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Bank of Ann Arbor takes on the big boys

While banks and bankers may not be the public's favorite folks in our age of controversial bail outs and investment instruments, The Bank of Ann Arbor is proving that a local institution can sometimes outperform a multi-national corporation.


"In 2007, before the recession hit, the Bank of Ann Arbor was sixth in deposit market share with 8.04 percent in the city, with deposits of $329.8 million, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. KeyBank was No. 1 at 16.45 percent with deposits of $675.1 million.

As of June 30, 2013, the latest date for which data are available on the FDIC website, Chase was No. 1 at 17.3 percent with deposits of $901.6 million, while the Bank of Ann Arbor had climbed into second place at 12.38 percent and deposits of $646.2 million. "

Read the rest here.

A bold plan to develop transit parking lots

Atlanta is a city that is struggling with serious sprawl issues. In an attempt to address that MARTA, the metro area transit authority has decided to turrn under-utilized parking lots into mixed-use commercial and residential buildings.


"In the long term, MARTA expects such upgrades to result in more riders, which in turn will mean more fare revenue. The big picture outlook also includes nicer public spaces for the city; each project requires a park or a plaza, and 20 percent of all housing must be affordable, says Rhein. MARTA is also looking into air rights development at four downtown stations—Lenox, Arts Center, Midtown, North Avenue—and working with the Urban Land Institute to target TOD opportunities in weaker real estate markets along the system's south and west lines."

Read the rest here.

A Chicagoan goes shopping in Ann Arbor

Amazingly, there's nary a mention of Zingerman's!


"About a four-hour drive from Chicago, Ann Arbor Michigan may not be the ideal destination for a quick day trip. But if you have a weekend to spare—and an interest in cute boutiques, fairy teas, and serious pizza—it's worth taking a jaunt to the charming town."

Read the rest here.

Local mayoral candidates in the spotlight

It's primary season which means that in a mostly democratic town those seeking office tend to be determined in the dog days of summer primaries when voter turnout is low. Here's hoping that Concentrate readers turn out in higher percentages than the populace at large.

Ann Arbor News / mlive has a round up of links on how the candidates voted on various hot button issues here.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle explores what kinds of personas the candidates have carved out for themselves here.

The Ypsilanti Courier reports on mayoral forum here.

Ann Arbor News endorses Amanda Edmonds for Ypsilanti mayor here.

Ann Arbor News endorses Christopher Taylor for Ann Arbor mayor here.

A Jersey girl visits Ann Arbor

Ah... there's the Zingerman's mention.


"Think of Ann Arbor and undoubtedly you'll think of the University of Michigan with its "Hail to the Victors" passion for college football and that massive Michigan Stadium — North America's largest, known to house some 114,000 crazed fans. 

But this city of 114,000 residents (not to mention the additional 30,000-plus U of Michigan students there during the school year) is more than just the "ultimate college town" — it's a fun-filled Midwestern mecca for fine dining, live music, and plenty of cultural happenings."

Read the rest here.

36 hours of beer in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor's amazing beer scene has almost become a given for those that live here. For those that don't it's a revelation.


"It doesn't take a visitor long to notice the ever-present bouquet in the air of malt and hops, thanks to numerous craft beer bars, brewpubs and microbreweries. Throw in a few stellar beer gardens and it becomes patently clear that this town belongs on every beer lover's list of must-visit burgs."

Read the rest here.

Director of UM Entrepreneur Institute talks future goals

Last fall, Stewart Thornhill stepped into the role of executive director of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, which is part of the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business. His big idea is to intiate a Silicon Valley-style business accelerator.  


"The accelerator will be modeled on Y Combinator, Techstars, Launchpad LA. The perfect company to enter an accelerator is the one that is quarter-baked. You want it to be half-baked before it's really in a position to get that early, seed or angel investor money. But if companies try to go for that early investor too early, they're going to fail or they're going to have to give up so much of their company because of the wildly risky nature of it that it's often not worth doing.

We often find that students who incubate ideas, whether in a formal incubator or just in their dorm room, often get to the point where they finish their degree, they'd love to be able to take it to that next stage, but they have to go get a job. They've got student loans, they have to pay rent, buy groceries."

Read the rest here.

Transformer hides out in Ann Arbor

Move over Violin Monster, Transformer Joslyn Paige is taking to the streets.


"Paige says that he has spent about $800.00 on his ‘transforming’ costume that even moves electrically when he transforms into the vehicle. Judging by the video kids love him. The 28 year old Paige chatted with the Detroit Free Press about his life as a human Transformer. Paige tells the Press that at the end of the day his knees hurt and that his best day of tips was around $700.00. Not bad for a street performer…I wonder how much he would do in say, New York City?"

Read the rest here. Watch him here.

Are bike haters a sign of a successful cycling community?

While we have never understood the vitriole drivers express toward cyclists (other than they selfishly don't want to share the road and might have to pay more attention to what they're doing), the notion that more change means more friction and therefore it's a sign that things are changing is a provocative one.


"The most thoughtful response, in the current case, came from Carl Alviani, writing in Medium. Alviani traces the source of much driver contempt toward cyclists to a basic cognitive bias called the fundamental attribution error—basically, a tendency to attribute behavior to personality or disposition, rather than a situation or environment. So, cyclists think they're above the law because that's how they are; not, cyclists occasionally make poor riding decisions because the road network wasn't designed with them in mind."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor named top swimming city in USA

Holy seastar! Ann Arbor is ranked number one as a place for swimmers. That's pretty impressive conisdering that we're a land-locked community.


"Combine the influence of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte with demonstrable health and social benefits, and the result is that competitive swimming has exploded in popularity across the United States. 

USA Swimming, the sport's governing entity, has released a study breaking down exactly where swimming holds the most sway. The cities most favorable to swimmers don't follow any geographic pattern, stretching from sea to sea and north to south. Metrics include the number of swimmers, swim clubs, and accessible pools, as well as the number of standout swimmers springing from each locale. The winner? Ann Arbor, Michigan."

Read the rest here.

A cautionary tale about downtown public parks

As Ann Arbor feuds and fusses over whether to build yet another park in our downtown, there are examples we might want to avoid repeating.


"The greatest land-use mistakes in Minneapolis park history came from creating parks for purposes other than the relaxation, recreation, entertainment or edification of its citizens. Creating grounds for a pleasant stroll to a stadium eight days a year isn’t reason enough to make “The Yard” work as a park. Planning for those two blocks has to go well beyond landscaping only for the benefit of surrounding property owners, too."

Read the rest here.

St. Joseph's is tops for heart surgery

Usually it's ":U-M this. And U-M that." I'm sure St. Joe's in Ypsilanti is glad to get a piece of the limelight for a change.


"St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor was named one of the top 15 hospitals in the country in Consumer Reports first-ever rating of hospitals in heart surgery.

More than 400 hospitals were rated in 45 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico based on data for two heart surgeries: surgical aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass graft surgery, an operation done to treat blocked coronary arteries."

Read the rest here.

How to make mass transit financially sustainable

Though Concentrate would argue that the notion that mass transit need to "pay for itself" is a faulty one (after all, roads are hardly profit centers), this article makes soime really powerful observations.


"Just as the public sector pays the electric utility for street lights, it should pay the transit utility for services that the government insists on but that the transit provider cannot charge users enough for. The Paris transit system, RATP, charges local and national governments a "compensatory indemnity" for keeping fares below the break-even price. Governments recover this from an employment tax. Once profitable, the perception and mindset of the transit organization would change from a drain on society to an economic catalyst."

Read the rest here.

Siri meet Dom: Dominos takes its app to the next level

The robot invasion has begun! Well, sorta. If by "robot" you mean voice-based app and if by "invasion" you mean pizza delivery. Dominos = Skynet? Not quite.


"The company, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, says the updated app for iPhones and Android devices will deliver a "human-like, conversational" experience, but notes that it will take some time to work out the kinks in the technology."

Read the rest here.

Relive the glory of Totally Awesome Fest via Internet video

For 10 years now, Ypsilanti has been home to a sprawling DIY festival of art and music that takes over local venues, businesses and homes. It is known as Totally Awesome Fest and if you haven't had the privilege to attend, well, here's your chance to see what all the hubbub is about.

Watch it below...

A Totally Awesome Film from Adam Wright on Vimeo.

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