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Ann Arbor's secret auto lab

Shhhh. It's a secret. There's a lab in A2, the only Federal testing facility in the country, that determines what a car's m.p.g. rating really is. Or so the Freep tells us. There's no telling how many reporters they lost getting this information.

Excerpt:

"The MPG audits performed in Ann Arbor are increasingly important with several companies forced to restate inaccurate fuel economy figures. Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have had to revise their claims and some have sent compensation checks to owners.

The accuracy police at the EPA have changed some of their testing, now auditing more aspects of each vehicle as a result of the misleading stickers. And the lab in Ann Arbor, which is the only federal lab to do fuel testing, continues to expand its overall."

Read the rest here.

How cities can make smarter economic choices

Bruce Katz of the Brooking's Institute has some advice for metro regions… and points to San Diego as a city that 'gets it.'

Excerpt:

"We have 100 metropolitan areas that really power our economy forward. They all have really distinct economic profiles — what they make, the services they provide, what they trade, who they trade with. Buffalo is not like Boston. San Diego is not like Syracuse. In the great words of Dolly Parton: “find out who you are and do it on purpose.” Cities should invest in those things that will really power their distinct economy forward — in some places that might be an investment in a port or an airport.  Everywhere it will require an investment in skills but it needs to be really customized to the kind of economy you have.

Read the rest here.
 

How living wage requirements impact nonprofits

Ann Arbor's living wage ordinance comes under review in an evaluation of how living wage ordinances (ie. increases in minimum wage salaries) would impact their ability to execute their mission. NPQ weighs the pros and cons.

Excerpt:

"Increasingly, the sentiment among political leaders is that nonprofits may not always warrant the exemption. In some living wage ordinance structures, nonprofit organizations have an opportunity to demonstrate a need to be exempted from the wage increase. For example, in Ann Arbor, the Community Action Network applied for exemption from the local living wage ordinance, which the original ordinance permitted based on need. However, in granting the exemption from the ordinance, CAN had to submit a plan to demonstrate how it would come into compliance with the living wage rate (at that time, in 2012, $12.17 an hour for employers paying for health insurance, $13.57/hour for those not providing health insurance) in three years."

Read the rest here.
 

Spreading awesomeness throughout Ann Arbor and Detroit

Check out these two philanthropic groups that are making Ann Arbor and Detroit (and points  in between) more awesome $1000 at a time.

Excerpt:

"The Awesome model is a simplified, smaller-scale version of traditional philanthropic foundations. Detroit and Ann Arbor’s trustees meet monthly to sort through anywhere from 10-30 proposals, funding whatever project best spreads “awesomeness” in their respective communities.

“We don’t follow any rules,” said Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation dean Mark Maynard. “We don’t answer to a board. People make a choice as to where they give their personal money, and then they do it.”

Read the rest here.
 

Thomson Reuters expands, to add 300 jobs over five years

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) approved a $2.4 million Michigan Business Development Programperformance-based grant for Thomson Reuters to grow its presence in the Ann Arbor area. Pittsfield Township to be exact. That supposedly means a few hundred new jobs.

Excerpt:

"Thomson Reuters worked with Ann Arbor SPARK to secure the MEDC incentives. Pittsfield Township will consider offering support of the project in the form of a property tax abatement, the release says."

Read the rest of the press release reportage here.
 

NY Times reviews musical inspired by Ann Arbor's Davy Rothbart

Local boy - turned found letters, notes and memos guru - turned filmmaker Davy Rothbart can now add theater artist to his ever expanding resume of projects.

Excerpt:

“Found,” which opened on Tuesday night at the Atlantic Theater Company, derives its title and much of its text from the magazine of the same name, which publishes collections of such writings. (“You have to make up your mind Mr. Dickens, ’twas either the best of times or the worst of times; it could scarcely be both.”) Davy Rothbart, the founder of Found, the magazine, is basically the principal character, and the musical, with a book by Hunter Bell and Lee Overtree, and music and lyrics by Eli Bolin, tells the (semi-fictionalized) story of the “Eureka!” moment of the magazine’s birth and, eventually, its near-death by success.

Read the rest of the mostly positive review here.
 

Zingerman's co-founder weighs in on minimum wage

Paul Saginaw, co-founder and partner at Zingerman's blogs about his company's commitment to a thriveable wage for its employees.

Excerpt:

"I hear many in the restaurant industry say raising menu prices will result in customer loss and diminished profits, but I reject that and question the scale of those profit margins, wondering if the margins are maintained by shorting their employees. Customers have voted with their pocketbooks for locally sourced, organic, and free-range products. Now is a prime time to educate “voters” for ethical employment practices as well.

Many myths about the industry workforce and the minimum wage create a false reality and highly unproductive debate. The truth is that livable wages and profits are not mutually exclusive, and Zingerman’s are not the only businesses to know this and operate accordingly. RAISE, an alternative restaurant association, is aligning businesses across the nation to adopt “high road” labor practices. Zingerman’s Community of Businesses joined. I sense that there is public readiness to join this growing business leadership and leverage its consumer dollars to “vote” for raising standards for workers."

Read the rest here.
 

U-M researcher considers mass extinction

And because no hump day would be complete without some depressing news… U-M researcher and ecologist Anita Narwani warns and worries about the recent die-off of species around the globe. You might ask: "But why is this important?" Well, more than the issue at hand (our planet's potential demise) is shows the kind of important, far-reaching work that is being done at U-M.

Excerpt:

"It is too soon to declare that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction, Narwani says. She defines a mass extinction as the loss of 75 percent of species over 2 million years or less. We haven’t lost that many — at least not yet. But if current rates of species losses continue, such a mass extinction could occur in just 300 years.

“This is a very short time relative to the time frame for the previous mass events,” she points out. Such an event would leave a telltale absence of many species in the fossil record. From that point on, fossils of the vanished species would no longer appear in the pages of Earth’s rock-based diary."

Read the rest here.
 

Aficionados love Ann Arbor La Dolce Vita Cigar Bar

Who would have guessed: a cigar magazine praises a local cigar bar? Though if you're going to pick an Ann Arbor location to light up, La Dolce Vita is a pretty darn good choice.

Excerpt:

"Michigan law prohibits dining while you smoke, so you can't order from The Chop House menu at La Dolce Vita. Instead, have your meal at the restaurant, then move downstairs to the cigar-friendly La Dolce Vita. The basement walls of La Dolce Vita are dark with wood panels and natural stone exposed in certain areas, adding that "cellar feel." The lighting is dim and elegant. There are gas-lit lamps along the walls and an exposed ceiling that adds to the contemporary feel. Comfortable seating is located throughout the wine and cigar bar, including everything from traditional wood tables to plush couches.

Here you can indulge in a fine list of liquors and wines and a fine selection of cigars. For the spirits, there are more than 10 types of Woodford Reserve Bourbon alone—selections that stand out among a generous drink list. A wide range of cigars are available to guests, and the smokes have suggested wine pairings presented on tablets. The tablets serve as a convenient and visual alternative to traditional menus. Popular cigar options include Arturo Fuente Hemingways, Ashton Classic and VSG, Cohiba, Davidoff, San Cristobal, Montecristo and Rocky Patel. Flavored cigars are also available."

Read the rest here.
 

U-M researchers chart profound changes in the American family

Children born out of wedlock, later marriages, more mixed-race children, older mothers - the profile of the 'American family' is going through some dramatic changes. But chill. It's all good. Things change. We don't marry off our 12 year old daughters for a couple of goats anymore either.

Excerpt:

"The new American family is not nearly as white as it used to be. In fact, white babies may already be in the minority. In addition, mixed-race couples have become far more common, and more gay couples have started families. Unmarried households headed by same-sex couples increased 80 percent in the 2010 Census from a decade earlier to almost 650,000, and an estimated 25 percent of those households are raising children."

Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor invaded by cuteness

The whimsical art of David Zinn has become such a main-stay here in Ann Arbor it's sometimes easy to forget how unique and special his chalk drawings are. Road bloggers certainly didn't take his work for granted as they passed through Ann Arbor.

Excerpt:

"What makes Zinn’s work really original is that he’s entirely self-taught. However, I reckon his degree in Creative Writing and English Language has helped him construct the fantastical worlds that he creates on the streets and sidewalks around Ann Arbor."

Check out the photos here.


Also, read this story in the Business Insider.
 

Ann Arbor-based Stratos develops one card to bind them all

We've covered Stratos big investment scores in a recent issue of Concentrate but it looks like TechCrunch just caught wind of the A2 company developing an all-in-one, inter-connected credit card.

Excerpt:

"The startup raised $5.8 million from Midwest and West Coast investors. San Francisco-based Toba Capital led the round with Western Technology Investment, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Michigan-based Resonant Venture Partners also participating.

Stratos is one of the latest companies to come out of Ann Arbor. Olson was born in Michigan, and its CTO co-founded Detroit Labs. Stratos operates out of the same building that houses the hot security startup, Duo Security."

Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor architecture firm reimagines the city of the future

Welcome to the age of the megalopolis, where networks rather than borders define our community and commerse. Or so imagines a local architecture firm at a new exhibition at the Yale School of Architecture.

Excerpt:

"“Infra Eco Logi Urbanism” is the result of a research project devised by Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov and Colin Ripley of RVTR, an architecture firm with offices in Toronto and Ann Arbor, Mich. Their approach illustrates one aspect of a sea change among architects: In the past few years, urban planners and design professionals have become much more intent on confronting such consequences of unchecked growth as air pollution, traffic congestion, contaminated waterways, blighted landscapes and invasive sprawl. They believe that inspirational planning can help make things better."

Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor among top 3 best small cities for college students

The rankings were actually determined by the American Institute for Economic Research. Are you getting list fatigue? We're getting a bit tuckered out keeping track of which top 10 list we've made thos month.

Excerpt:

"Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, came in second, with high levels of academic research and development per student and percentage of workers in "innovative" fields.

In third place, Ann Arbor, Michigan reported both a high percentage of college-educated residents as well as a high student concentration."

Read the rest here.
 

Tech Transfer reports a record year for U-M inventions

Go big or go home. Entrepreneurship is becoming a way of thinking at U-M and this year saw a big uptick in relationships with companies, new inventions and the formation of start-ups.

Excerpt:

"U-M Tech Transfer recorded number of advancements in fiscal year 2014, the university reported. Researchers reported 439 new inventions in fiscal year 2014, which is up from last year’s 421. Additionally, U-M Tech Transfer also recorded 148 option and license agreements compared to 108 agreements a year ago. There was also 14 start-ups launched, which brings the total number of businesses launched in the past five years to 55."

Read the rest here.

 
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