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(revolver) co-founder to open new restaurant in Southwest

Goldfinch American, the new restaurant concept from Tunde Wey, will have its first pop-up dinner Monday March 24 at a yet-to-be disclosed location. Wey, who has contributed to Model D in the past, is also the co-owner of the Hamtramck restaurant (revolver).

As he searches for Goldfinch American's permanent home in southwest Detroit, Wey will hold a series of Monday night dinners. Wey says that he has been talking to a number of restaurants in Southwest about hosting his weekly dinner. Goldfinch American will transition from pop-up to permanent once an ideal space for the bar and restaurant is found.

Like (revolver), much of the emphasis of Goldfinch American is placed on the chef. Unlike (revolver), Goldfinch American will feature the work of just one person, James Hayes. Wey says that the new restaurant will be completely chef-driven, giving Hayes the leeway to do whatever he wants with the menu. The two met after Hayes requested to create a course for (revolver).

"I had this faith in his ability and it was validated when I tried his food. It was good," says Wey. "It wasn't just good. It was amazing. He made some bacon dust. He makes bacon and puts it in a coffee grinder, grinds it, and sprinkles it on wedges of apples. Beet gnocchi. Tiny little pieces of--I don't even know how he did it. It melted in my mouth. It was amazing."

While a permanent location has yet to be identified, Wey is certain he wants Goldfinch American to be located in Southwest. He's excited by the juxtaposition of placing a fine dining restaurant in a somewhat rugged neighborhood that is culturally vibrant and diverse.

In the meantime, it will be pop-up city for Wey and Hayes, something that has worked for many a small business owner lately.

Source: Tunde Wey, owner of Goldfinch American
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

Organization to offer loans to businesses in underserved neighborhoods

The national nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation has partnered with the federal Small Business Association's Community Advantage program. The local division of LISC will be providing loans up to $250,000 to Detroit businesses looking to open in low-income communities. The loans are also available to pre-existing businesses looking to make improvements.

The loan program focuses on businesses outside of the greater downtown area. It aims to assist the city's underserved neighborhoods. Detroit LISC executive director Tahirih Ziegler says the loan program will provide an incentive for businesses to come further out and into the neighborhoods. LISC is currently targeting place-based programs in the Grandmont Rosedale, Springwells Village, and Grand-Woodward neighborhoods.

Loans are available for a variety of purposes, including business expansion, working capital, real estate development, equipment, tenant improvement, and facade improvement. Ziegler believes that the loans can attract new tenants to the empty storefronts that litter the city.

"This will free up capital for job creation and enable business owners to get footholds in the neighborhoods," says Ziegler. "One way we can help the neighborhoods is by bringing amenities to the neighborhoods."

In noting the importance of freeing up capital for small businesses to hire employees, Ziegler cites statistics that there were seven jobs for every small business in the 1990s and only four jobs per small business today.

LISC has been in Detroit for over 20 years and has awarded over $175 million in that time. The group awarded $6 million in lending in 2013, helping to open two grocery stores, 7 Mile Foods and Parkway Foods, and a hardware store, Village Ace.

The group is also working toward creating and maintaining affordable housing in the city of Detroit.

Source: Tahirih Ziegler, executive director of Detroit LISC
Writer: MJ Galbraith

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here.

2013 SAFE Grants awarded

Michigan Community Resources recently completed the fourth installment of their Security Alternative Funding and Empowerment (SAFE) mini grant initiative. Launched in 2011, SAFE provides mini grant funding to community-based organizations for the purpose of conducting neighborhood beautification activities designed to enhance community safety.
 
“MCR’s mini-grant program has become an important tool to increase quality of life in the neighborhoods," says Jill Ferrari, CEO of Michigan Community Resources. "They show a little bit can do so much to help improve a community and that everyone has a role they can play. MCR is very happy to help community organizations make their goals a reality.”
 
SAFE mini grants range in amounts between $1,000 and $5,000 and are available to community-based organizations that have a 501c3 nonprofit status and an operating budget of at least $2,000 during the previous fiscal year.
 
This year, MCR received applications from 32 organizations and awarded $50,000 to 16 organizations in the Central Woodward/Northend and Southwest neighborhoods. Recipients are as follows:
 
- Sages & Sprouts
- New Electric Vision
- Springdale Block Club
- New Horizons CDC
- UNI
- SDEV
- SITC
- Clark Park
- Vanguard CDC
- Women's Empowerment Center
- Stafford House
- Cameron ST Block Club
- Greater Woodward CDC
- Motor City Youth All Stars
- NE Neighborhood Patrol
- NE Neighbors Block Club
 
Award decisions were made by MCR’s external review committee, which is comprised of representatives from a number of community-focused nonprofits throughout Detroit as well as in the respective target areas.
 
Source: Jill Ferrari, CEO of Michigan Community Resources
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Urban Land Institute unveils recommendations to SDBA for 6.9-acre Vernor Square

Last week the Urban Land Institute (ULI) unveiled its formal recommendations for a city-owned 6.9-acre site on W. Vernor in the middle of the Vernor Commercial District currently overseen by the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA).
 
Eight renowned ULI experts analyzed the vacant property, formerly the Detroit Public Works property at W. Vernor Highway and Livernois. They conducted over 60 interviews with local community and business leaders as well as Detroit city stakeholders and government officials, transit officials from organizations like SEMCOG, and economic development authorities in Detroit and neighboring Dearborn (which abuts the site) to shape their recommendations on what the greater community feels it needs.
 
Currently the old DPW property is the midway point between the east and west ends of the commercial district, in effect separating them instead of joining them. The plan that the ULI panel unveiled on Oct. 7 will act as a commercial district connector and a hub for business growth in Southwest Detroit. "It really does create quite a blighted influence in the neighborhood and in the commercial district," says Kathy Wendler, SBDA president. "We feel it’s a great opportunity to create an anchor and connect these commercial districts."
 
The panel proposed a project named "Vernor Square," built around a central plaza area that would include public gathering spaces, a variety of major retailers, and also space for artisan businesses that are very prominent in Southwest Detroit including ornamental ironworkers, potters, and ceramic mosaic makers.
 
"We absolutely want to start this process," Wendler says. "The panel tested the market so we know there is a demand on both fronts." Now the SDBA will focus on addressing the issues of site remediation and number-crunching to make it work.
 
"This is a great location smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood on the commercial corridor which gets huge traffic," Wendler says. The site also borders Livernois with easy access to both I-75 and I-94. "The location is critical to its success."
 
Though the city still owns the property, the SDBA has a hold on the site through October 2014 and hope that they will be able to leverage ULI's site proposal to work with the city on the redevelopment of the site, especially as the city determines how to dispose of surplus property such as this.
 
Source: Kathy Wendler, SBDA president
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Dine Drink Detroit celebrates Detroit's culinary culture while benefiting the Riverfront

Starting this Thursday, Oct. 10, a brand-new Detroit dining event launches and you don't need to make any reservations, any kind of special time commitment, or even adhere to any kind of special dress code. Detroit, it's time to start dining and drinking.
 
Dine Drink Detroit runs Oct. 10-16 and highlights some of Detroit's most unique casual dining restaurants. All of the 13 participating restaurants will offer some sort of food and drink combination for $15.
 
"The inspiration is that there are so many cool small businesses in Detroit," says Scott Rutterbush, operations developer for Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company and co-organizer of Dine Drink Detroit. "People are doing some really great stuff that we wanted to showcase and celebrate. These are places that maybe not everyone knows about."
 
Rutterbush and Kate Williams, Executive Chef of Rodin in Midtown and fellow co-organizer of Dine Drink Detroit, opted to focus on places that are independently owned and operated and are known as popular locals spots. They also looked specifically at places with a liquor license to showcase that component as well – places with really interesting wine lists, excellent craft cocktails, and extensive craft beer lists. The price point was intentionally kept low at $15 to encourage people to try more than one place. "People can do to multiple locations even in the same night, which people do anyway. it's really part of the everyday experience."
 
These October dates were chosen because there is a brief lull in events before the holidays come around and restaurants kick into high gear for their busy season.
 
They have partnered with Uber and Zipcar to offer discounts to Dine Drink Detroit participants. All net proceeds from Dine Drink Detroit will go to benefit the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. "(The Riverfront) is a common space a lot of people from Detroit go to experience, and we wanted to celebrate that as well," Rutterbush says. "It's really about celebrating and promoting the city."
 
Dine Drink Detroit will be held annually and there will always be some sort of charity component. The organization effort has been entirely grassroots and collaborative, with people volunteering their time for everything from web design to social media marketing. "It's a microcosm of how Detroit businesses have been operating. It's really collaborative and everyone supports each other. When there's a new place that opens everyone rallies around them asking, 'What can we do to help?' Dine Drink Detroit is an extension of that."
 
Restaurants have been encouraged to put forth their best efforts in their menu pairings. "We want people to really know they're going to go to these places and get their best for $15." Restaurants were also given a lot of latitude in what to offer; diners can potentially visit several of these restaurants multiple times during the seven days and get something different each time.  
 
Source: Scott Rutterbush and Kate Williams, co-organizers of Dine Drink Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Station Walls, a new mural project from Grand River Creative Corridor founder, covers 2000-foot wall

Derek Weaver, founder of the Grand River Creative Corridor public mural project, is behind a new street art project in Corktown.
 
Called "Station Walls," the project is located at the corner of Vernor and Newark behind Michigan Central Station on a 2,000-foot-long wall that local business owners claim hasn't been repainted in the past 30 years.
 
"We're taking the Grand River Creative Corridor concept and doing a project in Corktown behind the train station," says Weaver. Though he says that it will not be as elaborate at the GRCC, he jokes that "it will probably end up evolving into something more because it always does!"
 
27 local street artists donated their time to paint murals along the massive wall. The wall is owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which granted Weaver and his team permission to paint the murals. Supplies for the murals were purchased with private donations. Local business Arrow Chemical Products, which has been in business since 1933, contributed some money and also commissioned the group to paint a mural on their building as well.
 
Participating muralists include well-known local artists FEL 3000ft, TEAD, and Sintex. The mix of murals ranges from fine art to straight graffiti, from professionals to "vandals." "We tried to incorporate everybody," Weaver says.
 
Source: Derek Weaver, founder of Grand River Creative Corridor
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Kitchen Connect will help launch new triple-bottom-line food start-ups

FoodLab Detroit is a network of triple-bottom-line food businesses in Detroit, founded by Jess Daniel, a Local Economy Fellow at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. FoodLab launched in 2011 and has become a significant resource for food start-ups in the city, a place where entrepreneurs can share information, resources, provide mutual support, and learn how to balance their triple-focus businesses.  
 
One of the unique functions of FoodLab has been inadvertently performing is that of an informal connector between entrepreneurs and commercial kitchens in the city that will allow small start-up food businesses to use their space to make their products, a necessity for many of the food start-ups that aren't classified as cottage industry (the Cottage Food Law specifically excludes all items made with dairy and other products like salsa, pickles, and barbecue sauce) and for those that need more space than a home kitchen provides. From this emerging need for rentable commercial kitchen space, Kitchen Connect was born.
 
Daniel says that they were fielding inquiries both from entrepreneurs as well as churches and community organizations with kitchens that they wanted to open up for entrepreneurs to use. "We found out that it's pretty difficult," says Daniel. "A lot of these community organizations can't be there to open and close the doors, haven't necessarily thought through insurance or making sure their kitchen is up to code, or what to do if someone leaves it a mess. Over time the kitchen realizes, 'Oh, you've been using our hood and now utilities have gone up and you're only paying this much; we can't afford it,' and kick them out."
 
Kitchen Connect eliminates all of that by working with two partner community kitchens: St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Southwest Detroit and Matrix Human Services in Osborn. These community kitchens in Detroit neighborhoods act as a preamble to the community kitchen that will open next year in Shed 5 in Eastern Market, which just received a $1 million grant from the MEDC. "These are community-driven spaces," says Devita Davison, Community Kitchen Coordinator at Eastern Market Corporation. "To be partnering with two kitchens that understand the power of community and bring folks together – I couldn't ask for better partners."
 
Kitchen Connect is a collaboration between Eastern Market, the fiduciary partner, and FoodLab, which is handling all technical assistance. They are also working with the city to show off the growing good food economy (and, ideally, make it easier for more businesses to launch). Davison references the 119 products from Michigan vendors on the shelves of the new Whole Foods Market, and emphasizes the need for our entrepreneurs to be able to utilize commercial kitchens and have that kind of opportunity.
 
Kitchen Connect is an incubator of sorts, but once the spaces are activated they will have additional programming, offering community cooking classes and other workshops, even host pop-ups. The partner kitchens also provide people in their respective communities access to a commercial kitchen, which might not have otherwise been easily accessible if they had been limited to the sort of usual suspect hubs (Midtown et.al.). "(Kitchen Connect) speaks to entrepreneurship opportunities that may open up to folks local in their own neighborhood," Davison says. Daniel adds, "A lot of the entrepreneurs we work with have issues with access. (Kitchen Connect) also means there are these hubs of incubation activity in a lot of different spaces."
 
They will start accepting applications at the end of June and will celebrate with a launch party on July 22.
 
Source: Jess Daniel, Founder of Foodlab and Local Economy Fellow at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and Devita Davison, Community Kitchen Coordinator at Eastern Market Corporation
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

Oakaloosa, a philanthropic music festival, to benefit Historic Fort Wayne

The City of Detroit is gaining another new music festival this summer. Oakaloosa will be held at the Historic Fort Wayne on July 27, and, much like Orion Music + More, will reinvest into the maintenance and preservation of the concert site itself -- Historic Fort Wayne.
 
The 96-acre Historic Fort Wayne site in Delray includes some original buildings from the mid-1800s as well as faithful replicas, though many are in disrepair. The Fort is operated by the Detroit Recreation Department with other nonprofit assistance. They rely heavily on volunteer efforts and individual generosity.
 
Oakaloosa is a brand-new outdoor concert, billing itself as the region's first fully philanthropic music festival, with a percentage of every dollar raised going back towards the restoration of Historic Fort Wayne. "We were looking to participate in restoring its renown by adding an event there where people can appreciate it and relate this event to its name," says Adrian Pittman, founder of Module, which is handling Oakaloosa's marketing. "What happened to (the Fort) is sort of what happened to Detroit in the rest of the country … it was forgotten. It requires a local to give it a little attention and polish it off a bit. It needs to be maintained for generations of people to come."
 
With connections in the parks & rec department, Detroit Sports Zone, Inc. – the nonprofit group organizing this event – was able to secure the site, which needs little in the way of infrastructure work in order to host the event. "They were looking at the fort from day one. It's such a unique opportunity." A first event of its kind for the site, they hope this event will also encourage other organizations to host festivals here.
 
DJ Mikey Eckstein of Embarco is responsible for programming, which includes both local and national acts. Main headliners include Girl Talk and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (as part of their big reunion tour).
 
They expect about 15,000 people to attend. Tickets are $45.

The odd name actually came from a typo on a website about the fort's history. The organizers liked it despite it being a misspelling, and decided to use the name for the festival.
 
Source: Adrian Pittman, Director of Development at Module
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Got a Development News story to share? Email Nicole here.

'Tis the season for retail evolution

Detroit’s neighborhoods are popping with new business and shopping this holiday season. 

Like the Historic Hubbard Winter Market in Southwest Detroit, Dec. 9, where Tashhmoo Biergarten, 555 Gallery, Detroit Farm and Garden join a stellar line-up of your favorite purveyors of fine food, retail and art at the newest celebration of a historic neighborhood. The Historic Hubbard Winter Market will take place at 1759 20th St. from noon to 8 p.m.

The Historic Hubbard Winter Market is a collaboration between Southwest Housing Solutions, Southwest Detroit Business Association, COMPAS, REVOLVE and many others.
 
"The Historic Hubbard Winter Market is a great chance to support our local businesses, celebrate our historic Hubbard Farms and Hubbard Richard communities, and welcome new retailers and shoppers to our neighborhood this holiday season," says Rachel Perschetz, Real Estate Development Project Manager at Southwest Housing Solutions who’s leading the charge for Winter Market. "We can’t wait to show the rest of the city what this wonderful area has to offer."

Visit the event on its Facebook page for all the latest information on vendors, music, holiday cheers and -- of course -- bier.  

Plan another stop at Always Brewing Detroit Coffee Shop and performance venue in Grandmont Rosedale. Warm up over a fresh cup of coffee and listen to some great music with Detroit retail revolutionary Amanda Brewington. Always Brewing teamed up with Grandmont Rosedale Community Development Corporation to provide residents and a vacant space with a much needed caffeine fix. 

"We want to provide a space where you can have lunch with a co-worker, settle in with an amazing cup of coffee and a good book or perform your new song at our open mic," says Brewington. "We're getting to know the neighborhood and making sure we are what they want and need. Nearly 90 percent of our customers are from the area. We're always asking for feedback."

Located at 19180 Grand River Avenue, Always Brewing is open seven days a week, and open Thursday nights until 10 p.m. for special events. They serve locally sourced fair trade & organic coffee and tea and also feature locally made baked goods, sandwiches and salads. Check out Always Brewing for all the latest information on shows and hours. The pop-up is open now through Dec. 23 -- but hopefully much longer. 
 
Another holiday stop should be at Maison LaFleur in West Village. Maison LaFleur is a pop-up gallery specializing in contemporary culture. The gallery exhibits contemporary art, design, and limited editions.
 
"After being home for the past year, I am very excited to have my first pop-up in Detroit in this charming neighborhood. Detroiters have been so supportive and embracing making this wonderful opportunity an even better experience," says founder and director Ingrid LaFleur.

Maison LaFleur is popping up in the future home of the Red Hook at 8025 Agnes St. The pop-up is open now and will be open until Jan. 13. After you stop by Maison LaFleur don’t forget to pick up apparel from your favorite Detroit designers at PRAMU and place your holiday pie order at Coffee And (__).

Thanks to Michael Forsyth of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp for this report.

Midtown Lending Solutions takes aim at condo lending logjam

Midtown Detroit Inc is joining a small-but-growing group of Michigan-based community-development-oriented nonprofits to help make financing for renovations and sales more accessible.

Four of these eight non-profits (Midtown Detroit Inc, Southwest Solutions, Vanguard Community Development Corp and Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp) are from Detroit and make up the bulk of the Michigan Lending Solutions consortium. The group helps homeowners prevent foreclosure, find mortgages for home sales and locate financing for building renovations.

The Midtown branch of the Michigan Lending Solutions, Midtown Lending Solutions, is based in Midtown Detroit Inc's Co-Lab space on Woodward. One of Midtown Lending Solutions is helping locate financing for condo sales.

"At least 85 percent of all of the condos in Detroit are non-warrantable," says David LeClerc, manager of lending operations of Michigan Lending Solutions. He adds that non-warrantable means banks won't extend mortgages in those condo buildings because there aren't enough pre-sales or the condo association doesn't have enough cash reserves or to many units in the building are rentals, among a bevy of other disqualifiers.

Midtown Lending Solutions is looking to secure a $15 million loan fund that would be able to provide the financing for local condos sales. If enough condo sales are approved through this fund, that should help release pressure on the market and make it more attractive to traditional lenders. LeClerk believes the fund will be able to close 200 mortgage deals for local condos within the next two years.

"We believe we will be able to free up all of these condominiums within two years so they can leverage traditional financing," LeClerc says.

The Michigan Lending Solutions will also be able to help other homeowners and small developers find financing. That could be as complicated as nailing down a $140,000 loan to renovate a derelict building to financing a $5,000 loan so a homeowner can improve their house with minimal hassle and frustration.

Source: David LeClerc, manager of lending operations with Michigan Lending Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Gateway Project opens new U.S. approach to the Ambassador Bridge

The Gateway Project is in its final stages now that the ramps to the Detroit side of the Ambassador bridge are open to traffic to primary expressways connecting to the international bridge.

"We're about 95 percent done," says Rob Morosi, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation. "We have reached the milestone where we can open ramps to the plaza from I-96 and I-75."

The opened ramps will take the traffic off of the service drives and other local roads in Southwest Detroit in adjacent Mexicantown and Corktown. The open ramps will also allow motorists the option to access toll booths directly or visit the duty-free plaza before proceeding to the Ambassador Bridge.

The remaining construction consists of roadwork on the surface streets that traffic had been diverted to for years. That roadwork consists of Rosa Parks Boulevard between Fort Street and Michigan Avenue and on the I-75 services drives.

The opening of the ramps comes less than seven months after Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards directed the Detroit International Bridge Co to cede control of their portion of the $230 million project and ordered Michigan Department of Transportation to complete the remaining work. In the March 8 Opinion and Order issued by Judge Edwards, the Detroit International Bridge Co was directed to deposit $16 million into an account to fund construction.

Source: Rob Morosi, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Old container boxes become new urban garden in SW Detroit

Cadillac Urban Gardens, a new urban garden in Southwest Detroit, is turning old industrial shipping crates into new planting boxes.

The community project is using 250 shipping grates from the General Motors' Orion Assembly Plant and turning them into containers for raised bed urban gardens. The raised beds are installed in what was an abandoned parking lot on Merritt Street. The food grown in the garden will be consumed by local residents.

"We were looking for options for these containers compared to traditional recycling," says John Bradburn, manager of waste reduction efforts for General Motors. "They are often shredded and end up in the steel industry. That's good but we wanted to do better."

GM also partners with a number of local companies and organizations, including Ideal Group, Detroit Dirt (which provided the top soil), the Detroit Zoo (animal manure), Astro Coffee (coffee grounds), Marriott Hotel at the Renaissance and GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant (composted food scraps).

"It has really become a multi-functional group effort," Bradburn says.

Source: John Bradburn, manager of waste reduction efforts for General Motors
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Reclaim Detroit turns home deconstruction into new jobs

Reclaim Detroit is using deconstruction as a new way to help tackle Detroit's blight problem, a solution that is also helping create jobs in the Motor City.

Reclaim Detroit launched out of the WARM Training Center last year focusing on deconstructing blighted buildings. So far the non-profit and its 18 employees have deconstructed three houses and has recently started on its four home.

"The more we do the better we get with it," says James Willer, a manager at Reclaim Detroit. "It's amazing what we can get from all of these houses."

It costs Reclaim Detroit about $20,000 to deconstruct a single-family home, however, the total cost can vary depending on the size of the structure. The non-profit has formed several partnerships with local businesses, such as architectural Salvage Warehouse in Woodbridge, to put these materials back into circulation. It is using a warehouse at the Focus:HOPE campus to store a lot of these materials.

One house that was deconstructed in Hamtramck last year has provided materials for a number of new businesses and projects, including the Lincoln Street Art Project and the Sugar Hill Clay Studio in the 71 Garfield Building. The flooring from the house was reused in the Newberry Hall renovation in Midtown. These sorts of recycled materials from Reclaim Detroit are also being used in other projects, such as the about-to-open Great Lakes Coffee Shop in Midtown.

"We know the supply is there," Willer says. "We know the demand is there. We're trying to bridge that demand."

Source: James Willer, a manager at Reclaim Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit improves Patton Park in Springwells neighborhood

Patton Park in southwest Detroit is about to receive some much-needed upgrades this summer.

The sprawling park and recreational center near Woodmere Cemetery in the Springwells neighborhood is named for General George S Patton. It has everything from baseball and soccer fields to a pond and kids playscape. The city of Detroit's Recreation Department recently received a $500,000 state grant to upgrades it facilities there across the board.

"We're looking to put some new softball diamonds and extending the walking paths," says Sue Norander, general manager of operations for the City of Detroit's Recreation Department.

The city has already been working with the Greening of Detroit to plant new trees throughout Patton Park and has installed a new rain garden and kids playscape. The upgrades will interconnect the existing pathways more to create shorter routes while maintaining the length of the entire system. The city will also be adding recycling containers, picnic tables and way-finding signs.

Work is set to begin this summer. Norander says that city officials are also looking at sprucing up the pond on the south end of the park to make it more hospitable to fishing.

Source: Sue Norander, general manager of operations for the city of Detroit's Recreation Department
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Hacienda Mexican Foods greens up SW Detroit food processing facility

Lydia Gutierrez can sum up in a sentence what she wants from her efforts to make her company, Hacienda Mexican Foods, a greener, more sustainable business.

"You want to do as much as you can with as little energy as possible," Gutierrez says.

The Mexicantown-based tortilla maker is leveraging a SmartBuildings grant from the city to make energy efficiency improvements to Hacienda Mexican Foods food processing facility on 6100 Buchanan. The $33,149 grant from the city will go toward a $132,597 project to make the building a greener, more cost-effective facility.

The improvements include installing weather-stripping to prevent heat loss in the winter, along with window replacement. The project will also install new lighting that uses significantly less electricity. Gutierrez expects the energy-efficiency improvements to create at least 10 percent energy savings for the company.

Hacienda Mexican Foods is working with O'Brien Construction to complete the project. Work will begin this month and wrap up by this summer.

Source: Lydia Gutierrez, owner of Hacienda Mexican Foods
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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