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Could libraries serve as start-up incubators?

Sometimes moving forward means adopting the practices of the past, or going old school. Way way old school.
 
Excerpt:
 
"This old idea of the public library as co-working space now offers a modern answer – one among many – for how these aging institutions could become more relevant two millennia after the original Alexandria library burned to the ground. Would-be entrepreneurs everywhere are looking for business know-how and physical space to incubate their start-ups. Libraries meanwhile may be associated today with an outmoded product in paper books. But they also happen to have just about everything a 21st century innovator could need: Internet access, work space, reference materials, professional guidance.
 
Why not, Lea suggests, put these two ideas together? Arizona State is planning in the next few months to roll out a network of co-working business incubators inside public libraries, starting with a pilot in the downtown Civic Center Library in Scottsdale. The university is calling the plan, ambitiously, the Alexandria Network."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor Muni Center gets LEED Gold

Say what you will about the new city hall's aesthetics, at least it's more sustainable than its predecessor.
 
Excerpt:
 
"The municipal center project includes the new Justice Center, landscaped municipal plaza rain gardens, green roof promenade, and porous pavement in the parking lot. It obtained a total of 44 LEED points. Quinn Evans was the architectural firm for the Ann Arbor Municipal Center. The landscape architects were InSite Design Studio Inc. with Conservation Design Forum."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Washtenaw County government ranks 4th in digital innovation

Who says government can't keep up? When it comes to municipal innovation in the digital realm, Washtenaw County landed in the top ten among the U.S.'s second-largest counties.

Excerpt:

"The Digital Counties Survey identifies the very best examples of how counties are aligning technology to support strategic priorities and create crucial operational and administrative efficiencies," said NACo Executive Director Larry E. Naake. "Especially important during these tough economic times, counties across the country are using innovative technologies to reduce county operations costs and enhance service delivery."

Read more here.

The Michigan Department Of Zingerman's?

"Bureaucrat" and "customer service" are two words that seem incompatible and contradictory. Nevertheless, Governor Rick Snyder thinks Lansing employees could learn a thing or two from Zingerman's "service culture" training. Does that mean license renewal will include a complimentary bagel with cream cheese? One can dream, right?

Excerpt:

"The state of Michigan wants to raise its service game, and it is turning to entrepreneurial businesses for help. Zingerman's, an Ann Arbor–based deli and food company at which doing the right thing by customers is bred in the bone, has stepped up to train government employees in service culture. Michigan's new governor, Rick Snyder, posed the idea to Paul Saginaw, a co-founder of Zingerman's, when the two crossed paths at an awards dinner last winter. "I said, 'Are you serious?' " recalls Saginaw. "But I thought, Wouldn't it be great if the orientation of public servants was, My job is to be your resource. You are paying my salary. How do I help you get your business open?""


Read the rest of the story here. And a local follow up here.



City of Ann Arbor's IT head named a Premier 100 Leader

In its Class of 2011 Yearbook, the city of Ann Arbor's Director of IT, Dan Rainey, was listed as a ComputerWorld "Honoree" in its list of Premier 100 IT Leaders.

Excerpt:

Coolest current project: "Getting iPads to work as Windows thin clients. We are using the Wyse PocketCloud remote desktop system."

Boldest IT prediction for the next 5 years: The cloud computing environment for government will be provided by state and large local governments, with agencies becoming expert providers of some services and consumers of others. Data centers will be on the way out for most local governments, and interagency collaboration will be the new way of doing business.

Read the rest of the story here.



Obama names Ann Arbor native Gene Sperling as director of National Economic Council

Ann Arbor natives are becoming a growing influence in the White House. Green Hills High School and University of Michigan grad Eugene Kang was named special assistant to President Obama. Ann Arbor resident and U-M professor Helen Levy was appointed to Obama's Council Of Economic Advisors, while A2 local and U-M prof Michael Barr was tapped to serve as the Department of the Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions.

Now Ann Arbor native Gene Sperling has been tapped by the president to head the National Economic Council.


Excerpt:

President Obama is said to be ready to name Gene Sperling the director of the National Economic Council. Mr. Sperling, 52, who held the same job under President Bill Clinton, will succeed Lawrence Summers.

Here's a quick biography and reading list for those who want to get up to speed on Mr. Sperling:

A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., he went to college at the University of Minnesota and law school at Yale. He worked for Mario Cuomo, then the governor of New York, in the early 1990s, before joining Mr. Clinton's presidential campaign. Mr. Sperling worked for the Clinton administration from start to finish — 1993 to 2001. He's particularly proud of the work he and colleagues did to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has become a big part of federal anti-poverty policy.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor ranks no. 6 in top digital U.S. cities

Ann Arbor continues to build on its reputation as a technologically advanced city, this time taking the No. 6 spot as a top digital city in the U.S. That puts it in line with the likes of Pueblo, Colo.; High Point, N.C. and ahead of Berkeley, Calif.

Check out the rankings here.

State should dig into "Economic Gardening", U-M says

In what might be the academia version of Buy Local, a University of Michigan report says the state's government shouldn't be trying to lure other region's corporations. Instead, it should be practicing "economic gardening," or focusing on growing its own organic start-ups.

Excerpt:

Economic gardening is a new economic development strategy used to grow local economies by cultivating existing businesses, rather than, or in addition to, hunting for new businesses to relocate from the outside. This report presents findings about economic gardening and related activities in communities across Michigan, as well as the opinions of Michigan's local government leaders about whether or not the strategy can succeed in their communities.

Read the entire report here and more here and here.

Michigan Attackers: Washington Post lauds U-M hacker team

Hackers haven't only become a good thing at the University of Michigan, their exploits are now fodder for a string of good headlines about Ann Arbor and how its techies are protecting democracy.

Excerpt:

Last month, the District conducted an Internet voting experiment that resulted in a team from the University of Michigan infiltrating election computers so completely that they were able to modify every ballot cast and all election outcomes without ever leaving their offices. They also retrieved the username and password for every eligible overseas voter who had signed up to participate. The team even defended the system against attackers from China and Iran. More than any other event in recent years, this test illustrates the extreme national security danger of Internet voting.

Read the rest of the story here and more about U-M hackers at Yahoo's HackU competition here.

Ann Arbor, Chelsea get 5 stars for entrepreneurial growth

Lots of cities and communities like to talk about how they're "open for business" and ready to help companies wherever they can. Ann Arbor and Chelsea now have the credibility to back up those claims. The two burgs were listed as 5-Star Cities (top rankings) by the University of Michigan-Dearborn iLabs program for their efforts with listening to local businesses and acting upon their needs. See the whole list here.

U-M hacks into new D.C. voting system; hailed as victorious

Members of the University of Michigan are known as the leaders and the best, and now also as the hacker kings of the free world after taking down Washington, D.C.'s new online voting system. Everyone who voted with that system knew who did it.

Excerpt:

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of "give it your best shot." Well, the hackers gave it their best shot -- and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing "usability issues brought to our attention."

Here's one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played "Hail to The Victors" -- the University of Michigan fight song.

Read the rest of the story here.

Inc. magazine lays out 5 reasons to invest in Detroit and Ann Arbor

Prepare yourself for this: A national media outlet made a list about Detroit/Ann Arbor, and it wasn't to tout its shortcomings or strengths. Inc. magazine told the world five reasons why southeast Michigan is worth the investment and Ann Arbor figured prominently into that equation.

Excerpt:

To see the change, you needn’t look further than the SPARK Business Accelerator in Ann Arbor. Located 45 miles outside the city center, SPARK has helped more than 200 innovation-related start-ups in the region. Its convenient location next to one of the world's leading research institutions – the University of Michigan – doesn't hurt either. "We think Ann Arbor represents a wonderful hub of activity that can serve as a catalyst for the rest of the state of Michigan," says Michael Finney, president and CEO of SPARK.

Entrepreneurs also look to the region's automotive pedigree to tackle new industries. They can parlay the region's swath of talented engineers to make innovations in areas like battery technology, which Rizik says fits "hand-in-glove" with the auto industry. SPARK has, in fact, sought funding for a few battery makers in Ann Arbor, aiming to establish Michigan as a leader in the technology for the rest of the country.

Read the rest of the story here.

San Francisco Business Times lauds Michigan government efforts to boost new economy

Maybe it's a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, but whatever the reason, it's nice to see Michigan's new economy initiatives get some respect; if not even a little envy from the state it's trying to emulate. California, take a page from Michigan's playbook.

Excerpt:

"Michigan," the founder of San Francisco's CMEA Capital repeated. "Now I'm not that close to it, but you see it more in programs and policies. They're protecting small businesses, providing tax breaks — lots of breaks — and they're providing worker training incentives."

Also, Baruch noted, Michigan has a strong delegation in Congress that has helped funnel federal stimulus program cash in an effort to transform the world's auto capital into a green-auto hub.

"(State government has) tends to be less antagonistic and more of what you might call 'participatory' in bringing together assets within the state, including the universities," said Baruch, whose firm has bankrolled the likes of cleantech companies Codexis and Solyndra.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor fosters entrepreneurial ties with Silicon Valley

Lots of people want southeast Michigan, and the Ann Arbor area in particular, to do everything it can to become a rival to Silicon Valley. Local leaders are now going the extra mile to form relationships with business leaders in what is arguably the world's most dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Excerpt:

Ann Arbor is getting cozy with Silicon Valley - and local economic development officials hope the budding relationship leads to more jobs for this area.

Local companies, investors and economic development leaders are seeking to leverage Ann Arbor's connections with businesses based in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco region. In Silicon Valley, life sciences, information technology, research services and environmentally friendly products account for 33.6 percent of total employment, according to the Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance.

Cultivating relationships with West Coast business leaders is a central goal of several California trips organized by Ann Arbor leaders in recent months.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor scores most of Mich 21st Century Jobs Fund capital

Millions of dollars from the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund were intended to be spread across the state but Ann Arbor-based start-ups have brought home the lion's share of that capital.

Excerpt:

Though Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund is supposed to benefit the entire state, most of the dollars have gone to recipients in Ann Arbor. Of the 27 companies that took advantage of loans they were awarded in the fund's first business competition in 2006, two-thirds are based in the college town.

Read the rest of the story here and more about state-sponsored investment funds here.
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