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How Lathrup Village overcame inertia and opted in to regional transit

In metro Detroit, we often hear about communities refusing to collaborate on regional issues, particularly when it comes to opting in to the SMART bus public transportation system. Motor City Freedom Riders, an organization "uniting bus riders and their allies in standing up for the right to move," however, points to an example of a small community in Oakland County that had a change of heart after long refusing to participate in SMART.
 
In August of 2014, Lathrup Village, a small enclave city surrounded entirely by Southfield, voted to join the SMART bus system after 19 years of opting out.
 
Motor City Freedom Riders' Joel Batterman writes, "When the SMART bus system had its first millage back in 1995, the small Oakland County city of Lathrup Village chose not to take part…[but] in 2014, Lathrup Village officials started talking to SMART about joining the system by joining the Oakland County Public Transportation Authority, the pass-through entity that collects the property tax millage for SMART’s Oakland County cities. Lathrup Village City Council unanimously voted to join the Authority, and in August 2014, fully 73 percent of Lathrup Village voters said 'yes' to the SMART millage – one of the highest levels of support in Oakland County."
 
Batterman challenges the notion that all communities that opt-out of SMART are "bastions of prejudice," instead positing that many simply suffer from "political inertia."
 
Read more on Motor City Freedom Riders' blog.

Northland, America's oldest shopping mall, on the verge of closure

Southfield's Northland Shopping Center, which opened in 1954 at the forefront of a national trend of suburban shopping mall development, is on the verge of closure.
 
The Detroit News is reporting that Northland's owners told Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts that "the mall is bleeding nearly a quarter million dollars a month." Judge Potts approved the owner's requests to evict the remaining 70 tenant businesses within 30 days, saying, "The benefits it has to all — its tenants, owners and the community — are outweighed by the losses."
 
The mall is currently operating at a $5 million budget shortfall. Changes in shopping patterns and the rise of e-commerce are blamed for the mall's demise.
 
Questions remain about how the city of Southfield will cope with the closing of this massive retail landmark. Metromode will follow future developments in this story.
 
Read more in the Detroit News.

Southfield's Benzinga featured in Windows 8

Not that Metro Detroit's Benzinga needed validation, but becoming part of Windows 8 is a pretty hefty endorsement of what this dynamic Southfield Company is doing.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Benzinga, which has a multiyear contract with Microsoft Corp. to provide the Windows 8 Bing Finance section with content, is featured alongside larger media companies such as Reuters, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.
 
"They're billion-dollar companies," Raznick said. "We're in a good mix."
 
Benzinga also has contracts to provide content to Ameritrade.com, Tradestation.com and Forbes.com."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Media dwells on Detroit, misses Michigan's growing new economy

There's little doubt that Detroit's recovery is a necessary component of Michign's success. But too often the mainstream media focuses on tales of local woe instead of the growth and innovation that's occurring in communities around the state.

Excerpt:

"While the Motor City has struggled to shift gears over the past decade, cities like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo have quietly developed local innovation ecosystems that resemble those of early Silicon Valley and Bostonís Route 128 Corridor.

More importantly, the business leaders in these various hubs are beginning to work together to nurture an entrepreneurial environment that spans the state. This will ensure that Michiganís fortunes wonít be tied to one single city, region or industry.

Venture capital investment numbers in Michigan bear this out. According to the NVCA MoneyTree Report (based on data by Thomson Reuters), venture capitalists invested nearly $155 million in 31 Michigan companies in 2010. Only about half of that money went to Detroit companies. Between 2004 and 2009, the stateís biotechnology sector attracted $439.6 million in venture funding."

Read the rest of the story here.
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