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Michigan leads Midwest in hop production, craft beer industry

Michigan has been a national leader in the craft beer boom. Brands like Founder's and Bell's can be found in many states across the country, and Detroit breweries like Jolly Pumpkin and Batch are getting plenty of acclaim, too.

Another piece of evidence that Michigan is uniquely thriving in the craft beer movement is by comparison to their Midwest neighbors. In that regard, there really isn't much of a comparison.

An article earlier this month in the Chicago Tribune identifies Michigan as the top hop producer in the Midwest with over 800 acres dedicated to the crop. Illinois has a paltry 30.

"Hop farms are popping up throughout the Midwest, a trend driven by craft beer's continued growth running parallel to the increasing popularity of locally grown food," writes Greg Trotter for the Tribune. "But in Illinois, unlike in neighboring Michigan, there's no state university-coordinated effort among brewers and growers to break down potential barriers to business. There's no research underway to determine the best varieties for Illinois farmers to grow that might give them a competitive edge."

The article then details the number of ways Michigan state government and institutions support its craft beer industry, whereas the same institutional support doesn't exist in Illinois. Trotter also writes about the industry's economic potential, which is already being harnessed to a large degree in Michigan.

Diversity increases amongst downtown business owners

About two-thirds of all businesses in Detroit are black-owned. But many feel that minorities have been left out of the economic upswing taking place in the greater downtown area. 

Perhaps, suggests a recently published article
 in the Detroit News, that disparity is shrinking.

Ian Thibodeau of the News writes about several minority, women business owners who've opened storefronts downtown, including Detroit Is the New Black owner Roslyn Karamoko.

That said, caveats do remain. Thibodeau spoke with House of Pure Vin co-owner Regina Gaines and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce Ken Harris, both of whom expressed cautious optimism at these recent developments.

"Gaines opened as one of the only retailers on her side of the street," writes Thibodeau. "In 2014, when she started negotiating with Bedrock for the space, Gaines said some African-Americans didn't feel included in the downtown boom.

"Her business challenges that narrative, she said. She feels now that some of the tension has subsided since 2014, though there's still plenty of room for better minority representation downtown.

"Harris says, 'We're finding African-Americans wanting now to be part of the benefits from the resurgence of business in the city.'"

New pilot program could rewrite zoning codes for the better

Detroit's outdated zoning codes slow development and prevent businesses from opening in locations they're best suited for. Fortunately, according to the Detroit News, a new "pink zone" pilot program, meant to ease zoning restrictions, could be on the way next summer.

Through a grant from the Knight Foundation, "three multidisciplinary teams will put together visions for walkable, mixed-use activity in three commercial sites in Detroit," writes Christine Ferretti. "Later, the concepts will be tested against the city’s zoning ordinance and building code to identify roadblocks and work with city departments and others to identify strategies for reforms."

Detroit planning director Maurice Cox is fully on board with the plan, and described Detroit's present zoning system as "crazy" and inhibiting development.

This, and other recent reforms, have "earned Detroit a nod in the Wall Street Journal this spring as one of five cities 'leading the way in urban innovation.'"

Detroit automakers and Silicon Valley app-makers increase collaboration

Detroit is teaching Silicon Valley a thing or two about technology in the arena it knows best: cars.

An article on MSN details all the ways the auto industry has grown and modernized since the Big Three went through reduced market share and bankruptsy. General Motors, for example, invested $500 million in the ride-share app Lyft and is one of the leaders in autonomous vehicle design.

Auto sales are up across the board for 2016 as well.

Meanwhile, write Matthew DeBord, "Silicon Valley has started to encounter some investor turbulence. Startups with hefty valuations don't see IPOs as a way to pay back their investors. That leaves getting acquired as an option, but a level of saturation with social networking and apps might have set in."

This has resulted in a surprising collaboration between auto and app makers. Perhaps though, it shouldn't come as a surprise, writes DeBord. "Detroit was the Silicon Valley of the early 20th century, a hotbed of entrepreneurship, fascinated with the most high-tech contraption of the time—the automobile."

National business leaders bullish on Detroit, Kresge report indicates

The Kresge Foundation, a national nonprofit that supports America's cities and offers numerous Detroit-specific grants, recently released its "Detroit Reinvestment Index," which gathered data on what national business leaders think about Detroit and how the city compares to perceptions of cities generally.

Overall the document offers some hopeful conclusions. Perhaps the most encouraging is that 84 percent of those surveyed—senior leaders at global companies of over 250 employees—believe that Detroit "can become a great city again."

In a letter about the index, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson writes, "With caveats, I think it's fair to say that Business is very bullish on Detroit."

Other "key findings" include...
  • Business leaders believe Detroit has a number of assets, like "its racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, rich cultural history, effective local government, low cost of living and low taxes as key reasons."
  • Surprisingly, "Only 16% of business leaders are aware that Detroit is out of bankruptcy."
There's a lot more to digest in the 43 page report, which is available for download on the foundation's website.

Keegan-Michael Key to invest, spend more time in Detroit

Comedian and Detroit-native Keegan-Michael Key says he's going to invest more in his hometown.

According to an article in The Detroit News, "[Key] makes several trips a year to Detroit and is planning on spending even more time in the city." Part of that plan entails purchasing property here.

Key, most well-known for the groundbreaking comedy show, "Key and Peele" which he wrote with co-star Jordan Peele, has already engaged quite a bit with Detroit: he was one of the co-founders of Hamtramck's Planet Ant Theater and a member of Second City Detroit's mainstage cast (see Model D's article on the local improv scene). He recently filmed for a role in the upcoming Detroit-based comedy television series, "Detroiters."

Model D interviewed Key before his show at the Detroit Film Theater supporting the Detroit Creativity Project last year.

And there's more. "He also wants to tell Detroit stories; he says he's in the early stages of putting together a project that dramatizes Detroit's bankruptcy," writes Adam Graham.

Help select which mural gets painted at the Adams Butzel Recreation Complex

Every year, the 8-week Summer in the City program culminates in a celebration and mural painting. This year, they've chosen to adorn the Adams Butzel Recreation Complex in northwest Detroit with a hockey-themed mural.

And you can help decide which mural is selected. The Detroit Red Wings Foundation, along with the youth-led summer program, and the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department have come up with seven mural designs, all hockey-themed, as the section of the rec center to be painted is the Jack Adams Memorial Hockey Arena.

The mural that gets the most votes will be painted on the Finale Friday celebration, which includes more than just painting, and takes place on August 12. All are encouraged to vote for their favorite design and volunteer for painting.

Summer in the City is an organization that offers programming and volunteer opportunities in Detroit for youth. One project they commonly undertake is mural-painting—the organization says they've painted over 100 in the city.

Model D covered last year's Finale Friday at Crowell Community Center, also in northwest Detroit. An estimated 1,200 volunteers showed up.

To vote for your favorite mural design, click here.

Detroit Free Press strongly denounces county executives' efforts to derail regional transit

A prominent columnist at the Detroit Free Press, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Henderson, and the paper's editorial board have come out staunchly against recent efforts to scuttle regional transit by county executives L. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel, respectively of Oakland and Macomb counties.

"Twenty-six times this region has tried to create functional transit across three or four counties, and 26 times, we've come up short. Way short," writes the editorial board. "Until 2012, when the state Legislature created a Regional Transit Authority for southeast Michigan. This time, with state support and a rock-solid structure built to harness cooperation among the various parties in the region, things would be different. This time, we would get it right."

But then the two county executives objected to the plan, which had been in the works for many months, two weeks before the millage needed to get approved for the November ballot.

Here's what the editorial board thinks of the last-minute antics: "[R]epresentatives from Oakland and Macomb objected, blindsiding RTA officials and other board members who'd negotiated in good faith. Oakland's representative delivering a 19-page list of grievances, ranging from the quasi-legitimate to the asinine."

Part of their argument is that Oakland and Macomb fail to see the region as a cohesive whole—they are stuck in a balkanized mindset.

Henderson's column, titled "Hackel, Patterson trying to build a wall in S.E. Michigan," demonstrates he feels similarly. Like the editorial board, he questions the timing, and goes point by point through their objections, which he calls "selfish." But again, county executives fail to see that the "dividends pay back region-wide."

He ends the column with a plea: "Time is short. For this to get onto the November ballot, something has to be approved by early August. If that doesn't happen, we're looking at 2018 before another opportunity comes up. And that would be near-criminal neglect. Think of the stranded and isolated lives, kept from opportunity by our lousy transit, that will unfold over those next two years."

A Model D article from last year speculated whether the suburbs would buy in to regional transit. Perhaps, sadly, we have our answer. 

Small businesses multiply, crime declines along Jefferson Avenue corridor

A recent article in Crain's Detroit Business details the rapid growth of five neighborhoods extending along Jefferson Avenue, stretching all the way to the Grosse Pointe border.

A number of new businesses have opened up along the Jefferson Avenue corridor recently. "Beautiful Bridal, along with a new Caribbean restaurant, a Christian yoga center, women's clothing boutiques, a casual branded clothing store, a used record store, and a coffee shop and bakery, are a few of the more recent businesses that have planted roots along the eight miles between downtown Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park," writes Marti Benedetti.

Some significant numbers accompany these developments. The most salient is the approximately $1 billion in new investment since 2009.

Also notable, writes Benedetti, "Since 2014, crime along the Jefferson corridor declined more than 31 percent. In 2015, there was a 38 percent drop in auto theft and a 22 percent reduction in robberies, according to JEI's 'Safe Jefferson' program."

In addition to new businesses, several apartment and housing developments are finished or underway. Lakewood Century Apartments, for example, is a $7 million, 35-unit project at Lakewood and Jefferson—no opening date was mentioned.

There's also the Jefferson streetscaping, which will include the first protected bike lanes in the city.

Josh Elling, Executive director of the economic development organization Jefferson East, Inc., credits economic development in Detroit's greater downtown area, as well as "business-supporting" institutions, for the economic spillover taking place in the Jefferson corridor.

U.S. cities, Detroit included, are rethinking the alley

An article in The Atlantic's City Lab begins on a poetic note:

"The alley is dark no longer.

"In the United States, these almost-accidental spaces between buildings have existed in a sort of limbo: not quite streets, but still thoroughfares; not private, but not public enough to feel protected; backdrops to crime, or filled with trash heaps."

The article continues by detailing the way cities, including Detroit, are creatively rethinking use of these "almost accidental" spaces. For years, writes Eillie Anzilotti, "[alleys] were a place to conduct activities considered unfit for the main street," like big deliveries or trash collection.

But urban planners are beginning to recognize how much untapped space exists in alleys. One of these new approaches was adopted by Detroit's own Tom and Peggy Brennan. The Green Alley, adjacent to their business-incubator and coworking space the Green Garage (profiled in Model D), is a prototype for the green alley movement being adopted by many U.S. cities.

The Green Alley, writes Anzilotti, "incorporates permeable surfaces and gardening space, and has transformed a space once filled with mattresses and hypodermic needles into a community gathering place."

There's many other interesting cases mentioned in the article, and one wonders which alleys in Detroit would make for promising redevelopment opportunities. 

Next High Growth Happy Hour focuses on real estate

Detroit's rapidly fluctuating real estate market has no shortage of entrepreneurs breaking into it. There's an opportunity to hear from two fast growing local startups at the next High Growth Happy Hour, August 3rd from 6 to 8 p.m., in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.

The speakers will be David Alade of Century Partners, a real estate development company with a holistic revitalization and innovative funding approach, and Max Nussenbaum, CEO & co-founder of property management startup Castle (read Model D's profile on Castle and their rapid growth). David and Max will share insights into Detroit's real estate market, including how they have broken in and created a new model for their businesses.

Agenda

6:00 - 6:30: Networking & Drinks

6:30 - 7:30: Casual chat and Q&A with attendees

7:30 - 8:00: Networking

RSVP here to attend. Space is limited for this free special event. Drinks and light appetizers will be served, and you’ll also get to be the first to see a brand new space Century Partners is redeveloping into a restaurant at 9425 John R Rd., Detroit.

Learn more about the High Growth Happy Hour series, which connects entrepreneurs and inspires them to scale in Metro Detroit.

Subscribe to our sister publication Southeast Michigan Startup to follow more companies scaling in Detroit.

Hatch Art launches fundraiser to save Hamtramck Disneyland

The Hamtramck art collective Hatch Art, using the local crowdfunding platform Patronicity, has launched a fundraiser to help save Hamtramck Disneyland, the famous folk-art site started in the backyard of Ukrainian immigrant Dmytro Szylak.

Syzlak immigrated from Ukraine to Hamtramck with his wife in the 1950s. For the last 30 years of his life, he constructed and renovated the whimsical, vivid artwork that contains tributes to his new and past home countries.

Syzlak passed away last year, and his estate sold the artwork to Hatch Art in May 2016.

If they reach their goal of $50,000, Hatch Art will, according to the fundraiser, "repair and maintain the outdoor, site-specific folk art installation as well as establish an artist's residency program and gallery space."

The installation hasn't been properly cared for in some time and is indeed in need of numerous upgrades. "The garages that support the art suffer from rotten roofs and sagging structures," reads the fundraiser. "Much of the art is weathered, falling apart and in need of immediate attention to be saved."

The "Save Hamtramck Disneyland" fundraiser ends August 20. 

Article explores overlooked beauty of east riverfront housing

Former Model D managing editor Matthew Lewis wrote an article for Hour Detroit about the attractive, and relatively overlooked housing on the Detroit River. Titled "Strait Outta Downtown," the article profiles apartments and houses in The Jeffersonian, "a 30-story, 410-unit midcentury masterpiece," and the Joseph Berry Subdivision, "a small neighborhood consisting of just four streets and fewer than 90 homes."

"But the beauty of its residences—and the influence of its residents—are outsized," writes Lewis.

The article notes that the East Riverfront is a potential growth spot given the skyrocketing real-estate values in downtown and midtown, and its location along Detroit's most distinctive natural feature.

The Jeffersonian, Lewis writes, "features views of cityscapes that are uniquely Detroit—the downtown skyline, blocks of the near east side that are lush with greenery and sparse of houses, Chrysler's sprawling Jefferson North assembly plant, Waterworks Park, and the tidy Berry sub immediately below."

The article then profiles the 5,200 square foot Georgian Colonial located in the Joseph Berry Subdivision and owned by the Linn family since 1983. The houses in the subdivision Lewis writes, "rarely go on the market. A non-waterfront, 5,200-square-foot Tudor described as a 'renovation opportunity' sold last year for $220,000. The Linns' newest neighbor, Kid Rock, moved in two years ago to a house on the west end of Dwight Street."

The article also lists other housing options along the riverfront and is accompanied by attractive photographs of housing, owners, and views of the river and city. 

Forward Cities nominee discusses scholarship for "mapping the world"

Forward Cities nominated Detroiter Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies to receive a scholarship to the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival earlier this month.

In addition to be able to attend the event for free, Paffendorf was invited to pitch his idea of mapping the world, which he discusses here with The Lift on Aspen 82.

The Lift | Jerry Paffendorf from The Lift on Vimeo.

 

Developers take lead installing public art in downtown Detroit

Public art is becoming an increasingly common sight as developers both big and small (including Model D's startup editor Jon Zemke) integrate murals and sculptures into their redevelopment projects in the greater downtown Detroit area.

The Detroit News profiled Midtown-based artist Nicole Macdonald's work creating murals of the Motor City's great leaders, including her largest work to date, a billboard-sized tribute to Mary Ellen Riordan on the side of a duplex in North Corktown.

"A group of students were walking by and they stopped and asked, 'Who's that?' and I had the opportunity to tell them," Nicole MacDonald is quoted in the article. "That's what public art is all about. It's empowerment."

Model D broke the story about the mural of the legendary former president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers earlier this year.
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