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City leaders to attend Michigan Suburbs Alliance event, consider energy and economy

Michigan Suburbs Alliance, an organization working to revitalize Metro Detroit’s inner ring suburbs, will host its annual Mayors and Managers Breakfast on Feb. 22 in Dearborn Heights. The event’s primary topic will be "Energy Efficiency and the Economy."

MSA is encouraging its members, which include Ferndale, Dearborn and Berkley, to look at energy as a cross-jurisdictional matter, much like roads and water. The organization sees clean and reliable energy as an asset that will help evolve southeastern Michigan’s economy into one that is knowledge-based.

Policy issues that will be discussed at the event include the prioritization of energy efficiency by offering local tax credits, investing in alternate energy sources and exploring the potential for public-private collaborations.
 
MSA also recently named its second group of Redevelopment Ready cities: Grosse Pointe Woods, Hamtramck, Lincoln Park, Mount Clemens, Rockwood, and Roseville. Redevelopment Ready designation indicates that the municipality has demonstrated an ability to streamline the development process for a would-be investor.

Applicants are rated on stakeholder and community commitment, having a documented redevelopment plan that includes detailed visioning for specific development sites, training for elected officials and relevant city staff, financial incentive packages, progressive zoning guidelines, a marketing plan, and a streamlined and predictable redevelopment review process.

Last year, Hazel Park, Southfield, River Rouge, Eastpointe and Ypsilanti were appointed as the initial designees.

For more information about the Mayors and Managers Breakfast, click here.


Source: MSA

Gilbert, Crain's top newsmaker of 2006, speaks on region's assets and liabilities

Quicken Loan's Dan Gilbert, named Crain's Newsmaker of the Year for 2006, spoke last week at an Inforum breakfast about Southeast Michigan's regional assets as well as its liabilities. Assets: work ethic, entrepreneurship and its research universities. Liabilities: brain drain, victim mentality and bureaucracy resistant to change.

Excerpt:

Quicken has been successful because it has developed a corporate culture and philosophy that it defines itself by, and the company makes decisions based on its identity, Gilbert said. The region must develop a stronger identity for itself in order to make decisions that can help it move forward, he said.

“You’ve got to know who you are before you start talking about what it is you’re going to do,” Gilbert said.

Read the entire article here.

MLUI's Schneider debuts new economy blog

Keith Schneider of the Michigan Land Use Institute, a statewide smart land use advocacy group, has started a new blog to talk about media, the internet, land use and economic development called Modeshift.

Excerpt:

Welcome to Mode Shift, a new blog that chronicles accelerating transition in two arenas of American life: the economy and competitiveness of state and metropolitan regions, and the swift development of social media. The focus is new forms, new techniques, the new rules of the game  in economic development and communications. I’m interested in change and how people respond to it. Never has change occurred as fast as it is today. I’m intent on applying to Mode Shift’s reporting and commentary nearly 30 years of accumulated knowledge and experience in writing about technology, government, business, transportation, agriculture and the environment. This blog, in short, is about evolution.


Columnist delves into potential for entrepreneurship in new economy

Ann Arbor News business columnist Rick Haglund takes a look at the role that entrepreneurship can play in recovery of Michigan's economy.

Excerpts:

We'll likely see any number of new restaurants, construction firms, bait shops and retail franchise stores opened by former hourly autoworkers too young to retire.

But the biggest promise for new businesses that could generate thousands of high-paying jobs may lie in exceptionally skilled salaried workers and executives leaving the big auto and pharmaceutical companies.

Read the entire column here.

Governor's State of State address calls for diversification of economy

In Governor Jennifer Granholm's State of the State address on Tuesday, she proposed initiatives that would retain and attract workers and diversify Michigan's economy including training and education, alternative energy and stem cell research.

Excerpt:

Embryonic stem cell research. The governor would remove barriers to research that could help people with debilitating diseases, suggesting that if the Legislature doesn't act, she'd back a citizen-led petition drive to put it on the ballot.

Laid-off worker training. The state would foot the bill for community college or training for workers who lose their jobs when their employers close shop or lay off employees. The program would immediately apply to 100,000 laid-off workers.

Alternative energy. This program would invest $100 million in funding into research and job creation in alternative energy companies over three years. The plan includes 1,000 ethanol and bio-diesel gas pumps by 2008.
Listen to the Governor's proposal for alternative energy here and read the entire story here.

Granholm calls for training, education in State of State address

In her annual State of the State address, Governor Jennifer Granholm called for two years of free training or community college for any displaced worker in Michigan.

Excerpt:

The three-year "No Worker Left Behind" program would launch this summer, with around 7,500 workers getting free tuition for 2007-08 besides the 18,000 already being helped. More workers would be added in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

"This is kind of a one-time window people can take advantage of," said Bob Swanson, director of the state Department of Labor & Economic Growth.

Read the entire article here.

State energy plan calls for 10% of power to be renewable

Michigan has released a new statewide energy plan that calls for 10% of future power generation to come from renewable sources.

Excerpt:

Also included in the plan is new, statewide energy efficiency program that would be funded through surcharges on customer bills. The program’s initial funding level would be $68 million, with a goal of $110 million by the third year of operation. The program would fund energy-efficiency measures and education statewide. Large industrial customers that have already undertaken energy efficiency projects could opt out of the surcharge.

Read the entire article here.

MSU launches Great Lakes wiki

Michigan State University has launched the Great Lakes Wiki to encourage residents of Great Lakes states to tell the stories of the region. The wiki was one of ten nationwide that received start-up funding from J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

Excerpt:

"The Great Lakes represent a complex story often incompletely told or ignored by mainstream media," said Dave Poulson, associate director of MSU's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. "The story requires many authors with diverse views, intimate knowledge and a passionate stake in nearly 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water."

GLITR's home page is here.

Automation Alley membership grows

The networking and training opportunties that Automation Alley offers its members have helped to increase its membership - by 16% in 2006 alone.

Excerpt:

One such business is Radian Tool and Engineering of Troy, whose owner, David Tate, recently joined Automation Alley.

"They're expanding the companies that they bring in and I'm specifically interested in defense companies that have joined," said Tate, whose company specializes in machining and assembly. "I really see Automation Alley as a path or a tool to help companies interface."

Read the entire article here.



Next Great Company Project to be chaired by First Gentleman

First gentleman Dan Mulhern is poised to chair a new initiative, the Next Great Company Project, that will work to retain and attract talent to the state of Michigan.

Excerpt:

Mulhern said that a company “that is a great place to work serves as a magnet for economic growth, because it attracts and retains highly talented workers, and that leads to corporate success. It can also be a competitive advantage for existing Michigan companies trying to compete in this tough new global economy.”

Read the entire article here.

DTE GreenCurrents program to encourage development of renewable energy sources

DTE Energy has issued an RFP to Michigan-based renewable energy providers for its GreenCurrents program in order to begin offering customers the chance to purchase all or part of their electricity from renewable sources.

Excerpt:

"The RFP we issued requires that providers be located in Michigan and that their renewable energy facilities be newly constructed," says Trevor F. Lauer, DTE Energy's vice president of marketing. "We want the resources for the GreenCurrents program to be homegrown, and we're interested in signing long-term agreements with developers who share that vision."

Read the entire article here.

Regional economic development collaborative created

Twelve economic development organizations across Southeast Michigan have joined together to create the Economic Development Coalition of Southeast Michigan (EDCSEM). The coalition will be focused on the following efforts within Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties:
  • expanding the capacity for entrepreneurialism and innovation in the region,
  • identifying priorities and jointly seeking federal and state resources to advance economic development in Southeast Michigan, and
  • partnering on policy initiatives that support economic growth in the region.
EDCSEM was convened by Detroit Renaissance, whose CEO Doug Rothwell, says, “We are looking at what programs we need, what expanded services we need to provide to facilitate the diversification of our economy.”

The group will aim to identify gaps in services that hinder the achievement of their goals. One that has already been discovered, according to Rothwell, is that “There is not enough capital to serve people that want to be starting up their own business or expanding their existing one.” He cites EDCSEM member organizations Automation Alley, TechTown and Ann Arbor SPARK as three examples of the type of programs that need expansion, and also need to be replicated around the region.

EDSCSEM member organizations include: Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Regional Economic Partnership, Detroit Renaissance, Macomb County, Oakland County, NextEnergy, TechTown, Tourism Economic Development Council and Wayne County. The group will meet bi-monthly, and staff will be provided by Detroit Renaissance and Detroit Regional Chamber.

Source: Doug Rothwell, Detroit Renaissance
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh



Transition of economy not easy, but imperative

Daniel Howes, business columnist for the Detroit News, discusses the transition Michigan needs to make from a manufacturing economy to one that is more diverse and knowledge -based.

Excerpt:

First, there is no painless path from struggling industrial hulk to prosperity, growth and economic diversity. Second, retreating to the past, where education was devalued and the factory floor delivered a middle-class life, is and will be a dead end.

And third, the tax-and-restructuring debate brewing in Lansing looms even larger than it did 24 hours ago. Policy-makers and the special interests pressuring them will either lay a foundation for Michigan's sustained revival or saddle the state and its taxpayers with short-term gimmicks, more denial, more pandering and more pain.

Read the entire column here.

Study says, Energy Star homes save homeowners $1,500/year

Detroit’s WARM Training has released a report entitled “Energy Savings in Michigan Housing” that quantifies energy savings in new Michigan homes built to Energy Star standards.

The study tracked 30 homes that were built in 2005 as the Habitat for Humanity Jimmy Carter Work Project. Jacob Corvidae, green programs manager for WARM, explains the findings. “If it only costs about $2,000 to get homes up to these standards, which is typically the case, and typically they are each bringing back [an average of] $1,500 per year." He goes on to say, "There is no reason why every home in Michigan should not at least be thinking about this.”

Houses being built to Energy Star standards typically include high-efficiency furnaces, basement insulation and improved attic insulation; other possibilities include increased wall insulation and Energy Star windows, appliances and lighting. Corvidae explains, “Needs will vary from home to home. This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all.’”

He stresses the need for homeowners and builders to work with an energy consultant, who will be able to explain what is needed to raise the home’s efficiency and also, certify the work independently once complete.

Corvidae points out that while the study was conducted on affordable housing, there is no reason the numbers would not translate to a market rate product.

You can download the report summary here and the full report here.

WARM keeps a list of local energy consultants that meet Energy Star and Michigan Build! standards at Michigan Build!.

Additional resources are available from the Energy Office of Michigan.

Source: Jacob Vorvidae, WARM Training
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Green thinking is simple economics, says Michigan Suburbs Alliance

The Michigan Suburbs Alliance, a non-profit working with Southeast Michigan inner-ring suburbs, explores the issue of how sustainibility can impact the economy in an editorial, and will again at its second Mayors and Managers Policy Breakfast on Feb. 22.

Excerpt:

While “It’s the environment, stupid,” is a long way off, sustainable practices and “green” thinking have a strong role to play in our state’s economic recovery.  These concepts are essential to creating a positive public image for our region as a modern, progressive place to work and live (a.k.a. drawing corporate headquarters and new startup companies to southeast Michigan).  Consequently, they have enormous potential to stimulate our transition to a knowledge-based economy by helping to attract young talent and “industries of the future.”

Read the entire article here.
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