COVID-19 Update: GM and Ford Wrap Up Ventilator Production, Michigan Airports to Receive $14.7M in Federal Funds, 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 Sept. 1

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.

GM and Ford Wrap Up Ventilator Production
General Motors Co. in Detroit and Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn have concluded their emergency production of ventilators to assist the battle against COVID-19.

The team GM and Ventec Life Systems in Kokomo, Ind. to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic delivered its 30,000th V+Pro critical care ventilator to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. GM then turned the plant over to Ventec.

Ford Motor Co. concluded ventilator production, Aug. 28, at its Rawsonville Components Plant after delivering 50,000 units. That plant will return to manufacturing vehicle parts.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, both companies rapidly pivoted to produce ventilators, which were in short supply when the crisis began.

In one month, GM and Ventec went from an introductory phone call to delivering life-saving technology to frontline medical heroes. GM’s full federal order was completed in 154 days, with one ventilator completed about every seven minutes.

Ventec will continue to produce VOCSN multi-function critical care ventilators in Kokomo, as well as in Bothell, Wash. in response to ongoing demand during the pandemic. Ventec’s monthly ventilator production increased 80 times during the pandemic.

“Our drive to put critical care ventilators into production was fueled by thousands of people at GM, Ventec, and our suppliers who all wanted to do their part to help save lives during the pandemic,” says Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM. “It was inspiring to see so many people achieve so much so quickly.”

Chris Kiple, CEO of Ventec Life Systems, says, “Our hope continues to be that mitigation efforts stop the spread of this virus. Ventec Life Systems is committed to maintaining increased production capacity for as long as it is needed to ensure frontline healthcare workers have the tools necessary to save lives. We are incredibly proud of how our teams came together united by a common mission.”

One of the first medical facilities to receive a GM-Ventec ventilator was Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

“We are very grateful to Ventec Life Systems and General Motors for the critical care ventilators we received in April,” says Dr. Suzanne Pham, hospitalist at Weiss Memorial Hospital. “The devices built in just one month are currently helping patients battling COVID-19, and are valuable tools enabling our medical team to save lives. I’m proud to say we have had many patients beat COVID-19, wean off the ventilator, and safely return home.”

In Related News: GM will donate 2 million face masks to Michigan public schools as part of the state’s MI Mask Aid partnership. GM’s contribution includes 750,000 child-size masks for elementary students, which will be ready for delivery by Sept. 14, and 1.25 million adult-size masks for high school students, faculty, and staff, which will be ready for delivery by Sept. 28.

GM will distribute masks to Michigan’s intermediate school districts in coordination with the state of Michigan’s Community Service Commission. When the public school contribution is complete, GM will have donated more than 6 million face masks produced at its Warren facility to communities across the state affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ director, Robert Gordon, masks are proven to reduce a person’s chance of spreading COVID-19 by up to 70 percent. There’s also growing evidence that masks can protect the wearer’s life by reducing the severity of COVID if they are infected.

GM decided to produce face masks in Michigan on March 20, as the coronavirus pandemic created a critical shortage worldwide. Today, GM’s Warren facility has two production lines for face masks and a third line making N95 face respirators. To date, the facility has produced more than 10 million masks, with production going to employees at GM facilities or donated to community organizations.

The company currently is producing face masks in the U.S., China, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. In addition, GM shared its mask production plans with more than 300 companies through a collaboration with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and the Michigan Manufacturers Association to help other manufacturers ramp up their own production efforts.

Federal Government: Airports in Michigan Receive $14.7M for Safety and Infrastructure
Airports around Michigan will receive more than $14.7 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to improve safety and infrastructure.

The funds are part of more than $1.2 billion being sent to 405 airports in 50 states and six U.S. territories

“This $1.2 billion federal investment will improve our nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in local communities, which is especially important as the economy recovers from COVID-19,” says Elaine L. Chao, secretary of Transportation.

Airports in Michigan receiving FAA grants include:

Sawyer International Airport in Gwinn: $3,786,194 to improve utilities and expand a building.

Ford Airport in Iron Mountain: $3,067,462 to rehabilitate a runway, taxiway and other airport surfaces, including sealing.

State of Michigan: $2,000,000 for airports throughout the state.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Romulus: $1,957,480 for infrastructure improvements and a zero-emissions vehicle.

Bishop International Airport in Flint: $1,915,654 to rebuild perimeter fencing and reconfigure an existing taxiway.

Delta County Airport in Escanaba: $1,848,736 to install an emergency generator and rebuild runway lighting.

Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City: $72,420 for infrastructure improvements and a zero-emissions vehicle.

Presque Isle County Airport in Rogers City: $58,500 to improve runway surfaces, including sealing.

A complete listing of grants is available here.

Rochester’s Dutton Farm Presents a Virtual Celebration of Progress
Dutton Farm, a Rochester-based nonprofit dedicated to seeing people with disabilities treated with equality, will present its first Celebration of Progress presented by Trion Solutions on Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 11:30 a.m.

Celebration of Progress: A Pathway to Inclusion and Steps Toward Equality will be a 60-minute online experience allowing guests to learn more about the history of disability advocacy in America, the progress that has been made, and the pathway to the future of equality.

“We hope that individuals that walk away from this presentation receiving a historical insight on the untold stories that many of our disabled community have endured,” says Michele Smither, founder of Dutton Farm. “More than that, we hope they walk away inspired by the progress that has been made toward equality and hopeful for the future of progress and diversity in our country. We would love for you or your organization to be a part of this experience as we look ahead to another decade of service and advocacy.”

Tickets are $25 per person. All proceeds benefit Dutton Farm and its continued efforts to inspire others to see all people with disabilities treated with equality and respect. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit here. Sponsorships are available for businesses interested in partnering with Dutton Farm.

Ernst & Young Announces 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists
Ernst & Young has announced the 24 finalists for its Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Michigan and Northwest Ohio Award.

Now in its 34th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year program honors successful business leaders whose ambitions “deliver innovation, growth, and prosperity as they build and sustain companies that transform the world.” These 29 business leaders were selected as finalists by a panel of independent judges from a competitive pool of nominations.

Award winners will be announced during a virtual event on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

The 2020 Michigan and Northwest Ohio finalists are:

  • Ryan Greenawalt, Alta Equipment (Livonia)
  • Raj Vattikuti, Altimetrik (Southfield)
  • Eli Crotzer, Arch Global Precision (Bloomfield Hills)
  • Brad Baxter and Jacob Zuppke, AutoPets (Auburn Hills)
  • Sam Beznos, Beztak Companies (Farmington Hills)
  • Justin Mast, Bloomscape (Detroit)
  • Mathew Vachaparampil, Caresoft Global Inc. (Southfield)
  • John Sammut and Jochen Lipp, Firstronic Inc (Grand Rapids)
  • Eric Erwin, FloraCraft (Ludington)
  • Pat Gillespie, Gillespie Group (Lansing)
  • Lisa Lunsford, Global Strategic Supply Solutions (Livonia)
  • Tony Mira, MiraMed Global Services (Jackson)
  • Uma Sharma, MMS Holdings (Canton Township)
  • Garrett Morelock, Monroe Engineering Products (Rochester)
  • Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Robin Mohapatra, National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (Detroit)
  • Gwen Jimmere, Naturalicious (Livonia)
  • Tom Shea, OneStream Software (Rochester)
  • Meredith Bronk, OST (Grand Rapids)
  • Tricia Ruby, Ruby+Associates Inc. (Bingham Farms)
  • Jon DeGaynor, Stoneridge Inc. (Novi)
  • Daryl Adams, The Shyft Group (Novi)
  • Greg Kiley, Velocity, A Managed Services Company Inc. (Holland, Ohio)
  • Billy Hall, Dan McMurtrie, and Chris Mattina, Jr., VESTA Modular (Southfield)
  • Alina Morse, Zolli Candy (Commerce Township)

“Our finalists have been carefully selected for their grit, persistence, and ambition coupled with care and concern for their employees, companies, and other stakeholders,” says Shannon Crone, co-director of the Entrepreneur of the Year program for EY.

For information, visit here.

9/11 Rock the Gilmore Concert to Benefit Fire Departments
The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners (near Kalamazoo) will present Rock the Gilmore, a drive-in concert on Sept. 11, featuring Michigan Journey tribute band The RockShow, to benefit the Barry Township Fire Departments

Set in an outdoor, drive-in theater style, concert goers will have the opportunity to enjoy the evening with social distancing by staying in their cars or sitting near them in their own lawn chairs. The museum has established “mask-on” areas, such as the bar, to keep guests safe as well.

A limited number of tickets, available only through advanced sales, here. Tickets cost $35 per carload for general admission and $50 for a VIP section. A section of VIP tickets is available as well at $50 per carload.

“We had great success with our first concert and are excited to bring a new angle of entertainment to the museum,” says Jeff Romig, president of the museum. “Additionally, we are honored to be able to support first responders in our county.”

Frito-Lay and Feed the Children Launch Building the Future Together
Frito-Lay and Feed the Children have launched “Building the Future Together,” an initiative to assist thousands of students across the U.S. in the 2020-2021 school year. Detroit’s Osborn High School, where 89 percent of students quality for free school meals, is the local beneficiary.

Osborn will receive shelf-stable items to supplement more than 30,000 meals throughout the school year, along with monthly donations that will include 5,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, and personal care items to meet the needs of students and their families. The first donation took place Sept. 1, and donations will continue monthly with the support of The PepsiCo Foundation.

Ongoing donations include:

  • 1,000 shelf-stable items such as canned veggies, peanut butter, tuna, cereal, and pasta.
  • 1,000 personal care items such as shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, and beauty supplies
  • Up to 2,400 books per school each semester.
  • 2,300 individual items that include educational school supplies and additional personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant.
  • 1,200 bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • 500 bags of Frito-Lay Variety Packs.