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Concept for shipping-container studio spaces wins $5,000 in inaugural Pitch Ypsi competition

A local musician and entrepreneur's idea for artists' rehearsal spaces made of shipping containers won $5,000 in the first annual Pitch Ypsi $5,000 contest.
 
Pitch Ypsi $5,000 is a business plan competition hosted by leaders in eastern Washtenaw County, including Ypsilanti mayor Amanda Edmonds and Ann Arbor SPARK East business accelerator manager Joe Licavoli. More than 60 businesses applied for the competition, and the five best submissions were chosen by a committee to present at a pitch night March 8 at the Eastern Michigan University College of Business. A panel of five judges ruled unanimously to make the final award to Grove Studios.
 
Grove Studios founder Rick Coughlin wants to use shipping containers to build a modular studio space for rehearsals, performances, and collaboration in Ypsi. Coughlin also envisions the possibility of holding gallery shows, lectures, and other art and music events in the container spaces.
 
He says his vision is similar in some ways to existing coworking spaces that cater to tech startups. The difference for his studio would be the focus on creating a hub for artists and using modular spaces. Two 20-foot shipping containers can be patched together to create a 400-square-foot space, or two 40-foot containers would create 800 square feet of space.
 
Entrepreneurs have already tried a similar idea in Norway, and Coughlin is in talks with Norwegian company Nordic Shelter to engineer shipping containers for Grove Studios.
 
"We want to elevate the idea of an artists' working space. We believe we can do it right, and shipping containers are one of the ways we can get there," he says.
 
Grove Studios recently opened a more traditional collaborative artists' rehearsal space at 1145 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti Township. Coughlin rents that property but has been seeking properties that he could buy for Grove Studios in the city of Ypsilanti. He hopes to avoid the sort of large-scale artist displacement that occurred in 2015, when the former SPUR studio space in Ypsi abruptly closed due to a change in building ownership.
 
Coughlin has lived in Ypsi for 23 years and feels "really connected" to the community. He wants Grove Studios to be part of Ypsi's ongoing revitalization as a cultural hub.
 
Coughlin says the $5,000 prize will help him to launch further marketing and crowdfunding efforts. He hopes to bring in $40,000 through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign and then have the Michigan Economic Development Corporation match that amount through its Public Spaces, Community Places program.
 
"We want to make sure that we're telling our story in a way that people really understand it, so the money we raise would pay for quality video and photography and marketing and branding to accomplish that," he says.
 
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Conceptual renderings courtesy of Grove Studios.

 

Ann Arbor's LLamasoft continues growth with new hires

The llamas at LLamasoft continue their steady march forward toward growth and continued profitability.

The Ann Arbor-based company has added five employees and four summer interns since last year. Furthermore, the supply-chain network designer hopes to continue to add staff as it business grows.

That shouldn't be too hard. It was recently recognized by Inbound Logistics magazine as one of the Top 100 Logistics IT Providers. The pool of companies considered number at more than 500. LLamasoft's revenues also grew by more than 50 percent in 2008 and have grown by 1,290 percent over the last five years.

"I see the company continuing to grow as more and more people get more ingrained in managing their company's supply chain better," says Gary Bobalik, director of marketing for LLamasoft.

LLamasoft provides software to design and modify supply chain network designs, allowing companies to optimize their supply chain operations for profit and shrinking carbon footprints. The privately-held company was founded in 1998. Its clients include big name corporations, such as ConocoPhillips, Dell and J. C. Penney.

Source: Gary Bobalik, director of marketing for LLamasoft
Writer: Jon Zemke
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