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Michigan’s Economy Hits 10 Year High

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) reports that Michigan’s economy has reached a 10-year high, according to Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index. The June index jumped 2.0 points in June, spiking to a level of 105.9 – its highest level since 2002. The index has averaged 102 points over the first half of 2012, 11 points above the index average for all of 2011.

“The Michigan economy pushed further ahead in June, with our Michigan Economic Activity Index up strongly for the second month,” said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. “The rate of job creation has slowed over the first two quarters of the year as U.S. auto sales have plateaued around a 14 million unit annual sales rate in 2012. But outside of durable goods manufacturing, we are seeing ongoing gains. Housing markets statewide are improving as sales and prices increase. New home construction remains low, but is expected to increase to meet pent up demand.”

The Michigan Economic Activity Index consists of seven variables: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production. All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2004.

According to the Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of single family homes sold in Michigan rose 14 percent in July compared to one year earlier. The July 2012 average sales price was $116,116, a 6.55 percent increase over the 2011.

Overall, Michigan is leading the country in economic recovery, according to the Detroit News. The dropping unemployment rate, upswing in home sales and increase in consumer spending are all evidence of a positive outlook for the Great Lakes state.

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    Tour the Lake Winds Energy Park at the 2012 Michigan Energy Fair

Tour the Lake Winds Energy Park at the 2012 Michigan Energy Fair

Every year the  Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) holds their annual Michigan Energy Fair (MEF). The Energy Fair takes place June 22-24, 2012 and it’s at a new location, the Mason County Fairgrounds in Ludington.

The location will allow the MEF to feature tours of Consumers Energy’s Lake Winds Energy Park that is currently under construction. This 100-megawatt installation will hold over 50 wind turbines, and the tour will give you a unique opportunity to see wind turbines as they are being constructed.

This is exactly the kind of opportunity to get up close and personal with the technology and people who are creating Michigan’s new energy economy that MEF offers. With a focus on Michigan’s energy future options and how Michigan’s businesses and families can save energy and money, the Energy Fair will feature over 50 workshops and 40 exhibitors of energy technologies and sustainable products for homes and businesses, including how to finance renewable energy projects.

For more information, please contact Samantha Keeney at Samantha.keeney@glrea.org or 517-646-6269 and get details at www.glrea.org. Also don’t miss this interview with John Sarver, Executive Director of the GLREA about the Michigan Energy Fair.

100+ year-old shipwreck discovered off Grand Haven

The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association has discovered a 90-foot two-masted schooner in deep water off the coast of Grand Haven. They report:

“In trying to identify the wreck, I researched a number of schooners lost off West Michigan, Valerie van Heest, author of several shipwrecks books and a museum exhibit designer, said. “Most went down carrying lumber, a buoyant cargo that normally ripped through the decks of wooded vessels when they sank.”

Van Heest found only one lost ship that corresponded to the features and cargo of this wreck: the St. Peter, a schooner thought to have gone down in Lake Michigan closer to Wisconsin than Michigan. Built in 1868, the St. Peter, named for the Patron Saint of Sailors, was lost in 1874 on route from Chicago to Buffalo, New York, while carrying a load of wheat. The patron saint may well have been looking out for the crew because every man survived and later reported that they abandoned the sinking ship about 35 miles off Milwaukee.

“If this is the wreck of the St. Peter, then it drifted east for some time, coming to rest on the opposite side of Lake Michigan, significantly father east than the crew reported,” Craig Rich, author of two local shipwreck books, noted.

An official document that survived more than a century, indicates the St. Peter had a scroll bow, like found on the wreck.

Click through for more and see an illustration of the wreck as it sits on the Lake Michigan floor from the Grand Rapids Press. Definitely check out the video below from WOOD-TV for some footage of the wreck.

Lake Mich divers find 19th century ship: woodtv.com

The Michigan Transportation Odyssey

The first-ever Michigan Transportation Odyssey is a three-day journey that began in Detroit with stops in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids before it finishes up today in Traverse City. Along the way, a group of Trans4M members have been exploring the challenges and opportunities of Michigan’s passenger transportation system.

Their blog has some more detailed thoughts, but weve found that following along at #MIOdyssey through pictures and posts is the best way to get a sense of the state of Michigan’s transportation network.

Here’s a nice recap from mLive of the Odyssey. Read some of our favorite tweets below!

TEDx … Michigan

TEDxGR by tedxgrandrapids
TEDxGR by tedxgrandrapids

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader and has branched to include TEDx.

TEDx was created to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate relevant dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. These events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

The heart of TED and TEDx are talks by leaders in their field about the subject of their passion. The thousands of talks online feature some of the best thinking about who we are and where we’re going that you will find anywhere. The TEDxTalks are available on YouTube, and every Tuesday (or so) we’ll feature talks from TEDx events in Michigan that deal with some of the specific issues we’re facing. Find them at TEDxMichigan on Absolute Michigan!

For an idea about the scope, here’s a listing of upcoming and past TEDx events in Michigan. Bear in mind that admission to these events is highly coveted, so if you are interested in attending, get engaged as soon as you can!

Below the listing we have the first of our videos. It’s from last year’s TEDxGrandRapids and features Sheryl Connelly, manager of Global Trends and Futuring at Ford Motor Company talking about how to think like a futurist, and also how to get the most out of TEDx.

Clouds over the solar industry

Stan Ovshinsky by OnInnovation
Stan Ovshinsky by OnInnovation

In ECD files for Chapter 11 protection, the Freep reports that:

The shakeout in the solar power industry claimed another victim Tuesday as Auburn Hills-based Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced plans to sell its assets, including its main subsidiary, United Solar Ovonic. (links are our addition)

The move brings to an end the 51-year history of one of the most innovative companies in the state, a pioneer of nickel-metal-hydride batteries and thin-film solar laminates.

“I have tears in my eyes thinking about it,” said Stanford Ovshinsky, ECD’s 89-year-old founder who retired from the company in 2007. “It’s more than sadness. It’s grief.”

ECD is the latest victim of an industry-wide convergence of over-supply and the drying up of subsidies. What may be lost in the story is the significance of Energy Convergence Devices as a force for innovation. For more about that, check out this OnInnovation interview of ECD founder Stan Ovshinsky – click his name for more at OnInnovation.com.

The Heart of Detroit: Cheryl Valentine

I like to see the metamorphosis of the students. When they come in knowing a little and leave knowing a lot, that’s why I do it.
~Detroit School of Arts teacher Cheryl Valentine

The Heart of Detroit is a weekly feature by Mitch Albom that airs on Local 4 News (Detroit) at 5 p.m. and then on MitchAlbom.com. The goal is to share inspiring stories of metro Detroiters who step up to help make their community a better place to live. Viewers will follow Mitch through documentary-style videos as he profiles unsung local heroes who spend countless hours sacrificing to make others less hungry, less troubled, less impoverished or just a little happier.

In the latest episode, Albom profiles aptly named DPS teacher  Cheryl Valentine – enjoy and catch the latest on the Heart of Detroit YouTube channel.

 

Google Search Stories: Ypsilanti’s SolarYpsi Project

YouTube and Google have a feature called “Search Stories” about people who are using Google’s search to find new ways of doing things. One of the people they profile is Dave Strenski of Ypsilanti, who you can learn more about in the video below.

Dave and some like-minded individuals created SolarYpsi in 2005 with the hope of making their hometown a solar power destination through tying solar power generation to the electrical grid.

Their web site showcases real-time reporting of electrical production via solar panels, tracking panels are located on top of the Ypsilanti Food Coop, the Riverstreet Bakery, Ypsilanti City Hall and an Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus stop.

Here’s Google’s Search Story Creator in case you want to try your hand. Head over to absolutemichigan.com/solar for more Michigan solar information.

 

What’s great about the Great Lakes State?

Gulo guloMichigan officially became a state on January 26, 1837 which was a Thursday as well! Many (many) more fun facts at #Mich175 = Happy 175th Birthday Michigan!! on Michigan in Pictures.

We continue our Michigan’s 175th Birthday Bash giveaway today. What’s more, we’ve had so much fun doing a giveaway a day that we’re going to see just how long we can keep things going with our new program called The Daily Michigan that will feature a giveaway a day from the Great Lakes State! It all starts on Monday so tune in!

In celebration of Michigans 175th birthday, we’ll be featuring some tweets to #mich175 that we like, paired with photos from our Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr! They’ll also be on our Absolute Michigan Facebook page! Reload for updates, share YOUR thoughts in the comments below, in our Flickr group or on our Facebook and Happy Birthday to Mamma Michigan!!

Michigan’s Clean Energy act generating results

Clouds are Cooler than Smoke by Jon DeBoer
Clouds are Cooler than Smoke by Jon DeBoe

I guess it’s Coal Week on Absolute Michigan. After taking a look back at the history of coal mining in the Saginaw Valley on Tuesday, we’re back on the subject with news from the Great Lakes Echo.

Michigan coal-fired plants to close; wind and air to step up by Nick McWherter of the Capital News Service says that Consumers Energy will close seven coal-fired power plants in Michigan and has cancelled construction of another to focus on clean energy. In their news release on the topic, Consumer’s President & CEO John Russell said that their investments – part of a $6.6 billion plan to add value to customers and improve the environment - were projected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs in Michigan and provide significant emissions reductions. Environmentalists concur:

“There are simply smarter ways to produce energy then relying on coal,” said Bruce Nilles, national director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. The inherent costs associated with mining and burning coal make clean energy more attractive, he said. Economically and environmentally, coal does not make sense.

Michigan is now in position to make strides in clean energy throughout the state, he said.

“There is a significant shift going on in the electric sector,” Nilles said. “Michigan has a chance to really be at the forefront. It has one of the oldest coal fleets in the country; many of these plants are literally teetering. It presents a tremendous opportunity to put people back to work and eliminate all the pollution that today is having such profound impacts across the state of Michigan.”

The motivation for the decision is Michigan’s Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy act. Established in 2008, the act requires utilities to supply 10% of their energy via renewables by 2015. Consumers is the second largest utility in the state and is at 5% renewable generation right now. Last month they also started construction of their first wind-farm, the Lake Winds Energy Park, part of a $1 billion investment in Mason County. Follow that link for details and a video from the Muskegon Chronicle.