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Community groups to schedule meetings with Regional Transit Authority CEO Michael Ford

Communities across metro Detroit have a lot of questions about the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA), which was created by the state legislature in December 2012: How will it be funded? What power will the authority have over existing transit agencies like SMART and DDOT? Will the RTA bring true mass transit in the form of rail or bus rapid transit to the region?

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, community groups will have the opportunity to schedule meetings with the RTA's CEO Michael Ford where they will be able to ask those and other questions regarding the future of regional transit in Southeast Michigan. The Harriet Tubman Center at St. John's Episcopal Church in Royal Oak will be hosting two one-hour scheduling sessions (noon to 1 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m.). Community groups will have the ability to schedule follow-up meetings with Ford in the months of March, April, and May. St. John's is located at 26998 Woodward Ave.

Space is limited. Visit the Harriet Tubman Center's website to RSVP for the event.

Royal Oak gets web-savvy parking meters

You know the future is now when even the dreaded parking meter has an app and happily accepts internet transactions.


The sticker represents Royal Oak’s partnership with Parkmobile, a parking payment provider that allows visitors to conduct parking transactions via their smart phones. Users can pay for parking through the internet, a mobile application or a toll-free number.

There also are options for users to receive alerts to notify them when the time on the meter is set to expire.

Read the rest here.

Royal Oak's Bastone Brewery wins national award at Great American Beer Festival

Bastone Brewery has a new award on tap: Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewery of the Year.


"The award is given to a brewery that produced fewer than 750 barrels in 2013; more than 1,300 total breweries were entered in the Great American Beer Festival competition; 23 competed in the Small Brewpub category.

The 10-year-old brewery, at 419 S. Main St., also was recognized for two beers: Thor’s Hammer in the Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category; and Private Stock #472 in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged category. The two beers are not yet available."

More here.

Thrillist eats up Detroit's hottest new restaurants

A slew of new restaurants in Detroit and its close-in neighbors makes Thrillist's menu of must-eats.


"Royal Oak
By contrast, absolutely nothing about DROUGHT -- or its devotees -- will make you think "hot mess". Because, you know, healthy. The newest DROUGHT cold-pressed raw juice retail location has opened in Royal Oak, to be followed by its fifth spot in Birmingham next month...

Boogie Fever, the quintessential nightclub for all Detroit-area phallus-themed bachelorette parties, has closed. Long live Boogie Fever. In its place, the owners have opened Twisted Tavern, a restaurant in front and party in the back (with Twist Night Club). They're billing it as a from-scratch small plates tavern (think polenta fries and pork belly flatbreads), but some questions remain, including: now where will all the cougars coug? And the dudes who try to prey on sad, single bridesmaids, only to end up cougar food? This is a delicate ecosystem!"

More here.

Metro Detroit home prices climb 20% in June

The spring home-buying season proved to be a bountiful one for regional property values as buyer confidence increased.


"The median selling price in Metro Detroit rose on an annual basis for a 16th straight month in June, according to figures released Monday by Farmington Hills-based Realcomp, the multiple listing service for southeast Michigan and a small portion of northern Ohio.

The median selling price in Metro Detroit climbed 20.2 percent year-over-year to $149,000 in June. Realcomp defines Metro Detroit as Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties."

More here.

Royal Oak named to national Top 10 Best Cities for Kids list

Royal Oak's schools and high quality of life make it one of the country's best places to start and raise a family, according to Livability.com.


"Royal Oak, Mich., offers children a significant advantage with its highly-rated schools, progressive library system and strongly supported recreational programs. Both parents and children will benefit from Royal Oak’s funky, fun downtown. The city’s more than 50 parks and fun attractions, such as the John Lindell Ice Arena and Detroit Zoo, give kids plenty of fun things to do. Parents will appreciate the city’s below-national-average crime rate."

More here.

Royal Oak is one of nation's 10 most exciting small cities

Chances are you won't lack for entertainment in Royal Oak. When it comes to nightlife, the active life, food options, and a younger population, it's right up there among the nation's very best small metros.


"We can't say we're too surprised to see Royal Oak in our top 10. After all, the city was ranked No. 7 on our list of  the best places in Michigan. In terms of this ranking, however, it had to rank according to a very different set of criteria. In those, it did best when it came to young residents,where it placed 17th overall with 28 percent of its people being ages 20 to 34.

Like the other nine most exciting small cities, Royal Oak essentially did quite well across the board, with places like LUNA to bolster the nightlife score (27th), the Red Coat tavern on non-fast food eating (29th), and active life (29th) represented by the Detroit Zoo, which is located within the city's borders."

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.

Beaumont Hospital receives $5 million gift for natural birthing center

Expecting mothers who'd like to go the natural childbirthing route at Beaumont will have a new support system once they reach the hospital.


"Danialle and Peter Karmanos  Jr. are giving $5 million to Beaumont Health System  in suburban Detroit to expand natural birthing options for expectant  mothers...

The Karmanos Center for Natural Birth is expected to open in late 2014. It will combine the comfort of a home-like environment with the safety net of a hospital. The center will include birthing suites, a walking path for expectant mothers and a rooftop  garden."

More here.

It Follows to film around metro Detroit this fall

The leaves are starting to fall, but filming is still on the rise in Metro Detroit.


"...This project, set in Michigan, will film this fall in Detroit and surrounding communities including Sterling Heights, Royal Oak, and Clawson.

Writer/director David Robert Mitchell, a Michigan native, set the script in his home state to highlight locations throughout Southeast Michigan...

Mitchell's debut feature,  The Myth of the American Sleepover, filmed in metro Detroit. The film went on to screen at Cannes and SXSW and be distributed by IFC.   In addition to strong critical reviews, the project was listed as one of the top five films of the year on Ebert Presents at the Movies."

More here. MichiganFilmOffice.org.

Beaumont Health System one of nation's "Most Wired" hospitals

When it comes to running a high-tech operation, Beaumont Health System is right there with the nation's best.


"Beaumont Health System has been named among the nation's "Most Wired" hospitals, according to Health Care's "Most Wired" 2013 survey released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks, a publication of the American Hospital Association...

Participating hospitals and health systems are assessed based on four areas of focus: infrastructure; business and administrative management; clinical quality and safety (inpatient/outpatient hospital); and clinical integration (ambulatory/physician/patient/community). Specific requirements are set in each of the four focus areas and organizations must meet all of them to achieve the "Most Wired" designation."

More here. www.hhnmag.com.

TV reality show pilot and "Detroit Rubber" web series to be shot in Metro Detroit

And the latest round of film incentives goes to a reality show about the training of pro athletes and the second season of Detroit Rubber.


"The television pilot project is a reality show following a Michigan gym owner and his staff as they work to train professional athletes and the middle-aged dads that work alongside them.   Shooting in Plymouth, the project is being directed by Michigan native Chris Farah with Mike Farah and Anna Wenger producing....

Detroit Rubber follows Rick Williams and Roland “Ro” Coit, owners of the Royal Oak sneaker shop Burn Rubber and boutique two/eighteen. The show will continue to highlight these Michigan entrepreneurs as they balance family, a growing business and day-to-day struggles."

More here.

Beaumont Hospital garners national environmental excellence award

A sick person is often decribed as having a green pallor, but green is healthy and well at Beaumont Hospital.


"Beaumont has received the 2013 “Partner for Change” award from  Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading health care membership community that empowers its members to increase their efficiencies and environmental stewardship while improving patient safety and care....

Some of Beaumont’s sustainability efforts include:

Supply chain -  Beaumont has worked with suppliers to reduce excess packaging and materials to achieve less waste. The hospital also works with vendors who offer “green” office supply products; 30 percent of Beaumont’s purchases are made from eco-friendly materials.

Transportation/commuting -  Beaumont offers an employee carpool program and has more than 150 participants. The hospital also encourages bike riding. The campus has clearly marked bike lanes and provides employees bikes to use and covered racks to store bikes."

More 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.


"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.

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.


"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.

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.


"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.

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.


"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.


"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.

Art scavenger hunt comes to Detroit this Friday

Skidmore Studios is organizing an art scavenger hunt on the streets of Detroit. Twenty-finve pieces of art will be 'hidden' around the city as part of The international Free Art Friday event (organized by Free Art Friday Detroit). The event is intended to introduce Detroiters to the works of independent artists and is part of an international effort.
"If you see a sculpture floating in a Detroit fountain Friday, or a painting perched on a statue, you may have stumbled onto the beginning of your own free art collection, and a surprising way to support the DIA.
You'll have to check a social media site to see if it's one of the offerings of Free Art Friday Detroit (FAFDET), a cross between a scavenger hunt and free art auction where people leave their artwork around the city for seekers to find and keep each week. They'll post photographic clues to the FAFDET Facebook page or Twitter with the hashtag #fafdet."
Get the skinny on how you can particpate here.

Royal Oak's 1xRun LLC moves to Detroit to accomodate growth

Metromode has written several times about 323East Gallery as well as their limited-edition print business called 1xRun LLC. We always expected big things and, well, big things have come.
"Owners Jesse Cory and Dan Armand will shut the Royal Oak gallery's doors at the end of the year, but a gallery at the new headquarters will replace it. 
Cory and Armand closed on the three-story, 10,000-square-foot building Nov. 29, paying $400,000 on a land contract. The building was renovated in 2005, including all new HVAC and fire control systems. The remnants of an employment business are on the first floor, and a handful of residential lofts are on the other floors."
Read the rest here.

Royal Oak sneaker sellers to become stars of Eminem-produced YouTube series

The owners of Royal Oak's Burn Rubber aren't only getting their own Internet program, it's being supported by the Michigan Film Incentive and produced by Detroit native son, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem).
"Detroit Rubber will follow Rick Williams and Roland “Ro” Coit, owners of the Royal Oak sneaker shop Burn Rubber. In addition to opening a new boutique, called two/eighteen, the show will highlight these Michigan entrepreneurs as they balance family, a growing business and day to day struggles. The show will be released on the premium YouTube channel Loud."
Read the rest here.

Mitt-Mob busts a move at Royal Oak Farmers Market

Last Wednesday the "Mitt Mob" showed up at the Royal Oak Farmer's Market to shake their groove thing and bring their message of buying and supporting local businesses to the masses. Their slogan is "Keep the money in the Mitt."
Check out the video below.


Royal Oak cupcake champions celebrate win

Back in April the gals who own and run Royal Oak's Taste Love Cupcakes emerged champions on the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars." The win couldn't have come at a better time since the shop hadn't yet hit its stride and talk of closing was in the year. Ah, what a difference salmon caramel cupcakes can make.
"That episode will re-air at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and to celebrate, Michelle Brown and Yolanda Baston of Taste Love Cupcakes will offer the very products that won the "war.""
Read more here.

Pure Michigan Singalong shows off Metro Detroit, becomes a web sensation

Come on, you gotta have a heart of stone not to be touched by this clever Pure Michigan promotional. And at nearly 2 million views in less than 2 weeks that's a helluva successful campaign.
Let's see if I caught all of our region's reps. There's the Erebus' ghouls (Pontiac), a high falutin' toast in Rochester, Royal Oak's polar bears, a Southfield weatherman, The Henry Ford (Dearborn), Ann Arbor's Big House, Detroit's Comerica Park, Lions, DIA, and Fox Theater, an ice rink in Novi, and the Ypsilanti Water Tower. Did I miss any?
Check out the video below.

Royal Oak says okay to bikeshaws

With it's vibrant downtown, loft housing options, and ever-growing "sense of place," Royal Oak has been one of metro Detroit's fastest evolving communities. And since it's a mystery as to when rail will ever make it to the Woodward Avenue corridor it was inevitable someone would introduce some alternative transportation. Meet bike taxi service driver Sean Paraventi.


"From Thursday to Sunday, now until the snow gets in the way, Paraventi plans to be out in Royal Oak with his bikeshaw, offering rides. He already has pedaled his way into the hearts of Royal Oak regulars such as Karen Mchugh.

Bikeshaw in Royal Oak "I think it's really comfortable, much more than I thought it would be," Mchugh said. "Sean seems in tune with the safety and watching out for cars and people as well.""

Read / watch the rest here.

Richard Florida asks: Is Detroit becoming a suburb?

In a provocative article, the Creative Class guru talks about the distinction between city and suburb today. He compares Motown to Urban-burbs like Ferndale, Royal Oak, Birmingham and Ann Arbor, metro Detrtoit communities that are evolving their urban design to adapt to changing community standards.


"The old distinctions between "city" and "suburb" do seem to be blurring. Urban neighborhoods are improving safety, upgrading schools, adding parks and bike lanes to their existing urban fabric, while suburban ones are adding density, walkability and mixed-use districts to their existing safe streets and good schools."

Read the rest here.

Beaumont and U-M Hospital top U.S. News best list

Those U.S. News chaps sure do like their lists. Must be some money in them, huh? Seems they've changed their creteria and that has resulted in a shake-up of sorts (reputation is no longer weighted). Along with ranking Michigan hospitals for their quality of care they've picked U-M in Ann Arbor (ranked 17th overall) as among the best in the nation. Beaumont in Royal Oak came in number 2 in the Mitten with 10 nationally ranked soecialities.

You can see the rankings here.

Crain's has a write-up here.

Thousands of skate boarders show support for Hamtramck skatepark

There is an old skater addage: If your city doesn't have a skatepark your city becomes a skatepark. For the thousands of boarders who showed up and off at Detroit's Hart Plaza and then partied in Royal Oak, the creation of The Rideit Skate Park in Hamtramck was mission one.


"Many of the skateboarders flooded the downtown streets in unison after the event at Hart Plaza, and then went to the after party in Royal Oak where many skaters stood in line, partied in the parking lots and gave previews of cool moves before entering the 80,000 sq. ft. building filled with ramps, which are geared for both the most experienced and the ones just starting out."

Read the rest here.

Turning Metro Detroit into an artist's canvass

Here's a little fact you may not know... Philadelphia has over 3000 murals. And it's a point of pride for the city, an enthusiastic display of local and imported artistic expression. Could Detroit and the metro area be open to the same kind of initiative?


Idiosyncratic murals painted by some of the world's most famous street and graffiti artists have been popping up on walls across Metro Detroit, from Eastern Market to Hamtramck to Royal Oak.

Behind the murals are Hamtramck-based arts group Contra Projects and the owners of Royal Oak-based 323East gallery, which together hatched the Detroit Beautification Project.

Asked why they formed the group, Contra Projects director Matthew Eaton gestured at illicit graffiti tags defacing a brick wall in Eastern Market. "Have you seen this place?" he asked, looking around. "What's the downside of letting artists make the city look more colorful and engaging?"

Read the rest here.

Birmingham's Brogan and Royal Oak's ILG bring home industry awards

Two words: Mobile learning. Could be the future. And Royal Oak-based Innovative Learning Group took home a Gold Hermes Creative Award for their multi-part learning series.


"Royal Oak-based Innovative Learning Group has won a Gold Hermes Creative Award in the categroy of E-Communication Series for its email and video series, Mobile or Not…Here It Comes!, which is about applying mobile technology to learning."

Read the rest here.

BUT WAIT, there's more. Brogan beat out 11,000 other competing entries to win Telly Awards.


"he Telly Awards, the premier award honoring local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs, video and film production and online commercials, has named Brogan & Partners a multiple winner of its 33rd annual awards. Brogan & Partners is honored to have its projects selected among nearly 11,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries. The announcement was made by Brogan Managing Partner, Ellyn Davidson.

Two Brogan & Partners projects – “STEM Interview” on behalf of the National Defense Education Partnership and “Secondhand Rose, Secondhand Smoke” on behalf of the Michigan Department of Community Health – were honored, the latter in two separate categories. “STEM Interview” received a Silver Telly, the Awards highest honor, in the not-for-profit category. “Secondhand Rose, Secondhand Smoke” was awarded both a Silver Telly in the public service category and a Bronze Telly in the not-for-profit category. "

Read the rest here.

Welcome to Metro Detroit's tango and foxtrot economy

Dancing With The Stars has inspired locals to start cutting the rug. the result? Dance studios are growing and expanding.


"The downtown Royal Oak Arthur Murray studio has seen a slow increase in business since "Dancing With the Stars" started in June 2005, said Jeremiah Childers, manager of the Royal Oak studio. The studio held on "by its fingernails" during the recession, owner and manager Candace McKenzie said, but the student growth and an improving economy led her to decide to expand into a space on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak that is double the size of the original location. The move is scheduled to be made next month."

Read the rest of the story here.

Metro Detroit joins the walking dead

'Tis the season! World Zombie Day is just around the corner -- have you stocked up on blood and rotting flesh? Royal Oak, Mt. Clemens, and even Lansing are shuffling onto the undead bandwagon with zombie-themed charity events. Be there or be eaten.


"Is a zombie apocalypse coming?

Metro Detroiters might wonder as much over the coming weeks.

Not only is today designated as World Zombie Day, but on Sunday, zombies will be lurching through Royal Oak, much as they will on Oct. 22 in Mt. Clemens. Zombies will even be battling vampires in a roller derby match at Michigan State University's Demonstration Hall on Oct. 29."

Read the rest here.

Here's video of last year's walk.

Royal Oak's Bruce Campbell comes home, hangs with Sam Raimi

Metro Detroit's most famous chin, Bruce Campbell, returned to his old stomping grounds for this past weekend's FanFare convention. He then dropped in with director Sam Raimi, who is filming Oz: The Great and Powerful in Pontiac at Raleigh Michigan Studios. He took a few minutes to answer five questions from the Freep.


"We always hold out hope to film in Michigan, but there are other places, other countries, that make it very appealing. We've done so much work in New Zealand, that's where we may end up doing it, ironically.

Michigan and the film business and the incentives -- that's been interesting. Seems like that big welcome mat has been taken away. It's been fun to see that resurgence of the industry there -- with people like Clint Eastwood and Drew Barrymore and now Sam working there. We'll see what happens when the dust settles.

The thing is, I think Detroit -- and Michigan -- is a viable place to shoot for other reasons than the money. But it's also hard to justify why one industry is getting such a big break."

Read the rest here.

Beaumont hailed as IT innovator

InformationWeek singled out Beaumont Health System as a tech innovator at its annual award ceremony, noting the hospital's advances in IT technology.


"Beaumont Health System has been named to the 2011 InformationWeek 500, an annual listing of the nation’s most innovative users of business technology. The list was announced at an awards ceremony this week at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif.

InformationWeek has identified and honored the nation’s most innovative users of information technology with its annual 500 listing for 23 years. It also tracks the technology, strategies, investments and administrative practices of America’s best-known companies, including Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., General Motors Co., Colgate-Palmolive and Merck."

Read the rest here.

Solar panels power the silver screen in Royal Oak

It's one thing when a business decides to go green because it's good for the environment. It's another when they do it to improve their bottom line. Not only does Emagine's new theater / bowling alley have solar panels on its roof -- installing them made the business' finance packaging possible.


"After seven years, the solar array will have paid for itself. With a 25-year guarantee on the panels and rising electricity costs, Glantz said, the investment will cut the 71,000-square-foot theater's annual electricity bill by about 20 percent.

But Glantz said the key to completing the theater project was the solar panel investment. As part of the financing package, Emagine was preapproved for a $3.5 million subordinated second mortgage with a 20-year Small Business Administration 504 loan."

Read the rest of the story here.

Beaumont Royal Oak is top Metro Detroit hospital

Top hospital in Metro Detroit? Survey says... Beaumont. Yup, U.S. News & World Report is at it again, ranking institutions and picking winners and losers. This time it's hospitals. Sometimes we wonder how far the magazine is willing to go with this stuff. Top Doggy Daycare Center? Best Chapter for The Knights Of Columbus? And just how much influence does the Russian judge have on the rankings?


U.S. News & World Report, in its first metro area Best Hospitals rankings, today named Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak as its top Metro Detroit hospital.

Coming in second was the Detroit Medical Center's Harper University Hospital; third, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit; fourth, Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn; and fifth Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

Read the rest of the story here. And, of course, here.

Oakland County surfs for new ideas via crowdsourcing site

Lots of politicians pay lip service to listening to their constituents' ideas and even implementing a few here and there. Oakland County is looking to take that a step further with its new online crowdsourcing initiative.


Every city, county and state these days is faced with hard decisions about budget cuts and reorganization — and even harsher feedback from residents after the cuts are made. Oakland County, Mich., has found a way to use technology to spark that citizen-to-government communication during the decision-making process. County officials launched an online public forum so residents can be an integral part of making tough budget decisions.  

The website, http://oakgov.ideascale.com, gives citizens the opportunity to respond to questions, make suggestions and post comments. Citizens can also rank the county's proposals by voting for the ideas they like best on every issue, from technology to parks and recreation.

"Since we are using social media in so many different ways here, we thought … what is the next wave of how we engage our citizens in the process?" said Phil Bertolini, Oakland County's deputy county executive and CIO. "In a focus group, you put 20 people in a room, you ask the idea and you get 20 opinions. If you use crowdsourcing, you put out an idea and you get thousands of opinions. More minds and more ideas make for a better product."

Read the rest of the story here.

CNN/Money takes lessons from Detroit

CNN/Money magazine takes a look at entrepreneurship in Metro Detroit and how the down economy has prodded people toward that career path. It also alludes to the idea that the region should make entrepreneurship a real option at all times, not just when the economy is performing poorly.


When Paula Batchelor took a buyout last year -- figuring she was likely to be laid off if she didn't -- she wasn't worried about landing another gig. Having worked 11 years as a graphic-design project manager for a health insurance company downtown, "I knew I had skills," she says.

But Batchelor, a single mother of a 6-year-old, quickly realized just what it meant to live in one of the worst job markets in the country. By year's end, the resident of Royal Oak -- a suburb north of the city -- still had no work and couldn't make her mortgage payment. "I was feeling the pressure," says Batchelor, who's now 55.

Months of financial struggle followed. Then, in June, her older sister, Karen, an attorney who'd gone into life coaching, had a proposal. She'd used social media, including Facebook, to market her own biz; Paula had skills in project management and graphic design. Why not combine their talents and help small businesses with social-media marketing?

The firm they founded, Color Me Social, had $1,500 in sales in August, a promising, if modest, start. While the money isn't coming in fast enough for Paula to save her home from foreclosure -- she and her daughter are moving in with Karen -- Paula is hopeful that this is the beginning of her turnaround. "You have to stick your neck out and take a chance," she says.

Read the rest of the story here and more here.

Chicago Sun-Times is on board with Michigan's high-speed rail

Metro Detroit recently received $161 million in federal funds to improve high-speed rail service on Amtrak's Wolverine line between Pontiac and Kalamazoo. The Chicago Sun-Times takes a good look at the potential of this investment and how it breaks down.


About $150 million of the money awarded to Michigan will be for the section of track between Kalamazoo and Detroit. This is owned by Norfolk Southern, which wants to sell it, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Michigan may buy it with a portion of the high-speed rail money. Discussions are ongoing about how much of the funds would be for the track and how much for track improvement, Magliari said.

Track improvements would increase speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph, which would bring it in line with the track Amtrak owns from Kalamazoo to the state line.

At greater speeds, Amtrak could double the number of round trips from Chicago to Detroit from three to six, Magliari said. Ridership on this route already has increased 8 percent in the past year.

The rest of the high-speed funding would be used to improve the connection from Pontiac to the state line.

Read the rest of the story here.

Woodward corridor suburbs = inner ring renewal

The inner-ring suburbs along the Woodward corridor got some good national ink last week when The Wall Street Journal explored why older suburbs could be the launchpads for new growth in the U.S.


In Lakewood, Colo., a long-shuttered mall is being rebuilt into a 22-block area with parks, bus lines, stores and 1,300 new households. Tysons Corner, Va., is undergoing a full transformation from an office park to a walkable, livable community. And officials in Ferndale, Mich., are promoting the arts scene and building affordable housing in an attempt to revitalize the small city outside Detroit. Remaking America's sprawling suburbs, with their enormous footprints, shoddy construction, hastily built infrastructure and dying malls, is shaping up to be the biggest urban revitalization challenge of modern times—far larger in scale, scope and cost than the revitalization of our inner cities.

Read the rest of the story here.

Xconomy discovers downtown Royal Oak's PixoFactor Entertainment

PixoFactor Entertainment sees video games and animation, rather than film production, as having a more positive permanent impact on the economy. Xconomy's Detroit bureau is the latest to recognize the entertainment firm's strategy for success.


Michigan's highest-in-the-nation 42 percent tax credit for filmmakers is often called the "film incentive," but if you ask the folks at PixoFactor Entertainment in Royal Oak, MI, the bigger beneficiaries are those who work on videogame and animation productions. Plus, they argue, those jobs are longer-lasting and more local than movie production.

That's why Sean Hurwitz, PixoFactor's president, is in the business. "We feel like the digital side of this incentive has greater potential to create jobs and economy—or, Xconomy [Hurwitz motions over to me, and smiles]—here in Michigan." A Hollywood film crew comes in for a short time with their own directors and actors, "underpays a lot of interns and a lot of local crews," he says, shoots the film and then leaves. But it takes nine months to a year to produce a videogame, with local animators and programmers working the entire time.

Read the rest of the story here.

Start up the tractor; plowing in Royal Oak

When you hear about urban agriculture these days, Detroit usually follows, or precedes it - depending on the story. But not in this one. This time, it's Royal Oak. And they'll be plowing this week.


The non-profit group Royal Oak Forward, which will manage farm operations and organic practices, is borrowing a tractor to start plowing later this week. Then, Johnson will plant about 25 kinds of herbs and vegetables that will be ready to eat from late May through October.

"We know the land is good to grow," Johnson said of environmental tests. "Now I'm checking for nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous so I'll know how much compost to add."

Volunteers will help tend the field and in about eight weeks they will have baskets of fresh produce ready for shareholders to pick up and to sell to the public at the market, which is less than a mile away.

Community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) is a growing trend in the United States as more people go green to cut waste, such as transportation fuel, and improve taste.

"You hear about the 100-mile diet challenge some food co-ops put out," Johnson said. "We're talking about the few-feet diet."

Read the entire article here.

It's not a dollhouse, it's an homage to Detroit

There hasn't been a shortage of interesting, weird, off-the-wall art coming out of Detroit lately. And this is no different. Local artist Clinton Snider has created "House 365." It's a small wooden cottage, modeled after some of the old housing stock still in Detroit. It's an homage to when vacancies weren't the norm. It's small like a dollhouse, but don't call it that.


"House 365" is Snider's homage to old Detroit. As the city pulls down derelict homes, the result is a gap-toothed landscape he finds haunting and mournful.

So he decided to make his own weathered wreck, a talisman from a vanishing Detroit. (For the record, he applauds clearing out blight. He just regrets the loss of that turn-of-the-century clapboard landscape.)

So what do you do with a tiny house that looks like a prop from the opening credits of "The Beverly Hillbillies?"

First Snider thought he'd move the house every day and photograph it (hence the "365"), an idea he now calls "far-fetched." Instead, he presented the house at an opening last year at Hazel Park's Tank gallery and invited visitors to sign up for a month's "deed" to the property.

And that's how the wee house landed in artist Mary Fortuna's front yard in Royal Oak.
"I was totally engaged with the sweetness of it," she says. "It's like Clint's paintings in 3-D."

Read the entire article here.

Royal Oak studio putting comic book on the tube

The Royal Oak-based production firm PixoFactor is taking Dare Comics' acclaimed comic The Hunter from the pages and putting it on the tube, DVDs, and making an interactive downloadable game. All in a days work, eh?


England's Dare Comics has announced that its critically acclaimed comic, The Hunter, is to be produced as a nine episode motion comic series by the Royal Oak production company PixoFactor.

PixoFactor is also developing a downloadable interactive game based on The Hunter, which will be released alongside the motion comic. 

Details of the game aren't being publicly released, but PixoFactor president Sean Hurwitz said that "The Hunter has a unique set of powers that have enabled us to incorporate some stunning gameplay. Linking the game to the motion comic series is going to allow us to do things the world has never seen before."

Read the entire article here.

From Chrysler to a Chinese tea shop

The Girlings went from automotive employees at Chrysler to entrepreneurial tea hounds, and all it took was a trip to Beijing. A story other Michiganders might take solace in. The Girlings made the transition to what Michigan was to what Michigan could be, maybe. No, not tea-slingers, small business owners.


Chrysler has greatly affected life in the Detroit area over the decades, and now it has brought the Motor City a Chinese teashop—albeit indirectly.

Janice and Jim Girling, founders of Goldfish Tea, were both working for the automaker when they were offered the opportunity to go to China for two years to help build an assembly plant outside of Beijing.

"We were living in Beijing and on weekends we just liked to go out exploring," Janice says.

While on an exploration one day, a dragon-embossed tea set caught the couple's attention.

"We went to look at it inside what turned out to be a wholesale tea market," Janice says. "Two Chinese ladies motioned for us to sit down at the tea bar and we stayed for three hours sampling tea."

Read the entire article here.

Woodward Dream Cruise's beginnings in the New York Times

The Woodward Dream Cruise many things for many people. For car restorers it means a time to shine, for some it's a time for nostalgia, and yet for others, who live near Woodward, it's a time of car congestion and having your own street blocked off for parking. Regardless, what happens during the cruise is what made Detroit, well, Detroit. That's changing now-a-days... but, as the New York Times says, it's still the beating heart of the American automobile biz.


Today, you won’t see much real racing on Woodward, and the Detroit Three are fighting their battles in other arenas. You will see some machinery that is obviously built more for go than show, and quiet negotiations are sometimes conducted at the side of the road. But if races take place, they’re probably held in some obscure and distant place.

For most Detroiters, Woodward is more about entertainment than competition. And perhaps more about the past and the future than the moment. Today, Woodward is the cruise, the party, the celebration and the affirmation. It’s a place where car folk can go to dream about the way things were and hope for better days. It’s the beating heart of the American automobile business.

Read the entire article here.

Metro Detroit grows crowd of creperies with What Crepe? in Royal Oak

Detroit can boast two creperies - one downtown and one in Corktown. So, what do you have to show for it, suburbs? Well, look no further than Royal Oak. What Crepe? has opened its doors and is ready to sling some sweet and savory crepes.


If you're a fan of crepes -- the delicate, filled French pancakes having a mini-renaissance in metro Detroit lately -- check out the area's newest destination in Royal Oak.

Opened by Paul Jenkins Jr., the tiny but elegantly appointed cafe at 317 S. Washington is called What Crepe? -- perhaps a reference to the wide variety of sweet and savory choices, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Jenkins opened the 28-seat restaurant May 30 in Café Muse's old location after giving the hall-like space a more polished, upscale look in a palette of black, gray, sage and burgundy. Small crystal chandeliers, fresh flowers and tables covered in black fabric with white butcher-paper toppers set a chic tone, but the vibe is still casual, fresh and fun.

Read the entire article here.

Downtown Royal Oak has first-run theater potential

Royal Oak already has the Main Art Theater, which is a gem of a place. Yet movie goers in the area still need to drive to Birmingham or the Star John R to see first-run flicks. Well, it's possible that this trek might not need to be made in the future, as Emagine Theaters is setting its sights on the RO.


To go forward in Royal Oak, Glantz needs the approval of the City Commission to transfer a liquor license from Berkley. If accepted, he will apply for an amendment to the planned unit development for the vacant site where plans for a second high-rise condominium or Plum Market were scrapped, according to Tim Thwing, Royal Oak's director of planning.

A four-deck parking garage behind the condominium tower and on-site parking could serve theater patrons, Glantz said.

"It turns out to be an ideal site for us," he said.

Read the entire article here.

A culinary tour 'round Royal Oak

There are all kinds of tours. Music tours, museum tours, pub crawls (it's kind of like a tour), tours of duty, and even food tours. Enter Culinary Escapes, a food tour company here in the Great Lakes State. And they are close to home, too. Check out the Royal Oak experience. And if you go on a tour like this, you might want to wear your fat pants.


I was a bit of a skeptic, at first, about the need for a walking tour -- to restaurants in Royal Oak, Mich., near Detroit Hip eateries in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak are within close proximity to one another. And I've never had much problem finding food.

But then I met up with our guide on this tour by Culinary Escapes, a company founded last summer. Marq Blanks handed us tiny earpieces with receivers we clipped onto our jackets.

And we soon were trailing behind him around town, through farm market booths, past charming bakeries, striking (even scandalous) sculptures and tempting eateries, feeling like a cross between campus tour-goer and undercover culinary spy as he transmits historic, food and celebrity trivia en route to each stop.

Read the entire article here.

Medical marijuana in Royal Oak

Royal Oak is considering a medical marijuana growing zone and requiring sellers to push the product out of a storefront. Stoners, hold on to your bongs -- this would be for medical purposes only.


"It will allow patients a safe, reliable place to access their medicine," said medical marijuana user Nicholas Schantz.

The Royal Oak Planning Commission is considering a zoning ordinance that would make it mandatory for medical grass growers to sell their plant product in a store front dispensary in the city's busy business district.

"It's the wave of the future, and the economy in this segment is really going to boom. Michigan needs jobs right now and this is one way to put Michigan on the cutting edge of an exciting new industry," Schantz said.

Read the entire article here.

Royal Oak in Bloom expecting influx of locavores

New words are being invented all the time for all the new ideas and thoughts and movements that are popping up all over the place. And "locavore" -- Someone who only eats food grown within 100 miles of home -- is another one. Locavores are expected to pack the 16th annual Royal Oak in Bloom May 10.


Locavores — people who eat food grown or raised within 100 miles of home — will find vegetables and herb plants offered by as many as half the 60 vendors at the 16th annual Royal Oak in Bloom.

This year, vendors expect an increase in locavores. Locavore was the Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year.

From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 10, the parking lot by City Hall will be transformed into an open-air market for edible plants, flats of annuals, landscaping plants, and garden art and accessories.

The event has become a Mother's Day tradition for many families. They have breakfast or brunch at downtown restaurants before or after walking around the booths set up at the municipal lot south of 11 Mile Road and east of Main Street. "We think this year more people are interested in vegetable gardening," said Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce Event Coordinator Shelly Kemp. "They see it as a way to save money, eat the freshest possible food, save energy and gain a sense of personal satisfaction."

Read the entire article here.

Thomas Video moves, freshens up image

Thomas Video, a haven for cult and obscure movie buffs, has moved and will no longer be under that big yellow sign in Clawson. However, they have moved for the better; when most places like theirs are being closed because of chain stores and technology, Thomas has managed to beat the odds.


To call Thomas Video a niche business is an understatement of vast proportions -- "supremely prescient" might be a better description.

Opened as Thomas Film Classics in 1974, the shop's then-owner, Dennis Thomas, recognized the potential of the home video market before the technology even existed.

"Dennis was a visionary," says Jim Olenski, who bought into the business in 1976. "He started off with a film store, but he saw that there would be a market for people to own movies -- it was a natural flow into video."

Olenski and band mate Gary Reichel (from early Detroit punk ensemble, Cinecyde), started working for Thomas in the '70s. He eventually sold the business outright to Olenski and Reichel, who later partnered with Carol Schwartz. Now, 35 years later, the business has beaten the odds, staying strong through trends, technology and economic tumult.

Read the entire article here.

Bikers need lanes, too

If you ever ridden a bike along Woodward in Ferndale or Royal Oak you've probably hear, "Get outta the road!" more than once. Yet riding on the sidewalk isn't feasible in these cities. So, what to do? Well a group in Royal Oak is pushing for a more biker friendly downtown that includes bike lanes.


The Royal Oak nonmotorized transportation task force wants to improve the situation and prevent more accidents...

"Studies show that when a city is safer for bicyclists, those people tend to stay in their city for entertainment," Regan said. "They bike to local restaurants and venues ... I'm tired of the self-righteous attitudes by motorists in Royal Oak that assume only motor vehicles have the right to the road."

Honking, angry drivers tell Regan to "get off the road" and "Go ride on the sidewalk."

The reality, he said, is that more people are injured riding their bikes on sidewalks than in the streets. Motorized vehicle drivers usually aren't paying enough attention when turning, and if a bicyclist is crossing the street, that's often when they're struck.

Read the entire article here.

Save the Rain

Rain water doesn't damper this Royal Oakian's spirits. He saves it. He uses it for his garden, his flowers, his shrubs, and, to top it all off, it helps reduce his water bill. Soon we'll all be saving our rainwater, maybe, after hearing from this guy.


Collect the water that runs off one residential rooftop when it rains just a quarter of an inch, and you gain 55 gallons of water.

That's a lot of nutrient-rich, chlorine-free water that shrubs, flowers and vegetable plants love.

Each spring and summer the result can be up to 3,200 gallons of water that is saved and used. Royal Oak resident Jon Muresan said it can also save a lot of money on water bills.

"My girlfriend and I are avid gardeners; serious gardeners," Muresan said. "One summer we spent nearly $1,300 on watering our lawn, shrubs, potted plants and vegetable gardens."

Read the entire article here.

What kind of downtown does Royal Oak want?

Born to be wild? Or not? That's the question Royal Oak city officials want to know about the city's downtown. Would the possible introduction of a bistro license turn up the volume on the city?


For some, new bistro licenses could be a way to let already established local businesses add beer or wine to their menu. For others, a bistro license should include the option for a full liquor bar.

And for others, bistro licenses are a way of allowing quiet restaurants to serve booze, and keep out the bigger bars that may change a town from quaint to wild. One-hundred seats or less is about what Andrzejak, for now, considers good bistro licenses.

"Each commissioner has a different perspective on bistro licenses," Commissioner Mike Andrzejak said. "To some, there's a misnomer that the goal is to bring more smaller liquor establishments into the city. That's not my desire. I see it as a defense against the next mega-bar proposal."

Read the entire article here.

Royal Oak dog park taking it to the next level

Royal Oak's Mark Twain Dog Park has been so successful that city officials are thinking about opening up a second one. In the meantime they are improving this one.


The Royal Oak City Commission approved installing two security systems, one at the front and one at the back of the park, plus offer year-round park passes and keys to residents and non-residents.

It's estimated that 75 percent of park users are residents. Each year, 500 annual passes will be offered. Residents get first dibs at a cost of $40 per year. After a 60 day time-period, non-residents will have the chance to purchase the pass for $65.

Keys to the park will be sold for $10 each.

Each pass will be activated for 365 days upon purchase.

"Our park functions well, people love it. This takes is to the next level," City Commissioner Mike Anderzejak said.

Read the entire article here.

Royal Oak's Bastone reinvents itself during economic hardships

Bastone, one of Royal Oak's biggest and most popular restaurants, had to switch a few things up to stay one of Royal Oak's biggest and most popular restaurants.


Ritchie says Bastone is one of the largest restaurants in downtown Royal Oak and in order to help it through the recession, it needed something of a makeover.

So he created a new menu that was easier to afford and less European than the menu that first got he restaurant noticed. “We eliminated 19 items and added 19 items to the menu,” Ritchie said.

Gone were some expensive entrees, replaced with less expensive items. “We added more comfort food,” he said, noting the new menu includes items such as thin crust pizzas, grilled cheese and a macaroni cheese dish.

Read the entire article here.

Beaumont Hospital nurtures patients - and patents

Royal Oak-based Beaumont Hospital's new commercialization center helps to bring new medical devices to life.


Beaumont offers services from prototype development and real-world testing to regulatory approval preparation. Unlike similar efforts usually on a university level, the Beaumont Commercialization Center is a for-profit endeavor that offers access to a high-volume hospital system.

"The end goal is better products for Beaumont, as well as others," said John C. Shallman, director of strategic business development for the commercialization center. "We can bring to bear actual clinical, practical, economic decisions ... into the design process."

Read the full story here.

Royal Oak firm turns heads at Microsoft conference

The Royal Oak-based Vectorform unveiled a number of products at the Microsoft Developers Conference in Detroit that turned some heads with their flat screen interactive programs.


Superficially, it looks like one of the earliest versions of PacMan -- the kind that were packaged as a flat table you sat at, not a stand-up video game.

But boy, once you play with it, the tabletop display computer running Microsoft Surface software and applications by Royal Oak-based Vectorform LLC has about as much in common with Pac-Man as an abacus does with a supercomputer.

The computer was the star of Thursday's Microsoft Developers Conference in Detroit, drawing a constant crowd.

Vectorform has been in the Web development business since 1999 and is still run by its founders, Kurt Steckling and Jason Vazzano, according to Joe Engalan, director of development, and Dawn Thompson, director of marketing, who showed off the computer at the conference

Read the entire article here.

Royal Oak is a destination spot for a lot of things ... even toy soldiers

It's not uncommon to head on over to Royal Oak for a bite to eat, a drink, and to catch a movie at the Main Art Threatre. And, for some, it's not uncommon to go to Royal Oak to check out, or pick up, some toy soldier ware.


Rick Berry and Dave Youngquist are co-owners of the 6,000-square-foot Michigan Toy Soldier Company in Royal Oak, a business that is the focal point, or gathering place, for the strong community of collectors of toy soldier military collectibles.

Youngquist said Michigan has one the largest group of collectors nationwide. Proof is the 20th Semiannual Detroit Toy Soldier and Figure Show, 12th Michigan Historical Miniature Show scheduled for next Saturday and Sunday in Madison Heights.

Berry and Younquist host the event that also houses the 4th Iron Brigade Militaria Show where military items are swapped and sold.

Its not surprising that Berry is the founder of the show, store owner and head of a successful collectible online business. Despite the tough economy, Berry said his holiday business was just as strong in 2008 as 2007.

Read the entire article here.

SE Michigan programs help businesses start the new year off right

It's a new year. It's time to improve on the last one. Change a few things, rework this or that, tweak a few items in the business plan. Or, maybe you don't even have one... and want one. Regardless, if you're unsure about how to go about doing any of these things, there are programs out there to help.


The beginning of a new year usually brings with it the feeling of a fresh start. Build on the things that went right last year and make some changes to address the things that didn't go so well. Most university business schools would have you refer back to your business plan to make sure that you are still aligned with your goals or suggest you amend your plan to incorporate changes that you have made to your business.

That assumes that you have a business plan to refer back to. What if there is no business plan? Or what if technology, competition, customers or the current economic situation has rendered your business plan obsolete? There are local resources available to you that can help.

Read the entire article here.

Smaller spaces for renters and buyers becoming more attractive

Sometimes smaller is better. Renters and buyers are considering smaller places these days. The economy probably has something to do with it. People want to save money but financial considerations aren't the only motivation. Some are looking to reduce their carbon footprint by having less stuff.


The obvious appeal is that they are, for the most part, less expensive. Empty nesters and young professionals are also drawn to the eco-consciousness of smaller spaces that require less water and energy. They also enjoy features such as stainless steel kitchens, industrial touches and on-site amenities such as party rooms and health facilities.

"People want that high-quality finish, but they don't need the 2,000 and 3,000 square feet of space," said Chadd Fox, developer of Research Lofts in Detroit, near Wayne State University.

Fox said he and partner John Biggar have attracted unprecedented sales since opening in early 2007.

"We are 70% sold and closed and that truly is what I believe to be the best-selling product in the marketplace right now," Fox said.

Read the entire article here.

Missed the 70s? Check out Royal Oak's newest addition to retail

These two business partners are doin' what they love - sellin' weird stuff. But not just any kind of weird stuff. Weird stuff plucked right from the 1970s. Royal Oak's newest store, Bohemian Rhapsody, sit down with Hometown life and talk about opening up a niche retail store in challenging economic times.


The 1970s had its virtues, most of which are on display in vivid color at the new Royal Oak store, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Co-owners Pam McLenon of Farmington Hills and Marianne Petrus of Royal Oak opened the unique boutique Nov. 8 with the goal of offering accessories, home decor, personal care products and art that's heavy on kitschy fun and low on price. Pick up a funky pillow and some handmade soap or some jewelry, a Superball and a Russian nesting doll. Like the 1970s itself, it's a potpourri of colors, tastes and moods.

The women own their own side businesses as well: Petrus started Girls in the Studio with Angie Yaldoo; McLenon owns the Forever Mick and Keith line of greeting cards and art. Many of those items are for sale in the store.

Read the entire article here.

Making wine in Royal Oak

Welcome to Royal Oak! Welcome to wine country! Ok, so not exactly. But that's what two Royal Oak residents are doing here - making wine, locally produced Royal Oakian wine.


Promoting local businesses and products is important to Lisa Berry and Sheryl Racey. And that’s why the two Royal Oak residents are proud that the product they sell is home grown.

“We produce everything here,” said Berry, as she sat inside the 2,200-square-foot Vintner’s Cellar wine shop in Royal Oak. “Everything that is on our racks, we made.”

Berry and Racey opened the store, 325 E. Fourth St., in mid-November and feature 20 varieties of wine along with the ability to alter any recipe for a custom batch. The store has varieties of white and red wines, along with four different types of fruit wine and two types of dessert wines.

Read the entire article here.

Take a ride on the southern Oakland County trolley

It's not exactly mass transit but it's a start. On Saturday night southern Oakland County will be providing 40-seat trolley cars for people lookin' to hit the town - without the burden of driving.


The trolleys are to make 10 repeated stops, from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, in Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak. Stops include two city community centers, restaurants and a nightclub.

"We're hoping this will be as big a hit as it was when we did it in October" -- when Pleasant Ridge rented a trolley for a night just to run to Ferndale and Royal Oak, said Pleasant Ridge City Manager Sherry Ball.

"This time, we scheduled it to see Ferndale's ice sculptures," which will be on display after Saturday's daylong Ferndale Holiday Ice Festival.

Read the entire article here.

Freep finds the best burgers in town

Whether you like Dearborn's Miller's Bar or Royal Oak's Red Coat Tavern, you favorite burger joint is bound to show up somewhere on the Freep's list of best burgers in town. Not into red meat? Don't worry, check out No. 24. Ferndale's Flytrap has a salmon burger just waiting for consumption.


When we asked readers this fall to point us toward Detroit's best hamburgers, hundreds of you sent recommendations. We read every one, picked the places that sounded best and then hit the streets in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to taste them. Six weeks and innumerable antacids later, here are our favorites.

Read the entire article here.

Bicyclists asking Royal Oak for a little help

Bicyclists are organizing and asking Royal Oak to put together some non-motorized friendly goals to increase the safety of riders. Signage and bike paths along roads are key to improving  the well-being of these bicyclists.


The group wants Royal Oak to create a non-motorized transportation plan that will set goals to increase safety for bikers and walkers by adding bike lanes and signage to roads that remind everyone streets are meant to be shared by cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.

"The situation is bad here. We have to plan change carefully. Cyclists are riding on the sidewalk; they are getting struck crossing driveways or at corners," said Regan, a Royal Oak resident. "We want that to change. Motorists need to know that they are legally entitled to be there."

At the meeting, commissioners appointed Regan and two other cyclists to a task force to write up some recommendations. A meeting between the task force and City Manager Tom Hoover is being planned, Regan said.

Read the entire article here.

It's parade time in Royal Oak

Everyone loves a parade and magic and the holidays, right? Well, what happens when you combine all three? No, your joints won't lock up with excitement. So, the answer? Go on down to Royal Oak on Nov. 22 and check see for yourself. That's the day the city is having their Downtown Royal Oak Holiday Magic Parade.


This year's parade offers something for the entire family. The fun begins at 9 am with special parade day sales in participating downtown stores. The parade runs from 10 am – 11 am, with the route starting on Washington at Lincoln and heading up to Fourth Street. Plus, there is free parking downtown from 10 am to 2 pm.


There will be floats, marching bands, and a variety of other performers from over 50 different area groups. And, to top off the event, Santa will be arriving from the North Pole for one of his first stop in metro Detroit to kick off the holidays. Kids will have the opportunity to visit Santa at Stagecrafters at the Baldwin Theater from 11 am to 1 pm.

To volunteer or for more information contact Stephanie McIntyre, Downtown Manger for the Royal Oak DDA, at 248-246-3286 or visit www.downtownroyaloak.org.

Gourmet grocers thriving as of late

The economy is struggling, that's undeniable. But, of course, there are bright spots that are equally undeniable. For instance, gourmet grocers are thriving. As this article states, the next best thing to going to Europe is eating as if you were in Europe.


Despite the region's dismal economy, upscale grocers are flourishing in Metro Detroit, expanding and adding stores to serve a sophisticated and growing customer base that wants organic produce, natural and international foods, gourmet carry-outs and a glass of wine or a Sanders' hot fudge cream puff while they're shopping.

"A trip to Europe may be out of the question, but consumers can still go to the grocery store and get the ingredients for a meal they would have eaten there," said Linda Gobler, president and CEO of the Michigan Grocers Association. "People want to do something to make themselves feel good."

Read the entire article here.

Local communities make it easier for moviemakers

It hasn't all been soda pop and cotton candy for the film industry here. Michigan wasn't exactly set up for the film production tsunami of '08. Still, the incentive is less than a year old and some growing pains are expected. Luckily, local governments have been greasing the wheels for projects, making it easier to get things done. The hope is that the area will then become more enticing to a yet more moviemakers.


Cities like Rochester Hills, Royal Oak and Ferndale have simplified or created new processes for getting permits to close streets, erect temporary structures and move forward with filmmaking.

In some cases, officials estimate these changes could shave up to a month off the time it takes to get certain permits by allowing administrators to issue them instead of making movie companies first go before a city council or commission.

Ferndale, Rochester and Rochester Hills are building Web sites to help market their communities to movie moguls while Redford Township is creating a promotional packet.

Read the entire article here.

25 years of whips and chains; Happy Birthday Noir Leather

Whether you've been there since the beginning when Noir Leather was located on 3rd Street or if you bought your first chain, whip, or leather vest just last year, Oakland County's most famous fetish shop invites you out for their silver birthday bash. Yep, 25 years later, and a few moves, Noir Leather is still selling their black patent leather fare to people looking for some black patent leather fare.

On Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. at the Crofoot, the party unfolds with a Noir Fetish fashion show, burlesque acts, artist exhibits, and 12 musical acts.

Get more information and directions visit Noir Leather here.

Local produce does a body good... the economy, too

Why go to the Royal Oak Farmer's Market? (Or any farmer's market for that matter?) Well, it'll do your body some good, as well as the economy.


Some of the nutrients in some produce diminish after it is picked. Shopping at The Farmers Market shortens the time between picking and eating so the food has more of what your body needs. And, locally grown produce almost always tastes better.

Shopping at The Farmers Market also keeps money circulating locally. Says Dr. Susan Smalley, director of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University: "If you spend a dollar ... with a local farmer, he or she will invest some of that dollar back into the farming operation - helping to pay the mortgage, perhaps at a local bank, paying local people who work on the farm, purchasing gas for the tractor locally, etc. Some of your dollar will hopefully be profit - profit that provides the farm family with its income and keeps the land in farming. If you spend a dollar on food in the supermarket, only about 20 cents on average makes it back to the farmer."

Read the entire article here.

Royal Oak-based Adopt-a-Watt Program is an alternative way to fund alternative energy

Alternative energy for public buildings could grow thanks to the Royal Oak-based national program Adopt-a-Watt.


"We mimic (the Adopt-a-Highway program) exactly, but instead of giving (sponsors) recognition for picking up litter on the side of the highway, we give them community recognition for investing in clean energy," said Wither.

Here's a possible scenario: A company or other private sponsor donates $5,000 to purchase a solar lighting panel and wants it to be installed at the Royal Oak Fire Station at 13 Mile and Woodward. When that solar panel is installed, a sign would be prominently displayed crediting the sponsor business or individual, much like with Adopt-a-Highway.

Read the entire article here.

Visit Adopt-a-Watt here.

Royal Oak might get a spot for Spot... the dog

Royal Oak city commishes have agreed to designate Mark Twain Park as the city's first dog park. Unfortunately, it's not yet concrete. That spot for Spot still needs some cash to get going.

The Royal Oak Dog Park Committee, who pushed the issue, needs funding and is in the process of planning a fund raiser. If all goes well, everyone will finally be able to answer that age old question: Who let the dogs out? It was Royal Oak.


The 7-acre park doesn't abut homeowner property, has parking and is not an active park, so recreational activities like baseball and soccer are not in jeopardy, said Tod Gazetti, superintendent of recreation.

While the actual size of the dog park has yet to be determined, fencing for 1 acre is roughly $25,000, Gazetti said. The committee also plans to pave the gravel parking lot that officials estimate will cost about one-third of the total. The fund-raising goal has yet to be disclosed.

Read entire article here.

Berkley jumps on board green boat

Going green probably had a different meaning 20 years ago. But these days it's an effort, and not an allusion to getting sick. Berkley has joined 21 cities statewide, and an even larger number across the nation, in making steps toward going green. In addition to that, Berkley is hoping to make their community more "walkable" and less dependent on vehicles.


Like other communities, Berkley has joined the Sierra Club's "Cool Cities" effort aimed at reducing pollution from carbon-based fuels and other sources.

Cities such as Warren, Flint, Ann Arbor, Ferndale and Royal Oak are also part of the green effort.

Read the entire article here.

Metro Times releases annual 'Best of Detroit'

As they wont to do each year, the Metro Times has released its annual "Best of Detroit" awards.

Check them out here.

Metrotimes publishes area-wide food guide

The Metrotimes annual restaurant guide runs the gamut: from coneys to caviar, from haute to simply hot.

Categories include eggs, buffets, steaks and vegetarian-friendly. Check it out here.

Crain's names its annual 40 under 40

Crain's has released its annual "40 in their 40s" list. It includes success stories from all over Southeast Michigan and from numerous industries.

The front page of the feature is here.

Zombies take to the streets of Royal Oak on Sept. 29

On the evening of September 29, Zombie Walk Detroit will take to the streets of Royal Oak. Don't try to fight them -- join 'em!


The Detroit area Zombie Walk needs VICTIMS.

If you are interested in being a fresh piece of meat, why... you just let us know.
We need a couple of 'living' to munch on along the way- keep our energy up.

All that's required is for you to mildly fight off the zombies and lose-
You can do that, can't you? Caaaaan't you?

After you're zombified, you'll join the pack. Errr.. herd.
Uhm.. flock. Uhhhh... murder. Yes, that's it! The murder of zombies.

Hey, if crows can have it, so can we.

Read more here.

Sept. 20-22, Detour brings Detroit 30 bands in 3 days

On-line pop culture magazine Detour is officially celebrating its launch with three nights of 30 bands.

From September 20 through 22, venues include CAID and the Magic Stick. Check here for all the deets.

Read mode's coverage of Detour here.

Go Solar headed to Oakland County

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing its Go Solar program to Oakland County, utilizing bulk purchasing methods to lower to cost of solar products for homeowners.


Program options include a solar domestic hot water system or a one-kilowatt photovoltaic solar electric system or both.

The systems in the Go Solar program are standardized. Therefore, as the contractor continues installing identical systems, they are able
to reduce labor costs. All of this translates into savings for the homeowner.

During 2007, federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing solar electric and solar water heating systems. In addition to savings, program participants get the satisfaction of working with a local business.

Read the entire article here.

High school robotics competition returns to Oakland County

The Oakland County Competitive Robotics Competition pits high schoolers against one another in the design and assembly of robots.


OCCRA generates enthusiasm for technical and academic disciplines such as design, engineering, physics, and electronics. These competitions provide recognition and encouragement for students who devote their energies to these areas of studies. OCCRA participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the diverse technical career options available in our county and state.

Read the entire article here.

Keep up with the Dream Cruise on Jalopnik

If you're curious about the Dream Cruise but have no interest in actually being there in person, Jalopnik.com will be blogging the entire time.

The top of the site is a frequently-updated photo blog and the Woodward Dream Cruise tag is news. Head to Jalopnik.com.

Woodward Avenue's 200th birthday celebrations kicks off July 19

This year marks Woodward's 200th birthday -- and the party starts July 19 at Detroit Historical Museum at 10 am.

More events can be found at Woodward Avenue Action Association's website.

metromode publisher Brian Boyle talks about retaining the region's talent in the Detroit News

Brian Boyle, metromode's founder and co-publisher, talks about Detroit Renaissance's efforts to retain the region's creative talent in the Detroit News.


Unfortunately, our creative community is scattered in pockets throughout the region, making it difficult to showcase the true depth of talent and "energy" evident dense creative hubs like Brooklyn, Austin or Seattle.

With creative density as a driving theme, the Road to Renaissance task force will work with the creative community to document and interactively map all creative-related assets in the region.

Visually showing the world the depth of advertising agencies, music venues, video production facilities, architectural wonders and more is an important tool in substantiating our claim as a creative hub.

Read the entire piece here.

"Dump the pump!" on June 21

Thursday, June 21 is the second annual "Dump the Pump" day that calls for the parking of cars and the riding of public transit as a way of calling attention to the environmental and economic benefits of using public transit.

A transit fact:

From 1995 through 2006, public transportation ridership increased by 30 percent, a growth rate higher than the 12 percent increase in US population and higher than the 24 percent growth in use of the nation's highways over the same period.

Find out more here.

Oakland Land Conservancy hosts native plant sale

The Oakland Land Conservancy will host its annual native plant sale on June 3 in Auburn Hills and in Oxford.

A special purchase is a 32-plant balanced butterfly and bird garden, which is available as a package for $64.

Find out more at oaklandlandconservancy.org

Detroit area to see AT&T U-Verse TV, voice and data service

AT&T has announced an IP-based TV, voice and data service to launch in the Detroit area, the first of its kind.


"It's an IP network for the home, and on that IP network wlll be a variety of applications, one of which is television," said Jennifer Jones, AT&T vice president and general manager for Michigan.

Jones also assured GLITR that the service will provide local cable access channels to schools and communities -- although those schools and communities must take the initiative to send their content to AT&T for display on TV channels.

Read the entire article here.

Bike to Work down the Woodward Corridor on May 18

Detroit Bikes! is locally coordinating National Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18 along the Woodward corridor between Royal Oak and downtown Detroit.


From Royal Oak south to Campus Martius, with stops along the way in Ferndale, Palmer Park, New Center and Midtown, participants will roll into downtown just after 8 a.m.

Held both to draw attention to the viability of cycling as a means of transportation and to bestow a bit of group courage to the novice cycler, the event is free. Last year -- its first -- the Woodward Avenue Bike to Work drew 50 riders; event organizer Alexander Froehlich expects up to 75 this year.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan tourism website busiest in nation

Michigan's tourism website, Michigan.org, was the busiest in the nation in April, according to web trackers at Hitwise.


"We view this as a clear and important signal that people are looking to Michigan for their leisure travel," said George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan. "We know from independent research that 65 percent of consumers who use Michigan.org for tourism information, then travel to and within Michigan. So more web traffic means more business at Michigan destinations. We believe our efforts inside and outside of Michigan are making a substantial difference."

Read the entire article here.

MDOT offers public chance to review its transportation plan

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released a draft version of its long-range transportation plan for the state and is requesting public input.

A link to the plan and to the questionnaire can be found here.


Oakland County luncheon to talk job forecasts

Today, the 22nd Annual Oakland County Economic Outlook will feature University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes discussing the county's job prospects for the coming years.


Last year, the pair predicted that Oakland would add 14,000 jobs through 2008.

Their forecasts in the last six years, however, have been overly optimistic for Oakland County as the auto industry has shrunk.

The county lost 53,000 jobs during 2000-04, led by significant losses in the automotive industry, but gained 1,900 jobs in 2006.

Read the entire article here.

Ferndale and Royal Oak host expo to promote small businesses

76 Ferndale and Royal Oak small businesses promoted their goods and services last week at a business expo hosted by the Chambers of Commerce of both cities.


Bill Allen, executive director of the Royal Oak chamber, noted the two chambers wanted a forum "for our local businesses to get some new customers." All participants were chamber members, and he described them as a tight-knit community willing to help each other.

Read the entire article here.

Environmentalists call for expansion of bottle deposit law

Environmentalists are calling for an expansion of Michigan's bottle deposit law to account for water and juice containers.


By most measurements, Michigan's law has been an unqualified success. Folks return more than 97 percent of the 4.3 billion bottles and cans of carbonated beverages sold here each year, according to state records. That tops the return rate of all other states and ranks Michigan's as America's No. 1 bottle recycling program.

Read the entire article here.

State launches first-ever tourism industry plan

A team working on behalf of the 9,000 businesses, attractions and groups that comprise Michigan's tourism industry have devised a strategic plan.


The plan's recommendations include:
  • Marketing the state nationally with a $30 million tourism promotion budget.

  • Boosting relationships with policymakers.

  • Promoting collaboration.

  • Expanding tourism-related research.

  • Improving hospitality training.
Read the entire article here.

Immigrants positive force for Metro Detroit's economy

Immigrants to the area are positively contributing to Metro Detroit's economy.


A study [director of research for the United Way of Southeastern Michigan Kurt] Metzger conducted in 2000 showed that about three-quarters of Asian Indians had graduated from college. More than 60 percent of Chinese and Japanese had received four-year degrees, and almost 50 percent of those of Korean descent had.

“We are getting this educated, young immigrant group that can provide that base that businesses are looking for,” he said. “They’re educated and talented enough to start new businesses.”

And they are coming at a time when Detroit’s native-born are leaving.

Read the entire article here.

Regional Chamber to host economic climate forum

The Detroit Regional Chamber will host a forum on the region's problems -- and proposed solutions -- on March 27.


Neal Peirce, chairman of The Citistates Group and a frequent guest on "Meet the Press," National Public Radio and "The Today Show," will offer a keynote address on the region’s challenges.

A panel, including Kramer, former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and New Detroit Inc. Chairman John Rakolta, will lead an interactive exchange.

Read the entire article here.

State's green energy future has potential to do more than just clean the air

With everyone talking about what direction Michigan's energy future should go, many are pointing out that the greener it goes, the better for the economy.


"We could become the alternative energy state," says Mark Beyer, spokesman for the Detroit nonprofit NextEnergy.

When the facility opened, with its 80-seat auditorium and offices and research labs, the goal, said CEO James Croce, was to position both Detroit and Michigan at the "focal point of the emerging alternative energy industry."

Much of NextEnergy's efforts are focused on working with the Big 3 automakers to develop alternative fuels such as biodiesel, hydrogen and ethanol. But it offers alternative energy companies of all stripes research facilities, office space and access to government funding sources and private venture capital.

Read the entire article here.

Oakland County to host 22nd Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon

Oakland County will host its 22nd Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon on April 26.


The report is provided to Oakland County Planning & Economic Development Services by the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan.

Make reservations early, as the event has sold out for several years in a row.

Find out more here.

Oakland County officials recognized in top 25 tech execs

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Deputy County Executive and County CIO Phil Bertolini were named to the list of the top 25 government tech execs in the nation by Government Technology magazine.


Said Steve Towns, editor of the magazine: "Mr. Patterson and Mr. Bertolini were selected to be in the Top 25 because of their track record of successful, high profile information technology projects that not only create better service for Oakland County residents, but also lead to more efficient government operations."

read the entire article here.

Granholm heads to Germany to court business

Governor Jennifer Granholm heads to Germany and Austria to encourage international investment in the state.


Granholm said Michigan is competing with other states and countries for business investment.

"We've got what no other state has — this incredible footprint of automotive suppliers, research and development, engineers," she said.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan sports and leisure monthly to debut in April

Michigan in Play, a monthly sports and leisure magazine, will debut this April.    

The magazine promises to cover everything from basketball, football and baseball to dogsledding, wrestling and boating.

Locations where Michigan in Play can be picked up are listed here.

Find out if your company is venture capital-worthy at upcoming Crain's event

Crain's will host "Following the Money: Where Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists See Opportunity" on Mar. 19 with panelists Ian Bund of Plymouth Venture Partners and
David Weaver of Great Lakes Angels.


Is your Company venture-worthy? Find out what panelists Ian Bund, chairman of Plymouth Venture Partners and David Weaver, president of Great Lakes Angels, look for in a company- and which sectors they think show the greatest opportunity in metro Detroit.

Find out more and register here.

Transit plans gain momentum

Mass transit initiatives gain speed, momentum as  the public and local officials get behind efforts. The Establishment of a commuter rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit and north of Ann Arbor is moving forward.


From proposed commuter trains to regional bus service, the long-failed effort to establish mass transit in car-crazy Metro Detroit is building steam, officials say.

Bringing the issue to the forefront are increasingly congested roads, soaring gas prices and the fact that Democrats -- who historically have championed public transportation -- now control the state House, governor's office and Congress.

Advocates say city after city has benefited from building a transit system, creating jobs and economic development along the routes. With the possible exception of Los Angeles, Detroit is the only major U.S. city without effective mass transit, critics say.

"I think it's really important that we develop an effective and efficient public transportation system if we're going to move ahead with economic recovery in this state," State Rep. Marie Donigan told a standing-room-only crowd at a public transit meeting last week in Royal Oak.

"We think there's an urgency in our work. We know the status quo's not working."

Read the entire article here.

Amtrak ridership increases statewide

Increased gas prices and airfare have increased the number of people in Michigan riding Amtrak trains.


Amtrak's popularity in Michigan is soaring. State ridership, which hit a record last year of nearly 665,000, has jumped 47 percent since 2002 -- far outpacing the nationwide increase of 12 percent.

read the entire article here.

New Metro Times columnist calls for regionalism

Larry Gabriel, former editor at Metro Times, debuts his new bi-monthly column for the publication with a call for regionalism with regard to the proposed Cobo Hall expansion.


"You might be able to make the case that the auto show in and of itself is a special reason why a convention center matters more for metro Detroit than other reasons. That's a sensible argument," says Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, Inc. "The region and the state really benefit for making the auto show work as a premier event. ... Oakland County needs to help, not be a roadblock. Brooks is being shortsighted that the auto show isn't a regional asset. It's an example of how the region works against itself. ... The auto show is really important both symbolically and also strategically. ... If we were to lose the auto show, it would be a big black eye for the area."

Read the entire column here.

Transit subcommittee formed by State House

The Michigan House of Representatives has convened a subcommittee devoted to public transit.


The committee is designed to address transit issues including the improvement of bus systems, funding issues, accessibility and the development of public transit systems in communities around the state.

Read the entire article here.

E85 becoming more cost-effective as price of gas rises

As the price of gasoline continues to increase, ethanol blends are becoming increasingly cost-effective at the pump.


In Michigan, ethanol is gaining momentum as a viable alternative to conventional gasoline. There are three stations already pumping out ethanol with one currently under construction.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently announced plans to build 1,000 ethanol and biodiesel pumps across Michigan by the end of next year.

Read the entire article.

Automation Alley added 39 members in January

39 new members joined Automation Alley, the tech trade group based in Troy, in the month of January - a single month record for the organization.

The sectors with the biggest gains were IT, with 15 new members and manufacturing, with six.

Read the entire article here.

Local professionals passionate about careers with non-profits

The non-profit sector - including health care and education - accounted for 62% of new jobs created in Michigan in 2005 and local professionals are finding themselves rewarding careers.


The non-profit sector - including health care and education - accounted for 62% of new jobs created in Michigan in 2005 and local professionals are finding themselves rewarding careers.

Read the entire article here.

Ficano working towards Cobo compromise with Patterson

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is confident that a compromise can be reached with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson over the funding of the proposed expansion to Cobo Hall.


"We need to get our staffs working together on this outside of the public forum," [Ficano] said. "We all agree Cobo needs to be expanded for the benefit of the entire region. We need to move forward and soon."

Red the entire article here.

Patterson addresses Cobo Expansion, promotes Wireless Oakland

At his annual state of the county address, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson proposed 5 ways to fund a Cobo expansion and discussed progress with the installation of Wireless Oakland.


The other major topic of Patterson’s speech was Wireless Oakland, the plan to make wireless Internet access available to all 910 square miles of the county.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as we speak tonight, the wireless trucks are out on the streets of our pilot communities starting with Troy and Birmingham, and the installation of Wireless Oakland is now underway,” he said.

$400,000 awarded to arts community to establish Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan

The Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan has received $400,000 in start-up funding from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan along with the McGregor Fund and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. The Alliance will work to increase collaborations between and visibility of arts and cultural organizations in the seven-county SEMCOG region.

The Cultural Alliance will represent the arts and culture community in regional planning efforts and will market the programs and amenities of member organizations to a diverse group of audiences.

The chairman of the Cultural Alliance’s board will be Steven K. Hamp, former president of The Henry Ford and Chief of Staff of Ford Motor Co. “The Cultural Alliance represents a new era for the arts and culture in our region,” he said in a release. “It embraces all dimensions of the cultural community: performing arts, visual arts, history and historic preservation, community cultural activities, arts education, science and nature, libraries and literature. Our goal is to foster innovation and creativity and enable our many and diverse cultural resources to contribute more dynamically to the people and communities of southeastern Michigan.”

All participating parties stress the Alliance’s inclusiveness, as organizations both big and small, fledgling and established, will have access to the collective’s resources and expertise.

More than 60 organizations from across all seven counties participated in an 18-month planning process to develop the Cultural Alliance, and several hundred will be invited to participate.

Source: CFSEM
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

D-Rod, to be built by local company, will promote Detroit as travel destination

DMCVB has tapped Holly-based Detroit-muscle to build a custom hot rod, the D-Rod, to showcase Detroit's appeal as the Motor City and as a travel and leisure destination.


Rick Dyer, Detroit Muscle project manager for the D-Rod, said the company's extensive knowledge and technical ability allowed Detroit Muscle put to put together, with passion and style, a street legal vehicle that represents the best of Detroit's past and future to prospective visitors.

Read the entire article here.

RO couple find niche by offering cooking classes

Bill and Shanny Apodaca have turned their love of cooking into a growing business. They currently offer cooking classes at their Royal Oak home, but will soon begin to utilize a Birmingham location.


The Apodacas started their Simply Good Kitchen cooking classes in November 2002. Originally, Shanny taught alone, but Bill joined her a year later. Each year they've served more and more students -- they now teach 70 classes a year and have 3,200 people on their mailing list -- and they recently released a cookbook, Simply Good Kitchen, containing 12 menus from their classes and available at www.simplygoodkitchen.com.

Read the entire article here.

RO artist couple showcase distinct styles

The Royal Oak Arts Council has selected Cindy and Douglas LaFerle, a couple that has been married for 26 years, for their January show. Cindy, a writer, works in mixed media and Douglas, an architect, is a painter.


Cindy went to Michigan State, graduating with a degree in English literature. After writing for local newspapers for a number of years, she landed the freelance travel editor position for Innsider magazine based in Ferndale. After the magazine folded, she put her focus on being published nationwide and has released a collection of essays, Writing Home.

While Cindy pursued a writing career, Douglas went into architecture, receiving a master's from the University of Michigan and worked at French Associates Inc. since he graduated. He is now one of the partners and owners of the firm, performing work for schools, courts and cities.

Read the entire article here.

United Way CEO urges regional solutions to area's problems

United Way for Southeastern Michigan CEO Michael Brennan discusses the agency's survey process that has led them to begin working on solving the region's major problems in three key areas: educational preparedness, economic stability and basic needs. He urges the region to work together in a collaborative manner to acieve success.


During the course of our research at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we collected more than 20,000 comments from 7,000 residents, and one theme reverberated consistently: This region aspires to be a place where all people have the educational and economic opportunities needed to succeed and to thrive.

Read entire editorial here.

Scholarships, stipends available for tech-savvy women

Women pursuing IT careers can apply for over $50,000 in scholarships and technology stipends from the Michigan Council of Women in Technology.

Read more at MCWT's website.

Local music gets spotlight on new weekly PBS show

Local PBS station WTVS has started a new weekly hour-long music series focusing on top independent talent in Metro Detroit.

The whole idea began with footage that metro Detroiters James McGovern and Greg Sharrow originally produced for www.canyouhearmetv.com, an online platform the two created to showcase select indie artists from around the country. Ultimately, Detroit Public Television picked up the Detroit episodes and packaged them for the series.

"Detroit is known for its music scene -- it's Motown," says McGovern. "It's our hometown and there's so much respect we have for the city. We hope to create a better image for it by bringing music here and promoting the local scene."

Click here for the full story.
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