The Metro Detroit Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers are giving away 1000 tickets to the March Basketball games in Detroit!

All you have to do is visit one of the participating dealerships located on the map below and register by MARCH 27th!

Four® Ticket Official Rules


Open to Michigan and Ohio residents who are 18 years of age or older with a valid drivers license at time of entry. Employees, officers and directors of Metro Detroit Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers (“Sponsor”) and General Motors dealerships, The NCAA, The Barber Shop Marketing (“Administrator”) and their respective divisions, affiliates, subsidiaries and agents, and any others engaged in the development, production or distribution of promotional materials or prizes for this Promotion, and members of the immediate families or households of any of the above are not eligible to enter or win. This Promotion is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

Complete the required fields on the electronic entry form at any participating Buick Pontiac GMC Dealership (listed below) between March 2, 2009 and March 27, 2009, during dealers’ regular business hours (“Promotional Period”). Limit one (1) entry per person. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

A total of four hundred seventy five (475) Grand prizes (see description below) will be randomly selected by the Administrator from all valid entries at each dealership on or about March 29, 2009. Number of winners per dealership varies (see list below). Potential winners will be notified by phone and must claim winner status within 24 hours, or prize will be forfeit and an alternate will be selected, time permitting. If the winner can not attend the game day he/she is awarded, they will forfeit their prize and an alternate will be selected, time permitting. Potential winners must then complete and submit an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and Publicity Release form (where permissible) to the Administrator within 48 hours or the prize will be forfeited and an alternate will be selected, time permitting.

Click Here For Participating Pontiac GMC Dealerships or Contact Steve Batman Gotham at Somerset Pontiac in Troy for all your Pontiac and GMC needs:
Direct Line: 248-614-3667
On April 1, at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Phil will give a presentation at Music Hall, 350 Madison in Detroit; on April 2 at 2 p.m., he'll take part in a town hall-type discussion at I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries, 1435 Brainard Street in Detroit. Later, at 8 p.m., he'll be at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor for a program priced at $75 (Can.) a ticket.

Individuals and groups can compete for tickets to the Music Hall appearance by e-mailing WWJ-TV and telling why they want to hear Dr. Phil. To enter the ticket giveaway, visit and complete the request.

Admission to the town hall program will be first-come, first-served. Award-winning author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom will moderate the discussion. For information, call 313-974-9227 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Dr. Phil learned about Pastor Henry Covington and I Am My Brother's Keeper when he read a recent Sports Illustrated article Albom wrote called "The Courage of Detroit." Both programs will be filmed for future broadcasts.

For ticket information about the casino appearance, visit

Locally, Dr. Phil's show airs at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on WWJ-TV (Channel 62).

New York Times

RECENTLY, at a dinner party, a friend mentioned that he’d never seen so many outsiders moving into town.

This struck me as a highly suspect statement. After all, we were talking about Detroit, home of corrupt former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, beleaguered General Motors and the 0-16 Lions. Compared with other cities’ buzzing, glittering skylines, ours sits largely abandoned, like some hulking beehive devastated by colony collapse. Who on earth would move here?

Then again, I myself had moved to Detroit, from Brooklyn. For $100,000, I bought a town house that sits downtown in the largest and arguably the most beautiful Mies van der Rohe development ever built, an island of perfect modernism forgotten by the rest of the world.

Two other guests that night, a couple in from Chicago, had also just invested in some Detroit real estate. That weekend Jon and Sara Brumit bought a house for $100.

Ah, the mythical $100 home. We hear about these low-priced “opportunities” in down-on-their-luck cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland, but we never meet anyone who has taken the plunge. Understandable really, for if they were actually worth anything then they would cost real money, right? Who would do such a preposterous thing?

A local couple, Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, started the ball rolling. An artist and an architect, they recently became the proud owners of a one-bedroom house in East Detroit for just $1,900. Buying it wasn’t the craziest idea. The neighborhood is almost, sort of, half-decent. Yes, the occasional crack addict still commutes in from the suburbs but a large, stable Bangladeshi community has also been moving in.

So what did $1,900 buy? The run-down bungalow had already been stripped of its appliances and wiring by the city’s voracious scrappers. But for Mitch that only added to its appeal, because he now had the opportunity to renovate it with solar heating, solar electricity and low-cost, high-efficiency appliances.

Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.

Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.

Now, three homes and a garden may not sound like much, but others have been quick to see the potential. A group of architects and city planners in Amsterdam started a project called the “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency” and, with Mitch’s help, found a property around the corner. The director of a Dutch museum, Van Abbemuseum, has called it “a new way of shaping the urban environment.” He’s particularly intrigued by the luxury of artists having little to no housing costs. Like the unemployed Chinese factory workers flowing en masse back to their villages, artists in today’s economy need somewhere to flee.

But the city offers a much greater attraction for artists than $100 houses. Detroit right now is just this vast, enormous canvas where anything imaginable can be accomplished. From Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (think of a neighborhood covered in shoes and stuffed animals and you’re close) to Matthew Barney’s “Ancient Evenings” project (think Egyptian gods reincarnated as Ford Mustangs and you’re kind of close), local and international artists are already leveraging Detroit’s complex textures and landscapes to their own surreal ends.

In a way, a strange, new American dream can be found here, amid the crumbling, semi-majestic ruins of a half-century’s industrial decline. The good news is that, almost magically, dreamers are already showing up. Mitch and Gina have already been approached by some Germans who want to build a giant two-story-tall beehive. Mitch thinks he knows just the spot for it.

Writer Toby Barlow is the author of “Sharp Teeth.”

Michigan Could Be Home To Maglev Superhighway

Lawmakers in Michigan are considering plans to build a high-speed, hydrogen-powered maglev rail line that would carry people between Detroit and Lansing using specially built cars, buses, and trucks.

The project would be funded entirely by the private sector, and according to the company that designed it, provide a variety of economic and environmental benefits to the state.

Supports of the program say it's a chance for Michigan to take a leadership role in an emerging industry, while critics argue it is an expensive distraction.

Known as the Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway, the program is nothing if not ambitious. Stainless steel tracks would run alongside and above the stretch of Interstate 96 that connects Detroit and Lansing, accommodating a wide range of vehicles built by the Big Three and capable of traveling up to 200 mph. Passengers would board and alight from traveler stations built at each freeway interchange, and rail-mounted solar cells would fuel hydrogen batteries that power the system's magnetic field.

Interstate Traveler Company LLC, the company that designed the system, says the Superhighway will not only move people across the state fast, but will spin off enough surplus energy to power municipal sewer and water, communication, and security systems, and its tracks can be used to house conduit clusters of utility lines and fiber optic cables.

Making this system a reality won't come cheap. The company estimates construction costs of $15 million per mile, but says private investors will put up the entire $2 billion required for the Detroit-Lansing line. That seems to have Michigan lawmakers chomping at the bit.

"This innovative rail system has tremendous potential for Michigan residents, and could be a major catalyst to strengthen our economy and create jobs," said Rep. Bill Rogers, who leads the task force studying the project. "Just as Michigan was the birthplace of the world's first mile of concrete roadway, our state could usher in a new era of transportation with just as much impact as the automobile."

Not so fast, say detractors, who question the wisdom of launching an unproven program in the current economic environment. The Conservative Media, a blog that covers Michigan politics, points out that the maglev project is being discussed at the same time other state public transportation projects are being starved of investment, and TreeHugger wonders if Michigan might not be better off with a more cost-effective, easier to deploy high speed iron wheel line.

But Interstate Traveler says that its superhighway, once deployed alongside all 54,000 miles of the Eisenhower Interstate System, will do much more than solve America's transportation problems. Building a national network, the company says, will require something in the neighborhood of 750 million tons of American made steel, singlehandedly saving that industry.

Staffing the network's traveler stations and associated businesses would create 2.1 million "livable wage" jobs, and the whole enterprise would generate a carbon offset value that exceeds $650 million.

Justin Sutton, the head of Interstate Traveler, says work on the Detroit-Lansing line could begin as early as mid-2010. While we like his vision, we're betting it's going to take longer than that.
EXT Life Sciences, Inc., a biotechnology start-up company spun off from Wayne State University that develops proprietary, targeted antioxidant treatments to slow the aging process, announces the development of a cell-penetrating catalase derivative that eliminates the fundamental cause of graying hair.

EXT’s new compound, called CATSKL™, is the only targeted antioxidant of its kind. EXT co-founder Stanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., a pharmacology professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and a leading authority on the enzyme catalase, says EXT’s discovery and extensive research on targeted antioxidants present a platform for anti-aging products of the future, including shampoos to keep hair from turning gray and creams to keep skin smooth, by counteracting the natural oxidant damage that occurs with the aging process.

“The preservation of good health and youthful appearance well into old age is critical to the EXT mission. Given the dramatic growth of an aging global population, our research presents a transformative development for society while also introducing business opportunities for the cosmeceutical and medical fields,” said Dr. Terlecky.

CATSKL™ is a targeted catalase technology that reintroduces the enzyme into peroxisomes of aged cells to reestablish the balance of pro and anti-oxidants and has already earned patent protection in several countries.

Research by Dr. Terlecky and colleagues points directly at the importance of this equilibrium in thwarting the progression of certain aging parameters. This groundbreaking work has clear implications for the cells of aging hair follicles – where the first visible sign of aging deterioration occurs (as gray hair), as well as in cells corrupted by diseases associated with the aging process, including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

EXT’s announcement occurs as the scientific community deepens its research into aging issues. In a recently published scientific report, researchers at England’s University of Bradford discovered why hair turns gray as it ages. According to the study, hydrogen peroxide accumulates and "bleaches" hair due to the age-related absence of catalase.

Specifically, amassed and highly destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS), often referred to as “free radicals” or “oxidants”, damage melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, because the responsible enzyme, tyrosinase, is inactivated by the high levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Dr. Terlecky says EXT’S research takes the Bradford study further.“EXT not only understands the process that turns hair gray but offers a potentially powerful antidote. Through our research, we have shown that CATSKL™ overcomes the catalase deficiency in a variety of human cell types, including those of the skin, scalp, and hair follicles,” affirms Dr. Terlecky. “We are ahead of the game in terms of nearing the point where we can act on our research and take a product to market.”

About EXT Life Sciences, Inc. (EXT)

Founder, Dr. Stanley R. TerleckyStanley R. Terlecky, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Detroit’s Wayne State University School of Medicine.

His laboratory researches the molecular mechanisms of peroxisome biogenesis in human health, disease and aging. Dr. Terlecky is the author of 39 published articles in various areas of biochemical and cell biological research.

He holds a B.A. from New York University and a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from the Sackler School of Tufts University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Terlecky was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of California, San Diego.

He is a recipient of the National Research Service Award from the NIH, the Basil O’Conner Research Scholar Award from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Wayne State University’s Academy of Scholars Junior Lectureship, and Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Research Excellence and College Teaching Awards.

About EXT Life Sciences, Inc.

EXT is a Michigan-based biotechnology company engaged in developing, manufacturing, and selling new classes of proprietary, targeted antioxidant biologicals to prevent, treat and cure diseases associated with aging in the global pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical markets. EXT, founded in 2004, was initially a joint venture with Wayne State University in Detroit and is now privately held, offering investment opportunities to sophisticated technology investors.

Olga's Kitchen will support the Michigan community by providing a Free Original Olga sandwich on Wednesday, April 8 through Friday April 10, 2009 to anyone presenting a ticket stub from Jay Leno's two tapings at the Palace, Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8. The offer will be good at all Olga's Kitchen restaurants.

Matt Carpenter, President & CEO, Olga's Kitchen, said, "As a successful Michigan based company with over 30 years of creating dining experiences for families, Olga's Kitchen wants to make a difference in the lives of local families by continuing the sensitivity, respect, and concern that Jay Leno has extended to our hard working communities. Through the simple act of providing a free Original Olga sandwich, we hope to continue the good work that Jay Leno has started and challenge other Michigan based businesses to do the same."

The offer will be limited to one per person per ticket stub, dine-in only, no substitutions.

Olga Loizon opened her first restaurant in downtown Birmingham, Michigan in 1970. Olga's Kitchen, Inc. was founded in 1976. Serving lunch and dinner in a sophisticated yet comfortable, healthy environment, Olga's Kitchen is committed to providing the best family casual dining experience.

Olga's Kitchen owns and operates 34 restaurants in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri.

Go to for more information including details about the full menu, and a list of locations.

Olga's Kitchen, Inc. is headquartered at 1940 Northwood Drive, Troy, Michigan. The phone number is 248-362-0001.

Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, announced last week that the organization has been awarded more than $2 million in funding from the Omnibus Authorization Bill, which was signed into law by President Obama.

“We’re very pleased to have received funding for these critical projects,” said Ken Rogers, executive director. “Now, more than ever, we need to create high-technology products, services and jobs. These projects will allow us to better assist our members and the business community in Southeast Michigan. We thank Senator Levin, Senator Stabenow and former Congressman Knollenberg for their support in the last session and also Congressman Peters for his support in this session.”

The first project is a feasibility study on a 4,000 square foot expansion of Automation Alley’s Troy headquarters for $285,000. The current building and property will be reviewed to plan the construction of additional meeting rooms and parking, as well as renovating the facility to host international guests.

Since the building opened in 2004, Automation Alley’s membership has doubled from 500 to more than 1,000 members. Parking has become a challenge from this growth. More than 15,000 people have used Automation Alley’s headquarters in the past two years.

“The City of Troy’s partnership with Automation Alley is vital in promoting business attraction and technology company growth,” said Brian Murphy, assistant city manager/economic development services. “This construction grant will provide for renovation to bolster international business attraction to Troy and Southeast Michigan.”

The remaining two projects – the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center and the BUSolutions project – each received additional funding. The AMTC project will receive $428,000 to train displaced and dislocated adult workers in the advanced manufacturing industry.

“The equipment used in the AMTC program is state-of-the-art for the industry,” said Bill Williams, director of the AMTC program and a consultant for Oakland Schools in Career Focused Education.

“We offer software that is widely used for designing cars, trains, ships, aircraft and other manufactured products. In addition, there is also a broad array of training options for "green" technologies.”

An additional $1.6 million has been allocated to the BUSolutions project, which is a collaborative effort between government and industry, intended to demonstrate the feasibility of producing easily maintainable, efficient city transit buses.

In partnership with Altair Engineering, it is expected that the organizations will complete one prototype bus that will be delivered to SMART in 2010.
Model D

The movies are coming and the Detroit Film Office is trying to make sure Detroiters and their businesses are ready to take advantage of the jobs and contracts that come with them. One of the first steps is a free filmmakers round table on Thursday at the Northwest Activities Center.
"It's an educational symposium," says Stephanie Milledge, director of the Detroit Film Office.
"We're targeting citizens and residents of the city of Detroit and the metropolitan area."
The event will feature panels of actors, caterers, casting directors and others who will speak about their experiences working on movie sets, how they got their jobs and what was expected of them.
"They will explain what has worked for them," Milledge says.The event is from 5-8 p.m. March 19 at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers.
For information, call (313) 224-3400.Source: Stephanie Milledge, director of the Detroit Film Office

It's Jaaaaaaaaaaay Leno!

Associated Press

Leno to give free show for Michigan's unemployed
Jay Leno will offer a little comic relief with a free show next month at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The NBC "Tonight Show" host said on Monday's show the April 7 performance will be for "anybody out of work in Detroit."

People only have to say they're unemployed to get tickets.

Refreshments and parking also will be free when "Jay's Comedy Stimulus Plan" comes to the home of the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

Tickets will be available starting Monday at the Palace box office. Only four tickets will be allowed per person.
The Palace of Auburn Hills has released details for how people can obtain free tickets to an April 7 Jay Leno performance:

Participants must bring a valid Michigan I.D. to the Palace box office, 5 Championship Drive, no earlier than 8 a.m. Monday. Tickets, at a four-per-person limit, will be handed out starting at 10 a.m. Automotion, the Detroit Pistons dance team, will hand out slices of Dominos Pizza to those in line.

Jay Leno's "Stimulus Plan for Unemployed Michiganders" show happens at 8 p.m. April 7. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The parking lot opens at 5 p.m. For more information, call the Palace at 248-377-0100 or visit
Due to popular demand, a second show is slated for Tuesday, April 8.

Celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 324th birthday with the Chamber Ensemble as they perform Brandenburg Concerto #2 in F major, featuring the DSO’s Kevin Good on trumpet.

Featured entrée: Wild mushroom, chicken, and dried cranberry strudelVegetarian option: Wild mushroom and dried cranberry strudel

Seating begins promptly at 11 a.m. with concerts beginning at 12 p.m. Seat assignments are based on the date tickets were purchased. Tables for two may be requested, but availability is limited. When such tables are not available, small groups will be seated together at large tables. Performances are approximately one hour long.

Brunch & Concert
Ticket Price: $35 (not intended for children under 7 years of age). Concert tickets include a hot entrée, fresh fruit, breakfast breads, coffee, tea and juice. Vegetarian entrees, which are also vegan must be requested when ordering tickets. Museum admission ($8 value) included. Excludes ticketed exhibitions.

Concert-Only SeatingConcert-only seats are $15 each. Tickets may be purchased in advance and, if available, on the day of the performance. Museum admission ($8 value) included. Excludes ticketed exhibitions.

Tickets may be purchased online. You may also order by calling the Box Office at 313.833.4005 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Reservations will be held at the door. No tickets will be mailed. Tickets are non-refundable.
Jason Beck

Jim Leyland had plenty to worry about on Saturday, from Jeremy Bonderman's return from a sore shoulder in a morning camp game to Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson making their latest outings in the afternoon.

So given the questions he has to try to answer this Spring Training, he could be excused if he had a smile on his face as he gave up his manager's chair for a couple of minutes.
Ben Meisner studied up for his stint as manager for a day, including what to look for in the camp game, and the Southfield, Mich., native was anxiously anticipating the behind-the-scenes experience of a day at Spring Training. And when someone remarked that Meisner looked comfortable in the chair, Leyland was quick with a reaction.

"Well, there are a lot of guys that want that chair," Leyland said. "He might have it."

At least he seemed to bring some luck to camp with him for the Tigers, whose 10-4 win over the Blue Jays marked just their second win in their past eight games.

The Tigers and Leyland have used the idea of allowing a fan to be a manager for a day as a way to raise money for charity over the last few years. This year's honor was part of a charity auction during the Tigers' winter caravan in January, raising money for the Detroit Tigers Auction.

"This is an actual physical experience," Leyland said. "This is a little different from your normal charity thing. That's why I like it."

Howard Goldman had the winning bid, but when he realized a few weeks ago that he couldn't make it, he gave it as a gift to Meisner, whose father Irving is a lifelong Tigers fan who took Goldman with him to the 1968 World Series. And the younger Meisner returned the favor by taking his father with him on this trip.

Meisner, who lives in Chicago, followed Leyland for much of the day once he arrived in the clubhouse at 8:45 a.m. He took in the camp game with Leyland and Tigers officials and had a chance to observe the evaluation process.

"I've never seen the behind-the-scenes stuff," Meisner said. "To see the intersquad game, I was really excited to see Bonderman pitch and see if Bloom could get out lefties. I read all that stuff, but to actually be able to get a chance to watch Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland assess that was amazing."

Later, as the rest of the Tigers took batting practice, Meisner shagged fly balls in the outfield and chatted with Nate Robertson.

Once the game began, Meisner was seated beside Leyland just outside the Tiger dugout, watching the game and listening to Leyland as he explained some of his observations as the game went along.

"The size, speed, talent -- it's amazing," Meisner said. "I've been to 500 baseball games in my life, and to sit next to Jim Leyland and talk about the game (was great). I've watched a lot of baseball, and you think you know a lot about the game until you sit next to someone where that's their job. It was so cool to watch and see how he reacts, watch how he handles people."
The Associated Press

Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, a noted philanthropist who was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame last year, has died. He was 86.

The team said in a release early Saturday that Davidson died Friday at his Bloomfield Hills home with family at his side.

"The entire Palace family is mourning the loss of Mr. Davidson," Tom Wilson, president of Palace Sports and Entertainment and the Pistons, said in the release. "He was truly a pioneer in so many ways. His legacy will live forever."

Davidson also owned the WNBA's Detroit Shock and Palace Sports & Entertainment, comprising The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Davidson's name was rarely in the headlines, but he was one of the most successful and innovative owners in professional sports. Under his ownership, the Pistons won three NBA championships, the Detroit Shock won three WNBA championships and the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.

He was the first owner in the NBA to provide his team their own private jet, and he was the first to include luxury suites in his privately-funded arena, the Palace of Auburn Hills.

In the years that followed, nearly every team has followed in his footsteps, and even though the Palace is now one of the oldest buildings in the league, it remains one of the league's premier home courts.

Last summer, Davidson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, not only recognized for his teams' success on the court but also credited for sharing his business acumen to help the league solidify its standing domestically and expanding its marketing reach internationally.

"Over the last 35 years, Bill Davidson's impact on the sports world and the NBA in particular has truly been legendary," David Stern said in a statement released by the NBA.

"From his seven championships in three different leagues during his Hall of Fame career to his incredible business successes to his extraordinary community service, Bill set a standard for ownership in sports that will be difficult for anyone to match. The NBA family has lost an innovative thinker, a visionary businessman and most importantly, a trusted friend. I want to extend our condolences to Karen and the entire Davidson family during this time. Bill's influence on our league will never be forgotten."

As CEO of the privately-held Guardian Industries, Davidson employed over 19,000 people while becoming one of the wealthiest people in country. Although he was most famous as the owner of the Pistons, Davidson was also an extremely generous supporter of the arts and charitable causes, giving over $200 million to various universities, hospitals, orchestras and other organizations over the years.

In addition, Davidson was the founder and the guiding force behind the University of Michigan's The William Davidson Institute, which was created in 1992 to study worldwide market economies.

In a press release, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said Davison's impact on the college would "last for generations."

"His generosity as an adviser, a business executive and a philanthropist enhanced the teaching and research experience for U-M students and faculty," Coleman said. "He did not hesitate to share his knowledge and expertise and our university is stronger for it."

Davidson donated $5 million for the construction of facilities at the Michigan business school, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1947.

By June 2007, his gifts to the university totaled $59.8 million.

Forbes magazine ranked the Bloomfield Hills billionaire as one of the richest people in Michigan, tied for 68th in the country.

But Davison shied away from the limelight. He granted only a handful of interviews and turned down requests for dozens more.

"I just don't want to be a public figure," he told The Associated Press in 2004. "I don't see any point in it."

Services are scheduled for Tuesday at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, according to the Ira Kaufman Chapel Funeral Home. A cause of death was not immediately known.
The Detroit News

There are "two great days in Detroit" for Ryan O'Halloran -- "Opening Day and the St. Patrick's Day parade."

"That's when everyone from all over comes out and has a good time," the 28-year-old Royal Oak resident said as friend Koebe Mosher nodded in agreement.

The two were among hundreds who gathered in the sunshine along Michigan Avenue on Sunday afternoon for the 51st annual St.
Patrick's Day parade in Corktown.
Highlighting the parade theme "The Irish were Green before it was cool," many were decked out in their best green attire waving Irish flags while taking part in numerous tailgates in parking lots such as Maxies Deli across from the old Tiger stadium.

Vendors selling St. Paddy's hats, necklaces, bags, shamrock sunglasses and more were also out in full force.

The two-hour festivities kicked off at Sixth Street and moved west toward 14th Street with horse-drawn carriages, clowns zipping by on miniature motorcycles and parade participants throwing beads and candy to spectators. Some onlookers wearing green wigs watched the parade from roof tops and cheered as five DeLorean sports cars manufactured in Northern Ireland cruised by with the doors raised open.

Various bands including the Wyandotte Marching Chiefs marching band also got people off the curbs and out of their lawn chairs dancing. But the best part for Jim Doyle of St. Clair was listening to the bagpipers and drummers clad in kilts, he said.

"I love listening to them because it's all about ... the history. It doesn't get any better than that," Doyle said. "This entire event gives people a sense of community."

Kathi Kelly agrees. She drove down from Gaylord to share her family's Irish roots with her two grandchildren attending their first St. Patrick's Day parade in Detroit.

"I grew up in the Metro area and have attended many of these parades. I love the camaraderie and it's such a happy time. If you look around everyone is smiling," Kelly said. "So I couldn't miss out on sharing this experience with granddaughter and grandson. It's very exciting seeing their responses to everything."

Kelly's five-year-old grandson Andrew Whitman of Brownstown watched with glee as a dog dressed in a green hat and beads zipped by in a remote controlled car.

"Wow!" he shouted pointing at the car. "This is really fun."

Ferndale released a ray of light recently in announcing its better-than-expected growth rate.

Last year, 26 businesses opened their doors which is a net gain of 233 percent according to the Ferndale Downtown District Authority.

290 jobs were created.

“These jobs are opportunities for our residents to round out the local economy and support it by shopping and dining here. Jobs generate jobs, the formula works and Downtown Ferndale is the proof,” said Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the DDA.

The investments were large.

Leading the charts is the private/public investment figure of $20.1 million, a 299 percent increase from 2007. Significant contributors are the $9 million generated by the Lofts on 9 condominium project and $5 million from the Foley Mansfield Law firm rehabilitation of the historical library.

“The Lofts on 9 and the Foley Mansfield projects were certainly major, but it is even more important that our totals are based on decisions made by many different investors,” Sheppard-Decius said. “We were not reliant on, nor are we depending on, one single project or one single investor, and that is true for the year ahead. We already have projects in the pipeline or ongoing for 2009.”

What's the secret to Ferndale's success?

“I am asked that question all the time,” City Manager Bob Bruner said. “If I had the exact formula I could write a book. But, a key factor is that this a very open-minded community. It's inclusive. People here are very active, they don't just move here and sit back and do nothing.”

Bruner said there is high energy and participation from the residents who organize community events, work to make sure the city is diverse and accepting to all people, and strongly support their local businesses.

Businesses want to be part of the city.

Valerie Traylor, who owns Thicke Madam Boutique on Nine Mile Road, agreed. Thicke Madam was located in Oak Park for nearly two years, but Traylor and her business partner/daughter Shannon Eaddy decided that Ferndale's walking community would be a strong asset for the store.
“We have more visibility.”

Thicke Madam is a clothing boutique with clothes that are “jazzy and classy for plus sizes,” Traylor said.

Beverly Banton, owner of Unique Expressions on Woodward, said she decided to relocate her successful Southfield business to Ferndale because of the vibe that residents and the city have created. Unique Expressions carries branded merchandise for businesses.

“I needed a bigger building for my business and this one is beautiful,” Banton said. “Ferndale has blossomed in the past two years and the city itself has created an atmosphere that makes you want to be a part of it.”

Ferndale residents invest in their city. In the 90s they approved $60 million for infrastructure improvements, Bruner said. Nearly every street in the city has been resurfaced or rebuilt within the past 10 years.

“I tell other cities ... if you can figure out a way to attract people with that energy and openness — and a willingness to invest in their community — it's the secret sauce.”
Good bones help too.

In 1927 (when Ferndale began), it was created as a compact walking city with a traditional downtown and tree-lined streets.

“I think that compact community is back in style. So we began with strong bones,” Bruner said.
Sheppard-Decuius said the city has many reasons to be proud.

“We have exceeded expectations at every indicator,” she said.

The 2008 statistics indicate phenomenal growth and reinvestment in all segments of the market, from housing to retail to restaurant to business.

“Our programs are working, our downtown is thriving, we remain strong .”

Other new investments include 28 building rehabilitations such as the new billiard hall The Loving Touch and flower shop Blumz by JR Designs. Go Comedy! opened last year too, adding yet another entertainment destination to the city.

Greektown Casino-Hotel officials announced today that market share increased from January 2009 to February 2009 by nearly one percent and represents the first market share increase for the property since September 2008.

Greektown Casino also showed positive year-over-year February revenue numbers, with an increase of 1.89 percent, in relation to February 2008.

February 2009 revenue is the highest for the company since it filed for Bankruptcy in May 2008. In addition, the company is also exceeding internal financial projections and expected hotel occupancy rates.

"Our numbers are positive compared to last year and that represents a great new beginning for Greektown. The market share increase from last month to this month indicates signs of a positive trend. The Fine Point Group was selected to turn this property around, and while we are a long way from being out of the woods, we are excited about the new momentum and are looking forward to continued progress," said Randall A. Fine, Managing Director of The Fine Point Group and soon to be Chief Executive Officer of Greektown Casino-Hotel pending regulatory approvals.

In recent weeks, Greektown Casino-Hotel embarked on a new marketing program including hotel incentives for players, a starting room rate of just $99, several casino promotions with chances to win a "life changing" amount of money such as "Spin to Win $1 Million" and "Sure Win Hot Seat."

"While the revenue numbers look great, anyone can grow the topline if they lose focus on profitability. At Greektown, we are also exceeding all of our internal profitability projections and goals - by 30 percent in January and 80 percent in February. The new hotel tower is doing great as well, with 60 percent weekday and 80 to 100 percent occupancy on weekends. We're pushing an aggressive marketing campaign and we've begun to see positive numbers as a result. We are going to show the people of Detroit that no one will work harder for their business," said Fine.

Located at 555 E. Lafayette Avenue in Detroit's Greektown Entertainment District, Greektown Casino-Hotel opened on Nov. 10, 2000.

Greektown Casino-Hotel offers such amenities as their all-new International Buffet, the Eclipz Lounge and a VIP lounge for players.

Greektown Casino-Hotel opened its new 400-room hotel tower February 2009.

For reservations and group events, call 877-GCH-5554 or visit


Dorian Moore
In a previous post I talked about the need for cities to look at their situations as-is.

This leads to uncovering opportunities that exploit a city’s “uniqueness."

The City of the Past thrived on communal interaction out of necessity.

The City of the Present has an emphasis on private space aided and abetted by personal electronics.

The City of the Opportunity embraces adaptive reuse of place and space as a primary “organizing” theme.

Urban areas are uniquely equipped to provide this type of experience because of the concentration of the built “infrastructure” of buildings, open space, and landmarks, which create an environment of intense energy.

Understanding the roles that all three of the above elements play will be important in dealing with nature as a desirable amenity within the city will be paramount to counteract the rapid suburbanization of our country in the latter half of the 20th century. To ease the now inbred misunderstanding of the virtue of density among American citizens, natural elements must coexist with, but not dominate, the urban realm.

The Non-Motorized Urban Transportation Masterplan for Detroit is an example of opportunistic thinking in action. When you think of it what better place for this than the city that is known for the auto and yet 30% of its populace doesn’t own one?


The trials and tribulations of Detroit have been well documented:

-population loss to below 1 million after peaking at 2 million in the 1950s
-racial polarization
-economic disinvestment leading to physical devastation

The intrigue of Detroit stems from the fact that it is “shrinking” yet this shrinking is just the thing that is providing it with unparalleled opportunities for [re]development. The urban condition has become much more than the “hole in the donut”. It is a tattered tapestry. Thing that makes any tapestry, though, is the quality of the connections.

Detroit has (de)veloped into a series of destinations that are disconnected. Currently, “The City” (i.e.,government) and designers are searching for ways to link these pieces utilizing unique functions. We can understand how this situation is being reversed by looking at the city in relation to how it is [re]forming itself.

The following three areas, if successfully handled, could hold the answer for the rebirth of the city:

“Creative Economies”
Green development principles provide opportunities to rethink the way urban space works as well as how the urban economy flows.

“Opportunity-based Redevelopment”
Adaptive reuse of buildings and sites becomes a change agent by providing the opportunity to inject new functions into existing areas, creating catalysts for change.

“Transitions of Activity”
These areas are of primary concern. They hold the key to urban restructuring in many post-industrial cities. Detroit is specifically rethinking its core with “gaming” facilities as well as grass roots appropriation of public space. This approach fills needs on both ends of the socio-economic spectrum, but it does not help to “heal” the city overall. It represents both hope and despair.

Interestingly, though, Detroit has embarked on an endeavor that can fulfill this goal: a master plan for a Non-Motorized Path System for the entire city. 139 square miles of walking trails, greenways, and bicycle paths that will be used to provide connectivity between the numerous disparate nodes within the city. This plan, once implemented will provide non-car dependant mobility options for citizens of the “Motor City."

This is crucial in a city where more than half the population depends on public transportation that consists only of buses. I have been fortunate to be one the urban design consultants on this unique initiative5. This initiative takes advantage of the “opportunity” that underutilized streets, parks, districts, and rights-of-way provide. It attempts to stitch together the tattered tapestry.


A. Design Team planning process

a. Destination Analysis
b. Route Analysis
c. Infrastructure Inventory
d. Intra-city connectivity

B. Public Involvement process

The process of realizing the Non-Motorized Path system involved community input at multiple levels. The design team conducted workshops in communities on all sides of the city. The team also worked closely with the Parks and Recreation department and the Department of Streets and Roads. The overwhelming vacancy in the city became a positive for realizing the project. The openness fostered creativity in planning as well as responding to residents needs.

C. Guidelines

a. Bike Lanes
b. Trailways
c. Greenways


A. Recommendations
B. Educating the Public
C. Encouraging usage
D. Enforcing rules of engagement


Towards a Better Community
A new urban environment is created by combining the traditional planning of urban areas with new technologies and aesthetics. The buildings respect the scale of the pedestrian and also provide interesting and engaging storefronts to make for a pleasurable experience. The area contains a healthy mix of housing, shopping, entertainment, and office functions. Again, this a traditional model for healthy urban development realized in a decidedly contemporary aesthetic. True urban space is created. Older, primarily industrial, American cities which typically have large areas of urban blight must embrace this concept of creating healing environments from the decay. Creating multi-functioning environments within the gaping holes in the existing fabric is an area where the city of the future can make the largest stride towards completely recapturing the spirit of community. A key element in doing this will be a connecting system that embraces, rather than fights, the existing paradigm.

It's such a breath of fresh air to read an article that sheds some positive light on Detroit. Every time I do, I make sure to share it with as many people as possible because we're all drowning in a sea of negativity on a daily basis.

Jeff Barr from the Kalamazoo Gazette shows some love for Detroit in his recent article about a Motown weekend getaway. In one article, Jeff sums up the message various organizations in southeast Michigan are trying to get across to the rest of the world, and sadly the majority of Michigan: Detroit truly has a lot to offer.

Jeff and his wife drove the two hours east from the K-zoo to Detroit - the "big-time city that often gets a big-time bad rap." The couple discovered just how fun and exciting Detroit can be, and I thank Jeff for putting his weekend into words to share this experience with the many skeptics.

Jeff highlights a variety of Detroit locations, including the Ren Cen Marriott, 42 Degrees North and Volt in the Ren Cen, the Fox Theater and of course, American Coney Island.

The entire weekend Jeff and his wife were in Detroit, they encountered not one of Detroit's typical stereotypes (you know, drug deals on every street corner and the constant ear-splitting sound of gun shots). They simply had a great vacation that didn't require the typical expenditures or travel hassle that accompanies many trips.

Take a few minutes to read the entire article. We all need a reminder that there are many reasons why we choose to live, work and play in Detroit.

Biggby Coffee Rules Social Media

You don't have to be a big company to be big in social media. Sure, large companies like Ford and GM have directors of social media on staff, but smaller companies who commit to it can make a big impact, too.

In fact, they just may be able to do it better. Such is the case with Biggby Coffee, a coffee chain of around 150 shops based out of East Lansing, Michigan.

Their whole vibe is an anti-Starbucks, fun and friendly vibe. And they're big into creating engagement with both their customers and their employees.

I'd seen Biggby Coffee shops going up around town here and decided to check them out online. Right away, they engage you when you land on the homepage. You can customize it with your own name and your choice of 5 backgrounds. There's also a trivia game you can play. But, the real engagement occurs when you enter the B Happy Lounge.

Near the top of the page, their logo keeps opening and shutting with CEO Biggby Bob popping his head out and inviting you into the lounge. Once there, you have a number of things to do and links to all their social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Biggby Bob's Blog, a YouTube channel, Flickr and LinkedIn.

The first place I went was an area in the lounge that invites customers to upload a picture to enter into Biggby's "Let's Travel The World Together" photo contest. All you have to do is take a picture of anything anywhere as long as it has a Biggby cup in the shot.

There are monthly and yearly winners, It's perfect to engage the rabid fan who's going to enter, but also to engage the casual fan who just enjoys viewing the photos - each a consumer generated subtle ad for Biggby.

The CEO, Biggby Bob writes the ongoing commentary for the Twitter account and uses it very effectively. It's the right mix of personal, business and fun tweets. He keeps up a pretty steady stream and was pretty quick to reply when I sent him a tweet - something you'd never get from a big company CEO. Plus, they do a good job of combining customer engagement with promotion.
On different days, they do a Spot Bob promotion, where Biggby Bob sends out tweets that he will be at a certain store during a set time frame. If you spot him and come up and talk to him, he'll buy your drink. I think that's a brilliant use of social media. It drives customers to your store for a free trial and a chance to chat with a CEO. But it's done in a non-selling way, one that is acceptable in a social media setting. Plus, the company gets ongoing, instant feedback from its customers during these chats.

Their YouTube channel is a way to connect with both the customer base and the employees. Much of the videos there are interviews Biggby Bob did with his hand held camera in different stores with the winners of their barista competition.

Fans can nominate their favorite barista for the honor on Biggby's Facebook fan pageand see their winning barista talk on the YouTube channel. And when you become a fan on Facebook, a day or so later you get a friend invitation from Biggby Bob, generating yet another connection to me, the customer. Bob often records random videos of stuff on his travels from store to store and posts them on the Facebook sites.

With all this and many other things they're doing, Biggby shows that by being committed to it, you can create a strong, multi-channel social media campaign that connects and engages your fans in so many ways, no matter what your size. And they carry that vibe into the store experience, too. My visits so far have found the same commitment to engaging their customers on the employee level, in person, as they do on a corporate level online. They brew a pretty darn good cup of coffee, too.

To find the Biggby in your backyard, click here.
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Building with the Dairy Queen

This afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that 10 players from Team USA will be on The Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night to read the Top Ten list:

Top Ten Reasons to Watch the World Baseball Classic

Here are the details from CBS:

The 10 Team USA players taking part in the Top Ten List are: Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees; David Wright from the New York Mets; Chipper Jones from the Atlanta Braves; Ryan Braun from the Milwaukee Brewers; Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies; Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox; Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers; Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros; and Adam Dunn from the Washington Nationals.
So Curtis won't be sitting down to chat with Letterman (someday, maybe), but the rest of Thursday's show should be great, with Jon Stewart and U2 as guests. (U2 is actually the musical guest for the whole week.) Set your DVRs!
AJ's Cafe of Ferndale is planning to break the Guinness record for "longest concert by multiple artists" when it hosts a 10-day continuous musical tribute to the American auto industry.

The 240-hour "Assembly Line" show -- planned for March 20-30 -- will be hosted by AJ's Cafe in Ferndale, MI, the latest in a series of events planned by cafe owner and community activist AJ O'Neil.

O'Neil made headlines in March 2007, when he hosted a 50-hour "Danny Boy" marathon. He recently made national news again with his offer of a free cup of coffee to customers who pledge to buy American cars.

The Assembly Line concert will bring the two worlds together as the music marathon pays tribute to American workers, products and automobiles. The Danny Boy marathon attracted singers ranging from local business owners to the governor of Michigan.

The Assembly Line will also call on musicians from all segments of society to come together in the heart of hard-hit Main Street America and help pay tribute to the down, but not out, American worker.

"We call on every manufacturing plant, every car dealership, garage mechanic to join us," O'Neil said. "We call on politicians, loan officers, credit agencies, builders to join us. We call for music to heal us.

"We call on the corporate world to join us to help us in our Main Street solution to this American challenge."

The Assembly Line Concert will feature at least 240 acts, performing for 240 hours, nonstop, at AJ's Cafe, 240 Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI.

Each of the 10 days will highlight different aspects of the American partnership between workers, employers, politicians and the media.

One day, political leaders will play 24, one-hour sets; another day, auto workers; and another day, local Detroit bands. Even members of the media will have their own day to play and be a part of the big news event.

If anybody can pull off an event like this, it's AJ O'Neil, who has a history of bringing the community together for special events and causes.

In December, what began as O'Neil's small effort to show support for a bridge loan to the Big Three automakers grew into a movement and generated media coverage nationwide.

His offer of a free cup of coffee to customers who sign a promise that they will buy an American-made car prompted an overwhelming response that resulted not only in O'Neil briefly running out of coffee, but also a new Web site:, and social networking site: The online community has been growing ever since, and O'Neil plans on tying the effort to his Assembly Line concert idea.

O'Neil's 50-hour "Danny Boy" marathon last year brought prominent politicians, including Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, to his coffee shop stage.

The marathon inspired a book about how the community came together for the marathon -- and about O'Neil's personal struggles. "In Sunlight or in Shadow," by Karen Wilhelm, is scheduled for release in February.

AJ's Music Cafe is located at 240 W. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale, MI.

You can contact O'Neil at 248-399-3946 or e-mail him at

Gary Heitman of Plymouth is just one example of how changing careers can change your life.

Eyeing the repeated rounds of layoffs at Ford, IT manager Gary Heitman didn't need a GPS to know which direction his 30-year career with the automaker was heading.

So he volunteered for a buyout in 2006, figuring the next offer might not be so generous.

Heitman, who'd been making $160,000 a year, knew he couldn't afford to retire on a pension of half his salary.

The widower had two teenagers, Ashley, now 17, and Derek, 14, to raise and put through school.

He also knew that finding a comparable IT job at his age would be tough.

So Heitman worked his contacts and said yes to a $60-an-hour parttime job scouting new business for a staffing agency he'd worked with at Ford.

The salary, plus his pension, brings him close to his former income, so his retirement plans -- he hopes to quit by 2013 -- are intact. The bonus: He gets to spend more time with his kids. Even on the days he travels, he's home in time to make dinner.

Gary was featured in Money Magazine as part of a story called "Rescue Your Retirement."

He has the following advice for others who want to pick themselves up and start over:

Use your network of family, friends and business associates
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Always maintain a positive attitude
Develop a powerful resume
Be prepared to work hard
Take advantage of free resources offered by colleges, churches or government programs

Do you have a story similar to Gary's? Click on the envelope icon below and email me your story. It could be the next featured article on Positive Detroit!

Detroit: Doing Right by the Waterfront

John Davidson

When it comes to city planning and urban environments, Detroit isn't usually the first place to look for examples of how to do it right. Not that there hasn't been some creative revitalization downtown in recent years, but significant sections of the city's core were abandoned or razed long ago, and remain that way—part of Detroit's troubled history, which it is now struggling mightily to overcome.

Part of that tension is playing out on the city's waterfront. Like Philadelphia, Detroit has a sizeable, underused waterfront, which is in the process of being renewed and reinvented as a center of civic life and pedestrian use.

The Detroit River, like the Delaware River, was once a bustling center of shipping and commerce. In the early 20th century, the river was dubbed "The Greatest Commercial Artery on Earth," with more shipping tonnage passing through the Motor City than either New York or London.
Later in the century, as everyone knows, the city fell on hard times and the river's industrial might declined. The waterfront languished there as it did in Philadelphia—a unique urban asset cut off from residents and the life of downtown.

But Detroit, ever the city committed to renaissance, began to change things. In 2003, the powers that be commissioned a study that resulted in the creation of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy a public-private partnership whose stated purpose was to clean up and improve the city's waterfront.

It identified an area designated as the Detroit International Riverfront, which extends from the Ambassador Bridge to the Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Belle Isle Bridge, about a five-mile span of waterfront next to downtown.

The DRFC's efforts have thus far focused largely on the RiverWalk, a continuous expanse of parks, promenades and green spaces. The East Riverfront, a 3.5-mile span from the Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park near Belle Isle, has seen the lion's share of development, which began in earnest in 2007.

Since then, various public spaces have been opening along the river and connecting waterfront landmarks like the Renaissance Center, GM Plaza and Tri-Centennial State Park with a patchwork of wide promenades, parks and large pavilions.

The development of Detroit's riverfront actually stands in contrast, in terms of scale, to much of the rest of the city. Built to service the automobile, Detroit is not laid out with pedestrians in mind: wide swaths of pavement cut through downtown, making travel by vehicle a near necessity.

Not so with the new RiverWalk; it is in every way built to a human scale, catering to walkers, bikers, strollers and joggers.

The RiverWalk development plan includes transforming parking lots like these near the waterfront into green spaces, and in some cases, into luxury housing developments.

Part of the RiverWalk construction has involved reclaiming vast downtown parking lots that nearly abut the riverbank. In their place will eventually be wide swaths of green space and footpaths leading to the water. In fact, if the design principles employed on the city's waterfront were somehow extended throughout the city, Detroit would be the picture of a modern, sustainable urban center.

The success of the project is instructive for Philadelphia—or any modern city with a post-industrial waterfront. Detroit's now-bustling, pedestrian-centered waterfront, once designed and built entirely for industrial use, now includes the former grounds of factories like the Uniroyal tire plant and Medusa cement company. Private land that had impeded public access to the river was acquired.

The waterfront's economic appeal now lies in how it can serve individuals, both as a place to exercise and play, and as a focal point for festivals, concerts, and outdoor exhibits.

Among the more popular events held on the riverfront are GM Days, a four-day festival that draws some 700,000 attendees annually; and Rockin' on the Riverfront, which brings free Friday concerts beginning in April.

The East River Front has also helped bring in private development; million-dollar condos like Watermark Detroit are going up, enticed partly by the appeal of a vibrant, active waterfront.

That said, development of the East Riverfront has not been cheap. To date, the DRFC has raised $102 million toward its capital campaign goal of $140 million. The most recent contribution came in December, when Wayne County contributed $1 million. But money needs to keep coming in if work is going to move forward. In September, construction began on the expansion of Tricentennial State Park and Harbor—a project managers have said will take 275 days to complete.

Gabriel Richard Park, the eastern most point for the RiverWalk, is located just east of the Belle Isle Bridge and directly across the Detroit River from Belle Isle. The DRFC recently improved the park with a plaza and pavilion.

But so far, Detroit's ambitious waterfront plan seems to be working. The use of a public-private partnership in the form of the DRFC is analogous, in many ways, to Philadelphia's Action Plan for the Central Delaware. That plan, crafted by the Central Delaware Advocacy Group and Penn Praxis, in cooperation with city residents, will see funding from both public and private sources in the coming years, much like the DRFC's East Riverfront plan has.

Once you get away from the waterfront, much of Detroit is built for vehicles. In contrast to the walkable, pedestrian-scale riverfront, Detroit has many wide, multi-lane streets cutting through its downtown.

And if Detroit's experience is any indication, then it just might work.
Detroit Free Press

Thirty-five filmmakers qualified for $48 million in payments from state government for work done in Michigan during the first 10 months operation of an incentive program enacted last year by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature, according to a film office report the Free Press obtained today.

The tally includes 22 feature films, a pair of television movies, two TV pilots, a reality show and four documentaries.

Filmmakers spent about $125 million in Michigan on the projects.

The report did not break down spending on individual films because the law restricts release to the public of financial information about any of the projects.

The most well-known productions in Michigan have been “Gran Torino,” produced by Clint Eastwood, and “Prayers for Bobby,” a television movie produced by Sigourney Weaver.

The 35 projects resulted in employment of about 2,800 people, the film office said. Seventy-one projects have been okayed for incentive payments (worth up to 42% of production costs), but have not yet been completed or sought post-production certification to qualify for state incentive payments.

The report also cites two large scale studio projects announced last month in Detroit and Pontiac which it says are “laying the foundation for an industry that will support long term growth.”

State Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, said he’s heard nothing but positives about the local surge in activity by filmmakers and others (the incentives are available to video game makers, animators and others as well).

“I think it’s been very positive,” said Basham, who is working with officials in Allen Park trying to attract another studio project.

I say, ‘If they’re going to be making ‘em, why not make ‘em in Michigan.”

Steven Miller, director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Michigan State University, said there is no question the incentives are “creating activity in Michigan.”

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Abick's Bar, located at 3500 Gilbert in Detroit, will once again host the popular "Prime Your Pump for Patty's Day" charity benefit on Friday, March 13 at 7:00pm.

All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

Founded in Detroit in 1952, the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is a statewide organization that provides information, financial assistance, and emotional support to families of adults and children affected by blood disorders.

Betsy Bonnell, Director of Development for the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan notes that the organization does not receive government funding of any kind.

"We rely wholly on the generosity of individuals. The significance of events like this is that the money is raised here and stays here."

The charity benefit, which is co-sponsored by Sure Shot Darts, will run dart tournaments during the night with trophies and cash prizes going to first and second place winners.

The event will feature a live auction, to include tickets and autographed memorabilia from the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers, bar mirrors, and much more.

There will also be plenty of the homemade food that has become a staple of Abick's events.
There is no cover charge for this event.
Detroit Free Press
Detroit’s status as the bowling capital of the world has been given a major reinforcement from the Professional Bowlers Association.

The PBA is planning to announce that all seven tournaments that will constitute the first half of the 2009-10 season, along with ancillary events, will be conducted in suburban Detroit.

Billed as the World Series of Bowling, the events will run from Aug. 1-Sept. 7 with the kickoff tournament, the PBA Motor City Open, Aug. 1-6 at Taylor Lanes, a longtime PBA host.

The rest of the events, including six exempt PBA Lumber Liquidator Tour events, the return of the PBA Women’s series and a revamped PBA Senior Tour World Championship, will be at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park. The concluding tournament will be the PBA World Championship, one of the tour’s four major events.

“We are thrilled to host this revolutionary month in PBA Tour history,” said Thunderbowl proprietor Tom Strobl. “Detroit’s passionate bowling fans are in for a treat.”

Mark Martin, association manager for the Metro Detroit USBC is excited about the tournament marathon.

“Detroit has a long history in bowling and we welcome the PBA for this one-of-a-kind set of events,” Martin said. “The Metro Detroit USBC will gladly work with the PBA and the host centers in making this venture asuccess."

The tournament finals, except for the World Championship, will be taped and aired on ESPN from mid-October to early December, the PBA’s traditional fall season. The series will close with a live telecast of the finals of the World Championship, featuring the four finalists determined at Thunderbowl in September.

Producing multiple television shows in one location will mean significant savings for the PBA and will also save the 200-300 bowlers involved a lot of travel money.

The January-April second half of the tour will follow the tradition pattern with live Sunday telecasts.
The Tour will travel to at least 10 cities for the events, which will include the remaining major championships the United States Bowling Congress Masters (with defending champion John Nolen of Watrford), the PBA Tournament of Champions and the U.S. Open.

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) today announced a first wave of $11 million in grants to organizations driving economic change in southeast Michigan.

"NEI is dedicated to helping our community respond and look forward," said Steve Hamp, chair of the NEI governing council.
"We want the community to know NEI is working to help lay the building blocks for economic renewal."

"These grants are examples of how our region can build on its strengths, and overcome barriers to economic opportunity," said John Austin, executive director of NEI. "Together they contribute to creating new jobs, and a more diverse industry-base in the region."

To enhance Detroit's creative sector in the arts, media, design, architecture, music and film, and implement the Creative Corridor initiative led by the Detroit Renaissance, NEI announced:

A $2.5 million grant to the University Cultural Center Association as part of a $37 million project to develop a dense residential and business arts district in the Sugar Hill neighborhood - building on the rich history of music, art and related enterprise in Detroit.

A $3 million grant to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) to fund the "Argonaut Project," - the development of the Alfred Kahn building in the New Center area as a world center of teaching, learning and business incubation in the arts, media, design and related fields. The project also provides expanded educational opportunities in creative occupations, including new charter middle and high schools that will provide a pipeline for Detroit youth to these growing industries.
To grow the health, medicine and bio-science industry NEI announced grants, including:

A $750,000 grant to Ann Arbor SPARK to open the Michigan Life Sciences and Innovation Center, providing a business incubation complex for life-sciences firms and entrepreneurs.
A $42,500 grant to the Detroit Renaissance to support the planning by Renaissance, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and other regional economic development organizations to expand the health and life-sciences industry in southeast Michigan.

To support greater entrepreneurship, NEI is investing to commercialize new technologies and train the next generation of Detroit entrepreneurs, including:

A $1.5 million grant to The Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE), a consortium of Michigan's 15 public universities formed to accelerate the movement of ideas from university research to job-producing new enterprises. The grant will allow the Consortium to support 20 new start-up businesses and entrepreneur initiatives.

A $950,000 grant to Bizdom University, an entrepreneurial boot camp located on the campus of Wayne State University. Bizdom U trains talented young adults as entrepreneurs and helps them launch new businesses in the city of Detroit. The grant from NEI will enable Bizdom U to double participant enrollment in the 2008-2009 program session.

To keep talented young people in the region, applying their skills to create Michigan's economic future, NEI announced:

A $1.9 million grant to the Detroit Regional Chamber to support the implementation of a statewide system to place 25,000 Michigan college students in internships while they are school in Michigan, increasing the likelihood that they will stay in the state after graduation.

Finally, to support a true message about the region's economic strengths and opportunities, NEI announced:

A $400,000 grant to the Detroit Renaissance for the Detroit News Bureau, focused on sharing stories of economic growth and transformation throughout the region.

The New Economy Initiative is one of the nation's most expansive philanthropic partnerships dedicated to economic transformation in the region hardest hit by manufacturing job loss and the global economic crisis.
NEI includes $100 million in funding commitments from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit), the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield, Michigan), the Ford Foundation (New York), the Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Michigan), the John S. and James L .Knight Foundation (Miami), The Kresge Foundation (Troy, Michigan), the McGregor Fund (Detroit), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, Michigan), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit).
The 10 participating foundations are leading the implementation and governance of the Initiative. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which initiated the collaborative, is serving as its administrative home.