Archive | October, 2013

Drink Local, Drink Well!

17 Oct

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It’s no secret that many of us young professionals would like to see a few more watering holes around Midland.  So it wasn’t a surprise that Midland was eagerly awaiting the opening of WhichCraft Taproom.  When I heard that WhichCraft was going to feature all local Michigan beers and wines I was so excited. Not only do I think Michigan beer and wine is fabulous, but I love that they are on board with WEconomic Power, and supporting Michigan’s economy by drinking local! I was curious to learn more about this unique new taproom in Midland, and I think many others are as well.  So I hope you enjoy our short interview with Richard and Sharon Caldwell, the owners of WhichCraft.

1. What Challenges are you facing right now?
We imagine they are similar to the problems faced by all start-up businesses. We are obviously still learning our systems and making tweaks as necessary. The first few weeks, we kept having to run to the store for food and beg our distributors to bring us more beer!

We have been overwhelmed (in a truly fantastic way) by the response we received from the community. We expected to be busy when we opened, but WOW, we were really busy! There was literally a line down the block on opening day. That was a surprise! Guests had to wait a very long time for their drinks/food those first few nights. But in all honesty, the crowds are wonderful as they forced us to learn our systems on the fly. We hope that people are patient with us (and our staff in particular, who are truly wonderful) as we continue to adjust things to improve customer service. The more we do it, the better we become!

2. How do you foresee WhichCraft shaping the future of Midland’s downtown?
We really hope to be just one of many businesses bringing people to downtown Midland. There are a lot of exciting things happening downtown, and we are happy to be just a small part of it.

3. What type of experience do you hope people will have at your bar, and how are you different from other local bars?
We hope people try something new! With 40 different types of beer, cider, or mead on tap at all times and a constantly rotating menu of draft selections, you will never see the same menu twice! Order a flight; try a style, brewery, or beer you’ve never had. Expand your horizons. Be brave!

We also hope people take a few moments to talk to their server or bartender. Our staff is extremely knowledgeable, and many of them are truly in it for the love of beer!

What sets us apart? First and foremost, it really is all about the beer. More than anything else, we are dedicated to bringing great products (beer, cider, wine, & mead), made right here in Michigan, to downtown Midland. Craft beer (and wine, cider, and mead) is passionately produced by artisans who care about the products they are producing and love the process of producing them. It has flavor; it has texture: it isn’t mass-produced, its artistry. It has a history, a purpose, and a story to tell.

Similarly, the building itself has a story to tell. Built in the late 1800s, it was originally a livery stable and later Glovers Pharmacy and Mashue Printing. It has been owned by the same family for generations. We wanted to preserve the history of the building, which is why we left the original brick walls exposed. You can actually see where windows were once filled in.

Finally, WhichCraft Taproom truly was built by hand. Richard fabricated the intricate tongue-and-groove bar front with wood he found in the basement. He built the bar top and table tops from a reclaimed bowling alley lane and created the community tables with wood from salvaged fallen trees found in the UP. The items Richard didn’t make himself (barstools, brushed metal tapwall, and room dividers) were handmade by Matt Weckesser of FAB Custom designs. From the art on the walls (aluminum overlaid with photography from local artist Ryan Aiman) to the hand-made ceramic Mug Club Mugs (by local artist Julie Tyrrell, through Serendipity 181), we wanted to showcase local talent that was both beautiful and relevant.
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4. Where did you come up with the idea for your business?
Honestly, it all started with an article in the Midland Daily News! We read an article talking about the plethora of redevelopment liquor licenses available in the downtown district and started to do some research.

5. How did you get started? What’s your background?
Richard is a fourth-generation native of Midland who earned an MBA and a Law degree from MSU before moving back to Midland to work for Dow Chemical, where he spent four years in the finance department until he left to open WhichCraft Taproom. Sharon is a native of West Michigan with a professional background in marketing and publishing.

6. Following you on Facebook, it looked like there were some hurdles to jump while trying to open. What were the struggles of opening your business?
There are always a few surprises when attempting to renovate a building that is more than 100 years old, but the biggest single hurdle was the installation of the walk-in cooler, part of which was actually lost in transit. The shipping company spent about a week looking for it before we realized that the missing parts would have to be re-made. Then, when it arrived, it was to different dimensions than we expected. We were able to improvise, but we did loose at least a month. In the end, everything works as expected, so we really can’t complain!

More than anything, we just underestimated the amount of time each particular step of the process would take! We really didn’t have any major hurdles, everything just took a little longer than expected.

7. What do you hope for the future of WhichCraft? 
We are interested in developing some house-branded beer.

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Small Project – HUGE Impact!

15 Oct

100 Young Professional Club

Once again the 100 Young Professionals Club was able to make a significant contribution to a local organization. Creative 360 was the chosen nonprofit to donate our pooled monies to at the meeting on October 3.

Karl Ieuter, who is a board member at Creative 360, had his name chosen out of the bowl to be one of the three presenters. He informed the group that Creative  360 has been trying to fundraise for new carpet. According to Karl, they have been struggling with it because it’s not an exciting project and not many people      were willing to give. Creative 360 had already raised $6,000 on their own and only needed a little more to complete their fundraising.

100 Young Professionals Club

With the 100 YP Club’s $2,300, we completed the fundraising so that Creative 360 can purchase new carpet. Even though this is a small project, we really made a    HUGE impact! Without our support, Creative 360 may not have been able to finish this crucial upgrade.

The other presenters at this meeting talked about projects with the Mid-Michigan Royal Family Kids and the Midland Area Partnership for Drug-Free Youth.    People can nominate the same organization and project at each meeting so these organizations could be chosen again at future meetings.

Not only was the donation a success and very heartwarming, but we increased the number of our Club’s members! In April, we had 32 members, and after the October meeting, we are up to 46 members! Our goal is to get to 100 members though, so if anyone would like to join, or knows of someone who would like to join, please contact Jennelle Maki at the Chamber and let her know! She can get you all the necessary information. You can also learn more about the Club in general at the Chamber’s website.

The next 100 YP Club meeting is TBD so check back for more information and stay tuned! At the next MYPros luncheon, the check for $2,300 will be presented to a representative from Creative 360 and all members of the Club will be recognized.

50% of Internet Users are Worried about Online Privacy

9 Oct

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Americans share more about themselves online than ever before but this doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about the side effects. A recent study by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that “privacy concerns among Americans are on the rise, with 50 percent of Internet users saying they are worried about the information available about them online.”

We fret about advertisers accessing our personal habits. We fear being watched by the government. We’re targeted by hackers. We struggle to secure personal safety and home security. Our online activity can compromise all of this if we’re not proactively taking steps to manage and mitigate risk.

The good news is that it’s possible (and not that hard) to proactively manage your privacy while comfortably networking and sharing with those you choose to engage with.

Not all social media is created equal.

Review how you use social media currently between different platforms and identify the purpose for each. Consider, for example, that you have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (It’s the most likely combo as the top 3 most popular networking sites).

Facebook is most likely going to be one’s personal network. Users tend to only connect with people that they already know like friends and family. Make deliberate choices about what you share but never assume what you post will ever stay private. It’s easy enough to take a screen shot of the most private status update. Pro tip: use Facebook’s smart list feature to group your friends and target each post you publish to a smart list to manage who sees your content.

Twitter is growing as a place for public information. Users follow and engage with news, celebrities, popular interests, and friends. Frequency of engagement is high and it’s not uncommon for users to follow and engage with people they’ve never met and will never meet. Twitter is best used with a public account so consider how everyone will perceive what you say and share. You can still be funny yet professional and you can still be professional and personal. Pro tip: you don’t have to tweet to find use from Twitter. Feel free to follow, search, and learn from what people are saying without the pressure to share your own thoughts.

LinkedIn isn’t just a job-searching platform – in fact, it’s far from it. Most users use LinkedIn for business development and professional networking to further expand personal business opportunities. At the very least, create a profile and complete your profile. Pro tip: sharing status updates and engaging on others’ status will help you expand and grow your network faster and stronger.

Understand Privacy Policies. 

As online engagement grows and the way we use social media platforms evolve, naturally the privacy policies and options will evolve with them. It’s your responsibility to understand your options and limitations on each channel.

Despite criticism you may sometimes read, Facebook makes it easy to manage your privacy. In a related point, one cannot protect personal data by posting a status update. Any variation of “I hereby prevent Facebook from using my photos” is completely fake and useless.

Twitter’s privacy management is probably the clearest of the three platforms highlighted here. You’re public or you’re private. All or nothing.

Managing your privacy on LinkedIn can be somewhat more challenging but it is the more likely platform that you may use to represent yourself publicly.

What is the best privacy management tip you’ve got for engaging across the platforms?

$49 Million in Change: Midland’s East End Project

4 Oct

ImageOver 140 young professionals packed the Dow Diamond on Thursday, Sept. 26 to hear the latest news about the East End development (a.k.a. “the huge building across from the stadium”). On hand were Midland City Manager Jon Lynch along with Gillespie Group President Pat Gillespie and Caddis Development Group President Kevin McGraw (the project developers) and Spence Brothers President/CEO Herb Spence (responsible for the construction). Here are some of the highlights:

The Tenants

  • Current tenants include Chemical Bank Wealth Management, Warner Norcross & Judd, MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland, and a second-floor fitness center, along with another “major” tenant to be announced soon. The Michigan Baseball Foundation has also announced State & Main Restaurant will be a tenant as well.
  • In total, there are only about 7,000 square feet left to lease (out of over 250,000), and the developers would like 4-5 restaurants to start with. They’re looking for suggestions (see the end of this post for the way to contribute).

The Construction

  • The construction, which has been greatly accelerated, is still even a little ahead of schedule. The “core and shell” work to enclose the building might be done as early as the first week of November. Indoor “fitouts” for the major tenants’ spaces are starting this month.
  • If all goes well, there should be people in the building by sometime next spring.
  • The building is working toward LEED Silver certification to be environmentally friendly.
Conceptual rendering taken from midlandeastend.com

Conceptual rendering taken from the Midland East End website

The Impact

  • About 800 people currently work in Midland’s Downtown. Pat Gillespie predicted the East End project will add another 800 by itself.
  • The development will help fill current vacancies even though it’s adding new space. Gillespie has seen businesses eager to take advantage of new development rent nearby existing space at a lower price point. He predicts that within three years, Downtown Midland will be entirely filled with “stuff you don’t have now.”
  • The project was originally a $33 million investment; today, it’s $49 million. This has raised the taxable value of that property from $800,000 in 2011 to $13 million today.

The Future

  • The East End development is not including residential space – it’s difficult for residents and businesses to share the same elevators and other infrastructure. But the developers and the City are discussing other possible residential development. Since Pat gets “five to ten calls a week” asking if there are apartments available in the East End, he predicted there will eventually be 70-100 apartments in Downtown Midland.
  • In order to have those apartments, though, and to have associated services like taxis, there needs to be enough demand for a private-sector investor to take the projects on. Apartments downtown would probably need be priced between $775 and $1100/month to be viable.

The East End project is exciting by itself, but the impact on Midland and the region will be even bigger. As the project shapes up, the developers encouraged MYPros to have our say in the tenants we’d like to see. Leave a comment on this post and tell us what you think should be in the East End!