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Ypsilanti : Innovation & Job News

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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


Ypsi high school students nab 2nd place in research competition

A group of bright young things from Ypsilanti High School nabbed second place in a research competition sponsored by Ann Arbor's Altarum Institute.

Excerpt:

The Ypsilanti team will present the competition's runner-up research paper, “Eating Disorders and the Social Pressures that Cause Them,” at the institute’s headquarters in Ann Arbor.

Supported in its first two years with funds from Altarum and Pfizer Inc., Altarum researchers served as mentors to a group of juniors and seniors from Ypsilanti and a high school in Wakefield, Va., and guided them through a scientific research and writing process.

Read the entire article here.

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.

Detroit Renaissance unveils regional revival strategies

Details of Detroit Renaissance's "Road to Renaissance" plan have been unveiled. The three-year plan is expected to cost $75-80 million, $50 million of which will go towards business accelerators.

Excerpt:

At the heart of the effort is a plan to align four established business accelerators — Automation Alley, Ann Arbor Spark, TechTown and NextEnergy — with two accelerators to be established. One would be in Macomb County and the other would be in western Wayne County, likely near the airports, said Doug Rothwell, president of Detroit Renaissance.

Read the entire here.

Life science leaders head to national industry conference to drum up business for state

Local life science leaders are in Boston for the 2007 BIO International Convention to seek out firms that might locate or expand to Michigan.

Excerpt:

Miller Canfield recently opened an office in Cambridge, Mass.

Harold Decker, Miller Canfield principal, said Michigan is still a good investment for life sciences companies.

"I'm very interested in the recrudescence of this state," said Decker. "I want to see it grow and prosper as I knew it as a child. And I think that because of some of the resources that we have here in the state of Michigan that we're ideally suited to do that."

Decker said that as a part of his firm's attendance at the BIO International Convention, it would continue making efforts to establish business connections with companies that could ultimately migrate to Michigan.

Read the entire article here.

Ypsi airport planning firm sees 400% growth in five years, to add positions

Jacobsen/Daniels Associates (JDA) just signed a contract with Cleveland International Airport to provide on-call planning. It's just the latest success for the Ypsilanti-based firm which has seen 400% revenue growth in the last five years.

From concept and planning through design and construction to facility management and operation, JDA client list includes some of the largest and busiest airports in the world, with projects around the country that have a total value of $3 billion dollars.

Since incorporating in 2001, Bradley Jacobsen and Darryl Daniels  have grown from an office of two to a firm 20 strong. The firm has an active internship program that has hired 8 of the 40 interns they've had over the last six years and since January they've added three fulltime positions. By the end of 2008 JDA hopes to bring in another 6-8 hires.

"We're at the stage where we need to invest if we want to grow to $5-10 million in the next 5 years," sas founding partner Bradley Jacobsen. JDA's revenues for 2007 are expected to reach $2.4 million.
 
"We read all the news about MIchigan's economy and we think it's small businesses like ours that are going make the difference. Along with local talen we've actually brought in four or five people and had them relocate from other states."

Source: Bradley Jaconsen, Jacobsen/Daniels Associates


Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress put major focus on alternate energy

At last week's Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, the 35,000 engineers in attendance focused on the conference theme of "Engineering for Global Sustainable Mobility—It’s Up To Us."

Mike Milliken's Worldchanging.com column, The Week in Sustainable Mobility, delves into the focus the brains of the automotive industry is putting on fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.


Excerpt:

"To say that the industry is aware of the need to address the two issues of greenhouse gas emissions and energy availability is an understatement. Presentation after presentation (and there were 1,500 technical papers presented) defined the framework for the research and development projects underway in terms of those two overriding factors. In a series of higher-level symposia hosted by powertrain engineering companies AVL and FEV, top engineering executives began their discussions of trends and possible outcomes practically with the same set of slides: climate change and energy availability."

Read the entire article here.


Business leaders to create medical education panel

The Detroit Regional Chamber and Detroit Renaissance have formed a panel of business executives to develop a set of recommendations for improving and growing Southeast Michigan's medical education and research capabilities as well as boosting collaboration between the region's medical institutions.

Chaired by former United States Congressman and Michigan State Senator Joe Schwarz, M.D. the panel will:

  • Identify steps to increase graduate medical education to meet the region's needs for more doctors across specialty areas
  • Identify short and long-term recommendations for substantially growing the region's medical education and research cluster
  • Develop models for increasing collaboration throughout the region among healthcare providers, systems and education and research facilities to ensure access to quality care to all citizens of the region and the growth of the region's medical community.

"Business leaders are concerned that there continues to be inadequate collaboration among the region's medical institutions which could threaten access to quality care and the ability to maximize the growth potential of this industry, said Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Richard E. Blouse, Jr. "Dr. Schwarz brings a knowledge of the industry and a history of collaboration that will move the dialogue forward."

Dr. Schwarz recently served on a Congressional Panel tasked with investigating care at Walter Reed Hospital and is acknowledged as one of Michigan's most experienced leaders in health care policy.

Other panel members include:

Randolph Agley, Chairman and CEO of The Talon Group
Jon Barfield, Chairman and President of The Bartech Group
Alfred Glancy, Chairman, Unico Investment Company
Richard M. Gabrys, Retired Vice Chairman of Deloitte and Dean of the School of Business Administration of Wayne State University
Daniel J. Loepp, President and CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan
Florine Mark, President & CEO of the WW Group
Leslie Murphy, Group Managing Partner of Plante Moran
Cynthia J. Pasky, President, CEO & Founder of Strategic Staffing Solutions
Daniel F. Ponder, CEO of Franco Public Relations Group
Richard Russell, CEO of Amerisure Insurance Company.
 
"The business community believes medical education and research can play a major role in driving economic growth in the region and that a long-term strategy is needed to achieve this goal, said Detroit Renaissance President Doug Rothwell.  

The panel is expected to complete their work by August.

Source: Detroit Renaissance


State of Michigan's entrpreneurial culture not perfect, but there are some bright spots

Michigan just received a D- for its entrepreneurial spirit from the small business association, but there are bright spots, including university spinoffs, workforce preparedness and lending to small businesses.

Excerpt:

[Faris] Alami started Integration Systems Management Inc. of Troy in January, helping small- to mid-sized businesses manage marketing, sales and recruitment efforts.

"I believe that Michigan is on the verge of becoming an entrepreneurial state," Alami says. "We have some ways to go - but with our wealth of great talent, what we really need is a change of attitude at the state and local levels."

Read the entire article here.



Win a $10,000 home energy makeover

Ypsilanti-based Clean Energy Coalition (CEC), along with the energy offices from Ann Arbor and the State of Michigan, are holding a contest from which 28 Michigan residents will win up to $10,000 in energy improvements to their homes.

One grand prize winner will win $10,000 in energy-related home improvements as well as access to the Environmental Protection Agency's Home Energy Rating System (HERS)  and the Energy Star program. This will assist the homeowner in maximizing the impact of their improvements.

Four first prize winners will receive energy analyses of their homes along with specific recommendations on how to lower their utility costs, and 23 second prize winners will receive $25 Home Depot gift cards.

In the contest announcement, CEC Executive Director Sean Reed said, “Our goal with this contest is to show how a one-time investment in energy efficiency improvements can save homeowner’s money every month for as long as they own their home. Given the fact that the cost of energy has been increasing most every year, it doesn’t take too long for this to add up to big savings.”

To enter, go to www.cec-mi.org/contest, where you will be asked to enter your utility usage over the last 12 months, by May 11.


Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

103 Ypsilanti Articles | Page: | Show All
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