Meeting of the Minds in Detroit

The Meeting of the Minds Summit is scheduled to take place in Detroit, Michigan from Sept 30-Oct 2, 2014.

Meeting of the Minds 2014 in Detroit, MI

Meeting of the Minds 2014 in Detroit, MI (photo – cityminded.org)

Meeting of the Minds is an urban knowledge sharing platform based out of San Francisco, CA. They organize webinars, meetups, roundtables and the annual summit on urban sustainability and connected technologies in the fall.

The annual summit brings together 350 policy makers, innovators, leading thinkers and opinion shapers for two intensive days of thought leadership and industry development.

This year, they chose Detroit for the summit because the city, like many other stars of the industrial age, is now trying to reinvent itself and is searching for a new identity and urban future.

With Detroit as the setting for a discussion of alternative urban futures, these will be the kind of questions debated at the Meeting of the Minds 2014 Summit – How are cities redefining themselves? How to revitalize downtowns and suburbs? How to attract talent? How to create cleaner and smarter industry clusters? What is the new definition of a smart city?

There will be a press tour on Sept 30 where DTE Energy and Itron will take members of the media to discover smart city projects to show how Detroit is transforming into a smarter city.

The summit officially begins on Oct 1 with a welcome address by Cisco Systems Director Gordon Feller, who is also the co-founder of Meeting of the Minds.

Following the welcome address, urban policy expert and The Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson will speak about “Why Detroit Is a Powerful Backdrop for a Discussion on the Future of Cities.”

Another important session in the morning will focus on how urban entrepreneurs are launching and scaling up despite red tape.

A panel on how city-regions can attract and retain urban talent will discuss everything from the role of talent in revitalizing cities to the current situation in Detroit and other cities where there’s a disconnect between significant job growth in 21st century jobs and populations that do not have the tools to access these emerging careers.

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Director of Public Affairs Anthony Flint and Rob van Gijzel, Major of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, will talk about turnarounds and remaking legacy cities.

The post-lunch breakout session on the first day includes eight different workshop tours to demonstrate everything from small-scale revitalization to launching and building an innovation economy, demolitions and green infrastructure strategies, retrofitting legacy infrastructure and smart city solutions.

Sessions on the second day include a discussion on the power of the Internet of Everything – How city services become city solutions. There are also panels on the coming revolution of small-scale urban industrial development, resiliency challenges, innovations in city service delivery, open data, and more.

What – Meeting of the Minds Summit

When - Sept 30-Oct 2, 2014

Where – The College for Creative Studies, 460 W. Baltimore Ave., Detroit, MI

Michigan Economic Development Corp Launches Placemaking Initiative Backed by Crowdfunding

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with several other organizations, has launched an innovative placemaking initiative funded through a combination of crowdfunding and matching grants.

Crowdfunding MI

Crowdfunding MI (photo – crowdfundingmi.com)

The Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort involving the MEDC, crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Michigan Municipal League.

Local residents will be able to be a part of transformational projects in their communities, supported with a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“Innovative placemaking efforts help create thriving, sustainable and unique places where workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and expand,” said Governor Rick Snyder.

A platform has been created (www.crowdfundingmi.com) where projects submitted by communities, non-profits and businesses will seek online crowdfunding pledges from the project’s supporters, residents and community members.

Projects must focus on things such as outdoor plaza or park enhancements that activate public spaces and capture public awareness and momentum.

Any project which meets its fundraising goals on the platform will then be eligible to receive a matching grant of up to $100,000 from the MEDC.

This is the first program of its kind in the nation involving a state agency. Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC, said that Public Spaces Community Places is a new tool that communities can use for creating vibrant public spaces with the potential to bring new vitality to the community and serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity.

Finney added that this was a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.

The website for the platform was designed by the Michigan Municipal League as a one-stop resource for the crowdfunding needs of Michigan communities, businesses and investors. Projects may be submitted starting July 9, 2014 through Patronicity.

Michigan Municipal League Executive Director and CEO Daniel Gilmartin said they believe this program will inspire and assist communities of all shapes and sizes take on and complete projects they could previously only dream about.

Patronicity Founder and CEO Chris Blauvelt said that through crowdfunding, MEDC is empowering everyday citizens to have a dramatic impact on their communities.

The MEDC has chosen Midtown Detroit Inc.’s Green Alley Project as a pilot project for the program. This is a $200,000 project which has already secured a $100,000 grant. Midtown Detroit will seek to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding to transform the 415-foot alley with enhancements such as a new design to promote walkability and community connectivity, and green infrastructure upgrades that reduce the burden of storm water on the city’s sewer system.

If they are successful at raising the $50,000 target through crowdfunding, then the remaining $50,000 will be provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Midtown Detroit Inc. President Susan T. Mosey thinks it’s doable, noting that the idea of creating something sustainable and impactful for the community out of something so blighted has really resonated in the Midtown community.

Michigan Approves $1.5M Economic Development Incentives for Projects Creating 292 Jobs

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of a total of $1.47 million in grants for three projects in West Michigan.

Jobs in the Comeback State

Jobs in the Comeback State (photo – michiganbusiness.org)

One of the grant recipients is WKW Roof Rail Systems, LLC, which is a subsidiary of WKW Erbsloeh North America, Inc., which in turn is a subsidiary of Wuppertal, Germany-based WKW.automotive.

The newly established WKW Roof Rail Systems is purchasing the former Toyota Tsusho America facility in the City of Battle Creek, MI, and plans to use the facility to manufacture aluminum roof rail systems for the automotive market.

WKW Roof Rail Systems is investing $23 million into the project, and will create 186 new jobs in Battle Creek. Michigan and another site in Alabama were both competing for this project.

The company chose Michigan in part due to the $950,000 performance-based grant offered by the state under the Michigan Business Development Program. The City of Battle Creek is additionally offering local incentives in the form of a property tax abatement.

WKW.automotive CEO Peter Kruft said that they appreciated the valuable support provided by the State of Michigan, including Gov. Rick Snyder and other involved authorities, when the company presented their future planning.

Gov. Snyder had met with WKW executives in Germany when he led a delegation of Michigan economic development officials and government leaders on an investment mission to Europe earlier this year.

The Governor and the Michigan delegation toured WKW-Group’s aluminum billet production plant in Velbert. A few months before that, the WKW-Group had bought Portage, MI-based Bowers Manufacturing to extend its reach into the U.S. aluminum extrusion business which is a core process in the automotive sector.

The Michigan delegation knew the company was looking for a second production facility in the U.S. for manufacturing aluminum roof rail systems, and made the case for Michigan as a smart business location for growing a manufacturing company and creating jobs.

MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney said the Governor’s meeting with WKW executives underscored their strong relationship with the company and demonstrated that Michigan is more business friendly than ever.

The second project approved for a state grant was an expansion by Cascade Die Casting Group Inc. in the Village of Sparta and Gaines Township. The company is investing $5.3 million and plans to create 50 jobs. Michigan was competing with another site in North Carolina for this project, and secured it by offering the company a $275,000 performance-based grant.

The third company getting a state grant is Livermore, CA-based solar equipment manufacturer SolarBOS, which had been looking for a site for a new manufacturing facility closer to its customers in the east and southeast.

A $250,000 performance-based grant helped secure this project for the City of Walker, MI over competing sites in Ohio, North Carolina and California. SolarBOS will now invest $884,000 to establish the new facility in Walker, and will create up to 56 new jobs.

Detroit Economic Development Projects Get $28M NMTC Allocation

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced a new round of $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) awards.

New Markets Tax Credit

New Markets Tax Credit

The 87 recipients are spread across 32 states and the District of Columbia. Invest Detroit has been allocated $28 million for investing in Detroit economic development projects.

The NMTC allocation provided to Invest Detroit will be invested on the M-1 Rail project and associated economic development in the downtown and mid-town areas, and also on commercial and small business development in Detroit neighborhoods.

“We are extremely pleased to have received this award at such a critical time for Detroit’s revitalization,‚Äù said Invest Detroit President David Blaszkiewicz.

The other Michigan-based CDE allocated tax credit authority under the NMTC Program is the Great Lakes Capital Fund located in Lansing, MI. Great Lakes Capital Fund is getting a $35 million allocation for projects to revitalize neighborhoods.

“Thanks to this year’s New Markets Tax Credit allocation, we will be able to invest in high-impact projects that create jobs and leverage further community development,‚Äù said Great Lakes Capital Fund CEO Mark McDaniel.

U.S. Senator for Michigan Carl Levin said this announcement is good news for economic development across Michigan.

Senator Levin added that by attracting private investment capital to projects and areas that are in greatest need, these awards help create jobs and opportunity and bolster important public investments including projects such as the M-1 Rail.

Amias Gerety, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, said that the NMTC Program provides critical investments and creates jobs in low-income neighborhoods across the nation.

Gerety added that NMTC is often the most critical piece of the puzzle when trying to finance important economic development projects across the country.

The 87 organizations selected to receive NMTC awards were chosen from a pool of 310 applicants. Around 75 percent ($2.575 billion) of the total $3.5 billion in allocations will be used to finance and support loans or investments into businesses in low-income communities.

CDFI Fund Acting Director Dennis Nolan said the NMTC Program is clearly targeting economic development in communities that critically need financing to help create new business and jobs and affordable housing.

See the NMTC Program Award Book for a complete listing of the 87 organizations chosen to receive NMTC allocations – Download (pdf)

Michigan Economic Development Incentives Secure Projects With 881 Jobs

The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved incentives for three economic development projects that will bring $350 million in investments and create 881 new jobs in the state.

Challenge Mfg. Co. in Michigan

Challenge Mfg. Co. in Michigan (photo – challenge-mfg.com)

Gov. Rick Snyder said these projects cover a range of industries and technologies and assure strong economic opportunities for Michigan businesses and citizens.

One of the companies awarded state funding is Walker, MI-based Challenge Mfg. Company, an automotive supplier who is planning a $50 million project in the City of Pontiac.

Challenge Mfg. Co. will establish new assembly operations and construct a 400,000-square-foot facility. It is estimated that this project will create 450 new jobs.

The company already has four facilities in West Michigan with a combined workforce of more than 2,000. This includes an expansion announced in March 2013 which called for the addition of 180 new jobs. At that time, Michigan approved a $1 million performance-based grant, which the company has fully received after exceeding their job creation commitments well in advance of the schedule.

For this latest $50 million project with 450 new jobs, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. is offering Challenge Mfg. Co. a $2.5 million performance-based grant. The state incentives helped secure the project for Michigan, which was competing for it along with an alternative site in Ontario.

The City of Pontiac provided additional local incentives in the form of brownfield tax increment financing reimbursement. This was very useful because the site where Challenge Mfg. Co. is building its new facility formerly housed the General Motors Pontiac Assembly Plant that was shut down in 2009.

The second project which has been approved for MSF assistance is the fairlife, LLC expansion. To be specific, the City of Coopersville is getting $2.4 million in CDBG grant funding that will used for making infrastructure improvements required to facilitate the fairlife project.

fairlife, a producer of dairy-based healthy beverages such as Core Power and fairlife purely nutritious milk, is adding two new bottling lines and new machinery at its facility in Coopersville. This is a $96.3 million expansion that is expected to create 100 jobs.

The City of Coopersville is pitching in with $384,000 for the infrastructure improvements.

The third project is the establishment of an environment-friendly “Green Box” waste-processing system with facilities in Detroit and Cheboygan by Green Box NA Michigan, LLC. This is a $200 million project, wherein the company will collect waste from the restaurant industry in the Detroit metropolitan area and pre-process it in the new Detroit facility.

The balls and pellets of waste will then be transported to the Cheboygan facility which will recycle the waste to produce usable consumer products, biofuels, fuel pellets and soil enhancements.

The project is expected to create 331 jobs across both the facilities combined. The Green Box system eliminates an estimated 22.7 million cubic feet of annual landfill dumping.

In order to assist this project, the state has approved an inducement resolution that allows for issuance of $125 million in private activity bonds to fund the project.

Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said that these projects will help strengthen and revitalize Michigan communities and will help growing companies generate new job opportunities.

The Right Place Unveils West Michigan Economic Development Projects With 171 Jobs

The Right Place, Inc., a regional economic development organization serving West Michigan, announced projects that will bring $6.8 million in investment and 171 new jobs to the region.

The Right Place

The Right Place

The largest of the three West Michigan economic development projects being announced is an expansion by AvaSure LLC to establish a new facility in Plainfield Township, MI.

Avasure develops and sells educational tools and technology that support the nursing profession in improving their practice environment. The company now wants to be less reliant on outsourced production and wants to establish its own manufacturing capabilities, which it plans to do in the new Plainfield Township facility, which will be its second one in Michigan.

Avasure is investing $1.9 million into the project, and plans to create 110 new jobs at the facility over the next three years.

In order to help secure the project and facilitate Avasure’s plans, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved $570,000 in performance-based grants. The company is additionally getting local incentives from Plainfield Township in the form of industrial property tax abatements (PA 198).

The Right Place, Inc. President and CEO Birgit Klohs said West Michigan hosts the largest concentration of medical device manufacturers in the state, and Avasure’s decision further strengthens that position.

Klohs added that this announcement affirms their strategic commitment to continue building a world-class medical device industry in the region.

The second project announced is Steel 21, a new business being established in a new 30,000-square-foot facility in Algoma Township, MI. The company is investing $4.5 million on the project and is hiring 31 employees to begin with, and will be adding another 30 over the next three years.

Last week, Algoma Township approved tax abatements on the facility and equipment for the Steel 21 project.

The third project is a $405,000 expansion by Belding Tool & Machine in the City of Belding, MI. The 75-year old company with 15 workers supplies tools to automotive suppliers. It was purchased last year by Jason Markham, who is now trying to modernize and diversify the company so that they can also serve other sectors.

Markham is making this new investment for machinery upgrades to help the company grow and diversify. The Ionia County Economic Alliance has been working with the company during this transition, connecting them to local and regional resources that can aid their growth plans. The City of Belding is likewise providing support for the project through a PA 198 tax abatement.

Detroit Economic Development Gets $100M Boost From JP Morgan Chase

JP Morgan Chase is expanding their commitment to Detroit with a new $100 million investment over the next five years to help speed up the economic recovery and community revitalization that is already underway.

JP Morgan Chase investment in Detroit

JP Morgan Chase investment in Detroit

The announcement is scheduled to be made jointly by JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

The $100 million will be invested in highly specific areas that will aid existing and planned Detroit economic development efforts and programs.

Here’s the breakup:-

Community Development ($50 million) – JP Morgan Chase will provide $50 million in the form of grants and long-term investments to two Community Development Financial Institutions. With the help of these two CDFIs, JP Morgan Chase will create two new funds that will in turn provide financing for critical projects that lack access to traditional funding sources.

Blight ($25 million) – JP Morgan Chase will team up with organizations such as the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force and the Detroit Land Bank Authority, helping them expand their reach and accelerate efforts to end blight, and stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods across the city.

Workforce Readiness ($12.5 million) РThis new $12.5 million investment will support workforce rediness efforts in Detroit under JP Morgan Chase’s $250 million global five-year New Skills at Work initiative.

Growing Small Businesses ($7 million) – This $7 million will be used to support innovative programs and organizations such as Detroit Eastern Market and startup accelerator Bizdom that are helping small business owners and entrepreneurs in Detroit launch and grow their business.

Seeding Future Economic Growth ($5.5 million) – A part of this investment will go to the M-1 Rail streetcar project which holds potential for economic development and urban renewal in downtown Detroit. Apart from a $1.5 million philanthropic grant to the non-profit M-1 RAIL, JP Morgan Chase is also providing another $1 million to Midtown Detroit Inc. to assist with a program to mitigate the temporary impact of the M-1 Rail construction on local businesses.

They will also bring the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) to Detroit. This is a joint initiative established by JP Morgan Chase and the Brookings Institution, which helps bring together policymakers with business leaders and other interested stakeholders in participating cities to collaborate on strategies for improving the city’s global competitiveness.

JP Morgan Chase will also provide experienced skills to Detroit’s non-profits by sending volunteers through the JPMorgan Chase Detroit Service Corps to help these non-profits solve challenging problems being faced by communities.

Read more about JP Morgan’s Detroit economic development investment plans in each of these categories here.

Southwest Michigan Talent Pool Brought Newell Rubbermaid Design Center to Kalamazoo

Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE: NWL) has dedicated its new Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Newell Rubbermaid Design Center opening in  Kalamazoo, MI

Newell Rubbermaid Design Center opening in Kalamazoo, MI (photo – newellrubbermaid.com)

Gov. Rick Snyder and Newell Rubbermaid President and CEO Michael Polk were among those attending the grand opening of the Design Center.

The 40,000-square-foot facility located in the Business Technology and Research Park at Western Michigan University has been carefully designed and planned to foster creativity while maximizing collaboration and sharing of technologies and ideas between the company’s brands.

Newell Rubbermaid invested $2.3 million into the project, which is creating around 100 new jobs in Kalamazoo.

The company had announced the choice of WMU’s BTR Park in Kalamazoo as the location for the Design Center in March 2013 after a site selection process that considered several other locations in the U.S. including Chicago and the company‚Äôs headquarters in Atlanta.

Polk said that Kalamazoo is the ideal location to “plant the seeds for bigger, better innovations that will build our brands for the long term.”

The location of the Design Center is right in the middle of a cluster of Southwestern Michigan’s design-led companies such as Whirlpool, Steelcase, Stryker, Wolverine and Herman Miller. Not to mention the proximity to educational institutions including WMU, the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the College for Creative Studies.

Polk cited the talented workforce in the region, and thanked Governor Rick Snyder and the State of Michigan, along with the City of Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University and Southwest Michigan First for helping make the Design Center a reality.

“Having a world-class company such as Newell Rubbermaid choose to locate in Michigan is a great win for us and a testament to our talented work force and the competitiveness of Michigan as a research and development hotbed,” said Gov. Snyder.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation helped secure the project by offering Newell Rubbermaid a performance-based Michigan Business Development grant of $2 million. The city of Kalamazoo additionally offered local incentives in the form of tax abatements worth around $164,000.

Southwest Michigan First, a privately funded organization of economic development advisors that works to create jobs in the seven-county Southwest Michigan region, was one of the key partners in the state’s effort to secure the Newell Rubbermaid Design Center project.

Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens thanked the company for selecting Southwest Michigan and embracing the region’s product design community.

Mahindra USA Technical Center Project Creating 112 Jobs in Michigan

Mahindra USA, Inc. is opening a new technical center in the City of Troy, Michigan. The Mahindra North American Technical Center project is expected to create 112 new jobs.


Mahindra (photo – mahindrausa.com)

The technical center will be designing, developing and prototyping complete vehicle designs to facilitate Mahindra & Mahindra’s expansion into automotive markets worldwide.

Mahindra North American Technical Center, Inc. will operate as wholly owned subsidiary of Mahindra USA, Inc., which in turn is owned by Mumbai, India-based Mahindra & Mahindra.

The new division in Troy will be housed in a recently renovated facility, and the company will invest $2 million to establish the technical center and create the 112 professional and engineering services jobs.

The project was secured with the help of a package of state and local incentives. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has approved a $500,000 performance-based grant for the project under the Michigan Business Development Program.

The City of Troy is additionally offering local incentives in the form of nine-year personal property tax abatement.

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said that Michigan has provided them with the perfect eco-system for stepping up their U.S. presence. He said they were able to draw on Michigan’s terrific automotive engineering and manufacturing talent to create industry leading initiatives for the U.S.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Michael A. Finney said that Governor Snyder’s hands-on involvement in meeting with Mahindra executives was persuasive in their efforts to demonstrate Michigan’s singular advantages as a place for locating a business.

Gov. Snyder also gave welcoming remarks at an inauguration event last week for the company’s GenZe scooter facility in Ann Arbor.

Back in December, the MEDC had announced another $300,000 grant in support of Mahindra’s GenZe electric scooter manufacturing project in Ann Arbor where the company is investing $2 million and creating 34 new jobs.

Finney added that Mahindra is a global leader with diverse operations spanning industries such as automotive, financial services, aerospace and agri-business, and said they thank this world-class company for choosing to expand in Michigan.

Mahindra & Mahindra is a $16.7 billion multinational group with more than 180,000 employees in over 100 countries. Mahindra USA, which first established its presence in the United States in 1994, has focused for the last 20 years on manufacturing and distributing tractors and other farming equipment.

Michigan Economic Development Incentives Assist Marquette Food Co-op Expansion

The Marquette Food Co-op is expanding again, aided by economic development incentives provided by the State of Michigan and the City of Marquette.

Marquette Food Co-op in Marquette, MI

Marquette Food Co-op in Marquette, MI (photo -marquettefood.coop)

Marquette Food Cooperative, Inc. is investing $3.4 million and creating 30 new jobs as part of the expansion under which it is renovating two vacant buildings.

This will be the third expansion in the last 10 years for the Marquette Food Co-op, which is a community-owned grocery store providing access to healthy organic and natural foods.

In the last five years, the co-op has increased its staff from 40 to 60, and expects to have about 95 people on the staff after the new facility is up and running.

It’s not just about access to healthy food, because they also offer a wide variety of programs and services related to healthy eating, food education and agriculture. The two vacant buildings being renovated will be used for establishing a regional food hub that will also house an educational classroom and a teaching kitchen.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is supporting this project by providing a $615,000 performance-based grant under the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.

MEDC president and CEO Michael A. Finney said they are pleased to support the efforts of the entire community in making the project a reality. Finney said the Marquette Food Co-op expansion will provide additional fresh and healthy food options for area residents, while bringing new vitality to downtown Marquette and serving as a catalyst for additional positive economic activity.

Matt Gougeon, general manager of Marquette Food Co-op, says the state grant impacts far more than just the Co-op itself, because the expansion of their services and operations benefits all member-owners and others throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Gougeon said that by helping to bring affordable healthy food choices, small farm advocacy and food education under one roof in downtown Marquette, the grant and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Strategic Fund are in effect partnering with thousands of residents in the Upper Peninsula.

The City of Marquette is additionally providing $115,000 in local incentives in the form a tax abatement for the Marquette Food Co-op expansion project.

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