The rise of a town: It’s a wonderful life in Flyover Country – December 23, 2019
“I believe, I believe. It’s silly but I believe.” — Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
December 23, 2019
Fading town finds new life thanks to one entrepreneur
George bailey at the fictional Bedford Falls via Shutterstock
No, this isn't a recap of George Bailey's contributions to the fictional Bedford Falls in It's a Wonderful Life, but we found this story about a trailblazer in an actual idyllic Minnesota town equally heart-warming.
A few years ago, Andrea Stordahl and her family moved from the Fargo area to MacIntosh (population 625) in northwestern Minnesota. The town was in sad decline, with shuttered businesses along the main drag. So Stordahl took some bold steps.
She had run a vintage business before the move, and she bought an old building in MacIntosh and opened a store there. She named it Minnesota Rust. (Is that a great name or what?) And with help from her contractor husband and local Amish carpenters, she opened the business last year.
The community support was tremendous. “People really embraced it and supported us,” Stordahl said. “And I think it kind of changed the whole tone downtown.”
But that was just the start.
Last spring, she and her husband bought several other vacant buildings and set to work on renovations. Now three buildings are restored, and Stordahl has found tenants for them—a gift shop, a salon, and a soap and candle business. Next up? A café. Because, Stordahl said, all towns need “a place to shake dice and have coffee.”
No word yet on whether the rejuvenation efforts will endure, but Stordahl has definitely had a huge impact.
“She has basically, all by herself, revitalized that downtown area,” said Grant Oppegaard, who grew up in the town and is now an adviser to the Small Business Development Center in 12 northwest Minnesota counties. “She did it in about half the time and with half the money I would have guessed.”
FLYOVER U RESEARCH
PhD student is advancing AI tech for Indiana and NASA
Derek Whitley is pursuing two (count 'em, TWO) doctoral degrees at Indiana University Bloomington, one on complex systems and one on cognitive science, while simultaneously working full time as a senior engineer at Warrant Technologies—"a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business.” And oh yeah, Warrant received a grant from NASA, and Whitley is the principal investigator working on AI tech for future Mars and moon missions.
At IU, his research is focused on “creating new evolutionary artificial intelligence methods that do not execute in a traditional way.”
He’s also a staunch advocate of Indiana’s potential role in pushing forward on AI research and initiatives, including the NASA project.
"This is cutting-edge technology, and exciting projects like this can help keep talent right here in Indiana. Every part of the country has had some kind of economic boom that has struck it for some reason or another,” he said. “Why can't AI take place here in Indiana?"
A novel method for treating MS
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have published a study that could lead to a breakthrough in the way multiple sclerosis is treated. And we may have cats to thank for it.
But now the Madison researchers have evidence that measuring the speed of electrical signals along nerves between the eyes and brain may be a noninvasive way to accurately measure myelin loss in MS patients. The discovery could make it much easier to develop and test drug therapies that have potential to promote myelin repair. Out of respect for cats and the people who love them, we won’t go into details here but let’s just say the study involved cats and we thank them for their service.
Meijer Foundation gives $19.5 million to MSU
The Meijer Foundation has given $19.5 million to Michigan State University for a new medical innovation facility—a "theranostics" clinic that includes a radiopharmacy—in a planned medical innovation building at MSU's Grand Rapids Innovation Park, according to a news release.
Doug Meijer and the Meijer Foundation, said, “The Meijer Family has always been passionate about health care, and I am thankful to have the ability to carry that passion forward. This new medical innovation building will help save lives and improve the quality of life for many people through remarkable cancer-fighting technology. Patients will no longer have to travel overseas to receive needed treatment. I am living proof this technology works.”
The project will include building one of the most advanced cyclotron-equipped radiopharmacies, which will focus on manufacturing diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals for both clinical and research use. The building will be named Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Center in honor of Meijer, a cancer survivor and advocate.
SquareOffs want to be the home for online opinion
Image by Iván Tamás from Pixabay
SquareOffs is an online debate forum in Kansas City that wants to make news sites more of a two-way conversation. The firm was one of 12 on the list of Startland’s 12 Startups to Watch list for 2019. And it just landed $2.2 million in funding.
SquareOff’s founder and CEO Jeff Rohr says the site features all of the top debates going on in news, sports, and lifestyle and involves a question with two possible answers and text boxes that let you explain your choice. Recent poll questions included “Are you concerned about having smart speakers in your home?” and “Do you support the impeachment proceedings?”
The platform’s partnering publishers include News Press and Gazette Co., TastyTrade, Sports Publishers Group, Dear Abby, and KC-based Andrews McMeel. Rohr told Startland News, “You have these comments just sitting at the bottom of an article and they’re not super productive. By asking a question, we sort of frame the conversation and do what we call ‘curing comment chaos.’”
Useless information that is strangely fascinating.
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