- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - A new effort announced Tuesday to help expand Michigan’s pool of design professionals could include a statewide prize and establishing a district in Detroit where design work would be encouraged.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined officials at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in announcing the Michigan Design Council. The volunteer advisory board of design professionals and others from around the state was holding its first informal gathering at the show.

“We have a strong creative class, a strong university network of design programs and a national city that is primed for its rebirth in the design community,” Calley said.

Design schools and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. are part of the plans for the council and industries across the state, not just the auto industry, are involved. Initial participants include representative from appliance and household products companies.

Details are in the works, but Jeff DeBoer with industrial design firm Sundberg-Ferar said plans call for creating an annual statewide prize for product design. DeBoer, who is among those involved in the council, said the first such prize could be given out at next year’s auto show.

There also are discussions about establishing a “design mecca” inside the city of Detroit, DeBoer said. He said the “design enterprise zone” would be an area of 1-10 square miles where people could “come together to work, collaborate and grow businesses.”

The Grand Rapids area could see a similar effort to promote the design industry, DeBoer said. Names for the enterprise zone idea are being talked about, and he said he likes “District 313” and “District 616,” a nod to the area codes for Detroit and Grand Rapids.





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