportunities.

"Students in Michigan have more options than ever for pursuing certificates or degrees on line," says LCC Board Chair Andrew Abood."LCC shows time and again that the best combination of quality education, academic resources and online programming is often right in your own back yard, so-to-speak."

Lansing Community College is Michigan’s third largest community college with nearly 15,000 students attending each year. LCC offers courses in general education for those interested in transferring to a university, career and workforce development, developmental education and personal enrichment. For more information, visit

Source: Devon Bradley, Public Relations, Lansing Community College
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here. launches new apps tailored to customer need

No outsourcing. No prescribed platforms. One hundred percent customer focused.


For Craig Tucker, those are factors in the formula for success for a small business competing in the high-tech marketplace. And since 2014, Tucker and his partners have sustained a business that builds software, mobile apps, websites, and integrated solutions for sales and e-commerce—all to customer specifications.


"Everyone here is Midwestern--from Michigan or Wisconsin," says Tucker, CEO of "We like to keep it local."


Intent on keeping an agile mindset, Tucker and his nine-member team operate from a functional office within the University Center at 333 Albert Ave. in downtown East Lansing. Two recently engineered apps underscore the abilities of to respond to customer challenges and devise solutions that meet both broad and specific needs.


The Judgment Interest Calculator, released in April, frees attorneys, law students, judges and other legal professionals from complex hand calculations. The app determines accrued interest on monetary settlements, and then compiles figures into a state-approved form for emailing.


A second app under development and set for release later in 2017 answers the need for some health organization to authenticate particular sales activities for compliance. Currently in rollout, the Validu app that will use biometric authentication for attendance when required by regulations affecting pharma, medical and security operations.


"We like to build things that solve problems," says Tucker. "They say necessity is the mother of invention. So, we can say we like to create things that are necessary."


The company's portfolio includes apps for distracted driving, American Sign Language translation, education and services. The veteran-owned company has also developed dozens of websites, e-commerce solutions and presentations.


"We will continue to expand," says Tucker. "We have clients all over the world—including China, New York and California. The vibrancy of East Lansing makes us want to always keep a presence here."


Source: Craig Tucker, Owner,
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Burst Into Bloom waxes for the nomadic life with handcrafted bags

Leah Seelye moved to Michigan five years ago with her husband Cody. Relocating from Wisconsin, the two lived behind the Capitol in Lansing, and then resettled in Grand Ledge to build on their devotion to making mid-Michigan home.

All the while, Seelye stayed true to her passion for handcrafted items, determined to become a maker herself. She retaught herself to sew, and set out to fill a niche for attractive clutches, bags, purses and pouches made from waxed canvas.

In 2015, Seeyle equipped a home studio with a sewing machine and everything she needed to create products for contemporary nomadic life. She concentrates on the design and sewing. Her husband does the waxing. And in less than two years, husband-wife team behind Burst Into Bloom has sold about 1,500 waxed canvas items a year to customers as close as next door to as distant as the Pacific Northwest.

"While I was really invested in my day job, I just wanted to do something with a creative outlet," says Seeyle. "My first sale was a wholesale order, and it just blew up from there. I didn't expect it. I've been humbled."

Seeyle's bags and clutches are functional but funky, with colors and patterns inspired by the desert southwest. Made from printed canvas and then waxed, Burst Into Bloom products have the look and feel of leather and are stain and water resistant.

Seeyle says she started Burst Into Bloom with a $300 windfall buffeted by the support and encouragement of her husband, her family, and friends. She recently began full-time at the biz, and has her sites set on continuing to grow her line.

"We're passionate about making things and are committed to helping people make that hand-made connection," says Seeyle. "Our age is so digital. As human beings, we're always craving or creating something to hold, touch and connect with."

Burst Into Bloom purses, bags, clutches and pouches are available online, locally through Polka Dots in Old Town, and in several Michigan stores in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Source: Leah Seelye, Owner, Burst Into Bloom
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Mobile clinic expands range, takes health services to residents

The Lansing area's only Mobile Health Care Clinic that brought health care to residents last fall is en route again this spring, providing free basic health care to hundreds of residents in city neighborhoods and other sites.

Housed in a bus renovated by Dean Transportation, the mobile clinic was piloted in September 2016, and represents a partnership between Sparrow and the Ingham County Health Department. The clinic will make three visits to six Ingham County sites starting in early April—up from four sites during the pilot phase. The 2017 sites include the Allen Neighborhood Center, Baker Donora neighborhood, Edgewood Village Apartments, Capital Area Career Center.

"We want to try and spread ourselves out to cover as much of the footprint of this community as possible," says Stella Cash, Sparrow vice president of development and strategic partnerships. "Our common goal is to serve a group of our population that is very vulnerable and that might not receive health care until they end up in an emergency situation."

The clinic is open to anyone and provides adult and childhood immunizations, flu shots, education, diabetes checks, and screening for blood pressure, cholesterol, lead, glucose and more. While the primary goal is to provide access to care, mobile clinic staff also refer patients to community resources to address other needs like clothing, food and shelter. Expanded services this year may include mammograms and colon screening provided through Sparrow or the Ingham County Health Department.

"Healthy people make for a healthy community," says Linda Vail, chief health officer for the Ingham County Health Department. "But what we find with people who are in poverty or low-income or lacking insurance is that preventive care doesn't come to the top of the list when they're attending to basic needs like getting food on the table or getting to a job. Our question is how do we eliminate barriers and get health care to you on top of all the other things you have to do in your life."

Ted Glynn, Sparrow Health Systems vice president of medical education and research, was part of the team that helped develop the mobile unit. He is among nearly 10 physicians, trained medical staff and wellness specialists on the ground and delivering care through the various site visits.

Glynn draws on a depth of experience from having worked in emergency medicine for 20 years—both in Lansing and the southern U.S. One of the major frustrations, he says, was seeing the inequity of care across populations—particularly the uninsured or impoverished. He says that while the ER served as a safety net, he always felt there was a better way to help people sooner so they wouldn't be as sick as when they showed up for emergency care or in the ICU.

"It doesn't work anymore to just provide episodic care in silos," says Glynn. "Our hope is that we're upstream in delivering care right to the doorstep of those who need it—right in the heart their neighborhood—and to address the medical as well as the social determinants of health."

Glynn reports that 130 patients registered at the fall pilot program sites, with 16 percent of those being uninsured. The mobile unit is funded through partnerships as well as through donations to the Sparrow Foundation from businesses and individuals.

Source: Stella Cash, Vice President of Development and Strategic Partnerships, Sparrow Health Systems
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

City and local businesses get scrappy to transform food waste into a resource

The cores, peels or other discards of food made to prep a meal or snack can find their way back in to the ecosystem thanks to a new pilot program through the City of Lansing, Hammond Farms and Delta Institute.
Live Green Lansing's Scraps to Soil encourages businesses and residents to keep food waste out of landfills or wastewater through composting. Supported through a $91,131 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and support from the Capital Area Recycling and Trash (CART), the program is a balance of shaping perceptions and awareness, as well as engaging businesses and community members in green initiatives that benefit the planet.
"When most people hear of cities that are green or sustainable, they don't think of Lansing," says Natalie Molnar, program coordinator, Live Green Lansing. "But we're right up there with other cities like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. Our overall goal is to change the public's perception of food scraps as a waste product, and show they can be a product that has benefit when it's turned into compost that nourishes the soil."
In Scraps to Soils, participating businesses have their food scraps collected by Hammond Farms who then turns it into high quality soil compost is donated to local community gardens. Since its launch in September 2016, the initiative has collected 128 cubic yards of food scraps that will generate about 213 cubic yards of finished compost.
About 12 businesses currently participate in the pilot. The goal is 25. Businesses range in size and include the Allen Neighborhood Center, Biggby #270, Blue Owl Coffee, The Cosmos, Zoobie's Old Town Tavern, Lansing Fire Station #1, Juice Nation, Lansing Brewing Company, Lansing Catholic High School, Midtown Brewing Company, Soup Spoon and Sparrow Hospital.
"Our hope is that residents will support businesses that are participating in Scraps to Soil and understand the value of composting," says Molnar. "It's something new to Lansing that we'd like to continue."
Scraps to Soil is currently being offered to businesses in Metro Lansing, with expansion plans in the works for East Lansing, Delta Township and adjacent areas. For more information on Live Green Lansing or to find out how to parcipate in the Scraps to Soil pilot program, contact Natalie Molnar here or call 517-702-6597.
Source: Natalie Molnar, Program Coordinator, Live Green Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Lansing's Financial Empowerment Center celebrates milestone

A free, one-on-one professional counseling service offered in partnership with the City of Lansing and Cristo Rey Community Center recently marked four years of providing 10,000 counseling sessions that have helped thousands of people reach their financial goals.
Founded March 12, 2013, the Lansing Financial Empowerment Center has served 3,500 clients who have reduced their debt by more than $6.6 million, and increased their savings by more than $558,000. The Lansing FEC targets low-income individuals and families, but is open to anyone regardless of income level. The center provides four services plans including banking, credit, savings and debt to help participants shape a more financially stable life.
"Cities are better off when residents are financial stable," says Amber Paxton, director of the Lansing FEC. "They pay debts that support city government, they invest, and they may be more inclined to open a business, too."
The Lansing FEC was initially funded through a $1.5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities' Cities Financial Empowerment Fund. Lansing was one of five cities to create financial empowerment centers, and was among the 2013 cohort of Nashville, Tenn., San Antonio, Texas, Denver, Colo., and Philadelphia, Penn.
Paxton commented that Lansing was a contender among much larger cities primarily because of the strong support received from the local government and city leadership.
"Mayor Benero considers financial empowerment part of his economic development platform," she says. "We also have so many other good solid programs going on in the community that surround financial empowerment, including good housing counseling agencies.  It made sense for us to layer over some of our existing pillars of financial stability for our residents."
Paxton stressed that a key tenant of the Lansing FEC is to integrate programs with existing social services provided through faith-based or government agencies. Counselors coordinate or make referrals within the community, helping individuals and families to achieve the next step of financial stability by reducing debt, decreasing expenses, building emergency savings, repairing credit, or paying off loans and bills.
Looking ahead, Paxton says the program will continue to integrate with programs like Lansing SAVE, the H.O.P.E. Scholarship Program, Lansing Promise, and Capital Area College Access Network, and to provide services that can help young people smoothly transition into adult life and avoid financial pitfalls.
"We're looking to help empower people from Kindergarten through adulthood," says Paxton. "We're one piece in that continuum of support."
The Lansing FEC provides services at the Cristo Rey Community Center at 1717 N. High Street through two full-time counselors and a program manager. The program looks to expand staffing in the next 12 to 18 months, depending on funding. To donate, click here. 
Source: Amber Paxton, Director, Lansing Financial Empowerment Center
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Lansing Mosaic tells stories of area entrepreneurs, provides resources

A small business owner whose path began from a home-based operation has launched a new resource to help promote other Greater Lansing area entrepreneurs, particularly those without a brick-and-mortar presence.
Ashlee Willis founded Lansing Mosaic in November 2016, intent on telling the stories of people who apply their talents and innovative ideas through start-ups. Her tool? An online, event-driven publication that highlights diverse entrepreneurs and small business owners through articles and video content.
"There are a lot of resources here in mid-Michigan that are helping to get businesses started and helping them to succeed," says Willis. "I want to be part of that."
Lansing Mosaic encourages community members and subscribers to be involved in generating ideas for content and events that foster and promote entrepreneurship. Visitors to the site can also find content on technology trends, business initiatives, marketing and other topics relevant to entrepreneurs. 
Willis operates Lansing Mosaic from The Fledge—her hometown's incubator for new businesses in Grand Ledge. She writes and curates much of her content herself with the expertise and assistance of several contributing writers, designers and interns.
"We're also in the midst of starting an affiliate called Grub Lansing," she says. "We want to capture the food scene, and showcase some of the entrepreneurs here starting food businesses."
Willis is the owner of Michigan Premeir Events, an event-service company she started from her home that specializes in event planning, decorating, coordinating and photography. She is a board member of the Lansing Black Chamber of Commerce and will receive the 2017 Entrepreneur on the Move Award at the chamber's annual Pillar Awards in late April.
Source: Ashlee Willis, Founder, Lansing Mosaic
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Love Letters to Lansing continues to bloom at Old Town coffee shop

Bloom is coffee. Coffee is love. Love is needed, now, and lots of it.
That's how the founder and manager of Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lansing's Old Town see it. And despite a political and social climate filled with confusion and change, Jared Field and Andrea Sherman believe it's Lansing's opportunity to bloom.
Starting February 7, Field and Sherman began providing customers the chance to write what they call a "love letter to Lansing." Customers were offered a postcard—three designs, in fact, custom-made by Sherman's husband Eric—and invited them to write a message on the back that said what they love about Lansing. Customers could hand the completed card to baristas on the spot for a free drink, or bring it in at another time for the same reward. Customers could also opt to have their card hung in the window or their message posted on social media.
"The response was overwhelmingly positive," says Field of Love Letters to Lansing. "People love the idea and have been more than willing to share their stories and love for Lansing."
Sherman expands.
"A lot of people have really taken the opportunity seriously," she says. "They want their words to matter and to have a meaningful impact. I watch as many of them pause and reflect on what part of themselves they want to share with their neighbors. It's almost a 'what can I give of myself that will inspire hope and peace and goodwill?'"
Field says Bloom will continue to run the campaign of love and support for as long as people have nothing left to say. And that could be a while.
"We greatly appreciate the support in our projects and the pursuits to make Greater Lansing and Old Town a better, welcoming place," says Field.
In addition to Love Letters, Bloom has launched a campaign inviting the community to support student artwork that will be displayed on the café walls come May. The project represents a partnership with the Lansing Art Gallery for the Ingham Student Art Exhibit. Customers and community members can help support the display of 10 student artworks at Bloom through the purchase of coffee bags and cups of coffee. Field says Bloom needs to raise $250 to help cover the professional framing and exhibit of each piece.
Bloom Coffee Roasters opened the café in Old Town on July 5, 2016. The roasting company has been in the same location at 1236 Turner Street since September 2014. The café employs 10 people.
Source: Jared Field, Owner, Bloom Coffee Roasters
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Community Solar Project to shine in East Lansing

Here comes the sun.
Starting in late January, the first community solar park in Greater Lansing began leasing panels to Lansing Board of Water and Light electric customers. With 200 of the 1,000 panels leased with the first few weeks, developers say construction on the MI Community Solar project could begin as early as Earth Day for a 300-kilowatt array at East Lansing's Burcham Park—a retired landfill.
"Mid-Michigan is ready," says John Kinch, executive direction of Michigan Energy Options, one of the partners on the project that includes BWL and Patriot Solar Group. "The solar industry is having phenomenal growth, and prices for solar panels and inverters are more affordable every day. People are realizing it's a complement to the existing resources that provide us with electricity."
Groundbreaking on the park will start once 80 percent of the panels are leased, as well as when various building permits and plans are approved by the City of East Lansing. The project will allow customers in the BWL electric service territory to support solar energy without having to install panels on their property. Solar supporters will sign a 25-year lease and pay a single upfront cost of $399 per panel. Lessees will then see a monthly on-bill credit from the BWL that reflects the amount of solar energy generated per panel.
Kinch says customers can lease just one panel, but many prefer two or more to contribute to the portfolio of clean energy available to their homes. Businesses and organizations may lease multiple panels as well, with the number based on their electrical load.
"When you support renewal energy, your return on investment is three-fold," Kinch says. "The benefits are not just all economic, but also about the social good and our environment since we are helping to reduce greenhouse gasses."
Kinch says the East Lansing community solar project is the first of its type in Michigan that involves a municipal utility, a non-profit and cities working together to provide a 300-kilowatt array. Following completion of the East Lansing park, the BWL and project partners plan to build a second community solar park adjacent to the BWL Wise Road Water Treatment Plant in Michigan.
To sign up and lease a panel, click here.
Source: John Kinch, Executive Director, Michigan Energy Options
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.


City announces recipients for creative placemaking grants

Several creative placemaking efforts in Lansing received funding through a two-prong, $120,000 investment funded through the City of Lansing and administered by the Lansing Area Economic Partnership and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.  The 2016-17 Sense of Place in the Arts Program consists of a $75,000 Arts Impact Project and $45,000 in grants to four local arts and cultural organizations.
“Partnering with the City of Lansing and LEAP to administer these project dollars is representative of the ways that artists, arts organizations and municipalities can collaborate to put creativity at the forefront of economic development,” says Deborah E. Mikula, Arts Council executive director. “These grant projects and the Arts Impact Project work to provide metro Lansing residents with accessible arts experiences and help to build a sense of pride in our communities.”
The Arts Impact Project provides Lansing residents the opportunity to activate spaces in the city through artistic and permanent placemaking efforts. The 2017 project was chosen from more than 15 proposals at an open forum, and will be placed in Southwest Lansing, likely near the intersection of Pleasant Grove and Holmes Road. The project was proposed by At-Large Councilmember Kathie Dunbar and will be designed and constructed by local artists David Such and Fred Hammond. 
The Grant Program will fund public programs that further enhance the City of Lansing’s creative placemaking efforts that capitalize on Lansing’s assets, inspiration and potential. Grants ranging from $5,000-$30,000 have been awarded for building a sense of place through a wide range of artistic and cultural disciplines.
The Grant Program recipients and their projects include:
Lansing Art Gallery: Pop Up Art 2017. The collaborative project involves artists, residents, businesses and visitors and expands upon previous public art projects. The project will artfully transform underused public newspaper kiosks to distribute free newspapers and showcase Michigan-made artwork. The gallery will coordinate free demonstrations of the processes of 12 selected artists, and offer food and seating during noontime on Wednesdays throughout the summer.
Lansing Symphony Orchestra: “Symphonic Cinema.” The free, public, orchestral concert in downtown Lansing will feature a live musical performance set to silent film. The concert will take place on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at the centrally located and fully accessible Lansing Center. The April dates coincides with the beginning of the seventh annual Capital City Film Festival, a key project partner.
Refugee Development Center: Newcomer Voices. Launched at the ThanksLANSING community cultural festival, the project will involve the use of media arts to document 20 stories of refugees who have resettled in metro Lansing. Participants will also tell their story through artistic representation with a tile mosaic.
REO Town Commercial Association: Mural painted bike lanes along S. Washington Avenue. The murals will be installed in conjunction with the 2017 Art Attack. Bike lane stripes will be painted with ‘bike lane green’ paint, and a bike repair station will be installed in REO Town.
“Supporting and increasing access to arts and culture is a critical component of successful economic development,” said Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP. “Placemaking projects and programs such as these represent opportunities for families and individuals in the region and across the globe to explore and grow intellectually. It’s this global culture that will help us attract and retain the best talent and businesses in the world.”
The 2016 Arts Impact Project proposed in 2015-2016 by project partners Impression 5 Science Center, Riverwalk Theatre and R.E. Olds Transportation Museum will be installed this summer at Museum Drive in downtown Lansing. The project will serve as a beacon and must-see attraction in the vibrant cultural district of downtown Lansing and will be designed by artist Ivan Iler.
Source: Lansing Area Economic Partnership
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Visitors see, connect and create through new program at Lansing Art Gallery

People age 0 to 99-plus are discovering different ways to experience art through a new, interactive self-guided activity at the Lansing Art Gallery.
Through Art Encounter: SEE-CONNECT-CREATE, visitors to the gallery's exhibit space and Education Center can view a curated show, then engage in activities that tie-in to the artwork. Activities and curriculum, says Executive Director Barb Whitney, will vary from exhibit to exhibit, and might include things like inviting visitors to create their own artwork through drawing, painting or sculpting.
"We re-envisioned how we were serving the community and thought about how we could make the Lansing Art Gallery more accessible to the people we serve," says Whitney. "This program is designed to help people connect with art and to see and experience the processes that artists go through."
Art Encounter launched in January and is designed to run concurrently with changing exhibits during all open hours. The first Art Encounter connected with an exhibition of three-dimensional oil paintings by Grand Rapids artist Tatuski Hakoyama. Visitors explored Hakoyama's intricate paintings through a scavenger hunt, then created origami cranes for display in the Student Gallery or to take home. About 75 people attended the opening reception, with visitors steady throughout the month.
The second Art Encounter is under development and slated to coincide with the gallery's inaugural Michigan Collegiate Art Exhibition, March 1-28. Sponsored by the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the MSU College of Arts and Letters, the exhibition will showcase collegiate art from across the state.
Whitney credits Education Coordinator Sydney Richards with developing the Art Encounter concept, and applauds the contributions of the galleries interns and volunteers as well. The program, too, is made possible in part with a grant of $11,648 from the Capital Region Community Foundation and a grant from the Joe D. Pentecost Foundation.
"We think about what the arts does for community, and how it's an expression of our humanity," says Whitney. "We want to offer any person as well as groups the chance to come here, express themselves, and that this is a safe, inviting place to see, connect with, and create art."
The Lansing Art Gallery welcomes individuals as well as groups from business, nonprofit and educational sectors to drop in or schedule a visit to the gallery, located at 119 N. Washington Square in downtown Lansing.
Source: Barb Whitney, Executive Director, Lansing Art Gallery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Delta Dental Foundation opens clinic at VOA homeless shelter

Homeless people in Lansing suffering from lack of dental care have a resource for dental health through a recently opened clinic supported by the Delta Dental Foundation at the Volunteers of America, 430 N. Larch St., in Lansing.
The dental clinic celebrated it's grand opening on Valentine's Day and will serve 2,000 patients a year. With four dental chairs, X-ray equipment, and a rotation of skilled dental professionals, the clinic addresses a critical need for a population that experiences daily pain, lost teeth, poor nutrition and whole body disease that results from poor oral health.
"It's critically important that everyone have access to good dental care," says Terry Battaglieri, director of the Delta Dental Foundation. "Homeless people are no different. They lack dental care and lack means to get to it. We think this clinic will go a long ways toward helping to ease the problem—at least in Lansing."
Delta Dental stats reveal that dental problems have been identified in two-thirds of homeless people nationwide, and that 41 percent of homeless people say they lack dental care. The latest figures from 2011 show that preventable dental conditions treated in Michigan emergency rooms totaled $58 million.
Battaglieri says that the clinic has been in the making for nearly three years. After taking a tour of the Sparrow VOA practice, Battaglieri said Delta Dental saw the opportunity to provide seamless medical and dental care all in one place.
"By doing a simple head, neck and mouth exam, dentists can detect 120 signs and symptoms of other diseases," she notes. "A trip to the dentist is not only good for your mouth, but it's good for your whole body. That's why we're so excited about this clinic. We can connect good oral health to good overall health, and be referred from dentist to physician and vice-versa."
The Delta Dental Foundation provided a $322,404 grant to fund the construction and equipping of the clinic at the VOA. The clinic is next door to the Sparrow medical practice that opened at the VOA in 2014.
Source: Terry Battaglieri, Director, Delta Dental Foundation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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Okemos resident keeps it clean with handcrafted soap business

Autumn Romig says she's always been interested in traditional skills, particularly ones with an edge. She's also driven to have her own business after growing up in an entrepreneurial family in Okemos, Mich.
So when Romig happened upon the craft of soap making via a class on beekeeping, she knew, bar none, that she had found an outlet that combined her two passions.
"I like making soap because it can be a little complex and dangerous," she laughs. "It's also a way I can take ingredients, do something with them, and create something."
Romig launched Autumn's Harvest Soap in November 2016 after making handcrafted soaps for use by her friends and family. She started by making small batches, then word spread to friends of friends. Soon, she was making, storing and delivering soaps as fast as she could.
Romig said the turning point came when her husband sat her down and convinced her she could sustain a low-cost business based on her newfound passion. Tapping her powers of creative thinking, Romig researched the ins and outs of becoming a home-based soap maker and created a business model that worked.
Today, Romig maintains an inventory of about 300-400 bars of soap she makes through a cold process. The soap, she says, has about a six-week cure time, and is made from a combination of lye, sustainably harvested oils like palm, and fragrances derived from essential oils.
"My recipe is a little different and draws on particular ingredients," says Romig. "Like anything in life, you try to pick the best options."
Autumn's Harvest Soap makes and sells handcrafted soaps, lotion bars, wax melts and bath fizzies. Most of her business is local, with customers ordering bars for their business, their homes, and for special gifts.
"I like products and gifts that are thoughtful and luxurious," says Romig. "I want to make really nice quality products that people enjoy using, and that bring a little joy to them when they use it."
Autumn's Harvest Soaps are available online and through the Titus Farms CSA. Romig is also exploring selling her products through Farmraiser come spring.
Source: Autumn Romig, Owner, Autumn's Harvest Soap
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Public art grant funds sculpture by emerging artist for city of Charlotte

Frank Balluff never thought he would leave a lasting impression on his hometown through art. But when a friend tagged him in a Facebook post about a public art grant for the city of Charlotte, Mich., Balluff decided to put his artistic ingenuity to the test and apply.
"I didn't think I had a chance of getting the grant and just applied for practice," says Balluff, a graphic design and business major at Olivet College. "Surprisingly, I got it. I was really excited. It's really cool that LEAP and PNC are providing this opportunity for artists around Michigan."
Balluff was accepted in May 2016 to create a public artwork through the Public Art for Communities Grant funded by the Lansing Area Economic Partnership and PNC Foundation. Within weeks, he was planning, ordering materials, and welding together the steel that would form a new outdoor sculpture for the small city just southwest of Lansing. In late January 2017, the city unveiled the new sculpture erected at the corner of Lovett St. and Cochran in downtown Charlotte.
"For me, Charlotte is a tight-knit community with a lot of unity," says Balluff. "My design represents people coming together to form something bigger and stronger. It's the story of the underdog."
Balluff's sculpture consists of three separate stainless steel towers that stand side-by-side in a triangular layout. Each tower is made of one-foot cubes stacked on top of each other, representing individuals coming together to form a strong, unified community. Towers stand at nine, 10 and 11 feet, with the variation in size symbolizing growth and diversity.
"It's a crazy feeling to drive by there now every day, and seeing it out there," says Balluff of his sculpture. "It gave me a lot of confidence in my artwork, and opened my mind for a lot of projects down the road. That's why this program is so great. It gives artists that that stepping stone. I'm happy I could take the test and prove myself."
Charlotte joins 11 communities and 22 projects that have received $10,000 each in LEAP funding, with additional support from the PNC Foundation.
Since 2012, the Public Art for Communities Grants program has focused on enhancing mid-Michigan's rich arts and cultural atmosphere and its ability to attract new business and talent, and to spur long-term economic growth.
"LEAP's Public Arts for Communities Grant program has been hugely successful in conveying the unique character of the tri-county area," says Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. "LEAP, along with the support of our partner the PNC Foundation, is committed to making this region home to a global community with stellar talent and top business."
LEAP seeks to add three more sculptures to the region in 2017, and is accepting requests for proposals for the next round of Public Art for Communities Grants until 4 p.m. on February 28, 2017.
Source: Frank Balluff, Emerging Artist; Lansing Area Economic Parntership
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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LEAP works with two arts organizations to select first-ever poet laureate of Lansing

Lansing is recognizing the power of poetry within the community by appointing the city's first-ever poet laureate this spring. The esteemed poet will be selected through an application process, with applications currently being accepted up to 5 p.m. on March 3, 2017.
The idea for appointing a poet laureate to engage the tri-county region in the literary arts rose from a coordinated effort among the Lansing Poetry Club, the RCAH Center for Poetry at Michigan State University, and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. Organizers say the program will promote poetry as an art form, expand access to the literary arts, connect the community to poetry, and showcase poetry as a literary voice that contributes to a greater sense of place.
"Lansing already has a thriving and successful arts and cultural community that is attracting and retaining talent—and that's something that makes us a premier community that is international, diverse and sophisticated," says Josh Holliday, tri-county development and placemaking manager with LEAP. "It's time to now place an artist in front of the community to show what we're doing in an engaging, interactive way."
The Lansing Poet Laureate will serve a two-year appointment and receive a $2,000 per year stipend from LEAP. The poet laureate will serve as an ambassador for poetry within the community, and offer instructional workshops and readings with the public. The city's poet laureate will also have the opportunity to shape the scope of work to reflect personal interests, skills and abilities.
"Poetry is one of the oldest and most powerful art forms," says Ruelaine Stokes, president of the Lansing Poetry Club. "It helps us see the complexity and glory of human existence and transcend our day-to-day struggles. The Lansing Poetry Club is delighted to co-sponsor the new Lansing Poet Laureate, who will work to engage the community in creative approaches to the literary arts."
Plans are to have the city's poet laureate selected and announced in April, and a first reading at an Arts Night Out event in May. Applicants must be an Ingham, Eaton or Clinton County resident; must be at least 18 years old, and must be an experienced or skilled poet dedicated to producing poetry in textual or oral traditions. A workshop for assistance with the application process will take place Feb. 5 from 3-5 p.m. at MICA Gallery, 1210 Turner St., Lansing. Applications are available online here.
Source: Josh Holliday, Tri-County Development and Placemaking Manager, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
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