COVID-19 Update: FCA Invests Nearly $700K in Detroit’s East Side Communities, Pandemic Analysis Shows Michigan’s GDP Down 12.5%, 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 by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Dec. 19

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.

FCA Invests Nearly $700K in Detroit’s East Side Communities
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills today announced two financial contributions intended to improve the quality of life for the people and neighborhoods on Detroit’s east side.

FCA is contributing $400,000 to the Impact Neighborhood Fund for improvement projects in the Chandler Park, West End, and Riverbend neighborhoods, and a $285,000 contribution to the Chandler Park Conservancy will enable the nonprofit organization to start construction on Detroit’s first community-based environmental education plaza.

“FCA’s commitment to Detroit goes beyond our facilities,” said Ron Stallworth, external affairs lead for Wayne County at FCA. “Our collective futures will be defined by how we collaborate to transform our neighborhoods, and we are just getting started.”

The $400,000 contribution to the Impact Neighborhood Fund represents half of the $800,000 outlined in FCA’s Community Benefits Agreement with the city of Detroit. The second $400,000 will be contributed in 2021. While Invest Detroit will serve as the fiduciary, members of the community, together with the Detroit Planning and Development Department, will determine which revitalization projects receive funding.

“We all understand that a community that doesn’t invest in itself is a community in trouble,” says Jay Henderson, president of the Riverbend Association and president of the Detroit Police Department’s 5th Precinct Community Relations District Council. “This kind of financial investment from FCA will help jump start needed projects. After years of economic neglect, this is the shot in the arm that we need.”

The $285,000 contribution was presented to Chandler Park Conservancy at the future site of the education plaza, located adjacent to the newly constructed marshland. The plaza will offer K-12 students an area to learn about green stormwater management, wildlife habitat and environmental stewardship.

“Together, with FCA, we’re helping address the inequities of park amenities between city and suburban parks,” says Alex Allen, III, president and CEO of the Chandler Park Conservancy. “The project supports our triple bottom line, offering social, environmental and economic benefits to eastside residents. FCA is enabling us to complete our vision for this space.”

FCA also donated 20,000 face masks to the community leaders. It is part of the automaker’s ongoing efforts to ensure that Detroiters stay safe and play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to today’s announcement, FCA already has made other significant investments in Detroit’s east side, including:

  • $4 million to build an education-career pathway for students and residents with the creation of a Manufacturing Career Academy at Southeastern High School.
  • $5.8 million in state funding to workforce development and training.
  • $1.8 million for the home repair grant program.
  • $1.4 million for various environmental projects throughout the east side.

State-by-state Pandemic Analysis Shows Michigan’s GDP Down 12.5%
A state-by-state analysis of COVID-19’s pandemic on business shows that Michigan’s gross domestic product was down 12.5 percent heading into December, with the arts, entertainment, and dining industries hit hardest.

The analysis, conducted by, shows the Great Lakes State’s hardest hit segments down 61.8 percent since the rolling out of pandemic safety constraints in March.

“In every state, the net effect has been a decrease in gross domestic product,” says Andrew Mosteller, author of the analysis. “But some states have been hit harder than others. Now that we have numbers from the second quarter of 2020, we can start to more fully assess the economic impact of COVID-19 on individual states and industries as compared to fourth quarter (Q4) numbers from 2019.”

Wyoming and Alaska took the biggest GDP hit from COVID-19, dropping 18.5 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively. The District of Columbia and Utah experienced the smallest GDP change, dropping only 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Like in Michigan, arts, entertainment, and recreation were the most affected industries nationwide. Thirty-one states reported serious declines in these industries, with New Hampshire, New York, and Washington topping the list.

In New Hampshire, arts, entertainment, and recreation GDP fell by 75.3 percent. New York declined in the same industries by 70.7 percent, and Washington declined by 70.1 percent.

Mining also took a significant blow as 18 states listed it as their most impacted industry.

“It’s surprising how wide the gap is between the most affected state GDP and the least affected state GDP,” says Mosteller. “This gap brings up important questions. Were certain states better prepared to weather the pandemic? What did local governments and businesses do to mitigate GDP losses? What can governments and individuals learn from these less affected states?”

To review the full state-by-state analysis, visit here.

Coalition of Donors Drives Expansion of WSU Mobile Testing Program, Mobile Vaccine Distribution Planned
Wayne Health and Wayne State University are expanding their COVID-19 mobile testing program thanks to a donation of Ford Motor Co. developed and up-fitted mobile health units from Oscar-winning film director Stephen Soderbergh and funding support from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The program is being expanded to five vehicles – including two Ford mobile health units purchased by Soderbergh in appreciation for COVID testing services by Wayne Health that kept his crew and cast safe during the recent filming of his latest film “No Sudden Move” in Detroit.

The new vehicles are equipped to provide a number of health care procedures, including cold temperature-regulated storage to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when they become available to the general public.

“Through close work with Dr. Levy and the WSU/Wayne Health team, we have developed and prototyped an upfitted Ford Transit designed initially for mobile COVID 19-testing, then iterated and improved upon for general public health care provisioning,” says Kristin Welch, manager of strategy and operations for Ford X. “We believe the purchase of these mobile health units reflects the quality of our collaboration, accuracy of the upfit design, and the benefit to their staff and the communities where they are being deployed.”

One of the new vehicles was placed into service at a testing event in the city of Warren on Dec. 18; another debuted at a testing event at the Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit on Dec. 19.

Wayne Health, Wayne State University, and Ford rapidly developed and launched their free mobile testing program in April – the first of its kind in the nation – to bring much-needed COVID-19 testing to community-based locations across metropolitan Detroit.

The state of Michigan detailed its plan to expand upon the mobile testing infrastructure created by Wayne Health and WSU in its Dec. 3 Racial Disparities Task Force Interim Report detailing Michigan’s success in protecting communities of color from COVID-19.

Training videos are being developed for the launch of new mobile testing programs based upon the Wayne Health/WSU model in Flint, Ingham County, and Muskegon.

“It is gratifying to see our testing model being supported, expanded and adopted by others to enhance health and safety for more people in communities across the state,” says Dr. Phillip Levy, who leads the Mobile COVID Testing Program for Wayne Health and WSU. “And it is exciting to see our mobile model pivoting to the delivery of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines.”

Since the program’s launch, the Wayne Health/WSU/Ford mobile testing vehicles have visited more than 200 locations and tested nearly 30,000 people. Testing is free and does not require a prescription or symptoms of COVID-19. Testing has been provided at schools, churches, nursing homes, and other municipal centers throughout southeast Michigan.

Along with COVID-19 testing, participants in the mobile testing events can receive flu shots, blood pressure screening, HIV testing, and on-site referrals for public benefits like Medicaid and cash assistance, unemployment assistance, emergency food, and shelter services. Such linkages are provided through partnerships with ACCESS and the Detroit Parent Network.

For more information on the mobile testing units, including the site schedule, visit here.

Sanctum House Launches $3 Capital Campaign to Assist Human Trafficking Survivors
Sanctum House, a Detroit-based safe home for survivors of human trafficking, has launched a $3 million three-phase capital campaign to boost programs and double facility capacity.

“Tragically, the pervasive opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for human trafficking,” says Edee Franklin, founder of Sanctum House. “Vulnerable women right here in our community and nationwide are being preyed upon and forced into human trafficking. The tremendous demand for our services far exceeds our current physical and financial capabilities.”

Sanctum House operates a two-year comprehensive residential program for women 18 years of age and older. Since opening its doors in February 2018, Sanctum House has helped more than 55 women, working to keep them safe and free from their traffickers, giving them professional counseling, addiction therapy, education, legal services, life skills, and job placement to return to healthy, productive lives.

The first phase of the capital campaign totals $1.4 million to purchase the building where the nonprofit currently operates, a second building that will be home to 16 women participating in the two-year residential program, and apartments for six residents as they transition from the residential program to living independently.

Phase II totals $600,000 for renovations of the three-acre campus and for intermediate operating expenses and salaries for trained professionals, including case management, program management and therapists.

Phase III of Sanctum House’s capital campaign is a $1 million fund for ongoing operations.

For more information and to make a contribution, visit here or call 248-574-9373.