COVID-19 Update: Detroit to Pilot New Program to Empower Equitable Community Growth, Mark Wahlberg and Jay Feldman Partner in Chevrolet Dealership, 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.
Coronavirus map of 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.

Detroit to Pilot New Program to Empower Equitable Community Growth

Detroit is one of three cities that will host pilot capital development programs where cross-organizational teams will listen and actively engage with local community members to understand the problems that are unique to their area, while sharing tools, programs, and services that are strategically customized to address high-priority issues.

Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are the two other cities benefitting from a new alliance between San Diego’s CDC Small Business Finance and Capital Impact Partners of Virginia.

The partnership has a focus of economic empowerment and equitable wealth creation. The two organizations say they have the ability to deliver a full suite of lending products and programs that support community efforts to create strong, vibrant, and healthy places of opportunity.

Realizing the need for a new approach to implement scalable solutions that address the widening racial wealth gap, CDC Small Business Finance and Capital Impact last fall began to work together to create the foundation for this new enterprise effort.

The alliance immediately will focus on supporting recovery and relief needs of community members, small businesses, and organizations, delivering key social services that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC Small Business Finance and Capital Impact are being assisted by a $4 million grant from JPMorgan Chase and an unspecified grant from the Heron Foundation.

“Issues of access and opportunity in American communities require bold new thinking to drive measurable change in community and economic development,” says Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners. “We understand that banks, funders, and other institutions have historically been challenged to connect capital to communities. By leveraging our unique expertise, complementary mission-based approaches, and holistic strategies, it is our hope that the alliance will accelerate solutions to address critical needs at scale.”

The locations of the three pilots were chosen based on the current geographic focus for place-based community empowerment strategies within both organizations. Capital Impact has been engaging with partners in Detroit since 2011 and has been deeply involved in launching the Detroit Neighborhoods Fund and Equitable Development Initiative.

Mark Wahlberg and Jay Feldman Partner in Ohio Chevrolet Dealership

Actor, producer, and entrepreneur Mark Wahlberg and local Chevrolet dealer Jay Feldman have acquired Jack Maxton Chevrolet in the Columbus, Ohio market and will rename it Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet of Worthington.

“The people of Columbus have been good to us,” says Wahlberg, who along with Feldman, has three other dealerships in the Columbus area. “This latest acquisition just strengthens our roots and deepens our bond with the market.”

The store is located on 10 acres with 60,000 square feet of showroom, service, and parts space, and 40 service bays.

Last month, Wahlberg and Feldman launched Mark Wahlberg Buick GMC and Mark Wahlberg Airstream and RV to go along with their 2018 inaugural location Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet. All three dealerships are on West Broad Street in Columbus.

“Having four dealerships in Columbus gives us the opportunity to provide consumers with a consistent sales and service experience,” says Feldman. “The Mark Wahlberg imprint on four locations enables us to leverage the Wahlberg advantage of providing brand choices, offering huge selection at the lowest prices and delivering great customer service.”

The two Chevrolet locations makes Mark Wahlberg Auto Group the largest Chevy dealer in Columbus.

In addition to being business partners in the dealerships, Feldman and Wahlberg have been friends for several years and are partners in several Wahlburgers restaurants.

ExperienceIT to Host Virtual Training Program for Fall 2020

ExperienceIT, the collaboration between information technology-focused organizations and workforce agencies in downtown Detroit, is planning to conduct its Fall 2020 cohort virtually beginning Sept. 22.

Applications are being accepted here prospective students currently residing in the city of Detroit. The program is open to any Detroit resident, 18 years or over, with an aptitude to learn career IT skills.

The 12-week program is free for the students and focuses on IT technical and soft skills including .Net with Cloud Application Development concepts. Students also learn how to communicate and succeed in a corporate IT environment. Successful graduates of the program have the opportunity to interview for positions with program partner companies.

Since its inception in 2012, the program has graduated nearly 300 individuals with an average of 75 percent accepting full-time positions with ExperienceIT companies.

“It has been quite rewarding to see our students learning new and vital tech skills as they move through our core curriculum to completion and industry careers,” says Andy Frey, chair of ExperienceIT and CIO of One Magnify. “These individuals represent the future for our region and technological innovation in general. As we continue to grow Detroit’s IT hub, we want these individuals to stay here for rewarding lives and careers.”

Detroit’s Signal Advisors Launches First Platform to Pay Annuity Commissions in One Day

Signal Advisors in Detroit has introduced a tech-enabled Independent Marketing Organization, or IMO to distribute annuities and life insurance through a large network of independent financial advisors.

“The world doesn’t need another IMO,” says Patrick Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Signal Advisors. “It needs something fundamentally different.”

Signal is the first IMO in the industry to advance commissions ahead of carrier payments, ensuring financial advisors receive payment within hours, not weeks.

“Since COVID, advisors have been waiting over 50 percent longer to get paid, at a time when they need the money even more,” says John LaRose, VP of finance and operations at Signal Advisors.

Signal Advisors found that, before the domestic outbreak of COVID-19, the average time from application submission to paid commission for advisors was 33 days. During COVID-19, that number jumped to 52 days.

The new platform’s offerings include:

  • Get Paid in One Day. Signal Advisors pays annuity commissions within one day of application submission, at no cost.
  • No Marketers. “Marketers,” who are paid to recruit advisors, are the single largest expense to an IMO. Signal Advisors will be the first IMO without marketers, and will reinvest the savings in innovation.
  • End-to End Technology Platform. Signal Advisors is building software to improve on each aspect of the IMO business — from licensing and contracting, new business submission, inforce policy management, case design, marketing analytics, commission management, and more.

“What we are building is way better than an IMO,” says Kevin O’Hara, co-founder and CTO of Signal Advisors. “Is it a software company? Is it a faster way to pay insurance commissions to advisors? Is it a better new business submission system? Is it a case design management tool? Is it a leading marketing analytics platform for insurance producers? Yes it is. We are rethinking the whole business.”

Detroit Startup Hosts Free Virtual Career Fair

Detroit-based startup is hosting a free virtual career fair on Aug. 25, from 5-6 p.m. to help address community needs during this continued period of high unemployment.

“There are still so many talented folks looking for great jobs, and the good news is that many companies are hiring again,” says Ryan Landau, founder and CEO of “The talent is right here in the Midwest, so we want to help connect them to great startups and tech companies.”

It’s free for both companies and candidates to register for the event, which will allow candidates to access and apply for hundreds of open positions. There also will be the opportunity to meet directly with companies through Zoom. Like an in-person career fair, candidates and employers can chat, ask questions, and get to know one another.

More details about the event can be found here.

Detroit’s Kronk Gym Returns to Boxing Spotlight Aug. 20

Detroit’s Kronk Gym, which produced “The Motor City Hitman” Thomas Hearns and other boxing champions, will be hosting a non-spectator boxing series titled “Detroit Brawl at the Legendary Kronk” starting on Thursday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.

The first card features undefeated Russian super middleweight Vladimir Shishkin (10-0, 6 KOs) fighting out of Detroit against Mexico’s Oscar “El Monstruo” Riojas (21-13-1, 10 KOs) in the 10-round main event. The entire event will be livestreamed exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

“It’s great to kick off this exciting series from the legendary Kronk Gym in the historic boxing city of Detroit and fulfill the hunger of boxing fans and fighters alike who are craving hard-hitting action,” says Dmitriy Salita, promoter of the event. “The main event will be a tough test for world-ranked rising star Vladimir Shishkin, and we have several more high-profile fights that we will be announcing shortly.”

Originally run out of the basement of the oldest recreation center of the city of Detroit, the Kronk Gym rose to prominence under the guidance of hall-of-fame trainer Emanuel Steward in the 1980s. In addition to Hearns, homegrown champions to come from Kronk include Hilmer Kenty,  Milton McCrory, Jimmy Paul, Duane Thomas, and others. Michael Moorer, Héctor Camacho, Julio César Chávez, Naseem Hamed, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis also trained at Kronk.

After Steward’s death, Kronk Gym relocated to a modern new Detroit facility in 2015, under the guidance of Steward’s nephew, Javan SugarHill Steward. Steward has gone on to forge his own growing legend, working with a new group of fighting champions and contenders, including lineal and unified heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Releases Series on Family Caregiving

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has unveiled Tight Knit, a new documentary and podcast series, which spotlights the many rewards and challenges of being a family caregiver.

Through two short documentaries and eight podcast episodes featuring interviews with caregivers and the loved ones they care for from southeast Michigan and western New York, Tight Knit explores the complexity and joy involved in providing care to a family member.

Caring for an older family member or loved one is a common, but often hidden, responsibility most Americans will face at some point in their lives. By the end of 2020, an estimated 117 million older Americans will require assistance of some kind. To find that help, many rely on a loved one — a spouse, daughter, son, grandchild, or friend — for care. Currently, there are more than 41 million people in the United States providing unpaid care for older adults, many providing care on top of holding jobs and other responsibilities, yet many don’t self-identify as a caregiver.

Tight Knit opens a door into the day-to-day lives of caregivers and their family members and reveals the unique challenges and rewards that come with caregiving. From displaying the struggles of juggling work, social, and care responsibilities as a millennial caregiver, to showing the humor and grace that comes from taking care of an elderly family member, Tight Knit uncovers the pain and joy that accompany caregiving and illuminates the community and resources available to these selfless individuals.

“Caregivers are crucial to all of our communities, whether they are family members providing support in the home or health care providers working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says David O. Egner, president and CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “Through projects like Tight Knit, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is committed to providing support to caregivers in all forms, from elevating the importance of this role, to strengthening caregiving networks, to investing in the providers who help navigate this complex responsibility.”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is hosting a digital premiere event on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 1 p.m. To learn more and access the documentaries and podcasts, visit here.

Families Against Narcotics Launches Fundraising Campaign

Clinton Township-based nonprofit Families Against Narcotics, which supports and helps individuals and families impacted by addiction, has created a fundraising campaign called One Million Reasons for Hope with the goal of raising $1 million $1 at a time.

The organization is asking people to donate just $1 as an investment in the future of the thousands of people FAN helps, then share the campaign with others via social media and email so it can spread far and wide. Visit here to start the process.

“The isolation caused by COVID has been devastating to so many individuals in recovery,” says Linda Davis, executive director of FAN. “We are seeing a major increase in the number of overdoses and deaths. We need your help now, more than ever. Your donation to One Million Reasons for Hope and sharing the message can give us the resources we need to restore hope to so many families.”

Like many nonprofits, FAN’s largest annual fundraisers have been changed to virtual events, which likely will result in a decrease in the number of participants and the amount of money raised.

ACC and Comerica to Host COVID-19 Prevention Event Aug. 6.

The ACC (Arab American Chaldean Council), a nonprofit human service organization serving southeast Michigan, is partnering with Comerica Bank to present the Pandemic Prevention Event at the ACC Pantry Building (110 W. Seven Mile Rd. in Detroit) on Aug. 6 at 10 a.m.

Participants will receive disposable face masks and gloves, hand sanitizer, and educational materials on COVID-19 resources, safety, and good health practices on a first-come, first-serve basis and while supplies last. Pantry of Plenty food boxes filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy items, meat products, juices, snacks, and more also will be distributed to attendees. Masks and social distancing are required to attend. Walk up and drive-thru service is available.

“Through the generosity of Comerica Bank, we are pleased to offer these essential items to our neighbors in need,” says Haifa Fakhouri, president and CEO of ACC. “We thank Comerica Bank for their support and continue to encourage everyone to be safe during this pandemic.”

The Pantry of Plenty program, in partnership with Forgotten Harvest, takes place weekly at 10 a.m. on Thursdays at the ACC Pantry Building. Each family receives approximately 60 pounds of prepared and perishable foods per event.