Another beautiful day in Austin. After walking around downtown and seeing some beautiful views in the downtown park alongside the river it was time to meet with the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas. Amanda Chiampi and Eugene Sepulveda are doing some pretty amazing things around Austin. The community involvement and leadership projects really give back to the area. It was my second time hearing about Lemonade Day, an annual event that teaches kids about the entrepreneurial spirit. Check it out , www.lemonadeday.org, should Ann Arbor participate? Time for another great tex-mex lunch at Chuy’s. It looked like it should be in Detroit with hubcaps all over the ceiling and photos of classic cars on the walls. Onto our next meeting with TECH RANCH Austin to talk with Kevin Koym and Graham McFarland. These serial entrepreneurs sure keep themselves busy running the ranch. The community they have built is truly an environment that encourages companies to work together towards success. Finally it is time for our MichAGAIN event! An enthusiastic group of alumni gathered at Sullivan’s Steakhouse to hear about the great things that are happening in Michigan. There were updates given from John Hill, Director of MSU Alumni Career Services and Farnam Jahanian, Professor at the University of Michigan and Founder of Arbor Networks. Closing the presentation out was LeRoy Newland, Recruiting Leader at GE. He really stole the show with the tour of GE’s Grace Lake Corporate Center. With many IT career opportunities available alumni were excited to consider MichAGAIN!
Tuesday morning I was able to get a real feel for the surrounding downtown area in Austin. It was only about 9:00 AM but there were already many people out jogging and walking their dogs. The river had many jogging paths around it as well as benches and a gazebo where you could sit and enjoy the beautiful morning.
There were lots of shops near the Warehouse District near their Congress Drive. Driving down Congress really resembles our capital loop area in Lansing. On my venture downtown I walked by the Austin Children’s Museum at Dell Discovery Center. It reminded me a lot of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. I began to notice some very cool guitar sculptures and ended up on Willie Nelson Blvd…We are in Texas remember. On my walk back to my hotel I did notice that transportation was very popular for downtown employees. Like Ann Arbor, parking is at a premium and the bus system seemed very popular for commuting around Austin.
After grabbing lunch with Maureen Krauss, Director of Oakland County Economic Development & Community Fairs, at Jason’s Deli we both agreed that it good but NO Zingerman’s! We were then off to our meeting with AngelouEconomics to chat with Steve Vierck, President of Economic Development. Steve is a native of the Midwest. We agree the view from his office is pretty amazing BUT I bet he misses the beautiful fall colors we are enjoying right now in Michigan! He gave our group great insight on what trends he has been experiencing. From data centers to renewable energy, his firm has been very busy lately. He learned of our Governor-elect Rick Snyder and hopes that with new leadership Michigan can continue to propel itself to the short list of top places to grow manufacturing for the renewable energy of the future. He also was generous and gave some great recommendations for places to experience great Austin entertainment. We are all looking forward to hearing the great music of Austin!
Ann Arbor SPARK’s marketing materials recently took top honors from the Michigan Economic Development Association. Also, our business accelerator was awarded honorable mention from the International Economic Development Council.
For the MEDA award, Ann Arbor SPARK competed against other economic development organizations in the state serving the population of 100,001 to 500,000. For IEDC, we competed in the populations of 25,000 – 200,000 category against economic development organizations globally.
More info on the awards can be found here.
Valerie Christofferson was recently promoted from staff accountant to business development manager. SPARK hired C.J. Lee as a business development manager and Emily Heintz as SPARK’s new staff accountant.
C.J. Lee joins Valerie on the business development team. Prior to joining Ann Arbor SPARK, C.J. served on the communications and policy team for the Rick Snyder for Michigan Committee where he was responsible for communications reporting and production as well as policy research. He recently graduated from the University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, with a master of public policy degree.
Emily Heintz replaces Valerie as Ann Arbor SPARK’s staff accountant. In this role, she is responsible for accounts receivable and payable, billings, and payroll. Prior to joining Ann Arbor SPARK, Emily was on the audit staff of Plante and Moran in Southfield, Mich. She earned her bachelor and masters of science degrees in accounting from Michigan State University.