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« Detroit News Roundup for Wednesday, August 8, 2007
» Detroit News Roundup for Thursday and Friday, August 9-10, 2007

Detroit News Roundup for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday August 11-13, 2007

Metro Detroit Companies Named ‘Best & Brightest Companies to Work …

[via PR Newswire (press release)]

Looking for Exceptional Women of Color to Represent to the World

The term “Black Community” encompasses a global group larger than just African Americans. Blacks are a diverse group of individuals who come from a multitude of cultural backgrounds, heritages, and countries. These include (but are not limited to): African, African-American, Bahamian, Canadian, Caribbean, Cayman, Haitian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Sudanese, Barbadian, and Trinidadian.

The 2007 prize package is valued at over $5000 for each of the winners. Prizes will also be distributed for community service, academic achievement, photogenic, and people’s choice.

The five day event October 4-8, 2007 is being filmed on location in Detroit, Michigan, USA. During the there stay contestants will tour historic places such as Motown, stops along the Underground Railroad, and much more.

International Elite Black Pageant Weekend.
[via PR-GB.com (press release)]

Ann Arbor makes another greenbelt purchase-The Ann Arbor News

The 10th purchase in Ann Arbor’s greenbelt program was recently completed as the program approaches its fourth year.

The Ann Arbor City Council approved purchasing the development rights of a 146-acre farm in Webster Township for $2.27 million.

The Merkel-Marr-Hell Farm is next to another 180-acre farm that had its development rights purchased by the city.

It’s a good deal for the city which is getting another large plot of land that won’t be turned into suburban sprawl and is only paying about half of the cost of the purchase price. Whether these purchases will really contain sprawl in the future is another question.
[via MLive.com]

Other Voices: Our state needs to start ‘thinking small’

These are small stories — but they counter the doom-and-gloom headlines. People are creating and acting on small, strategic opportunities.

Too often, all of us — Republicans, Democrats, union members, business owners, suburbanites, city dwellers and the media — whine as if Michigan just can’t do anything right. Enough already. Stand up and move forward! No one will ever want to invest or live in Michigan if we keep acting and being portrayed as pathetic.

We have four beautiful seasons. We are surrounded by the largest concentration of fresh water on Earth. We have a freshwater shoreline unmatched by any other in the continental U.S. We have infrastructure, high-quality colleges and universities, and an engaging international border that is a partner in our economic region. We have expanded daylight due to our position in the time zone — and we gave the world Bob Seger, Motown, Aretha Franklin and the best cherries on the planet!

Kathleen Alessandro, president of Energized Solutions LLC, shares some of the small stories she has heard and I will try to do the same. Will you?
[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

State’s VC rank rises to 20th after $54.2M investment in 2Q

That’s up from a ranking of 28th for the first quarter.

Michigan should start appearing higher in the ranks soon, said Kelly Williams, managing director of New York City-based Credit Suisse First Boston and co-leader of its customized fund investment group, which manages the $109 million 21st Century Investment Fund and the $95 million Venture Michigan Fund.

“There’s a multiplier effect,” said Williams, who said Credit Suisse is in the final stages of due diligence for what it expects to be an investment in the next two or three weeks from both state funds in a Michigan investment firm.

About $2.2 billion was invested in 223 biotechnology and medical device companies nationwide, with $1.5 billion in software, $897 million in Internet companies, $482 million in media and entertainment, and $451 million in clean technologies, such as alternative energy and recycling

U.S. VC firms invested $408 million in 34 deals in China in the quarter and $119 million in 18 deals in India.

[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Novi’s Bollywood-style theater a smash hit

Welcome to Bollywood — right in Novi at the SR Movies Novi Town Center 8.

A community hub for many in Metro Detroit’s Indian population of 60,000 to 100,000, not to mention Arabs, Sri Lankans and Pakistanis, the eight-screen theater at the Novi Town Center is the only one in Michigan with distribution rights for Bollywood films.

Bollywood is another name for the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai, India, which is one of the world’s largest.

Rakesh Gangwani said patrons come from as far away as Ohio and Windsor, and business is so good they may open another theater in Sterling Heights or Southfield.

[via DetNews.com]

He’s surfed all over the world…and is happy to call Detroit home

Joe Bidawid has surfed Hawaii and California, but prefers to perfect his craft on the Great Lakes — and at Kensington Metropark. Similarly, his highrise home on the Detroit River is his ideal home sweet home.

[via Metromode Media]

Selling investors on a city

Four-star hotels, live music, gourmet meals and walks in Campus Martius Park are ways the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is selling potential investors on the city.

“When people meet with us and see our city most of them are shocked after seeing its beauty. We make sure they eat and drink at our restaurants and walk the streets of downtown. The hardest task is getting them here.”

Renee Monforton, director of communications for the DMCVB, said that the biggest misconception people have about Detroit is the crime rate, especially in the downtown area.

You could say that one of Detroit’s biggest hurdles is its public image, which always lags the progress that has been made. It doesn’t help when suburbanites who should know better describe Detroit of today as if it had only gone downhill for the last two decades. While journalists, like all people, will always be inherently lazy, one day enough of them will no longer be ignorant about the state of downtown Detroit that when they do make mistakes in their writing, they will be caught by well-informed readers. And maybe one day in the far future, a majority of suburbanites will stop being spiteful of the city.
[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

New looks at old buildings add life to metro Detroit

With each reinvention comes a new and interesting twist on investing in the Woodward corridor.

They found what they were looking for in the former Ferndale K-12 School, built in 1915.

Renovation of the three-story, 12,000-square-foot building began last December. A three-story brick- and-glass atrium with metal roof was added, increasing the overall space to 19,000 square feet. The plaster walls were removed to reveal the original brick, much of which will be left exposed, and all the windows were replaced. Exposed ductwork will give the space a soft industrial feel, contrasted with cherrywood and a palette of natural colors.

The St. Clair Edison Building, at 711 S. Main St., was built in 1909 as a coal-burning power plant for streetcars traveling the Woodward corridor from Eight Mile to Pontiac. From the 1940s to 2000, it was owned by Billings Feed Store, which sold “everything from chicken scratch to dog food and hay for the horses.” This month it will debut as Streetcar USA, an automotive aftermarket and specialty vehicle supplier and Chetcuti’s latest business venture.

“We had been looking at the building since it went on the market four or five years ago, trying to find a use for it. We knew if we could get involved in it, we wanted to save the landmark,” he said.

Drs. Scott Tyler and John Dumas, partners, Tyler, Dumas, Reyes, took a leap of faith when they decided to move their busy orthodontic offices in Beverly Hills to a dilapidated industrial building in Birmingham’s railroad district where furnace air filters were once manufactured. Not the first place you might think of for a medical facility.

When they purchased the two-story, 23,000-square-foot, circa-1950 building in late 2004, it came with one tenant on the mezzanine level, Cole Street Salon and Spa, whose owner had already built out “a beautiful space within an absolute dump,” Tyler said.

Blair McGowan’s vision for the long-vacant Crofoot Building in Pontiac is much different from that of the building’s developers in the 1800s. Instead of a hub for law and real estate offices or general and specialty stores, McGowan has revamped the space into a music and dining venue.

The two-story, 20,000-square-foot structure at Pike and Saginaw streets is scheduled to open this month. It includes The Crofoot Ballroom, a live concert hall and nightclub; The Pike Room, a nightclub for smaller bands; and Crofoot Caf and Vernor’s Grille, both bar/restaurants.

[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Detroit’s retail climate better than perceptions, experts say

Detroit resident Claire Nelson was one of those people who saw Detroit’s underserved retail market as an opportunity. Claire and husband Francis Grunow opened Bureau of Urban Living, a household goods store in Midtown, three months ago.

The experience, she said, has exceeded her expectations. “It’s a lot of work, but Detroiters are so great about supporting local businesses because everybody wants to see more of them.”

Nelson said local business owners have mentored her and residents have made special trips to shop and offer support. “We don’t have huge dollar signs in our eyes and we know opening a small store isn’t going to make us millionaires but it’s not why are doing it.

John Talmage, president and CEO of Social Compact, a Washington nonprofit that measures urban market potential, said a lack of retail is not unique to Detroit and the best defense is providing accurate demographic data.

“We found the household income was 51 percent higher than the 2000 census,” Talmage said. “I believe the city is ready to accept the challenge to correct these misperceptions that go to income and to number of people.”

In addition to the economy, Detroit inevitably has to defend itself from negative perceptions.

Perception strikes again.
[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Creative class has plenty to do in Detroit

Nearly any night of the week, revelers from 25 to 45 are pursuing their musical, artistic and athletic interests through creative gatherings.

Up to 400 urban enthusiasts descend on the Detroit Yacht Club for periodic breakfast lectures with city-living advocates. Dozens of literary types cruise from coffee shops to restaurants to the Artist Village, sharing slam poetry and java. Groups participate in drum fests or hammer shingles, fixing up homes in neighborhoods with a cadre of volunteers from Detroit Synergy.

“The biggest thing we discovered through Detroit Synergy is that people became aware of cool things happening in the city. Some were a little nervous exploring on their own, but willing to explore with our discovery projects,” said Frank Nemecek, a freelance writer and publicist for the Detroit Synergy Steering Team.

The article lists off several other interesting things going on that you’ve probably never heard of.
[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

48 hours in Detroit: Living where you work and play

Like most out-of-towners, Tiffany Robinson was steered to the suburbs when she moved to Detroit three years ago from Washington. But the 28-year-old attorney with the downtown firm of Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker soon discovered that Detroit was not just a place to work, but where she spent most of her casual time as well.

A little more than a year ago, she purchased a two-bedroom, three-level townhouse in the Art Center Town and Carriage Homes developed by Colin Hubbell on the edge of the city’s cultural district, just north of downtown.

[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Comcast Launches Filipino On Demand

Filipino On Demand offers Comcast Digital Cable customers access to popular Filipino entertainment programs, including movies and concert series from top-rated channels like Cinema One and MYX Philippines, the number one music channel in the Philippines. The new service is now available in many major Comcast markets nationwide, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Central California; Seattle; Portland; Chicago; Detroit; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and South Florida.

[via TechWhack]

Growers cashing in on urban gardening

Across Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck, Mich., over the last decade, an urban gardening movement has taken hold in backyards and community gardens. The harvest bears nutritious fruits, vegetables and herbs, produced at reasonable cost and in areas where fresh organic produce can be difficult to find.

For extra cash or to launch niche businesses, an increasing number of gardeners are beginning to sell their produce at farmers markets and elsewhere under a new “Grown in Detroit” label.

[via The News Journal]

The lights come back on in downtown Detroit

DETROIT - OK, the town isn’t one solid mass of fun and frolic. This is still a place wed to the American auto industry, and you know what that means right now.

“There’s just so much history here,” said Rob Stone, a shuttle driver and third-generation Motowner.

And so much misimpression.

“Oh, yeah, I know our image,” said Reggie Love, who manages Lola’s, a downtown restaurant that serves quality jazz on the side. “And it’s funny, because I’ve lived here all my life — I’ll be 38 on my next birthday — and I’ve never been shot, I’ve never been stabbed, never been arrested, never been hospitalized . . .

“My wife and I, we’ve never had to deal with anything like that. So when I hear about [what a nasty place this is], I’m like, ‘That must be another Detroit they’re talking about.’ ”

It’s nice when a journalist does do a bit of research and finds that downtown Detroit has been changing for years, as this Chicago Tribune writer shows.
[via Chicago Tribune]

Travel: Plenty of play left in Detroit

DETROIT — As summer takes a backseat and embraces cooler temps, Detroit continues to sizzle with a slew of all-ages events. Take a peek at this list of possibilities:

3 Days in the D

It’s party time! From Aug. 31-Sept. 3, Detroit’s Hart Plaza will be moving and shaking at the Detroit International Jazz Festival. On the same dates, downtown Pontiac will host Chrysler Arts, Beats and Eats. The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix runs Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Check the Web at visitdetroit.com, or call (800) DETROIT for information.


Slip on walking shoes and join the Feet on the Street Tours at Eastern Market. Discover tidbits about the area’s history and nibble on pastries, cheeses and smoked meats. Tours are scheduled Sept. 7 and Oct. 6. Call (248) 489-9570 or e-mail [email protected].

[via MLive.com]

Buddy’s Pizza revives Detroit tradition: Friday night bocce is back

DETROIT — The original Buddy’s Pizza on East McNichols and Conant has served up arguably Metro Detroit’s best Sicilian-style pie since 1946.

But another item on Buddy’s menu over the years, those Friday night bocce ball tournaments, had all but disappeared.

Until about a month ago.

That’s when Kot and Wesley Pikula, Buddy’s vice president of operations, decided to resurrect Friday night bocce ball. They started to refurbish the courts and sent staff members out to play in an effort to arouse the curiosity of the restaurant’s patrons. They also enticed would-be players with prizes, appetizers and drink specials.

[via DetNews.com]

Caribbean Festival parade struts to Hart Plaza

DETROIT — Travis Bethel from Nassau, Bahamas waited patiently on Jefferson Avenue in downtown on Saturday morning for a small taste of home.

The International Caribbean Festival runs this weekend at Hart Plaza and Bethel plans to take in the sights, entertainment, and food.

[via DetNews.com]

Detroit crime falls after gang crackdown

DETROIT — Federal, state and local police claimed success Friday in a year-long crackdown on violent gangs in northwest Detroit.

Project Safe Neighborhoods Operation TIDE (Tactical Intelligence Driven Enforcement), a U.S. Justice Department program, brought together 10 agencies to focus on gun crimes.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy said from May 2006 to May 2007, homicides in Detroit’s northwest district dropped 43 percent, from 30 to 17, and nonfatal shootings dropped 26 percent, from 118 to 87.

That compared to an 8 percent drop in homicides and a 15 percent reduction in nonfatal shootings in the rest of Detroit during the same period, he said.

[via DetNews.com]

Arab American festival to promote peace

DEARBORN — The Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO), a non-profit association comprised of more than 40 Arab American groups in Metro Detroit, announces the first annual Festival of Peace, to be held on Tuesday, August 14, 2007.

There is no charge for the festival. It will conclude with a magnificent fireworks display sponsored by local Metro Detroit businesses.

[via Arab American News]

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« Detroit News Roundup for Wednesday, August 8, 2007
» Detroit News Roundup for Thursday and Friday, August 9-10, 2007