COVID-19 Update: Gardner-White Steps in as Thanksgiving Parade Sponsor, Michigan Unemployment Rates Drop ‘Significantly’ in June, 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 July 23

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.

Gardner-White Steps in as Thanksgiving Parade Sponsor
Gardner-White, which has taken over from Art Van as the largest furniture store in the area, now is replacing the bankrupt retailer with a three-year deal as presenting sponsor of America’s Thanksgiving Parade.

“We are elated to welcome Gardner-White to The Parade Company family and are incredibly grateful to have a partner whose commitment signifies an exciting future for America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner-White,” says Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company.

The 2020 edition of the Detroit parade down Woodward Avenue, one of the nation’s most recognizable and storied, is in its 94th year. It is broadcast in more than 185 television markets across the country. America’s Thanksgiving Parade was recognized as the Best Holiday Parade by USA Today in 2018 and 2019.

“As Michigan’s top furniture store, it is our responsibility to do more than march in the parade; we need to take the baton and lead,” says Rachel Stewart, president of Gardner-White and the fourth generation of the Kahn family to lead the company. “As a family-owned business in Michigan for over 100 years, we are humbled to be a part of this treasured event that brings joy to generations of Gardner-White customers, employees, and parade-lovers everywhere.”

Gardner-White has been a staple in metro Detroit for 108 years. Irwin Kahn became the second-generation owner in the mid-1950s. His daughter and son-in-law, Barb and Steve Tronstein, are third-generation owners and still very active in the day-to-day operations of the business.

America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner-White will be televised locally on WDIV Local 4, including a one-hour syndicated national broadcast. WJR’s Paul W. Smith and WOMC also broadcast parade shows. Details of this year’s parade will be announced in the coming months. For more information, visit here.

Michigan Unemployment Rates Drop ‘Significantly’ in June
Unemployment rates in all of Michigan’s major labor market areas fell between 3.4 percent and 8.5 percent in June, according to data released Thursday from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. Despite the monthly declines, regional rates remained far above pre-pandemic levels.

“Regional jobless rates dropped significantly in June, but remained high,” says Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Industry jobs also recorded substantial monthly gains, especially in the manufacturing and leisure and hospitality sectors.”

Michigan’s regional unemployment rates ranged from 10.5 to 17.8 percent in June. Last month’s jobless rate cuts ranged from 3.4 to 8.5 percentage points, with a median drop of 6 percentage points. The most pronounced decrease was 8.5 percent in Flint. The smallest monthly rate decline occurred in Ann Arbor.

All 83 Michigan counties had jobless rate reductions in June. The largest percentage point rate cuts were observed in Mackinac (15.3 percent) and Cheboygan (13 percent) counties, but jobless rates remained high as tourism-related businesses opened somewhat late for the summer. Over the year, all 83 counties displayed unemployment rate increases, led by Wayne County (15.4 percent).

The state’s major area jobless rates remained elevated compared to last year, with a median increase of 9.2 percentage points. The largest year-over-year unemployment rate jump occurred in the Detroit metro area (13.4 percent), while the smallest over-the-year advance was in the Upper Peninsula (6.7 percent).

Total employment increased in all of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas in June compared to May with gains ranging from 8.7 to 14.4 percent. The largest increase came in Detroit (14.4 percent). The median hike was 11.1 percent.

Due to COVID-19 work interruptions, all Michigan regions registered employment reductions compared to 2019. Detroit metro area employment was 18.2 percent lower than a year ago.

Workforce levels advanced in all 17 Michigan regions for the second straight month as workers entered the job market after pandemic-generated lows. June increases ranged from 0.6 to 6.1 percent, with a median hike of 3.4 percent. The largest over-the-month labor force advance was seen in the Detroit metro region, while the smallest gain was in Monroe.

The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally unadjusted payroll jobs in Michigan rebounded for the second consecutive month, up by 315,000, or 8.7 percent. The largest industry job gain occurred in the manufacturing sector (+86,000), as auto and auto supply firms recalled employees from pandemic-related layoffs. The second largest industry job advance was observed in leisure and hospitality (+64,000), as restaurants and tourist-related businesses began to reopen.

Total nonfarm employment moved up significantly in all 14 Michigan metro areas during June. This did not represent growth in jobs, but instead was caused by recalls to jobs lost in April due to the impact of the pandemic. Over-the-month increases ranged from 6.2 to 9.9 percent, with the largest percentage job gain in the Flint MSA.

Michigan’s nonfarm job levels plunged over the last year, down by more than half a million (572,000), since June 2019. All 14 metro regions exhibited nonfarm job cuts since June 2019, led by the Monroe (14.8 percent).

$8.55M in CARES Act Funds Available to Help Small Businesses Protect Workers
The state of Michigan has launched the Michigan COVID-19 Safety Grant Program using CARES Act funds to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread through safety and health-related equipment purchased and training. These grants will provide small businesses matching funds of up to $10,000.

The initial grant application window will be open from Monday, July 27 through Friday, Aug. 7, with awards given shortly thereafter. Grants received after Aug. 7 will be held pending a potential second phase, if funds remain available.

Small businesses interested in applying must have fewer than 250 employees, provide a copy of their COVID-19 safety plan and description of how funds will help improve workplace safety for employees, customers and their communities.

“These new grants support Michigan’s small businesses in efforts to protect Michiganders from coronavirus and keep our economy operating,” says Jeff Donofrio, director of Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity. “This is an extraordinary funding opportunity for Michigan employers to invest in measures that will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.”

Examples of how grant funding may be utilized:

  • Purchasing engineering controls and other supplies/materials such as sneeze guards, physical barriers, face coverings and hand washing/hygiene stations.
  • Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gowns, gloves and eye protection.
  • Training to educate employees about the spread and dangers of COVID-19.

To apply, visit here.

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Detroit Playground
The Durfee-Central community in Detroit will gain a new and improved playground through a new crowdfunding campaign, sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the nonprofit Life Remodeled. The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $10,372 by Aug. 20, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, visit here.

“The renovation of this playground will provide a much-needed safe outdoor play space for students and neighboring kids,” says Michele Wildman, senior vice president of community development at MEDC. “We are pleased to bring this space to life and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

This campaign will restore and complete the playground located between the Durfee Innovation Society and Durfee Elementary-Middle School. Through this campaign, Life Remodeled will replace all the decaying equipment and create a safe place to play near the school. This play space will be used not only by students who attend Durfee and youth in the community, but also the children who attend after-school programming at the DIS.

Short’s Brewing Co. Expands Distribution into Five States
Short’s Brewing Co. in Elk Rapids (northeast of Traverse City), along with sister brands Starcut Ciders and Beaches Hard Seltzer, are expanding their distribution into Tennessee, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Out-of-state distribution of Short’s products began in 2016 with Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado. Florida was added in 2018 and Pennsylvania this year.

For more information, visit here.

Detroit Historical Museum Opens Allee Willis Exhibit
A tribute to Detroit-born songwriter Allee Willis now is part of the Motor City Music Exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum and is expected to be on display through Summer 2021.

Willis, who passed away in 2019, graduated from Mumford High School in 1965 wrote “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts and co-wrote “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. She was a Grammy, Emmy, and Tony award winner and her songs have sold an estimated 60 million records. She was inducted into the Song Writers Hall of Fame before her death.

“Allee Willis was a true Detroit treasure and her legendary style and musical impact made her an adored figure in the community,” says Elana Rugh, president and CEO of the Historical Society. “We are so excited and proud to help share part of her life’s story with our members and visitors.”

The Detroit Historical Museum currently is open to the public with abbreviated hours (Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.) and enhanced health and safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Allee Willis tribute exhibition is included with general admission.

United Way’s Connect4Care Helps Parents Find School and Care Options in Detroit
A new, free online tool created in partnership between the United Way of Southeastern Michigan and the city of Detroit, starting today, provides a one-stop-shop for parents and caregivers of children aged 5 and younger.

Connect4Care Kids streamlines the care and education process by helping parents and caregivers better understand and find early childhood education and care options in Detroit. It also will point them to programs to help with costs.

“Access to early childhood learning and care are vital to helping children and families thrive,” says Darienne Hudson, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We know the benefits for early childhood learning on the child’s development and, particularly as we’ve seen recently, it’s vital to parents returning to work.”

By visiting or texting “Kids” to 4Care, parents and caregivers can:

  • Search for early childhood and care centers near home, work, or school.
  • Check if their child is eligible for programs that help low-income families.
  • Connect with programs matching the family’s need, helping them start the application process online.

Connect4Care Kids soon will be available in Spanish and Arabic. United Way’s 2-1-1 help line will provide translation services, as needed, until then.

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