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How West Michigan Bank Shows ‘Importance of Being Good Neighbor’

Ada Delgado doesn’t have blond hair. Nor does she wear wooden shoes. Yet, the Holland woman of Puerto Rican descent is serving as vice-chairwoman of the annual Tulip Time Festival.

Ada Delgado

Ada Delgado

Her primary role: Make sure the popular event rooted in the community’s Dutch heritage is “inclusive of what Holland is today” by involving a range of community groups.

“I’m a true testament that you don’t have to be Dutch to be part of Tulip Time,” said Delgado, who works as a retail operations consultant for Holland-based Macatawa Bank.

Striving to ensure the entire community gets to participate in Tulip Time is a fitting task for Delgado, given Macatawa Bank’s emphasis on community service. The bank has been recognized for the past eight consecutive years as one of “West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” due in part to this guiding principle: We believe our responsibility is to support our community with our time, talents and resources.

That principle enables Delgado and hundreds of other Macatawa Bank employees to participate in community events and causes that are important to them. For example, Delgado has been active with Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) as a translator, volunteer coordinator and youth mentor, in addition to her work with Tulip Time.

In both cases, Delgado’s community involvement has been nurtured by Macatawa Bank.

“During my 14 years with Macatawa Bank I have not only had the opportunity to serve, but I have received the encouragement and support to get involved and be a part of what I believe in,” Delgado said. “I feel at home working for an organization that truly believes in giving back to the community and in letting our employees volunteer their time and talents for local organizations that matter to them.”

Macatawa Bank employees are active across West Michigan where the bank has 26 locations in Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties. The bank also runs community events on its own, such as this spring’s annual Recycle Days.

Cars lined up at the bank’s Riley Street branch in Holland shortly after Tax Day when more than 20 bank employees wearing orange T-shirts helped unload boxes of confidential documents and securely destroy them in a Rapid Shred truck. Several other Macatawa Bank branches also made shredding trucks available to both customers and non-customers in April.

“Our annual Recycle Days event is something everyone looks forward to every year – employees and the community alike,” said Jodi Sevigny, chief marketing officer for Macatawa Bank. “Our employees love the chance to serve their community by taking in sensitive documents and shredding them right on site. Our community is so appreciative that we can help them keep their identity secure, while at the same time helping to care for our environment.

“The local leaders that founded Macatawa Bank had a vision of what a true community bank could be. Today, we still live that vision.”

Macatawa Bank’s foundation of community support translates into daily banking operations, too. A full suite of banking services has been built with the needs of customers at the forefront, and decisions are made right here in West Michigan where the bank’s customers live and work.

In fact, wanting to work for a community-based bank with closer ties to customers was a big reason Andy Schmidt came to Macatawa Bank six years ago after more than two decades working for large regional banks. With a local management team making decisions, Macatawa Bank empowers Schmidt to look beyond the numbers and develop more personal relationships with his customers.

Andrew Schmidt

Andrew Schmidt

As printed on the orange shirts worn by Macatawa Bank’s Recycle Days volunteers, “we’re not revolutionizing banking, we’re humanizing it.”

“When you work with smaller, family-owned businesses, you become a much more valuable resource to them,” said Schmidt, a commercial relationship manager. “You become part of their team that helps plan their business. You get to know their kids, their spouse. They think of you as one of their key advisors.

“It’s a much more fulfilling occupation when you know you’re helping someone achieve their goals.”

That opportunity to come alongside West Michigan businesses only comes along if the community itself is thriving and successful. So, it makes sense that Macatawa Bank goes out of its way to support the community through events such as Recycle Days and so many other ways that employees volunteer their time.

Another of Macatawa Bank’s guiding principles states that we believe West Michigan is the best place to live and work. Schmidt believes that, and he’s doing his part to make sure it rings true for as many people as possible.

“In West Michigan, we understand the importance of being a good neighbor,” said Schmidt, who also serves on the board of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. “We recognize that we’re all connected, and that the health of our businesses, our families and our community all depend on us caring for and helping each other.”

Wine Tasting! 5 Tips to Find Your New Favorite Vino

Traverse City is located right on the water, halfway between the North Pole and the equator, in an ideal region for growing wine grapes. So, it’s no wonder that the area is full of artisan vintners.

As a result, the Traverse Wine Coast attracts seasoned wine drinkers who know all about grape varietals, residual sugars and tannins. In fact, The Travel Channel named Traverse City one of the country’s New Top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs.

But that doesn’t mean novice wine drinkers should feel intimidated when walking into one of the area’s 40 wineries. On the contrary, an upcoming monthlong celebration in Traverse City is the perfect chance to learn about the region’s wine.


The Traverse Wine Coast grows 55 percent of Michigan’s wine grapes and is the fifth-largest wine-producing region in the country.

The Traverse Wine Coast grows 55 percent of Michigan’s wine grapes and is the fifth-largest wine-producing region in the country.

Traverse City Uncorked runs throughout May with social wine tastings, lively winery events and discounted lodging packages. No matter how much or little you know about wine, the variety of events presents ample opportunity to do the most important thing you can do to learn more about wine: Taste it!

“Get to know what you like,” said Coen Saltes, general manager of a tasting room for Brengman Brothers, which has vineyards on the Leelanau Peninsula. “Taste wines you’re not familiar with. Taste wines you know you don’t like.”

Not sure where to start discovering your new favorite wine? Check out all the Traverse City Uncorked events here.

Lodging packages include a $30 winery gift certificate and a “Super Ticket” that you can redeem for one pour each, for two people, at every Traverse Wine Coast winery. While you’re in the area you can also enjoy the springtime majesty of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, the awe-inspiring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the incredible beauty of cherry blossoms as they bloom in May.

5 Tips to Find Your New Favorite Vino

As you prepare to visit, take a look at these wine-tasting tips:

  • Look – Hold up your glass and check out the color and clarity of the wine. The wine’s hue or shade foreshadows its taste. A lighter-colored white wine might be more acidic and taste crisp and refreshing, for example, while a deeper, golden color hints at a richer flavor. (Pro tip: Hold the glass by the stem rather than gripping the bowl. The heat from your hands can alter the temperature and taste of the wine, Saltes said.)
  • Swirl – Shake your glass a bit to move the wine around and expose it to more oxygen. This coats the glass with the wine and releases its aromas, giving the wine stronger aromatics, Saltes said.
  • Smell – Bring the glass up to your nose for a sniff. Then, dip your nose in a little deeper and inhale. The wine’s aroma, or nose, is an integral part of the experience and can clue you in to how it will taste.
  • Drink – Take a sip, rolling the wine around in your mouth to taste the different notes of flavor. Be sure to ask your server questions: “Where is this juice coming from?” Saltes said. “That’s a huge question. Is this grown on-site or is it from outside of Michigan?”
  • Discuss – Whether a wine is good or bad is entirely up to your own opinion. And the people you’re tasting with might have an entirely different opinion! That’s okay. It’s part of the fun. When and where you’re tasting can have an impact, too. You might like a dry, white wine in the middle of a warm afternoon, for example, and prefer a heavy red wine in the evening. “Wine is so situational,” Saltes said. “It depends on occasion. It depends on mood.”

Traverse City Uncorked features a variety of events throughout May including social wine tastings, lively winery events and discounted lodging packages.

The Traverse Wine Coast produces 55 percent of the wine grapes in Michigan and is the fifth-largest wine-producing region in the country.  A big reason for that is the area’s ideal geography: the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are located at the same latitude as major wine regions in France and Italy. Plus, the presence of Lake Michigan creates the ultimate micro-climate for growing wine grapes.Each winery along the Traverse Wine Coast puts its own touch on the grapes that grow out of the region’s blessed soil. That’s why a chardonnay at one winery tastes different than a chardonnay at the winery down the road, for example. Even a wine of a particular vintage will taste different than one from the same winery that’s made with grapes from a different growing season.

The artisan wine of Traverse City truly gives you a taste of the vine in Michigan.

“You’re tasting authenticity,” Saltes said. “You’re tasting a family’s land. That’s a beautiful thing.”

What Michigan wine will you discover this spring?

 

Dining out experiences: Learn about Lansing restaurateurs’ view on food, life

It won’t take long after meeting Sam Short to realize that his effusive personality makes a stranger feel like a long-time friend in minutes.

And his Potent Potables restaurants – Punk Taco, Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern, The Cosmos and The Creole – were created with the same spirit, providing an engaging look at food, people and the life around them.

Sam, who is one of three partners in the Lansing gathering spots with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper, recently sat down with MLive’s John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman to talk about what makes the restaurants hum, how they’ve connected with employees and made a difference in the lives of others.

“There’s a movement toward locally owned restaurants, but that only goes so far if you’re not doing something that sets you apart and makes an impact, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sam said off-camera.

“If I’m going out and spending my money at a restaurant, I’m going for an experience. It should be a bit nostalgic, fun-filled, a bit geeky. So, our focus is on delivering happiness. We just sell food. The thing that differentiates us is our people. That’s why we focus on them and helping them grow and give the community what it wants.”

The entrepreneurs have created establishments with a neighborhood vibe and a focus on chef-driven, fresh food. The teams at each restaurant curate menus to challenge their skills and extend the palate of guests. The parameters, Sam said, are: “We want (the chefs) to make it interesting.”

Everything at the restaurants is hand-made, Sam said. That includes dressings, cheeses, breads and more.

“We do it because we’re geeked about food,” he said. “To us, it’s important that the food doesn’t come out of a can or a box, that it’s not the same as you get everywhere else. We ask ourselves ‘how can we make this better,’ whether that’s a sausage that goes on a pizza or a tortilla for a taco.”

Sam and his partners want the food to stand-out in the same manner they seek to create a work environment that cultivates and incentivizes employees to be their best. They offer benefits, such as a wellness program, 401k match and flexible spending accounts, not often available in the food industry. There are also opportunities to reward and recognize fellow employees – with financial bonuses – by noting how they’ve pitched in to help their colleagues.

“We try to think as holistically as possible,” Sam said, adding they also have reciprocal discounts at a yoga studio and other local establishments. “We want to motivate and reward people. If you want to learn something and grow as a person, we’ll help you. We have kitchen managers that started as dishwashers, but they wanted to do more than that. That’s exciting, and we encourage that.

“The thing people need is a passion about food. That’s number one. We can teach you other things, but people need to be engaged and interested.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

From Hot Sauce to Craft Beer: MSU Agri-Food Leadership Makes Huge Economic Impact

It wasn’t long ago that Scotty and Suzi Owens were typical gardeners who enjoyed sharing some of their harvest with friends. The hot sauce they made with homegrown peppers got rave reviews, and people said they should go into business selling it.

When Scotty got laid off from his work in tool and die during Michigan’s economic downturn, he and his wife did just that.

Fast forward to today and bottles of Scotty O’Hotty hot sauce and salsa are in grocery stores around the country. The couple’s business is operating with seven employees out of a 17,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, and in 2019 they’re on track to go nationwide in Kroger stores and begin exporting their award-winning products to China.

So, how in the world did that happen?

The Michigan State University Product Center recognized Suzi and Scotty Owens as 2018 entrepreneurs of the year.

“We had the dreamiest stars in our eyes, but I was almost at a brick wall at what to do,” Scotty Owens said. “MSU really steered us in the right direction.” The Owens came across the Michigan State University Product Center in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. There they received guidance on the rules and regulations involved in making a food product, took classes on bottling, learned about labeling and in 2012 got licensed to work out of a commercial kitchen.

A year later Scotty O’Hotty was on the shelves in small grocery stores that the Owens connected with through MSU’s Making It In Michigan food show, and the business has been growing ever since. Earlier this year the MSU Product Center named Scotty and Suzi Owens their entrepreneurs of the year.

Scotty O’Hotty is just one of many success stories at the MSU Product Center, which helps start or expand businesses in the agriculture and food sector. Just last year, the Product Center helped launch 87 new Michigan businesses that invested $35 million into the economy and created 350 new jobs.

But the MSU Product Center is just one way that MSU has been helping to grow the state’s food and agriculture system over the past 160 years. As the country’s pioneer land-grant institution, the then-Michigan Agricultural College has been a leader in practical, science-based education from the start, and even though the name has changed agriculture remains an important  area of research, with a big impact on the Michigan economy.

“The idea of us being here to help support and build and grow the agriculture and natural resources industries of the state goes back to the very beginning,” said Douglas Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch and assistant vice president of research and graduate studies.

Back in the mid-1800s, MSU was established by federal law as an agricultural school — the first to teach scientific agriculture. It became the prototype for the nation’s land-grant institutions, which were created to promote both the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes. Though MSU now carries out that mission across a wide range of disciplines, the original focus was agriculture.

Before the start of the 20th century, MSU had birthed groundbreaking agricultural advances including the development of hybrid corn to increase yields and the discovery that a swath of Michigan is fertile ground for sugar beets. Pioneering work has continued on everything from the process used in the homogenization of milk to how Michigan farmers can grow hops for the state’s booming craft beer sector.

Nearly 5,000 students are studying in dozens of degree and certificate programs through Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

And today MSU is a global leader in agricultural education, using scientific research to address real-world problems and help agri-food businesses implement solutions.

MSU has played no small role in Michigan’s massive food and agriculture economy, which fuels more than 800,000 jobs and makes an annual impact of more than $100 billion, according to a 2018 study. Here are just a few glimpses of the breadth of MSU’s engagement in the industry:

Preparing tomorrow’s agricultural leaders

Today, MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources includes nearly 5,000 students studying in dozens of degree and certificate programs in forestry, animal science, crop and soil science, horticulture and many others.

“Through our educational programs we train the next generation of agri-food leaders both in the public sector and in the private sector,” said Bill Knudson, a professor in MSU’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. “We have a lot of two-year programs as well, geared primarily toward people who will be working on the farm both in the crop area and the livestock area.

Michigan State University student Loren G. King is studying how technology such as drones and autonomous vehicles can make farm operation more efficient.

“Not only do we train our workers, but we also train our regulators. We’d have a much less safe food supply (without MSU’s leadership).”

Among those thousands of students is Loren G. King, who comes from a family farm in southwest Michigan and is learning about agriculture technology. Looking at global population estimates during his lifetime, the 20-year-old knows that the food and agriculture system will have to produce more and, to remain sustainable, do so while using fewer inputs such as fertilizer.

So, he’s studying how farms could deploy autonomous vehicles and drones to become more efficient. He envisions a completely cloud-based farm where managers can use mobile devices to gauge moisture and nutrient levels to see how crops are doing.

“It’s about expanding the efficiency of the farmer right now,” King said. “You’ve got to feed more people while using less.”

Bringing innovation into everyday life

Embedded in the DNA of a land-grant institution like MSU is the drive to use cutting-edge scientific tools to address problems and forge new opportunities. Because of that, food and agriculture study at MSU is definitely “not a science for science’s sake operation,” Buhler said.

A benefit of MSU’s research is that Michigan has developed the country’s second most-diverse agricultural economy. In addition to staples such as corn, milk and eggs, the state’s agriculture sector is full of smaller, specialty crops from asparagus to wine grapes.

Some of Michigan’s fruit varieties, for example, have been developed by MSU on nearly 20,000 acres that are used for agriculture and natural resources research and education throughout the state.

Michigan State University professor Rufus Isaacs is a leading researcher on the invasive spotted wing drosophila insect.But that diversity also breeds new challenges. Fortunately, MSU also is at the forefront of combating new crop diseases and pests. For example, professor Rufus Isaacs this month made a list of the world’s most Highly Cited Researchers for his work on the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive insect that damages fruit crops. Isaacs is just one of many MSU food and agriculture experts on the list.

“The large companies that are there to support major corn, soybean and dairy are not available for a lot of these smaller, more specialized industries,” Buhler said. “If we’re not there to help them with their latest insect, there aren’t a lot of options. If we weren’t here I don’t know who would fill that gap in all these specialty areas.

“Not many years ago there were almost no hops grown in Michigan. Had MSU not been here to help people learn how to manage hops and control diseases I don’t think it would have happened.”

Aside from immediate threats, MSU also is researching long-term challenges from food waste to world hunger through efforts including the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy. Climate change poses another problem, and MSU’s Plant Resilience Institute is working to improve the ability of crops to handle weather extremes.

“Minor changes in weather could have a real impact on us,” Buhler said.

Helping communities grow

Not only does MSU do research to support Michigan’s food and agriculture system and educate the next generation of industry leaders, the university also takes what it learns and shares it with the broader public. That work takes many forms including the new “Food @ MSU. Our Table” program, which helps people make better-informed choices about food.

In an era where the population is both growing and becoming more urbanized, it’s easy for people to be even more disconnected from the sources of the food they eat. That’s why MSU also is active in urban agriculture around the state, including the new MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation.

Michigan State University’s first urban food research center is being established in northwest Detroit through the new MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation.

MSU is establishing its first urban food research center on a 2.5-acre former school site in a northwest Detroit neighborhood. The findings on everything from soil remediation to fertilizer and pesticide use will inform urban growers around Michigan and beyond.

“When you’re growing food in an urban setting it’s very different than in an open space,” said Dave Ivan, MSU Extension director of community, food and environmental programming. “This new center really will provide an opportunity for us to plant a flag in an area, working with a lot of the existing leaders in the Detroit urban ag movement in terms of how we can help you address the challenges you’re facing.“

We have a lot of credibility in communities, so people trust the information that we provide. They know that we’re scientific in terms of guiding our recommendations or framing an issue.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Movie Star’s Michigan Hometown Makes Great Winter Weekend Escape

The Jiffy storage silos tower 135 feet above Chelsea’s Main Street, a symbol of the role that the world’s leading manufacturer of baking mix has in the community. Just seeing the brand’s familiar blue and white boxes evokes feelings of an earlier era, such that Jiffy has been labeled in business circles as “retro hip.”

The grain silos at Chelsea Milling Co. stand over 135 feet tall.

You might say the same about Chelsea itself. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, downtown Chelsea features an eclectic mix of shopping, dining, arts and entertainment — all in a walkable space that feels like you’re strolling through a Norman Rockwell painting.

Chelsea truly is something else, a great place in Michigan to discover something special.

In the midst of the holiday rush, keep in mind that not every gift can be ordered online, packaged in a box and shipped to your door. Nor should it. Sometimes, the most extraordinary gifts are something else — something outside the box.

How about sharing the experience of a small-town getaway this winter? Follow this guide to plan an excursion to Chelsea in a jiffy:

Vibrant arts

As a historic place, downtown Chelsea itself is a gallery of art featuring quaint streets lined with Victorian homes and a business district with beautiful Italianate architecture. It looks like the set of a movie.

Emmy Award-winner Jeff Daniels, a Chelsea native, founded The Purple Rose Theatre in 1991.

Chelsea also is the setting for The Purple Rose Theatre, which brings original works by Michigan artists as well as American classics to the stage. The professional theatre company founded by actor/singer/playwright Jeff Daniels, a Chelsea native, performs in an intimate, 168-seat venue right downtown.

Daniels’ own “Diva Royale” is being performed at The Purple Rose through Dec. 29, with the curtain set to go up Jan. 17-March 16 on the world premiere of “Never Not Once.” The Purple Rose 2018-2019 season also features Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” from April 4 through June 1 and the world premiere of “Welcome to Paradise” from June 20 to Aug. 31. Performances are nightly from Thursday through Saturday, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Get tickets here.

 

 

 

Whatever your palate and dining style, you can find a restaurant you’ll love in downtown Chelsea. For fine dining, Common Grill is routinely ranked as one of southeast Michigan’s best restaurants. People travel from all over for the upscale bistro’s premier seafood and seasonal menu, and it does not disappoint.

Try local craft beers at the Chelsea Alehouse Brewery or go for craft spirits at Ugly Dog Distillery.

If your mouth waters for an old-fashioned burger or steak, stop by Cleary’s Pub. The classic Irish pub features outstanding food and live music in a space with old brick walls and a turn-of-the-century original tin ceiling.

Smokehouse 52 BBQ this fall was voted one of the 10 best barbecue restaurants in Michigan. The all-American BBQ sports a cow hanging from the sign outside the door.

For local craft beer paired with bites from a deli-style kitchen, check out Chelsea Alehouse Brewery, which hosts live music on Wednesday nights this winter. Across the street you can sip craft spirits at Ugly Dog Distillery.

Valiant Bar & Grill is a new sports bar that opens in December with a perfect mix of food, drink and sports. The diverse menu features everything from All-American burgers to Mediterranean cuisine to Tex-Mex along with a variety of beers, specialty cocktails and wines.

Pizza lovers will enjoy classic hometown pies at Thompson’s Pizzeria. And, in Chelsea, the Michigan chain Jet’s Pizza takes the form of a sports bar with unique craft beers and live music in The Rumpus Room next door.

Live music and open mics also are hosted regularly at Zou Zou’s Café in a French-themed setting where you can pair delicious cinnamon rolls and scones with a beer.

RELATED: This is what happens when Michigan housewives go looking for romance in Big Apple!

Unique shops

Whether you’re on the hunt for that perfect Christmas gift or shopping for yourself, there’s something for everyone in downtown Chelsea. If someone on your list is a challenge to buy for, check out Bumble’s Dry Goods. The store offers all kinds of hard-to-find items, unique artwork and homemade furniture.

Speaking of furniture and home décor, Merkel Furniture offers three stories of it in downtown Chelsea and is an inspiring place to wander around and dream. La Maison is a boutique home décor store that features Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and holds workshops on refinishing furniture.

 Elsewhere downtown you can browse the shelves at Serendipity Books, peruse old-world quality at La Jolla Fine Jewelry, find a one-of-a-kind pieces at Chelsea Antiques or visit the fitting rooms at one of Chelsea’s boutique clothing stores to try out a new style (inspired, perhaps, by the costume design at The Purple Rose!). Then, take a break and unwind at Wines on Main, be pampered at Amber Indigo Facials, grab a snack at Chelsea Bakery or treat yourself at Hair By Trios, a certified organic salon.

Extraordinary activities

On Feb. 8-9, Chelsea will transform into the world headquarters of chocolate and curling. The community will set up four sheets of ice for the Curling Fest that involves competition, lessons, beer, food trucks and fire pits. That same weekend is the Chocolate Extravaganza when stores in Chelsea give out free samples of everything chocolate.

Chelsea Milling Co. has been making Jiffy baking mix for 90 years.

Just outside of town in Michigan’s largest state park in the Lower Peninsula you can find some of the best mountain biking and hiking around. The DTE Energy Foundation Trail inside the Waterloo Recreation Area features more than 20 miles of trails, including one loop that’s been named the best in Michigan. The recreation area also is home to the Eddy Discovery Center, a nature center with hiking loops through Michigan’s great outdoors.

And, of course, the Jiffy Mix plant is open for tours. “It’s actually fascinating to watch them fill thousands of boxes of mix,” said Monica Monsma, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s really a huge operation. They’re one of our largest employers and it’s what we’re really known for.”

Relaxing places to stay

The Chelsea House Victorian Inn is just a few steps away from The Purple Rose Theatre in downtown Chelsea.

Just a few steps from The Purple Rose and the rest of downtown, Chelsea House Victorian Inn bed-and-breakfast offers period-decorated rooms and an intimate carriage house suite. So much of the home’s interior, from the woodwork to the furniture, is original to the 19th century with details perfectly preserved.

A short drive out of town is the Waterloo Gardens Bed & Breakfast, a country inn in a beautiful setting close to hiking and biking trails and near the Triple Crane Monastery that offers yoga and meditation classes.

If a B&B isn’t your style, check in to the Chelsea Comfort Inn where you can relax in an in-room whirlpool or lounge by the indoor pool.

Start building your small-town Michigan getaway with tickets to a Purple Rose play and go from there!

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Car Enthusiast Bucket List: R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

 

Long before Henry Ford’s assembly line produced the first Model T, and before General Motors was even conceived, Pliny Olds moved his family up from Ohio to Michigan’s capital city and started a small machine shop. It was there in the late 1800s that P.F. Olds & Son built steam engines, and young Ransom Eli Olds tinkered with development of a horseless carriage.

When R.E. Olds built a three-wheeled vehicle with a steam engine in 1887, it worked — just barely. His father quipped that “Ranse thinks he can put an engine in a buggy and make the contraption carry him over the roads.”

Said the elder Olds: “If he doesn’t get killed in his fool undertaking, I’ll be satisfied.”

Good thing R.E. Olds was foolish enough to keep trying. A decade later he had built a four-wheeled carriage with a gasoline engine and, at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, that “contraption” attracted the attention of financiers who helped start the Olds Motor Vehicle Co.

Utilizing a progressive assembly line — a precursor to Ford’s moving assembly line — the inventive Olds was able to build the world’s first mass-produced automobile. Pricing the Curved Dash Oldsmobile at an affordable $650, Olds sold thousands of them before Ford ever built a single Model T. By 1905, Lansing had become the car capital of the world with both Olds Motor Works and the new REO Motor Car Co. making vehicles in the city.

Chosen as the home of state government because of its central location, Lansing was transformed by Olds’ tinkering into the center of an emerging automotive industry that would revolutionize the city and beyond. Automotive production hasn’t stopped since, and to this day Lansing remains a major automotive player by making popular vehicles including the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, the Cadillac CTS and the sporty Camaro.

“If it wasn’t for R.E. Olds, Lansing wouldn’t be Lansing,” said Bill Adcock, director of the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. “He brought industry to this place. It built the middle class.”

The story of R.E. Olds is chronicled at the downtown Lansing museum, where visitors can see his early vehicles like the Curved Dash Oldsmobile and one of the four original gas-powered carriages. More than 60 classic vehicles are on display including the REO Speedwagon, REO Royale and “Baby REO,” the world’s first fully functional miniature car.

Plus, there are exhibits on R.E. Olds’ other exploits like patenting the first power lawn mower, designing yachts and developing Oldsmar, a residential community in Florida. There also are artifacts from the Olds family mansion, which, ironically, was torn down in 1971 to make way for the I-496 Olds Freeway.

Of course, long after R.E. Olds passed away, Lansing continued to make Oldsmobile cars and REO trucks, and many of these models from the last half of the 20th century are on display at the museum, too. Each car has its own story, and a common heritage that goes back to R.E. Olds.

“It’s a wonderful walk down memory lane,” said Lori Lanspeary, museum president.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday throughout the year. An especially good time to visit is during the upcoming Car Capital Auto Show on Saturday, July 28. The free event celebrates Lansing’s automotive heritage by showcasing more than 200 classic cars and collectible vehicles on the streets near the Capitol Building. Proceeds benefit the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum.

Another great opportunity to visit the museum is Wednesday, Aug. 22, when the Old US 27 Motor Tour stops in Lansing. This premier event starts in Coldwater with hundreds of classic cars that make stops in DeWitt, St. John’s, Ithaca, Alma, Clare, Grayling, Gaylord and more on the way to Cheboygan as they travel historic Old U.S. 27 over the course of five days.

Any time of year you visit the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, you can also drive around Lansing to see the city’s historic automotive sites — from the River Street site of the original P.F. Olds & Son machine shop to the GM Grand River Assembly plant where vehicles are still made today. There are signs at seven MotorCities National Heritage sites around the city detailing the development and legacy of the automotive industry.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Why ‘You Can Accelerate Your Career’ in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region

Fireworks blast over the Saginaw River in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region, which is a great place to launch your career.

Two years out of college, Cassi Miller is doing work that she loves, helping to re-invent an industrial-era downtown in the heart of one of the 10 most-populous states in the country. She lives minutes from Saginaw Bay where she loves to fish, close enough to Detroit for big-city excitement and a short drive to incredible natural resources all over the Great Lakes State.Plus, she’s already a homeowner.“My boyfriend and I were able to buy a house already when I was 23,” said Miller, an assistant economic developer who manages the city of Saginaw’s Downtown Development Authority. “We got our jobs set and had steady paychecks, and the housing is so affordable.“I have a lot of friends who live other places and they can’t even picture buying a house in the near future.”In addition to affordable housing, extraordinary career opportunities await young professionals like Miller who bring their talents to Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay region — an 8-county destination in the middle of the Lower Peninsula that’s home to state universities, world-class employers and a community-oriented culture where you can play a part and make a difference right away.If you’re looking for a place to start your career, or ready to take your next step, consider the Great Lakes Bay region for these reasons:

  • Strong downtowns — From Midland to Mt. Pleasant and from Bay City to Saginaw, the Great Lakes Bay region is full of bustling downtowns that are the commercial and cultural centers for some 600,000 people. Each city has its own unique character, offering distinct experiences of shopping, nightlife, entertainment and recreation. “There’s always things going on, something to do every weekend,” Miller said.
  • Diverse places to live — Want to live by water? The Great Lakes Bay region has 77 miles of freshwater coastline. Prefer an urban skyline? A tree-lined suburban street? A country farmhouse? The region offers a variety of living opportunities. Miller and her boyfriend bought a foreclosure house, between where she works in Saginaw and where he works as a controls engineer for General Motors in Bay City, and renovated it. After only a year, they’ve already built equity into the house.
  • Outdoor recreation — When Miller first moved to the region, she rented a house right on the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail that she biked all the time. “That was one of the first times that I thought this would be a really cool place to live,” she said. The region’s also full of hiking, snowmobiling and off-road vehicle trails through tens of thousands of acres of st

    The longest canopy walk in the country opens this fall in the Great Lakes Bay Region, taking people 40 feet up in the air through Whiting Forest in Midland.

    ate forests, has over 1,000 miles of rivers perfect for kayaking and canoeing and hundreds of lakes for fishing and boating including Lake Huron, the fourth largest lake on the planet.

  • Large companies — Dow Chemical headquartered in Midland is one of the largest companies in the world, but it’s far from the only major employer in the Great Lakes Bay region. Fortune 500 company Lear Corp. has a presence here, and successful manufacturing and engineering firms such as Hemlock Semiconductor, Hutchinson Aerospace, Magline, Nexteer and Vantage Plastics operate across the region.
  • Business friendly — Communities throughout the Region are prepared to help companies grow and locate new businesses. The Great Lakes Tech Park offers FREE pad-ready land for approved projects, with 148 acres available. It is an AT&T Fiber Ready Site, a designated Energy Ready Site by Consumers Energy and a Michigan Certified Business Park! The Region’s dynamic infrastructure, affordability and skilled workforce are ideal for advanced manufacturing. Interested in engineering, electronics and precision components? Then Tech Park occupants such as Fullerton Tool and Saginaw Control & Engineering may be a great fit for your career.

    The Great Lakes Tech Park outside Saginaw offers free, shovel-ready land to businesses.

  • Affordable place to live and play — With a cost of living below the national average, the Great Lakes Bay region offers affordable housing and commercial properties. For example, the median home value in Carrollton Township where Miller bought a house is just $65,000. Your paycheck goes a lot farther at the microbrewery here than it would many other places. “People are nice, plus it’s in the middle of everything in Michigan,” Miller said. “You can go to Detroit quickly, up to Traverse City, over to Ludington (on Lake Michigan). It’s still a fun place to stay home for the weekend as well.”

RELATED: 5 reasons free land in Michigan is a good site for business expansion
For all the advantages of living and working in the Great Lakes Bay region, there remains a gap between the number of qualified professionals and the number of jobs that are available. That’s why area employers are teaming up to host a “Coming Home” mixer where young professionals can learn about the region and discover all the immediate and long-term opportunities that await them here.
The mixer is 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). It’s free to attend. RSVP here.

  • RELATED: Discover Great Lakes Bay on Instagram
  • It wasn’t until Miller, 24, began dating a student at SVSU that she ever visited the Great Lakes Bay region. A Goshen, Ind. native, Miller studied at Ball State University and earned a degree in urban planning and development.

But rather than start her career in a big city, Miller found exactly what she was after in Saginaw: an urban center small enough for her to make connections with community leaders and start making a difference right away. She landed a job in economic development and got involved with the DDA, which works to make downtown Saginaw a more vibrant place.

The SVRC Marketplace opened in downtown Saginaw in summer 2018.

Momentum already was building in Saginaw before Miller arrived, with renovation of the former Saginaw News building into a new multi-purpose marketplace, construction of a downtown campus for Delta College and more. Her work has complemented that redevelopment, striving to make downtown more walkable with public spaces and plazas where people can gather.

“I really love community development and making places livable and fun to be in, that make you feel like you’re part of a community,” Miller said. “Saginaw, before I came, was already working on a lot of that, but I’m really happy that I’ve been able to be involved as much as I have here.”

Working in a city with a population of about 50,000 has enabled Miller to form relationships and get things done sooner than she’d be able to in a city of 500,000 or 5 million people.

“I think Saginaw’s about the perfect size, especially for what I do,” she said. “A lot of the companies are a lot smaller than you’ll find in large cities. It’s a lot easier to know the people in charge and make the moves you want.”

“You can accelerate your career by choosing to live here, not just in Saginaw but the whole Great Lakes Bay region. We’ve debated leaving to go back home (to Indiana), but if the opportunities keep coming to me the way they are we’ll be staying here.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

How Many Engineers Does It Take To Serve A Cup Of Froyo?

 

For the end customer, the world’s first robotic frozen yogurt vending kiosk is pretty cool. You order by touchscreen, which triggers an animated video and launches a robotic arm that takes a cup, fills it with froyo and lathers it in your favorite topping.

You’re going to start seeing lots of Reis & Irvy’s robots in shopping mall food courts, movie theater lobbies, hospital cafeterias and other venues around Michigan and beyond.

“The show is a big part of the appeal,” said Elliott Potter, co-founder of Houston-based Rethink Motion, which designs the robotic arm that powers the Reis & Irvy’s machine. “There’s always a line of people watching the robot do its thing.”

What the customer doesn’t know is that it takes a lot of engineering expertise to make a cool gadget like a robotic froyo kiosk into a viable commercial product that operates at a price point people are willing to pay.

As former NASA engineers, Potter and fellow co-founder Aaron Hulse are working to commercialize the kind of technology they worked on in the space program. They know what they’re doing when it comes to robotics. They know how to program the touchscreen interface, for example, and they know how to design the printed circuit boards that control the robotic arm’s motors and sensors.

But even though Potter and Hulse can design the products and make them work, they aren’t experts on how to make the circuit boards inside those products inexpensive and efficient to mass-produce. So, they turn to an electronics contract manufacturer (CM) with a deep pool of its own engineering expertise for help.

“Beyond the bill of materials and some basic rules of thumb, it’s hard to know what makes a printed circuit board assembly expensive or cheap, so I rely on feedback from the engineers at Saline Lectronics to say ‘We can do this, but this thing that you’ve done adds 30 percent to the cost of the board,’” Potter said.

“I definitely rely on them to go over the design and say ‘Gosh, the pads on this sure are small’ or ‘Without thermal relief on these pads we may have assembly issues.’ Their input on this is critical in terms of commercial success.”

How many engineers does it take to serve a cup of froyo? The question may sound like the beginning of a joke, but the reality is the more engineering expertise you can devote to solving a problem the better. That’s especially true for an electronics CM.

Not every electronics CM staffs the same level of engineering knowledge and experience. Some CMs have a greater breadth and depth of engineering talent, and that has a big impact both on the customer’s experience and on the quality of the final PCBA or box build.

PCBAs and other electronic manufacturing projects require a team effort between multiple types of professional engineers, who each bring the unique perspective of their specialty to the table.

Here’s a look at several different types of engineers that a technically-proficient electronics CM should have on its team:

  • When a CM receives an order, like for a PCBA that enables a robotic hand to sense when it’s grasping a yogurt cup, a Pre-Production Engineer reviews the customer’s documentation and requirements during a “pre-release” meeting that involves the entire engineering team. This meeting should include electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers. The CM’s engineers evaluate the documentation — instead of blindly following it — and identify the unique demands of the PCBA, including any special processes and potential problems that might arise. Having engineers with excellence in a variety of fields enables the CM to develop the optimal manufacturing plan for turning out PCBAs that meet the customer’s needs.
  • Once a manufacturing plan with instructions for the build have been developed up front, a Component Engineer reviews the Bill of Materials and works with the Purchasing Department to get all the parts and specialty components necessary to complete the PCBA. With many parts in short supply these days, some CMs will come back to their customers and say “we can’t find these 10 parts, so please find alternatives.” But it’s a huge time saver for customers like Rethink Motion when their CM has the technical capability to say “we can’t find these 10 parts, so please approve these 10 alternatives.”
  • An Associate Engineer translates the customer’s documentation into the CM’s standardized work instructions that technicians will use to implement the manufacturing plan devised in the pre-release meeting. Once the project is released to the production floor, a variety of engineers work with technicians to ensure the assembly proceeds successfully:
  • Process Engineer monitors the manufacturing process, troubleshooting any issues and finding opportunities for improvement. This may require support from a chemical engineer for special processes like conformal coating or potting processes, for example, or from a mechanical engineer for electro-mechanical box build products. It’s helpful to have specialty engineering expertise in house to oversee manufacturing and communicate with customers.
  • Test Engineer works closely with the customer to develop cost-effective testing that validates the PCBA performs as it should. This can include an In-Circuit Test (ICT), Flying Probe or other functional testing that helps improve product quality.
  • Quality Engineer works on the production floor and watches the entire process like a hawk, taking notes and making tweaks to make sure that the finished PCBA meets the customer’s needs. This engineer also is responsible for documenting compliance with any special certification requirements such as ISO13485, for medical equipment, or AS9100, for aerospace equipment.

Check out this eBook to learn more about how proper engineering training, degrees and industry certifications directly affect an electronic CM’s ability to implement best practices and superior solutions.

A diverse pool of engineering expertise is necessary for an electronics CM to optimize circuit board design and the assembly process — so that the manufacture of PCBAs avoids time-consuming inefficiencies and costly mistakes so that products like a frozen yogurt vending machine can come to life.

“That’s really a huge added value, not just having these engineers on staff at Saline Lectronics but having them work with me,” Potter said.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

This Will Happen if You Shift 1 in 10 Online Purchases to a Local Retailer

By shifting just one of 10 online purchases back to a local retailer, Michigan residents can support more than 10,000 new jobs in the state and $1.2 billion in new economic activity.

 

You could maybe save a couple bucks by making your next purchase online. Or you could help generate $1.2 billion in new economic activity by buying from a local Michigan retailer.

New research finds that people in Michigan would benefit by much more than a couple bucks if they shift just one of every 10 online purchases back to a local retailer. That would create nearly 10,600 jobs and increase wages by $350 million, according to a study commissioned by the Michigan Retailers Association and conducted by Public Sector Consultants.

 

“Even a modest switch back to local purchasing could have a notable positive economic impact,” the study states. “Ultimately, this small change in purchasing behavior could mean a big economic impact for Michigan’s future.”

Nationwide, e-commerce sales have more than doubled over the past decade, from less than 4 percent of total retail sales in 2008 to around 10 percent today. In Michigan, residents last year spent an estimated $18.5 billion on off-site retail purchases either online or via catalog or TV shopping channels. That accounted for more than 13 percent of total retail sales in the state — nearly $1 of every $8 spent. And that ratio is much higher when taking groceries and gas out of the equation.

But while individual consumers might save a few dollars buying online, in no small part due to tax advantages for online sellers, there’s a downside to the trend: As more people shop online, the share of retail spending at brick-and-mortar stores in Michigan is falling, and local retailers and their employees are feeling the pinch.

The trend’s not only bad for Michigan businesses, but also for everybody in Michigan since retailers are big employers and economic contributors — accounting for nearly one-fifth of the state’s total economic activity. When Michigan’s retailers struggle, the entire state feels the pain.

“While the growth in remote sales has provided some consumer benefits, this growth has not come without costs,” the study states.

So, what can we do about it? The Michigan Retailers Association is responding to online trends with its Buy Nearby campaign, which encourages consumers to keep their shopping dollars in Michigan and educates them on the benefits of doing so.

Retailers in Michigan employ more than 877,000 people — about one of every five jobs in the state — and they pay those employees $21.6 billion per year in wages. In addition to jobs and pay for employees, Michigan retailers indirectly support additional jobs for people working in other sectors by buying goods and services such as cleaning services, security, legal, accounting and more.

The ultimate impact is significant: Between the direct and indirect jobs that retail supports, and the money that retail employees in turn spend, the study projects that Michigan would gain 10,578 new jobs and more than $350 million in new income if people shift just one of every 10 online purchases back to a local store. Economic activity would grow by $1.2 billion.

If people shifted even more of their shopping back to Michigan stores the impact would be even bigger. On the other hand, if people increasingly buy products online, people in other states and countries will benefit from Michigan dollars.

“Why would we not want that money to stay in Michigan? Our Buy Nearby campaign encourages people to be intentional about their purchasing habits,” said James P. Hallan, president and CEO of Michigan Retailers. “Think before you click: Can you easily find that same item at a store down the street?

“If it costs a bit more locally, isn’t it worth the customer service and expertise you receive with an in-store purchase? What would you do if that store closed because more dollars were being funneled to online competitors? Keep your money in the Mitten.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

How Apprenticeship Lands Student High-Tech Career, Debt-Free College Experience

KALAMAZOO — When Jarod VanDyken graduated from Kalamazoo Valley Community College with an associate degree in computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining last summer it was a worthwhile accomplishment, sure, but not at all unusual — even if CNC is hardly a household word.

No, the real feat here is that VanDyken already has a secure, high-paying job with an advanced manufacturing company — and his employer, Texas-based Flowserve Corp.’s Kalamazoo plant, completely paid for his education, meaning VanDyken has zero college debt.

“This worked out for me better than I could have ever possibly imagined,” said VanDyken, 26. “You’d never know that for four years, I sat in the back of classrooms at Kalamazoo Central High School and did next to nothing. I was the student that teachers warned other teachers about.”

VanDyken said he wasn’t unruly, but admits his laziness frustrated both his teachers and his parents. His disinterest kept him from applying himself in a manner that would allow him to thrive in the public education system, but he doesn’t blame the system. Rather, he takes full responsibility for his own actions — or lack thereof.

“I just didn’t want to do anything,” he said. “I guess you could say I had senioritis the first day of my freshman year and I never changed.”

Thanks to the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Jarod VanDyken was able to earn a debt-free college degree and now has a career with Flowserve, a high-tech manufacturing company in southwest Michigan. Courtesy photo.

Inspiring turnaround

But then VanDyken’s mother told him about the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program, the apprenticeship program developed by Michigan’s global industry leaders and the Michigan Talent Investment Agency. Now, as a graduate of the program, he’s on track for a long-term career with a wide range of upwardly mobile options.

“Everybody I trained with told me that I was probably going to be the head of a company someday soon,” VanDyken said. “I laughed at first, but when I kept hearing that — and when the other MATstudents told me they were hearing the same thing — I started to realize how incredible this program is. There really isn’t anyone else with this knowledge and skill set who’s as young as we are. One year of MATput me light-years ahead.”

He credits his parents, Mark and Julie VanDyken, for inspiring his transformation and is especially grateful to his mom for introducing him to MAT2.

“I’m lucky to have a great family. I finally realized it was important to me to live up to their expectations and uphold the standards they set,” VanDyken said. “My parents knew what I was capable of before I did. I owe them so much and I know I can never repay them, but I have goals to work toward now, and I know they’re proud of me for turning my life around.”

And their support included allowing him to live at home as he went through the program, although he’s not sure how much longer that will last.

“I can’t believe they put up with me this long, but I’m looking to move out sometime next year,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the time they gave me. Now that I have a good foundation of savings, I have more options of the type of home I want to start building my life in.”

MAThelps make it happen

VanDyken was taking classes as a part-time student at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and working at a local greenhouse, when he was encouraged to apply for a MATapprenticeship in 2015 by his mom, who heard of the program through her job as a Flowserve purchasing agent.

KVCC is among four colleges in Michigan participating in the MAT2 program by recruiting students who are interested in earning a paycheck now while becoming the technical manufacturing leaders of the future. KVCC’s focus with MAT2 is addressing the need for high-tech workers in southwest Michigan, which expects to add almost 60 new jobs annually for employees trained in CNC machine tools, according to Sue Gardner, the college’s dean of business, industrial trades and public services.

“We want people to know an innovative new path exists in Michigan to obtain a tuition-free associate degree, paid for by a local employer, while getting on-the-job training with pay in a high-tech, in-demand field,” Gardner said.

Careers include work as CNC tool operators and process control technicians. Flowserve, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of industrial and environmental machinery, is among the employers that have successfully recruited and employed MATapprentices.

Get paid to go to school, earn a great job

Applying to MATis similar to applying for a job, and the MATapplication process is competitive. You need a resume and references, which students submit to participating MATemployers through the Pure Michigan Talent Connect site at MiTalent.org/MAT2.

Students have the option of applying to all MATemployers throughout Michigan or just identifying those working in areas that are of interest, such as automotive, boating and aerospace, as well as other advanced manufacturing, research and design companies.

Once a MATemployer hires the student, students enroll at the corresponding college for the appropriate program and the employer pays the tuition. MAT2student-trainees rotate between attending classes and working at a company for the program’s first three years.

During the school periods, student-trainees receive a stipend from their employers, who pay for college tuition as well. In between those periods, students transition into apprentices who put their new skills into action at the worksite, along with earning a regular paycheck. Upon successful completion of the program in three years, the student-apprentices receive an associate degree and a full-time job with their employer.

‘The best decision I ever made’

“Applying for the MATapprenticeship with Flowserve is the best decision I ever made,” VanDyken said. “Plus, I’m extremely excited about everything I’m doing with the company. Flowserve’s business is going great, and with all the advancements being made in our industry we’re broadening our capabilities to meet the demands of our customers.”

VanDyken said he may pursue an advanced degree in either engineering or engineering management to give him more career options — paid for by Flowserve. He would encourage Kalamazoo-area high school students who are considering advanced manufacturing careers to explore the choices offered through MAT2.

“If anybody is even remotely considering this program, I’d say do it,” VanDyken said. “If it worked for me, it can work for anyone. I had no skills, I wasn’t good at math or science and I had terrible study habits. But they laid out all the information I needed in a way that allowed me to learn quickly and retain it.

“If you have any fears of learning something new, throw them out. MAT2 is set up to let you succeed in the greatest way possible.”

More information about MAT2 is available at MiTalent.org/MAT2.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

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