new smakerjan16

2015 Newsmakers

New developments and progress on existing developments brought about a shift in energy within the region. Gillespie Group’s Outfield development, a mixed-use building situated north of Cooley Law School Stadium, has transformed before our eyes this year. It is expected to be complete by mid-2016 and will feature approximately 80 residential units; the Lansing Board of Water and Light, along with the City of Lansing and the City of East Lansing announced a new initiative to install solar panels that could power as many as 3,500 homes in the Lansing area each year; and in November, a $6 million plan to redevelop the 2000 block of East Michigan Avenue was announced, which will undoubtedly bring more businesses, jobs and residences to the Lansing area. 
These are only a few of the developments that have boosted Lansing’s economic growth in the past year and have shown that the Lansing area will only continue to improve.
We also saw a boost in Lansing’s auto manufacturing industry in 2015 when General Motors announced that the 2016 Camaro would be manufactured at Lansing’s Grand River Assembly plant. This is the first time since 1992 that the sports car has been produced in the United States, and the first time it has ever been made in Lansing. Production started this summer and the plant hired 450 new workers to accommodate the demand. The new Camaros started hitting dealership lots in early December, and many have already been sold. 
Businesses have continued to thrive in the Lansing area in 2015, with multiple shops, restaurants and other businesses opening their doors throughout the year, revitalizing the area and making Lansing a place that people want to be. 
More than 100 years after it closed its doors, the Lansing Brewing Company reopened in the wake of Michigan’s craft beer craze. Gillespie Group invested $1.5 million into the brewing company, and transformed a 7,000 square foot auto warehouse on East Shiawassee into a brewery that has solidified Lansing as a credible craft beer city in Michigan. Other notable bars and breweries that opened in the Lansing area this year include the Beer Grotto and American Fifth Spirits. 
With all of the new developments and businesses coming to the Lansing area, it’s no surprise that Lansing also saw an increase in tourism this year. The Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that nearly 5 million people have visited the Lansing area in 2015 with nearly 70,000 occupied hotel rooms and a 60 percent higher occupancy rate than in 2014. Lansing also played host to multiple conventions in 2015, boosting tourism numbers throughout the year. This year’s tourism numbers come on the heels of two consecutive record-breaking years in Lansing area tourism. 
Looking back at 2015, the Lansing area has accomplished so much, but as we begin the new year, there are so many more successes in the Lansing area to be had. 
Mid-Michigan’s higher education institutions are set to have a stellar year: Lansing Community College began to focus on manufacturing with a new pilot program in the summer of 2015, and is continually working to meet the demand for more skilled trade workers in the Lansing area. Dean of Community Education and Workforce Development, Bo Garcia 

2015 Newsmaker

stephanieAngelStephanie Angel

Tell us about your organization’s most notable accomplishment in 2015.

It would be hard to choose one notable accomplishment. The Lansing State Journal’s impact is felt daily in the news and information we provide to our community online and in print. Among the highlights are our ongoing coverage of the Board of Water and Light, Michigan State University sports and the overarching community efforts that help move greater Lansing forward.

What do you think the biggest greater Lansing business story was in 2015?

I wouldn’t limit the biggest business news to one story. I would point to the ongoing momentum the region is building, from landing the Camaro to more development on the Michigan Avenue corridor to entrepreneurs continuing to launch and grow businesses in our region.

What made it possible for you to get where you are today?

The investment of others, from my parents to mentors at every stop along the way, has allowed me to experiment, fail and eventually succeed.

StellaCashStella Cash

What was the biggest change or challenge that your organization faced in 2015?

One of Sparrow’s greatest ongoing challenges is that we simply can’t expand fast enough to meet the ever-rising demand for healthcare services. Although this is a good problem to have, it definitely is a challenge and a serious responsibility to those who have entrusted us with their care. We must continually strive to transform care, pursue best practices, and deliver nationally recognized care to improve the health of the mid-Michigan region.

What trends were adopted in your industry in 2015 and how do you see those trends changing in 2016?

One of the biggest trends in national healthcare reform has been the concept of accountable care. Can we better control healthcare costs by preventing avoidable readmissions, eliminating unnecessary tests and encouraging patients to use lower cost care options? The result has been that the healthcare industry is moving toward payment models based on value rather than volume, with incentives based on health outcomes, quality and cost management. We see it as a welcomed trend toward coordinated, patient-centered care that will continue into 2016 and beyond.

The use of information technology is another fast-moving trend that is helping to improve patient experience and safety through clinical connectedness and digital technology. We’re proud to say that Sparrow’s IT is ranked in the top 3 percent of all hospital IT departments in the U.S. Sparrow’s use of digital data and electronic medical records are essential to helping transform care for our patients. We are committed to being a technology leader in health care.

What advice would you give to young people entering the workforce?

There are many accomplished leaders in every community who are more than willing to share their expertise and experience with young people entering the workforce. All they need to do is simply ask. Therefore, my advice would be to build a strong network of known leaders as a part of one’s professional development.

noelHeikkinenNoel Heikkinen

Tell us about your organization’s most notable accomplishment in 2015.

Riverview is one church that meets in multiple locations around the greater Lansing area. A few years ago, we chose to give people the opportunity to worship in the same communities where they live, work and play instead of building one large suburban mega church.

A year ago, we were in the planning stages of launching our fourth location (we call them “venues”). Our audacious dream was to open somewhere on the western part of the city by the end of 2016. Things went much faster than we anticipated, and in June we acquired a facility on the corner of St. Joe and Canal and opened the doors of our Westside Venue 90 days later. Over 1,000 people attended our first service and since then our ongoing attendance has consistently been over 600.

What trends were adopted in your industry in 2015 and how do you see those trends changing in 2016?

Just like many other industries, churches are dealing with historically unprecedented generational diversity that will continue for the foreseeable future. We have people from the Baby Boomer generation working and worshiping alongside those from the Millennial generation. Figuring out how to create a worship service and ministry style that fosters intergenerational connections is a challenge that must be faced head on.

Tell us something that people may not know about you.

I am a diehard Spartan fan, Chicago Cubs fan and Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers fan. I know, I know, it doesn’t make sense. That’s an interview for another day.

2016 Newsmakers

maureenHirtenMaureen Hirten

Tell us what you plan to accomplish in 2016.

This is going to be an exciting year for Capital Area District Library (CADL) and our patrons. One of our goals for 2016 is to extend library services beyond the walls. The most visible extension of this outreach will be our new mobile library. People may think of it as the CADL “Bookmobile” but there is so much more to it.

It will allow us to reach more broadly into our communities, strengthening our connection with the people of Ingham County, bringing the library’s resources – books, movies, technology and other information resources to them.

Also, we are expanding our commitment to digital resources. While print remains the foundation for the library system, the use of digital resources continues to soar. We find that our patrons want both, and we will be able offer them what they want, when they want it. It’s a mission we embrace.

And finally, each of our branches is developing early literacy initiatives, which includes increasing the number of popular Early Literacy backpacks. We are doing this in conjunction with schools and other community organizations. We feel passionately about our role in strengthening literacy.

What will be the biggest hurdle for your organization to overcome in 2016?

While we have many passionate library patrons, there are still people in our communities who don’t recognize the range of services and resources available from CADL.

This year, we plan as never before to reach out to those who under use – or don’t use at all – our libraries. We have loyal patrons who only see the familiar and don’t look beyond the books or DVDs they came into the library for. There are others who aren’t aware of the value – intellectual and even financial – that CADL provides. It’s really about telling our story.

For 2016 we have developed a new advertising campaign “Everything right here” which is designed to broaden the community’s perception and understanding of what their library can offer.

In today’s world, the library competes for people’s time and we want them to think of the library as a ready resource for information and recreation. We have services that can help our communities and they don’t know about them.

Tell us something that people may not know about you.

I did quite a bit of traveling when I was younger and one of my most memorable experiences was traveling across the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan on a crowded bus with the roof stacked high with boxes and crates filled with all kinds of goods being transported to Afghanistan The pass cuts through the Hindu Kush mountains, connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan and has a bloody history. I remember seeing the markers for British regiments killed during the Afghan Wars in the 1800s on this famous road. With all that has happened in Afghanistan in the last several years, it’s hard to imagine that when I visited, a foreign tourist could still board a bus in Peshawar and arrive in Kabul.

boGarciaBo Garcia

How do you think the greater Lansing business community will change in 2016?

I believe the greater Lansing business community will grow significantly in 2016. All the signs are there for a tremendous year; unemployment is down, production is up, profits are up, property values are up and the list goes on and on. Most importantly, Lansing continues to benefit from stellar economic development strategy and leadership, as reflected by significant regional investment.

What has made it possible to get to where you are today?

I am blessed to have benefited from educators, employers, colleagues, friends and most importantly my parents, who sacrificed more for me than I will ever know. Secondly, listening to, and empathizing with, my clients and customers helps me to better understand their situations and meet their needs.
What advice would you give to young people entering the workforce?

I would encourage them to always be open to learning and sharing what they learn. I would also encourage them to follow through on their commitments and, when surfacing a problem, to always present a potential solution.

patrickLindemannPatrick Lindemann

Tell us what you plan to accomplish in 2016.

Some of the major projects we’ve already been planning and plan to start in 2016 will require time and attention to see through to their completion. One of the most exciting is the Montgomery Drain reconstruction. This Drain serves the US-127 corridor and Frandor area, and will result in reduced pollution of the Red Cedar River.

Also, working closely with the Village of Webberville Council and landowners within the Village, we are going to reconstruct and rebuild the entire Village storm system. This infrastructure is some of the oldest in Ingham County, some of it spans back more than 150 years. This will be a major undertaking.
After years of litigation and design, the Groesbeck Park Drain will be completed on the north end of the Groesbeck Golf Course and portions of Lansing Township. This drain will serve fast growing commercial areas west of Wood Street along Lake Lansing Road. Construction will begin in early 2016, and take about two years.

What will be the biggest hurdle for your organization to overcome in 2016?

I would say that there is not just one hurdle, but many. In order for some projects to be started or completed in 2016, there are many facets of these projects that need to have public buy-in. While these projects are complex in nature, they all require municipal and public support to be a success.
No one wins a race by jumping just one hurdle. To get to the finish line of 2015, we had to jump many complex hurdles. The projects planned for 2016 are extraordinarily complex, involving hundreds of decision makers. No one hurdle is larger than the others; each hurdle deserves the concentration and effort necessary to take the Lansing region across the finish line in 2016 and in future years.

What advice would you give to young people entering the workforce?

Once in a while, success comes easily. Most of the time, though, it does not. For a person entering the workforce who wishes to succeed, my advice is to work hard, expand your skills and education, and be willing to continue that process throughout your working life. Also, be honest with your customers, co-workers and employers. Make the most of the job you have by learning it and doing it well. Even if your job is not glamorous – and I’ve had such jobs – be the best worker you can be.

Most jobs require teamwork. Be prepared to contribute and to listen respectfully to your team members. Great ideas come from likely and unlikely sources. Be open to the ideas of others and treat them with value. Usually, this courtesy will be returned to you.

Most importantly, is to define your passion. Going to your job every day is easier when you feel that your work matters. Consciously consider the vision you have for the world you want to live in and take steps to create those changes.

Finally, become comfortable with change. We do things differently today than we did five years ago or even one year ago. The only constant in our world is change, and the pace of change is increasingly rapid. Stay engaged in learning and remain open.

2015 and 2016 Newsmaking Companies


GM Brings 2016 Camaro to Lansing

Greater Lansing revved up when General Motors (GM) announced an investment in the city in the form of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, moving the vehicle from its previous plant in Canada.

To prepare the plant to take on the new vehicle, GM dropped a $175 million investment in the plant for new tooling and equipment, including three new paint systems for Camaro-specific colors, and two robotic framers. In addition to the equipment, GM added 500 new second-shift positions to the plant to accommodate demand for the vehicle. The investment was part of GM’s plan to invest $5.4 billion in U.S. facilities over the next three years.

The first coupe models of the sixth-generation Camaro began to roll out from Grand River on Oct. 26 to great anticipation, and started appearing in dealerships in November. The convertible and models with the 2.0L Turbo engine are scheduled to release in early 2016.

Built in 1999, the Grand River site is also the home of the Cadillac CTS and Cadillac ATS family of vehicles. This is the second year in a row GM has invested in the plant. In 2014, GM put $174 million toward bringing a new stamping facility to the plant, which created and retained 145 jobs.

The plant’s new vehicle comes in six new powertrain combinations, and is already earning buzz and recognition, including the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Award.

But the Camaro isn’t GM’s only big news of 2015. The company also ramped up its use of renewable energy this year with a 14-year deal for wind power with EDP Renewables. GM also continues to make big investments in Michigan, pledging to invest another $1 billion in the state by 2030.


MSU Makes Big Wins On and Off the Field

Michigan State University (MSU) has made headlines over and over this year, touting its football team’s victory as the 2015 Big Ten Champion. Then, Tom Izzo’s team started the basketball season strong with a number one ranking. But the university is hardly leaving the big accomplishments to its sports teams, and is making a slew of notable accomplishments off the field, too.

Among them, MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative defined the term “food fraud,” the intentional use of deception for economic gain involving food, and is also supporting the United States and other countries to create strategies against it. Initiative Director John Spink and MSU program and public health professor Doug Moyer co-wrote an article about the group’s findings, which was published in Food Chemistry Journal.

MSU also left a mark on security by licensing a large-scale face-search system developed by biometrics expert MSU Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering Dr. Anil Jain, post-doctoral fellow Dayong Wang and PhD student Charles Otto. The program will use face images from surveillance cameras or crime-scene images to determine a list of potential suspects from a database.

Meanwhile, MSU’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) continues its development, ahead of schedule for its projected completion by June 2022. When complete, the FRIB will provide intense beams of rare isotopes, enabling scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes, while keeping MSU—and Lansing—at the forefront of the world’s nuclear physics research and technology.

Until then, MSU continues to top the list of nuclear physics graduate programs and draws on leading minds in experimental and theoretical nuclear physics and astrophysics with its National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.

Becoming the “Accelerator Capital of North America”

It’s been a good year for Lansing’s prominent biotech industry. Neogen, a company that develops food and animal safety analysis products, reported record earnings for its 2015 fiscal year. Meanwhile, Emergent BioSolutions, a manufacturer of biodefense and commercial products including vaccines, treatment kits and antitoxins, had its anthrax vaccine approved by the FDA for expanded use in November.

In November, superconducting electron accelerator manufacturer Niowave created the medical isotope molybdenum 99, which can help diagnose heart disease and track cancer’s spread in the body. Niowave is also creating a new facility at Port Lansing to manufacture and ship medical radioisotopes around the world to be used in life-saving procedures—an investment of $79 million and 90 local, high-quality jobs.

Then there’s Michigan Biotechnology Institute (MBI), a Lansing-based think tank that offers de-risking services for biotech companies and has collaborated on key creations such as biodegradable plastics. It also patented AFEX technology this past year, an agricultural innovation that expands the industry’s ability to supply both food and fuel, while also reducing its carbon footprint—a game changer for the industry. It’s no surprise this close partner of MSU was listed among Biofuels Digest’s 40 Hottest Small Companies in the Advanced Bio-Economy in November.

Additional successes include Lansing-based biotech companies, AquaBioChip, which provides pathogen diagnostics in air, food and water sources; and AntelBio, which specializes in advanced milk diagnostics. The city is making its mark on this booming global industry.

“With the FRIB and a growing cluster of companies like Niowave, Lansing is the Accelerator Capital of North America,” said Keith Lambert, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) Tri-County Development manager.

2015 brought change, innovation and many successes to the Lansing area. From new businesses opening to new initiatives proposed to improve the community, Lansing’s growth has been exponential. As 2016 gets its start, there is no doubt that the greater Lansing area will continue to grow. 


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