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National roundup: Detroit's wind economy, Memphis' startup symphony, Toronto's Silicon Valley

Dr. Stanley Samuel of OcuSano Inc.

Detroit's wind economy

A local petting farm in metro Detroit generates 40 percent of its power from wind and solar, while in the thumb of Michigan, wind farms are sprouting up on farmland. These are just a few of the projects powering up metro Detroit's -- and Michigan's -- growing wind economy.

"Building a wind turbine in Metro Detroit is a lot easier said than done," finds Jon Zemke of Metromode. "It's such a challenging proposition that it flips local conventional wisdom on its head. Blue-collar suburbs in Detroit's Downriver are integrating big alternative-energy projects into their everyday lives while college towns succumb to build-nothing-new NIMBYism."

Pittsburgh's smart moves

Newly-elected Mayor Bill Peduto says Pittsburgh is on the cusp of a new era -- one that builds upon the past and emerged from three decades of cross-sector leadership, a willingness to change and the development of amenities that residents want.

“In my view, Pittsburgh is going through its fourth transformation,” he tells Pop City, referring to its Colonial history, rise as a Steel town, economic collapse and now resurgence. “The next 10 years will determine where we’ll go in the next 50 ... whether [we'll] be the example of how a post-industrial city can survive or the model of a 21st century city. We’re going for the latter.”
Memphis Symphony. Photo by John Minervini. Memphis' startup symphony

What happens to a city's symphony when its endowment dries up and it confronts mortality?

"Memphis certainly isn't the first city to see its symphony struggle in the wake of the 2008 market crash," reports John Minervini in High Ground. "Orchestras in Philadelphia and Albuquerque filed for bankruptcy. In San Jose, the symphony stopped playing and never resumed. But [leaders] say they aren’t willing to accept a fate like that for Memphis."

"In order to keep the music playing, [it] will have to do something that few orchestras have ever done ... make the symphony sustain itself from year to year without the benefit of an endowment. In other words, they need a new business model. Behold the startup symphony."

D.C.'s guide to murals

When murals are thoughtfully executed, they're far more than just pretty things to look at. They "revitalize neighborhoods, deter illegal graffiti and boost local businesses -- often while inspiring civic pride and imagination," writes Caroline Dobuzinskis in Elevation. This guide to DC's newest public art showcases work ranging from playful to powerful.

Cincy's food truck feast

Cincinnati is seeing an explosion in food trucks, which are not only a tasty way to serve grub, but also encourage street life, give entrepreneurs a start and act as business incubators. "People are gobbling them up," writes Caitlin Koenig in Soapbox, who recently caught up with the owners of 30 tasty food trucks to learn what they’re known for and how to find them.

Habitat for Humanity NetZero house. Photo by Dan Handeen.

Unexpected solar cities


"Solar power isn’t just for southern locales anymore," writes Camille LeFevre in The Line. In fact, she finds in this insightful feature, "Minnesota actually has the same or better 'solar resources than most of the southeastern and northeastern U.S., 'with more ‘peak sun hours’ here (on an annual basis, 4.6 hours daily average) than Germany, the top solar market in the world.'"

Canada's Silicon Valley

Everyone is trying to create the next Silicon Valley, a job that's deemed difficult and perhaps impossible in this recent article in the The Atlantic. Yet that won't stop Toronto from trying. The dream is taking shape via the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, an initiative that aims to support and advance innovation-based entrepreneurship in Ontario, reports Yonge Street.

Connectivity matters

Two very different cities, Denver and Cleveland, are working on efforts to better connect urban neighborhoods via transportation. In Denver, this is taking the shape of a new comprehensive plan for downtrodden Globeville, which might just become the city's next desireable 'hood'. In Cleveland, alt transportation is taking root, from pedicabs to ridesharing.

Hot in Tampa

"Researchers at the University of South Florida have bottled an elixir for aging brains that harnesses the power of blueberries and green tea," writes Jan Hollingsworth in 83 Degrees. The groundbreaking research could be a gamechanger. "The proprietary formula, NT-020, boosted mental performance in older adults during a recent clinical trial," she notes.

2014 Wharton Business Plan Competition winners. Photo courtesy of Keystone Edge. PA's educational innovation

Two Carnegie Mellon students have created a 3D printer kiosk that allows patrons to customize and print their own toys. This is just one of the student innovations emerging in colleges and universities across Pennsylvania thanks to a growing array of startup resources.

Meanwhile, in Philly, Flying Kite explores the future of William Penn, one of the city's many shuttered schools, in the wake of the metropolitan school district's "deepening fiscal crisis."

Immigrant entrepreneurs
 
"Throwing yourself into a startup business in the life sciences field would seem like a daunting enough task for most people: You’ve got product design challenges, corporate structure complexities and IP headaches to deal with, not to mention the tightrope-walk of securing funding for your venture," writes Steven Thomas Kent in Rapid Growth.

"But add in immigration and visa obstacles to that recipe and it seems like an explosive cocktail — almost too much uncertainty to bear. You’d be forgiven if you thought about just throwing in the towel."

This compelling piece tells the story of Dr. Stanley Samuel, a life sciences entrepreneur who risked everything to launch a startup because of his avowed "passion" for entrepreneurship.

Lee Chilcote is Editorial Director with Issue Media Group and a freelance writer in Cleveland. He writes about urban redevelopment, placemaking and the future of cities. Follow him on Twitter @leechilcote.
 
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