REI E-Update

May, 2016

Photo of young entrepreneurs at the 2014 Innovate Michigan! Summit

Share, Learn, Create Innovative Economic Development Ideas!

"A diverse and dynamic network developing innovative economic development ideas, tools, models, policies, and practices for Michigan."

In This Issue

Current Activity

Are You An Inventor?

Video thumbnail of Michigan Inventors Coalition

REI and the Michigan Inventors Coalition are looking for Michigan garage and basement inventors to share their innovative products and services at the next MIC Expo. Attendees will meet other garage and basement inventors, hear about their latest inventions, see their products, and find out how the discovery-to-market process works in Michigan.

If you are interested in exhibiting or would like more information, please contact Leandra Williams (

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Save the Date: 2016 Innovate Michigan! Summit

Video thumbnail showing Joel Rash and John Schweitzer

Save the date! The 5th annual Innovate Michigan! Summit will be held on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Attendees will hear speakers talk about innovative economic development tools, models, policies, programs, and practices. Learn how REI and its partners are achieving small wins with big impacts and gain a more complete view of the economic climate in Michigan and the driving forces behind it.

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REI Impact: Successful Projects Throughout Michigan

Photo of FoodLab Detroit kitchen

Operation Above Ground: Improving Licensing for New Food Businesses to Promote a Stronger Detroit Food Economy

"Operation Above Ground" was a 2014 REI Co-Learning plan authored by former FoodLab Detroit Executive Director Jess Daniel and researcher Rebecca Baylor. This project was intended to promote the emergence of a more diverse and productive food economy in the motor city.

Update: Since the initial "Operation Above Ground" publication, FoodLab Detroit has worked with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development inspectors to create a licensing guide. In addition, FoodLab Detroit is now working to more fully understand the regulatory environment in order to create easy-to-understand resources (in both English and Spanish) for entrepreneurs. Currently, there are 192 FoodLab member businesses benefitting from the partnership. FoodLab continues to hold frequent Licensing & Regulations 101 workshops for entrepreneurs who wish to learn more about producing safe food products to sell in the marketplace. In July of 2015, FoodLab Detroit received $100,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help them support more small businesses and continue to improve their platform.

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Photo of project team standing in front of Idlewild city sign

Tourism Development Strategy for Idlewild, Michigan

This 2013 REI Student-Led Faculty-Guided Project was funded to help the Idlewild community achieve economic prosperity. The project analyzed current conditions and developed a tourism development plan. The team recommended a low-cost, grassroots-style campaign to slowly improve and develop tourist attractions before starting more expansive projects. Students determined that if their strategies were fully implemented, the area could begin to develop more lodging options for tourists.

Update: Though progress has been slow, there is a solid template now in place. Idlewild has achieved national attention and recognition in solidifying the importance of re-investment into the area. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the community with a $30,375 grant towards technical support on a project that will turn an old fire station into a farmers market and community center, according to Patricia Williams, CEO and Founder of ICDC. With time and community investment, Idlewild could recapture its magic and once again become the ideal Michigan summer getaway.

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Student-Led Faculty-Guided Projects

Spring Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Projects have come to a successful end. Check out the recommendations and results from each project:

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Co-Learning Plans

To learn about this year's Co-Learning Plans, click here. The authors of these research initiatives are fellow REI Network members. They are analyzing and identifying new strategies to support economic growth in Michigan's regional ecosystems.

Not looking for funding, but have a great idea to jump-start Michigan's economy? You can always submit an innovative economic development idea on our website.

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Voices from the REI Network

Check out our new video, featuring clips from REI webinars!

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