By Matt Jachman
An Internet-based resource for people around the country who are relocating has recognized the Plymouth area for the second straight year.

The Plymouth community — the city and the township together — was named one of the top 100 places to live Tuesday by The area also made the list in 2008.

The Plymouth area joins Rochester Hills and Hudsonville as the three Michigan communities on the list, which was whittled from more than 1,800 nominees.

“We all knew the Plymouth community was a great place, but it's special when somebody from the outside looks at 1,800 communities and recognizes” Plymouth and Plymouth Township, said Richard Reaume, the township supervisor.

A press release said feedback from residents and local leaders, plus statistics on crime, education, employment and more in the nominated communities, were studied before selections were made.

Wes Graff, executive director of the Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce, filled out a questionnaire for the study, which was a new element in the selection process. The questions, Graff said, touched on public safety, parks and recreation, community events, the economy and leaders' vision for improving the community.

“It's exciting that they've put more (criteria) into the process and we're still able to be in the top 100,” Graff said.
By Aaron Bell

Brad Keselowski won't soon forget his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win.

Keselowski claimed the checkered flag in a wild day at Talladega Superspeedway that ended with Carl Edwards crashing into the catch fence, Dale Earnhardt Jr. getting his best finish of the season and a rookie winning at Talladega for just the second time in NASCAR history.

Keselowski was 10th with four laps to go and moved to eighth with two to go. He pushed Edwards around leaders Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with the white flag waving and then made contact with Edwards approaching the finish line. Edwards rolled into the outside wall and Keselowski claimed the win.

"Pinch me, am I awake," Keselowski asked in Victory Lane.

"I've got to apologize to Carl for wrecking him but the rule is that you can't go below the yellow line," Keselowski said. "He blocked and I wasn't going below it. I don't want to wreck a guy but you're forced in that situation. There was nothing else I could do."

Keselowski was making his third start of the season and his previous best finish was 19th at Texas last November.

"This is the best show on Earth," the 25-year-old from Rochester Hills, MI said. "Man was that fun. I hope the fans had a lot of fun too. This is NASCAR racing and this is cool."

After a wild tumble on the front stretch, Edwards got out of his car and ran across the finish line.

"I didn't know if it mattered if I went across the finish line," said Edwards, who didn't suffer any injuries in the spectacular crash. "I just wanted to finish the race."

Edwards said that despite the disappointment of not winning the race, he didn't blame Keselowski for the move.

"Brad was pushing and doing everything he could," said Edwards, who was officially scored in 24th place. "I didn't realize he was there and came down on him. Brad did a good job - congrats to him on this win. That's what Brad's supposed to do. He's assuming that I know he is inside. I was doing everything I could to keep him from winning. I'm just glad nobody got hurt today."

Earnhardt and Newman were pacing the field in the closing laps and Earnhardt thought that he was heading for his first win if the season.

"We had it going and I thought there was no way," said Earnhardt, who finished second. "We were staying tied together but they were smart enough to move up and the higher line has been faster all day. I couldn't believe Brad was pushing that 99 (Edwards). He did an awesome job."
Newman finished third while Marcos Ambrose finished fourth. Rookie Scott Speed capped an exciting day with his first career top five finish.

Speed qualified eighth but was held a lap at the start of the race for working on the car before the race started. He got back on the lead lap after the first caution on lap seven and took the lead when he stayed out under caution on lap 43.

The day was bookended by a pair of multi-car wrecks - one just seven laps into the race and the other with nine laps to go.

Point's leader Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth made contact near the front of the field on the back stretch just seven laps into the race. The wreck collected nearly half of the field.

"We were having a good time there but I'm not really sure what happened," Gordon said. "I was just cruising up through the middle."

Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne were among those caught up in the early trouble.

"It's just unfortunate," Bowyer said. "I don't know what happened - just racing way too hard, way too early."

There was another big wreck with nine laps to go. Polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Robby Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were all collected in the wreck.

"Man it sucks racing here," Johnson said. "You've got a great race car - guys worked really hard to get this thing in order and very fast and then get that close to the end and it gets tore up. It just looked to me like they were some guys were beat and didn't have the position and tried to force their way in from the outside. It's too bad."

Kyle Busch was leading the race with 17 laps to go when was tapped from behind by Jeff Burton. Busch's car didn't sustain a lot of damage, but he couldn't get it started and needed a push to the pits. Truex, who also led laps earlier in the race, was also collected in the wreck.

Kurt Busch finished sixth and moved past Gordon into the points lead while Greg Biffle finished seventh and jumped into the top-12 in the standings.

Burton started 20th but fell behind three laps with an electrical issue. His crew changed his battery on pit road and he worked back to the lead lap and brought home a 10th place finish.

It looks as though the next four sessions of A&E’s successfully realty show Parking Wars, will be shot in Detroit. Previous sessions were shot in Philadelphia. No word on if the recent Michigan film incentives played a role in the shows decision to come to Detroit.

The producers of the show; Hybrid Films, is negotiating with he City of Detroit, which will begin shooting this spring. The show is expected add close to $250,000 a year to the local economy.

Other reality shows including Animal Planet’s Animal Cops (Anglia Television,) Spike TV’s DEA (Size 12 Productions) and Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days (Actual Reality Pictures) have all recently shot in Metro Detroit.
Crain's Detroit Business

Little Caesar Enterprises Inc. bases its long-term success on perfecting one simple task: making the best large pepperoni pizza $5 can buy.

Fifty years ago, Mike and Marian Ilitch opened their first carryout only store with a $10,000 investment — Little Caesar Pizza Treat in Garden City.

The company is now the world's largest carryout pizza chain and for the second consecutive year has been called the “best value in America” by Barrington, Ill.-based Sandelman & Associates, a consumer research firm.

So how did it get there?

The Detroit-based company's ability to attract and retain consumers has more to do with its emphasis on leveraging costs than expanding its product line. “The most important factor in our carryout business is focusing on one thing and doing it extremely well,” Little Caesars President Dave Scrivano said. “When you try to cater to too many people, you dilute what you are good at.

“Little Caesars continues working at its core competency, making large pepperoni pizzas and selling them at a price our competitors find difficult to match,” he said.

The company has performed best when sticking to its value niche — whether it's “Hot-N-Ready,” “Pizza! Pizza!,” “Big!Big!” or other similar slogans. The company has at times with less success tried to compete on product variety as well, with various pizza specials and other product offerings.

It also ran into trouble when Mike Ilitch stepped back from day-to-day management in the early '90s to spend more time with his sports franchises. “I figured we had enough substance that I could step out of the business and we could continue to do quite well,” Ilitch, chairman of Ilitch Holdings Inc., said in a 1996 interview with Crain's.

But Little Caesars needed a captain, and the ship began taking on water. Crain's reported Little Caesars' net income climbed to $41 million in 1992, but by 1995 it dropped to $1.2 million. Revenue reached $774.1 million in 1993 but shrank 20 percent to $620.8 million by 1995. In 1997, it introduced a promotion: a one-day sale in which customers could get a large pepperoni pizza for just $5 — a promotion some say saved the company.

In 2004, Little Caesars reaffirmed its value-oriented place in the market by making the $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza a mainstay on its menu. In 2007 and 2008, Little Caesars was named the “best value in America” of all quick-service restaurant chains for its Hot-N-Ready pizza by Sandelman & Associates. The Illinois firm's syndicated Quick-Track research study monitors consumer awareness, usage and attitudinal measures.

“The Hot-N-Ready concept and Little Caesars whole carryout model provides them a different type of cost structure than we have,” said Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. “You can operate a Little Caesars with far fewer employees than a Domino's with the same amount of sales volume.”

A simpler store model eases operations and fewer product offerings allow Little Caesars to run at a lower cost than competitors who offer more services and wider array of products. McIntyre says Little Caesars' simple menu and carryout model has created a customer base different from Domino's.

“We have fundamentally different customers. Theirs are more focused on value and ours on convenience,” McIntyre said. “While we both recognize our customers are different, that doesn't stop us from going after their customers and them from going after ours.”

Exact figures for Little Caesars are difficult to get because it's a private company. But Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Chicago-based research firm Technomic Inc., puts Little Caesars systemwide sales at about $1.055 billion and estimates its restaurant count at 11,000.

Scrivano, without giving specifics, says that estimate is low. According to Technomic's research, Little Caesars has a 3.6 percent slice of the nearly $29 billion limited service pizza market, market share that has been growing over the past few years.

Dallas-based Pizza Hut Inc. has the largest market share, with $5.3 billion in sales, making up 18.2 percent.

Domino's has about 10.4 percent of the market with sales of just more than $3 billion, and Louisville-based Papa John's International Inc. has a 7 percent market share with sales of $2 billion.

Technomic reports Little Caesars systemwide sales steadily growing over the past three years from $830 million in 2006 to $930 million in 2007, a 12.1 percent increase, and $1.055 billion in 2008, a 13.4 percent increase. Tristano attributes much of the boost to steady unit growth, not an increase in sales.

Scrivano claims Little Caesars led all pizza chains in store growth in 2008 but wouldn't divulge sales figures or revenue. “We built stores in 41 states, in seven countries, and had greater net store growth, openings in excess of closings, than any other pizza chain,” Scrivano said.

In the early 1990s, sales began to lag, and in 1999 the company was hit with a class-action lawsuit from franchisees who complained about the low quality and high cost of food products from Little Caesar's in-house distributor. The suit was settled in 2001. Steve Price, partner of Oklahoma City-based Magnum Foods Inc. which owns 36 locations, said Little Caesars has worked hard to improve relations with its franchisees.

“Little Caesars has made changes in the past few years to allow franchisees to grow in the company,” Price said.

Todd Messer, executive director of Independent Organization of Little Caesar Franchisees, which owns 16 stores in Little Rock, Ark., said nothing heals wounds like success, and the company's focus on its value heritage helped it right itself.

“Many chains today have an identity crisis, but not Little Caesars,” Tristano said. “They have always understood who they are and how they are positioned in the marketplace and so do their customers. They are not a pizza chain trying to be a sandwich shop.”

Tristano said Little Caesars' value-based identity is one reason the chain is found in urban communities where cost is critical. “Most of the major chains are overlooking urban areas and moving to developing communities which are demographically significant and are more aligned with their product,” Tristano said. “Little Caesars is looking at all areas, not just affluent ones.”

In fact, Price said Little Caesars may pass on some higher-end markets. “It's true that we are a value-based family concept, and that fits well within middle-class suburban and blue-collar markets,” Price said. “We don't necessarily want to be in the high-end areas, because if you look at those markets you have fewer individuals per household.”

By locating in areas where its competitors won't, Little Caesars can become a much bigger fish in a much smaller pond.

“Little Caesars is better at competing against independent stores because it has a much easier time leveraging its economy of scale to fit the economic conditions of the community,” Tristano said.

That positioning has allowed Little Caesars to succeed in any economic climate.

“We are more resilient. ... Our sales have not increased as much as they have remained constant, while the other entities are struggling to carve their niche in the market,” Price said.

“We give them (customers) an honest price and an honest product, and we think consumers see that.”

Inforum, Michigan’s largest business organization for women, will feature a keynote address by Martha Stewart at its 47th Annual Meeting luncheon on Friday, May 15, at the Detroit-Marriott Renaissance Center. The public is welcome to purchase tickets to this event.

Inforum’s 47th Annual Meeting offers the public a rare opportunity to hear Martha Stewart share the inspirational message of how she’s used business savvy to turn her passions into a leading national brand and a diverse media and merchandising company—
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

Following the luncheon, at approximately 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to attend a book signing where Martha will sign copies of her best sellers — “
Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts” and “Martha Stewart's Cookies.” Books will be available for purchase on site.

From home décor and delectable dining to gardening, crafting and more, Martha Stewart has had more influence on how Americans eat, entertain, and decorate their homes and gardens than any one person in recent history. But this success story might have turned out differently if Martha Stewart had listened to naysayers who discouraged her from entering the already competitive arenas of publishing a magazine for women and producing a daytime television show.

“Today, Martha Stewart is a household name and one of the strongest brands on the market,” said Inforum President and CEO Terry Barclay. “Inforum is pleased to present this opportunity for Ms. Stewart to share tips about what it takes to be a successful innovator and entrepreneur and triumph against the odds. It’s a positive motivational message for women, or anyone, in business during these challenging times.”

The 2009-10 Inforum board of directors and officers also will be inducted at this annual meeting.

Date: Friday, May 15, 2009

Time: 11:30 a.m. Networking & Registration; 11:50 a.m. Luncheon & Presentation;
Book signing for luncheon participants with Martha Stewart immediately following the luncheon presentation

Place: Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI 48243

Luncheon presentation cost: Inforum members, $50; Non-members, $70. (Add $10 after 5/10/2009 and at the door.)

Luncheon reservations: Visit May 15 on the calendar at or call 877.633.3500.

Public book signing: The public is invited to attend a book signing at approximately 2:30 p.m. Martha will sign copies of her best-selling books “Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts” and “Martha Stewart's Cookies” — available for purchase on site.

Event sponsors: Lee Hecht Harrison and St. John Health.

This luncheon is hosted by Inforum. Inforum is one of the largest business organizations for women in the nation, with more than 1,800 members from a broad cross-section of Michigan's business community. The mission of the organization is to strengthen the business environment by creating opportunities for women to lead and succeed. Founded as the Women's Economic Club in 1962 in Detroit, Inforum now has affiliates in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich. For more information, visit or call 313.578.3230.

By Patricia Janeway

The Detroit Zoological Society’s annual Sunset at the Zoo fundraiser gala takes place on Friday, June 19, 2009, 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The year’s wildest party features a strolling supper, zoo-themed martinis, live entertainment, dancing, and live and silent auctions. The 21-and-over event is held rain or shine, and the Zoo closes at 2 p.m. that day in preparation for the festivities.

Over 2,000 Zoo supporters are expected to attend the event, themed “Celebrating Our New Arrivals”. A strolling supper offers tastes of signature dishes from 40 of the area’s finest restaurants, Skyline & the Backstreet Horns entertain throughout the evening, and guests have access to the Zoo’s award-winning animal habitats as the sun goes down. Attire for the evening is “elegant safari chic”.

The live auction includes “zoo-nique” items such as a gourmet dinner for 12 with the giraffes, a polar bear and seal feeding experience for six, a behind-the-scenes tour of the rhino habitat for four and a fall twilight hayride at the Zoo with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for 12. Other exciting live auction items include a Top Gun fighter jet experience and a San Francisco and Sonoma winery excursion.

Tickets for Sunset at the Zoo range from $150 to $600 per person. A benefactor party will be held on Tuesday, May 19, at the Bloomfield Hills home of Bobbi and Stephen Polk for those purchasing $600 benefactor tickets. A VIP reception will be held at the Zoo’s Dinosauria experience on Friday, June 19, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., for those purchasing $600 benefactor tickets and $300 patron tickets. Tickets can be ordered by phone at (248) 541-5717 ext. 3750 or online at

Sunset at the Zoo is supported by Strategic Staffing Solutions, Caesars Windsor, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, Fox 2, Hour Detroit, WJR News Radio 760 and Dining in the Wild. Co-chairs for this year’s event are Beverly Bantom, Jill Miller, Jessica Pellegrino and Lois Shaevsky.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a non-profit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic exhibits, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of Ten Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak.

The Detroit Zoo is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October (open at 9 a.m. May 1 through Labor Day) – with extended hours until 8 p.m. Wednesdays during July and August – and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $11 for adults 15 to 61, $9 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $7 for children ages 2 to 14; children under 2 are free.
For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit

The Bell Isle Nature Zoo is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round and provides educational programming with interpretive staff support from the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Admission is free. For more information, call (313) 852-4056.
By Sam Haymart

Ford has been the underdog American success story so far. They were able to avoid asking Uncle Sam for a bailout last winter. They paid off $9 billion in debt last month which volleyed their stock prices up from the $1.50 range. Other great news this week was the first quarter results that showed a loss of only $1.4 billion. Yes, good news is a smaller loss than expected these days. Ford stock closed at a high of $5.00 today. Happy times.

What really puts Ford at an advantage going forward is that they have a the best product lineup today of new cars that are best in class. Coming in the next year are even more brand new models that have been showing promise in Europe and in the motoring press. Bottom line, is that they started a few years ago to revamp their products and the fruits are blooming just in time for recovery.

Best yet is that Ford has a free hand to build what consumers want. GM and Chrysler are now under the oppressive politically correct oversight of the Federal Government. Chevrolet for example cannot choose to build a new 550hp Camaro Z-28 without a damn good lashing. Both companies are going to have a hard time getting money approved to build anything but gutless greenie-boxes that nobody wants.

We asked Ford CEO Alan Mullaly in an interview last week how he felt about Ford's freedom to build high performance cars competitors may not be able to due to government oversight. He replied, “While we strongly desire to see our fellow American manufacturers survive, we will continue to pursue the kind of products that our customers want”. That was as strong a statement as he would make, but one we saw as positive for Ford performance in the coming years.

PR Newswire

Auburn Hills based Plex Systems, Inc., provider of Plex Online ERP manufacturing software, today announced that it achieved record results in the quarter ended March 31, 2009. The company's revenue during this quarter increased 25 percent over first quarter 2008; this increase comes on the heels of 33 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2008 - despite the year-long downturn in manufacturing, the company's core market.

"Manufacturers across all industries are painfully aware that they cannot continue with 'business as usual', and so they are seeking out new solutions to reduce costs, improve quality, and drive new revenue," said Mark Symonds, Plex Systems president and CEO.

"Manufacturers have realized that they cannot allow obsolete technology to paralyze their businesses. Many are investing in enterprise software that has a proven return on investment," said Symonds. "Plex Online's combination of a powerful feature set for manufacturers, software as a service (SaaS) delivery model, and subscription pricing is the perfect solution to deliver benefits faster than legacy software deployments, while allowing companies to preserve their cash and credit capacity."

The first quarter revenue growth includes additional business from existing customers as well as the addition of eight new customers:

Q4 Industries - Nevada-based ambient beverage manufacturer specializing in aseptic processing, with products such as non-carbonated juices, drinks and private-label wine packaging.

Mariah Power - Reno, Nevada-based wind technology corporation; a manufacturer of Windspire(R), low cost, attractive, affordable wind power appliances.

DieTronik - Precision tool & die manufacturer based in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Michigan-based manufacturer of high-quality fruit harvesters.

California-based electric vehicle manufacturer.

Multi-state manufacturer of mailing and document management materials.

Auto parts supplier with facilities in North America and Mexico.

Michigan-based steel processor.

About Plex Systems, Inc.

Plex Systems, Inc. is the developer of Plex Online, a software as a service (SaaS) solution for the manufacturing enterprise. Plex Online offers industry-leading features for virtually every department within a manufacturer, including Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Quality Management Systems (QMS) for the shop floor, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for sales and marketing, Supply Chain Management (SCM) for procurement, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for finance and management. Plex Online's fully-integrated model delivers a "shop floor to top floor" view of a manufacturer's operations, enabling management to run their business at maximum efficiency. Founded in 1995, Plex Systems is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with customers around the globe.
More information is online at
The theme of this year’s annual meeting of automotive engineers was “Racing to Green Mobility.” The unlikely symbol of the event—the 2009 World Congress of the Society of Automotive Engineers held from April 20 to 23—was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Hummer. The Governor kicked off the conference by pointing to shortcomings in federal energy policy, while overlooking his role as the most famous promoter of the ultimate gas-guzzler.

Schwarzenegger said, “We need to put policy in place that will not change, so the [auto] manufacturers can know the future direction.” And then he made a beeline to Raser Technology’s plug-in hybrid Hummer H3 on display at the conference. Raser's use of a 200kW traction motor mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission allows the Hummer H3 to run with no gasoline for up to 40 miles.

The message was that government-supported advanced auto technology will allow US drivers to continue driving fast large vehicles without any compromise. A few years ago, Schwarzenegger’s beloved Hummer would be saved by hydrogen. Now, it’s all about electric drive technology, which was championed in many of the sessions. "There is nothing wrong with the Hummer. It's great vehicle," he told The Detroit News. "We should change the technology within those vehicles."

Panelists in a session called “Near Term Powertrain Solutions” didn’t entirely dismiss the idea of smaller car and engines—but doubted that consumers would sacrifice size and power. Dan Kapp, director of powertrain research at Ford, pushed Ford’s EcoBoost technology to draw more power from a smaller engine. But his colleague, Sherif Marakby, Ford chief engineer of global hybrid core engineering, thought it might take more gizmos—like cool interfaces and connections for portable electronics, to move metal. Marakby said, “That’s really key because green alone isn’t going to do it. It’s all this other stuff.”

Panelists in the session “'Does Green Matter in a Try-To-Survive Market” portrayed consumers as conflicted—not willing to spend money on green technology but still wanting car companies to do the right thing environmentally. Alexander Edwards, President of Automotive for Strategic Vision, said, "Most people don't want to compromise their priorities for slightly better fuel mpg."
Those priorities include safety, security, and brand. Scott Miller, CEO of Synovate Motoresearch, said "a growing number of consumers will refuse to do business with a company that is not acting in socially responsible ways." Although people have become more aware hybrids and other advanced powertrain technologies, they still view the internal combustion engine as having a higher reliability, according to Miller.

The Stampede to Electric Vehicles
While many panelists cast doubt on consumers’ willingness to pay for green technologies, others questioned the ability of electric cars—the technology enjoying the most publicity these days—to solve environmental problems. “We’re all stampeding toward an electric vehicle future. I’m not against that…but we don’t know where that could end up yet,” said MIT’s John Heywood.

“There are a lot of problems along the way. The primary one is the cost of these vehicles, and there are some major infrastructure questions as well...To assume this can take over and dominate, that’s a pretty naive assumption at this point.”

Heywood joined others in pointing out that multiple approaches, including smaller, lighter vehicles and new urban design, would be required.

John German, senior fellow at the International Council for Clean Transportation and formerly a hybrid expert at Honda, similarly did not see quick and easy solutions. “Actually, there’s too much technology coming. It’s very difficult to sort through all this,” said German. “The manufacturer that makes an early bet on a technology and is wrong is going to suffer greatly in the competition. We have to go through this process, meet a rigorous development cycle of two to three years, and prove a new technology in production on a limited number of vehicles for a couple of years. And then you need at least five years to spread it across the fleet.”

Long lead times in the auto industry will make it difficult to achieve President Obama’s goal of putting 1 million plug-ins on US roads by 2015. Steven Clark, senior manager of electric energy management at Chrysler, again pointed to a lack of consumer commitment as a primary obstacle. “The current cost of battery technology in low volumes makes it difficult to achieve a two- to five-year payback with $2 gas.”

Michigan, Detroit Prep Themselves For A New Era

Series: Remaking Michigan, Retooling Detroit
Neva Grant

Michigan — and Detroit — know they have to reset themselves economically.

As far back as the 1950s, some economists worried the Detroit region was too dependent on the car industry.

They said it should work to regain the diverse and vibrant mix of businesses it had before Henry Ford, when Detroit made freight cars, ships and stoves; cigarettes and seeds.

The state is now moving aggressively to develop the industries of a new era: car batteries, health science, green technology and defense. Each of these businesses might employ a few dozen people — perhaps several hundred or a few thousand.

Boosters of the city and the region say it still has much to offer the rest of the country and the world: for starters, a high concentration of smart engineers and innovative designers, and a collection of fine universities to support their work. Urban theorist Richard Florida says the Detroit region has a unique "creative edge and energy" that never went away.

In three days of reports from Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, NPR's Don Gonyea and Michigan station reporters, NPR will tell stories about Detroiters and Michiganders who are imagining a region that might emerge from this stronger and smarter.
Sam Abuelsamid

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Detroit this week to deliver an opening keynote address to the SAE World Congress, the annual gathering of mobility engineers from around the world.

Schwarzenegger has been a strong proponent for green mobility in recent years as well as a vocal supporter of his state's request for a waiver from the EPA that would allow it to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The governor will address the gathering at 8 a.m. Monday April 20, 2009 in the AVL Technology Theater on the show floor.

The Congress takes place in Detroit's Cobo Center from April 20-24.

Schutt told the media in attendance at a preview earlier this month that SAE invited the governor to address the conference, but was not scripting his speech.

SAE does not know what Schwarzenegger will say. The society has long been involved in setting industry standards.

However, according to Schutt, SAE does not have a formal position one way or the other on the California waiver request.
The Detroit chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women Detroit (CREW Detroit) announces its second annual CREW Careers Building Opportunities event to be held Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at the Detroit Opera House.

CREW CareersTM is an interactive, educational program designed to introduce high school age girls to the fundamentals of commercial real estate and career opportunities within the industry.

It is a national program developed by CREW Foundation, the charitable arm of CREW Network, a professional organization of more than 8,000 commercial real estate women in the U.S. and Canada.

CREW Detroit is again partnering with the Randolph Career & Technical Education High School of the Detroit Public School system for this year’s event. The theme is sustainability, technology, and self empowerment, with an emphasis on retail in downtown Detroit.

Prior to event day, CREW members will have hosted three in-school career modules, each featuring presentations by CREW Detroit members on their careers, career opportunities within their profession and how each career incorporates the use of sustainability and "green" concepts.

The students obtain six hours of instruction through the modules and also keep a notebook on relevant discussion points. The modules are designed as part of an educational process leading to CREW Careers™ and focus on teaching the students responsibility and goal setting both as individuals and as a team. They also serve to help build support and understanding for the opportunities that exist for women in commercial real estate and the business world in general.

One student commented after the first module, “I always thought real estate was a man’s world. I was amazed to see so many successful women, and some even own their own business and have others working for them! I am looking forward to the final project and have never felt so professional!”

On event day, April 28th, an anticipated 50 young women participants will enjoy a walking tour and commercial real estate ‘scavenger hunt’ in the historic area near the Detroit Opera House, along with a hard hat tour of the subject building, an actual vacant retail space located across the street from the Opera House that will be the subject of the “Design Challenge”.
>The students will compete for individual and team prizes, as they form project teams and plan the redevelopment of the site. Ultimately, the students not only become ‘professionals for a day’, but gain confidence and learn teamwork, responsibility, leadership, and business skill that can be applied long after CREW Careers™ is over.

According to CREW Detroit Outreach Director Alicia Buisst, Detroit’s CREW Careers™ has great significance for both the young women from Randolph Career & Technical Education High School and the 50 CREW Detroit members who serve as volunteers.

“We learned from our inaugural event last year that this is one day that can make ‘the’ difference in the life of a young woman,” says Ms. Buisst. “It couldn’t be possible without the commitment of our CREW Detroit members, who serve as module presenters, ambassadors, walking tour guides, team advisors, and instructors and are devoted to educating young women, especially those with underprivileged backgrounds, about the challenging and economically sustaining careers in commercial real estate. Our members, and the employers who support their efforts, empower the young women who participate in CREW Careers™. It is an outstanding volunteer contribution that has meaning far beyond the day of the event.”

CREW Detroit, through its own resources and with the support of its sponsors, including lead sponsors Key Bank and NORR, contributes nearly $12,000 to make CREW Careers™ a reality. CREW Careers™ is only one of the outreach efforts led by CREW Detroit members.

The organization is also involved with Alternatives for Girls (AFG) and First Step of Wayne County.

About CREW

Detroit CREW Detroit, founded in 1986, is a member-focused professional organization dedicated to advancing the success of women in commercial real estate by promoting networking and business opportunities among its more than 140 members. It is a founding chapter, and one of the largest local chapters, of CREW Network, a professional organization of more than 8,000 commercial real estate women in the U.S. and Canada celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009.

Six Minutes from The Handicammers on Vimeo.

Can a bag of nickels make a difference? A simple parking ticket inspires a movement that aims to give others six extra minutes at the meter, saving them from violations of their own and allowing them to spend more time in downtown Royal Oak stimulating the local economy.

More than 1.3 million people in Michigan qualify as working caregivers. Anyone who holds a job and takes on the duties to care for one or both parents is considered a working caregiver. This is an often overlooked group of people that would benefit from support, education and training. The Working Caregiver Initiative (WCI) is a non-profit created to address and assist this growing group of people and families in this need throughout Michigan.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 25% of American families are now providing care for someone over the age of 65 in their home. This stressor causes increased health risks, a greater chance for developing signs of depression or anxiety, and even speeds the aging process for the one providing care, even to the point of reducing one’s life expectancy by up to 10 years. This can lead to chronic absenteeism, presenteeism, and even poor performance due to the working caregiver feeling overwhelmed. Moreover 10% of working caregivers eventually cut back to part-time work or even leave the workforce altogether.

“The Working Caregiver Initiative (WCI) was created to provide quality support, education, and training for those who are both family caregivers and working professionals,” says Bert Copple, the President and creator of the WCI program.

“I worry about my mom being home by herself,” says Jeana Rea of Warren, Michigan. “My husband works 50 plus hours a week, my kids have school and sporting events, and I’m working as well. It can be stressful, but we have to do it to make ends meet. Being able to proactively care for my mom’s needs is a big deal, and the WCI program has helped me cope with my challenges.”

Copple says Jeana, and thousands like her, are part of a new generation that must make proactive care-giving decisions for their parents. They take on the responsibilities to keep mom and/or dad safe, at home, while both spouses work and manage the household.

“No one has more on their plate than a mom or dad who has to provide care for their children while reversing roles with their parents to manage mom’s incontinence or dad’s dementia care,” adds Copple. “Because the family dynamics have changed so dramatically, and will continue to change as this tsunami of seniors come of age, employers needs to look to support, educate, and train their working caregivers to retain those who are key to their survival in this economy.”

Over the next 14 years, the number of people at the age of 50 will increase by 74%, while those under the age of 50 will increase by a mere 1%. The bottom line is there will be fewer professional caregivers to provide care, putting a greater strain on working caregivers to pull double duty.

“The WCI’s focus is to help working caregivers self-identify as caregivers,” says Copple. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, 90% of family caregivers become more proactive about seeking skills and resources they need once they identify themselves as a working caregiver. In the work force, it can be as easy as offering an employee assistance program to help employees make that connection.

“Most working caregivers don’t even realize they are providing care for their parents. They think it is normal to provide incidental transportation or manage medications or even help with personal care,” explains Copple. “We want working caregivers to install the grab bar in the shower before mom slips in the shower, not after she has fallen and broken her hip. We educate working caregivers on topics such as Alzheimer’s disease, in-home medical care and non-medical care, power of attorney and how to understand Medicare and Medicaid and where to find support groups in the community.”

The WCI provides free support via a toll-free help line, coaching, support groups, and spiritual direction. We provide an on-line library of how-to videos and presentations on over 16 care-giving topics, weekly podcasts, and workplace caregiver fairs where WCI experts make themselves available to a company’s employees for a four hour block of time, free of charge, to answer questions and provide assistance. The WCI hosts community caregiver-training programs, which provide practical, hands-on training with skills such as transferring, personal care, and even cooking for seniors.

For businesses, organizations, and places of worship, the WCI offers a speaker’s bureau, capable of providing more than 40 presentations on the issues of care giving. The WCI will also begin hosting Working Caregiver Experts Fairs, throughout SE Michigan, this summer.

“The WCI program is available to Michigan’s employers free of charge,” says Copple. “We know this is going to become a greater issue for millions of Americans, and we’re here to help during these difficult times.”

To learn more about the Working Caregiver Initiative and how the program can help businesses reduce lost productivity, visit or call Bert Copple at 248-203-2273.

The first television series to be shot in Michigan is looking for a high school to call their TV home.
Ron Stern is one of the producers of the new show "The Wannabes". In the last few days, he has been from Howell to Birmingham scouting locations for a 26 episode production.

"It's an eight-million dollar budget shoot. ... A lot of that money is going to go to local Michigan residents who we're going to hire through the production. Of course, we're bringing some of the talent... but the majority, about 90-95 percent, will be hired locally here," said Stern.

Jeff Spillman of Ferndale's S3 Entertainment is a partner in the project.

"This is the first TV series that will be fully filmed and fully produced in the state of Michigan. So, it's great for the state. It's great for the local folks who want to get jobs and great for people behind the camera as well as in front. ... We're going to have casting calls for local, talented ... adults and children to take part in this series," said Spillman.

Based on the Radio Disney group Savvy, "The Wannabes" puts the stars in a school for the performing arts.

Dorean Spicer-Dannelly, the show's creator known for the movie "Jump In" and the series "The Proud Family," says, "We're looking for schools that have the traditional hallways, lots of space (and) big areas. ... We're going to do a lot of ballet scenes (and) acting scenes. We're also need to fit in there a sweet shop. So, kinds of schools that have a lot of space that we can do a lot of creative things in."

Once they find their locations, shooting starts in June.

Who Moves to Detroit?

Ashley Woods
Model D

If you live here already, a better question might be—who falls in love with Detroit? And, indeed, that was one of the first questions moderator Dave Egner of the Hudson-Webber Foundation asked at the latest Model D Speaker Series event on April 8. The event took place at the College for Creative Studies and was co-sponsored by Next American City, a Philadelphia-based magazine chronicling new trends in American cities.

The discussion on Detroit's burgeoning professional population and housing trends quickly became a chance for four transplants to tell their own stories about falling in love with the Paris of the Midwest. (It was also a great excuse to attend a terrific reception afterward catered by the Majestic Cafe.)

What emerged was an ode to the D, both honest and hopeful, realistic and yet resistant to the "old narrative" of our city's history. We all know that story -- the birth and death of one of America's great cities -- but what about Act 3? To four of Detroit's newest residents, their love stories are only the beginning.

In those first heady moments, love is passionate. At least that's how Toby Barlow tells it. This ad man, who works as executive creative director at JWT Team Detroit in Dearborn, said Detroit was the only natural move for him, since "I grew up listening to punk rock and rock 'n' roll, and all I knew was that the suburbs suck." Living in his unique Mies van der Rohe home in Lafayette Park, Barlow is a convert who has helped spread the good word about Detroit. "This city embraces people. It's an incredibly infectious community, in a good way."

For Luis Croquer, the new director at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, said "being in Detroit, and working with Detroit, is very much part of the job description." Good thing for Croquer; he said his first visit to Detroit was a little like falling head over heels. "I became a Detroiter instantly," he said -- and this coming from a diplomat's son who grew up in El Salvador and has lived all over the world.

Love is giving. To Meghan McEwen, editor of CS Interiors magazine, a new chapter in her life began when she and her husband left Chicago four years ago for the Motor City. Looking to raise a family, they realized they could purchase a home in Detroit for roughly a third of a price of the condos they considered buying in Chicago. The low cost of living meant that she and her husband could work less, and spend more time raising their sons. "I don't think I could have had all of this in Chicago," she said.

Love is brave. At least that's the story for Kirsten Ussery, the director of communications for Detroit Renaissance. Growing up in a small town in North Carolina, her move to Detroit was a bit worrisome for her family and friends. That attitude usually changes when her loved ones visit her home in West Village. Ussery said, "I was a little naive," regarding her decision to move to Detroit, "but I never really had any negative experiences. That's still true today."

Barlow said he was surprised by the attitudes of his fellow New Yorkers when he accepted the job offer with JWT Team Detroit. For the record, "I'm sorry," was his least-favorite, most annoying reaction from acquaintances. He said, "I thought, in the last couple years, there seems to be something interesting going on in Detroit -- it's a shift, a noticeable shift."

(Not every speaker experienced negative reactions when they decided to move to the D. Croquer said," I come from Latin America, so I was never really worried about that. In fact, everyone said I was going to be safer here.")

Love is intimate. And that closeness is what McEwen says keeps her living in her restored Victorian in Corktown. "It's a small town, and a big city, all at once." In her former life in Chicago, McEwen said she never really got used to the feeling of anonymity that's so prevalent in the Windy City. People who don't make eye contact in the streets, or elbow for a place on the L Train, because they know they won't ever see you again. "The feeling of community, I think, keeps us acting a little more like humans."

Moderator Egner agreed. "It is an overgrown small town," he said. "Unlike Chicago, or Seattle, or LA, if you come here, you can move the needle in a positive direction."

Love is energetic. Croquer thinks one of Detroit's biggest problems is its "enormous self-esteem issue." He thinks finding a way to bring together the creative and corporate interests in the city is one key to Detroit's renaissance. "This city was once thought of as a center of modernist thought. But now, creative industries are not talking to the people who can have the resources to make things happen."

What is one of our great assets, according to Croquer? Detroiters themselves. "They are so passionate, and so committed," he said.

Love is wise. To Barlow, whose one-man marketing campaign to change Detroit starts with his motto, "Stop the Loathing," Detroit is literally a success story. "Detroit's story is the greatest act of hubris in the history of cities in North America," he said. "Everyone that could, left." That the city survives, and fights on, continues to impress him. But Barlow said he thinks reforming Detroit's City Council in order to elect officials by district is necessary "to reflect the rich tapestry of all people now calling this city home."

Love is hopeful. Ussery says pushing for regionalism in political and economic affairs will help make Detroit what it was once again. She said pushing for cooperation between corporations, politicians and cities is also the only way to diffuse the "race issue" once and for all. "Once people from the suburbs and people from Detroit can finally come together and make decisions that are the best for the region as a whole, all the dialogue will change," she said.

McEwen said Detroit has a future if it markets itself as an alternative to city dwellers across the world who are put off by yuppie neighborhoods and corporate chains. "I challenge you to name another major city that doesn't have a GAP," she said. She also thinks Detroit should do more to publicize real estate opportunities in its unique neighborhoods. "In more and more cities, I swear," she said, "You could pick up a block in Chicago and move it to Brooklyn, and you'd never know the difference. You can't do that with Detroit."

There's something about love, how it has a power to heal those who have been hurt before, a way it seems to change people. To McEwen, that's the greatest thing about Detroit, the reason she stays here, the reason, in fact, all four of these new Detroiters said they'd never want to leave. "What people love about Detroit ... what I love about Detroit ... is that we can do something to change it, to make it better. They all want to be part of something bigger than themselves."

That's what loving Detroit means.
Stephanie Steinberg
Michigan Daily

An array of solar panels sits atop the Dana building on Central Campus. In total, the panels can generate over 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity for the building.

Solar cells are among the most well-known alternative sources of energy. But Engineering Prof. Max Shtein is working to bring solar technology into more homes by making solar cells more conducive to daily life — like weaving them into textiles.

Shtein said this change will allow people to consume energy in eco-friendly ways when using everyday products.

“Going to the store and buying clothes, for example, is a lot more familiar to a lot more people than installing a solar cell on the roof of their house,” he said.

Shtein, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and a team of researchers are developing a system to create solar cells out of fibers that can be woven into textiles.

“Most of those textiles are actually dyed using organic dyes where the molecular structure is very similar to the structure of the molecules we would use to make organic-based solar cells,” Shtein said.

Shtein has brainstormed many uses for his discovery including carbon fiber airplanes with solar cells interwoven into the plane’s structure and coats and tents made out of solar cell fibers. He said a tent that can effectively generate electricity from the power of the sun can solve many of the problems caused by natural disasters.

“There’s a lot of instances where you have disaster relief kind of shelters, where you want to be able to generate electricity for people to communicate, for people to purify water, to read, to do things they need to do,” Shtein said.

The solar cells applied to the fibers are very thin and add no thickness to the material. Shtein said he discovered that bundles of fibers in a textile absorb more light, making the textile more efficient at collecting energy than a regular, flat solar cell.

Solar panels are one of the most common means of obtaining solar energy. Through the use of photovoltaics, solar cells convert sunlight into electricity.

Though solar panels provide a way to capture light energy, University scientists are working on new and improved methods to harvest energy from the sun.

“The sun is a terrific energy resource for humanity in general,” said Stephen Maldonado, as assistant professor of chemistry. “The output of power that reaches the earth from the sun is several times as much energy as people use every year.”

Maldonado and his team of researchers are studying and designing systems that convert solar energy into chemical bond energy, which can be used to make electricity.

“We work with materials that are similar to what’s found in photovoltaics or the solar panels you see on people’s houses,” Maldonado said, “but those typically operate for solar to electrical energy conversion, and we’re much more interested in making systems that mimic photosynthesis in plants.”

One of the disadvantages of solar cells is that the generated electricity must be consumed immediately because it cannot be stored for long periods of time.
Maldonado said plants are good at converting solar energy into chemical bond energy for making chemical fuels. Using plants as a model, the research team hopes to devise a system that can store solar energy in chemical bonds for long-term storage — similar to how energy is currently stored in gasoline and fossil fuels.

United Solar Ovonic — based out of Rochester Hills, Mich. — is the largest producer of flexible solar cells in the United States. Flexible solar panels are sometimes more useful than regular solar panels because they can be applied to curved surfaces like dome-shaped stadiums.
On average, United Solar Ovonic sells three to four solar panels a week to customers in Michigan.

United Solar Ovonic Sales Engineer George Zaharopoulos said the company has seen an increase in sales since President Barack Obama passed the stimulus package, which included tax incentives for renewable energy investors.

“People are more persuaded to use solar because they get reimbursements and rebates from their state,” he said.

According to a survey conducted by AltaTerra Research Network last November, solar energy installation is on the rise. Results from the survey showed a 52 percent growth rate of newly installed solar energy each year until 2012.

Geological Sciences Prof. Joel Blum believes there are major advantages to alternate energy sources.

Blum teaches GEOSCI 344 Sustainability & Fossil Energy: Options & Consequences at Camp Davis, the University’s Rocky Mountain field station near Jackson, Wyo. The course — which educates students about the scientific and environmental issues related to sustainable and traditional fossil energy sources — will be offered for the first time this summer.

While Blum is an advocate for using renewable forms of energy, he said Michigan is one of the worst places in America to capture solar energy.

“Michigan is a very cloudy place,” Blum said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s not feasible and shouldn’t be done, but it makes much more sense in sunny places like the Western United States where you have much, much, much greater annual solar radiation than you have in a place like Michigan.”

Despite Michigan’s cloudiness, the University decided to install solar panels on the roof of the Dana Building when it was renovated in 2004.

Bill Verge, the associate director of Utilities and Plant Engineering at the University, said the University installed solar energy collectors in an effort to become more environmentally friendly and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m a firm believer in the fact that global warming is occurring and that we have to move away from fossil fuels,” Verge said. “And I think that solar energy is one of the best opportunities, even in the state of Michigan.”

Helaine Hunscher, program coordinator of the Center for Sustainable Systems in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, wrote in an e-mail interview that the solar panels on the Dana Building don’t generate enough electricity to sustain the entire building. The angle of the sun and cloud conditions affect the photovoltaic output of the solar panels, and the power demand of the Dana Building varies by occupancy and the use of equipment and lights.

However, the system has shown positive results, Hunscher wrote in the e-mail.

“In 2005, the solar panels generated 35,000 KWh (kilowatt-hours) of energy which is enough to light a 100-Watt bulb for about 40 years,” Hunscher wrote.

She added that on a sunny day in May 2005, the panels met 23 percent of the power demand of the building.

Although the solar panels are not providing an immediate reduction in utility costs, Verge said the University will see a payback in cost reductions in 15 to 20 years.

She added that the main value of the technology is to use it for educational purposes by involving students from the School of Natural Resources and Environment in monitoring the system and evaluating its effectiveness.

In spring 2008, the University also installed a solar collector on the top of the University’s Central Power Plant that helps heat water in Central Campus facilities. The collector is the first of its kind to be installed in the United States and can heat water up to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its estimated 25-year lifespan will offset the costs from future fuel increases.

Verge said the University is looking into installing more alternate energy sources like solar panels and solar collectors down the road.

“However, the price needs to come down quite a bit before we can utilize it in a large scale,” he said.

Another group on campus is investing in solar energy — not for powering a building, but for running a car.

The University’s Solar Car Team is the largest student project on campus. Involving about 100 students from different schools on campus, the team works together to build a car to race in competitions held every two years.

This year’s car is as tall and long as a normal car and can reach a top speed of 87 miles per hour. The one main difference from a regular car is its six square meters of solar cells on the roof, which are used to charge the vehicle’s lithium ion batteries. Additionally, the car is only 600 pounds — driver included.

Engineering senior Steven Hechtman is the project manager of the Solar Car Team. He said while solar energy is useful for charging the car’s batteries, the amount of energy obtained from the sun is very limiting.

“Our solar cells only pull in as much power as you use for a hair dryer,” he said. “So if you compare it with the horsepower of a regular car, there’s not enough energy coming from the sun to power a real heavy vehicle.”

Hechtman said the next generation of consumer cars will probably include solar cells on the roof — citing the next Toyota Prius as a vehicle that will use solar energy to charge a certain percentage of its battery.

However, he said it’s unlikely there will ever be a car that runs solely off the power of the sun.
“If you want a car that’s the size of a normal car, the weight of a normal car, with all the features of a normal car, there’s no way you can power it completely by the sun,” he said.

Even though solar energy may never be able to generate enough power to fully run vehicles, it has the potential to greatly reduce fossil fuel consumption around the world.

Moreover, the developments made by University researchers shows that solar energy could provide at least a part of the solution Michigan’s economic troubles.

Shtein and Maldonado agree that a concerted effort to produce solar cells in Michigan could have a huge impact on the state’s economic situation.

Shtein said Michigan is well-suited for large-scale production because of the automotive industry.

“You have a highly trained work force, you have very good manufacturing capacity and here people know how to scale things up,” Shtein said. “In solar cells a big problem is scale up. We’re not making enough of them fast enough.”

Maldonado said if researchers can create an alternative energy resource that’s more uniformly distributed, they could potentially restructure the way society operates.

“If that technology can be developed here within the state of Michigan and cultivated here, that would give Michigan an insight in terms of being a major player in that sort of energy redesigning,” Maldonado said.

He added: “Getting involved in solar energy is really a sort of hot ticket item that could really have a lot of financial gain if it’s done right.”
Nathan Bomey and Sven Gustafson
Michigan Business Review

Michigan is becoming the nation's leader in advanced battery production got a major jolt today as officials announced investments in four new operations that would employ several thousand workers.

The four projects, collectively worth about $1.7 billion, illustrate the state's burgeoning hold on the vehicle battery production market as the world's top automakers invest billions in electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries.
Michigan economic development officials approved tax incentives for battery production operations for:

• Watertown, Mass.-based A123Systems Inc., which has existing operations in Ann Arbor and Novi. The firm, which has an agreement to supply batteries for Chrysler's electric vehicles, will invest more than $600 million in a new battery plant in Livonia. This specific project will create some 5,000 jobs.

A123, which is also pursuing $1.84 billion in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy to build U.S. battery factories, had already announced plans to invest in battery plants employing 14,000 workers. In November, the company won $10 million under the state's Centers of Energy Excellence research and development program. It says it will base that program out of the new Livonia facility and work in collaboration with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

• KD Advanced Battery Group LLC, a joint venture between Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., Kokam America Inc. and Townsend Ventures LLC. The firms are joining together to build a $665 million, 800,000-square-foot battery manufacturing plant. The plant will employ some 885 workers and deliver batteries for electric vehicles and hybrids.

• Korean firm LG Chem and Troy-based subsidiary Compact Power, in partnership with General Motors, announced they would invest $244 million to jointly establish a 660,000 square-foot lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facility. The facility would include cathode, anode, separator and assembly lines and will create up to 443 new jobs over the next five years, according to state documents.

GM in January announced it had selected LG Chem to supply lithium-ion cells for the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle to be released in November 2010. The Volt will be able to travel 40 miles on a single charge of electricity.

Business Review first reported last month that Compact Power was planning an expansion in Troy.

• Milwaukee-based Johnson-Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC. The firm expects to invest $220 million in an advanced battery production plant that will employ 498 workers. JCS recently landed a deal with Ford Motor Co. to supply batteries for Ford's first plug-in hybrid vehicle.

"The state's created an enviroment where battery businesses are welcome, and electrification technologies are welcome," said University of Michigan engineering professor Ann Marie Sastry, who has her own Ann Arbor-based vehicle battery startup called Sakti3. "Michigan has taken a leadership role."

The announced investments come after Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week signed two additional tax credits into law for battery cell R&D and manufacturing, increasing the credits available to companies to $555 million. The incentives stipulate that battery manufacturers can qualify for up to $25 million in incentives a year for four years, or $300 million altogether, provided they open a plant and create at least 300 jobs in the state.

"Thanks to the most aggressive economic strategy of any state in the country, Michigan, the global center of automotive research and development, is positioned to lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil and become the advanced battery capital of the world," Granholm said in a news release.

Other tax incentives totaling up to $225 million target research and manufacturing of advanced batteries.

Granholm and lawmakers hope the tax credits strengthen Michigan's case for a large share of $2 billion in federal stimulus money for energy projects.

Ford Motor Co. in February won $55 million in refundable credits from MEDC to help it with its strategy to bring four electric vehicles to the market by 2012. GM also won up to $160 million under the program and $6.8 million in separate tax incentives to locate a battery pack assembly plant in Southeast Michigan.
Steve Keating
Reuters Canada

The Detroit Red Wings will give Motor City spirits another boost when they launch the defense of their Stanley Cup crown this week against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Red Wings march to the Stanley Cup last year provided one of the best feel good moments for Detroit and another championship parade would no doubt bring the same to Detroiters in 2009.
The long Stanley Cup grind begins on Wednesday with 16-teams trying to become the last one standing at the end of four punishing best-of-seven series that will carry into June.

A Stanley Cup run is something Red Wings fans have come to expect with Detroit in the playoffs for an 18th consecutive year.

But it will be a new experience for first round opponents the Blue Jackets, who will be making their first playoff appearance since joining the league nine years ago.

In the last 40 years, only two teams have reached the Stanley Cup finals in their first trip to the post-season and if the Blue Jackets are to join them it will largely depend on the play of brilliant rookie netminder Steve Mason, who led the league with 10 shutouts.

"We know what's in front of us, Columbus captain Rick Nash told reporters during a conference call. "They know what it takes to win the Stanley Cup and we will have our hands full."

The San Jose Sharks finished the regular season as the NHL's top team but must shed their reputation as playoff under-achievers after exiting in the Western conference semi-finals the last three seasons.

The Sharks open against Anaheim and will have to be wary of the eighth seeded and in-form Ducks.

In other Western conference matchups, the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Calgary Flames while the St. Louis Blues, the NHL's hottest team in the second half going 25-9-7 to clinch their first playoff spot in five years, face-off against the Vancouver Canucks.

The NCAA has released their final figures for the events surrounding the 2009 NCAA Men's Final Four and they show a number of records were broken.

Detroit now holds the attendance records for several of the NCAA's marquee events, including The Big Dance, NCAA Hoop City, the Final Four Dribble and the Road to the Final Four 5K Run/Walk.

Attendance figures show that between 32,000 and 34,000 fans packed Ford Field on Friday, April 3, to watch the teams' practices and the Hershey's College All-Star Game.

For The Big Dance concerts, officials say the 300,000 music fans packed the Riverfront for three days of food, fun and entertainment by national recording artists and 40 local bands.

The attendance breaks down with 60,000 fans attending the AT&T Block part on Friday, 125,000 fans attending Big Dance Saturday and 115,000 fans attending the My Coke Fest on Sunday.

Meanwhile, 76,079 people took part in NCAA Hoop City over at Cobo Center for the first three days of the event. Attendance figures for the fourth and final day are still being compiled.

The Road to the Final Four 5K Run/Walk attracted 1,702 runners who raced through downtown and along the Riverfront on Saturday.

And not to be outdone, the National Semifinals and Championship games brought more than 145,000 people to Ford Field over the course of the weekend.

In talking about the attendance, Greg Shaheen, the NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball and Business Strategies says "Detroit proved itself to be one of America’s great sports and music cities and exceeded all expectations for the weekend. This weekend was a celebration of another great NCAA men’s basketball season and millions of people who follow the game from every corner of the country and world. Detroiters demonstrated great warmth, spirit, and hospitality and helped make this a memorable weekend for visiting and local fans alike."

A veteran Hollywood film executive who is a native Detroiter will build a $146 million, 750,000-square-foot film, TV and media production studio factory and village on 104 acres of land at Southfield Road and Enterprise Drive in Allen Park, officials announced today.

Productions at Unity Studios will employ up to 3,000 skilled and non-skilled union workers. Unity will employ up to 83 management/operational positions for the studio and within the Village.

City of Allen Park residents and laid-off union workers from across the region will get first shot at the jobs, Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka said.

"Unity Studios amounts to an economic development blockbuster and the best economic news announced in Downriver and southeast Michigan in years," Burtka said. "This project represents new hope and, more importantly, job opportunities for thousands of Allen Park residents and auto workers who have lost their jobs.

"We have found an economic boost in the lights, cameras and action of Michigan's newest high-tech industry."

Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Unity Studios project highlights the success of the state's efforts to attract the film industry to Michigan.

"We are working hard to build a diversified economy and create good-paying jobs for our talented workforce," Governor Granholm said. "As a result of our aggressive film incentives enacted just a year ago, we are not only bringing new investment to the burgeoning film production community in Michigan, we are putting in place the infrastructure for an industry that will support long-term job growth and opportunity in new, creative sectors."

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said the Unity Studios project is an important step in diversifying the county's economy.

"Our economic development team has been working diligently with Allen Park on this project," Ficano said. "We are now attempting to put together an incentive package that will create jobs in a new industry for the region."

The county is considering making a Renaissance Zone designation available for the project when all benchmarks are met by investors, Ficano added.

Unity Studios will be majority owned and operated by a group of investors from Los Angeles and Michigan, with Jimmy Lifton of California as the President. Lifton, originally from Southfield, Michigan, has been in the business of entertainment for 30 years. He has owned an internationally distributed record label, produced 13 feature films, and is Principal of one of the largest independent post-production audio studios in Los Angeles, Oracle Post. Some of the most famous and familiar TV and film industry giants use Oracle Post including Fox, HBO, NBC, ABC, Disney, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, VH1 and MTV.

Also unique about the project: The Lifton Institute for Media Skills will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out of work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits. In addition, the project will include a village where people can live, shop and find entertainment options.

"My goal was to help bring a new industry to my home state," said Lifton. "I like to think of Unity Studios as a factory in the tradition of Henry Ford's Rouge factory model. All aspects of production occurring in one location; workforce training, production, post-production, distribution and marketing. We will constantly be creating product on the lot, utilizing the Detroit area's best asset, the creativity of its people."

Burtka said the project represents a creative and progressive approach to community-based economic development and redevelopment: under the agreement with Lifton, the city will own equity in the studios. In addition, the studios are being developed on brown field property currently occupied by various buildings and open fields. As a result, it does not increase sprawl nor does it require the city and its taxpayers to shoulder significant new infrastructure costs.

"This project is an economic development win-win-win for Allen Park residents," Burtka said.
"We did not need to raise taxes a penny to win this project. Our residents get first shot at the jobs, and they are owners too."

Allen Park officials said the project would not have been possible without significant support from the State of Michigan.

"We offer our sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan Film Office, Robert Ficano, the Michigan Economic Development Growth Corporation, and to the state legislators who helped us put all the pieces together," Burtka said.

Additional details about Unity Studios will be released in coming weeks and months, including the start of construction, hiring, enrollments in the training institute, and partnerships with various other companies and industries in the region and state.

Unity Studios Facts

A full-service movie, television and media production studio factory and village to be built on 104 acres at Southfield Road and Enterprise Drive in Allen Park.

$146 million total project investment.

Phase 1 will encompass 40 acres of the site. It will include 750,000 square feet of production, post-production and production services facilities with eight sound stages. In specific terms, there will be four, 24,000-square-foot sound stages, 45 feet to the grid. There will also be four smaller stages of about 11,000 square feet with 21-foot ceilings to accommodate smaller productions, TV shows, commercials and Media School productions.

Up to 3,000 skilled and non-skilled union jobs each year working on the sets of media productions and within the Village.

The project will generate up to 83 full-time managerial and operational jobs.

City of Allen Park residents and laid-off union workers from across the region will get first shot at the jobs.

A unique and progressive economic development model in which the City of Allen Park will have equity in the project.

The project is being developed on brown field property that has served as home to auto makers and suppliers for decades. As a result, it does not increase sprawl nor does it require the city and its taxpayers to shoulder significant new infrastructure costs.

Unity Studios will be majority owned and operated by a group of investors from Los Angeles and Michigan, with Jimmy Lifton of California as the President.

Lifton, a native Detroiter, has been in the business of entertainment for 30 years. He has owned an internationally distributed record label, produced 13 feature films, and is Principal of one of the largest independent post-production audio studios in Los Angeles, Oracle Post. Some of the most famous and familiar TV and film industry giants use Oracle Post including Fox, HBO, NBC, ABC, Disney, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, VH1 and MTV.

The Lifton Institute for Media Skills will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out of work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits.

Devoted Tigers fan has followed his team since 1927

David Harris
The Flint Journal

Russell Springsteen remembers the game like it was yesterday.

It was 1927 at Navin Field, the one-time home of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were playing the Washington Senators.

"I was 9 years old and my big brother took me," said Springsteen, now 90, of Flint Township. "The big field was so green. I'd never seen anything like it."

Springteen recalls the Tigers trailing going into the bottom of the ninth. Then the Tigers scored three runs, including two home runs, in the inning to win.

"I thought it was great," he said. "The crowd went wild."

As the 2009 Detroit Tigers made their first appearance at Comerica Park on Friday, Springsteen is ready for another season.

He has been to at least one Tigers game every year, save for a few years when he was serving in World War II and last year when he was too sick, since 1927.

Through the years he's been to some of the Tigers most famous games.

He was at Briggs Stadium (which later became Tiger Stadium) in 1952 when Virgil "Fire" Trucks tossed a 1-0 no-hitter. In 1999, Springsteen went to the final game in Tiger Stadium.

Springsteen also has some funny stories. When he was 16, he went to a game with some older friends. He hopped into the car and they drove from his native Lapeer to Detroit.

His friends got drunk and he became separated from them.

"I knew exactly where we parked, and when I got to where the car was, there was no car," he said. "They must have gone to bar to finish getting drunk."

Springsteen hitch-hiked and walked to get home.

"When I was walking along (M-24) some dogs would come out and chase me a mile down the road," he said with a laugh.

He finally got home about midnight.

His favorite all-time Tiger is Gee Walker, a reserve right-fielder who played for the Tigers in the 1930s. He was a honorable player, Springsteen said.

Springsteen is a big fan of Comerica Park. He has had a seat in one of the luxury skyboxes for a couple games.

"They serve you food right there," he said.

It was quite a bit different from his first game -- way back in 1927.

"We were in the upper deck," he said. "I felt like I was a mile high."

Springsteen also has became a avid fantasy baseball player. He spends an hour or two each day tweaking his lineup.

"You get a chance to manage," he said. "You can a chance to move (your team) up the standings," he said.

The key to winning in fantasy baseball is pitching, he said.

"You got to spend a lot of money on pitching," he said. "Someone should tell that to (Tigers General Manager Dave) Dombrowski."
Jay Wierenga

For the throngs of Tiger fans and critics alike, today's game was for you.

For the talking heads and assorted prognosticators who have predicted another disappointing season in Detroit, today's game was for you.

For those who called for Jim Leyland to run for governor three years ago and are now calling for his head, today's game was for you.

And for those that think the city of Detroit is a walking corpse, today's game was for you.

At no time over the past couple seasons have the Tigers needed a victory more.

Sure, Detroit won a game in Toronto, thus avoiding the same fate as last year's disastrous club.
However, the loss on the following day sapped much of the slight optimism that had begun to pool in the corners of the sports pages.

Detroit needed an emphatic victory, and their kitties delivered in a resounding way, lassoing the Texas Rangers in a 15-2 affair on Friday afternoon.

Okay, I know what you are thinking. This was one game, and the Tigers are still one game below .500. I concede these points. But there is also a lot more reason for optimism than may initially be visible.

The reason that this game was so important was for the psyche of the players, as much as it was for the fans.

Those who felt burned by a drastically underachieving team last year needed to see a glimmer of hope.

Those who howl about Leyland and the overpaid yet under performing players needed to have a season home opener that would make them eat a little crow. Believe me, it goes down easier with a smuggled pocket flask of whiskey and an $8 beer chaser.

And those pitchers that waited in vain for their run support and the hitters that saw 0-0 opening scores turn quickly into insurmountable obstacles needed a day off from the cardiac arrest which was last season.

Let's take a look at what we have seen so far through five games.

The offense has been stellar, winning with both power and manufactured runs. Typical slow starters, like Miguel Cabrera, have flourished. A player looking for a bounce back season, Brandon Inge, has looked fantastic. Even the usually terrible hitter Gerald Laird managed to get a couple hits.

Defensively, the Tigers have been relatively consistent, although three players that the team has flaunted for their defensive prowess, Inge, Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago each have errors. Inge's in particular came at a very inopportune moment. Regardless, they have looked better, and their consistency will come with time.

The real story so far has been the pitching. The bullpen has been interesting to say the least. The two players brought in to lend a stable and steady hand, Juan Rincon and Brandon Lyon, have been lit up.

Meanwhile, the usually inconsistent Fernando Rodney looked great in his inning of work and rookie Ryan Perry has looked like a real gem in his two outings. Nate Robertson has been, well, Nate Robertson.

Additionally, the starting pitching has shown some real signs for hope. Edwin Jackson was a revelation in his start, Zach Miner looked great and Armando Galarraga picked up right where he left off last year. Those three, some might say, are the key to the season (at least in the early part of the year).