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14% of area CIOs plan to hire in next year

Robert Half Technology commissioned an independent study of 1,400 IT executives across the nation to learn about hiring trends in the industry. Results reveal good news for Southeast Michigan, with 17% planning to hire and only 3% planning to reduce staff. This net gain of 14% is equal to the overall nationwide gain.

The West coast posted strongest numbers overall, with the Pacific Northwest poised to see a 23% net gain. While that may be unsurprising, this area leaves Rust Belt rivals like Cleveland (8% net increase) and Pittsburgh (7% net increase) in the dust. And Chicago? Sorry, Windy City, your number was just 12%.

Robert Half's local office, located in Southfield, currently has seven employees with plans to grow that number. "We are looking to expand," says Christine Lucy, the company's Michigan vice president. "We're not immune to that positive news either."

The news of growth did not surprise Lucy. "We feel we have a great knowledge base here in Southeast Michigan," she says. "This is one of the stronger regions for demand as well as talent." She cites research and development, finance and health care as strong-growth industries.

Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world's largest specialized staffing firm, with over 100 offices across the world. The Technology Group was started in 1994.

Source: Christine Lucy, Robert Half Technology
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

$100M initiative to help develop state's "New Economy"

Ten foundations, including Ford and Kresge, have banded together to create a $100 million pot of funds intended to help transform Michigan's economy.

Excerpt:

"One hundred million is a lot of money on one hand," said Steve Hamp, former president of The Henry Ford and chairman of the initiative's new governing council. "But for the scale of what we're talking about, it's not a lot of money, considering the need."

That more than 60 percent of the funding is coming from outside Michigan underscores a stark consensus that the state's economic troubles are so bad they're worthy of major league philanthropy -- or, put another way, we're so bad that it's good.

"We are not done building the ship we are about to launch," said Hamp, adding that much of the fund will be aimed at efforts to create "high-wage, high-knowledge" jobs in the service sector. "We know Michigan needs to catch up in this area and that we are lagging."

Read the entire article here.



Pushtwentytwo adds three to its Pontiac office

Pushtwentytwo is ever-growing, adding three to its Pontiac office.

Read the entire article here.

In a recent 'mode article, partner Mike Verville was quoted as saying, "In Michigan, as much as automotive and manufacturing get all the news, there's been a lot of growth in software development, healthcare, technology and IT," says Verville. "There is growth within the Detroit area and overall in Michigan." Read more of that profile here.


Since 2000, Oakland Main Streets have generated 2,477 jobs

Main Street Oakland County is celebrating "Do It Downtown" weekend in Farmington August 2 through 5, recognition of the development of the county's walkable commercial districts.

Excerpt:

Farmington, Ferndale, Highland, Holly, Keego Harbor, Lake Orion, Ortonville, Oxford, Pontiac, Rochester, Royal Oak and Walled Lake are members of Main Street Oakland County.

"Collectively, these 12 Main Street downtowns have generated more than $404 million in private and public investment, 2,477 new jobs and 330 new businesses since the program was formed in 2000," said Bob Donohue, program coordinator of Main Street Oakland County.

Read the entire article here.



Pontiac-based pushtwentytwo doubles in size since 2004

Pontiac-based pushtwentytwo is an integrated marketing communications agency with a staff of 18-20. Partner Mike Verville says, "We have very broad creative capacity in-house. We can produce interactive, program websites, produce and write videos, print ads trade show displays." The company also works in branding and public and investor relations.

Verville says that one of his firm's distinguishing qualities is that they do not differentiate between new media and traditional media. "We look at all media as similar, as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy." He says this methodology is "valid for both small and large organizations." While a trend of late has been for advertising agencies to buy web interactive companies or create separate divisions in-house dedicated to new media, Verville says, "Right from the beginning, they've always been integrated."

Founded in 2004 of the merger of two smaller firms, Verville says pushtwentytwo's success is based on a "pro-active, results-oriented, aggressive perspective." When it first got up and running -- with 10-12 employees -- the firm had clients only in the manufacturing sector, but have since expanded to include technology companies, residential and commercial builders, the healthcare industry and financial and professional service providers. "In Michigan, as much as automotive and manufacturing get all the news, there's been a lot of growth in software development, healthcare, technology and IT," says Verville. "There is growth within the Detroit area and overall in Michigan."

Pushtwentytwo's office is in Pontiac's downtown, which Verville characterizes as undergoing a "resurgence." Its modest façade masks an interior that is a "vibrant, colorful environment" that indicates the firm's "high emphasis on creativity," he says.

Source: Mike Verville, pushtwentytwo
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh



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

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