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Silver Cafe to Go brings Airstream nostalgia to outdoor events

Jaisy Spinazzola was en route to band practice when her trek took her in a different direction. There, catching the sun by the side of a country road, was the magic bullet that would change her way of life: A vintage Airstream.

Within days, Spinazzola had gently convinced her partner Eric McVay to add a third dimension to their business as the acoustic duo Fringe. McVay would become a master at barbecue. She would summon her culinary talents and acumen for small business. Then, with the 1970s Airstream in tow, the two would combine music and food at public and private events--both local and statewide.

Silver Cafe to Go launched in 2015 and has been steadily picking up acclaim from Williamston to the Upper Peninsula. McVay and Spinazzola remodeled the interior according to health code and other regulations, while retaining original interior features like the stove and oven. Spinazzola even went in search of late 1960s and early 1970s utensils and small appliances to evoke the period flair of the 29-foot trailer.

"It's just beautiful," says Spinazzola. "It's mostly wood cabinets. All of the hardware is mid-century modern. There are Jetson handles on the stove and olive green cabinets. And we added a dark teal blue to bring out the color of the wood."

Based out of McVay's hometown of Fowlerville, Silver Cafe to Go goes on the road for weddings; birthday and retirement parties; flea markets, fairs and festivals; and other family- and friend-based events of 100 or more people. The trailer has also appeared on approved business sites in Williamston. Customers can walk up and enjoy the signature barbecue, as well as sides that change with the seasons including mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, cranberry stuffing and pasta.

"I love to cook, so it's very creative," says Spinazzola. "And we've also incorporated his mom's recipe for chili. It's kind-of southern."

Spinazzola equipped the Airstream mobile diner with a collection of outdoor chairs and plaid blankets. Depending on the event, Spinazzola packs orders into picnic baskets, and provides customers with blankets and chairs to enjoy their meal al fresco. Spinazzola and McVay also occasionally perform—she on vocal and guitar, him on bass—featuring original compositions and covers in the pop-acoustic vein.

"There's never a dull moment," says Spinazzola. "I was previously a hairdresser, and was so accustomed to meeting people. This is another great way to do that."

Silver Café to Go can be booked for events six to eight weeks in advance with more information here. Spinazzola says the diner has the capacity to serve up to 500 people per event, and occasionally hires staff to help with larger events.

Source: Jaisy Spinazzola, Co-owner, Silver Café to Go
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Thriftique combines quality with thrift for unique shopping experience

Although the sign on the outside of Atalie Buyck's shop is somewhat new, everything inside isn't.

In early summer, Buyck finally decided to hang a shingle on the front of Thriftique—a business she moved to REO Town about three years ago. She'd been carrying the professionally-made sign in and out of her shop most days, remembering how it had attracted attention at her previous location near S. Cedar and Holmes.

"They say that signage can be 80 percent of the business," says Buyck. "I've always believed that mantra but I hadn't been living it. I did notice a huge difference when I finally had the sign put up, and people saying to me 'I didn't even know you were here.'"

A peek through the picture window at 1137 S. Washington reveals a well-curated mix of collectibles, vintage clothing and housewares. It's a blend that lends itself to a niche Buyck calls "departmentalized thrift"—or quality, reclaimed items organized in aisles and on clean, tidy shelves.

And while she has at least 200,000 items in the storefront that once housed the long-time biz Betty's Buttons, Buyck can tell inquiring customers exactly what she has and point to where it is.

"I hand-pick the majority of my merchandise," says Buyck. "I do a lot of estate buying, and I'm a salvage picker. I pick up anything I think is unique or cool, and I have people who come trade things, too."

Buyck says the backbone of her business is to redo, reuse and recycle. She wants to teach people not to be so hasty with their spending, and to slow down, shop around and look for something that's secondhand or can be reused. What's more, she's in to the boutique side of thrift, providing a heavy dose of customer service and sales that complements her merchandise.

Buyck says she learned the boutique side of the thrifting biz from her grandma, Rachel Green. Originally from Mexico, Green had a passion for secondhand goods that she curated and gave away through frequent trips to poor areas of Mexico and Texas.

"She taught me a passion for quality," says Buyck. "She really invested time in showing me how to find quality in secondhand goods and resale items like linens, dishes and clothes."

Buyck grew up on the Southside and graduated from Michigan State University in 2000 with her bachelor's in criminal justice and psychology. She got into thrifting about 10 years ago working at the previous University Resale Shop on Homer near Frandor. She eventually purchased the store and all its contents, sold off the goods, and founded Thriftique.

Buyck moved to REO Town in 2014 after moving twice: first from a location near Old Town, and the second time from a location on S. Cedar.

"Being here is awesome," she says. "It's historic and near downtown and the space is just right," she says. "When I first got here, it was a little sparse, but now with all the new developments, it's the place to be."

Source: Atalie Buycks, Owner, Thriftique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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First Impressions Program empowers artists to contribute to regional growth

The City of Lansing reaffirmed its commitment to investing in arts and culture as a way to drive economic development through a recent reshaping of a program that provides funding in support of the arts.

In late July, the city unveiled the First Impressions Program—a cooperative program involving the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. The new program ups the amount of funding available through arts-related grants by $20,000 for a total of $140,000. Formerly known as the City of Lansing Sense of Place in the Arts Program, First Impressions offers three types of funding and support to Lansing creatives, artists and arts organizations.

The three categories include Creative Placemaking Grants, Arts Impact Projects, and Programmatic Support. The Creative Placemaking Grants provide from $1,000 to $20,000 to a variety of specific projects by arts and arts organizations. Arts Impact Projects provide $75,000 in funds for an individual permanent project and installation. Programmatic Support is by invitation and provides $45,000 to supports arts organizations that meet specific criteria.

"We know that intentional strategic planning placemaking efforts are a driver for attracting new talent and businesses, and for keeping the great talent and businesses we already have, right here," says LEAP President and CEO Bob Trezise. "The City of Lansing continues to be a true leader in placement activity within our region, and this increase in funding for the arts and culture underscores that commitment."

The First Impression Program strives to do just that: provide a positive first impression of Lansing through a strong arts-focused community. That image, say organizers, invites tourists, visitors and potential new residents to the area and creates pride for current residents.

"We are so proud of our city for its support of the arts in Lansing and the region as a whole," says Arts Council Executive Director Deborah E. Mikula. "The arts play a huge role in creating successful cities, and we are so pleased to present the program that helps put our city in this league."

For guidelines and eligibility criteria for all First Impression categories visit the Arts Council funding page here. Deadlines for Creative Placemaking and Programmatic Support grants are Sept. 15, 2017, with grant periods running Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018. The 2017-18 Arts Impact recipient was selected through the previous program, with activities underway to install a permanent artwork and create a town square in Southwest Lansing.

Source: Victoria Meadows, Marketing, Communications and Talent Director, LEAP
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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MSU alum transforms underused park space into meditative labyrinth

Ken Hunter saw a lot during his time as a seasonal staff helping to maintain the grounds at a popular park in the City of East Lansing. The biggest was the beauty of an abandoned space, once reserved for the by-gone era of outdoor shuffleboard at Patriarch Park. Immediately, he saw the potential.

As a 2016 graduate of Michigan State University with a dual bachelor's in fine arts and arts and humanities, Hunter applied his creative thinking to reimagining the space as a retreat or meditative outpost.

"My initial thought was how to recreate the space and make it user-friendly," says Hunter. "At first, I thought of some sort of mural and place for picnics. But after seeing how people engaged with the space, how they came there to be alone or to eat their lunch, I went in another direction."

Hunter took his idea for a meditative labyrinth to the City and was given the go-ahead to transform the neglected 58- by 26-foot space. He applied for and received a $3,000 grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, then proceeded with plans to create a contemplative garden from 1,000 square feet of moss and succulents planted within 1,200 feet of edging arranged in semi-circular patterns.

"His vision for an underused and abandoned space turned out fabulous," says Cathy Shambo, environmental services administrator for the City of East Lansing. "That part of the park is quiet and shaded. The rest of the park is very active and athletic, so if you're looking to enjoy nature, it's a lovely area to sit and visit."

Hunter spent about 40 hours on the physical creation of the labyrinth that was dedicated in late May. Since then, people have come to stroll within the peaceful pathways created by the unique design or to simply sit in the shade and enjoy the visual qualities and tranquility.

Hunter resides in Chicago and attends Northwestern University where he leads Design for America—a group that challenges students to apply design for the social good. The recipient of numerous awards for printmaking and painting, Hunter says he views art as a communicator that unites people and community.

"This idea for this labyrinth was born from the idea of how I can make this place better," says Hunter. "I'm not anyone special. I was just a person with a vision and sought after it. I would love to encourage others to do the same."

The meditative labyrinth can be found off the southernmost drive of Patriarch Park, located at the corner of Alton Road and Saginaw Street in East Lansing.

Source: Cathy DeShambo, Environmental Services Administrator, City of East Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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On the Rocks climbs ahead of competition with delivery service

The owner of a local, independent party store believes being small allows him to compete in a big way—particularly when it comes to getting out in front of the chains with the delivery of alcoholic beverages.

Beginning April 1, On the Rocks began delivering products to customers—in keeping with the growing trend for personalized delivery of food and other consumables. Owner Rocky Singh began transporting products from store-to-door just three days after the Michigan law went into effect that allowed expanded in-state retailer privileges regarding shipping and delivery of alcoholic products within the state.

"Being small allowed us to implement delivery as soon as it was available," says Singh. "It is a service that benefits customers, and no app, membership or subscription is needed."

On the Rocks will deliver to locations within six miles of the store, which is located in the Carriage Hills Shopping Center at the intersection of Hagadorn and Lake Lansing Roads. Singh says he started the program to provide top service to customers.

"We treat everyone like family, and just like in the TV show, Cheers, we get to know everyone's name," says Singh. "The majority of our customers live close. We're convenient for them. And, because we're small, we have time to get to know our customers and what they like. If we don't have what they want, we order it."

On the Rocks attests to carrying every single bottled Michigan beer, and can order keg-only Michigan beers on request. The party store also carries more than 3,000 wines and every artisan option available in the liquor book. Customers will also find an assortment of soft drinks and mixers, snacks, bulk candies, and every day staples on the shelves of the 4,000-square foot store.

Singh opened the store in October 2014 and employs three full-time and two part-time staff. Two full-timers have been added since the store opened.

Delivery is available Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Orders for same-day delivery must be received an hour before the service concludes for the day. Delivery is free for orders $40 or more, and $10 for orders under $40. Orders are placed by phone, and customers must provide a valid driver license number and payment information at the time of the call.

Source: Rocky Singh, Owner, On the Rocks
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

Southwest Lansing Arts Impact Project kicks off with community charrette

Southwest Lansing residents have been gathering and sharing ideas about recreating a pivotal point in their district as the City of Lansing's 2017 Arts Impact Project ramps up.

Administered by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, the project activates city spaces through artistic and permanent placemaking. This year's $75,000 grant was awarded to fund the planning and implementation of a new town square, green space and public art installation at the corner of Pleasant Grove and Holmes Road in Southwest Lansing.

The project was proposed by At-Large City Councilmember Kathie Dunbar and was selected from a field of 15 proposals in early 2017. The public art will be designed and constructed by local artists David Such and Fred Hammond, while Elements Studio is the project's landscape architect.

"This project is all about letting the community express themselves and show how they live and do business in the area," says Kris Klein, LEAP economic development specialist. "It's giving people a chance to show what Southwest Lansing is and can be."

Expressways, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Mount Hope, and the zigzag of the city limits define the borders of Southwest Lansing. That vast area is often regarded as a part of the city without specific points or landmarks. Klein says the outcome of the project will be to provide a focal point for the community and redefine the district's image.

Community charrettes and planning meetings began in mid-June, with ideas and visions underway for the 100- by 80-foot town square. Benches, shade trees, sidewalk accessibility, and other landscape features are among the ideas, as well as a 20-foot steel sculpture with different panels that represent neighborhood diversity. Community members and planners hope to involve adjacent businesses in using the surrounding parking lot for food truck rallies, musical events and a farmer's market.

"This effort will involve a layering of projects, resources and partners," says Klein. "It's incredibly important to have the sustained engagement of the community to make this happen."

Klein anticipates the town square and art installation will be completed by summer of 2018. A crowd funding campaign kicks off this fall to supplement the $75,000 slated to fund planning and implementation.

Source: Kris Klein, Economic Development Specialist, Lansing Economic Area Partnership
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

Recruitment Management Consultants adds three jobs, eyes expansion

An IT recruitment and consulting company headquartered in East Lansing continues to expand its abilities to match qualified talent with area businesses with the addition of three new employees.

Two of the three new staff at Recruitment Management Consultants will be based in East Lansing, while the third will work from the Novi branch of the small business on the rise.

"Our new talent staff helps to meet our clients' growing demand for qualified technical talent," says Adrienne Moulton, RMC marketing and communications specialist. "The IT field is very tight, especially with unemployment at a 10-year low in Lansing."

The two IT recruiters joining the East Lansing team are Joel Maurer and Rachel Given. The third, Nathan Bristow, will join the Novi team after recently graduating from Michigan State University.

Recruitment Management Consultants was founded in 2010 by Jim Beiermeister and Jamie Lytle, and is headquartered at 321 W. Lake Lansing Road. In the last seven years, the company has grown its staff by 38 percent year-over-year to 12 employees, with eight of those working in East Lansing.

Moulton says the company's expansion mirrors the unwavering growth of the information and technology market and the need for qualified IT candidates to fill vacant positions. Company clients include major insurance companies, universities, Fortune 500 companies, and small businesses, including start-ups. The company is eyeing a third office in Grand Rapids in 2019.

Recruitment Management Consultants has been honored as one of the Top 50 Companies to Watch on the 2016 Michigan Celebrates Small Business list. The company was also a 2015 and 2016 Inc. 5000 awardee.

Source: Adrienne Moulton, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Recruitment Management Consultants
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Lansing City adds kick to mid-Michigan with professional futsal team

The fast and the furious has come to Lansing's in a big league way.

Futsal—or the official indoor version of soccer—has established a foothold in the metro area with a growing fan base for the professional team and youth academies for attracting and developing ongoing talent.

"If you enjoy fast-paced action that is high scoring with a lot of exciting moments packed into an hour and 20 minutes, you'll like futsal," says Jeremy Klepal, owner of Lansing City Futsal. "We've never heard of anybody who's come to watch that has said this isn't their cup of tea. That's why we've grown our fan base so much. Everyone just loves it."

Lansing City Futsal opened its 2017 professional summer season June 23 on its home court at Aim High Sports Complex near Dimondale. The team plays five games at home and five away, and competes against six pro franchises on the East Coast, including Baltimore, New York, New Jersey, Boston and Philadelphia. During playoffs, the team also takes on competitors from the West Coast. The winter season is more regional, with competitions among teams from Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit.

Futsal is played five-on-five on a hard surface like a basketball court. Differences from outdoor soccer include a smaller court—which adds to the faster, goal-driven play—and a smaller, weighted ball with less bounce height.

Klepel is among 16 Lansing City players, which includes athletes from Grand Rapids, Lansing and across the state, as well as a student from Liberia. Several of the players have represented the U.S. in international competitions.

Born and raised in Grand Ledge, Klepel learned the game at an academy in Flint, then went on to play in Brazil. And while he was offered a contract in Sao Paulo, he decided to come back to Lansing and bring the game to Michigan.

The team practices from a training facility at a 7,000-square foot space in the Prudden Tech Center. The training facility is also home to the Lansing City youth program, which trains both girls and boys age 9 to 18 for summer and winter futsal seasons.

"Lansing is in a growing stage as a city," says Klepel. "And I think those conditions lend themselves well for a spot like futsal. We have a diverse culture here in Lansing, and the game is very popular in a lot of different cultures. That bodes well for us."

For dates and times of home games at the Aim High Sports Complex, visit

Source: Jeremy Klepal, Owner, Lansing City Futsal
Writer Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Smart Homes Smart Offices intelligently grows with automation boom

Smart is as smart does when it comes to a growing technology provider in Okemos, Michigan.

Founded in 2001 by company CEO John Gilluly, Smart Homes Smart Offices has grown from a staff numbering in the single digits to one that employs 22. Three of those employees were added in the last year, joining engineers, project managers, IT specialists, sales personnel, installers, administration and leadership.

"Our sales are increasing and we're looking to add up to 10 more staff within the next few years," says Joel Childs, sales engineer. "We'll also be looking for a new space since we're outgrowing our current one."

Smart Homes Smart Offices specializes in a variety of home automation systems. The company also offers a multitude of software and hardware solutions and network installations for an equally broad range of businesses from home offices to larger corporate companies.

Childs says the company's goal is to be the go-to people in Mid-Michigan for IT needs. The company team completely engineers all products including lighting, audio and video controls, HVAC and security system controls, video conferencing capabilities, or the home theater experience.

"There are other IT companies around the state, but we're one of the few that offers every service," says Childs. "Be it commercial or residential, we do it all. Others just specialize in a few things."

Most of the company's commercial clients fall within the scope of bigger companies like insurance, automotive, medical or dental practices, distribution centers or warehouses. On the residential side, staff assists with installing smart systems related to thermostats, appliances, security and surveillance in new homes, or in upgrading existing homes with cutting edge systems.

"Everyone is getting on board now with smart systems," says Childs. "Four years ago, people weren't sure. Now it's more of the norm."

Childs cites a 1 million growth in sales since 2013 as an indication of the increasing popularity of smart systems for residential and commercial use. The company currently occupies a 2,200-square foot office near the heart of Old Okemos on the Red Cedar River.

Source: Joel Childs, Sales Engineer, Smart Homes Smart Offices
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

Companies join forces to provide a la carte professional services

Four like-minded businesses in Lansing have merged their thought processes to form a new approach to delivering marketing and consulting services to nonprofits, small business and second stage companies.

In May, AKEA Web Solutions, CJBuck Consulting, Glow Social Media and UnoDeuce Multimedia unveiled 2nd Brain Collective—a collaboration of four partner companies. The collective offers clients the ability to engage with any or all of the four partner companies through a unique pay-only-for-what-you-need service offering.

"We witnessed a lot of agencies that have built their successes on an all or nothing bill," says Schmidt. "But a lot of the folks we work with aren't necessarily ready for full service."

Schmidt says 2nd Brain Collection takes a more a la carte style by offering clients the ability to pick the service or services they need from four providers. Each company maintains their independent operations but shares and refers clients based on perceived needs.

"Each of us has collaborated with each other in different ways in the past," says Schmidt. "The best analogy is we're now like The Avengers—each of us is an individual, but we come together to solve a major problem."

While focused on problem-solving, messaging and storytelling, the 2nd Brain Collective also concentrates on connecting businesses and building community. Among the methods and venues the collective devised are the networking event The Drinking Lunch and the information-driven 2BC Podcast featuring professionals and industry experts.

Source: Paul Schmidt, Communications Director, Meridian Township
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Meridian Township welcomes giant food truck rally this summer

Lovers of mobile cuisine will feel like they have reached Nirvana when Meridian Township brings its first-ever food truck rally to the area.

On July 1, 75 food trucks from Michigan and adjacent states will rally at Central Park Drive behind Meridian Mall from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The township's inaugural food truck rally will welcome purveyors of delicious cuisine such as barbecue, crepes, donuts, tacos, pizza and much more.

The township is working with Generation Entertainment—the holder of the largest food truck rally ever at 125 trucks as documented in the Guinness Book of World Records. Deborah Guthrie, Meridian Township's communications director, says the rally is part celebration, part awareness building, as the township looks to strengthen it's image as a place to live, work and play on the eve of its 175th anniversary.

"I've seen how popular food rallies are," says Guthrie. "I knew that having a food truck rally would put the township on the map and in turn, benefit the community and help celebrate 175 years of history."

Food trucks will come from all over Michigan, as well as from adjacent states. Among some of the local trucks are Daddy's Little Grill, Pie Hole Pizza Truck, Good Bites, From Scratch Comfort CruZine, Fire and Rice, and MI Pops. Sponsors of the rally include The Harkness Law Firm, The Willows and Forsberg Real Estate Company.

The food truck rally is part of Meridian Township's 175th Anniversary Celebration and the annual Celebrate Meridian event. Celebrate Meridian will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the Meridian Township Municipal Complex and include live music, kids activities, Meridian Heritage Festival, beer and wine tents and fireworks. Parking and admission is free. For more information click here.

Source: Deborah Guthrie, Communications Director, Meridian Township
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Creative community tells stories of area refugees through traveling exhibit

Communities across Michigan will have the chance to see and read the stories of refugees who have made Mid-Michigan home when a traveling exhibit winds its way from the capital through the state beginning this June.

Refuge Lansing: Stories of Resettlement in Mid-Michigan will debut at the Capitol on June 13th from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. as part of Refugee Awareness Week. The public is invited to view the stories of 12 refugee families who have lived, worked and called Greater Lansing home within the last 40-plus years.

The storytelling exhibit, book and website were created by professional writers, photographers and designers who donated their time and talent. Jeremy Herliczek is the originator and among several project producers. The idea, he says, came from a holiday gathering in which conversation veered to current events and the climate of fear and misinformation directed at refugees nationwide.

"We all had a sense of impotency of what we could do," says Herliczek, a local photographer. "Some people write letters. Some go to protests. As creatives, we decided to start a grassroots effort to tell the story of refugees here."

Word spread throughout the creative community, and within weeks, Herliczek assembled 12 teams of one photographer and one writer each. In total, 27 creative professionals volunteered with the Refugee Development Center, Samaritas, the Global Institute of Lansing, and St. Vincent Catholic Charities to help refugees share their stories.

The resulting traveling exhibit will showcase stories and photographs on easy-to-assemble displays—all of which can be transported in the back of a van. After the opening at the Capitol, the exhibit will go on the road to schools, businesses, faith-based groups, and community centers in the works.

"Our idea is not necessarily to tell the stories of how refugees got here, it's to tell the stories of how they are adding to our community by buying homes, starting businesses, and sending their kids to local schools," says Herliczek. "Hopefully, the project will create a sense of empathy and encourage residents to engage with refugees and connect with the agencies that support them."

A crowdfunding campaign through gofundme is underway to support printing costs, including a book with all stories and pictures. All proceeds from book sales will be donated to local agencies that support refugees. To learn more about the project or to donate, visit the Refuge Lansing gofundme page here. You can also visit the website at

Capital Gains will also run a larger feature on Refuge Lansing: Stories of Resettlement in Mid-Michigan in an upcoming issue.

Source: Jeremy Herliczek, Producer/Photographer, Refuge Lansing: Stories of Resettlement in Mid-Michigan
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Michigan Creative commits to work-life balance with on-site daycare

Michigan Creative has brought in a new generation to add to the quality of work life. And right now, CEO Brian Town says the company's new team members are learning to walk before they can run.

In February, Town made good on his commitment to provide and pay for in-office day care when two members of his leadership team came back from maternity leave. He set aside a room in the company's new digs in REO Town, hired a nanny, and equipped the space with essentials for infant care and comfort.

Since then, Melissa Meschke and Jenn Putmon have been bringing their babies to work three out of five days a week. And while focusing on career, the two new moms can enjoy the assurance of quality day care and strive for the work-life balance essential in today's world.

"It's a way for me to give back more to the people who have got us to where we are today," says Town. "We eat lunch with the babies. We play with the babies. When we're having a hard day, they're a good distraction."

Town founded Michigan Creative six years ago, incubating his small marketing agency through the NEO Center on Lansing's north side. Then, as now, Town's guiding principle includes surrounding himself with great people who care about the company and clients, and providing for their happiness and satisfaction through the company's culture.

Michigan Creative moved to REO Town around the spring equinox. The goal, Town says, was to be part of the area's positive growth and creative energy. Town's staff regularly supports local merchants and food and beverage businesses as a means to re-energize their creative work that involves video production, web services, digital marketing and design. And with a location at 1149 ½ South Washington, it's never more than a block from their 1,500-square foot, second story office flat to small businesses like Blue Owl Coffee, Saddleback BBQ, Izzo's Pub, Vintage Junkies and The Nook.

"We wanted to follow the artists, follow the local businesses, and be part of a community," says Town. "We feel that if we can be a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the positive growth in REO Town, we'll be happy."

Michigan Creative has 10 employees, with half of those being added in the last 12 months.

Source: Brian Town, CEO/Owner, Michigan Creative
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Newspaper kiosks to serve as pop-up spaces for the arts come summer

Visual 2D and 3D art will add to the re-imagination of Lansing's downtown this summer as the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center launches the second year of pop up art displays and artful activities.

Pop Up Art: Special Edition II will redefine inactive public spaces through the creative reuse of newspaper kiosks. Executive Director Barb Whitney says the repurposed spaces will showcase Michigan artists, provide arts information, serve as demonstration sites, and offer the chance to purchase prints and reproductions.

Art displays and activities begin in June and run through August. Twelve artist will be featured through the kiosks, with five hosting demonstrations or interactive activities throughout the summer. Artists work in a variety of media, with some staging demonstrations that invite audience participation.

"This is another way we are making the arts accessible externally," says Whitney. "It's a way everyone can know the arts are for them and not just for an elite population. We believe the arts are for everyone."

Whitney says this year's pop up sites will feature a more robust print piece or "newspaper" that provides information on the artists as well as broad-based content on downtown events. Volunteers will be enlisted to distribute the print pieces as well as to help out during events and demonstrations.

Pop Up Art: Special Edition II is among various placemaking projects supported through funds raised through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity with support from Lansing's Sense of Place in the Arts Grant. Supporting partners include Downtown Lansing, Inc., Lansing State Journal, ASAP Printing, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We know that the arts enhance the quality of life for all people," says Whitney. "Public art projects like these are a way we can grow our programming for everyone."

The campaign launched May 17 with the goal of raising $5,000 by June 8. Funds raised will support artist demonstrations, events, and activities throughout the summer, as well as free newspapers within the 12 kiosks in 2017 and into 2018. A kick-off party and community reception will be held at the Lansing Art Gallery on June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m., and will include refreshments and walking tour of the kiosks with gallery staff and volunteers.

Source: Barb Whitney, Executive Director, Lansing Art Gallery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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

Local rapper raises scholarship funds through artistic sessions in REO Town

Michael Austin set out on his musical journey the day his mother began writing gospel songs for him to sing at church. Even at 5 years old, he was moved by the persuasive power of music. Later, as a teen, Austin taught himself piano and guitar, and started writing his own songs, delivering messages of social justice and encouragement through soul-inspired rap.

Today, the Lansing Community College student records, performs and contributes to educational and artistic causes as MikeyyAustin—a rapper from the north side of Lansing. His music, while a form of self-expression, has also become his vehicle for raising funds for college scholarships for teens interested in the arts.

"When we were in school, we didn't have many art programs or initiatives," says Austin, a 2014 graduate of Lansing Eastern High School. "So this is my way of giving back to the city I love while supporting students who live here."

Austin's main venue for fundraisers is REO Town Sessions—a series of once-a-month events held in REO Town. He's closing out the first year of the events that highlight and connect local artists including musicians, dancers, poets and painters with the community. Sessions started in late fall, with the last few held at the Robin Theatre on South Washington. Admission is free with donations recommended to support the Arts Matters Scholarship.

As of early May, Austin and his artistic partners Darion Brown, Tymila Taylor and Elzie Cannon have nearly attained their goal of $5,000. The funds, Austin says, will be split five ways and presented as scholarships to an equal number of deserving seniors from Everett, Eastern and Sexton High Schools come May 22.

"For me, growing up in the environment I did I was lucky to have music," says Austin. "It kept me out of trouble, and gave me an escape which helped me out. I'm looking at the facts and see that a lot of people didn't or don't have the resources I had. That's the biggest influence for what I'm doing."

Austin says the idea for REO Town Sessions germinated from a leadership group he joined at LCC. That group, he says, showed him how to apply leadership principles and practices to his community initiative. Austin will apply those same practices plus lessons learned as he and his partners ramp up for the second season of REO Town Sessions to run next fall through May 2018.

"I think for me, at least growing up, it's kind of like we didn't see much outside our neighborhood," reflects Austin. "The world ended at the intersection at the end of our block. But as I got older, and as I started to explore, I saw things in Lansing that I didn't know about. That made me want to connect with more people and give back when I can."

MikeyyAustin's newest release L I F T E D examines universal themes of identity and social justice, and draws from his experiences of growing up in Lansing. His debut solo project T I N T E D explores issues of spirituality and self-discovery and was influenced by watching the day-to-day interactions of people on city streets.

Source: Mikeyy Austin, Founder, REO Town Sessions
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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