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Loveland's passion: Battle blight


Two years ago, Mary Lorene Carter and Jerry Paffendorf were eating ramen and sweating the cost of drinks at PJs Lager House. They were getting by — and funding their company, Loveland Technologies LLC — on Kickstarter campaigns, the occasional microgrant and the generosity of a few small investors.

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16 Reasons to Go to Detroit Right Now


While the media seems to love discussing all that is wrong with Detroit – it is ignoring or oblivious or both -  to all that is right. Looking for reasons to go to Detroit? Here are 16 to get you started.

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16 Michigan Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2014


There’s no denying that Michigan breeds top tier business talent. Take Larry Page (born in East Lansing), Tony Fadell (born in Farmington Hills), Eric Lefkofsky (born in Detroit), and even William Hewlett (born in Ann Arbor) for example. With all of the excitement and energy buzzing around the growth of tech hubs across Michigan, I wouldn't be surprised if the next big startup was birthed from someone with ties to the state. Now if you're wondering if I think they'll stay here to build their company, that’s a discussion for another post.

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13 Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs Are Rebuilding the City of Detroit


It's no secret that Detroit has seen better days. But as good news trickles into the city, there's hope that it might soon return to its former glory. Chief among the reasons to believe in Detroit is its growing number of young entrepreneurs and small business owners who have manged to thrive despite the city's economic headwinds. 

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Detroit: What it's like to live in the most famous bankrupt city in America


Ora Williams has lived in her home in the Brightmoor section of Detroit for more than 35 years, and over those decades, she’s seen what was once a thriving middle class neighborhood sink into what many regard as the wasteland of the city.

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"We ainít what we was:" Tangible progress on Detroitís road to recovery


During the Martin Luther King Day commemoration this month I heard a recording of Rev. King quoting an old Southerner speaking somewhere in the deep South.  He said,

“We ain’t what we ought to be,
We ain’t what we want to be,
We ain’t what we’re gonna be,
But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”

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Detroit ranks high on list of U.S. cities where residents are driving less


For many Americans, there's no escaping the stressful rush hour drive — but not for everybody. Many choose not to own a car. In fact, according to a recent report, more than 9% of U.S. households did not have a car in 2012, a higher figure than five years ago. In 21 of the nation's 30 largest cities, households were also less likely to have a vehicle than just five years earlier.

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Detroit Kickstarter Surpasses Its Goal in 96 Hours


This past weekend I had the privilege of sitting down with Kyle Hoff, one of two co-founders of the Floyd Leg, a manufacturing project based in Detroit. The Floyd Leg is in the final days of being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. The project surpassed it’s funding goal of $18,000 within a few days, and at the time of this writing has exceeded $210,000.

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More Detroit pop-ups look to settle down


A slew of pop-up retailers from downtown to the neighborhoods are looking to open permanent locations in the city.

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Urban forest planned for Detroit's east side inches upward


Mike Score, the president of Hantz Woodlands, hand-delivered a $431,000 check to the city of Detroit last week — payment, along with a $10,000 deposit — for vacant land that will become a mini-forest.

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Video report: Mapping Detroit blight

A newly formed task force has been charged with spearheading an effort to electronically catalog blighted properties in the city. That's certainly a good start to addressing a complex problem. Watch this Voice of America report on the Motor City Mapping Project in this video.

As a bonus, here's the Freep's John Gallagher asking "what's next" after the rubble has been cleared. Will measures that came out of the work done by Detroit Future City, including building on urban ag and other green and blue (daylighting subterranean creeks that exist on the city's east side) projects, be implemented? Good questions, John.

See Gallagher's piece here.  

AutoHarvest aims to foster more IP collaboration

AutoHarvest is creating a new Internet platform that not only promises to make the purchase of intellectual property easier but will also open up innovation hubs in the automotive industry to more collaboration.

The 3-year-old nonprofit aims to foster collaboration and innovation in the auto industry by making things like tech labs and intellectual property more accessible. AutoHarvest has offices at the University of Michigan and TechTown. It has a team of six people after adding two more over the last year.

AutoHarvest has spent the last year and change developing a new software platform that it hopes will serve as a Amazon.com of intellectual property innovation. The online bazaar will allow inventors, entrepreneurs, businesses and institutions to buy, sell and collaborate on technology. It's currently in Beta-version and is aiming for a June release.

"There are several key communication features that need to be added," says Jayson Pankin, president & CEO of AutoHarvest. "We are in major bug-hunting mode."

Among the features in line for addition are the ability to broadcast the website in eight different languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, French and German.

"We have companies from France and Germany that use our network now," Pankin says. "This will help them."

AutoHarvest is also looking to add an "Innovation Hub" tab to the site that will allow local research institutions to open up their labs and databases to the public. For instance, TARDEC (the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren) will make 70 of its laboratories open to the public that follows specific guidelines. The idea is to make the resources of big organizations available to startups.

"This way small companies can have access to software and databases they wouldn't otherwise," Pankin says.

Source: Jayson Pankin, president & CEO of AutoHarvest
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Edibles Rex grows staff, scores Mission Main St Grant

Edibles Rex is both hiring and locking down new money, including six figures from a Mission Main Street Grant.

The 21-year-old firm is based in the Warren-Connor neighborhood on Detroit’s east side. It specializes in catering and wholesale food preparation service. Think making the meals that are used in school cafeterias.

Edibles Rex services a number of large corporations and schools. The company has watched its revenue jump 5 percent over the last year as the demand for federally subsidized school meals has spiked. It also worked on a summer meals program last year to bring more healthy food for children in economically challenged neighborhoods by service free lunches at recreation centers, churches and parks.

"We served probably 3,500 meals a day this summer," says Tammy Tedesco, president & CEO of Edibles Rex.

That growth has allowed Edibles Rex to hire 10 people over the last year, expanding the firm's staff to 90 employees and the occasional summer intern. The new hires filled open positions for upper management, food preparation and school lunch servers.

Edibles Rex also scored a $250,000 grant from the Mission Main Street program this year. That money will go toward the renovation costs of a new building Edibles Rex acquired near Eastern Market. Edibles Rex expects to spend $2 million renovating the structure later this year. It has already raised about 75 percent of that number.

Source: Tammy Tedesco, president & CEO of Edibles Rex
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Co-working space round-up: Another space announced plus a new directory

The hottest new industry in Detroit may be the co-working space as the shared work venues continue to multiply. The new trend in work life offers startups and freelancers the ability to network and grow while getting those who work from home out and into a more social environment.

As the list grows and grows, it can become increasingly difficult to keep track of them all. As a result, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has compiled a Detroit Co-Working Space Finder that's available on their website. The directory lists 13 different co-working spaces throughout the city. They are:
The DEGC will have to update their directory rather quickly as another co-working space is already in the works. A new Detroit-based LLC called Quality Pheasant has announced plans to transform the former Saint Vincent Middle School into Saint Vincent Corktown, a boutique office space.

The 40,000 square foot building rests in the shadow of Michigan Central Station. Located at 2020 14th Street, Saint Vincent will be split into common work areas and private office suites with micro-lounges throughout. A skylit, stained-glass chapel tops the building, an architectural highlight.

As reported last week, Junction 440 is the latest co-working space to open in Detroit. It is one of seven co-working spaces to participate in the inaugural Co-Lab Detroit. The event was designed to create a community of co-working spaces rather than a competition. Open houses, tours, and free co-working days are available at each venue throughout the week. Co-Lab Detroit is happening now.

Source: DEGC, Saint Vincent press releases
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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