COVID-19 Update: Emagine Entertainment Acquires Birmingham 8 Theatre, UWM Super Bowl Commercial to Support America’s Mortgage Broker Community, 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.
chart 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.

Emagine Entertainment Acquires Birmingham 8 Theatre
Emagine Entertainment Inc. has acquired the Birmingham 8 Theatre in Birmingham, effective today, and will be rebranded Birmingham 8, Powered by Emagine. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The theater, at 211 S. Old Woodward Ave. is currently closed with plans to reopen within 90 days.

The Birmingham 8 was renovated in 2015 with new luxury seating, reserved seating, a liquor license, and updates to the venue’s screens and sound system. It will not undergo any additional changes. The iconic marquee also will remain unchanged and continue to be a trademark of the theatre. The Birmingham 8, Powered by Emagine, will continue to play art house and first run films.

“We are pleased to welcome the Birmingham 8 into the Emagine family,” says Paul Glantz, chairman of Emagine. “The community of Birmingham can be at ease knowing we plan to maintain all its charm under our ownership.  We understand the value this theatre has held in the community and are committed to continuing that legacy while enhancing the consumer experience with all the virtues our brand will bring.”

As a Powered by Emagine theatre, operators say patrons can expect the same service and amenities the Emagine brand is known for including expanded concession items, craft beer, cocktails and wine, large candy selections, Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, popcorn, and a healthier option of OlivEpop popcorn.

“As a resident of the community, I am thrilled that we are able to incorporate this beautiful theatre into the Emagine portfolio of luxury cinemas.” says Anthony LaVerde, CEO of Emagine. “Running this theatre along with the Emagine Palladium will allow us to bring big Hollywood movies and some really unique content to the residents of Birmingham and the surrounding communities.”

The Emagine brand in the Midwest has a combined 23,141 seats and 244 screens in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and now will be increasing by 482 seats and eight more screens with the addition of The Birmingham 8.

UWM Super Bowl Commercial to Support America’s Mortgage Broker Community
United Wholesale Mortgage in Pontiac, the nation’s top purchase and wholesale mortgage lender, will air a new commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl featuring the independent mortgage brokers website,

UWM said it considers the sporting event as the perfect opportunity to support some of America’s most vital small businesses, independent mortgage brokers, and build upon a company pledge to ramp up consumer education about mortgage brokers following its recent listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

“We will always find ways to elevate and shine a light on independent mortgage brokers, and what better way to do this than during the Super Bowl where millions of Americans are tuned in to watch the game and the commercials,” says Mat Ishbia, president and CEO of UWM. “Brokers are the best place for borrowers to get a faster, easier, and cheaper mortgage. These men and women are pillars in the community and provide consumers with more options than a retail lender or bank so they can fulfill their dream of home ownership.”

The commercial titled, “The Perfect Match,” taps into the culture of online dating and features borrowers viewing a swipe-based dating app in search of their perfect companion — only to be revealed that they’re looking for a match in the form of a mortgage broker. The ad then points borrowers to to connect with a mortgage broker who can match them with the perfect mortgage.

“We believe we’re the one genuine partner of mortgage brokers nationwide,” says Sarah DeCiantis, chief marketing officer of UWM. “We thought this ad would not only be relatable and entertaining given the pandemic’s acceleration of online dating, but also educate consumers that brokers are their number one resource for finding a mortgage that fits their financial situation.”

Launched in 2016, is designed to increase national awareness of independent mortgage brokers as the best way for consumers to purchase and refinance a home. In addition to educating consumers and real estate professionals on the benefits of using a mortgage broker over large banks and mega retail lenders, the website also hosts a nationwide database of brokers, searchable by city, state or zip code, to match borrowers and real estate agents with nearby independent mortgage brokers.

Researchers anticipate that the wholesale mortgage channel will reach 33 percent of the mortgage market by 2026, returning to levels it hasn’t experienced since the 2008 recession.

DTE Energy Deploys Electric Buses to Ann Arbor and Roseville Schools
DTE Energy has partnered with Ann Arbor and Roseville schools to deploy six zero-emission electric school buses.

As COVID-19 has delayed in-person learning for some schools, the new electric buses will be used to deliver meals to school children through federal food assistance programs in addition to student transportation.

DTE Energy, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Roseville Community Schools, Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, Thomas Built Buses, Proterra and Hoekstra Transportation partnered to secure the buses. Funding for the buses was received from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), in collaboration with MAPT and the Volkswagen Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

“We are thrilled to help deploy these electric buses as another proof point of our clean energy plan at DTE,” says Trevor Lauer, president and COO of DTE Electric. “From renewable energy deployment to our Charging Forward program offering incentives on electric vehicle chargers, our goal is to continue to lead locally and nationally on combatting climate change. We appreciate the Ann Arbor and Roseville school districts as well as our state and business partners for working with us to further these goals.”

DTE Energy plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 while continuing to provide safe, reliable, and affordable power to all customers.

The new Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school buses are estimated to provide more than 40 percent in savings over time on fuel and maintenance compared to traditional buses.

Designed, engineered, and manufactured in the United States by Thomas Built Buses, the vehicles use battery and drivetrain technology from Proterra, a leader in heavy-duty electric transportation. Based on Proterra’s safe and reliable battery technology platform, the bus couples 220 kWh of total energy capacity with a Proterra drivetrain to offer industry-leading energy efficiency and range to meet the needs of school bus fleets.

Both schools also will receive Proterra DC Fast Chargers, which can charge the electric school buses in about three hours. During the five-year pilot of these vehicles, Hoekstra Transportation, a dealer based in Troy, will provide the school districts with additional training and support.

DTE also will initiate a Vehicle to Grid Study in tandem with this program. The V2G study will provide data on the effects of energy efficiency and the capabilities of the bus that are mutually beneficial for the school and the environment, such as the ability for the bus battery to provide energy to the school during a power outage. In addition, the results of the study will be used to develop programs that further benefit the schools based on the EV bus capabilities.

State Encourages Citizens to Search for Lost or Abandoned Property
The Michigan Department of Treasury in Lansing is encouraging citizens to check if they have lost or abandoned cash or property.

The state’s unclaimed property website provides enhanced search options and the ability to upload verifying documentation easily and securely.

“Everyone should check to see if they have lost or abandoned property,” says Rachael Eubanks, state treasurer. “Our Unclaimed Property Program is standing by and ready to reunite these assets with their rightful owners or heirs.”

The state Treasury Department is the custodian of millions of dollars in lost or forgotten assets from dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, valuables left in safe deposit boxes, and stock certificates. Because these properties were considered abandoned and unclaimed by the bank or company entrusted with them, they are turned over to the state as required by law.

Statistically, one in every 10 people have unclaimed property where a company cannot locate the owner and the money or properties are submitted to the state.

“We have returned more than $133 million in unclaimed property to rightful owners in the last year alone,” says Terry Stanton, manager of Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Program. “Filing a claim is easy and free. You never know what could be out there until you check.”

In the last five years, more than $400 million has been paid to claimants.

For businesses, corporations, nonprofits, public entities, and other organizations holding unclaimed or abandoned property, instructions on how to prepare and submit their report and remittance online can be found on the website as well.

HUD Renews $81.8M in Funding for 272 Homeless Programs in Michigan
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $2.5 billion to renew support to thousands of local homeless assistance programs across the nation, including $81.8 million for 272 projects in Michigan.

HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) grants will provide support to 6,597 local programs on the front lines of serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

“HUD wants to ensure that thousands of local homeless assistance providers continue to receive federal funds needed to provide stable housing for people experiencing homelessness during these trying times,” says Matt Ammon, acting secretary of HUD. “Renewing these grants not only offers relief to our local partners but it allows Continuums of Care to continue their work to end homelessness and help keep our most vulnerable neighbors off the streets.”

HUD’s Continuum of Care grant funding supports interventions designed to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness, particularly those living in places not meant for habitation, located in sheltering programs, or at imminent risk of experiencing homeless. Each year, HUD serves more than a million people through emergency shelter, transitional, and permanent housing programs.

Art in Motion Has New Detroit Home
Detroit-based ceramics studio and gallery Art in Motion has a new location and look for 2021.

The studio now is located at 19957 Livernois Ave., near Pembroke, next to New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, a block and a half north of its original site.

The new 2,200-square-foot space includes a kitchen and provides room for private ceramic and pottery-making parties.

“My commitment to this community, and Detroit as a whole, inspires me to continually strive for excellence, both as a businesswoman and an artist,” says Kay Willingham, proprietor of Art in Motion. “This city produces many gifted artisans. I feel incredibly blessed to work with some of them, and the young people! It constantly amazes me to witness the limitless talents they demonstrate.”

For more information or to book private parties, visit here or call 313-980-1265.

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center Launches Monthly Webinar Series
The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth Township has launched a monthly Smart Solutions Series of webinars to address the most pressing issues facing Michigan manufacturers.

These free events will take place on the third Wednesday of every month, and each quarter of the year will focus on a different manufacturing pain point. The first quarter will offer three methods for addressing the talent shortage.

The first interactive Smart Solutions Series webinar was hosted in January, which focused on how culture and leadership can be used to solve issues related to the talent shortage, such as employee retention and engagement. A recording of the discussion and a blog recap are available.

This month’s webinar, Feb. 17 from 9-10 a.m., will cover how Lean Manufacturing principles can be applied to help with labor shortages. In March, the discussion will center around how technology can be implemented to improve processes and efficiencies. April’s webinar will focus on the benefit of cross training employees and skills acceleration.

All webinars are interactive, with participants encouraged to join in the discussion and share their biggest challenges with speakers so they can receive valuable, targeted guidance to their company’s specific issues.

For more information and to register, visit here.

Tickets on Sale Now for Children’s Centers Feb. 24 Tour de Fork at Home
Tickets are on sale now for The Children’s Center’s reimagined annual tasting fundraiser Tour de Fork at Home, now a virtual experience where patrons cook a three-course meal guided by chef Anthony Lombardo of SheWolf Pastificio and Bar in Detroit.

Tour de Fork at Home takes place online Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets, limited to 200 households, can be purchased here for $150 for two delivered dinners and $125 for two dinners picked up.

Presented by Ford Motor Co., Tour de Fork at Home features an intimate experience with one Lombardo, who will conduct an authentic Italian cooking class from his home kitchen for participants. In addition to culinary instruction, the evening features conversation with chef and emcee Dr. Darrius from WJLB-FM as well as musical interludes from Ben Sharkey.

“This past year we have had to become very innovative in the ways we serve our families,” says Debora Matthews, president and CEO of The Children’s Center. “With Tour de Fork at Home community members will be supporting nearly 7,500 Greater Detroit children and families. They will also enjoy a delicious dinner and perhaps pick up some cooking techniques from a wonderful chef.”

Each ticket comes with a kit of fresh ingredients to create an authentic Italian dinner for two at home, a dessert from Washington’s Gourmet Cheesecakes, and a $20 gift card to purchase a selection from Detroit Vineyards.

Holocaust Memorial Center Presents Program on Genocide Today
The Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills is presenting “Genocide Today: The Uyghurs in China” on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

The program, featuring speaker Ellen J. Kennedy will take place as a live Facebook event here. A Facebook account is not needed to view the program.

Kennedy is executive director of World Without Genocide and will discuss the plight of the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group in western China who are being persecuted by the Chinese government using practices that other governments, human rights leaders, and experts have labeled as genocide. She also will discuss the efforts to hold the Chinese government accountable.

Viewers may submit questions to Kennedy by visiting here.

Community partners for this program include the Uyghur Human Rights Project; the Lori E. Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children at Michigan State University College of Law; and The Jewish Community Relations Council/ American Jewish Committee (JCRC/AJC).

Get a Jump on Wear Red and Give Go Red Day
The American Heart Association is encouraging people to get a head start of National Wear Red and Give Day, which on Feb. 5 raises awareness for heart disease in women, by contributing to the cause today.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among women in America, killing one in three wives, girlfriends, mothers, and daughters. That’s more than all forms of cancer combined, according to the AHA, which adds that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes such as moving more, eating smart, and managing blood pressure.

Here’s how you can take part in Go Red for Women:

Wear your favorite red shirt, shoes, pants, dress, or even a hat for Wear Red and Give Day on Friday, Feb. 5, to spread awareness for women’s heart health.

Make a generous donation, and the Big Lots Foundation will match it, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $333,333.

To donate and to see if an employer offers matching gifts, visit here.

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