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Quit the bag habit

Using the plastic—and even paper—bags that stores provide is easy. But we all know it is inherently wasteful. Here are some local alternatives.

Ornj Bags by Conjoin design are actually made out of orange construction fencing, taking the whole recycling thing to the next level. Available at Pure Detroit.

IKEA is no longer providing free plastic bags, instead charging 59 cents for their reusable Big Blue Bag. You can then use them anytime you shop.  

Likewise, Trader Joe's sells its canvas bags for $2.99 and bags made from recycled plastic for 99 cents. Plus, use 'em and they'll enter you in a monthly drawing to win store prizes.

A bit higher-end, the Detroit Institute of Arts offers a black canvas bag screen-printed with The Thinker for $20. For the same price, Eastern Market mainstay R. Hirt Jr. sells a popular one that will show off your gourmet tendencies.

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum sells a green tote with red straps for $11.99—maybe kicking the bag habit will be a lesson passed on to your kids?

If you do have a plethora at plastic bags at home, don’t throw them away. Recycle Ann Arbor and Recycle Detroit take them at their drop-off sites.  Or, if all else fails, offer them to someone with a dog, they might as well pull double doodie ...er... duty.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

MichBio: life sciences industry hurt, but not killed, by loss of Pfizer

At its 15th annual meeting, MichBio discussed how the loss of Pfizer has hurt the state's life sciences industry, but there are many bright spots on which to focus.


The past few months have left life-sciences companies feeling like they’ve been riding the good ride going to lofty places only to have unthinkable happen, said Stephen Rapundalo, executive director of MichBio.

Read the entire article here.

EDCSEM, state congressional delegation push for $50 million for entrepreneurship

The Economic Development Coalition of Southeast Michigan and a large part of the state’s congressional delegation are working to establish a network of business accelerators in Metro Detroit called The Regional Innovation Network.
The new region-wide network of business champions would utilize $50 million in government and private funds to increase the number of both new and expanding new-economy businesses. Under the plan, the federal government would contribute $35 million, the state $15 million and $5 million would come from the private sector. A board of participating funders and community leaders would manage the fund.
The plan is to jumpstart the state’s tough economy by plugging money into growing businesses sectors to help spur entrepreneurs to create and expand new businesses. Existing business incubator organizations, such as Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, NextEnergy and TechTown, would help decide where the money goes.
Some of the state’s most powerful legislators, such as U.S. Senator Carl Levin and U.S. Congressman John Dingell, are behind the proposal and lobbying for support for it in Washington, D.C.
Source: Anne Masterson, director of communications for Detroit Renaissance

Coalition to seek out $50M for business incubation

The Economic Development Coalition of Southeast Michigan plans to seek out $50 million to fund business incubators in the region. The money will be divided amongst existing incubators -- Ann Arbor Spark, Automation Alley, Next Energy and TechTown -- and will help create two new ones -- one near Detroit Metro Airport and one in Macomb County.


By forcefully speaking in one voice and presenting a solid case for getting the help we need from Washington, the Southeast Michigan region has begun to correct what we in see as a problem that is holding us back: the perception that we are fractious and unorganized," said Jim Croce, CEO Next Energy and member of the coalition. "We showed them a different picture. We showed them that we have a good plan and that we are ready to put it into action."

Read the entire article here.

Venture capital wise investment for Michigan economy, jobs

A study by the National Venture Capital Association has demonstrated that one job was created for every $19,959 of venture-capital investment into a Michigan company from 1970 to 2005. It also shows that each dollar of venture capital generated $6.55 in revenue.


"Venture capital is an integral and critical component of U.S. economic activity and becomes more so every year," Mark Heesen, president of the Arlington, Va.-based NVCA, said in a press release. "Consider the fact that venture investment itself represents just 0.2 percent of U.S. GDP but venture-backed companies account for nearly 17 percent of GDP."

Read the entire article here.

Gardeners anticipate effect of hardiness zone change

The US Arbor Day Foundation released an update  to the US Hardiness Zone map that is a basic tool for gardeners as to what plants will thrive in their area. SE Michigan has shifted from Zone 5 to Zone 6, because as Bob Cairns, librarian for the Master Gardener Association of Wayne County explains, "average temperature has changed enough to rezone us."

As for the affect this change will have on the average gardener, Cairns expects little: traditional favorites such as geraniums, azaleas and roses are all hardy into much warmer and colder climates. But for serious gardeners, it is an opportunity to plant flowers and shrubs that would not have thrived in this area as recently as 5 or 10 years ago.

Carins, for one, looks forward to planting a crape myrtle tree in his backyard. Common in the Carolinas as a flowering tree with spectacular wintertime bark, the plant is only root hardy in Zone 5. Cairns explains that this means that the plant will survive a Michigan winter, but will die down its roots in the cold only to grow back the following spring. "We've never seen crape myrtle bark in Michigan," he says.

He also expects vegetable gardeners to enjoy a longer growing season. "They'll have more zucchini left over than they ever did before!"

The Master Gardener Association of Wayne County is a group of certified master gardeners that host regular educational events, perform volunteer gardening work and maintain a library of useful gardening resource books.

On April 18, Cairns will facilitate a course in the "Introduction to Gardening" series entitled "Get Ready for Gardening Part II."

For more information, visit the groups's website at www.mgawc.org; the calendar of events and classes is here

Source: Bob Cairns, MGAWC

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Michigan tourism industry forecasts increase for 2007

Don Holecek, director of MSU’s Travel, Tourism & Recreation Resource Center, predicts a modest increase travel volume and spending in the state in 2007. At the industry-wide industry-wide Michigan Lodging and Tourism Conference on March 26-27, a first-ever strategic plan will be presented that discusses, in part, marketing and promotion of Michigan as a travel destination.


Factors helping the industry include post-Labor Day school openings and increased state advertising spending, the latter being particularly crucial in Michigan’s struggling economy.

"All the negative press out there concerning Michigan, in our marketplace, it’s like a negative political campaign almost. You have to counter it with positive news, and that positive news is coming in the form of paid advertising right now," Holecek said.

Read the entire article here.

The good and the bad of high-efficiency light bulbs

High-efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs seem like one of those environmental choices that is a win-win. Sure, they cost more than traditional light bulbs, but they can last ten times as long and are about five times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. Subjectively, I prefer the light—it's a slightly warmer tone.

But, hold up. There is a downside. High-efficiency light bulbs contain mercury, and should not be disposed of with your garbage. (Um, mercury in landfills? Seriously bad news.)

Mason-based Cleanlites Recycling, Inc. can help small businesses (with average use of approximately 100 bulbs per year) safely dispose of their mercury-containing bulbs. Their Lamp Recycling Box Program is a pre-paid box that gets sent back to Cleanlites when full.

Companies and municipalities can explore other alternatives at LampRecycle.org.

For individuals, there are several options:

-Oakland County residents of SOCCRA member cities can take the bulbs to their facility by appointment.

-The Recycle Ann Arbor will accept the bulbs for $1 each.

-Residents of Washtenaw County can drop off their bulbs for free on Saturdays at the Washtenaw County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center on Zeeb Road (734.222.6865).

-IKEA has bins in their lighting department where customers can drop off their used light bulbs. This makes sense when you consider IKEA sells the bulbs…

-Other organizations offer a prepaid mail-back box option like Cleanlites' Sylvania charges $15 for a box that will hold a dozen bulbs; Bulbs.com  charges $94 for a box that holds 200.

Sources: Mike Kimmel, Cleanlites; Sarah Kubik, Recycle Detroit; LampRecycle.org; Crave.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh 

Co-founder & publisher of Model D and metromode to speak at MSA conference

Paul Schutt, co-founder & publisher of our own Model D and metromode, will be the keynote speaker at this Friday's 2007 Regional Redevelopment Summit.

Hosted by The Michigan Suburbs Alliance the event will be held FRIDAY, MARCH 23rd at The Fairlane Club in Dearborn (map) and is an opportunity for local leaders to learn how to craft an image that draws new investment.

Schutt will discuss how media is providing "alternative narratives" for neighborhoods, cities and metropolitan areas. Local officials, developers, realtors and others involved and interested in redevelopment are encouraged to attend.

(Attendees mentioning either metromode or Model-D get 75% off the ticket price.)

The half day event also includes panel discussions with Jim Townsend, executive director of Tourism Economic Development Council, Michael Finney, president and CEO of Ann Arbor Spark, Bill Milliken, Jr., president of Milliken Realty and Commercial Board of Realtors and Doug Brown, director of development at ASTI Environmental.

For speaker presentation overviews and a full agenda, visit the Suburbs Alliance website.


Tickets are $80
but metromode and Model D readers
can buy tickets for just $20!

Register online or visit the Michigan Suburbs Alliance website to pay by check.

Questions?  Contact Melanie Piana at (248) 546-2380 or melanie@suburbsalliance.org

More information about the 2007 Regional Redevelopment Summit can be found at www.suburbsalliance.org/new_and_events/events.

Michigan Virtual University to offer Chinese to HS students

As China emerges as an economic powerhouse the need for those who speak the language increases. Michigan Virtual High School, a division of the Michigan Virtual University, announced that they will now be offering a free semester of online instruction in Mandarin Chinese to one student from every public and private high school in the state.

These online courses were developed in collaboration with the  Confucius Institute at Michigan State University and China Central Radio and TV University.

Each high school in the state may submit the name of one student to request a scholarship by April 30. Unused scholarships will be administered to other schools. 

"This scholarship oppurtunity will help Michigan's students be better prepared to learn and work in the global community," said Kathleen Strauss, president of the Michigan State Board of Education. 

The high school courses will be offered in four levels, starting at the introductory level. The online middle school Chinese courses will include two course formats, one focusing more on Chinese language and the other on culture. These courses involve four hours of online learning and a one-hour virtual group tutoring session per week. 

For more information, click here.

Source: Michigan Virtual High School

Auto-workers can retrain at boot camp

Automotive engineers can retrain at a boot camp designed to bring them up to date on new computer-aided design technology. The event is hosted by Ann Arbor-based Universal Parametrics Inc.


The week-long event will feature an intensive training program to bring participants up to speed on computer aided design software called Pro/Engineer. The software is widely used in the defense industry, medical devices and consumer and agricultural products, as well as in the the federal government, but is not used in the auto industry, which uses products such as Catia, Unigraphics and SDRC Ideas. UPI says the training should make former automotive engineers more employable in other industries.

Read the entire article here.

Federal Reserve economist sees good news for Michigan around the corner

Sam Kahan, senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch foresees growth in Michigan's non-manufacturing sectors. He spoke at the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber Economic Forecast lunch about Michigan's economy.


He said, "25 percent to 35 percent of the (Michigan) economy is tied to the auto industry." But that leaves 65 percent or so not dependent on the auto industry, which is undergoing a traumatic restructuring leading to massive layoffs. There is opportunity for growth in the non-auto areas.

"It will be a little bit here, a little bit there ... the seeds of success are there," he said.

Read the entire article here.

MichBio event to discuss growing medical device companies in Michigan

MichBio's annual meeting will feature Stephen P. MacMillan, president and CEO of Kalamazoo-based Stryker Corp., as the keynote speaker. His speech, titled "Growing a Medical Device Company in Michgan," will discuss his experiences growing his successful business in that field.


He will also provide an overview of the dynamic, $225 billion medical devices market and how individuals and companies in Michigan can participate in it. MacMillan will also field questions from the audience.

Read the entire article here.

Oakland County business development rep cuts red tape for entrepreneurs

Lynda DePlaunty Earhart, senior business development representative for Oakland County, was named a "Red-Tape Buster" by the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Detroit Chapter.


What can improve the business climate in Michigan?

I think the media have the power to improve it. In Oakland County, we're very busy. I just went to a press conference for a company that's getting a grant and is going to be hiring a lot of people. ... And if we could promote the good news, too, it would improve the climate.

Read the entire article here.

Fifth Third announces 40 new banks, 350 jobs in SE Michigan

Fifth Third Bank has announced plans to invest $100 million into Southeast Michigan, open 40 banks over the next three years and hiring 350 new employees.


"Southeast Michigan is a growth market for Fifth Third Bank,” Greg Kosch, president of Fifth Third (Eastern Michigan), said in a statement. "We will build out our banking center distribution network, increase wealth-management capabilities and reinforce the commercial bank portfolio over the next few years."

Two new centers will be unveiled in Detroit at the end of March and April, according to bank officials. In addition, there are plans to open branches over the next several months in Fenton, Ann Arbor, Berkley and Riverview. “We hope there will be about 350 jobs, pretty much all over the market,” said bank spokesman Jack Riley. “I think the key is we’ve had good growth in this market.”

Read the entire article here.
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