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Ferndale’s environmental sustainability planner position is ‘dream job’ for Erin Quetell

There's a new role in the city of Ferndale, and it's all about being green.

Erin Quetell is Ferndale’s environmental sustainability planner, a new role for the city of Ferndale. The position came out of the master plan update released in January 2017, and sustainability was one of the core principles of the update. Quetell says that's not so common when it comes to city master plans.

Ferndale, at 4 square miles with a population of 20,000 people, is limited in space, especially green, open space, Quetell says. And with the city's proximity to other communities, it’s important for it to do everything it can to better manage stormwater, conserve energy, and reduce waste.

But it's also about more than the environment.

“Although the environmental part of the triple bottom line is really important, sustainability also covers the social and economic sides of society," Quetell says. "A healthy environment creates a healthy society where a healthy economy can thrive. Improving processes in our businesses that are more efficient and sustainable lessen the impacts on the environment, creating a healthier environment for people to live. A healthy society makes better decisions and choices that relate to a healthier environment and economy. They are all interconnected.”

The environmental sustainability planner position is a “dream job,” for Quetell. “I have always wanted to work in government," she says. "I specifically went to Columbia to obtain my Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy to be able to work in government sustainability. When I saw this opening, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply. It is so important to have science-minded folks in government.”

Prior to taking on the position, she worked in the nonprofit sector with Greening of Detroit and OHM Advisors, an architecture, engineering, and planning firm.

Quetell answered a few questions about the role, Ferndale’s sustainability plans, and tips on how residents can play their part. This interview has been edited for length.

How does Ferndale stack up in terms of environmental sustainability initiatives compared to other Michigan cities and other cities nationwide?

Although sustainability is relatively new in Ferndale, I think that the community is certainly ahead of other communities in Michigan by simply having a dedicated sustainability staff member. So, for Michigan, Ferndale is a big deal. Throughout the nation, and certainly in other countries, sustainability is very much part of city management. The Midwest is always a little behind of the coasts, but we are getting there.

What are some of the environmental sustainability initiatives Ferndale is currently implementing?

Some of the items I have been working on in my short time with Ferndale include improving our Planned Natural Landscape program, where residents and community members can install native plants in their yards, compared to typical turfgrass, to help mitigate stormwater runoff and promote healthy pollinator populations. I have been working with University of Michigan Information Technology students to help create better citizen interaction with the program (i.e. better website, improved signage and communication etc.). I have also been working on Ferndale’s waste—thinking about how we can improve our recycling rates, reduce what we send off to the landfill, and how to better manage our organic waste.

There is a lot that is still under development, but I am excited about the progress we have made thus far.

Additionally, I have been looking at our energy use throughout city-owned buildings and facilities. I have been working with EcoWorks to develop a community energy management plan. I am also in the process of improving our community forestry program, which includes updating our ordinances, improving our tree purchasing program for community members, and aligning with our Urban Tree Canopy study currently underway by our consultants from Davey Tree.  

Just prior to my employment at Ferndale, the city signed on to Climate Mayors following the pulling out of the Paris Agreement. Therefore, Ferndale is committed to continue to improve energy efficiency throughout the city and mitigate deleterious emissions where ever possible.

Finally, as part of a larger effort, the new Development on Troy—the mixed-use parking development slotted for the parking lot behind Rosie O’Grady’s—will go through a certification program called Parksmart. The certification is similar to LEED, but since parking lots are a little anti-LEED, this certification allows for the development and management to occur in the most sustainable way possible. Some of the items we are looking into include high-efficiency lighting solutions, stormwater management, and improved waste management services.

What are your long-term goals for environmental sustainability efforts in the city?

I would say Ferndale looks to improve their urban canopy to meet a healthy canopy cover (generally about 40 percent), improve our recycling efforts to meet statewide goals of 30 percent municipal recycling, improve our organic waste management (i.e. kitchen waste), and work towards a separated sewer system.

Ferndale is currently a combined sewer system, which means that in heavy rain/snow events, stormwater mixes with partially or fully untreated waste water and can enter our waterways. By better managing our stormwater on site (cue those “pesky” stormwater standards we have on new development), we can alleviate the stress on our systems and improve water quality.

You have been focusing on improving waste management and recycling rates in the city. What is the current status of each and what is the goal?

Our recycling rates aren’t the greatest at the moment. We have had a range between 7-17 percent, typically hovering somewhere between 12-15 percent. Ideally, we would have a recycling rate closer to 30-35 percent. It’s a long way to go, but worth the effort. The more recycling we do as a city, the better our waste management rates.

How can residents play their part in Ferndale's environmental sustainability?

My advice to Ferndale community members is this: Think about your energy, waste, and water. Install energy efficient products, such as those with the EPA Energy Star rating, or purchase a smart thermostat. Simply installing a smart thermostat can save $145 per year in heating and cooling costs. Add efficient windows to the mix, and you could save up to an additional $400 per year. Consider composting your kitchen scraps; SOCRRA will accept kitchen waste in your weekly yard waste pickup if you don’t have your own compost pile.

If every household composted in Ferndale, collectively we could reduce overall waste and divert 150 tons or more of organic waste from the landfill. Install water efficient fixtures (think low flow toilets or aerated faucets), such as those with the EPA Water Sense rating. By switching one household toilet to a low-flow comparison (<2 gallons per flush) you can save 8,200 gallons of water per year. That’s equivalent to 200 loads of laundry. Even if it is simple upgrades like turning off the lights, taking shorter showers, or recycling just a bit more, anything and everything helps Ferndale become a more sustainable community.

Metromode launches Facebook Group for metro Detroit's inner-ring suburbs

Do you live in, work in, or admire metro Detroit's inner-ring suburbs? Do you have thoughts and ideas for places like Dearborn, Warren, Roseville, Hazel Park, Ferndale, and St. Clair Shores?

Then join the conversation in Metromode's new Facebook Group for metro Detroit's inner-ring suburbs, where we discuss what's happening in the close-in burbs. From transit to affordability, to arts and culture, to schools and more, this is the place to have your say (or just listen in).


New, faster bus routes for metro Detroit unveiled

Metro Detroit's regional transit system, SMART, recently released plans for a new express system to get citizens to their destinations faster than the typical bus route. Dubbed the FAST system, it will now be possible to board the bus at one point and not get off until the final location with no stops in-between. 

Even more impressive, these limited-stop routes will provide better access better access from residential areas to the inner city, seven days a week, still for the same fare of $2. 

SMART and DDOT buses act as transportation to these FAST bus stops as well, which gives citizens the chance to reach their destination when there is not a FAST stop near them.

The main routes are FAST Gratiot, FAST Woodward, FAST Michigan, and several stops in the Downtown area. The maps provided are easy to follow and travel straight into the center of the city.

FAST provides transportation to and from main landmarks such as the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Detroit Zoo, Phoenix Center, Troy Civic Center, St. Joseph Hospital, Midtown and the Dearborn Transit Center. 

FAST Woodward extends to areas as far as Pontiac and Troy, leading people to their jobs, entertainment opportunities, food and shopping with just one stop.

Free Wi-Fi will also be provided.

More information about the bus routes is available here.

New online publication to highlight Southeast Michigan’s mobility assets and leadership

Partners include Detroit Regional Chamber, MICHauto, Oakland County, Macomb County, City of Detroit, Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s PlanetM initiative.

Detroit, January 9, 2018— Driven (, a new online publication devoted to telling the story of Southeast Michigan’s mobility economy launches in partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber and local economic development organizations and businesses.

“Realizing the next-generation mobility story and our leadership in the industry was not one that was actively being told in a singular place, we came together collectively to highlight our strengths as a region,” said Justin Robinson, Vice President of Business Attraction at the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We are working together to engage our local partners and the region’s mobility leaders to advance the narrative through the lens of how metro Detroit is leading the global race towards next-generation mobility.”

With Issue Media Group (IMG) as the editorial partner, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with its automotive initiative MICHauto, and a network of regional stakeholders have come together to identify and capture the story of companies, talent, investment, innovation and emerging assets that are shaping the region’s mobility future. Stakeholders are engaged to uncover, capture and promote stories relating to mobility-led economic transformation in the Detroit region. The site will also curate national and global news hits that add to the narrative of Detroit’s continued leadership in the space of connected, autonomous, shared and electric.

More than a century ago, the Detroit region put the world on wheels and changed the transportation landscape forever. Our community built the modern automotive industry and in this process evolved into the densest cluster of automotive assets on the planet. Today, this world-class ecosystem of automakers, suppliers, and innovators are not sitting on the sidelines as the industry evolves towards a connected, shared, electric and autonomous future. In fact, it is leading this revolution. Driven is the story of how the Detroit region and our world-class companies and institutions will shape the way people, goods, and services move for the next 100 years.

"Driven is meant to be a collaborative representation of the region,” says Brian Boyle, CEO of Issue Media Group. "We are encouraging those who are interested in sharing their mobility stories with the editor —whether it be of talent, economic development, or innovation—to be a part of this bigger narrative.”

The first full issue of Driven will be published on January 9 with new issues to be published monthly. The website will be updated weekly with curated stories from across the media. The publication will feature the work of local writers, journalists, and photographers. Stories will also appear in Issue Media Group’s Southeast Michigan publications, including Concentrate (Ann Arbor), Metromode (Metro Detroit), Prosper (Oakland County) and Model D (Detroit).

About Issue Media Group

Issue Media Group (IMG) publishes a wide range of online magazines and websites in multiple markets across North America. Publications feature a variety of content consisting of timely news and resources related to lifestyle, cities, and economies. In each market, the Detroit-based media company promotes local assets and growth while working with community stakeholders in a coordinated effort to attract new talent, inspire business investment and spur creative thought.


About the Detroit Regional Chamber
Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. The Chamber’s mission of powering the economy for Southeast Michigan is carried out through economic development, education reform, regional collaboration and providing valuable benefits to members. For more information, please visit

What's your Silverdome story?

Historical aerial photos courtesy Oakland County.

In addition to being the site of so many Lion's losses (and a few wins), the Pontiac Silverdome runs deep in the lives of metro Detroiters. From the Who to Pink Floyd to monster trucks, the dome has seen it all. But it will be all over, starting 8:30 a.m.on Sunday. 

What's your favorite Pontiac Silverdome story? Please share in the comments.

And check out this informative video for more Silverdome history:


TONIGHT: The future of Dearborn entrepreneurship to be explored in panel event

What’s in store for Dearborn’s business scene, it’s thriving downtown districts and mission to bridge the gap between east and west?


Those topics and more will be explored at On the Ground-Dearborn’s upcoming event 6-8 p.m. Sept. 28 Community Conversation: The Future of Dearborn Entrepreneurship.


The event will take place inside the former council chambers of the ArtSpace building, 13615 Michigan Ave., featuring local business owners from all around the city, both longtime owners and budding business owners, speaking out on what’s next in the city.


The following business owners will be featured on the panel:


Sam Abbas is a Dearborn native who earned his MBA at Arizona State University. The Dearborn resident opened his first restaurant in Arizona but moved operations home and opened Yogurtopia in West Dearborn in 2013 and then Brome Burgers and Shakes, now Brome Modern Eatery, in 2015. He sees Dearborn as the perfect place to open a new business and test out a business idea.


Katie Merritt is co-owner of Green Brain Comics, a comic book specialty shop in East Downtown Dearborn. She has been with the company 29 of its 32 years and has co-owned it with her partner and husband, Dan Merritt, since 1999. Katie quickly fell in love with comic books and the medium of graphic storytelling. Over the next few years, she became manager while attending college and got married to Dan Merritt, who has been a comic fan his entire life. In 1999 the owner of Comics Plus offered Katie and Dan the opportunity to purchase the business, and after weighing the pros and cons, they decided this was the chance of a lifetime to make their hobbies their careers.
With Katie’s inclination to money management and Dan’s long knowledge of comic books, they were confident they could create a successful business together. They changed the name to Green Brain Comics in 2001. By 2002 they had outgrown the original location and the store a half mile east where they doubled the sales floor. In 2014 it was time to purchase their own space and found a building only three doors down from the original location in the historic Hewitt’s Music building. Being an entrepreneur means different things to different people. To them, it is the opportunity to be involved in an industry they love and to share that love of comics and reading with their community and beyond.


John Rucinski is a Dearborn resident, a graduate of Dearborn High School and Wayne State University. He’s been brewing since 2000 and is married to his wife Sheila. John got into brewing after moving back from Texas in 2000. He had a manager during a job while in college that talked about brewing, and thought it sounded like a very interesting hobby. One night we were out and saw a home beer making kit and it provided the chance to finally try it.

Windy Weber is the co-owner of Stormy Records. A lover of music her whole life, she has only ever had one job - selling records. Starting in 1988 at a corporate mall record store and slowly working her way into smaller shops over 11 years, she opened Stormy Records with her husband Carl Hultgren in 1999. With over 29 years of direct experience, she has both words of wisdom and horror stories to share to help guide a new business owner on a good starting path.


Cristina Sheppard-Decius, CMSM, executive director of the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, will moderate the panel:


Sheppard-Decius founded POW! Strategies, Inc., to help downtowns, communities, and businesses leap tall buildings in a single bound to reach their full potential by implementing sound business development and communications strategies. With over 17 years of downtown management experience, Sheppard-Decius is most notably known nationally and locally for her proven track record of revitalizing Downtown Ferndale, Michigan, during her tenure as the Executive Director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority from 2000-2015. Since August 2015,


Sheppard-Decius continues to work with the City of Dearborn, East and West Dearborn DDAs, and Dearborn community stakeholders to build a cohesive Downtown Dearborn along Michigan Avenue, as well as serving as the West Dearborn DDA Executive Director. Dearborn is a community of almost 100,000 residents, over 700 businesses and two downtown districts.


Sheppard-Decius will guide the conversation with the entrepreneurs, digging deep into issues surrounding Dearborn, including overcoming people’s apprehensions with the city to promote its growing economy, creating a memorable experience for shoppers and patrons, and what resources exist -- or need to exist -- in the community to assist business owners coming into Dearborn.


On hand at the event will also be community partners and institutions in the city that also have a vested interest in Dearborn’s growth and vitality, including ACCESS and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

The event will include the panel session and a Q&A session with the audience. Community Conversation: The Future of Dearborn Entrepreneurship is free and open to the public. To RSVP for the event, CLICK HERE. For more information, find Metromode Media on Facebook.

MAP: Where to pick strawberries in Metro Detroit

Map courtesy edibleWOW

Dearborn ranks among America's 'Overlooked dream cities' by consumer website

Metro Detroiters already know that Dearborn is a good value. Now consumer website is letting the rest of the world know it too.

The website recently released a list of the top 461 cities with a population of fewer than 300,000 people, ranked based on criteria for walkability, crime rate, cost of living and amenities. Dearborn ranked number 14 on that list, which is dominated by northeast and midwest towns.

Other Michigan cities to make the list include Grand Rapids (7), Warren, MI (27), Ann Arbor (29), Kalamazoo (37), Westland (42), Lansing (47) and Southfield (50).

The full list of cities and their scores can be viewed here.


Metro Detroit's independent local news outlets making the best of a bad time in journalism

2016 was a year of particularly bad news for the news business.

At the national level, presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly lambasted the nation's best-respected news outlets, haranguing the "failing New York Times" and banning the Washington Post from his press pool. Since candidate Trump became president-elect Trump, journalists have been criticized – and criticized themselves – for their short-sighted election coverage.

At the local level, signs have been similarly dire. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press both announced their latest rounds of staff layoffs and buyouts, with the News this time offering buyouts to its entire editorial staff. Even the TV business—typically less dismal than print news – took a hit, as Fox 2 cut three of its most recognizable on-air personalities.

But for the unconventional outlets on the metro area's independent journalism scene, 2016 was actually a good year – for some, their best yet. As Metromode spoke with those working to fill the gaps in Detroit's crumbling traditional journalism market, the overwhelming themes were hope and positivity. They reported strong audience support for their work, bold rejection of current industry conventions, and even a positive attitude about Trump's effect on their work.

We spoke with three of the metro area's unconventional, independent media outlets to find out how they've been weathering the storm in their industry, and how they view the path forward.

Oakland County 115: Cultivating a community garden

Oakland County 115 (OC115) publisher Crystal Proxmire is still getting used to strangers recognizing her when she walks down the street.

"It really freaked me out, like, 'You guys shouldn't care about me! Read the website,' you know?" she says. "It took a lot of growth to get from being painfully, horribly shy and not wanting my name to be part of this at all to realizing that the reason people were relating to it so much was because they'd seen me walking around town and they'd seen me on Facebook, doing the work."

Proxmire majored in advertising at Grand Valley State University because "everyone told me journalism was a horrible profession and there was no money in it." But when she graduated in 2005 she was set on pursuing a journalism career anyway. After a failed attempt to start a newspaper in Muskegon, where she was living at the time, Proxmire moved home to Ferndale and started a biweekly news website called Ferndale 115. Two years ago, she renamed the publication, broadened its focus to include the whole of Oakland County, and made the website her full-time job.

Proxmire occasionally employs freelance contributors and engages volunteers for some event coverage, but OC115 is essentially a one-woman operation. Proxmire hastens to note that she's not making a lot of money off OC115. The site derives revenue from both traditional ads and an "online community garden," a page where readers can make a $15 monthly donation for an online "flower" in their name.

"I want people to really think about the value of journalism to their community," Proxmire says. "Having their name on the page matters to them. Being able to look on Facebook and see themselves as part of it, seeing it as a whole community thing, is important."

Proxmire works hard to keep up her end of the bargain by focusing on stories that other local outlets aren't covering, like her lengthy series of stories on corruption at the Ferndale Housing Commission. That project won her an investigative journalism award from the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Proxmire says she hopes to continue building reader contributions so she can begin to hire other reporters. However, she describes her work as filling existing gaps in local media's coverage, rather than competing with any single existing outlet. She says the ongoing deterioration of the established local media makes her "sad" but "also optimistic."

"The Internet and the chaos that we're all going through is just part of what's making it possible for me to eventually be successful," she says. "My job is just to figure out what's happening and report about it and trust that there's always going to be a need for that."

Motor City Muckraker: Not taking the click bait

Ads have long been a key part of media outlets' revenue stream, becoming increasingly important as paying subscribers have dropped off. But this year Motor City Muckraker editor and publisher Steve Neavling decided to cut ads from his website entirely.

Neavling says the Google AdWords service he was using for ads didn't bring in much money to begin with, and he wanted to dissociate himself from the increasingly predominant "clickbait" model that prioritizes pageviews over quality of content.

"It's a very short-term goal, but you're eroding your brand by writing about silly things to get clicks," he says. "People need to associate your brand with important news."

Neavling, a former Detroit Free Press reporter, has worked hard to build a brand out of countering the local mainstream media's narrative on Detroit news since he started the Muckraker in 2012. Most recently, he's covered discrepancies in Detroit's election system and worked to emphasize the logistical hurdles that lay ahead for the Pistons' move from Auburn Hills to Detroit.

It seems Neavling's audience is willing to financially support that work. Neavling held the Muckraker's first official fundraiser this summer, bringing in $22,000. That's a significant step forward for the Muckraker, which last year turned a profit of just $8.02 despite Neavling's reported grueling 80-hour work week. Like Proxmire, Neavling attributes his recent success to building a distinct and trustworthy brand from the ground up.

"The millennial generation have grown up with news being free," he says. "Now that these companies have taken large hits and are laying off lots of reporters and aren't always reporting on important information, when people see that going away, they see a need for it to come back."

Neavling foresees an even brighter future for his endeavor under a Trump presidency, although he's no fan of Trump himself. He says the mainstream media failed by over-reporting Trump's near-constant tirades without providing appropriate context and fact-checking, opening themselves up to what Neavling describes as "legitimate concerns" about bias from both sides of the political spectrum.

"People are looking to independent news to get information because they feel that perhaps the mainstream media is bought and sold," Neavling says. "I don't really believe that, but I think that is the one good thing to come out of the Donald Trump presidency."

Pulp: Arts news from a local library

Pulp more or less contains everything one might expect of a community arts and entertainment news publication. The website's daily coverage includes artist interviews, critical analysis of concerts and artistic works, and guides to upcoming events, all focused on the Ann Arbor area. But beyond the surface, Pulp is a wholly unique experiment. It's published by the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), and therefore funded primarily by taxpayer dollars.

What's more, when Pulp got started in late 2015, AADL deputy director Eli Neiburger says the library didn't look at it as a journalism project. Neiburger says AADL was simply responding to feedback it had received both from local arts organizations who were concerned about dwindling news coverage of their events, as well as community members who were seeking a resource to follow local cultural goings-on.

"We saw what libraries do," he says. "We saw an information gap that we had an opportunity to address. Because we already have the infrastructure and we already have many people on staff who are enthusiasts, if not experts, about arts, we thought it was a good way for the library to add value to the community."

Neiburger says Pulp was inspired by Fine Print, a books blog written by staff at the Traverse Area District Library, which includes author interviews and more traditionally journalistic content alongside book recommendations. Pulp took that concept to the next level by emphasizing local artists, presenting a broad range of coverage, and paying local journalists to write some of its content.

Pulp suddenly found itself occupying a much larger community void in early 2016, when MLive announced 29 layoffs including the Ann Arbor News' only dedicated arts and entertainment reporter. Pulp had unwittingly become the most robust source of Ann Arbor arts news, and AADL director Josie Parker says she began to field some "pointed" questions about the library inserting itself into the world of journalism.

"I find it curious, personally, because I think that it's coming from persons who are still frustrated by the lack of print news and/or the lack of journalistic quality of online news," Parker says. "They're afraid that having something like the library do something the way we've done it with Pulp means that there's no hope for them of ever seeing news the way they were used to it or valued it."

Parker says she usually turns that question around by asking who should be doing what Pulp does, if not the library, and the concerned parties usually don't have an answer.

Overall, community response to the project has been enthusiastic. During a community phone survey conducted just five months after Pulp's launch, Neiburger says 18 percent of respondents had heard of Pulp, and most had a positive impression of it. He expresses hope that other libraries might adopt a similar model in communities that are hurting for arts news coverage. Neiburger doesn't advocate for traditional hard news becoming a part of any library's mission, but he says providing arts news is right in any library's wheelhouse.

"We see this need, we see that people are interested in it, we find a local expert, and we pay them to produce something for that audience," he says. "Usually, for decades, that's taken the form of public programming. This is exactly the same thing, only now we're asking them to write something instead of make a slide deck."

8 ways to get out and enjoy Metro Detroit this holiday break

Staying in town for the holidays this year? As an antidote to your tendency to spend the week cleaning out closets or "Netflix and chill"-ing, here are some ideas to get you out of the house and into the community.

1. Visit a downtown

Metro Detroit is full of vibrant, historic downtowns. We've written about many of them in 2016, and there are much more to choose from. Check out Clawson's restaurant and retail scene, Mount Clemens' historic business district, legacy businesses like Chester Boot Shop in Roseville, boutiques in New Baltimore and bakeries and museums in Wyandotte. Many other towns (Rochester, Milford, Plymouth, Ann Arbor, Romeo...the list goes on and on) await.

2. Go cross-country skiing (or snowshoeing)

The forecast shows a warm up on Christmas day, so the white stuff may not be sticking around. But this weekend you might be able to get some good skiing in on any one of the region's trails. Many parks, including Maybury State Park and Huron-Clinton Metroparks, offer groomed trails. Up-to-date ski conditions can be found here.

3. Visit a museum... or the zoo

Take some time to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts (residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties are admitted free) or the Cranbrook Art Museum. Check out some history at the Henry Ford Museum. Learn about the local cultures and ethnicities at the  Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus and the Arab American National MuseumAnd the Detroit Zoo is open.

4.See a film at an independent theater

Metro Detroit has several independent movie theaters dedicated to showing indie and art films. Catch one at Cinema Detroit, the Maple Theater, the Main Art Theater, Birmingham 8, the Redford Theater, or the Michigan Theater.

5. Try a new restaurant… or an old one

There are plenty of lists of Detroit's hottest new restaurants. But you might consider visiting the old and venerable ones. T Grab a burger at Miller's in Dearborn. Enjoy some fried chicken in the rough at Krystal Bar in Port Huron. Dig into pierogi at Hamtramck's Polish Village Cafe. Yell "Opa!" at Pegasus in Greektown. Enjoy an old-school Italian dinner in Detroit at Roma Cafe or Mario's. Want to try a new ethnic cuisine? Check out this list.

6. Tour a historic district

Winter is a great time to enjoy the architectural treasures of Metro Detroit's many historic districts.  In Detroit, take a drive through Corktown, Boston Edison, Palmer Woods or Indian Village. In the suburbs, check out the historic homes in Romeo, Mount Clemens, Milford, Port Huron and Plymouth.

7. Go for a winter hike in the woods

The peace and quiet of winter in the woods is unparalleled, as are your options for enjoying them in local parks. For remarkable winter nature and solitude, check out Belle Isle, Algonac State Park, Bald Mountain State Recreation Area, Proud Lake State Recreation Area, Lower Huron Metropark or Hines Park. Find more options here.

8. Check out some ice fishing

Lake St. Clair is an ice fishing hotbed. No bad pun intended. You can get the latest fishing reports here, then head out to see what they're pulling up through the ice.

In the News: If Pistons move to Detroit, what will happen in Auburn Hills?

Crain's Detroit Business reported on Sept. 30 that Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Detroit Red Wings owners are discussing relocating the team to downtown Detroit from the Palace of Auburn Hills, where the team has played since 1988.

This could be troubling news for Auburn Hills.

Crain's Detroit Business writer Bill Shea speculates on the impact such a move could have on the concert industry, noting that it would likely siphon business away from the Palace in favor of the new Little Caesars arena.

After the Lions moved to downtown Detroit’s Ford Field in 2002, the Silverdome began to decline rapidly. It was said to be slated for demolition this year, but that hasn't yet happened.

“It’s just now a blight, and it’s bringing down property values and perceptions of the city, so we would support the demolition of that facility at this point,” said Kyle Westburg, president of West Construction Services in a 2015 Detroit News article.  

But as John Gallagher writes in the Detroit Free Press, the Palace may not face the same fate as the Silverdome.

That's because land in Auburn Hills enjoys strong demand as R&D space and corporate headquarters. 
Gallagher talked to realtor John DeGroot, who noted that of 1,200 industrial properties more than 20,000 square feet, only 30 are vacant in the strong Oakland County R&D real estate market. 
That bodes well for Auburn Hills' future.

Innovation Fund Macomb Community College awards 6 Metro Detroit start-ups

The Innovation Fund Macomb Community College has awarded six early stage companies in Metro Detroit with  a total of $375,000 according to an article in Crain’s Detroit Business. The grants are funded by J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.

Three well-established early stage companies will receive $100,000, according to the article. Companies who receive funding from the innovation fund agree to provide job experiences for Macomb Community College students.

The established companies include ENT Biotech Solutions Inc, a medical device developer; Sentinl, a biometric trigger lock manufacturer; and SPLT, a carpooling system for universities, corporations, and municipalities that has recently partnered with Lyft.

Three more early start-ups will receive $25,000 each. These include CityInsight, a water utility app developer; Make-Cup Concepts, a makeup container developer; and Sign-on C.P.R., which teaches American Sign Language.

The fund began in July 2015 and has awarded $1.2 million to 19 companies.

The next funding application deadline is December 15 for companies located within Metro Detroit.

Source: Crain's Detroit Business 

Zen and the art of motorcycle sales: Weekly regional business news roundup

Zen and the art of motorcycle sales

Motor City Harley-Davidson of Farmington Hills is growing and the dealership is revving up for the grand opening of its new $15 million facility this Friday, Aug. 22. At 106,000 sq. ft., the dealership is more than three times the size of its previous facility. And it's more than just a dealership. In addition to a showroom, the new Motor City Harley-Davidson complex will contain a brew pub, a gathering place for bikers of all stripes, and a riding academy complete with a state-certified road course. The new facility, located at 24800 Haggerty Rd., will employ 70 people. [dBusiness]

Mcity plays Pied Piper, lures Silicon Valley to Michigan 

The TechLab at Mcity, the University of Michigan testing center for driverless vehicles, has inspired three Silicon Valley startups to move some of their employees from their California homes to the Michigan facility. One of those firms, Civil Maps, recently received a $6.6 million investment from Ford. Zendrive and PolySync round out the group, all three of which are developing different technologies to put driverless vehicles on the road. [Detroit Free Press]

Domino's pizza expands, yet neglects to bring back the noid

The Ann Arbor-based pizza company Domino's Pizza recently celebrated the opening of its 13,000th store worldwide, marking another quarter of growth for the company. Domino's execs credit a return to simplicity for the expansion. They've let go of "fancy models" in determining the location of new stores and started focusing on opening locations based on population sizes. Domino's has also developed technologies to make ordering pizza easier. [Crain's Detroit Business]

Tax law firm continues growth and hiring

For the third year in a row, the Southfield-based boutique tax firm Ayar Law Group has hired a new attorney and support staff for the growing company. Venar Ayar, principal and founding tax attorney for the firm, says that they're outgrowing their office for the fifth time. And they're not done yet. Ayar Law Group has already announced that they're seeking additional tax law attorneys to join the firm. Visit for hiring information.

Quote of the Week:

"A lot of industries in the U.S. died because they didn't continue to freshen themselves and continue to face what's next. I'd like to think that … the encouragement of the city, state and federal government have helped to keep the auto industry alive by not keeping it a captive of the past but by looking for the things to take it into the next generation."

- Fred Hoffman, recipient of the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award [Detroit Free Press]

Can Detroit rescue Silicon Valley?

Detroit is teaching Silicon Valley a thing or two about technology in the arena it knows best: cars. 

An article on MSN details all the ways the auto industry has grown and modernized since the Big Three went through reduced market share and bankruptcy. General Motors, for example, invested $500 million in the rideshare app Lyft and is one of the leaders in autonomous vehicle design.

Auto sales are up across the board for 2016 as well.

Meanwhile, writes Matthew DeBord, "Silicon Valley has started to encounter some investor turbulence. Startups with hefty valuations don't see IPOs as a way to pay back their investors. That leaves getting acquired as an option, but a level of saturation with social networking and apps might have set in."

This has resulted in a surprising collaboration between auto and app makers. Perhaps though, it shouldn't come as a surprise, writes DeBord. "Detroit was the Silicon Valley of the early 20th century, a hotbed of entrepreneurship, fascinated with the most high-tech contraption of the time—the automobile."

Read more here.
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