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Tech Tour Time Is Here Again

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Matt poses with the Spring Tech Tour Mobile, the 2013 Ram 1500 (WWJ Photo)

Matt poses with the Spring Tech Tour Mobile, the 2013 Ram 1500 (WWJ Photo)

SOUTHFIELD — Well, it’s finally arrived.

The WWJ Technology Report will be taking its 10th annual Tech Tour on the Michigan road beginning tonight.

Over the next nine days, I’ll be visiting Marquette, Alpena, Midland, Bay City, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing.

I’ll be searching for cool technology startups and growing, established tech-based companies — basically, companies that are helping Michigan transform itself into a winner in the next economy of high-tech knowledge-based industries.

I still have a very few openings left on the tour, so if you know of a cool company in any of those towns, please let me know.

I can’t wait to get my mitts on this year’s Tech Tour Mobile, too. It’s the North American Truck of the Year, the Ram 1500. It’s a big, beefy truck, but it’s also loaded with high-tech features, from its Uconnect infotainment system to the stuff under the hood. Included are goodies like shutters that close on the grille and an air suspension that lowers the whole truck, both of which kick in at freeway speed, to help the truck get 25 mpg on the highway. The truck also features a new Pentastar V-6 and the first 8-speed automatic transmission in a full-size pickup. (And by the way, it was cool to see the Truck of the Year award go to an actual, you know, truck, not some effete little SUV that only goes off-road when it’s parked on the grass on a busy day at the hunt club.)

And I’ve got other toys to play with courtesy of Verizon, including a Samsung Galaxy Camera that’s essentially a small Android tablet with a really good camera attached to it. That means it’ll be way easier for me to upload lots of pictures of Up North. (Well, maybe not. last I heard there was still three feet of snow on the ground in the U.P., and I’m sick of snow pictures.)

I want to thank my other Tech Tour sponsors, too — S3 Strategic Staffing Solutions, Lawrence Technological University, ITC Holdings Corp., the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, and Local 58 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

So why do this? Well, it’s pretty simple. I live in Dearborn and work in Southfield, so as a practical matter it’s pretty hard for me to get much past Ann Arbor or Auburn Hills to cover anything and still get back to the office to work. Yet your Technology Report claims to be a statewide publication. So two or three weeks a year, the fine folks at WWJ Newsradio 950 and my sponsors put me in a cool high-tech car and point me north and west, to search out cool high-tech companies in the half of Michigan that is not metro Detroit.

So I drive 1,500-plus miles in a week, and check out our state’s many fine mid-priced hotels. But you know what? As a West Michigan native who started his career Up North, I don’t mind a bit. And besides, the people I meet and the fascinating stories they have to tell make it all worthwhile.

You can listen to my daily Tech Tour reports on WWJ Newsradio 950, or read all about it right on this here website.

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