Opinion: Musings on a local company getting overseas help, Snyder's budget plans and "Art in the Sky"
Musings on the news of the past week:
Anything that allows a promising young local company to stay here and continue to expand here is welcome news, and that is why we’re encouraged by what we’ve heard so far regarding the sale of Pittsfield Township-based Adaptive Materials Inc. to a company from the United Kingdom. Michelle Crumm, co-founder of Adaptive Materials, told our reporter Nathan Bomey that the deal would allow the company to add staff and expand production at its current site. She and her husband, Aaron Crumm, founded the company more than a decade ago, based on work Aaron Crumm did in his doctoral program at the University of Michigan. Adaptive Materials, which employs about 55 people and produces fuel cell packs for military and other uses, was bought by technology giant Ultra Electronics Holdings plc. Ultra says it has no interest in relocating Adaptive Materials, and its history has not been one of moving companies after acquiring them. Adaptive Materials has been a local success story, but had reached the stage where it needed additional capital to add staff and increase production capacity. We want to see the company continue to be a success story here, and this deal seems to put it in a stronger position to achieve that.
Gov. Rick Snyder is so eager to hit the ground running that he’s moved up his State of the State message, and also has said he wants to present a budget plan early and get a state budget approved months ahead of the usual timeline. Somewhat overlooked on Synder’s agenda has been his call for a two-year budget, something we have advocated for in the past and would be glad to see Lansing achieve. A two-year budget cycle would offer greater stability and predictability, particularly for local school districts that have continually been whipsawed by budget give-and-takes in the past. Traditionally, schools have started their budget year in July with no clear picture of state funding, since the state’s practice has been to not finalize its budget until October. And even after the budget has been set, the state has continually pulled the rug out from under local districts with unexpected budget cuts mid-year. A two-year budget cycle would be an important step in allowing school districts and local government units to do good budget planning of their own and get them out of the cycle of uncertainty that has left them continually guessing what their funding level might be and how much of it might be taken back after they’ve already begun their budget year.
Public art has been a sometimes controversial topic in Ann Arbor, but it’s hard to find a downside to “Art in the Sky,’’ a new initiative by an outdoor advertising agency to showcase the work of local artists on highway billboards. As part of a larger effort to donate space to nonprofit groups, Adams Outdoor Advertising is currently featuring the work of artists Elizabeth Schwartz, Lynda Cole and Connie Cronenwett on billboards along I-94 and US-23. In a community know for its deep appreciation of visual arts, this is a novel way to put art in the public eye. The works of art will rotate among Adams billboards as space is available, and the company is welcoming other local artists to submit their work for consideration. Much like the new mural on the wind tunnel dome at the University of Michigan’s North Campus and the new mural on the back wall of Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. in downtown Ann Arbor, these efforts to put art on display in public settings are a welcome way to expand the audience for art and remind us all of the ways that art can enrich our lives on a daily basis.