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Michigan Shifting Gears program taking applications for job seekers looking to retool

The Michigan Shifting Gears program is seeking applicants for its three-month career transition program beginning on January 21. Sessions will take place in Ann Arbor and the Great Lakes Bay region. Registration for the Winter 2014 session is open now through  Friday, January 10. 


"The program is designed to help experienced professionals, returning veterans, stay-at-home parents and others facing a career crossroads fine-tune their skills to fit the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups...

Participants in Michigan Shifting Gears receive a professional career assessment and career coaching, attend eight days of workshops, participate in networking events, and take part in a three-day small business simulation.  Participants are paired with volunteer mentors from the entrepreneurial community who work one-on-one to review their resumes, provide career advice, and help with their career transition....

Michigan Shifting Gears has an impressive rate of success, with 51 percent of graduates landing new jobs within three months of completing the program. Sixty-five percent of graduates land positions within six months, and 84 percent find work within nine or more months...."

For more info and to learn about the prerequisites for registering, click here.

Investors rate Detroit commercial property a "Buy"

Dan Gilbert has been on a well-known Detroit property-buying spree for years now, and of late, other investors are getting in on Detroit's ground floor.


"Despite a fiscal plight that forced the city to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection five months ago, the real-estate market has been picking up in Detroit's downtown core. Mr. Gilbert has led the charge by buying dozens of properties and moving in 3,800 of his employees from suburban offices and creating another 6,500 jobs downtown since 2010, according to the company.

But lately, other investors have begun buying trophy buildings and starting to develop apartments to meet the rising demand from workers who prefer downtown living. City officials estimate residential occupancy downtown is 97 percent.

The projects show that some real-estate investors are looking beyond the bankruptcy to an eventual rebound in Detroit. They are hoping that property values and rents will rise due to the region's resurgent automotive industry and the expansion of its medical community and nascent technology industry...

In October, Dongdu International, known as DDI, paid a total of $13.6 million for two of Detroit's better-known buildings, including the former home of the Detroit Free Press, now slated for a residential conversion. The Chinese company is now under contract to buy a third, 10-story loft-apartment building for $2.77 million, an attorney representing the company said this week."

More here.

Discovery Channel series to film at Barwis Methods Training Center in Plymouth

A Metro Detroit gym's athletes get to work out in the hot lights when the Discovery Channel crew comes to town this January.


"Ann Arbor native filmmaking brothers Chris and Mike Farah –  who shot the feature film "Answer This!" in Ann Arbor in 2009  – are now producing (with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's popular comedy website, FunnyOrDie.com) a new, as-yet-unnamed "sports docu-seris" for the Discovery Channel.

Shooting begins outside Detroit in January, at strength coach Mike Barwis' gym (Barwis Methods Training Center)...

Chris Farah can't discuss air dates for the show, or the pro athletes who will appear on the series, but he believes that getting a good lineup won't be too hard, since "Barwis' gym is already pretty much the place pro athletes go to train. … The environment Barwis has created is astonishing."

More here.

GM's Detroit headquarters' landfill-free status sets green example for nation

Nothing in the waste basket goes to waste at GM's Detroit offices anymore.


"General Motors Co.'s downtown Detroit headquarters complex now recycles, reuses or converts all its daily waste to energy, with efforts at the  Renaissance Center  keeping 5 million pounds of trash annually from landfills..."

More here.

TV pilot "12 Monkeys" to shoot in Metro Detroit, hire 150 local workers

Sci-fi lovers and fans of the 12 Monkeys film featuring Brad Pitt will want to catch this show filming in Metro Detroit. The project will hire 150 locals (34 full-time job equivalents), according to the Michigan Film Office.


"12 Monkeys  is an adaptation of the 1995 Terry Gilliam feature film.   The pilot follows the journey of a time traveler from the post-apocalyptic future who appears in present day on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will eventually decimate the human race."

More here.

Macomb Comm. College students tool around in renewable energy-powered cargo trikes

Some enterprising students just gave junk a new green lease on life.


Take 13 college students from diverse backgrounds, ask them to build something purposeful out of junk and voila! — the result is a pair of funky three-wheeled bikes, powered by renewable energy, that transport people and cargo anytime, anyplace.

The band of students at Macomb Community College collaborated for 14 weeks on the "trikes,”"which run on a combination of pedal power and an electric hub motor using a battery charged with solar power.

The students, who are earning certificates in Macomb’s renewable energy technology program, kept the designs environmentally friendly by incorporating the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra of the sustainability movement.

More here.

U.S. factories humming with activity

The growth in U.S. manufacturing bodes well for Detroit, which has started retooling former auomotive operations into production facilities for unique goods.


"U.S. factory activity expanded in November for the sixth straight month, signaling stronger demand at home and abroad that could boost growth prospects into next year....

"Ultimately, it's consumer spending" providing the support for increased factory activity, said Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the ISM's manufacturing-survey panel.

That's good news for Detroit-based watch maker Shinola. Founded in 2011, Shinola took the brand of a defunct American shoe-polish maker and set up shop in a building that formerly housed a General Motors research lab. It has hired more than 170 people since its launch and continues to add workers, Chief Executive Steve Bock said."

More here.

Mt. Brighton ski resort receives $10M facelift

This week Mt. Brighton opened for skiing with a fresh coat of snow – and brand new facilities.


"Since recently purchasing Mt. Brighton, Vail Resorts has sunk $10 million in improvements into the slopes at 4141 Bauer Road in Genoa Township...

Heffernan visited the skiing facility so her sons, Jake, 13, and Brandon, 10, could go snowboarding. Heffernan, who used to live in Colorado, said Mt. Brighton now has the look and feel of a lodge in Colorado.

Jake Heffernan said the chairlifts are more comfortable, and he’s excited to try the new terrain park when it opens."

More here.

Detroit to be site of Acoustic Guitar Project TV pilot

Motown's unsung guitar heroes will be getting a shout-out on a new TV pilot to be filmed locally.


"Globe-trotting acoustic guitars have been passing through the hands of songwriters from Helsinki to Haiti, Bogota to the Big Apple. Now, Detroit — home to the Motown Sound, modern techno and the Queen of Soul — has its own ax circulating among unsung musicians.

There's a different guitar in each city, but the premise of The Acoustic Guitar Project is the same: Give the guitar to a songwriter for a week, in which he must compose and record a song, and upload the recording and a photo with the guitar. The instrument then is signed and delivered to another artist...

The fifth town on the project's itinerary is more than a pit stop. It's also the site of another project of Adams', a crowd-funded TV pilot about the guitars. Donors contributed $20,000 and picked Detroit as the destination."

More here.

Michigan more economically competitive, but there's room to improve

Heading into 2014, overall Michigan is gaining on other states, but a new study out by the Michigan Chamber Foundation says it still has a ways to go.


"Overall, the Northwood University Competitiveness Index ranked Michigan 39th this year, up from 47th in 2012.

Northwood University  conducted the study, which looked at more than 200 variables grouped into five categories: general macroeconomic environment, state debt and taxation, workforce compensation and cost, labor and capital formation and the regulatory environment."

More here.

Immigrant entrepreneur finds dream at the end of the rainbow

Which young teen doesn't have a handful of those colorful rubber band bracelets? A Metro Detroit immigrant has created a new craze.


"MY model American entrepreneur of the moment is Cheong Choon Ng. He has not attracted a $3 billion bid from Facebook, like the young inventors of the photo-sharing service Snapchat. Wall Street is not cooking up an I.P.O. But Ng is a star in my household. He is the creator of the  Rainbow Loom, which in the middle-schooler market is the hottest device not called iSomething. If you have noticed that half the children in America — and a fair number of adults — seem to be sporting bracelets that are braids of brightly colored rubber bands, then you have seen the fruits of the Rainbow Loom....

He is a cheerful advertisement for the American dream. "The longer you stay, the more you see the opportunity," Ng told me from his home in Michigan, where he is working on a loom upgrade and his next invention. "Whatever you work for, you can own."

More here.

Detroit watchmaker Shinola makes the big time

Will a Detroit-made Shinola become the new Rolex? Time will tell.


"Three years ago, in autumn 2010, a small group of businessmen, consisting of watch industry stalwarts from Swiss movement manufacturer Ronda and strategic developers from Dallas-based  Bedrock Brands, came together to discuss the possibility of regenerating the long-defunct U.S. watch industry. What emerged was the Shinola watch factory, which established itself on the fifth floor of Detroit's College for Creative Studies.

According to its CEO, Steve Bock: "We are not doing this out of philanthropy, we chose to come to Detroit for practical business reasons. It is a city of heritage and of global recognition—just look at what has come out of Detroit—the motor industry, World War II manufacturing, and music. Craftsmanship and a first-rate work ethic emanate from the city."

More here.

Local turkey farmers have full plates of business this Thanksgiving

Detroit-area turkey farms see demand for local, organic as something to be thankful for this year.


"Christine Roperti, owner of Roperti's Turkey Farm in Livonia, is gearing up for Thanksgiving.
"People are always thanking me for being here," she said. "They say, 'I don't care if it's $5 a pound. You can't beat your turkeys.' I love doing it."...

Mike Liabenow, manager of meat and seafood at Joe's Produce in Livonia, said his department began carrying organic turkeys raised in Michigan for the first time this year.

"It's something that's been on the rise a couple years in the  business," he said. "Everyone wants to keep everything in Michigan."

More here.

Four Metro Detroit cities make list of best places to find a job in Michigan

According to Nerdwallet.com, Livonia, Dearborn, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, and Novi are cities with good job markets where your paycheck actually buys you something! That's not as common as you'd think.


"...NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Michigan, and we did so by asking the following questions:

1. Is the city growing?  We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.

2. Can you afford to live in the city comfortably?  We looked at a city’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the city had a reasonable cost of living.

3. Are most people employed?  We looked at the unemployment rate."

More here.

U-M Dearborn's eCities study recognizes Sterling Heights for supporting entrepreneurs

U-M Dearborn's iLabs has selected Sterling Heights as one of eight cities statewide that goes above and beyond to foster entrepreneurship.


“These communities are being recognized for the best practices they utilize, which include the right mix of tools and resources for their business community,” said Tim Davis, director, iLabs. “They listen to companies, help them with governmental processes,  connect  them with other companies and listen to what both new and  existing  businesses are saying. They are the definition of partners in the process and not just a service provider.”

More here.
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