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After 20 years, American cars are hot again

While Detroit has changed much for the better in terms of start-up activity and economic diversification, its renaissance is also circling back to the four-wheeled heritage the city was built on.

Excerpt:

"Detroit's boom-and-bust history was built on a dependence on big, fuel-thirsty vehicles. Now, with freshly stocked showrooms of new cars and more-efficient trucks, U.S. automakers are gaining ground on their Asian competitors with the best lineup in a generation.

"No matter what the economy does, no matter what fuel prices are, I've got a car for all seasons," said Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Youngstown,  Ohio, who is seeing sales boom for Dodge Dart compact cars and Ram 1500 pickups. "I didn’t have that in ’09."

"Detroit is arguably much more competitive than they have been, from the broad spectrum of their lineup, in a decade or more," said  Jeff Schuster, an analyst with researcher LMC Automotive. "Right now, Detroit has the momentum."

More here.

Metro Detroit schools tops in country for music education

Strike up the music! The NAMM Foundation has called out the school districts of Berkeley, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn, Ferndale, and Troy, as being among the best in the nation for music education.

Read the full list here.

Corp! magazine lauds Detroit region's tech and science innovations

From the Clarkston-based Mobile Technology Association of Michigan to Wayne State University's College of Engineering, high-tech breakthroughs are garnering attention.

Excerpt:

Michigan companies are leading the way in innovation focused on digital, scientific and technological pursuits. To recognize those companies and individuals pushing the boundaries of science, technology and the digital world –  Corp!  magazine inaugurated the Business of Science and Technology Awards in 2010 and added a separate Digital Award category the following year. For the fourth annual DiSciTech awards, 40 companies were honored April 18, 2013, during a breakfast and networking event at Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills.

More here.

Detroit area fares well in national comparison of drop in unemployment rates

Metro Detroit's 1.1 percentage-point decline in the unemployment rate from 2011 to 2012 puts it in the top half of the nation's largest metro areas in terms of improving job markets. 

See the national stats here.

Oakland County's job market is healthiest in years

This is the best it's been in years for job seekers in Oakland County, economists say. And the jobs pay well above the minimum wage.

Excerpt:

"On the heels of its strongest two-year job growth in almost 20 years, Oakland County's economy will add nearly 42,000 jobs through 2015, say University of Michigan economists...

In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, Fulton and colleague Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy say that high-wage industries—with average pay of more than $62,000—accounted for more than half of the new private-sector jobs created during the recovery, a trend that will continue throughout the forecast horizon...

Overall, Fulton and Grimes say that Oakland remains among the better local economies in the nation, ranking 10th among 36 comparable U.S. counties on a series of measures that indicate future economic prosperity."

More here.


Laundry entrepreneurs think outside the box

With not enough hours to get to the laundry, apartment dwellers and office workers in Detroit (and soon its metros) won't be left hung out to dry.

Excerpt:

"Michigan's own laundry barons Wayne Wudyka and Jeffrey Snyder want to place rows of high-tech lockers inside every downtown Detroit apartment building and office complex.

These computerized and smartphone-enabled lockers – call them Bizzie boxes – are the pick-up and drop-off sites for the longtime business partners' latest venture in dry cleaning and laundry services. The target user: tech-savvy urban dwellers and busy office professionals.

"Our plan is to locate the Bizzie box in every apartment complex in the downtown area and then work our way out into the suburbs," Wudyka said in a recent interview."

More here.


Downtowns say no to blank walls, yes to active facades

In Oakland County's downtowns these days, businesses that want to put a blank face to the street have to keep walking.

Excerpt:

"Last fall, a developer approached West Bloomfield trustees asking for a zoning change in order to place a storage unit business at Orchard Lake and 14 Mile. Then, a business owner approached asking for approval to open a fitness club in a former dealership on Orchard Lake Road.

"The new businesses didn’t conform to our (zoning)," said Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste.

The requests were for properties in the township’s "town center" — defined back in 2007 as Orchard Lake Road between 14 Mile and Maple roads. In the area, zoning rules require active first floors, not blank walls, which was intended to make that area more appealing to people walking...That desire is enthusiastically echoed in communities across Oakland County."

More here.


International Academy ranked no. 18 high school in the nation

Bloomfield Hills' International Academy has consistently ranked among the country's best in recent years, but hasn't rested on its laurels. It's still the best high school in Michigan, and is in the country's top 20, according to U.S. News & World Report.

See the rankings here.

Metro Detroit ranks 14th nationally in percentage job growth

In a good comeback story, Metro Detroit is no. 14 in the country in terms of percentage job growth from 2011 to 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More here.


Post-industrial? Detroit needs a new word

Detroit's economy is facing forward. Now it just needs some new verbiage.

Excerpt:

"Former heavy manufacturing hubs around the Great Lakes like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee often get roped together under the heading of "post-industrial" (when, that is, we're not otherwise identifying them by their prevalence of rust). The term poses at least two problems, though: Industry still exists in many of these places, and the very notion of defining them by their relationship to the past can hamstring us from planning more thoughtfully for their future.

"You've got the 'post-war,' you've got 'post-modern,' you've got 'post-9/11,'" says Paul Kapp, an associate professor in the school of architecture at the University of Illinois and an editor of the book SynergiCity: Reinventing the Postindustrial City. He was speaking Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Planning Association (hosted in what's often considered the post-industrial city of Chicago). "You get to a point," Kapp says, "where you've got to say, 'When does post-something end and you do something new?' I think with 'post-industrial,' we're at that opportunity now. I think it's now time to come up with a new term."

More here.

Food Tripping mobile app scouts out local, fresh food

A new app with some entertainment industry pros behind it can point you to the berries and kale.

Excerpt:

"A new mobile app will let organic- and health-food nuts scour where to buy nourishment that fits their diet regimen. It also lists microbreweries...

SHFT.com is a mobile app development founded by film producer Peter Glazer and “Entourage” television star Adrian Grenier. Ford was one of the founding partners of that company - launched in 2009 - whose stated goal is educating people about healthy food options."

More here.

Champions of the New Economy event set for May 8

An opportunity to mix and mingle with top business minds at a strolling dinner presents itself at the 2013 Champions of the New Economy on Wednesday, May 8 from 6-9 p.m. at Quicken Loans, JA Finance Park, 577 E. Larned St., in Detroit.

A couple of the luminaries include Joseph L. Welch, chairman, president & CEO of ITC Holdings Corp. and Matt Mosher, founder & CEO of hiredMYway.com.

Click here for more information, and register by May 3.


Garage Mahals rising in Metro Detroit

It's the latest way to run with the Joneses after parking your car. In Metro Detroit and the rest of the nation, garages are becoming hangouts, even watering holes.

Excerpt:

"Once seen as a catchall space to store bicycles, trash cans and lawn tools, garages are being rediscovered as the ideal place—who knew?—to park cars. Increasingly, many of these spaces are also becoming more lavish—loaded with high-end finishes and man toys, such as flat-screen TVs, underground car lifts and welding equipment.

"People are beginning to see that garages can be as cool as the rest of the rooms in the house," says Lou DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Architects in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who has seen a 15% to 20% uptick in garage projects in the past five years...

Even garages used for entertaining are designed around the car: the vehicle might be parked on an electronic turntable and surrounded by a bar and seating area. "People love to have their cars on display," Mr. DesRosiers says. "When they have parties, they bring the parties out to the garage."

More here.

At the Detroit Zoo, a smaller green footprint

This spring and summer, green at the Detroit Zoo will go above and beyond vegetation, alligators, and tropical parrots. Its big green project, energy-efficient building rehabs, solar and electric golf carts, and ditching the disposable plastic water bottles.

Excerpt:

"The Detroit Zoo has joined a handful of its peers nationally that are implementing green operational practices ranging from intense energy savings programs to green education.

It plans to invest about $4 million total in sustainable projects as part of a seven-year "greenprint" strategic plan during that time and in return to see zero waste going to landfills and a 25 percent reduction in the zoo's energy usage by 2020, COO Gerry VanAcker said."

More here.

Atlantic Cities maps Metro Detroit's creative class

A great, comprehensive article on how the 7.2-square-mile greater downtown Detroit is growing posher by the minute, it seems, and how and why its deindustrialized metros (and certain Detroit neighborhoods) are landing the creative class.

Excerpt:

"Two of the top 10 creative class tracts are in Birmingham; two are in Bloomfield Township, and another is in Bloomfield Hills, home to some of the priciest real estate in the U.S. and the Cranbrook educational community. Designed by Finnish architect  Eliel Saarinen, the architecture critic  Paul Goldberger  called Cranbrook "one of the greatest campuses ever created anywhere in the world." University of Michigan's  Little  points out in an email to me: "Cranbrook graduates have added to the cutting edge design and creative communities of Detroit and the nation for decades."

Another top creative class tract is in nearby Troy, a sprawling middle-class suburb with excellent public schools, and the site of a high-end mall, the Somerset Collection. Two are in Huntington Woods, a leafy neighborhood that boasts such notable amenities as the public golf course  Rackham and the Detroit Zoo. Two more are in the "Grosse Pointes" — Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Park — the communities of choice for many of Detroit's old industrial magnates, whose lakeshores are lined with sprawling Gilded Age mansions."

More here.
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