Monday, September 23, 2013

Best of the Net 9/16-9/22

Penguins Marching To Detroit

The Detroit Zoo already offers the largest polar bear exhibit in North America, and now it is looking towards the South Pole for an even bigger exhibit. On Wednesday, the zoo announced it that it will be building a $21 million dollar penguin center. 80 penguins from four different species will live in the 24,000 square foot building. The exhibit will be called the Polk Family Conversation Center in honor of Bloomfield Hills' Stephen Polk's $10 million dollar gift to the zoo.

The center will feature 310,000 gallons of water for the penguins to play in. Human visitors will be able to walk through a series of tunnels while penguins swim next to, above and below them. The zoo hopes to open the center in 2015. Until then, watch this virtual walk-through from the Detroit News and imagine how breathtaking the penguin center will be.

The U.P. Is Diversifying Its Economy But Is Still A Tourist Hotspot

The U.P.'s economy has revolved around mining, lumber and tourism for decades, but residents are making efforts to diversify its economy. The Lansing State Journal reports that the U.P. is expanding its small-manufacturing, high-tech business and fish farming efforts. Through a strategy known as “economic gardening,” U.P. business and government leaders are trying find businesses that are able to export ideas and products to both national and international markets by expanding high-tech research and design efforts. Although the U.P. will still be a destination for those seeking natural beauty, these economic efforts illustrate that the U.P. is forward-thinking.

Even with attempts to diversify its economy, the U.P. will not fix something that is not broken. The tourism industry is still strong and is growing stronger. The Lansing State Journal reports that tourism accounts for ten percent of U.P. jobs and that a three percent increase in tourism jobs is expected by 2017.

Detroit Is A Lean Mean Green Machine

Inspired by John Gallagher's book "Reimagining Detroit," filmmaker Carrie LeZotte has directed a documentary focusing on citizens who are making Detroit and other cities into more sustainable communities. This Detroit Unspun story highlights how LeZotte, like all Detroiters, was tired of the national narrative of a broken Detroit and its urban decay. Instead of accepting that narrative, LeZotte's film Lean, Mean and Green focuses on Detroiters and grassroots heroes in Youngstown, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and two European cities who have confronting the same challenges Detroit faces.

The film premiers September 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the Detroit Film Theatre. For a trailer, please visit the link above. If you are interested in supporting the film financially, please visit their Kickstarter page here.

New Jobs In Muskegon, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. recently announced that three businesses will receive grants to help them open facilities in Michigan and bring more than 250 jobs to the state. ADAC Automotive is a Grand Rapids based automotive products supplier that will expand its operations in Muskegon, bringing 97 new jobs to the city.

Firstronic LLC, which manufactures circuit boards, chose to install high tech automation in a Grand Rapids manufacturing plant. The $2.2 million investment will bring up to 121 jobs to the region.

Ann Arbor expects 32 new jobs from Longbow Advantage Inc., a Montreal-based supply chain software development company. The company chose Ann Arbor over a site in Illinois.

Herman Miller Boasts Strong First Quarter

Zeeland's office furniture giant had a strong first quarter of fiscal year 2014. The Grand Rapids Business Journal reports that Herman Miller increased net sales 4.1 percent from the same quarter last year. The company reports income of $22.5 millions for the quarter, or a 12 percent increase from the same quarter last year, despite a decrease in federal government orders.

Woodward: An Avenue To Success

Woodward is a great American avenue. Detroit's main street connects Detroit with Pontiac and runs through thriving suburban cities like Ferndale, Royal Oak and Birmingham. Now, the Detroit section of Woodward is receiving a huge boost from the Kresge Foundation as reported by MLive. The foundation announced a $30.25 million Woodward Corridor Investment Fund. The fund will provide loans to mixed-use and mixed-income housing developments to encourage a transit-oriented area in the city. For more information, click here.

West Michigan: A Beer-Lover's Paradise...It's Scientifically Proven

Stanford University Scientists have ranked West Michigan beers as some of the best in the world (and from what I hear, Stanford scientists are supposed to be kind of smart). I am not a scientist, so I will trust their conclusion that four Michigan beers are among the top 20 in the world. Kalamazoo's Bell's placed three on their list and Grand Rapids' Founders placed one.

Founders recently opened its expanded taproom space, so if you would like to sample some of their award winning brews, add them to your itinerary on your next trip to the west side of the state.

Detroit: Tech Town, But Not A Blank Canvas

Wayne State hosted the Techonomy Detroit conference on September 17. Techonomy Detroit featured business, technology, government and academic leaders for workshops on using technology and innovation to create job growth and urban renewal.  The Huffington Post reported that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and other business leaders at the conference believe technology and small businesses will save Detroit. Even though technology is important for Detroit's future, Dorsey stressed that local businesses, such as Detroit's Just Baked cupcake shops, will always be required for a strong local economy.

In the spirit of Techonomy Detroit, Josh Linkner, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, writes in Forbes that calling Detroit a "blank canvas" is an insult that paints the city as empty. Instead, he calls Detroit an "unfinished canvas." Linkner opines that Detroit's talent, land, small town feel and Detroit entrepreneurs' sense of being part of something bigger are the paint and brushes needed to create a masterpiece.

For a summary of Techonomy Detroit's ideas, click here.

Detroit Lions Win In D.C.
Until yesterday, the Detroit Lions had never won a game at Washington. With their 27-20 victory, the Lions broke a streak of 21 straight losses in D.C. that dates back to the first game they played in D.C. in 1939. That streak is 18 years longer than the Lions' NFL championship drought...just saying.

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