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Detroit-based Shinola founder talks "American made" with Wall St. Journal

Cars aside, watches and bikes are the new big-ticket "Made in Detroit" items. 


"Not many people would relish the chance to pack up a sunny Southern California life and move to Detroit. But Daniel Caudill, the creative director of Shinola—a manufacturer of watches, bicycles, leather goods and more—has so much in common with the upstart company that he did it gladly. Raised in rural Montana, Mr. Caudill likes a good heritage back-story, and Shinola, a once-iconic shoe-polish brand that became a punch line (as in "You don't know s—from…") in World War II, has one."

More here.

"Ask Dr. Nandi-Season 3" films, "American Muscle" TV series premieres in Metro Detroit

A physician talk show and another series chronicling pro athletes working out with mere mortals are rolling (and creating over 50 jobs) in Metro Detroit.


Ask Dr. Nandi is a physician talk show filmed, produced and edited in Michigan dealing with medical and lifestyle issues. It is an hour long show where patients and practitioners discuss diseases or problems in detail and develop solutions for the patients and their families. The show airs on Impact Network, Doctor Television Channel (DrTV) and Diya TV network.

American Muscle will premiere July 9 and follows Michigan gym owner and health guru Mike Barwis and his staff as they work to train professional athletes and the middle-aged dads that work out alongside them."

More here

Ferndale thrift store advises how to "dress for success"

Let's face it, in these cash-strapped times it's hard to look like a million bucks when all you've got is a twenty. Never fear, Life On Mars Vintage is here to guide you through the do's and don'ts of smart thrift store shopping.


"The activity of “thrift shopping” has really become somewhat of a global phenomenon over the past few years (thanks Macklemore!). However, if you’re new to the game, hunting for vintage in thrift stores can be a little overwhelming. Where do I go? How do I find the good stuff? How the hell do I do this? These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself. Don’t worry your pretty little head, because I’m here to help! Being the owner of a vintage boutique has helped me gain TONS of personal experience, and after reading this post you’ll have all the tools you need to get the absolute most out of your thrifting experience with as little stress as possible." the rest here.

Oakland County job growth rebounds, leads

The story of Michigan's economic recovery is still being written but there is little doubt that Oakland County will be a major part of that narrative. Not only has job growth increased 11 percent since 2010, compared to communities of similar size around the nation, it leads the pack.


The May 2014 jobs figures from the BLS indicate that Oakland County’s labor force increased by 5,600 participants to 594,916 and the number of employed residents grew by 2,800. Because of more participation in Oakland County’s work force, the May unemployment figure for Oakland County is 6.9 percent, up from 6.5 percent in April.

Read the rest here.

How green is your elected official?

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters has issued its report card on which legislators are mindful of the Mitten's natural assets and which are - ahem - no friend of clean air, water and responsible stewardship. 


"House members from both parties were recognized by the group as advocates, with Reps. Joe Haveman (R-Holland), Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Frank Foster (R-Pellston) and Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) winning favor for sponsoring bills on environmental issues.

The lowest overall score went to the chair of the Senate natural resources committee Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) scoring 0 percent. House natural resources committee chair Rep. Andrea LaFontaine (R-Richmond) scored at 30 percent."

Read the rest here.

Get the official scorecard for 2013-2014 here.

How to decrease our dependence on automobiles

We know it's akin to heresy to suggest that maybe metro Detroit should drive a little less but... we should drive a little less. Strike that; a lot less. And going on a auto usage diet doesn't have to be as hard as some think. Check out this City Lab story on reducing or dependence on cars one trp at a time.


"Carol Cooper rattles off the success stories without pause. The neighbors who lived three houses apart and worked together but had never carpooled. The car commuter who decided to bike into work once a week and now rides every day. The diabetic who started walking to the grocery store instead of driving, finally getting the exercise her doctor had been on her case about."

Read the rest here.

GM donates two robots to Oakland Community College

Secondhand robots mean firsthand learning for OCC's robotics program. 


"GM donated the robots, valued at $10,000 each, because they are making process changes in their Fairfax assembly plants. The robots will be used as hands-on learning tools for students learning robotics operation, basic programming, advanced programming and functions, simulation and mechanical and controller maintenance for an associate’s degree in Robotics/Automation Technology ."

Read the rest here.

Rumors of the Rustbelt's demise are premature

The common wisdom is that while the coasts ascend the Midwest will continue to decline. SF is Nirvana, Detroit is a wasteland. But wait a minute. Funny things like facts and nuanced analysis get in the way of such sweeping attitudes. Go figure.


"Still, the notion of “loser” for Wayne and Cuyahoga County sticks, despite evidence to the contrary. But why? Why the constant “poor post-industrial people” sentiment, if not a low-grade captivation that comes with “ruin porn” rubbernecking?

Well, if an ideal exists—you know, the experts beckon: be the “new” city, the “hot” city, the “creative” city—then a study in contrasts is necessary. The Rust Belt, with its connotations of smoke stacks and demographic decline, fits the bill."

Read the rest here.

The bad and good news about metro Detroit walkability

So, which do you want first? Good news or bad news. Yeah, probably best to get the negative stuff out of the way first.

Okay, when it comes to walkability, our region is looking pretty bad. We rank 22 out of the 30 biggest metro regions. Buuuut, as this mlive article points out, we are on the path to turning those rankings around.


"“While Detroit experienced the most substantial and well-publicized economic decline over the past decade, its future for growth in walkable urban development seems promising,” the report says. “Recently, it experienced some of the fastest-growing GDP and job growth among metros, much of it in revived (walkable urban areas), particularly in downtown and Midtown.”

The report notes that a lightrail line, alluding to the M-1 Rail, will connect what it says are three of the metro area’s walkable urban places: downtown, Midtown and New Center."

Read the bad news here
Read the better news here

A call to make metro Detroit "Drone Alley"

California can have it's silicon, Motown has got the makings of a automated technical hub. Or so says in their interesting essay suggesting that metro regions focus on what they do best then working overtime in policy, investment and experimentation to own that space. Personally driverless but be a better bet than drone, but the point is well taken.


"But policymakers shouldn’t be trying to copy Silicon Valley. Instead, they should be figuring out what domain is (or could be) specific to their region—and then removing the regulatory hurdles for that particular domain. Because we don’t want 50 Silicon Valleys; we want 50 different variations of Silicon Valley, all unique from each other and all focusing on different domains.

Imagine a Bitcoin Valley, for instance, where some country fully legalizes cryptocurrencies for all financial functions. Or a Drone Valley, where a particular region removes all legal barriers to flying unmanned aerial vehicles locally. A Driverless Car Valley in a city that allows experimentation with different autonomous car designs, redesigned roadways and safety laws. A Stem Cell Valley. And so on."

Read more here.

Brookings Institution calls Detroit's Midtown and downtown "innovation districts"

As great minds think alike, they also stick together. The Brookings Institution has noticed the recent spate of tech start-ups in Detroit.


"As far as clustering innovation in an urban setting goes, Detroit’s Midtown and downtown areas are putting the city on the Brookings Institution’s radar of places in the U.S. where close collaboration is becoming an alternative to urban sprawl and suburban, corporate office islands.

In the Washington, D.C.-based group’s report on rising “innovation districts,” authors Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner describe the areas as compact and transit-friendly, and anchored by educational institutions and large companies.

The authors point to Boston’s South Waterfront, San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Seattle’s South Lake Union area, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard as examples.

In Detroit’s case, the report highlights Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State University leading the charge in Midtown. It says downtown Detroit’s innovation district was “catalyzed” by the decision of mortgage lending giant Quicken Loans to relocate its headquarters there in 2010."

More here

In new vehicle innovation, Michigan stands on its own two wheels

With alternative transportation continuing to make inroads worldwide, Michigan could become as known for its two-wheel vehicles as it is for cars.


"A few weeks ago, at the annual conference of the  Indus  Entrepreneurs  in Silicon Valley, I was on hand to watch the global launch of the  GenZE, a hip, new two-wheeler brought to you by  Mahindra, the Indian conglomerate that makes everything from tractors to cars and also is one of the largest technology companies in the world.       The GenZE is one of the latest’s products designed to meet the needs of Millenial’s and those seeking to reduce their environmental foot print.   What is most important about its launch from my perspective, is how GenZE is the product of three great ecosystems – that of Mahindra itself, of Silicon Valley, where it is headquartered, and of Michigan, where it is being produced.

The GenZE strives to redefine the two-wheel riding experience in the United States.   It has a storage bin behind the seat that can comfortably hold groceries, books or small boxes.   Its aluminum exo-skeleton is strong, and trendy enough for today’s college hipsters.   And of course, it has a computer touch screen complete with navigation, weather and downloadable apps to help you with your riding experience.   The GenZE also made sure to have power ports for your cell phones and laptops."

More here

Rockbridge Growth Equity fills Gas Station TV with new investment

In an e-world, consumers can now get their fill of TV at the gas station, all brought to them by Birmingham-based Gas Station TV.


"Rockbridge Growth Equity pumped new capital into Gas Station TV, a company that provides pretty much exactly what you would think -television at gas pumps.

Consumers have likely seen Gas Station TV network without even realizing it. It’s currently in 42 states, and at more than 2,600 stations, featuring content from AccuWeather, Bloomberg TV, ESPN and CNN."

More here

Michigan adds biofuels stations as part of I-75 Green Corridor Project

With two new biofuel stations near I-75, it's now almost entirely possible to make a green trip down I-75 from Michigan all the way down to Miami.


"Thanks to a huge, six-state partnership, Michigan drivers now have greater access to the biofuels E85 ethanol and biodiesel in a B20 blend. One E85 station is now open at the BP station in Romulus and one B20 station located at the Oasis Trucking Center in Detroit.

The week of June 9-13, 2014 marks the celebration of this project that is five years in the making. In 2009, an ambitious, multi-state project started in Knoxville, Tennessee. Through a grant funded by the Department of Energy Clean Cities Program, the I-75 Green Corridor Project began with the goal of allowing any American driver to traverse any portion of I-75 and be able to make the entire trip running on either biofuel."

More here

Failure is in the eyes of the beholder at Failure: Lab events

In a refreshing twist on the arguably cliched "failure breeds success" stories told at conferences around the country, at Failure: Lab events, entrepreneur presenters leave it up to the audience to make what it will of their failure stories.


An entrepreneur told a Detroit audience about how he had failed as a father, husband and businessman.
In the crowd sat a riveted Jordan O'Neil. At least until the speaker intoned in the inevitable "but," followed by his tale of second-chance success.

"He basically told a story that grabbed the full attention of the 800 people in the crowd because it was so different," O'Neil said. "What if he had dropped the mic and walked off the stage — just left it there?"

Thus was born the idea for Failure: Lab. He gathered three friends and developed what would become an event featuring six speakers sharing 10-minute failures — straight with no "lessons learned" chaser. The audience is left to glean the meaning and encouraged to share its thoughts on social media as well as notecards that are collected afterward.

It's working, at least in O'Neil's home state of Michigan. During the past year, Failure: Lab has come to theaters in Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Detroit, and its return Friday to Grand Rapids is sold out. Now, his team believes stumbling self-help for the 21st century can succeed beyond its comfy confines — they're planning shows in New Orleans, Mexico City, Brooklyn, New York, and possibly Baghdad."

More here.
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