Since April, we've been documenting pockets of innovation across America, under the premise that today's flux-driven economy can support entrepreneurs in any city, no matter how small and far-flung. In many ways, that underdog status is a boon, enabling outlandish ideas that wouldn't rate in more competitive markets, such as San Francisco and New York. Take Madison, Wisconsin, where progressive legislation is helping produce a new generation of tech startups, or Northern Arkansas, which has transformed into a hub for innovative retail companies in part because the biggest retailer of all, Walmart, is based there. The old barriers to starting and growing a business no longer abide. Here, we round up the best ideas emerging from some of the country's least likely places.

Detroit, Michigan 

Detroit Labs embodies the gonzo spirit of innovation that pervades Detroit. The one-year-old startup designs and builds mobile applications for big clients like Chevrolet and Domino's, but it also lets employees devote one day a week to totally independent projects. "Our goal is to empower the actual developers to become entrepreneurs," cofounder Dan Ward says.

Click HERE to read the full article on Fast Company!

Good news on several fronts. Our Olympic application for cornhole inclusion in the 2016 Rio games has been finalized and sent. Early hurdles include our “non-negotiable” that has to do with allowing individual costumes. We’re hopeful.

Until we hear back, the Detroit Cornhole Championship remains the world’s only sanctioned event. Which brings us to the best news yet…the registration link is up and we’re ready to throw some corn and crown the 2012 world champion on September 16th.

Sure “world champion” is heady stuff, but make no mistake, our chances increase if you can’t play well. Therefore, amateurs are heavily encouraged.

And, it’s not inconsequential that this year’s event is part of the R U Park Festival, with all proceeds going towards the all-important, ever-evolving Roosevelt Park. Future plans for park awesomeness include a skate park and much, much more, so it would be worth your expenditure even if you didn’t play. Let’s do this!

Just prior to publication of this very document, here’s what we’re able to confirm about the day:

• Pulled pork in the Slows tradition
• Fine, hand-selected beer
• Corn-themed live music provided some of Detroit’s finest bands
• A gallery of non-heckling cornhole fans from around the globe
• The greatest corn-bag tossing day on earth….ever How?
• Get your teammate and get in now, space is limited. Registration deadline is September 7th.

Register on-line with your team name and the name of both team members at http://tinyurl.com/8lns5wk (more information will be sent as we get closer to the event)

Show up. Drink beer. Toss well

Ships of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and Royal Canadian Navy are scheduled to visit Detroit as part of the Navy’s Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and Navy Week, Sept. 3-10. The week will be packed with family-friendly special events recognizing the Navy for keeping the sea lanes free for more than 200 years.

Area residents will have the opportunity to learn about the Navy’s role during the War of 1812 and about today’s Navy’s capabilities and relevance to national security. Visitors will get a chance to see the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Navy firsthand through a wide array of community events and outreach activities. During the festivities, the public can visit Navy ships, attend concert performances by the U.S. Navy Band from Great Lakes, IL, view performances by the Navy Color Guard, and ride in the Navy flight simulator. Additionally, three U.S. Navy Admirals will be on hand for the festivities including Rear Admiral Sinclair M. Harris, Rear Admiral Gregory M. Nosal, and Detroit-native Rear Admiral John E. Jolliffe. The public will also get the chance to meet with active and reserve sailors and officers from the visiting ships, Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Michigan and Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Detroit.

"Just as last year, Detroit Navy Week 2012 will be our chance to demonstrate the mission of the U.S. Navy and our proud heritage; and this year is extra special as we commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 - a great Naval victory," said Rear Admiral Harris, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. "America's Navy invites the city of Detroit to come out to see us as at the community events. We also look forward to performing various community service projects and engage with local corporate and community leaders."

Arriving at the city’s riverfront on Sept. 4 will be the coastal patrol ship USS Hurricane (PC 3), the frigate USS De Wert (FFG 45) and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, accompanied by the historic US Brig Niagara – a War of 1812 replica tall ship first constructed using the original wreckage salvaged from a Lake Erie bay in 1913. Also, the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec will be pierside in Windsor, Ontario. All ships will be open for public visitation and private tours are available upon request.

Sailors and officers from NRD Michigan, NOSC Detroit, the visiting ships, as well as local U.S. Marines and Coast Guardsmen will participate in many community service and outreach projects, including volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and interacting with youths at the local Boys and Girls Clubs and Detroit Children’s Hospital.

“This year, Navy Week is more important than ever as we commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner,” said Rear Admiral Nosal, commander of Carrier Strike Group Two. “The U.S. Navy is our nation’s front line in war and peace, operating on, above and below the water. I look forward to our Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard team visiting Detroit and showcasing our ships as well as the men and women on watch 24 hours a day protecting our way of life.”

The War of 1812, also known as America’s second war for independence, is regarded by many as the conflict that started our country’s rise to global influence. From 1812 to 1815, the United States fought to expand to the north and west, and to assert rights to trade freely with other countries without interference from Britain’s Royal Navy ships on the high seas. America’s modern Navy and its role as a global maritime force are deeply rooted in the events of 1812 to 1815.

 Click HERE for the full event schedule.
Detroit resurgent? VentureBeat is coming to the Motor City in September

A month ago I wrote a snarky column about Detroit, the site of the first satellite location for the U.S. Patent office in its 200-year history.

The response was huge, and the response was immediate: Detroit is alive, Detroit is resurgent, and Detroit is kicking ass. And among them was an invitation … to come and see for ourselves.

“There are an enormous number of myths about Detroit,” said Josh Linkner, a venture capitalist at Detroit Venture Partners. “It’s really good to be here,” said Bill Emerson, the chief executive of Quicken Loans, the largest online loan company in the U.S.

So we’re coming. And we’re going to see.

VentureBeat will be in Detroit on Sept. 11-14, and we want to see all the cool startups. A sign-up form is at the bottom of this post. Tell us what you’re doing, why it’s cool, and why we should chat with you.

What we’re hearing right now is that downtown Detroit is nothing like the news stories and gloomy photo galleries that get so much national attention. That Detroit is vibrant, growing, and alive.

“We wanted to help rebuild Detroit through entrepreneurship,” says Linkner. “But it goes much father than just a social imperative — Detroit is a great place to be a technology entrepreneur.”

Detroit’s costs are very low he says, about one-third those at Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. Engineers are 50 percent cheaper, and with the University of Michigan and Michigan State nearby, the region has big supply of talent. That’s important, since Detroit Venture Partners runs an accelerator in the newly renovated M@dison building.

“When we launched in 2010,” Linkner told me, “there were zero venture funds. Today there are 12 to 15 funds.”

Detroit Venture Partners is the most active with 15 investments so far, all in technology.

Click HERE to read the full article by John Koetsier on VentureBeat!
The 11th annual Tour de Troit, a bicycle tour through Detroit’s historic neighborhoods, will be held on Saturday, September 15 starting at Roosevelt Park. The event enables cyclists to explore the city while taking in many of its spectacular sights.

The event has continued to grow in participants over the years, and organizers are planning for 5,000 riders this year. The route will be closed to automobile traffic, a first for Tour de Troit. The City of Detroit has approved a closed course, blocking off the appropriate roads for the duration of the ride. Because no cars can enter the course streets, the cyclists will not need a police escort.

“We are so excited to once again give Tour de Troit participants the one-of-a-kind opportunity to see Detroit when riding along with thousands of fellow cyclists,” said Vittoria Katanski, Tour de Troit co-director. “This year, our riders will enjoy a new and exciting course taking them through wonderful neighborhoods and business districts.”

The event offers two routes – one for the more recreational rider and another for more experienced cyclists. The leisure course runs approximately 30 miles and the alternative course is a Metric Century, 62 miles. Registration and sign-in will begin at 7:30 a.m.; the Metric Century ride will depart at 8 a.m. with the main group departing at 9 a.m. Both courses start and end at Roosevelt Park in Detroit at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and 14th Street, Corktown. For a pre-ride pick-me-up, McDonald’s will supply yogurt parfaits and Great Lakes Coffee will be serving the java.

Registration costs $40 per rider and $35 for students. The cost increases on September 1 to $50/$45. Day-of registration costs $65 for all participants, but space is limited to 5,000 riders and participants are encouraged to register now. The Metric Century 62-mile option is sold out.

The Tour de Troit will be supported with approximately 50 sweepers and six support and gear (SAG) vehicles. Sweeper and SAG teams include experienced cyclists ready to assist participants with course instructions, changing flat tires or completing minor repairs on the road. If for any reason a rider cannot complete the course, the SAG team will take rider and bike back to Roosevelt Park. Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop, American Cycle and Fitness, The Hub of Detroit, Detroit Bicycle Co., Suicide Squad and Bikes and Murder sponsor the sweeper and SAG teams.

A rest stop, supported by Vitamin Water, Eastern Market Co. and Whole Foods, is located at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle approximately halfway through the ride.

The ride culminates with a party in Roosevelt Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the shadow of Michigan Central Station featuring food and drink from local restaurants like Slow’s Bar B Que, Gonella Subs, Honeybee Market, Paul’s Pizza, Traffic Jam & Snug, Organaman and MillKing It Productions.

Flagstar Bank, a new Tour de Troit sponsor, covers maintenance fees and permit costs, allowing one hundred percent of participant entry fees to benefit greenways development in Detroit. The event has already raised more than $100,000 for cycling infrastructure in Detroit, including the Southwest Detroit Greenlink.

"Flagstar Bank is proud to be a sponsor of an event that helps financially support and build community awareness for our local greenways and bicycle routes,” said Mary Anne Parks, vice president, Event Management, at Flagstar. “We are committed to making a difference in Detroit and across Michigan, and Tour de Troit is a perfect match for our goals."

Advance registrations include a t-shirt; sizes are not guaranteed for day-of registration.

On-street parking is available at Roosevelt Park, but riders are encouraged to take the SMART bus or cycle to the event. Additional offsite parking is available at University of Detroit Dental School, Motor City Casino and Hotel and the State of Michigan Welcome Center, all of which are located within a ten-minute pedal of Roosevelt Park. Lodging partners for the event are Motor City Casino and Hostel Detroit.

To register and find out more information, visit www.tour-de-troit.org .

About Tour de Troit: The Tour de Troit is an annual event that raises funds to support non-motorized infrastructure in Detroit, including the Southwest Detroit Greenlink. The bicycle tour takes riders through the city’s historic areas, showcasing Detroit’s sites and landmarks.