Innovation + Job News

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Million-dollar grant to spur high-tech business in Marquette

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced in a recent round of grant funding that Northern Michigan University will be getting a $1.15 million grant.

 

The university will serve as the fiscal agent for the grant, which is targeted to benefit the Invent@NMU program and facility in collaboration with Innovate Marquette SmartZone, as the two implement a collaborative operating agreement.

 

Invent@NMU focuses on giving students real-world innovation and business experience in the process of bringing physical products and inventions from concept to market. Innovate Marquette works with high-tech businesses in the Marquette area by supporting entrepreneurs, offering services, training programs and networking.

 

The two will now combine, with NMU providing student employees, office space and equipment, and Innovate Marquette taking over management and operations tasks with Invent@NMU. The grant money is meant to help this transition take place and fund operations for the combined venture in the future.

 

Writer: Kim Eggleston

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corporation

 

Architecture firm moves to historic building

A renowned Iron Mountain architecture firm has moved to a new historic home.

 

Blomquist Architects announced its relocation of its headquarters and studio to the historic Stephenson Court building in downtown Iron Mountain, which was recently celebrated by a ribbon cutting with the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

The move was part of an overall strategic plan, according to firm partner and architect Megan Blomquist. Since the firm itself and prinicipal architect Mark Blomquist are on the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office's list of historical architects, headquartering in a historic building downtown was important to the firm, she says.

 

"It was an easy decision to locate our new studio within the downtown district. Restoration and adaptive reuse of historic buildings are critical components of physical and economic revitalization. We wanted our move to contribute directly to that effort, locally," says Megan Blomquist.

The new headquarters is located at 127 S. Stephenson Ave, Suite 101.

 

Writer: Kim Eggleston

Source: Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce

 

New trail being added to Marquette network

It looks like all is going well with a crowdfunding campaign active right now, which means the Marquette area bike trail network will be getting a long-awaited new trail.

 

The campaign, run through the state-of-Michigan-backed Patronicity crowdfunding platform, is run by the Noquemanon Trails Network along with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It has a goal of $7,500 by July 2 to help the NTN finish the Yellow Trail, in its second phase. That's part of the NTN's Yellow, or Carp River Loop, crossing the Carp River and winding around Marquette Mountain. The finished loop will be 10 to 15 miles of mixed intermediate and advanced trail; about four miles of it have already been finished and are in use. This second phase of the project will build between two and three miles of new singletrack trail near Marquette Mountain that will connect existing two-track trails.

 

The local crowdfunding project has to raise the money in order to receive a matching amount from the MEDC's Public Spaces Community Places grant program. Currently, the campaign is fully funded at just over $8,000, and any extra money will go to additional trail improvements, materials and signage.

 

"Hikers and bikers from across the country are drawn to the U.P.'s spectacular landscape and beautiful vistas," says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. "By completing the next phase of Yellow Trail, Marquette is giving them even more reason to come and experience their unique community."

 

Writer: Kim Eggleston

Source: Michigan Municipal League

 

Martin Sports expands to offer equipment as well as apparel

Something strange is afoot at Martin Sports Apparel. The Ishpeming-based company, owned and operated by Scott Martin, has recently dropped the "apparel" part from their name. And inside the store, sports equipment is beginning to make an appearance.

The reason is simple, says Martin. There's an opening in the market for sports equipment right now with the closure of some big box stores in Marquette County. Martin Sports is stepping into that opening, starting with softball equipment, balls, bats, gloves, and expanding from there.

"We're happy to be able to offer this to the community," Martin says. "Marquette County loves its softball and baseball. We're here to make sure they can get what they need and making it clear you don't have to shop at a big box store to get the equipment you want."

So far, in just a short week, Martin Sports has already become an official dealer of products from Miken, Worth, Rawlings and Lizard Skins.

Need uniforms? Martins Sports still has you covered. The apparel aspect of the store is still operating and as strong as ever.
Martin Sports is located in the Country Village in Ishpeming off of US 41 right across the parking lot from Jasper Ridge Brewery.

Writer: Sam Eggleston

Dia de los Tacos will once again bring Slow's BBQ to Marquette

Remember last year when the back lot of Blackrocks Brewery was jam-packed full of people enjoying the culinary fusion of Marquette's own Dia de los Tacos and Detroit-based Slow's BBQ?

If you do, then you probably also remember just how damn good those tacos were, not to mention the mouth-watering smell wafting from the whole pigs they smoked and served to the masses.

Thankfully, that incredible event is proving to not have been a one-and-done kind of a deal. Mike Walker, the chief taco maker, owner, operator, and janitor at Dia de los Tacos, has announced that he and his team will be once again combining their super powers with Slow's to the culinary delight of Marquette's foodies. Come August 12 at Blackrocks, the fusion will happen again.

"It's going to be the same crew, maybe more," Walker says. "We're going to have different meats to smoke this time."

Wait a minute. DIFFERENT MEATS? Oh, man. This is going to be epic.

If it's anything like last year (and it will be), you're going to want to keep an eye on the Dia de los Tacos' Facebook page to get the event info when the details are finalized -- and then you're going to want to go early to get a good spot in line, because it's going to be well-attended. And tasty. Very, very tasty.

Writer: Sam Eggleston

Marquette's taco truck wins national award

It should come as no surprise to those who have dined upon the tastiness that is the Dia de los Tacos food truck in Marquette, but for the second year in a row they have been named the best taco truck in the country by Mobile-Cuisine.com.

The truck, owned and operated by Marquette native and long-time chef Mike Walker, serves up a small variety of different tacos, all of which are outstanding in their own right. And for those in the know, there's even a secret menu that will allow some darn tasty alterations on those tacos (like Getz's style, or ordered with crispy cheese).

In second place, again, was Lloyd's Taco Truck in Buffalo, New York. We here at U.P. Second Wave traveled through Buffalo last year specifically to try the No. 2 taco truck in the nation and while we may be slightly biased, it really didn't hold a candle to the offerings at Dia de los Tacos (biased media? Nah!).

For those who haven't had the opportunity to try Walker's tacos, you can catch the truck during lunch hours at Pathways Community Mental Health (Monday), University BP (Tuesday and Friday), Valle's Corner Store (Wednesday) and the U.P. Medical Center (Thursday). You can also snag some at the Ore Dock Brewing Company and Blackrocks Brewery during dinner time on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Not sure what to order? Try the Selma with no herb garnish, extra cheese (crispy) and make it Getz's style for a little added awesomeness.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: Dia de los Tacos

Food system grants boost meat, egg production in U.P.

Among a recent round of Michigan agriculture projects awarded expansion funds from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are two Upper Peninsula companies.

The grants, under MDARD's competitive Value Added and Regional Food System Grant Program, are aimed at adding growth, revenue and jobs within regional food systems and totaled nine awards for more than $1 million. That was out of 62 grant proposals.

Rainbow Packing, a meat processing company near Escanaba, was awarded $100,000 in order to expand their facility. The move is in answer to increased meat processing needs in the U.P., according to MDARD.

"An expanded facility and the additional equipment will allow us to serve more farmers in the region, as well as the space needed to expand into other marketing channels," says Sue Sicotte, owner of Rainbow Packing.

The other U.P. grant awardee was Kitz's Koop, an egg farm near Sault Ste. Marie. They got $19,400 to work on expanding their egg production in the eastern U.P.

"Kitz’s Koop Family Egg Farm supplies farm fresh eggs to the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan," says Ryan Kitzmiller, owner of Kitz's Koop. "The value-added grant is going to allow us to expand operations and provide a safe, wholesome, healthy product to a broader network of consumers."

The other grant funds went to Campbell Milarch Vines in Copemish, Chestnut Growers Inc. of Clarksville, Food Labs Detroit in Detroit, Growing Hope of Ypsilanti, Indian Brook Trout Farm of Jackson, Michigan Sugar Company in Bay City, and Sprout Urban Farms of Battle Creek.

Writer: Kim Eggleston
Source: Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Boss Snowplow develops new snow shovel

When it comes to snow, there aren't a whole lot of places more accustomed to being buried in it than the Upper Peninsula.
That's why it makes so much sense that the U.P. is home to a company like BOSS, which is based in Iron Mountain and is known for building some of the best snow plows in the business.

But even the folks at BOSS know you can't just use their plows anywhere you need to remove snow. And that is exactly why they have expanded their snow-removal offerings with a new product -- the Snow Plow Snow Pusher high-performance snow shovel.

The shovel, which BOSS touts as being "tough, durable" and designed "for the abuse of the season" comes in sizes of 28, 36 and 48 inches in width.

Each shovel has a D-grip handle to help fit gloved hands, a reflective strip to add safety for those clearing snow near traffic, as well as a fiberglass reinforced handle and easily replaceable components.

The snow shovel is available for purchase at most BOSS snow plow dealers.

Writer: Sam Eggleston

A Streetcar named Desire? How about a Fat Bike named Marquette.

It's no secret that biking enthusiasts across the Upper Peninsula have started to become a bit fixated on winter biking thanks to the fairly recent boom of "fat tire" bicycles.

Now, thanks to a company based in Minnesota called Framed, Yoopers can ride a fat tire bike that is named after a snow-biking mecca right here in the Upper Peninsula. The Marquette bike comes in both an alloy and a carbon frame and is designed to take the vigorous demands of riding in a U.P. winter and over the cross country trails throughout the region.

"The Marquette is completely internally routed with an optional front derailleur mount. The frame is set up with a rear brake post mount, threaded bottom bracket shell, and two water bottle cage mounts. This timeless design is sure to have you hammering trails with the component group of your choice to your heart’s content," the company's description of the Marquette bike reads.

This bike is available as a custom order and can be purchased at most bike stores that offer fat tire options.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
 

MDOT taps Johnson for top U.P. spot

The U.P.'s regional Michigan Department of Transportation office has a new administrator, Aaron Johnson.
 
Johnson has been with MDOT for 18 years, most recently managing the Ishpeming Transportation Service Center. His new title is Superior Region engineer, replacing Randy Van Portfliet, who has been at MDOT for nearly 40 years.
 
His new duties will include overseeing 1,900 miles of state trunkline across the Upper Peninsula, 187 employees, and managing both capital and maintenance budgets for the region.
 
Johnson is originally from Bruce Crossing and is a graduate of Michigan Technological University. He's served as an operations engineer, traffic and safety engineer, maintenance engineer and bridge design engineer with MDOT, after a stint as a U.S. Army officer. He's also chaired the U.P. Traffic Safety Committee, and served on several statewide transportation teams.
 
Writer: Kim Eggleston
Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
 

Northbound starts production of second season

The web series Northbound, filmed in the U.P., announced it will start producing its second season, thanks to a successful fundraising campaign.
 
The official start date of production is November 29 for the next four episodes of the post-apocalyptic show, which is available online at GeekNation.
 
The producers say the community support through Kickstarter, arts support from Dickinson County Community Theater and Wild Rivers Realty, and sponsorships they landed from several national brands including GoPro, allowed them to start filming this fall.
 
Northbound is produced by Lullskull, Ltd. and A Street Films, and began life as a webseries attached to a feature film titled Northstar. The eight-episode second season's storyline is designed to lead directly into Northstar, say creators Seth and Nathan Anderson and producer Jason Hagen in the announcement.
 
Filming is planned for Iron Mountain, Norway, Channing and KI Sawyer, with the new episodes slated for premiere on GeekNation in the spring of 2017.
 
Writer: Kim Eggleston
Source: Northbound Productions

Wise Owl hires new employee

Wise Owl Technologies in Sault Ste. Marie hired its first employee recently.
 
A family-owned and run computer business in the Sault area since 2010, Wise Owl is expanding in its downtown location with the hiring of a new office manager.
 
She is a Sault Ste. Marie resident and will be overseeing administrative and customer service roles for Wise Owl. Wise Owl offers services including data management, servers and networking, web, email and cloud services, computer repair and service, and even pickup and delivery. It serves the entire eastern U.P.
 
Wise Owl is located in downtown Sault Ste. Marie at 211 Osborn Boulevard.
 
Writer: Kim Eggleston
Source: Wise Owl Technologies

Buy Local app hits Marquette County

The Marquette Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new promotional program designed to encourage local shoppers to connect with local businesses.
 
The Be Local, Buy Local program offers up a mobile app on Apple and Android platforms, similar to national shopping apps, that allows shoppers to register their purchases from participating local businesses and get rewards.
 
Those include a weekly $300 giveaway, and a seasonal $1,000 giveaway. According to the Chamber, the app is meant to help support local Marquette County businesses, and reward patrons for their local buying habits.
 
Among the participating businesses are 906 Sports Bar, Border Grill, Campus Pharmacy, Down Wind Sports, Getz's, Jandron's, Lawry's, Marquette Food Co-op, Midtown Bakery, Ralph's Italian Deli, all the local Snyder Drugs, TruNorth Federal Credit Union, Valle's Market, and a long list of others across the county.
 
Writer: Kim Eggleston
Source: Marquette Chamber of Commerce

VAST adds four new hires

Four new hires are on board at insurance company VAST in Marquette.
 
The firm announced Colleen Posey, Molly Strohm, James Gwinn and Alison Neumann all have been hired recently, all Northern Michigan University grads.
 
Posey and Strohm will serve the company as benefits accounts managers, both licensed in accident, health and life insurance. Posey is from Naperville, Illinois and graduated in 2012, while Strohm is from Gwinn and graduated in 2010.
 
Gwinn and Neumann both were hired as commercial lines account managers, and are licensed in property and casualty insurance. Gwinn is from Marquette, a 2014 NMU grad, and Neumann is from Alpena, with a degree in business management.
 
VAST is located at 300 S. Front Street in Marquette and provides solutions for insurance and risk management.
 
Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: VAST

 

Rubin is new VP for Marketing Department

The Marketing Department, a full-service marketing firm in Houghton, announced a new addition to their staff, as Kyle Rubin joins them as VP of account services.
 
The hire was made, says CEO Karyn Olsson, to help the firm's clients grow and support their successes so far, and increase the company's reach.
 
Rubin comes to the Marketing Department as a Michigan Technological University grad, and has experience as an educator, an organizational marketer, and in technical communication.
 
"Kyle's experience and style is very relevant for most of our clients, especially our manufacturers and tech companies," says Olsson.
 
The Marketing Department provides marketing strategy and planning, research, branding, promotion, graphic design, copywriting, website design, social media, lead generation, customer service training, photo and video.
 
Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: The Marketing Department

 
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