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Metro Detroit experiences surge in hotel room occupancy rates

If you want a hotel room in Metro Detroit, you may not wait until the last minute to book. Thanks to a rebound in business travel, hotel occupancy is the highest it's been in the last 12 years, and is on par with Chicago, according to a story in Crain's.


"When we look at the increase in the occupancy, ... we were one of the top (markets) in the country" with 6 percent growth last year, said Larry Alexander, chairman of the  Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority  and president of the  Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau...

Occupancy rates for hotels and motels in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties reached 63.1 percent in 2013, up from 61.9 percent the year before, according to the Convention & Visitors Bureau. That compares with 47.5 percent in 2009 and 55.3 percent in 2008, before the recession.

More here.

Moontrap: Target Earth, Crash Course films to begin shooting in Metro Detroit

Another pair of films has just been approved for incentives from the Michigan Film Office. Look for these projects to begin rolling in the warmer months ahead.


"In Moontrap: Target Earth, a 14,000 year old spacecraft is discovered at an excavation site. Created by a previously unknown human civilization, it becomes re-activated, taking the film’s heroes to the moon to encounter robotic intelligence standing guard over ancient secrets.

The project will film on location in Troy, Detroit and the metro-Detroit area...

Crash Course is a documentary based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner and longtime Wall Street Journal Detroit Bureau Chief Paul Ingrassia. The film will tell the remarkable story of the rise and fall – and rise again of the United States automobile industry. The documentary will include interviews and other scenes filmed in Detroit, Auburn Hills, Highland Park, Dearborn and Flint."

More here.

Detroit companies get brand exposure at SXSW festival

It's too early to say yet, but the brand exposure for Metro Detroit companies, plus the MEDC's booth at SXSW, could pay big dividends in terms of sales and attracting more young professionals to Michigan.


"The crush of people, brands and bands at the  South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, creates brand exposure, and this year Detroit companies, musicians, attorneys and advertising agencies were there to capitalize on the opportunity...

Joe McClure, co-owner of Detroit-based  McClure's Pickles, said he was asked by San Francisco-based Internet lodging site  Airbnb  to provide a palette, 60 cases, of its Bloody Mary mix to serve during SXSW for free....

Leslie Hornung, senior vice president of marketing, communications  and public relations for the  Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the MEDC spent about $200,000 from its business attraction campaign to have a booth on the conference floor during the technology-focused days at SXSW. 

Hornung said more than 1,000 young professionals visited the MEDC exhibit, many of whom were interested in learning about working in Detroit."

More here.

Atlantic Cities catches wind of Detroit Drone's new technology

Much more than a fly-by-night operation, Detroit Drone has some neat new technology that could become a powerful force in public service.


"When government officials in Detroit gathered to celebrate the demolition of the  Brewster-Douglass housing projects  downtown last week, they were joined by a few drones.

One belonged to Harry Arnold, a local drone enthusiast who's turned his long-held interests in videography and radio-controlled helicopters  into a marketable service  (he runs the company Detroit Drone now)....

He wants drones to become part of the typical fire-fighting experience, capturing images humans can't get near and providing ground commanders an aerial view they otherwise wouldn't have. Just last week, Arnold was invited out to  film a hazmat training session  in the city, showing response crews what it would be like to have an extra layer of technology in the case of something like a chemical fire.

Arnold is optimistic his vision will become reality soon. "It's a technology that can have a public service," he says. "It has a chance to save lives."

More here

Detroit-filmed movie, "Misled," to premiere at Florida film festival

A new Metro Detroit-made flick will be under the marquee lights at a Florida film fest this weekend.


"Misled" is to screen Saturday at the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa.

"Misled" is the debut feature of Detroit-based film company J Squared Productions.

The movie stars Detroit native Jonathan Stanley, who also is its co-writer and producer. It's a story about growing up on the streets of Detroit, based largely on Stanley's life, including him dropping out of high school and working as a stripper.

More here

Students, recent grads invited to Live.Work.Detroit career event on March 28

The Live.Work.Detroit career event on Friday, March 28 looks to be a promising lead for students and new grads looking to pump up their job prospects. It's from 2:00-8:00 p.m.  at the Garden Theater in Detroit.


"The  March 28  event is being co-hosted by D:hive and MEDC. Participating students will have the opportunity to network with a wide range of Detroit employers including Detroit Medical Center, Playworks, Quicken Loans, American Axle, and Shinola, among others. The event will include keynote speaker Marlowe Stoudamire from the Skillman Foundation, a panel discussion with some of Detroit’s young leaders from Detroit Young Professionals, Challenge Detroit and ChalkFly, networking, and a tour of some of the exciting small businesses, restaurants, museums, and affordable places to live.

Registration is required; cost is $15. The registration fee covers all activities including transportation, dinner and the tour of the city."

For more info and to register, click here.

Local breweries and meaderies get in on the next hot drink: Iced cider

After an icy cold winter, is ice cider the next magic elixir for Metro Detroit brewers and cider makers?


"If there's anything most of us are tired of this winter, it's bone-chilling cold. It's enough to drive you to drink. 

Literally. Because frigid weather is just what some enterprising artisans need to make a dessert wine that has been showing up on trendy tables and menus...

...Maine,  New York,  Michigan, and  Washington  are starting to ride the ice cider wave, too. The question is not whether they have enough apples. The real test will be whether they have enough ice."

More here

Click here for the full Michigan list, which includes Ferndale's B. Nektar Meadery, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. in Warren, Motor City Brewing Works in Detroit, and the Northville Winery in Northville.

Detroit ranks no. 15 on national list of apartment boom towns

If you're looking to rent or build a rental property in Detroit, the gold rush is on. 


"The conditions are right for rental housing in general and apartments in particular to remain popular for a while, said housing expert John McIlwain, senior resident fellow at the  Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit land-use research and education group.

“Housing prices are going to go up, and credit remains tight,” he said.

At the same time, unemployment remains relatively high for people in their 20s and 30s, and many of them are burdened with student debt, McIlwain added. So, many people are delaying buying homes. Meanwhile, construction costs are rising.

“The big challenge to industry is to provide rental housing at prices that middle-income people can afford,” he said.

That’s why, when we wanted to determine America’s Top 15 Apartment Boom Towns, we included a measure of affordability. We also looked at indicators of apartment availability, economic growth and population growth for the 100 most populated metro areas in the U.S.; the data covered 2009 to 2013, depending on the category."

More here

Metro Detroit home prices up 34% year-over-year

Home-buyers in the tri-county area this spring will have to reach a little deeper into their checkbooks, if price increases reported through the end of February are any indication.


"The median selling price of metro Detroit homes grew 34 percent year-over-year to $107,000 in February, marking the 12th straight month of double-digit growth, according to data released Monday by Realcomp."

More here

Michigan has one of nation's largest unemployment rate drops in January

The job outlook is looking better all the time.  Michigan fared better in its drop in the unemployment rate than most of the U.S., with the rate dropping .5% from Dec. 2013 to Jan. 2014, and 1.1% year-over-year.


"The jobless rate fell significantly in 19 states, with the biggest declines in Louisiana, Michigan and Tennessee. Louisiana's slid to 4.9% from 5.4%; Michigan's, to 7.8% from 8.3%..."

More here

Inc. magazine recognizes firm that bucked downward trend in Michigan real-estate

A local title agency focused on the principle that small service is better service, and Inc. magazine took note.


"Monte Reinert is in the real estate business. What's more, he's in the real estate business in Michigan, where home prices have fallen about 60 percent since 2006. Yet his company,Transnation Title Agency of Michigan, has more than doubled its workforce in the last five years, grown revenues to $13 million, and continues to poach customers from big-name competitors."

More here

Forecast 2022: Where the nation's best jobs will be

Employment sector trends are mapped out in this interesting article that forecasts where the nation's plum jobs will be. By 2022, the creative class will become an increasingly larger share of the job market in Metro Detroit.


"...Between 2012 and 2022, the U.S. will add 15.6 million new jobs, according to BLS projections, with the overall workforce growing by 10.8 percent from 145 to 161 million. Of these, 5.6 million will be high-wage, creative class positions. The creative class will grow by 12.5 percent, the highest rate of all groups...

By 2022, blue-collar jobs will make up less and less of the workforce in the old industrial heartland – 19 percent in Buffalo; 21 percent in Pittsburgh; and 21 percent in Detroit."

More here

Sign up for the 2014 Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

If you're an entrepreneur geared towards forming your business to serve a good cause, take heed and register for the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. 


"The  Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge  invites individuals and teams to submit plans for an emerging idea or existing venture with a sustainable solution to a clearly defined social problem in areas including, but not limited to, chronic unemployment, health and nutrition, the environment, urban revitalization, and education. Participants will compete for more than $60,000 in prizes. Competition finalists will be granted admission to Michigan Corps’ Impact Investment Fellowship, a four-month training institute to ready top social entrepreneurs for investment at and above the $50,000 level.

...Applicants will be eligible to attend online classes, neighborhood tours, and networking events to support the development of their submission before the  May 30, 2014  deadline. A statewide Social Entrepreneurship Showcase & Summit Event will take place in June to announce winners and celebrate social innovation across Michigan."

Click here for more info and to register.

How to make Michigan a top-shelf travel destination

The Pure Michigan campaign just released its latest state tourism figures, and there has been a year-over-year upturn in visitation and spending from 2012 to 2013. Tourism had a $1.2 billion economic impact in 2013. In light of this, Free Press columnist Tom Walsh opines on what Michigan should be capitalizing on.


"Eight years after the brilliant Pure Michigan campaign rescued the state’s tourism brand from irrelevance, it’s now time to ask: How does Michigan step up from middle-of-the-pack to become a truly top-tier destination for travelers?

Think food, farms, wineries and craft beer for starters. And think about appealing to China and Toronto and Britain and Germany.

That’s what more than 1,000 attendees at the annual Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be talking about in Traverse City, starting today. Prior to the opening reception tonight at the Grand Traverse resort, attendees were offered an optional wine-tasting tour of three nearby wineries. It sold out quickly, at $50 a pop.

"Travelers today are more interested in experiences than things," said Sarah Nicholls, a Michigan State University professor and co-author of the annual Michigan tourism outlook to be presented Monday at the conference." 

More here

And read the Pure Michigan report here

Farmington Hills-based Kybba makes Inc. "Build 100" list

Just out: Inc. magazine's list of companies that have consistently upped their headcounts every year, recession or not. IT and staffing firm Kybba is one of the very few that did so.


"We began the Build 100 project by collecting  data  on more than 100,000 U.S. midmarket companies (those with 85 to 999 employees). We then looked at how many increased head count in every year from 2007 to 2012. Remarkably, fewer than 1.5 percent of the companies met that standard...We focused on head count rather than revenue because we found that increased hiring is more predictive of future sustained growth, and that’s what this project is all about."

More here.
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