COVID-19 Update: Comcast Plans WiFi-connected ‘Hot Spots,’ Cadillac Products Debuts New Line of Medical Gowns, 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.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Oct. 24

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.

Comcast Plans WiFi-connected ‘Hot Spots’ in Detroit to Help Students
Comcast says it plans to establish its first 12 WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” or hot spots in Detroit neighborhoods by year-end designed to help students who are unable to connect to distance learning at home.

The company says it will provide WiFi hotspots in safe spaces designed to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their homework. Many of these sites also serve adults and can connect them to online adult education, job searches, health care information, and public assistance.

This initiative provides free hotspot connectivity inside the community centers and access to hundreds of hours of digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning. The first 12 Lift Zones include:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan: 4242 Collingwood St.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan: 16500 Tireman St.
  • Detroit Blight Busters: 17340 Lahser Road.
  • Detroit Boxing Gym: 6445 East Vernor Highway.
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation: 1211 Trumbull St.
  • Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries – Men’s Shelter: 3606 Third St.
  • Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries – Women’s Shelter: 12900 West Chicago St.
  • Franklin Wright Settlements: 7375 Woodward Ave.
  • Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development Inc.: 7150 Vernor Highway
  • City Covenant Church (Mission: City): 20405 Schoolcraft
  • Matrix Human Services Social Mobility Center: 13560 East McNichols Road
  • Say Detroit Play Center: 19320 Van Dyke Ave.

“Our vision is to ensure that every Detroiter is fully digitally included, improving the quality of life for all residents,” says Joshua Edmonds, director of digital inclusion for the city of Detroit and the its Connect 313 digital inclusion strategy. “Connect 313 and Comcast share a passion for bridging the digital divide, and our partnership will ensure these Lift Zone locations will reach as many Detroiters who need them as possible.”

Last month, Comcast announced a multiyear program to launch more than 1,000 WiFi-connected Lift Zones in community centers nationwide. This effort is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to help connect low-income families to the Internet and provide resources to help them fully participate in educational opportunities and the digital economy.

Cadillac Products Debuts New Line of Medical Gowns
Cadillac Products Inc. in Troy has launched its new ProTEC-USA brand and the availability of its medical-grade gowns.

The gowns are designed to maintain the integrity of comfort, flexibility, and safety for all end users’ needs, while also conforming to medical standards, withstanding water spray and water penetration under constant contact with increasing pressure.

“Our team recognized the dire needs for reliable, American-made PPE that brave frontline and essential workers had in the early stages of the pandemic and made it a mission to pull together to voluntarily engineer and distribute gowns to properly protect them,” says Don Lowe, a spokesperson for CPI.

Lowe says the manner in which the gowns are donned and doffed in sequence with other PPE is an important consideration when selecting optimal PPE coveralls, as the ease or difficulty with which PPE is put on and removed.  He says EZDoff gowns are engineered to maintain effectiveness and mitigate potential self-contamination during doffing of contaminated PPE. In essence, the wearer doesn’t have to touch the outer surface of the EZDoff gown to remove it, thereby, protecting against consequential contamination by the wearer.

The company says it has invested in upgrades and enhancements to production lines and equipment at its Troy facility, where production levels allow it to manufacture and distribute more than 92,000 EZDoff gowns per week with the ability to add capacity as needed to meet market needs.

“The advantage of American manufacturing is the ability to understand the market, pivot to make changes quickly, and continually meet the needs of customers as a reliable, domestic-based resource to onshore their supply chain,” Lowe says.

Lake Trust Credit Union to Purchase Hastings Branch of Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Brighton-based Lake Trust Credit Union says it plans to purchase the Mercantile Bank of Michigan branch in Hastings, southeast of Grand Rapids. Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in early 2021, were not disclosed.

The agreement includes the 4,300-square-foot branch and all associated assets including approximately $16 million in deposits.

Lake Trust currently operates a branch location in Hastings. It will move its operations to the Mercantile Bank location following renovations with a timeline to be determined.

“The purchase of Mercantile Bank’s Hastings branch will offer expanded convenience and accessibility for Lake Trust members in the area,” says David Snodgrass, CEO of Lake Trust. “We look forward to introducing Mercantile Bank customers to Lake Trust and helping them reach their financial goals.”

Grand Rapids-based Mercantile Bank is Michigan’s third-largest bank and operates 39 branches throughout Michigan, with assets totaling approximately $4.4 billion.

Lake Trust Credit Union has nearly 200,000 members served by branches in more than 20 cities, towns, and villages throughout the state.

Comerica Makes Grant to Fuel Lending for Minority-owned Small Businesses
Comerica Bank is providing a $1 million grant to serve as a backstop for patient, flexible loans in communities where the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) is working to catalyze economic opportunity in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

The grant will fund a loan-loss reserve that mitigates risk, so that at least $4 million in new capital can flow, and it also will support technical assistance to help owners and operators address challenges in their markets, including COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted many small businesses who continue to seek necessary funding,” says Irvin Ashford Jr., chief community officer at Comerica Bank. “Small businesses serve as pillars in our local communities, and Comerica remains committed to ensuring small business owners from low- to moderate-income communities can access critical capital to successfully navigate these turbulent economic conditions. With support from LISC, small business owners can continue to serve as the economic engine for our communities.”

The new grant builds on an existing partnership between LISC and Comerica that has focused on expanding businesses and jobs, supporting affordable housing development and fueling a broadly shared prosperity in places where both organizations operate.

LISC is the nation’s largest community development organization, with 35 metro-area program offices, a national rural development program, and more than $22 billion invested in thousands of urban and rural communities across the country.

“Small businesses and nonprofits are the economic backbone of their communities,” says Maurice A. Jones, president and CEO of LISC. “When we invest in their growth and sustainability, good things happen — jobs and incomes expand, nearby residents gain access to vital products and services, owners invest in their communities, and the local tax base grows.”

Micro-Tech Endoscopy Launches Endoscopic Marker
Micro-Tech Endoscopy USA in Ann Arbor has launched its EndoINK Endoscopic Marker, a single-use fluid designed to endoscopically mark lesions in the gastrointestinal tract.

Developed with a suspension liquid containing highly purified carbon particles, EndoINK creates a tattoo to facilitate surgical removal and subsequent examination.

“EndoINK and PinPoint, a new injection needle from Micro-Tech also introduced this month, make the perfect pair when targeting the submucosal space,” says Chris Li, president of Micro-Tech USA.

Clinical guidelines recommend a maximum of 8 ml of marker be used per patient. Because EndoINK is available in 10ml syringes, physicians will be able to prime the catheter and mark the lesion with a single syringe, saving time and money in the procedure room.

Ford Donates Limited-edition Bronco to Support St. Jude Detroit Gala
Detroit-area supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. are revving up for this year’s virtual St. Jude Detroit Gala on Tuesday, an event poised to surpass the million-dollar fundraising mark for a second consecutive year thanks in part to the addition of a special Detroit-themed auction item: The all new First Edition 2021 Ford Bronco.

The 2021 Ford Bronco is up for auction through this Thursday, with proceeds benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To participate in the gala and to bid on the vehicle, destined to be a collector’s item, visit here.

Open to the public for bidding, the Bronco auction benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is now live on Charitybuzz.

The two-door, fully loaded Lightning Blue 2021 Ford Bronco was donated by St. Jude Detroit Gala co-chairs Calvin and Sarah Ford.

“We decided to donate the Bronco because it is a symbol of the Ford brand of legacy and commitment,” says Sarah Ford. “Our hope is that the Bronco will generate thousands of dollars so we can continue to fund the life-saving treatment and research St. Jude does today and will continue to do until children everywhere do not have to lose their lives to cancer.”

Existing in various forms since the 1960s, the St. Jude Detroit Gala is continuing the legacy of fundraising started by Michigan native and St. Jude founder Danny Thomas. Over the years, the event has brought together hundreds of donors in person to help ensure that no family receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

Additional auction items will be available during the event, including a virtual meet and greet with hockey great Chris Chelios, a trip on a private jet, a backstage pass to some of Detroit’s top venues and an afternoon of personal styling at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Fintech Provider Quavo Launches Fraud and Disputes AI for Financial Institutions
Last month, East Lansing financial technology provider Quavo Inc. released its dispute management AI, ARIA (Automated Reasonable Investigation Agent), for issuing financial institutions and service organizations.

Quavo says ARIA is the first and only SaaS platform leveraging AI and automation to conduct dispute investigations as a human would, while staying fully compliant.

“Our team spent years developing ARIA with the goal of revolutionizing the way the industry thinks about processing disputes,” says Joseph McLean co-founder and COO of Quavo. “ARIA’s scalability is perfectly suited for large and growing FI’s, especially during COVID-19, where staffing challenges and e-transactions are on the rise.”

ARIA collects the data required by law and network mandates to complete investigations within seconds, greatly reducing the time needed to resolve disputed transactions. ARIA automates the reasonable investigation process by presenting AutoPay, AutoDeny, and refer decisions in real-time to account holders and agents across all channels and locations.

ARIA’s AI technology applies proven algorithms to increase efficiency and savings per transaction for banks, credit unions, and other fintech companies. ARIA makes decisions based on three factors, the likelihood of true fraud, likelihood of friendly fraud, and confidence of the investigation data.

Quavo’s fraud and dispute experts provide continued service and support to keep ARIA aligned with constantly changing industry regulations and mandates. ARIA integrates with all banking systems and core processing platforms, while also leveraging built-in APIs from issuer-merchant platforms like Ethoca and Verifi.

MSU Researchers Testing New Safety Measures for Football Helmets
A liquid nanofoam liner undergoing testing could prolong the safe use of football helmets, says Weiyi Lu, an assistant professor and researcher at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

When a helmet withstands an impact severe enough to cause a concussion to the player wearing it, the safety features of the helmet are compromised, rendering equipment unsafe for further use, says Lu who has been testing a liquid nanofoam material that could change that. The research was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The material is full of tiny nanopores. “The pore diameters are between two and 200 nanometers and that creates a large amount of surface area,” Lu says. “The whole area of MSU’s Spartan Stadium could be folded up into one gram of nanofoam.”

Ordinarily, the material is rigid and adding liquid would fill the holes. To repair this, Lu and his team coated the nanopores with a hydrophobic or water repellant silicone layer made from an organic silyl chain that prevents liquid from being absorbed by the material. As a result, the saltwater liquid inside the nanofoam material becomes pressurized during an impact.

“When the pressure reaches the safety threshold, ions and water are forced into the nanopores making the material deformable for effective protection. In addition, the liquid-like material is pliable enough to form into any shape,” he says. “Helmets are pretty much one shape but the liquid nanofoam material can be made to fit a person’s specific head shape or profile.”

In early laboratory tests, Lu and his team compared an eighth-inch liquid nanofoam liner against the three-quarter-inch piece of solid foam traditionally used in helmets. Both materials were struck with a five-kilogram mass (the approximate weight of a human head) at three meters per second. Even though both materials were deformed by the impact, the liquid nanofoam recovered between the continuous impacts of the test and the solid foam did not.

“The liquid nanofoam outperformed the solid foam,” Lu says. “The nanofoam was able to mitigate continuous multiple impacts without damage; the results were identical from test one through test 10.”

A liquid nanofoam liner would be thinner and less bulky inside a helmet. And since the liner can withstand multiple high-impact forces, the liner would not need to be replaced after a high-impact collision unless the helmet shell was damaged. “A helmet that can be safely reused is a huge advantage,” he says. “We would love to see a liquid nanofoam liner in MSU football helmets in the future.”

JVS Human Services to Host Jobs Webinar Series
JVS Human Services in Southfield is hosting a new interactive webinar series for job seekers called Rachel and the Recruiters, connecting human resource managers and recruiters to job seekers.

Webinars are planned for this Thursday and Nov. 19 and will be streamed on JVS Detroit’s Facebook page.

Rachel Devries, business relations specialist at JVS Human Services, will facilitate discussions between the hiring professionals, while those looking for a job can find out how to make themselves shine to potential employers. Advice on cover letters, responding to recruiters, interview techniques, and presenting on Zoom are just some of the topics to be covered.

“Job seekers get very nervous about the hiring process,” Devries says. “This might be the first time they have been out of work for a long time, and just don’t know how to impress a recruiter although they might be very qualified. We want to make the process less intimidating.”

Employers and job seekers can contact Devries at 248-233-4245 or via email at