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Berkley : Innovation & Job News

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MI Energy Fair reports: wind energy alone could create 50K manufacturing jobs

The Michigan Energy Fair attracted 3,000 visitors to Manistee to learn about alternative energy initiatives in the state. This comes at a time when a bill has been introduced to the State House to create Renewable Portfolio Standards for Michigan, a critical step in the development of the alternative energy industry in the state.

Excerpt:

Renewable resources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power are all sources of clean energy — fuel that causes much less harm to the environment. Along with being environmentally-friendly, another benefit is that they are home-grown.

Currently, Michigan must import nearly all of its energy — 100 percent of the coal and uranium, 96 percent of the oil, and 75 percent of all natural gas, according to state agencies. By investing in renewable energy produced within the state, the government would be investing in Michigan, say proponents.

The home grown source is important in another regard, as well. According to Environment Michigan and the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Michigan ranks second in the Great Lakes region for wind energy potential and 14th in the United States. If fully harnessed, wind energy could create over 50,000 manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan.

Read the entire report here.



Beaumont poised to become Oakland County's largest employer

Proof of the growing health care industry, Oakland County's largest employer is about to shift from General Motors to Beaumont Hospital.

Excerpt:

County research revealed that Beaumont Hospitals, the health-care behemoth operating hospitals in Royal Oak and Troy and other facilities across Metro Detroit, is knocking on GM's door. With more than 12,000 employees, Beaumont is expected to surpass GM within the next couple years.

The numbers sparked an epiphany for [Wayne County executive L. Brooks] Patterson, who said he realized "I don't even know (Beaumont President and CEO) Ken Matzick."

That's no longer the case. At a time when health-care employment is blossoming - more than 9,700 health-care jobs have come to Oakland County since second-quarter 2002 - Patterson has partnered with Matzick to expand the local economy.

"They saw an opportunity to attract new business" by working with Beaumont, Matzick said.

Matzick was eager to cooperate. Last year, he sent Beaumont staff along with county officials on a trip to Sweden to lure biotech business. And Patterson on June 19 shared a stage with Matzick to celebrate yet another expansion by Beaumont.

Read the entire article here.



Detroit Renaissance study to benchmark business climate in SE Michigan

Detroit Renaissance has commissioned Arlington, Virginia-based Business Development Advisors to compare the business climate in Southeast Michigan with other competitor regions.

The study will look at operating costs, regulatory climate, economic-development effort, image, business infrastructure and workforce.

Read the entire article here.


UM study shows that MI's economy is diversifying, not imploding

We always knew it here at metromode. Michigan's economy is diversifying, not crumbling before our very eyes. A new study from the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy studies the transformation and points out some bright spots.

Two of the study's findings were:

* Small firms -- those with five to nine employees -- reported growth in the educational services (25.6 percent), finance and insurance (24.8 percent), and management of companies (35 percent) sectors between 1998 and 2004.

* Michigan ranked No. 1 nationwide for "industry performed research and development activities as a share of private industry output," according to the National Science Foundation study. The state ranked ninth in research and development performed by universities and colleges.

Read the entire article here.

Leadership Next to help region attract and retain young talent

United Way of Southeast Michigan is forming a leadership development organization, Leadership Next, in an effort to connect with and empower the area's future leaders. Chairperson of the group, Matt Clayson, a Detroit resident and legal coordinator for Pleasant Ridge's ePrize says the goal of Leadership Next is "to get together group of civic minded younger leaders to talk about true regional collaborations." Clayson also hopes to address the region's brain drain of young people. We want "to give tangible opportunities to be connected to community initiatives and to social services, to give opportunities for volunteer involvement."

Clayson explains that another intent of the organization is to "build trust with the current generation of leaders and to learn from them – opening up a dialogue with them." 

Leadership Next is currently cultivating a roster for its leadership team and is holding a public launch on July 20 at 6 p.m. at McNarney's Public House, just east of the Renaissance Center in Detroit. Clayson says, "It's an opportunity for people who want to be involved or want to learn more." A keynote speech will be given by General Motors vice president Troy Clark, who will talk about leadership from the perspective of his generation. 

Clayson is motivated to attract and retain talent in Southeast Michigan. "People ask, 'Why should I stay in Detroit, stay in Southeast Michigan?'" he observes. He answers, "You can become involved here and have your voice heard. You can make a difference without the same type of social connections that you would need in a Chicago or a New York."

Clayson will be working to people the group's leadership team with a diverse mix of people, including city and suburban residents, representatives of stakeholder non-profit organizations and corporations and "a wide variety of cultures and races."

Source: Matt Clayson, Leadership Next
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


House Dems release renewable energy plan

Michigan House Democrats released a legislative proposal intended to both stimulate the use of renewable energy sources in Michigan and grow the alternative energy industry.

NextEnergy's Mark Beyer says the most significant component of the proposal is the establishment of Renewable Portfolio Standards for the state requiring 10% of Michigan's energy production to come from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass by 2015 and 25% by 2025. A NextEnergy report about RPS that was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality explored the effects of such a program on the state's economy and found it to be extraordinarily beneficial.

Beyer explains, "It would put people to work and decrease the cost of inputting energy. RPS is an attractive lure to [alternative energy companies] from out-of-state and out-of-the nation."

Beyer points out that 23 states and the District of Columbia already have RPS in place and one, Pennsylvania, has already attracted investment from a Spanish wind turbine manufacturer. "This is despite our manufacturing prowess! But RPS is very symbolic. It shows that we are dedicated to this industry. We won't be taken seriously by big international wind turbine manufacturers until we have RPS in place."

Other aspects of the plan, which is still being finalized, include alternative energy renaissance tax relief zones, the tightening up of energy conservation codes, sales tax exemption for the purchase of energy efficient home appliances, tax credits for solar power equipment purchase and an statewide reduction of 1% of energy consumption annually. The plan also will look to encourage worker training in renewable energy technologies at the state's community colleges.

Although alternative energy may not yet be fully on the radar of the mainstream, Beyer sees that day coming quickly. "It's showing up in more headlines, more stories," he says. "One day, the $5 gallon of gas will be on the cover of Time magazine."

Beyers is optimistic about the ultimate passage of the bill, saying "It's a bi-partisan issue."

Source: Mark Beyer, NextEnergy
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Saving water while you brush and flush

A lot of water is wasted in your bathroom. Sorry if that makes you feel guilty, but it's true. A third of your home's water usage is literally flushed down your toilet.

There's a simple way to change that: installing a high-efficiency toilet  that uses less water per flush or, better yet, a dual-flush toilet that has two buttons: one for a number 1 flush and another that flushes more water for number 2.

If you have an older toilet and are not currently in the market for an upgrade, you can always consider what my family called the "cottage method." Basically, if it's yellow, let it mellow.

Now, for the shower. If you're super hardcore, you can take Navy showers, which basically means you get yourself wet, turn the water off while you lather and then rinse off. My hat is off to anyone that actually does this.

Or you can just install a high-efficiency shower head. They cost about $20 and can save you five times that in one year of usage.

Lastly, as if I need to tell you this: don't run the water while you brush your teeth.

Please.


Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


MDOT awarded $70M in "smart vehicle" applications for Metro Detroit

Imagine a blue light on your dashboard that identifies a still-out-of-earshot ambulance. Or a red one that flashes when a bicycle is nearing an upcoming intersection. This is Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) and, it is not only possible, but is about to become a reality in Metro Detroit.

VII uses wireless and satellite technologies to enable vehicles to communicate with each other and the road itself in order to reduce congestion and crashes.
The United States Department of Transportation recently awarded the Michigan Department of Transportation $70 million for its Metro Detroit VII initiative. 

The bulk of the funding, $45 million, will be used to develop and construct a test bed facility in Novi. The remainder will go to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute to develop an in-vehicle driver-vehicle interface. 

MDOT and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have already invested $9 million into VII infrastructure and development. Why the push? The Center for Automotive Research estimates that VII and associated vehicle electronics will create more than 20,000 jobs in the coming years. Michigan is currently on the forefront of this technology, and the state hopes to keep it that way.

Source: MDOT
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Insurance industry poised for huge growth

A Michigan Insurance Coalition-commissioned study, "Insuring the Future: The Economic Importance of the Insurance Industry in Michigan," shows big growth in the coming decade for the Michigan insurance industry.

Pittsburgh-based GSP Consulting looked at the evolution of the industry in terms of the state's changing economy and predicted a 10% growth in direct jobs by 2014, adding 6,000 jobs. They are also calculating 10,000 additional spin-off jobs and nearly $125 million in tax revenue.

In a statement, MIC President James Miller says, "Most people don't realize the impact Michigan's insurance industry has on the overall state economy. The purpose of this study is to show that, despite Michigan's lagging economy, there are bright spots where industries are growing and creating jobs, and insurance is one of those bright spots."

The study also found that 40% of insurance industry employees enjoyed wages between $40,000 and $60,000. 

MIC prepared the report to demonstrate its growth potential as lawmakers consider replacements for the Single Business Tax. 

Source: Michigan Insurance Coalition
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh 


Natural? Organic? What's the diff?

Walking the aisles of a supermarket can be a mystifying experience. Claims jump out at you –- Organic! All-natural! Locally-grown! -- making shopping a confusing proposition for anyone looking beyond Wonder bread and Kraft mac 'n' cheese. So what do those labels really mean?

Organic might be the simplest, just because the US Department of Agriculture does regulate the use of the term. Government-certified organic products may label their food package with a "USDA Organic" label and actually use the word "organic" on the front. There are several levels of organic standards:

"100% Organic" means that, yes, the product is 100% organic.

"Organic" means that the food is 95-100% organic. A listing of ingredients in the product that are organic -- for example, "Made with organic almonds and oats" – means that at least 70% of the total food product is organic. If the organic ingredients are listed on the side or rear panel, that just means that yes, those almonds and oats are organic, but the sum total of organic ingredients is less than 70%.
 
Government certification means that the food is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic or sludge-derived fertilizers, bioengineering or radiation. Meat and dairy products that are organic have been given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Water and soil conservation efforts are also taken into account by certifiers who visit the farm. 

A label claiming "all-natural" can be misleading. While it is typically true that said product does not contain any ingredient not occurring in nature, the process that make use of a particular ingredient might be far from natural.

A perfect example is with fructose corn syrup -- currently the whipping boy in the national obesity epidemic. High fructose corn syrup is natural -- it is derived from whole grain corn. But the corn is refined, the sugars extracted and thus concentrated. Technically all natural, but realistically, food borne in a laboratory.

Locally grown food can be tougher –- and arguably, "greener" than organic food grown thousands of miles away. While many smaller grocers make an effort to stock their shelves with locally-grown and produced foods, sometimes the print is fine and seeking it out takes time. One great way to learn about the origin of your food is to build relationships with the farmers at your local farmers market. You can generally tell what is locally in-season by a preponderance of one or several crops at many of the vendors' tables. Hint: mangoes are not local.

When you really start to get into food labeling and origin, it will add some time to your shopping trip. But what it really adds to is your quality of life. Knowing what you are eating makes eating itself a more special occasion -- which in turn, leads to a healthier relationship with food than has been common for many decades in the US.


Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


So your lawn isn't golf course-green? Get over it.

The perfect expanse of lawn is embedded in the psyche of the American dream. Unfortunately, the dream is becoming a nightmare – water usage might not seem like a huge concern here in the Great Lakes state, but all those golf courses in Arizona will continue to get their water from somewhere. 

And pesticides and fertilizers are also serious problems. The Canadian Cancer Society has called for an outright ban on pesticides, noting that 19 of the 30 most commonly used pesticides have been linked with cancer. 

Ann Arbor has recently banned the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers in an effort to reduce the level of phosphorus in the Huron River. Part of the problem is that many generic fertilizers include phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, the Big 3 of lawn nutrients. But the reality is that most Michigan soil has plenty of phosphorus, so it is totally unnecessary to add more. Check the numbers on the bag of fertilizer before you buy it – even if you don't live in Ann Arbor, it's best to avoid phosphorus.

Simple advice for anyone with a lawn: Mow long and leave the grass clippings in place. If you must water, do so in the early morning or after dusk. If you must fertilize, use organic – there's tons of options on the shelves. 

If your lawn develops a pest problem, a good on-line resource for non-toxic advice can be found at the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.  Or, if you want to hire someone to do the dirty work for you, Local-Motion has compiled a list of local companies that use organic fertilizer and natural pest control methods here.

Most importantly, relax. Your lawn, like your life, is never going to be perfect. And that is totally fine.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


2007 Energy Conference and Exhibition

The 2007 Energy Conference and Exhibition will take place May 15 at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi.

Hosted by The Engineering Society of Detroit and DTE Energy, the one-day conference and exposition will cover the latest innovations in alternative energy sources and energy efficiency. One of the largest energy conferences and expositions held in metropolitan Detroit, the 2007 event is expected to have 100 exhibitors and attract 1,500 attendees.

Targeted for energy issues affecting facility management and planning, speakers include executives from automotive manufacturers and suppliers, health care, banking, the state department of environmental control, energy distribution and sustainable development. More at www.esd.org.
 
Detroit Regional Chamber and Charter One Bank announced plans to host a creative forum designed to cultivate an entrepreneurial and innovative environment in the Detroit Region.  This interactive event will feature successful entrepreneurs and innovators in the region as well as showcase best practices.  The event will further the critical dialogue on this issue started at the Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference last year.

The "Creating a Region for Entrepreneurs and Innovators" forum is May 15, 9-11:30 a.m. at The Parade Company in Detroit.  Admission is free. Individuals can register at www.detroitchamber.com.

The agenda includes:

  • A keynote address by Josh Linkner, founder and CEO of ePrize, the world's largest international, interactive promotions agency headquartered in Pleasant Ridge.
  • Facilitated group activities to inspire participants to become entrepreneurial and innovation stewards.

"The Detroit Region's economic transformation hinges on our ability to diversify the local economy by expanding our entrepreneurship and innovative capacities," said Richard E. Blouse Jr., president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
 
"Charter One cares deeply about the growth and vibrancy of our region," said Sandra E. Pierce, president and CEO of Charter One Bank, Michigan. "We are committed to supporting an environment that fosters economic vitality and strengthens the communities where we live and work."


Source:
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


Don't dump that computer…donate it!

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated annually --85 percent of which ends up in landfills. Aren't Michigan's landfills big enough? 

As part of its ongoing partnership with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit  and Dell Computers Reconnect Michigan, Wayne County is hosting a drop-off on May 12 in Canton for computers and other electronics that would otherwise be headed to the landfill.

The partnership means that some equipment dropped off will be repaired or retrofitted and put back into use—creating jobs in the process. What cannot be reused will be safely recycled, keeping pollutants such as lead, cadmium, chromium and mercury out of the waste stream. 

Mary Vangieson, who is the resource recovery coordinator with Wayne County's Department of Environment, estimates that 8,200 pounds of e-waste was collected at Wayne County's first such event, which was held last month in Riverview. 

Drop-off is free for any resident of Wayne County and will be accepted from 8 a.m. – noon at the Canton Township DPW. For more information, call 313.964.3900 x314.

To inquire about drop-off on other days, particularly from businesses, contact Goodwill directly at 313.964.3909.


Source: Mary Vangieson, Wayne County
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


New Pure Michigan ad campaign will target out-of-state tourists

Travel Michigan has launched a new $11.3 million "Pure Michigan" ad campaign that will target Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Ontario.

Excerpt:

We are spending 80 percent of our advertising dollars out of state because we know that out-of-state visitors stay longer and spend more per trip," said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan. "But we also need to remind Michigan residents -- who take about 70% of Michigan's leisure trips -- that Michigan is a great place to spend their summer vacation.

Read the entire article here.

Entertainment lawyers find growth due to Detroit music scene

Detroit's status as a music mecca has led to increasing business for entertainment lawyers both old-school and new.

Excerpt:

Rapid technology change, a resurgence in popularity of Detroit-based acts such as the White Stripes and Eminem, along with a following in hip hop and techno music are important drivers, the lawyers say.

Read the entire article here.
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