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University Research Corridor pushes past benchmarks with Wayne State's help

Michigan's University Research Corridor continues to grow in the high-tech areas grounded in the new economy, and Wayne State University is helping lead the way.

URC is made up of the stateís three major research universities, including Wayne State, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. The idea is to create one of the premier research and development clusters in the U.S. that churn out patents, start-ups and higher-education graduates.

A study by the Anderson Economic Group shows that the URC has improved in a number of key areas since it was founded in 2007. Among those improvements is URC's impact on Michigan's economy, estimated at $14.5 billion. That's up almost 10 percent. The number of start-ups URC has helped cultivate has doubled to 28.

Wayne State is playing a significant role in creating those start-ups thanks to its efforts to develop TechTown. In six years it has created 12 start-ups and is in its fifth year of hosting the E2 Detroit conference.

"We are moving ahead as a fast pace to work with faculty so they can commercialize research," says Judy Johncox, senior director of commercialization services for Wayne State and director of business services for TechTown.

Source: Judy Johncox, senior director of commercialization services for Wayne State and director of business services for TechTown
Writer: Jon Zemke

Lucky's Pub & Grill plans to hire 150 on East Side

Lucky's Pub & Grille doesn't just represent a new place to get something to eat on the East side. It is the new home to 150 full- and part-time jobs.

The new 12,000-square-foot location on Jefferson Avenue near Rivertown will be able to house up to 500 customers at a time. To service that sort of action, it will need 30-40 servers, eight bartenders, 6-7 cooks and other assorted support staff. The restaurant promises to be open between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m.

"You only have seven hours that this place isnít open each day," says Wally Mona, owner of Lucky's Pub & Grille.

This is the second Lucky's Pub & Grille to open in the city. The first is at Grand River Avenue and Telegraph Road on Detroit's Northwest side. The new restaurant chain plans to open seven total locations in Metro Detroit.

Source: Wally Mona, owner of Luckyís Pub & Grille
Writer: Jon Zemke

Detroit Restaurant Week surpasses expectations; Rattlesnake Club keeps deals going

The final numbers aren't in yet, but the organizers behind Detroit's Restaurant Week are ready to call it a success.

"I measure success by the number of happy tales from happy dinners, happy restauranteurs and sold out restaurants," says Jason Huvaere, whose Paxahau event promotions company put on the city's inaugural Restaurant Week. "We had a lot of all three."

One concrete stat Huvaere can hang his hat on is the success The Rattlesnake Club enjoyed. The riverfront restaurant sold out each night. That means a main dining room with 200-person capacity was constantly humming. "No one had a day off," says Amy Engelbert, catering manager for The Rattlesnake Club.

The restaurant is carrying on its Restaurant Week for the rest of October. The extended menu will be available Tuesday-Friday all month.

Huvaere plans to bring Detroit Restaurant Week back, making it twice a year event, one in the spring and another in the fall.

Source: Jason Huvaere, director of Detroit Restaurant Week, and Amy Engelbert, catering manager for The Rattlesnake Club
Writer: Jon Zemke

Fast Company: David Tobar of Outside Partnership

Landscape architect David Tobar has worked with Compuware, General Motors and the MGM Grand Detroit. He's worked for top firms like Hamilton Anderson and Albert Kahn, as well.

Today the 43-year-old has his own firm, Outside Partnership and it employs two people and three independent contractors. He plans to hire two more people next year.

Describe your business:
Outside Partnership is a landscape architecture firm that offers a full range of design and project management services for government agencies, land conservancies and universities. Our strengths include design and management of complex, fast-track projects that require interdisciplinary cooperation and consensus building.

Why did you decide to set up shop in Detroit?
Detroit is home. As a first generation American with little connection to my parent's birthplace, having a home is important. Besides, my family and roots, my experience, professional network and portfolio is here. Detroiters are tough, stubborn and real. We won't give up and our spirit will not fade.

From a business perspective, as I look to expand my facilities, there will be affordable lease space available in several unique buildings and 'districts' not found any where else in the region. Character, culture and grit is important.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
With the profession of landscape architecture, the Detroit advantage is tremendous. The city's population loss from 2 million to projected 500,000 has left us with 40-some square miles of vacant land and abandoned infrastructure. As a landscape architect with a spirit for renewal and redevelopment, there couldn't be a better place to work our craft. Nature is renewing without us already. There have been increased sightings of pheasants, fox, snakes and other wildlife not seen within the city limits for generations. With nature leading the way, landscape architects have a great role model to follow for renewal. Inevitable city contraction and "right-sizing" will bring opportunity for good land planners and designers.

What do you see in Detroit that other people who live outside the city don't?
The potential. City contraction will bring physical renewal and nature will do its work. Besides the associated political and budgetary issues, our physical environment (water, air, soil) and associated health will be better.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business in the Motor City?
Do it for the right reasons. Do it because you have a stake in the community and will take action in it. I see too many "fronts" being established by "outsiders" just coming in just to take the fee and flee. Businesses need to profit but they also need to be responsible and reinvest.

If you could change one thing about Detroit, what would it be?
I would work to change race relations. Our past is ugly and it hurts, but for our children we have to learn from the past and move forward. One way to do this is to directly network and work with people outside of your normal circle. As a member of Detroit Regional Chamber - Detroit Leadership Class 31, I have been exposed to such a rich and diverse quality of people I probably would not have met through normal channels. We have so much to offer each other and I am confident we will all work together to make the region better than how we found it.

Source: David Tobar, owner of Outside Partnership
Writer: Jon Zemke

MSU Medical School opens new office in Midtown

Another major college is opening up an office in Detroit. This time the Michigan State Universityís College of Osteopathic Medicine is setting up shop in Midtown.

The extension of MSU's medical school will employ 18 staff and faculty and have another 50-55 students moving through on a consistent basis. The university it also bringing in a dozen clinical faculty from the local medical field.

"Southeast Michigan is rich in clinical faculty," says Gary Willyerd, acting associate dean for Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Detroit Medical Center. "It's nice to have an abundance here to bring and teach students."

The students will use MSU's new office at the Detroit Medical Center, along with a new campus site at the Macomb University Center in Clinton Township.

Source: Gary Willyerd, Acting Associate Dean for Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Detroit Medical Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

UDM, WSU offer new degrees, healthcare MBA and sustainable engineering

Detroit's two major universities continue to transform their curriculum to reflect the needs of this century's new economy; the University of Detroit-Mercy is introducing a MBA for healthcare professionals and Wayne State University now offers a new graduate certificate in sustainable engineering.

U-D Mercy's new healthcare MBA looks to break down the silos that have long separated the medical and entrepreneurial sectors. The new degree will focus on the ins and outs of starting a business for medical professionals with innovative (and potentially profitable) ideas.

"There is a lot of attention being paid to care delivery, but there is also the side of the business that focuses on business acumen," says Ken Kuna, associate dean for external relations at U-D Mercy College of Business Administration.

Healthcare and life sciences have proven to be two of Michigan's biggest areas of entrepreneurial opportunity in recent years. Each industry represents billions of dollars worth of investment and thousands of new jobs annually. Close behind those two sectors is the broad-ranging sustainability job market, which encompasses everything from recycling to alternative energy.

Wayne State's new certificate in sustainable engineering focuses on the ethos of sustainability -- namely finding a way to get a job done that doesn't harm or take away from the environment.

That can mean creating everything from buildings, to processes, to larger systems that maximize preservation of the surrounding environment. It also makes students look at the short- and long-term consequences of their actions.

Source: Wayne State University and Gregory W. Ulferts, Director of the Graduate Business Programs at University of Detroit Mercy
Writer: Jon Zemke

State pushes $17.4 million for sustainable projects

More federal stimulus funds are set to go toward greening Michigan's cities now that the state plans to spread $17.4 million across the Great Lakes State for energy efficiency and conservation projects.

The new grant program, quarterbacked by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth Bureau of Energy Systems, will fund projects that cut fossil fuel usage, reduce energy bills and invest in alternative energy and conservation industries. Think everything from LED lights to making buildings more energy efficient.

"These grants will allow Michigan communities to reduce energy use, and at the same time help transform Michiganís economy," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. "I encourage communities to propose innovative, fiscally-sound projects that will save energy, create jobs, and support the stateís growing alternative energy industry."

The two initial grant opportunities for local governments are multi-purpose grants that create energy efficiency and implement conservation strategies that limit fossil fuel emissions. This can be everything from energy audits for buildings to enforcement of building codes. The other is a LED demonstration grants to make the public aware of the street light technology.

Applications for grants are due at 5 pm on Oct. 22. More information
is available here.

Source: State of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

Fast Company: Katrina I. Crawley of JazzyKat

Maintaining and improving health isn't something most people associate with attorneys, but it's the focus of Katrina I. Crawley's business, JazzyKat.

Though the 47-year-old holds a law degree and a degree in criminal justice, her career now is to keep tabs on people's health from her West Side-area business. She employs three people and five independent contractors, ranging from dietitians to personal trainers to yoga instructors. Before JazzyKat, Crawley owned a small company with her sisters that rehabbed homes for first-time buyers. She can be contacted at kic@ic.net or (313) 340-0525.
 
Describe your business in two sentences or less?
JazzyKat is a company providing physical fitness, exercise, and nutrition education.  

Why did you decide to set up shop in Detroit?
As a lifelong Detroiter, I could not see setting up anywhere else. My heart is in Detroit. My passion is to see our children take ownership of their own good health, and the childhood obesity crisis affects children in cities like Detroit disproportionately.  

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Having a network of people, in terms of being able to reach out to some other small business owners and those with an entrepreneurial spirit.   

What do you see in Detroit that other people who live outside the city don't?
There are some truly honest people with integrity that are very hard working, trying to make their lives and the city better for themselves and their children. There are people who have not given up on the city and who have a passion to see Detroit as a place where families can thrive. Everybody is not a crook or ignorant.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business in the Motor City?  
Donít give up on your vision, push past the bureaucracy and have a thick skin.   

If you could change one thing about Detroit, what would it be?
The mindset that you (as one individual) canít make a difference.

Source: Katrina I. Crawley, owner of JazzyKat
Writer: Jon Zemke

Detroit Start-up Drinks brings entrepreneurs together in Motor City

A small group of entrepreneurs in Detroit are banding together in a new monthly mixer call Detroit Start-up Drinks.

The group of budding entrepreneurs began meeting monthly in the city in June. The idea is to create a free-flowing river of ideas and collaborations for people trying to start or expand small business in the metro area.

"There are a ton of networking events to go to, bit they're sort of stiff. Everybody is trying to sell someone something," says Matt Bower, an attorney who co-founded the Detroit chapter of Start-up Drinks with Tim Aten. "We wanted to put something together that was more collaborative, where they can share ideas."

The first of these meetings was held at Cliff Bells. Subsequent meetings have been held at other popular watering holes in the city, such as Slows. The August meeting attracted 40 people and Detroit Start-up Drinks' Facebook fan page has grown to 90 people. The next event is set for Oct. 15 at the Dakota Inn.

Source: Matt Bower, co-founder of Detroit Start-up Drinks
Writer: Jon Zemke

C2BE focuses on creative job creation with events

The Center for Community Based Enterprise is showing that there is more than one way to create a job in this economy, and it will be evident at its event today in Midtown.

The local-non-profit will be hosting a lecture on how Metro Detroit companies can survive and thrive in the recession. It will do this by putting a spotlight on new strategies, business networks and revenue models that can be used to create jobs.

"We're trying to showcase different ways organizations pursue job creation and development than the standard ways," says Harriet Saperstein, board member of the Center for Community Based Enterprise.

Speaking at the event will be Mikel Lezamiz, a leader of the highly successful Mondragon network of businesses in Spain. He will describe the greater stability and profits its member businesses derive from focusing on local community capacities. Also pontificating will be Prof. John Logue of Kent State University and the director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. He will talk about the benefits received through mutual support by the 93 member companies of the Ohio Employee Owned Network. That network has limited its job loss over this decade to 1 percent compared to 29 percent for manufacturing companies throughout Ohio.

The event will be held between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the U-M Detroit Center. For information, contact Debbie Sullivan at (313) 331-7821 or info@c2be.org.

Source: Harriet Saperstein, board member of the Center for Community Based Enterprise
Writer: Jon Zemke

Fast Company: Eric K. Martin of Myriad Concepts

Eric K. Martin knows a thing or two about doing business in Detroit. The 48-year-old life-long Detroiter owns and operates Myriad Concepts, an IT firm he runs out of his Boston Edison-area home.
 
He has used his many years of IT experience working for someone else to move his business forward. He can be contacted at (313) 657-3393 or myraidc@ameritech.net.

Describe your business in two sentences or less?
Myriad Concepts is an IT company providing Network solution, PC support and project management to small businesses.

Why did you decide to set up shop in Detroit?
Because, as born and raised citizen of Detroit, familiarity with the area is an asset that would create greater opportunities
 
What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Having a network of people, in terms of being able to reach out to some other small business owners and those with an entrepreneurial spirit.   

What do you see in Detroit that other people who live outside the city don't?
That along with the well-established identity of what is wrong with Detroit, there are great opportunities and great people. It's an area where great things can and do happen.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business in the Motor City?  
Make sure that your desire to run a business outweighs the challenges you will face. Keep focusing on the big picture.

If you could change one thing about Detroit, what would it be?
The way we do things -- political, economics, society -- needs to reflect the new century.

Source: Eric K. Martin, owner of Myriad Concepts
Writer: Jon Zemke

Adult Well Being doubles size of staff to 160

Adult Well Being is growing rapidly in Detroit, doubling its staff to 160 people within the last two years.

"We have gotten quite big over the last two years," says Ed Mischel, vice president of programming for Adult Well Being.

The 51-year-old firm started out providing care for senior citizens. It has since expanded into providing programs and care for mental health patients and the developmentally disabled. The firm is headquartered on Field Street just north of the Belle Isle's MacArthur Bridge, but the firm has offices across the city and in Romulus.

It recently leased out 7,000 square feet in the Russell Industrial Center so it can run a new arts-based mental health program for Wayne County. Mischel says the facility's convenient location, creative culture and pro-active management made the choice an easy one.

Source: Ed Mischel, vice president of programming for Adult Well Being
Writer: Jon Zemke

Former Pittsburgh mayor headlines E2 Detroit Conference in October

The person giving the keynote speech at the E2 Detroit conference is also someone who knows what Detroit is going through these days - former Mayor of Pittsburgh Tom Murphy.

"Tom Murphy was instrumental in changing the face of Pittsburgh when it was losing the steel industry," says Judy Johncox, director of commercialization services at Wayne State and TechTown. "He knows all the dos and doníts for helping a city facing challenges."

The conference will bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors to speak about Metro Detroit's economic future. A lot of it will focus on the similarities between Metro Detroit today and what Pittsburgh faced in the early 1980s when the U.S. steel industry went belly up and the region faced high unemployment, big municipal deficits and struggling neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh has since gone on to become a model of refurbishing its neighborhoods, reinventing its economy and transforming the stereotypical Rustbelt town into a vibrant 21st Century metropolis rooted in the new economy. Murphy played a major role in making this happen, serving as the mayor of Pittsburgh for three terms. He is now the senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute.

The conference will take place on Oct. 15. For information on the conference, click here.

Source: Judy Johncox, director of commercialization services at Wayne State and TechTown
Writer: Jon Zemke

Wayne State rakes in millions in new grant money

Wayne State University continues to rake in the greenbacks when it comes to research grants.

The university has nailed down several million dollars worth of new grants in recent weeks, on top of the $18 million it has already taken in from the federal stimulus program. Wayne State has earned 32 grants, include 27 ($11.2 million) from the National Institutes of Health, four ($1.7 million) from the National Science Foundation and a $5 million grant from the Department of Energy for an electric vehicle engineering education and workforce training program.

Among these grants are $267,999 for Wayne State's School of Medical, which is teaming up with Childrenís Hospital of Michigan to continue the study the question of whether long-term antibiotics are necessary in children with vesicoureteral reflux. This money will also help support current research and recruit new staff for the project.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute is also working with Wayne State to continue cancer research in racial and ethnic groups in the US. The Community Network Program is studying ways to reduce disparities of breast, prostate, colorectal and lung cancer that adversely affect older, underserved, African American adults in Metro Detroit. The university recently brought in a $199,883 grant to bring the total amount of funding to $3 million since 2005.

One of the biggest winners is Wayne State's School of Nursing, which recently took in a $2 million to help deal with the burgeoning nursing shortage as part of the Michigan Nursing Corps initiative. The grant money should help triple the number of students in the university's 15-month master's degree program specializing in acute and critical care.

Source: Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Fast Company: Joe Cutillo of Inland Pipe Rehabilitation

Joseph A. Cutillo is the president and CEO of Inland Pipe Rehabilitation, a Southwest Detroit-based firm that specializes in repairing and replacing old infrastructure. The company employs about 100 people in Detroit and just hired seven people so far this year.

Why did you decide to set up shop in Detroit?
We have over a 20-year history in Detroit, and Detroit is the roots of our business. It began by leveraging our reputation and ability to solve difficult problems with a significant problem/need of the city. From there we have grown together and continue to work collaboratively to overcome difficult issues and make the city a better place.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
The partnership we have fostered with the City has enabled us to work together to develop and provide not only the best solutions to very difficult issue but also has enabled us to bring new technologies and products to the market.

What do you see in Detroit that other people who live outside the city don't?
The perception and reality of Detroit to me are very different. Detroit and its surrounding areas are extremely entrepreneurial and have some of the best and most diverse technical talent in the country.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business in the Motor City?
We are very proud of our long history and relationship with the city. I believe to be successful in Detroit you need to be committed to be here in both the short and long term.  There is a tremendous amount of local talent available and I would recommend you leverage that talent to build out your own organization.

If you could change one thing about Detroit, what would it be?
The outside perception. I believe this deters a lot of companies from leveraging the goods of Detroit.

Source: Joseph A Cutillo, president and CEO Inland Pipe Rehabilitation
Writer: Jon Zemke
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