Archive | March, 2014

Little Fish, Big Fish [Guest Post, Quarter Life Crisis]

25 Mar

By Chelsie Schroeder
The Dow Chemical Company
on assignment by Kelly Services

Are you a big fish in a small pond or are you a small fish swimming in the ocean? When we graduated college we faced a decision about our career path… small business, non-profit or corporate. Each of these businesses certainly has its pros and cons and I have had the opportunity, first hand, to swim in each “body of water.”

Big Fish Little Fish

Most people have their preconceived notions about each particular type of business. Small businesses have no money or opportunities to grow, non-profits don’t make money and are less competent, and corporations are cut throat and only focused on the bottom line. However, working for each of these businesses has allowed me to clarify these theories.

Small businesses and non-profits have similar pros and cons regarding business structure and environment. From my experience, both allow more of a flexible work schedule, with a larger opportunity to be involved outside of the business. Networking experiences are easier to come across, simply due to the need to network and expand the business as far as possible. You may not get paid as much as you would in a corporation; however, there are several learning opportunities that you will not get in a large firm; for instance, seeing a project from its mere ideal state to completion and have a hand in each step. These types of projects make you feel like you are making a larger impact/difference in the community, and some of the best-run companies out there are small businesses or non-profit

The two biggest cons of these types of smaller businesses are obviously the pay/benefits and the limited opportunities for growth. Now don’t get me wrong, there are smaller businesses that pay really well and give you potential for growth; however, those are few and far between. Though they may want to, small and non-profit businesses usually do not have the funds to pay someone a larger salary for their work or provide them with learning opportunities, to expand their knowledge base.

Quiet, unfriendly, competitive, cut-throat…Corporate. No; however, corporate America does have a negative connotation about it. I believe that this is due to the challenging work environment that allows fewer individuals to make it to the top. Most people have to abide by more strict working hours and end up putting in more time outside of the work day to fulfill their recommended workloads. Individuals working within corporate businesses also have fewer chances to get outside of that working environment and network with people of the small businesses/non-profits because their schedules are simply too busy.

Although these things might deter someone from working corporate, there are several pros to be in the big business world. Obviously the pay/benefit options are going to be much larger than they are for small businesses. There is more money flow in these types of businesses allowing them to pay their employees a competitive salary with lucrative benefits and large opportunities for growth/learning. You may not see a project move from start to finish in a large firm, but you do get to be a part of a functional team that works together on their specific segment of the whole. Sometimes you may get in a team that is cut and dry or stuffy, on the other hand through my experience, I am working with a friendly group of people who have the same goal and are willing to help each other succeed.

So what is better…being a big fish in a small pond or are you a small fish swimming in the ocean? This answer is truly up to the individual, priorities and career goals. If you could choose to start over today, where would you choose to “swim?”

Chelsie Head ShotChelsie is a God following, creative, outgoing, curly haired, tall, vizsla loving, vino sipper, shopaholic who is addicted to volleyball, spinning, and her supportive husband. Contact Chelsie at chelsiejschroeder@gmail.com.

On Tap: Maple Syrup

17 Mar

By Beth Bauer
ZENTX Media Group

Imagine the perfect stack of pancakes with a sweet, velvety maple syrup slowly making its journey across every bite.  These heavenly bites can’t be recreated by some “maple flavored syrup” created in a lab or test kitchen, it only can come from nature, and most likely a tree you have in your very own yard.  The art of making maple syrup has been around for thousands of years and it’s a fun, hands-on activity that you should try at least once in your lifetime.

Maple syrup making has become an annual tradition every February through April for my husband and I since we bought our house in Midland five years ago.  Although, I am by no means an expert (and with full disclosure I rely on my husband to do the brunt of the work, but someone has to taste test, right?), there are eight main steps you need to know in order for you to make your very own maple syrup too.

maplesyrup

Step 1: Select Trees & Buy Equipment
Identify and mark your maple trees while the leaves are still in tact before winter begins so that they will be easy to spot in the midst of winter.  Also, obtain the equipment you will need for making maple syrup, which includes: taps (also called spiles), buckets, storage bins, filters, and bottles.

Step 2: Make Sure Timing is Right
February through April are the main months for collecting sap, ideal timing is when temperatures are warm and above freezing during the day and below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) during the night.

Step 3: Tap Trees & Attach Buckets
Tap your maple trees by drilling a hole on the side of the tree that receives the most sunlight.  An electrical hand drill works the best.  The hole should be the diameter of your tap and should be at a slight downward angle.  Once the tap is in place, also attach your bucket or collection container.

Step 4: Collect Sap
Make sure to check your buckets every few days and transfer whatever sap has collected to your storage container.  Keep collecting sap until the season has ended or you have gathered enough sap.

Step 5: Filter & Boil Sap
Syrup is made by removing the water from the sap, so only the sugar remains.  Sap contains only 2% sugar, so it’s important to boil out all of the water.  But before you begin evaporating the water, you should first filter the sap to ensure any unwanted items like bugs or twigs are removed and discarded.

Step 6: Filter Again & Bottle
Filter the syrup again to ensure you haven’t missed any unwanted items and then poor into your sanitized bottles.

 Step 7: Remove Taps
It’s important to remove the taps from the trees.  There is no need to plug the holes, they will close by themselves.

Step 8: Enjoy!

Making maple syrup is an activity you should definitely add to your bucket list.  But if you want to celebrate the season without all of the work, I recommend checking out The Chippewa Nature Center.  They have numerous fun activities based around making and eating maple syrup made on their premise.  What’s your favorite thing about maple syrup?

Downtown Update: What’s Going On

15 Mar

By Ryan Richards
Allis Information Management

Selina Tisdale

Selina Tisdale, Midland Downtown Development Authority Executive Director.

Whenever we’re discussing Midland developments to write about, Downtown Midland always comes up. There’s been so much going on there in the last couple years that I wasn’t even sure I could remember it all. So I chatted (virtually) with Selina Tisdale, who among many other things is the Executive Director of the City of Midland’s Downtown Development Authority. Here’s what she had to say about what’s happening Downtown and what’s still to come.

What’s the status of the East End development? How close are they to opening? How about the tenants?

East End Webcam Picture

Downtown Midland’s East End development, taken from the Spence Brothers webcam at http://oxblue.com/open/spencebrothers/eastend.

The tenants that were announced during the initial construction phase (Chemical Bank Trust Department, MidMichigan Health, The Dow Chemical Company and the law firm of Warner, Norcross and Judd) are still the primary tenants for the upper floors. Main floor restaurant space is still working on being filled. Occupancy of the building will take place in stages as tenants complete their respective areas – watch for the first tenants to begin moving in early summer. There’s also a celebration event for the opening of the building planned for summer; stay tuned for more details!

What’s the plan for the five-story building on Main Street – will it be residential, commercial, both? Where is it in the development process?

The Main Street development near Ashman will be a five-story mixed-use facility. This development will feature four floors of residential space, about 19 units, and main floor retail and restaurant. There will also be at least one Main Street level restaurant to be announced.

Midland Downtown Building

The five-story building planned for Downtown Midland. Image courtesy MLive.com.

Demolition of the existing site is slated to begin on March 24. Demolition is expected to take 2-3 weeks with the 24-month long construction process to begin shortly thereafter. While things will be more congested than normal, we do not anticipate interference with Farmer’s Market, Tunes by the Tridge or other much-anticipated summer fun in Downtown Midland. There sure will be a lot to see, though!

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation provided a grant to the City that contributes to the burial of the electrical service along Ashman Street from Ann Street to Larkin. This will greatly enhance the aesthetics of Downtown Midland, eliminating overhead wires, utility poles and the like.

If you’ve seen the renderings for the Main Street development, it is not hard to tell that it will be an impressive structure that will nicely compliment the H Hotel, the historic buildings of the downtown as well as the contemporary look and feel of the new East End development. It will definitely be another signature piece for downtown Midland.

Tell us about the building that just went up on Buttles and Ashman.

SSP Associates

The SSP Associates building on Buttles and Ashman Streets.

The 30,000-square-foot structure has been developed by SSP Associates, a Shaheen Development Co. Three tenants have announced occupancy of the building: Styron will occupy the second floor with Century 21 and Wells Fargo occupying the first floor. Wells Fargo moved into the facility in late February/early March. The others are expected to move in within the June/July time frame.

Are there any other plans for residential space downtown? I know there are some existing loft apartments… what’s the status of those? Are there plans to add more residential space?

416 McDonald

416 McDonald in Midland (click the picture and look for the red circle!). Image courtesy City of Midland GIS system.

The new development in downtown Midland is definitely sparking an interest in bringing more residential to the area. The 19 residential units in the new Main Street development will be the first major investment in new downtown residential units.

At a council meeting in February, SSP inquired to City Council about the purchase of city-owned property at 416 McDonald Street (between Buttles and Indian Streets). SSP already owns the balance of this block and would like to purchase the remaining parcel with the intent of developing a multi-residential housing development at that location. Other residential development inquiries have been made as well, but nothing public at this time.

There are about a dozen “loft” type apartments in the downtown, above existing main floor space; however, they are fairly elusive – as soon as one becomes available it is snapped up. But I hear more and more every day from those interested in adding more residential downtown, both in existing buildings and through new development.

What else would you like to see in Downtown Midland? Comment below and share your thoughts!

 

Other links:

Our earlier blog post on the East End project

MLive article on the five-story Downtown building

Midland Daily News article on the proposed SSP residential development

 

Summer Breeze: Pure Michigan Campaign Highlights Great Lakes Bay Region

14 Mar

By Mark Kawiecki

Pure Michigan ads aren’t anything new. In fact, the Pure Michigan campaign has now been active for nearly 10 years! Launched in 2006, the campaign has been highly recognized for its effectiveness at bringing tourism and attention to the wonderful state of Michigan.

Pure Michigan’s most recent television ad focuses on the Great Lakes Bay Region. I have really enjoyed all of the Pure Michigan ads, but this one is especially exciting because it will be bringing positive attention to our region. You might recognize some familiar places that are featured in the video like the Tridge, Dow Gardens, Currie Municipal Golf Course, Bay City’s Riverwalk and Frankenmuth’s downtown.

Michigan deserves a big pat on the back from the success of the campaign through the years. Statistics for 2013 show that the Pure Michigan campaign drove more than 4 million trips last year, generating $1.2 billion in economic impact. For the $13 million that was spent on out-of-state advertising, the campaign generated $86.5 million in tax revenue from visitor spending, a return of $6.66 for ever dollar spent.

The 2014 Pure Michigan national campaign will be launching March 17. Due to the success of their efforts, Michigan will also be increasing their international marketing in new areas like Toronto. Presence in global markets like Great Britain, Germany and China will also be increasing.

What do you think of the new ad? Does it represent the region well? Comment below with your thoughts.

Millennials are Entitled and Self-Centered, Right?

13 Mar

By Jennelle Maki
Midland Area Chamber of Commerce

WRONG! As a member of the millennial generation myself, I always feel I have to combat the stereotype that we are self-centered, entitled and only care about who we are texting. Last year the MYPros Steering Committee and the Midland Area Community Foundation worked together to come up with the idea of starting a young professionals giving circle as a way for YPs to learn more about the needs in the community in which they live and to do something about those needs. When we started this club, it started out small but we have grown quite a bit in our first year. This giving circle is a great way to help put that stereotype to rest and show that we are a generation that cares, and not only do we care, but we are taking action! The 100 YP Club only takes two hours and $100 a year. It’s amazing how with a little time and money we can truly make a huge impact in our community.

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By now you’re probably thinking, “OMG, I have got to join this club, but I need more info!” The 100 YP Club started a year ago in April, 2013. In our first year, each member donated $100 annually and we gave a total of $3,900 to help local non-profits in the community. This year we hope to double that amount, and that’s where you come in. How the club works: We meet twice a year and each member contributes $50 at each meeting ($100 annually). We then take the pooled money and vote on a local cause in the community to donate our collected funds. The more people we have in the club, the larger impact we will have on the community.

Joining the club is easy; just come to our next meeting on Wednesday, March 26th at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn. All you need to do is donate $50 and bring a signed application to the meeting and you’re in! For more information on the meeting, donating and to get the application form click here.

Now I have to give a big shout out to the Holiday Inn. They have allowed us to use their facility at no cost to hold our meetings. The best part of being at the Holiday Inn is heading to Big E’s and buying a beer, wine or whatever and bringing it into the meeting room so we can all enjoy a nice beverage or food during our meeting. If you ask me, you really can’t beat a tasty beverage, meeting new people, enjoying time with friends and giving back to your community in one hour of time. I hope you’ll join us on March 26th to show this town that us Millennials give a shh… crap and we take action! Because if you don’t give back, no one will like you.

Robberies, Fires and Prohibition: The Midland History You’ve Never Heard

12 Mar

midland michigan

Did you know that Detroit was the first city to pave a concrete road? Or did you know that Michigan supplied an estimated 75% of liquor to bootleggers during prohibition– thanks to our helpful Canadian friends? (source) Or what about the fire that almost destroyed parts of Midland? I didn’t think so.

Don’t worry. I haven’t either and I was born and raised in this town. It’s easy to dismiss this quiet, conservative city to be boring and uneventful. That’s not true today and that’s not true of its past.

Midland has contributed a lot to the history of Michigan and there’s a lot more to tell. We’re sitting down for lunch on March 25 with Gary Skory, the Director of the Midland County Historical Society to hear Gary’s stories specifically about Midland County’s rich (and sometimes scandalous) history.

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this stuff.

Gary will share stories you’ve never heard about Midland’s rich history at the next MYPros Luncheon. His presentation has only ever been told to Leadership Midland graduates and now you have a chance to hear from him, too. Gary is smart, witty and engaging. If you think history is boring, you have never heard Gary present.

JOIN US TO LEARN HOW MIDLAND HAS SHAPED HISTORY

The presentation “Robberies, Fires and Prohibition” starts at 11:30 am on March 25 and concludes at 1 pm. Questions before registering? Leave a comment. We’ll get back to you.

5 Apps to Help Maximize Productivity

4 Mar

There’s nothing like a dependency on technology to make us incredibly more productive. I fully intend to strengthen our obsession with technology and make you more effective while doing it by sharing my 5 favorite productivity apps for any aspect of your life. Thank me later.

Evernote – Free

Evernote is completely brilliant once you start using it and best use its features. The best and most complicated part is that the sky is the limit and everyone will use it differently. Evernote can be installed in your browser, on your PC or Mac, and on your phone syncing wherever you have it installed. The ability to categorize “notebooks” offers some segmentation to shared and private content, and work and professional content. Of course, each piece can be tagged making it easier to find and navigate your content. On top of all of that, there is an additional layer of features like reminders to help juggle all of the ongoing things in one’s life. Lives have been changed with Evernote.

Reminders for iOS – Free; Pre-Installed

Are you an Android user? Skip this app entirely. Sorry.

Reminders app is a super simple stock application already installed in any Apple device and like Evernote, syncs throughout all iOS devices. Not to be confused with how Evernote works, it’s a simple, listed way to help you keep on track for more things than you can imagine. For example, set up a shared list for groceries so you and your roommate or partner can work from the same list while at the grocery store. My favorite is the location based reminders and the tool’s ability to connect with Siri. “Siri, remind me to start the dishwasher when I get home” will alert you when you arrive at the address that you’ve set as “home.”

Captio – $1.99

captioDo you often email yourself to remember to do something or send yourself a quick note to remember ideas? Captio is made specifically for capturing an idea or task as fast as possible, with minimum distractions. When setting it up, you choose the email you’ll send your notes to and you never have to type in your email address or a subject in the future when using the tool. The experience is even faster, when using voice to text.

Stitcher– Free

Stitcher is a podcast app that allows you to subscribe to favorite podcasts like Freakenomics, Market Place Radio, and Radio Lab (all my favorites!) and also allows you to listen to aggregated snippets of top news. This tool doesn’t directly help you maximize productivity but it can, however, be productive to listen to the news while you’re commuting into work or while you’re getting ready in the morning. It saves you time by consuming the news while you’re doing something else like driving or getting dressed.

wine

Now that you’re completely productive, have some wine anremember it later.

Delectable – Free 

Delectable is a database of wines making it quicker and easier for you to capture, remember, and find wines that you or your friends have tried and enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy! You don’t want a repeat experience). It’s is actually founded by a prominent defense contractor used for anti-terrorist technology. Delectable’s comprehensive database of wines is combined with unparalleled photo recognition and a team of wine experts to guarantee accuracy making remembering the wines you are drinking, learning about them, and buying them again easier than ever.

Do you think you’ve got something better? Please challenge this list by sharing some of your favorites in the comments.

Taxes…I Never Know What I am Doing [Quarter Life Crisis]

3 Mar

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I introduced a few weeks ago the concept of our Quarter Life Crisis series. In case you missed it you can click here to check it out, or if you just want to read it over and over again because let’s be honest, it’s pretty well written if I must say so myself ;). Anyway let me be the first to say that I am really glad that we will have some fellow young professionals sharing their knowledge and expertise to us for FREE! If I can be completely candid here, as with many things in my life, I seriously have no clue how to do my taxes. I did do them myself with the help of my parents in college, but since I have been a gainfully employed member of society I have now resorted to a CPA. Seriously BEST decision I have ever made! Especially since getting married and buying a house–that’s when taxes get a little more tricky than what I had to deal with in the past.

Now with an accountant, that whole “doing my taxes” burden is off my shoulders, but I do still have a challenge ahead of me…and that is finding everything to give my accountant. My husband and I attend many fundraisers, donate to church & local non-profits, donate through the 100 YP Club and donate items to places like the Habitat ReStore. All of these great tax deductible items will help us in the end. Now that we have a house we have to keep track of interest paid and other items. My husband travels a lot for work and gets to write off his mileage at the end of the year. So, in trying my best to be a productive member of society, I now have way more things to keep track of and to give to my accountant.

Anyone who knows me or has seen my cubicle knows that I am not exactly the most organized person (if you ever want to hear a story about my lack of keeping track of things, just ask anyone at the Chamber about how I lost my keys for two days and where I found them).

This past weekend my husband and I finally got to the daunting task of locating everything we needed to collect for our accountant. I have about 45 different locations where any of these items could be found. So as am I running through the house trying to remember everything I need. I realized that this is basically the adult version of an Easter egg hunt. It’s not quite as exciting, and there aren’t any chocolate eggs, but there is money at the end of it all when I find all my tax deductible receipts.

Last week fellow MYPro John Haag, a CPA at Yeo & Yeo CPA’s & Business Consultants, was a guest blogger for us and he wrote a very useful, informative and entertaining post with some tax tips for young professionals. If this past year you bought a house, got married, had a child or were paying on student loans and more, be sure to check out his post. He has some great advice to share whether you are doing your own taxes or using one of our great Chamber member CPA’s. (which you can find a list of qualified professionals here) Happy tax season everyone! Now let’s keep pushing for spring!