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Defunct Pontiac community center remade into Wessen Lawn Tennis Club

The city of Pontiac may be sporting the latest and greatest new training grounds for Wimbledon, with the recent opening of a new grass-court tennis, social, and swim club.


"The Wessen Lawn Tennis Club, a recently opened 24-court private outdoor grass-court center, is the creative reinvention of a closed community center and its grounds by Bill Massie, a local architect and the owner of the club...

Mayor Deidre Waterman of Pontiac is happy to see the dormant land in the heart of her 59,000-resident city come back to life. Pontiac, like Detroit, has been under state control because of financial problems. It emerged from a five-year run under an emergency manager in 2013.

“We’re working on recreating ourselves with a new spirit and vision, and this dovetails perfectly with the new Pontiac,” Waterman said. “We want to bring things that are unique and special to the city.”
Massie, who has invested $1.5 million in the club, has committed to keeping it connected to the community, pledging to hold junior lessons, donate equipment and host open swims next summer....

[Massie] is also developing the building into a bar and reception area, pro shop and offices, and, in the near future, a full-service restaurant for members and guests. The pool is being refinished and will open this summer. A few hardcourts and clay courts are in the plans.

Massie would like to bring an ATP-level tournament to Wessen and have junior and pro players train there for grass tournaments like Wimbledon."

More here.

Metro Detroit home prices climb 20% in June

The spring home-buying season proved to be a bountiful one for regional property values as buyer confidence increased.


"The median selling price in Metro Detroit rose on an annual basis for a 16th straight month in June, according to figures released Monday by Farmington Hills-based Realcomp, the multiple listing service for southeast Michigan and a small portion of northern Ohio.

The median selling price in Metro Detroit climbed 20.2 percent year-over-year to $149,000 in June. Realcomp defines Metro Detroit as Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties."

More here.

U.S. Treasury Dept. says Michigan leads nation in optimizing federal funds for small business growth

Second only to California in the amount of federal funds received via the State Small Business Credit Act, Michigan is parlaying this cash infusion into industry diversification and job creation at a commendable rate.


"Since 2011, Michigan has distributed $79.4 million from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a federal program established a year earlier in the aftermath of the Great Recession and modeled after a state of Michigan program to bolster the collateral position of manufacturing companies. Federal funds dispersed to small business and local lenders have been used to finance more than $420 million in new private investment and create 4,600 jobs in Michigan, according to MEDC estimates."

More here.

Contests become launchpads for Detroit startups

In the last few years, entrepreneurs are increasingly making pitch and business plan competitions part of their game plans. And more than ever, nationally televised contests are filming in Detroit. 


"A number of competitions mirroring the style of hit TV show "Shark Tank" have sprung up in Detroit,  where a downtown start-up tech scene  has taken root...

Mark Kiel's company, which developed software to interpret data about gene mutations in DNA sequencing, was founded two months ago, but he has already raised $47,000 in capital.Kiel, 37, won his money from MiQuest, the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize and Greenlight Best Overall Pitch.

Ann Arbor-based Genomenon has won three business-pitch competitions — allowing Kiel to bypass the traditional route of hitting up family and friends or wooing an angel from a venture capital firm."

More here.

Why Detroit shouldn't build on $500 houses as a renewal strategy

The old adage "If something sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true," applies when it comes to fantastically low Detroit home prices. Here's a well-reasoned article on why super-cheap home sales shouldn't be ground-floor urban renewal strategies.


"Perhaps you’ve heard of the mythical  $500Detroit  house. Plagued by years of blight, desolation, and grim economic deterioration, the story goes, Motor City homes have become nearly worthless—poverty porn for coastal snobs, or fodder for urban yuppie real estate fixer-upper fantasies. One could see how this kind of deal might seem pretty enviable from cramped quarters in San Francisco or Brooklyn, but it’s important to understand what a price tag that low symbolizes."

More here.

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.
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