COVID-19 Update: Amazon to Add 100 Jobs in Detroit, Novi’s Shyft Group Expands EV Production, Used Car and Trade-in Values Spiking During Pandemic, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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graph of coronavirus case numbers in Michigan
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Amazon to Add 100 Jobs as Part of National Tech Hub Expansion
Amazon today announced plans to create more than 100 new tech and corporate jobs in Detroit, and to expand the company’s Tech Hub in the city.

Amazon’s teams in Detroit support a variety of business across the company, including operations, retail, and AWS. To accommodate its growth plans in the city the company will add more than 25,000 square feet of office space in the heart of downtown Detroit on the Detroit River. In addition to the 100 new jobs, Amazon currently has more than 40 tech and corporate roles open in the Detroit area.

“Amazon’s expansion of its Detroit Tech Hub is another vote of trust to our city and the creativity, hard-work, and resilience of its people,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “We are proud to see our vibrant tech workforce continue to grow and thrive in Detroit.”

To get more information about employment opportunities at Amazon, visit here.

In Related News: The G2 Consulting Group, a Troy-based leader in geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and construction services, announced today that it has expanded its corporate roster by 20 employees (eight full time and 12 interns) and is looking to add at least a half-dozen additional team members by year’s end.

Following several consecutive years of increasing project activity and revenue growth, G2 now is approaching 100 team members. Despite the interruption caused by COVID-19, G2’s business in metro Detroit and other national markets remains strong for the company, it says.

“With the current focus on improving infrastructure in Michigan and the increase in development activity throughout the geographic areas we serve, we want to be ready to dive in wherever there’s an opportunity to do so,” says Mark Smolinski, principal of G2 principal. “We’ve been fortunate to win a number of marquee projects and we continue to add qualified professionals to handle the steady volume of work we have on hand.”

For more information and to apply, visit here.

Shyft Group Expands Electric Vehicle Production for Parcel Delivery
Novi specialty vehicle manufacturer The Shyft Group Inc. today announced its Utilimaster brand is producing its first production order of electric vehicles for two leading parcel delivery companies on its new flexible body assembly line.

Production of the electric delivery vehicles is expected to begin in 2021 with a dedicated EV chassis assembly line that can produce up to 5,000 units per year on a single shift.

Utilimaster has EV walk-in vans on the road today with linen and uniform delivery customers, but these new orders represent the first EV walk-in vans designed specifically for, and ordered by, its parcel fleet customers.

The vehicles are built on Shyft’s traditional walk-in van chassis platform, which has been converted to use an all-electric powertrain. The EVs will be evaluated by these customers for route testing, suitability, and performance, and the feedback from these units will be used to further refine the features of Shyft’s electric last-mile delivery vehicles.

With a gross vehicle weight rating of 19,500 pounds, 900 cubic feet of cargo space, and a payload capacity of 6,000 pounds, this new vehicle will be comparable in size and payload to standard internal combustion engine vans currently in production by Shyft’s Utilimaster brand. The EV power is expected to provide an initial range of up to 150 miles between charges — depending on use characteristics and conditions — and may be enhanced based on feedback from customer testing.

“We have designed and manufactured EV walk-in vans for other vocation customers in the past, and we are excited at the prospect of expanding our one-stop shop of proven work-driven designs for ICE with additional EV models built to serve our parcel delivery customers,” says Daryl Adams, president and CEO of Shyft. “For the past 40 years, we have led the competitive landscape in integrating cabs and bodies with various alternative propulsion technologies. For customers seeking a tangible, drivable, and affordable EV solution today, we’re taking orders and building now.”

Edmunds: Vehicle Trade-in Values are Spiking During COVID-19 Pandemic
Used vehicle prices and trade-in values are increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to automotive sales information provider Edmunds, which has an office in downtown Detroit.

Edmunds data reveals that the average value for all vehicles traded in during the month of July climbed to $14,066 compared to $12,083 in June, marking a 16.4 percent increase that is just shy of $2,000.

Limited new vehicle inventory and a surge in demand for used vehicles are driving values up, says Edmunds whose data reveals that the average days to turn for used vehicles dropped to 38.3 days in July compared to 44.1 days in June. This 13.1 percent decrease is the steepest month-over-month drop that Edmunds has on record.

“The used market is experiencing a dramatic recovery: Used vehicles were sitting almost untouched at the start of the pandemic, and now they’re practically flying off dealer lots,” says Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds. “Dealers are willing to pay more to acquire inventory to meet the surge in demand for used cars, which is great news for car owners because it means they can expect to get a higher value for their vehicle if they sell or trade right now. But time is of the essence because there’s no guarantee that these unique market conditions will continue for long.”

To see the full report, visit here.

Report: Coronavirus Revitalizes Shelf-stable and Frozen Food Sales
The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has revitalized sales of shelf-stable and frozen foods that have generally been experiencing declining or slow sales growth over a number of years, according to a report by a research firm in Maryland, but the trend isn’t likely to continue once the virus subsides.

“U.S. Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping, and Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus” by Packaged Facts, a division of marketresearch.com, explains that prior to the pandemic, consumers trended toward fresh unprocessed, healthier foods. Since the pandemic, shoppers have increased their purchases of pantry items and frozen foods.

“The surge in consumption and sales for center store products will not be sustainable once the country returns to a semblance of normalcy,” the survey analysts say. “While it is hard to predict what changes in behavior will stick after the coronavirus subsides, people will likely maintain a full pantry and freezer for the next crisis but will continue to switch from processed foods to fresher, more natural offerings. This might be especially true as people want to improve and maintain their health after a major world health scare.”

While manufacturers of center-store products have improved the quality and nutrition profile of their products, the current crisis is likely to offer up some opportunities. For example, many consumers are being introduced or reintroduced to shelf-stable and frozen foods they may have shunned previously. This may spur future sales of products — such as frozen pizza and meals and natural, organic soups — that have made noticeable quality improvements over the last several years.

To view the full report, visit here.

Ford Fireworks Prepares for TV-only Event Aug. 31
The 2020 Ford Fireworks, one of America’s most celebrated fireworks displays, will be take place on Monday, Aug. 31 from 8-10 p.m. as a television-only show on WDIV Local 4.

Similar to other major cities, this year’s fireworks will be a pop-up display, at a location which will not be announced to prevent crowds from gathering due to COVID-19 concerns. The fireworks will not be viewable from the downtown area.

In response to this unprecedented time and with public safety as a top priority,

“The Parade Company has an unwavering commitment to this important tradition and bringing great events to our community,” says Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company, which produces the annual fireworks show. “We are proud to come together with the city of Detroit and our partners to make this event possible each year.”

This year’s Ford Fireworks show, in its 62nd year, is themed, We Are One Together.

COVID-19 Won’t Stop 41st Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
The 41st Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage — the annual free outdoor showcase of local, national and international musicians — is going virtual this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-7. Performances, all closed to the public, will be streamed and broadcast live from indoor sound stages specially built at the Detroit Marriott at the GM Renaissance Center. Jazz fans can view all the performances — 12 hours per day — in real time, for free, but they must be viewed live.

“There will be no replays or on-demand viewing, and I did not want Zoom performances from living rooms or pre-recorded from around the country — it has to be live,” says Chris Collins, the president and artistic director of the festival and director of jazz studies at Wayne State University in Detroit. “If we can’t do it live in Detroit, we don’t have a jazz festival. We will light up the stages at 11 a.m. and won’t shut down until midnight. It’s going to be pretty special.”

Opening this year’s festival will be a musical composition, titled “JUSTICE!,” that is a tribute to the quest for equal rights and an homage to civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Four different groups of musicians, on four separate stages, will contiguously play a rearranged musical piece or new composition.

Performances at the RenCen will be staged under a set of intensive protocols, Collins says, including onstage social distancing and regular disinfecting of gear and green rooms. Safety had to be the first and main requirement, with all protocols based on CDC, state and city guidelines. Information regarding the planning and preparations soon will be published and available here.

In addition to the live video stream, sets can be heard/streamed locally on WDET-FM (101.9), WRCJ-FM (90.9), and WEMU-FM (89.1), and seen on Detroit Public Television and via Detroit’s new arts and entertainment outlet, Channel 22. The festival also can be viewed on its social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) and through the festival’s smartphone app, Detroit JazzFest LIVE!

For a list of Detroit Jazz Fest performances, visit here.

“MotorCities at Home” Program Continues with Session on the Packard Proving Grounds
MotorCities is continuing its series of virtual programs featuring members of its Speakers Bureau on Thursday, Aug. 27 at noon with a session titled “Famous Firsts: The History of the Packard Proving Grounds” with Roger Luksik, vice president of the Packard Motor Car Foundation.

The Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places because world records were accomplished there. Using both vintage and current images, Luksik will explain the history of the site from its opening day in June 1928 until its closing in 1956, and what the Packard Motor Car Foundation is doing to preserve its legacy for future generations.

To register for the free event, visit here.

BGCSM and Downtown Boxing Gym Announce Collaboration for Youth
Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan and the Downtown Boxing Gym are partnering to expand location options and offer full-day learning assistance for children and families in metro Detroit.

BGCSM’s Learning Labs will open Sept. 8, in multiple club locations within Detroit, Highland Park, Pontiac, and Auburn Hills to club members ages 6-18 for onsite and virtual learning. Locations will stay open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Club youth will have internet access, meals, guided learning, and settings where trained staff will be on-site and online to assist with homework, studies and activities.

“During these unprecedented times we must remain agile so we can continue to be that safe place for youth and families across southeast Michigan,” says Shawn H. Wilson, president and CEO of BGCSM. “Both DBG and BCGSM have the opportunity to provide critical resources as many parents are anxious about juggling work and helping their kids learn from home. We hope our expanded learning labs will help our members not only survive but thrive.”

Additional BGCSM program offerings include, Passport to Manhood, SMART Girls, Triple Play, Power Hour, Virtual Club, Industry Club, career exploration, and youth entrepreneur and small business start-up training. Registration is open and will continue through Sept. 4 here.

The Downtown Boxing Gym will expand to provide full-day programming for its 150 Detroit students, ages 8-18, which includes reading and math intervention, tutoring, mentorship, enrichment programs, athletics, college and career readiness, transportation, and more, Monday-Friday.

For health and safety reasons, students have been divided into smaller groups based on age and grade and the gym is taking a host of other measures from touch-free temperature screenings to mandatory masks and more at its 27,000 square foot facility on Detroit’s east side.

DBG’s programs are provided free of charge. The internationally recognized program has a 100 percent high school graduation rate for participating students since 2007.

“The programs and services we provide are an essential piece of the puzzle to help prevent students from falling behind and address the emotional toll the pandemic is taking on our kids,” says Jessica Hauser, executive director of DBG. “Working parents depend on safe places and spaces for their children. BGCSM and DBG both offer outstanding programming and peace of mind. It’s amazing to work with such a great ally and provide the best possible support for our kids – especially at a time like this.”

For more information on DBG programs, visit here.

European American Chambers to Host Virtual Meadow Brook Wine Tasting
The European American Chambers of Michigan is hosting a virtual wine tasting, speed networking, and tour of Meadow Brook Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Tickets are limited and registration closes on Friday, Aug. 21. To register, visit here. Wine and cheese will be delivered to participants.

The event will open with museum curator Madelyn Rzadkowski will lead a tour of Meadow Brook Hall, highlight some of the rare alcohol that are part of the mansion’s private collection, and discuss how Michigan played a major part in Prohibition. The wine tasting and speed networking sessions will alternate after the tour.

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