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.