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Ann Arbor City council vows to grow affordable housing

As Ann Arbor lands in the top 10 for most economically segregated cities in the U.S., city officials say they are committed to changing that dynamic. Good to see that the conversation we started in earnest several months ago has snowballed into a serious exploration of what our community needs to accommodate residents of every stripe.


City Council this week voted, 10-1, to adopt affordable housing goals, the Ann Arbor News reported. That's part of a larger goal of adding 3,137 affordable non-student rental units between Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township over the next 20 years.

Officials also hope to increase demand for market-rate housing in the Ypsilanti area by 4,187 units.

Read the rest here.


Local investors bet on Ann Arbor as tech hub

Hoping to bring together Ann Arbor startups struggling to grow, a pair of execs at Nutshell Inc. have decided to develop a tech hub incubator. And they already have their first tenant before the doors have opened.


"Using the Madison Building in downtown Detroit as the model, a group of former Barracuda Networks Inc. executives wants to create a large hub for tech startups in downtown Ann Arbor.

They have signed a purchase agreement to buy two adjacent office buildings downtown and are negotiating to buy one or two more buildings. They hope to close on the first deal in about a month and have a build-out done in six months."

Read the rest here.

NerdWallet says Ann Arbor is an innovative tech hub

Looks like news of Ann Arbor's tech scene is spreading. While we didn't break the top 10, NerdWallet lists us at a respectable 12th for innovation.


Silicon Valley is by far the leader. With a high number of patents per capita and venture capital funding figures that no other place comes close to, the metro area that includes the cities of San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara leads all in tech innovation.

The West dominates. Only two East Coast places made our top 10 list — Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, Massachusetts.

Universities are key. Every area in our top 10 is located near a major university, suggesting that higher education and innovation are closely linked.

Read the rest here.

U-M among top 10 universities for Peace Corp volunteers

If you're one of those townies who grumbles every time they see a U-M student playing beer-pong on their front lawn or crossing against the light when you least expect it or, well, whatever townies grumble about (over crowded restaurants, clueless drivers, too loud music, etc), keep in mind that you might be cursing the next Peace Corp volunteer. Yep, U-M ranked 8th when it comes to producing international do-gooders (51 volunteers currently).

The university also ranked No. 5 on the Peace Corps' list of the top-producing graduate schools

Or so says the Peace Corp in this report.

How Ann Arbor's Skyspecs got off the ground

Ann Arbor-based drone firm Skyspecs lays out the story of its path to investment and product development in Crains' interesting business series, "Startup diaries," analyzing how new metro Detroit businesses find their feet.


"But these startups hardly have it easy. They slog through early years developing often-complicated technology and spending just as much time chasing money. It's a drawn-out, gambling lead-up to one day having sales that reward the effort. 

SkySpecs launched on paper in 2012, but that was just one small first step. The company's first few years were spent honing its product and chasing money, whether at business plan competitions or from investors. "

Read the rest here.

According to science Jolly Pumpkin is 6th best beer in Michigan

Dexter's Jolly Pumpkin Brewery ranks six out of the twelve best beers in the Mitten. Or so says Thrillist online magazine. And, frankly, we take serious issue with that assessment. Don't get us wrong, there are many fine Michigan brews on their "scientific" list. But sixth? Puh-lease. Jolly Pumpkin easily ranks in the top three. So say we all!


"Jolly Pumpkin is all about those rustic, country style, sour beers, and if the whole sour thing seems off-putting to you, don’t worry about it. Most folks who think they don’t like sour beer wind up liking Jolly Pumpkin’s sour beer, so much so that their facilities last year maxed out at around 4-5,000 barrels. And although this is a beer list, you should also eat their food. Trust us."

Read the rest o' the list here.

U-M Michigan League ranked as top college campus wedding venue

We're #31!  We're #31!  Okay, so we seriously question the jounralistic intergity of a publication that's sole goal is to rank things about college campuses, but there's no getting around the fact that the Michigan League is a pretty darned awesome-looking place to hold a wedding.


"The Michigan League on the beautifully wooded Michigan campus is the premier place to hold seminars, conferences, and receptions, serving the University as well as the community. It was built to be a “building that would become a center for women’s social, cultural and recreational activities on campus.” It serves as a facility for ceremonies and receptions of all faiths and orientations without regard to affiliation with the University."

Read the rest of the list here.

Departing chef at Ann Arbor's Ravens Club bares all in moving essay

Chef Frank Fejeran has helped make Ann Arbor's The Ravens Club a must-visit restaurant/bar, winning both awards and accolades. He recently decided to leave his lofty perch to start a food truck. In this moving essay he partly explains how he came to that decision.


"I am finishing this essay in my basement, watching my amazing son play a video game on our one hundred inch projection screen. This is when it makes the most sense. My mother and step-dad are very proud of everything I have done, and are always so excited to read the next blog about their son or see me on the local news. I walk into the restaurant and everybody is working smoothly, quickly, and executing above the expected level. The dining room fills up quickly with excited guests, a dining room that two years ago would have been empty. In under fifteen months, I’ve lead a kitchen team and turned our kitchen around from being at the bottom of the barrel in Ann Arbor, into one of the most fun, respected, and praised restaurants in the city. We were awarded the 2014 best restaurant and best chef in Southeast Michigan. I leave work and pull into the driveway of my two story, three bedroom house, I purchased at the age of twenty five. My beautiful lady is happy to see me and so is my son…they are happy. This is success, right? I did everything I said I’d do, if not more."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor neighborhood forms snow-clearing co-op

Clearing snow from your sidewalk has become the bane to many an Ann Arbor homeowner. One neighborhood decided to pool their resources and purchase their own SnowBuddy.


"Tinkerhess decided to see if he could mobilize a community sidewalk-snow-clearing service funded with the model popular with public radio stations: Provide the service for free to the neighborhood, then ask for donations to offset the costs once it was up and running. As the co-creator of the popular Water Hill Music Fest, Tinkerhess was already a recognized leader in the community. It took only a couple of weeks to raise the $18,000 in startup funds that the board of the SnowBuddy (now registered as a formal nonprofit) had set as their first goal. It was enough to buy a $43,000 tractor on a four-year plan and still have some funds to cover their estimated expenses of $25,000 a year—including a $2 million liability insurance policy."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor to get largest solar array in Michigan

Well, it's about time. A serious investment in solar (aka renewable) energy is in the cards for Ann Arbor through a deal with DTE. Now, how about working on planes for all of SE Michigan?


"The agreement between Ann Arbor and DTE would allow the utility company to use about 14 acres of the city-owned airport property. DTE would be responsible for paying for the solar panels and their installation and maintenance.

It's a 20-year agreement, with 10 one-year renewal options. DTE would pay the city $38 per kilowatt of system capacity, which is estimated to translate to at least $41,800 per year initially, and up to $81,700 per year with full implementation."

Read the rest here.

Parking innovations every city should adopt

Pay-By-Plate technology, pollution Surcharges, length-based fees (we're looking at you SUV drivers), lower resident rates and improved local services. These all sound like damn good ideas to us. Hey, DDA, how about one or two of these instead of that ambassador program?


"To encourage cleaner cars and improve local air quality, Madrid recently imposedpollution-based parking fees that vary based on a car's environmental impact. The new charge is applied via pay-by-plate technology: drivers input their plate numbers, which tells the city system the make and model of the car, which then spits out a parking rate based on emissions. Hybrids, electrics, and fuel-efficient cars reportedly get up to a 20 percent discount; gas guzzlers pay up to a 20 percent surcharge."

Read the rest here.

A Chicago suburbanite visits Ann Arbor

Aren't we just the cutest, quaintest little college town?! A Chicago suburbanite visits Tree Town and falls in love with our family-friendly museums. Or, at least, like. This is the kind of stuff the CVB eats up.


"Chances are you would consider a long weekend visit to Ann Arbor, Michigan, because it's easy to get around in this university town filled with family-friendly experiences. Give the trip more depth by looking for the exceptional museums and experiences thait await, both on and off of the University of Michigan campus."

Read the rest here.


Ann Arbor-based Advanced Photonix grows with merger

Ann Arbor's Advanced Photonix is about to become part of a merger that will turn it into a $50 million company. That's pretty darn impressive for a firm we've been watch grow year after year. In fact, since Concentrate launched in 2008.


"The board of Ann Arbor-based Advanced Photonix Inc., a supplier of optoelectronic sensors, devices and measurement instrumentation for the telecommunications, defense, industrial and medical markets, has agreed to merge with Luna Innovations Inc., which makes fiber-optic sensing and test and measurement products for the same industries."

Read the rest here.

Creating a multimodal city requires more than less cars

The challenge to building a city that truly offers alternative transportation amenities means reconciling some difficult relationships. CityLab sums up the issues with transitioning to a multimodal community.


"Supporting many modes requires including multiple actors in the planning process, all with different priorities and preferences. More travel choices also means private entrepreneurs will take the lead on some services normally offered by the public sector: from taxi or bus services to parking management to goods movement. And with the benefits of redefining and reallocating street space in a multi-modal system come new political problems in terms of fighting for that space, too."

Read the rest here.

U-M professor's graphic novel to debut as film at Sundance

U-M School of Art and Design professor Phoebe Gloeckner made a splash in 2002 with her lauded graphic novel, The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Now she's poised to find an even bigger audience as the film adaptation, starring Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard, is set to debut at next week's Sundance Film Festival


" Over the years, I've been approached by three different directors about turning the book into a film but I was never comfortable with the vision that they presented. Maybe it was because I had my own vision for a film version. Then, Marielle Heller approached me about creating a play. I thought that was so insane and couldn't imagine it whatsoever, so I said yes. Over the last eight years, as she was researching and writing, we developed a strong relationship and I grew to trust her. So when she approached me about turning the play into a film, I said yes."

Read the rest here.  Watch an interview here.
Catch the Sundance listing here.

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