Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sirolli Method of Economic Development

As many of you know the Village is working on an update to our Master Plan. In this update one new section will be focused on economic development. When that phrase is cast out it has many meanings. The typical Michigan mindset has been to go after a major industrial project with a big-game hunter mentality.

Statistics show that a community, if lucky, will land one of those big-game projects about every 25 years. Not the greatest model to build a diverse and sustainable economic base in a community.

Other schools of thought focus on creating a vibrant and diverse small business base and connecting them in a network which feeds and supports the members. It is a system coined "economic gardening." The idea is that it is not the government's role to pick winners and losers in terms of the business climate and tax structure, but rather the government's role is to create an environment friendly to starting businesses.

As with a garden, when seeds are planted in the spring the gardener has no idea how big each plant will be, or even if it will yield a crop. Yet the gardener provides water, fertilizer, and care equally among the garden.

As part of gaining more insights into creating an environment friendly to small business start-ups I attended a training session today in Ludington with Ernesto Sirolli.

The Sirolli method is very simple, yet very effective. It focuses on what he calls the "Trinity of Management." Mainly there are really only three key elements that go into starting and growing a business:

1. An excellent product or service.
2. Incredible marketing/sales skills.
3. Strong financial management/control.

The Sirolli method also expands upon this by noting that it must be done by a team. The team can be organized in many ways, but that no single one person can equally do all three with great passion. They call this the myth of the solo entrepreneur.

Sirolli studied 100 of the top companies and found that none of them were the product of a single person filling these three vital roles. For example:

Microsoft: Bill Gates & Paul Allen
Ford: Henry Ford & James Couzens
Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg & Eduardo Saverin
Walmart: Sam & Helen Walton
McDonalds: Richard & Maurice McDonald (and you thought it was Ray Kroc)

When Sirolli sums it up, it works like this. Business works best when people are in vital roles that are passionate about that specific kind of work (one of three from above).

For more information about the Sirolli method, you can check them out online at...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Classic Great Lakes Storm

On November 10, 1975 last major shipwreck happened on the Great Lakes. The famous sinking of the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship, and all 29 crew members, were lost in an epic fall storm that hammered the northern lakes.

Novembers storms are legendary on the lakes. In 1913 the lakes were battered by "The White Hurricane" with winds gusts over 80 MPH. That storm was the convergence of two major low pressure systems. One coming from Colorado and the other from Alberta.

The resulting low pressure measured 28.60 inches. Barometric pressure is the measurement of how much downward force the atmosphere has, and often is measured with the use of a mercury barometer that has a starting reading of 30 inches.

Historically the lowest pressure points are found with hurricanes and other major tropical weather systems. The 1979 super Typhoon Tip in the Pacific recorded a record low of 25.63 inches. In the United States the 2005 Hurricane named Wilma holds the record at 26.05 inches.

Back to the Great Lakes, in addition to the 1913 storm, there is one other major storm that stands out, the Blizzard of '78. In late January of 1978 two major low pressure systems merged over the Ohio Valley and left a mountain of snow. The open water of Lake Michigan resulted in lake enhanced snow in Muskegon of over 50 inches from the storm. Chicago saw nearly 60 inches. For nearly 3 days the storm crippled the region.

According to Wikipedia, the pressure reading from that storm is the lowest recorded non-tropical reading in United States history. The pressure went as low as 28.28 inches in Cleveland, and was even lower in parts of Canada where reports have it as low as 28.05 inches.

The storm that sank the Fitzgerald had a low pressure that measured 28.88 inches, or 978 hectopascals (hPa). At 9 AM this morning the low pressure moving towards us from Minnesota was already at 971 hectopascals, or 28.67 inches. Below is a barometric map showing this.

So what are we in for? According to the following:

A storm stronger than the one that sank the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 is expected to slash across the Midwest tomorrow, snarling Chicago travel and whipping waves as high as 30 feet across Lake Michigan.

A line of severe thunderstorms driving wind gusts of 50 miles per hour will arrive in Chicago before 10 a.m.

The storm will be a cyclone, with projected central pressure, a measure of its strength, forecast to be 28.35 inches. That would make it the second most severe system to strike the Great Lakes, according to the weather service.

The Edmund Fitzgerald sank on Nov. 10, 1975, in Lake Superior about 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan, with a crew of 29, according to the Great Lakes Ship Wreck Museum's website. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard pop charts in 1976.

The Edmund Fitzgerald storm had a central pressure of 28.95 inches. The strongest storm recorded in the lakes was the “Great Ohio Blizzard” of January 1978, which had a central pressure of 28.05 inches.

In comparison, when Hurricane Earl reached Category 3 strength in the Atlantic at the end of August, its central pressure was recorded at 28.20 inches.

Great Lakes cyclones are not like hurricanes. The storms gather their energy from the Jet Stream and the upper atmosphere, while hurricanes draw their power from warm ocean waters and have the strongest winds wound tightly around the core.

Aside from the heavy thunderstorms that arrive with the first blast of wind, the weather will be drier and breaks may appear in the clouds.

In advance of the storm, the weather service has issued a high wind watch from South Dakota to Ohio. A watch means sustained winds of as much as 40 mph are possible. In addition, a high wind warning, meaning gusts of 75 mph are possible, has been issued for parts of northern Illinois and Wisconsin, according to the weather service.

A storm warning has been issued for Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Website Traffic

Ever wonder how traffic the Village's website gets? Well here is a breakdown of some tracking data from the past 6 months.

Total Page Views: 24,093
Total Unique Visitors: 6,343
Total Visitors: 13,224
The page most often viewed... The History, Maps, and Profile.

In addition to the above, we have some international traffic. Over the past 6 months 840+ hits have come from Russia and nearly 150 from Japan.

The numbers for the past 6 months in terms of total page views is on par with previous years. Our site annually gets about 50,000 page views, which isn't too bad for a community our size.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Speed Limit Changes

Drivers this afternoon on El Camino Grande will notice an increased speed limit. After conducting traffic speed studies in 2009 and again in 2010 the Village Council adopted a Traffic Control Order this summer to raise the speed limit. The studies were done to comply with Public Act 85 of 2006. Under PA 85, specific requirements were set in law by which speed limits need to conform to in order to be legal.

These requirements are for the speed limit to be set either at the 85th percentile, or at a speed in relationship to the number of access points on that particular roadway.

This spring and in the autumn of 2009 speed studies were conducted on El Camino Grande, and on Queens Way between Pequena Drive and Drew Road. After conducting the studies last autumn, the Village worked with the Isabella County Sheriff and the Sherman Township Marshal to increase presence this spring to see how that impacted the overall speed of traffic.

This was done as the 85th percentile numbers in 2009 would have resulted in a speed limit of 45 MPH for both areas. Conducting the study again this spring after a period of increased enforcement allowed the Village to determine if the numbers from 2009 were due to driving conditions which warranted an increase in the speed limit, or to poor enforcement.

When the study was conducted the results showed a decrease of about 4 MPH from the 2009 numbers.

After reviewing the data and options, the Village Council elected to adopt the lower of the two possible changes to each road. The options on El Camino Grande were 35 MPH based on access points, or 40 MPH based on the 85th percentile. On the section of Queens Way studied the two options were 40 MPH based on the 85th percentile or 55 MPH based on access points.

The signs on Queens Way are scheduled to be updated later this week. Once the new speeds have been posted the Village plans to conduct a third speed study to ensure accuracy later this year.