Business

Algae is usually a nuisance. The green slime is unsightly and can cause water quality problems. But one Michigan company is harnessing algae’s potential benefits, including treating wastewater. Current State talks to CEO of Algal Scientific Geoff Horst.


Shield and three swords
Valyrian Steel

We hear about a company that’s bringing a little bit of Westeros to East Lansing. Current State’s April Van Buren talks to the owner of Valyrian Steel, the officially licensed merchandiser for the HBO series Game of Thrones. 

WKAR/Kevin Lavery

There’s a lot of buzz these days about drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles have a range of uses, from military and police surveillance to search and rescue. In private hands, drones are purely recreational toys for some people, but others are capitalizing on their economic potential.

http://www.csus.msu.edu/

It’s the first week of June, soon school will be out of session, and the beaches are beckoning. Michigan is expecting a strong summer tourism season in 2015, as families plan trips to all manner of destinations across the Great Lakes State.

Here on Current State we have devoted a lot of air time to people and groups looking to encourage small business startups in Michigan. Current State’s Melissa Benmark has the story of the founder of a small West Michigan startup, and his thoughts on how it became successful.

Wikimedia Commons/Paul R. Kucher

Four months of negotiations between Lansing’s Board of Water and Light and the utility’s former General Manager, Peter Lark, concluded last night.

BWL commissioners agreed unanimously to settle with Mr. Lark for $650,000 after his January dismissal “for cause” by those same commissioners.  A dismissal “for cause” implies employee misconduct.  Current State gets an update from LSJ reporter Steven Reed, who has covered the BWL since the 2013 ice storm that eventually led to yesterday’s agreement.  

Courtesy Startup Grind Lansing

Few if any Lansing success stories compare with that of Two Men and a Truck. The moving company began in 1985 as an after school endeavor with an advertising budget in a ceramic dish.  Today, founder Mary Ellen Sheets leads a company whose revenue clears $300-million annually. Two Men and a Truck has locations in 39 states and four countries. It has completed roughly five million moves. It also donates about two and a half million dollars in moving services annually.

Integrity. Respect. Service. Excellence. For its 313,000 members around the world, those are the stated values of International Toastmasters. Toastmasters’ focus is on developing communication and leadership skills in its members.

There are few issues of public importance in Michigan that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce does not weigh in on. The state chamber is the advocate for businesses and job providers across the state. It assists more than 6,000 member employers, trade associations and local chambers in the legislative, political and legal process.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

A well-established policy advocate in Lansing is beginning a new chapter in her career this week. Judy Putnam has been the communications director of the Michigan League for Public Policy for seven years. This week, she returns to her roots in journalism as a columnist for the Lansing State Journal.

http://www.humanesociety.org/

Michigan State University has always been known for its strong Agriculture and Natural Resources programs. The university is in the midst of its 100th annual ANR Week, which showcases the sciences of farming and environmental stewardship. One recent conference highlighted farm sustainability into the 21st century.

You might not guess that Michigan is a haven for seafood, since we’re so far from the ocean,  but Michigan has long had thriving commercial fisheries, and aquaculture of fish and shrimp has grown by leaps and bounds in the last thirty years. So, what does the future hold for the state’s seafood industry? That’s the focus of the first annual Michigan Seafood Summit taking place tomorrow at MSU’s Kellogg Conference Center.

Flickr - Katy Warner

The cubicle gets a pretty bad rap. The boxy workspace has become almost synonymous with isolation and corporate drudgery. But that’s not what its creator Robert Probst intended when he launched his innovative “Action Office” design in 1964.

http://www.gotohellmi.com/

You’ve probably seen the picture come across your Facebook or other social media at some point this winter. A sign that reads “Hell” with icicles hanging off the bottom. Don’t worry, it’s not a sign of the end times, it’s just pointing you in the direction of Hell, Michigan, a small community northwest of Ann Arbor. While Hell might be frozen over, it’s a hot commodity on the real estate market, and for the price of $999,666, you could own a piece of it. But, you’ll have to beat Anthony DVS to do it.

http://www.mlui.org/

Earlier this month, the Michigan Land Use Institute floated the idea of a new passenger train service from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. It’s a complicated process, but it appears that one of the biggest components is getting people excited about it.

Wikimedia commons

It’s still too cold for spring planting, but the legislative issues Michigan farmers care most about are heating up again. Yesterday, dozens of crop producers from across the state met in Lansing for the annual Lansing Legislative Seminar, sponsored by the Michigan Farm Bureau. Farmers met in conference sessions to talk about a number of current issues, and many had a chance to speak one on one with their local lawmakers.

Flickr/Department for Transport

Gradually, Ann Arbor is becoming known for a remarkably futuristic technology: the self-driving car.

This spring, work is expected to wrap up on a 32-acre “driverless town” on the outskirts of the city. There, Google and others will be testing vehicles featuring an array of cutting edge technology.  

One goal is a driverless vehicle not only programmed to follow a particular route, but also to avoid all kinds of less predictable developments: mistakes by other drivers, changes in the road surface, weather and so on.

courtesy MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences

For generations, National Geographic magazine has brought images of the world, both stunning and subtle, to millions of people. It’s parent organization, the National Geographic Society, was founded in 1888 by 33 men whose ranks included John Wesley Powell, the explorer who led a famous expedition to the Grand Canyon in 1869. Today, National Geographic continues its scientific and educational mission in the digital age. Susan Goldberg is the magazine’s editor in chief.

Flickr - Keith Cooper

Business watchers in Michigan are heralding some good news in the start-up world. A new report released by the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP finds venture capital investment in Michigan was up nearly 100-percent in 2014 from the previous year.

Photo: Melissa Benmark / WKAR

This post-Super Bowl Monday gives the New England Patriots NFL bragging rights for the coming year. But who’s number one in the combined professional and college football world? According to the personal finance-social media network WalletHub, it’s East Lansing.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

All this week, we’ve been taking you to the Detroit Auto Show to see what’s new, what’s groundbreaking, and what’s just plain fun. On the main floor of the auto show, you can see a massive 3D printer, and it’s printing a car. And if you venture to Hall E in the Cobo Center, you can see the finished product.

Current State's Scott Pohl talks with Lee Herge, Chief Operating Officer of the Chandler, Arizona based Local Motors.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

If you’ve been going to the Detroit Auto Show over the years, you know that Cobo Center has undergone an enormous transformation. A $279-million dollar multi-year renovation is nearing its end. Inside, the changes have included new uses for the former Cobo Hall, the former home of the Detroit Pistons and numerous rock concerts. Fixing Cobo up was crucial to keeping the Auto Show in Detroit, but lots of other convention business is heading to the Motor City as a result.

Mark Bashore/WKAR

The Detroit Auto show is in full swing in downtown Detroit. Two very different automakers are grabbing a lot of the electric vehicle attention at the Cobo Center this week. Current State's Peter Whorf has the latest on the electric cars on display at the North American International Auto Show through Sunday.

http://www.digitalprimates.net/

A national organization designed to inspire and educate entrepreneurs is coming to Lansing. It’s called Startup Grind. The Lansing Startup Grind will hold its first meeting on Thursday night. Startup Grind was formed in 2010 and has grown to 150 cities in 65 countries.

WKAR/Peter Whorf

What’s made in Poland and is named after the Spanish word for waterfall? It’s the newest convertible from Buick, the Cascada, unveiled this week at the Detroit Auto Show. The North American International Auto Show is in full swing at Detroit’s Cobo Center this week. Current  State will bring you all the latest these next few days in our NAIAS series.

WKAR/Peter Whorf

More than one auto writer has taken to calling the Big 3 automakers “truck companies that also make cars”. Trucks and SUVs have become the most successful categories for automakers in recent years, particularly for General Motors and Ford.

Flickr - gerrybuckel

There’s nothing quite like the scent of a freshly cut Douglas fir to put you in the Christmas spirit. Strapping one to the top of your car and taking it home to string with lights and homemade ornaments is a holiday tradition for a lot of families. But Christmas trees aren’t just a place to put the presents under. They’re also a multi-million dollar industry.

Credit Joe Linstroth/WKAR

Mid-Michigan is already getting a taste of winter, no matter what the calendar says. As the weather turns colder, the Lansing Board of Water and Light is preparing for the possibility of power outages.

www.eyde.com

An historic corner in downtown Lansing has been revitalized. Tomorrow is the grand re-opening of the Knapp's Centre. The event caps a $36-million redevelopment of the five-story art deco structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Technological change is continually reshaping the media landscape. It’s been forcing those of us in the media to adopt new ways of communicating news and information. That evolution has been especially challenging in the newspaper world. While publishers are hopeful that modest rises in online advertising and revenue will continue, a multi-year trend of overall declining ad revenue continues. According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, it dropped another 2.6-percent in 2013 compared to the previous year.

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