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The Bridge breaks down Ann Arbor's economy

Did you know we rank third among Michigan's economic regions but 241st among the nations top 382 metro areas? Check out The Bridge's thumbnail analysis of Ann Arbor's economy and enlighten yourself!

Read it here.
 

Build bike lanes and they will come

Gotta love a story that starts "...from the Journal of Duh…". Apparently, research shows that if you provide people with good biking infrastructure they'll -gasp!- use it. Crazy, I know.

Excerpt:

"In short, folks who live near the off-road trails switched to cycling to work at a higher rate than people who don’t. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of U.S. bike commuters has increased 60 percent over the last 10 years. The shift to pedal power in Minneapolis has been even more pronounced: Bicycling among workers who live within three miles of the Greenway shot up 89 percent during the decade of data."

Read the rest here.
 

Houston VC firm opens in Ann Arbor

Somebody smells money. If there's one thing Texans don't fool around about it's football, oil and, of course, making money. To wit, Houston-based venture capital firm Mercury Fund has set up shop in The Deuce.

Excerpt:

"He said there is a depth of engineering, computer science and machine-learning talent in the area, bolstered by graduates of the University of Michigan. One of Mercury's main areas of investment is biotech, and there are numerous contract research organizations in Ann Arbor that were founded by former Pfizer Inc. employees after it closed its local operations in 2008."

Read the rest here.
 

NASA tests Ann Arbor firm's wing innovation

Flexfoil, a company that's no stranger to Concentrate, is having their flexible flap design flight tested by none other than NASA. How cool is that?

Excerpt:

"The flap design is a variable geometry airfoil system called FlexFoil, which was designed and built by Ann Arbor, Michigan-based FlexSys Inc. The FlexFoil has already been installed and the first flight-test has been completed on a Gulfstream III test airplane."


Read the rest here

Ann Arbor "Hackomotive" winner sell stake in mobile app

Ann Arborite Steve Schwartz is one third of a trio of entrepreneurs (one in Lansing, one in Seattle) who developed an app called Carcode, that connects customers and auto dealerships via text message. Success took less than a year.

Excerpt:

"Berkowitz would not disclose financial terms of the deal. But Gorton and his team said the transaction was “life-changing.” The group also declined to accept investment offers while launching Carcode, which allowed each of them to keep a larger ownership share."

Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor in top 10 for construction job growth

Look at all the giant cranes around town and it should be little surprise that Ann Arbor is a destination for construction employment. In this case we're seventh on the list.

Excerpt:

"In addition to being the home of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is also number 7 on our list of top cities for job growth in construction. From August 2013 to August 2014, the Tree Town had a total construction job growth of 18.4 percent. Though job growth in construction is strong, the University of Michigan remains the city’s largest employer. The city is also a regional hub for technology, biotechnology, health services, research and manufacturing."

Read the rest of the list here.
 

Washtenaw County an early adopter of single point of entry homeless services

As financial support dwindles, nonprofits that are part of homeless service system are adopting new strategies to offer care. 

Excerpt:

"Here's how it works in Washtenaw: A nonprofit organization called Housing Access handles all visits from potential clients. A separate 24-7 hotline operated by the county's Salvation Army fields calls for services. Staff members then assign clients a vulnerability rating that determines what kind of services individuals receive.

Outside of a few exceptions, such as the domestic violence shelter, the organizations don't field calls directly from potential clients. By having just one agency screen potential clients, the system streamlines the intake process and ensures that all participating agencies receive the same data, making it easier for agencies to coordinate on getting clients a shelter bed."

Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor's Avegant raises $9+ million. Is this the future of video?

Could Glyph be the next generation in entertainment viewing? Some big investors are betting on that to be the case.

Excerpt:

"Glyph is based on technology developed by Dr. Allan Evans, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and relies on images that are generated from reflected light, which mimics how the human eye sees the world.

Each headset incorporates an array of tiny mirrors that reflect light onto the retina. Reflection creates images that are crisp, avoiding the pixelated effect of images on older televisions and on smartphones, for instance, when their screens are too close to the eye, the company said.

Video for Glyph is generated from a smartphone or other mobile device and connects to Glyph through an HDMI cable that Avegant provides."

Read the rest here.

 

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.
 
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