COVID-19 Update: Business Association Urges Public Support of Michigan Restaurants and Hotels, State Jobless Rate Increases in November, 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.
graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
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.

Business Association Urges Public Support of State Hospitality Industry
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association in Lansing today issued a call to action for all Michigan residents to support the hospitality industry by purchasing gift cards, placing carryout orders, and taking staycations at area hotels.

Gift card purchases from a local restaurant provides immediate revenue to keep a business operating. Carryout helps cover food and labor costs. Staycations increase hotel occupancy with a convenient in-state getaway.

“While we continue to strongly advocate for elected leaders in Washington D.C. and Lansing to pass a meaningful stimulus package, we know our neighbors across the state also can help the industry by patronizing their local restaurants and hotels during the holiday season and in the coming months,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA.

In addition to carryout, cocktails-to-go, and gift card purchases, customers can support restaurants by bringing the dining experience home during the holidays. Options available at area restaurants and hotels include prepared family-style holiday catering menus for groups of two, four, and more as well as pre-packaged ingredients with instructions for cooking a holiday meal at home. Families that live near one another may consider ordering a large feast and splitting it up among different households to share the same dining experience from the comfort of home.

“During this season of giving, please consider supporting restaurants and other hospitality business and employees,” says Billy Downs, owner/operator of Ford’s Garage in Dearborn. “The industry has been crushed during this pandemic and the purchase of carry-out meals and gift cards now will help save Michigan businesses and industry jobs in the coming months. Also, if you personally know a hospitality worker, please consider blessing them in some kind of way this holiday season.”

Patrons can support hotels by planning future vacations. Reserving a staycation is one way to support hotels and enjoy the luxury of a getaway close to home. Stays can be enhanced with in-room holiday dining. In place of cooking at home, a hotel dining suite can be booked for a private meal cooked by professionals with contactless service. An overnight stay can be a gift for close family, newlyweds, and new parents. A New Year’s Eve restaurant and hotel package is a recommended way to celebrate the new year.

“There are unique hotel packages, promotions, and experiences available around the state for those seeking a fun and safe get-a-way from their home,” says Peter Beukema, CEO of Suburban Inns and MRLA board member. “To support Michigan hotels, guests utilizing the advance purchase rate discounts for the holidays and future summer vacations provides vital revenue for hotels in our state.”

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2,000 restaurants have permanently closed in Michigan. As of mid-September, two-thirds of hotels were operating with less than 50 percent capacity, and currently, 63 percent of hotels have less than half of their typical staff working full-time.

Consumers can visit and find restaurants in their area by entering an address or selecting a specific cuisine. A list of restaurants based on the user’s location proximity is generated. Each restaurant listing indicates the type of cuisine offered; price range; delivery, pick-up, or curbside options; as well as menu, directions and hours of operation.

For more information, visit and

Michigan Jobless Rate Increases in November
Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by less than a percentage point to 6.9 percent in November, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Michigan’s October rate was revised upwards from 5.5 to 6.1 percent. Total employment in November moved down by 14,000, while the number of unemployed rose by 43,000. Michigan’s workforce edged up by 30,000 in November.

The national jobless rate declined over the month to 6.7 percent. Michigan’s November unemployment rate was 0.2 percentage points above the U.S. rate. The national jobless rate rose by 3.2 percentage points over the year, while the state rate advanced by 3.0 percentage points during the same period.

“In November, Michigan’s unemployment rate rose for the first time since April,” says Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “With payroll jobs also decreasing slightly this month, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is still having an impact on the state’s labor market.”

In Related News: Value City Furniture is conducting open interviews for as many as 65 positions at its Ann Arbor and Westland stores, formerly Loves Furniture locations. The interviews will take place Dec. 18 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. at the Value City store in Novi (43620 W. Oaks Dr.).

VCF says it hopes to help former Loves Furniture associates find a new home at one of the two new locations, while also welcoming new associates. The 65 available positions include assistant manager, sales manager, warehouse, and home furnishing consultant roles.

Masks or facial coverings are required for all applicants in attendance. The hiring team on-site also will enforce 6-foot social distancing protocols in any lines that may form during the event, as well as during the interview process.

Applicants should plan to bring several copies of their resumes, as well as a mask or facial covering. No advance registration is required. Applicants can view additional information about open positions here.

Minority Supplier Council Bestows 2020 ACE Awards
The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council recently hosted its annual Ambassadors Championing Excellence (ACE) Awards ceremony in recognition of Michigan corporations, suppliers, and executives who are delivering on their promises to support minority-owned and operated businesses in Michigan. The event was hosted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the MMSDC, we promote minority entrepreneurship and minority employment, which are the most important elements in leveling the economic playing field for minorities in Michigan and throughout America,” says Michelle Sourie Robinson, president and CEO of the MMSDC. “Our 2020 ACE Awards honorees have shown a commitment to supporting minority business, which drives an inclusive economy.”

Corporation of the Year ACE Award honorees were Adient and Yanfeng (both in the Manufacturing/Automotive category); Barton Malow (Construction); Ford Motor Co. (Automotive OEM); Kelly (Professional Services and Staffing); DTE Energy Company (Petrochemical and Energy); and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (Financial and Insurance Services).

Supplier honors went to Jim Roberts Enterprises in Saint Joseph, Saanvi Technologies in Farmington Hills, W3r Consulting in Southfield, and Seel in Detroit.

“Clearly, minorities are becoming a larger percentage of our population, and a larger economic force in our country,” says Robinson. “By supporting minority suppliers, businesses have a direct impact with those consumers who buy and are brand-loyal to their products and services. We encourage all businesses to support minority populations by empowering them economically.”

Several individual honors were also announced at the event. They included:

  • Leon C. Richardson (Chemico Group), Minority Business Enterprise Luminary.
  • Angela D. Henderson (Ford Motor Co.), Advocate of the Year.
  • Charles Asberry (DTE Energy), Buyer of the Year.
  • Anthony Tomczak (DTE Energy) and James G. Bos (Yanfeng), Executives of the Year .
  • Jacquelyn Jackson, Volunteer of the Year.

Bloomfield Hills HR Company BEST PEO Acquired
Best Employment Solutions Team (BEST PEO), a Bloomfield Hills professional employment organization that specializes in human resources solutions, has been acquired by Tandem HR in Illinois, which has an office in Brighton. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“Throughout 2020, we have successfully executed our growth strategy while supporting our great clients,” says Salo Doko, president and COO. “This acquisition is a clear indication of the strength of both our organization and business.”

Despite the global pandemic, Tandem HR has been on the offense and is aggressively capitalizing on opportunities that the market is presenting. Earlier this year, the company established a physical presence in the Michigan area. Coupled with this acquisition, the company says it’s poised to partner with even more Michigan-based organizations to expand the impact in the market.

Tandem HR provides custom, high-touch Fortune 500 caliber human resources to small, mid-sized, and enterprise businesses throughout the United States. By managing the administrative aspects of human resources like payroll processing, benefits administration, compliance, risk management, and employee relations, Tandem HR allows client executives to focus on growing their business.

State Extends Food Assistance for 350K Families Through December
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits during December as a continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by Dec. 30, with payments beginning for some households on Dec. 21. Additional benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.

More than 1.2 million people in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program

Households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will receive additional benefits in December to bring all current SNAP cases to the maximum monthly allowance for that group size.

This change only applies to customers not currently receiving the maximum benefit amount. The 350,000 households that receive increased benefits represent more than 50 percent of the more than 680,000 Michigan households that received food assistance in September. The remaining households already receive the maximum benefit.

“During the holiday season in particular we want to help families who struggle to put food on the table as a result of the pandemic,” says Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS. “This additional food assistance is critically important to make sure Michigan residents have nutritious food to eat.”

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by visiting here or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914.

FCA’s Alfa Romeo Announces New Lineups for 2021 Giulia and Stelvio
The Alfa Romeo brand of Auburn Hills’ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles today announced details on the 2021 Giulia and Stelvio models, which are currently arriving at North American showrooms.

The 2021 Giulia and Stelvio feature more standard equipment and a simplified model lineup, including the return of the iconic Sprint nameplate. Both vehicles deliver Italian styling, the latest technology, value, performance, and driving dynamics, according to the manufacturer.

“For the 2021 model year, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio receive significant lineup and content enhancements,” says Bob Broderdorf, director of Alfa Romeo Sales at FCA North America. “A full array of technology available across the range, a new entry point, and a streamlined lineup make it easier than ever to access Alfa Romeo’s legendary driving experience and striking Italian design. These are brand hallmarks that will be amplified in the upcoming PHEV Tonale, which will start production next year.”

Giulia and Stelvio are assembled at the Alfa Romeo plant in Cassino, Italy.

2021 Model Year Pricing

The MSRPs for the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio, excluding $1,295 destination for Sprint, Ti, Ti Sport, and $1,595 destination for Quadrifoglio, start at:

  • Giulia Sprint: $39,450
  • Giulia Ti: $42,700
  • Giulia Ti Sport: $45,900
  • Giulia Quadrifoglio: $74,750
  • Stelvio Sprint: $41,450
  • Stelvio Ti: $47,100
  • Stelvio Ti Sport: $50,300
  • Stelvio Quadrifoglio: $80,750

Consortium of Hope is Doubling Salvation Army Donations Through New Year’s Eve
The Consortium of Hope, a group of local community leaders and businesses who join forces every year to help The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit reach its fundraising goal, will double all donations to the nonprofit, up to $425,000, from today through Dec. 31.

This year, the Salvation Army is looking to raise $8 million to Rescue Christmas and continue to feed and shelter those who need it the most in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

Interested donors can contribute via the traditional Red Kettles or by:

  • Texting GIFT to 24365.
  • Visiting org.
  • Calling 877-SAL-MICH.
  • Sending a check, made payable to The Salvation Army, to: 16130 Northland Dr., Southfield, MI 48075.

“These final two weeks of the year are critical,” says Maj. Timothy Meyer, general secretary and metro Detroit area commander (COO) for The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division. “We need the community’s support now more than ever. Every donation made through New Year’s Eve – no matter the amount – makes a major difference and goes twice as far in helping The Salvation Army feed, shelter, clothe and financially assist thousands of metro Detroiters.”

Contributions made during The Salvation Army’s 2020 Red Kettle Campaign are tax-deductible, and all donations benefit local families and individuals in the communities they are given. Through the CARES Act, gifts of up to $300 are 100 percent deductible for 2020, even for those using the standard deduction.