| Follow Us:

Detroit : Innovation & Job News

543 Detroit Articles | Page: | Show All

After 5 Detroit launches new summer intern program

A start-up and a foundation walk into a bar full of corporations and walk away with a few hundred interns. That's not a joke. The latest initiative to keep young talent in Metro Detroit helps them take advantage of the region's lifestyle.

The Connect After 5 Summer Intern Program is being run by Detroit-based After 5 Detroit and is being funded by the Hudson-Webber Foundation. It's signed up 205 interns from DTE Energy and Digerati to take part in the program. It hopes to add a few hundred more from other area companies by the time the summer turns consistently warm.

"We are working with a number of other companies right now to get them and their interns on board," says Kerry Doman, CEO of After 5 Detroit, a website that highlights events, hot spots, and information targeted at young professionals who wish to fully experience the Detroit lifestyle. It's one of a number of programs that are being employed to help staunch the state's brain drain of young, educated, and entrepreneurial professionals.

"That's who we need to retain for a strong workforce and deeper workforce and overall stronger economy," Doman says.

For information on the program, click here.

Source: Kerry Doman, CEO of After 5 Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

DTE scores $84M for smart grid; 1,050 jobs

Metro Detroit's transformation to a smart grid got a big boost last week when the U.S. Dept of Energy gave DTE Energy an $84 million grant to improve Metro Detroit's electric grid.

DTE Energy's SmartCurrents initiative is spearheading the smart grid transformation, which involves the development of a high-tech electrical infrastructure to prepare for new technologies that will provide customers with ways to better manage their energy consumption. DTE Energy will match the grant, bringing the initiative's war chest to about $170 million.

That investment is expected to create 1,050 new jobs over the next couple of years, consisting of 700 deployment and construction jobs for IT contractors and overhead linemen and 350 permanent supplier positions.

"It will begin shortly," says Scott Simons, a spokesman for DTE Energy, adding that it will take 6-8 years to make the switch to a smart grid.

Part of the smart grid switch will include installing 600,000 new smart meters in parts of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Lapeer, Ingham, and Tuscola counties. These meters allow for easier access to energy usage information through wireless communications. This and other technologies are expected to improve electrical service reliability and give better control of energy consumption and costs.

Source:
Scott Simons, a spokesman for DTE Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

S3 creates 53 new IT jobs in downtown Detroit

Strategic Staffing Solutions has established a new IT center in downtown Detroit, creating 53 new jobs immediately with a further promise of expanding employment to 150 by year's end.

"We have people who are starting in the facility every day," says Cynthia J Pasky, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions. "Our goal is to pass that number."

The Detroit Development Center is located in the Penobscot Building, which is also Strategic Staffing Solutions headquarters. It will handle IT work for Blue Cross Blue Shield in house in Detroit instead of offshoring that work.

"There is a tremendous amount of IT talent here that is available," Pasky says.

Strategic Staffing Solutions has existing commitments from two anchor customers to be serviced by the Detroit Development Center, putting the firm on track to achieve its four-year commitment to hire more than 400 IT specialists.

Source: Cynthia J Pasky, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland County opens $500K microloan fund

Microloan funds are spreading through Metro Detroit faster than the flu, with the latest outbreak taking place in Oakland County.

The Oakland County Microloan Program will provide loans of $500 to $35,000 to small businesses. It is modeled after the highly successful Michigan Microloan Fund run by Ann Arbor SPARK. The idea of the microloans is to help fill the capital void for small businesses that want to grow and create jobs but are being hampered by the nearly frozen credit lines of the financial industry.

"We expect the demand will be high for these loans because traditional lending channels are all but dried up for small businesses," says Maureen Krauss, director of Economic Development and Community Affairs for Oakland County. "There are a lot of people who want to start their own businesses."

Eligible businesses must be based out of Oakland County, pay a $75 application fee, have a business plan if they are under three years old, and at least two letters of denial from traditional lending sources. Owners must be current on child support, student loans, and income taxes.

Oakland County, in partnership with the Center for Empowerment & Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration, is giving $100,000 towards creating the fund, as well as a $500,000 pool to start with.

The Michigan Microloan Fund draws from a $1.5 million pool and also from other six-figure funds provided by Washtenaw County and the city of Ann Arbor that are geared toward businesses in those respective communities. It
expects to make 24-48 loans this year. Detroit's TechTown has also formed its own fund and Oakland University's OU INCubator is taking steps to set up its own program.


Source:
Maureen Krauss, director of Economic Development and Community Affairs for Oakland County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Grant allows Wayne State to debut The LaunchPad

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will announced a multi-million dollar gift for the New Economy Initiative in Metro Detroit tomorrow as part of a much bigger financial commitment to help foster entrepreneurship and economic recovery in communities hardest hit by the global economic crisis.

Wayne State University and Walsh College will split the money to establish the Blackstone LaunchPad, which will encourage and support entrepreneurship for local college students and recent graduates. The 10 foundations behind the New Economy Initiative will also add a significant grant to provide central coordination services and an evaluation tool to measure the success of the project.

"The Blackstone Launch Pad program at Wayne State University and Walsh College is a tremendous step forward in fostering entrepreneurship, a critical part of the economic revitalization of southeast Michigan," Dave Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative, said in a prepared statement. "The New Economy Initiative supports opportunities, like the Blackstone Launch Pad, which focus on developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, capitalizing on existing resources, and developing a solid workforce with the hope that these opportunities will create a more diversified, knowledge-driven economy."

The idea is to foster entrepreneurship that will serve as the basis for a growing, diversified economy based in 21st Century business models. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation plans to make multi-million grants
from its commitment.

The Blackstone LaunchPad will employ a program first started at the University of Miami in 2008 that worked to foster entrepreneurship through higher education.
The program promotes entrepreneurial thinking and activity among undergraduate, graduate students, and new alumni. In its first two years at the University of Miami, the program attracted 1,000 students and alumni who created 45 new businesses and 102 new jobs.

It accomplished this through providing  practical skills, seasoned advice, and professional contacts. The same tactics will be employed at Wayne State University and Walsh College.

Source: The Blackstone Charitable Foundation
Writer: Jon Zemke

Xconomy expands tech coverage into Detroit

Xconomy.com is adding some diversity to its economic ecosystem by spreading its coverage area to include Metro Detroit.

The business webzine that focuses on the new economy has traditionally covered regions that are hotspots for technology and innovation, such as California or Massachusetts, where the nearly three-year-old firm is based. Xconomy Detroit is the company's first foray away from the coasts and in a place more familiar with industrial America.

"It's not a normal choice for us," says Bob Buderi, founder and editor-in-chief of Xconomy. He adds that Metro Detroit doesn't have the robust venture capital or entrepreneurial communities enjoyed by other cities Xconomy covers, such as Seattle or San Diego.

However, that doesn't mean there isn't a story to tell in Detroit and Michigan. Most of the Midwest is trying to reinvent itself and recapture some of the entrepreneurial and investment gusto that made it great a century ago.

"It's still a hugely important thing playing out and we wanted to tell the story," Buderi says. "It's hugely important to the country."

Buderi, a former technology editor for Business Week, started the company after finishing his third book on tech and innovation. It has since grown to 10 employees, four independent contractors, and two journalism fellows from Scandinavia. The Detroit Bureau will have one person to start but could grow to two staffers within the next year, which would put it on par with the Seattle bureau.

Source: Bob Buderi, founder and editor in chief of Xconomy
Writer: Jon Zemke

GalaxE.Solutions to create 500 new IT jobs in Detroit

Downtown Detroit's office vacancy rate fell a bit Tuesday when GalaxE.Solutions decided to take a couple floors of an office tower and create 500 jobs.

The New Jersey-based IT firm plans to invest $4.2 million to create a technical center in the 1001 Woodward office building. That means 70 new jobs right away and 500 new jobs within the next four years. Most of that hiring will take place sooner rather than later.

"Quite frankly, we'd like to see those numbers surpassed," says Tim Bryan, chairman and CEO of GalaxE.Solutions. "We are bullish about expanding our footprint in Detroit."

The 1001 Woodward building has gone through its ups and downs in recent years. It held offices overlooking Campus Martius for decades until it was slated to become condos at the height of the real-estate bubble. That project floundered and the 25-story building went into bankruptcy before 
Dimitrios Papas of Greektown fame bought it and turned it back into office space. GalaxE.Solutions is the first big-name tenant in the circa-1965 structure.

Its location in the center of downtown and across the street from the Compuware headquarters played a major role in GalaxE.Solutions' decision. Bryan sees that district becoming a regional IT hub for Michigan's economy, providing significant upside for future growth.

"We were looking for both a convenient and expandable location in downtown Detroit," Bryan says. "We felt 1001 Woodward was exactly right."

Making all of this happen is a $4.6 million state tax credit over five years from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The city of Detroit is considering a personal property tax abatement for the project, too. GalaxE.Solutions choose Detroit over a competing site in New Jersey.  

Source: Tim Bryan, chairman and CEO of GalaxE.Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Detroit firms land Michigan Microloan funds

Detroit-based companies have taken two of the three loans available in the latest financing round from the Michigan Microloan Fund.

TechTown-based
NextCAT and CYJ Enterprises will split $115,000 in loans, along with Ann Arbor-based Ix Innovations. These loans provide scarce seed capital that small businesses need to take the next step in their product development or advancing their business plans.

NextCAT is utilizing technology developed at Wayne State University to push forward the development of biodiesel. This technology allows biodiesel producers to use less-expensive raw materials for production, simplifying the process.

"We enable the next generation of biodiesel processing," says Chuck Salley, president of
NextCAT. "We let producers knock a buck a gallon off the price of biodiesel."

The start-up employs six people and an intern. It hopes to make six more hires and have its pilot demonstration product working by the end of the year. The borrowing will allow that to happen by helping to cover the legal and administrative fees to form the company and create the demonstration pilot.

CYJ Enterprises will use its microloan to fund the commercialization of its first product, e-CYREN, an emergency management system designed to help child and adult care providers quickly and effectively communicate with families before, during, and after emergencies.

The $1.5 million microloan program, administered by Ann Arbor SPARK, will make anywhere from 2-4 loans of a few thousand dollars each per month for 2010. That's another 24-48 fledgling local businesses receiving financing during a time when loans for small businesses have been almost non-existent since the economy crashed.

Source: Chuck Salley, president of NextCAT
Writer: Jon Zemke

TechTown scores $800K grant from Kresge Foundation

More money is starting to pour into Detroit's TechTown small business accelerator. This time it's The Kresge Foundation pledging $800,000 to make room for TechTown's rapidly expanding base of start-ups.

The funding will be used to renovate the old Dagleish auto dealership, across Cass Avenue from the original TechOne small business incubator, into the new TechTwo incubator, which will provide office space and services for hundreds of new companies.

This latest expansion effort is part of the New Economy Initiative's (primarily sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation) plans to reinvigorate Michigan's entrepreneurial economy by creating 400-500 start-ups in TechTown and 1,200 across Metro Detroit. When the initiative was announced last year there were 60 start-ups in TechOne, which had plenty of space ready to be built out. Today there are 201 early-stage ventures and a waiting list for space in TechTwo.

"I'd like to add at least another 100 by the end of the year," says Randal Charlton, executive director of TechTown. "But our ability to do that hinges on us building out more space."

TechTown,
with $9.25 million in grant money, is partnering with the New Economy Initiative and the Kauffman Foundation as well as the expertise, staff, materials and the FastTrac and Urban Entrepreneurship Partnership programs from those organizations. This latest grant puts the total investment in the eight-figure range and more could be on the way soon.

"I certainly hope so and I certainly expect to (receive more grants)," Charlton says. "I also expect these generous foundations to hold us to account."

Source: Randal Charlton, executive director of TechTown
Writer: Jon Zemke

Q&A: Eric Novack of Detroit's Russell Industrial Center

Detroit's Russell Industrial Center is gearing up to celebrate its fourth anniversary this weekend with its annual Spring Open House.

The small business and artist incubator no one saw coming will open its doors to the public between 2-11 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. That means anyone who is interested in walking the grounds, discovering new art, or checking out potential space for rent is welcome to the massive old factory at 1600 Clay, at the northeast side of the I-75/I-94 intersection.

The Russell was holding steady at 285 businesses between its studio space and the Russell Bazaar. Those numbers dropped over the winter when the economy really bottomed out but have since rebounded to 160 businesses in the studio spaces and 125-130 in the Bazaar. It's now signing one new lease every week on average.

"We're holding strong," says Eric Novak, operations manager for the Russell. He adds that about 500,000 square feet of the two million-square-foot complex is available, including 10 studios that range in size from 200-1,200 square feet. Bigger raw factory floor space is also available in chunks as big as 85,000 square feet.

Novack recently answered questions over e-mail about the Russell and what he describes as the "clean, safe and functional" space it provides.

In a sentence or two, sum up what life is like in the Russell Industrial Center?

I can sum it up with one word, motion. A constant state of motion as the tenants keep creating and making their products, and as the Russell keeps creating and making new spaces for them.

The Russell is known for its competitive prices. What can businesses and artists expect (and not expect) to get for their money at the Russell?

Raw space that they can do or design the way they need to. We provide four walls, a roof with 24-hour security, and access. The rest is up to them.

In recent years, there have been a number of places across southeast Michigan that have tried to copy Russell's business model of lots of space for low prices and few rules. What sets the Russell apart from its competitors?

Gaslight windows, the already massive community of artists and small businesses which in a sense really created Russell, we just happen to own it. However, management does get involved with its tenants, makes for a real community. It's not us against them, which you get so frequently in most types of these buildings. It's just us.

Conventional wisdom is starting to suggest that an economic recovery will be in full force by the end of the year. What do you think the Russell will be like a year from now with an economic rebound behind it?

I hope for more of the same: new tenants, new shows, new works of art, more movie productions. I don't know if the outside world affects what is happening on the inside of the Russell Industrial Center. I know it does or should, but you don't see that with a lot of our tenants. They are constantly in motion. So at the end of the day, the Russell is one giant organic machine, and I am sure it will continue to become stronger and more efficient every year.

Source: Eric Novack, operations manager for the Russell Industrial Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

GM doubles size of Warren advanced battery lab

If bigger is better, then the General Motors advanced battery lab is going from good to great now that the Detroit automaker is spending $8 million to nearly double its Warren Tech Center laboratory size to 63,000 square feet.

The space, formerly used for engine testing, will be converted to a battery lab testing facility to meet new requirements for the Alternative Energy Center. Work is set to begin this summer and finish up by the end of the season.

The laboratory develops and tests advanced batteries (think lithium ion) and technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles.
GM opened the lab last spring. It is utilized by a team of more than 1,000 hybrid and electric vehicle engineers.

Most of the facility is used for testing electrochemical battery cells and their enclosures, and to evaluating completed battery packs. The expansion will allow GM to further its research into battery storage and mitigating the effects of heat and thermal shock.

Source: General Motors
Writer: Jon Zemke

State wins $4.39M grant for smart grid jobs

Smart grid development is set to bring $4.39 million in federal stimulus funds to Michigan, along with training for 588 new jobs.

The U.S. Department of Energy grant will allow the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth to leverage $16.7 million more from local utilities for job development training.

"We're killing two birds with one stone with this grant," says Beth Sommers, a green jobs specialist with the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.

The newly established Michigan's Electric Power Workforce Training Strategy will train people to handle the new technical aspects of smart grid technology, seen as the next generation of electrical infrastructure. Consumers Energy and DTE Energy expect to hire 186 new workers via the new program.

"Basically all of the occupations across the board will need more technical skills as the smart grid is installed across the state," Sommers says.

Source: Beth Sommers, a green jobs specialist with the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth
Writer: Jon Zemke

WSU, Henry Ford Hospital open clinical research center

Wayne State University and Henry Ford Health System have opened a joint venture that promises to enhance clinical research sharing between the two institutions.

The Clinical Research Center will be housed in the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, next to the Detroit Medical Center's campus in Midtown. There will be access to medical exam rooms; office space; a large procedure room for conducting intensive and interactive studies; a pharmacy;
trained coordinators; and administrative support for university and hospital investigators to conduct clinical and translational research studies in all areas.

"We're trying to make these services available so they can take their inventions to the next step," says Michael P Diamond, executive director of clinical and translation research at Wayne State University.

The center will aid in
study design and clinical trial management as well as conducting power calculations and data review as studies progress. Think of it as the place that helps slow-moving or stalled studies to speed up or even get on the fast track with pharmaceutical firms or government research funding.

The idea is to increase the volume and quality of clinical and translational research studies while developing the next generation of researchers.
Clinical trials will also focus on historically underrepresented minority groups.

Source:
Michael P Diamond, executive director of clinical and translation research at Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Jennifer Alvarado Q&A: Future of wind energy in Michigan

When it comes to alternative energy, wind energy is seen as Michigan's most promising avenue. It could mean everything from cheap, sustainable energy to new manufacturing jobs to new entrepreneurial activities.

All of that will be discussed at the Michigan Wind Energy Conference next week (April 20-21) at Cobo Center in Detroit. The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (which is sponsoring the conference) Executive Director Jennifer Alvarado agreed to answer some questions about the potential future of wind energy over email for Metromode.

Wind energy is seen as a potentially big job creator for Michigan in industries like alternative energy and manufacturing. Could Michigan also expect to see job creation in tourism industry because of the wind turbines? Could these turbines become as iconic as Michigan's historic lighthouses? ,

Many Michigan residents and decision makers tour the thumb area to view the wind farm in Ubly, Michigan. During the first few months after completion of the wind farm, at east 800 people had traveled to the area to see the wind turbines. As Michigan continues to build wind energy projects, they will continue to be visited. There is an opportunity to increase tours of the Michigan wind farms that will benefit the local communities.   

The stereotypical wind turbine is a towering piece of machinery that often dots the shoreline or farmer's fields. Could we expect to see more wind turbines designed for urban environments in the near future?

Wind turbines are being developed in all shapes and sizes. The investments in research and development of renewable energy technology is crucial to help design the applications that we can use to best harness the power of our natural resources. We are seeing more wind turbines designed for urban environments.  GLREA tells our members and residents that call us or come to our educational seminars that when buying and installing renewable energy systems and purchasing renewable energy, you need to think about saving energy first through energy efficient applications and then explore the renewable energy resource potential in your area and decide which renewable energy applications will work best to meet your energy needs.

Ann Arbor-based Accio Energy is often seen as a start-up with technology that could revolutionize how man harnesses the power in wind. What's your take on this new technology? Could it live up to its game-changing hypes and if so what would that mean for the local economy?

The technology that Accio Energy is developing, wind turbines without moving parts, is very exciting. This is an example of the kind of innovative technology that has to be explored to solve our global energy demands.  I do not think that there will be a silver bullet solution.  To meet our energy demands of tomorrow, it will take a diversified portfolio of energy resources.  We are moving our global use of energy to get to the most efficient and cleanest use of energy. Michigan possesses the research and development capabilities to become a leader in sustainable energy development and the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is here to help make that happen in Michigan.

If there is one thing Metro Detroit doesn't lack is busy freeways. Could we see the day when turbines line them to generate alternative energy?

Of course, Europe has had solar arrays lining their highways for years and Michigan uses the panels that help light signs. I think wind turbines could be used if the resource is available.

Name one thing the local business community could do to help push forward the development of the wind energy?

Just being informed on the technology and the possibilities of wind energy and other forms of renewable energy will help the business community move towards using wind energy and getting involved in the wind industry business in Michigan. Of course attending the Michigan Wind Energy Conference at Cobo Hall in Detroit on April 20th and 21st would be a great step towards learning how other Michigan businesses moved into the wind industry, what Michigan utilities are planning and investing in this industry, the siting of wind turbines, how off-shore wind projects are being developed in Europe and more.

Source: Jennifer Alvarado, executive director of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association
Writer: Jon Zemke

Greening Detroit launches at Detroit's TechTown

Another sustainability-oriented business is launching out of Detroit's TechTown business incubator.

Greening Detroit is a website focused on making sustainability possible for other firms across the metro area.

"We saw an opportunity to provide this region with a website that offers green products and services," says Laurie Efimoff, director of administration for Greening Detroit. "They wanted to provide a one-stop shop for green solutions in our area."

This also includes providing advertising services for green companies. By the time of its launch earlier this month, the nearly one-year-old company had grown to 10 staffers. Plans are to add a few more later this year.

"We continue to be optimistic about the growth," Efimoff says. "We expect to continue to add people."

Source: Laurie Efimoff, director of administration for Greening Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke
543 Detroit Articles | Page: | Show All
Share this page
0
Email
Print
Signup for Email Alerts