COVID-19 Update: Local CEO Todd Palmer Publishes Book for Entrepreneurs, Comcast  to  Award $1M Grants to  Minority Small Businesses  in  Detroit, 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.
graph of daily coronavirus cases in 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.

Local CEO Todd Palmer Publishes Book for Entrepreneurs
Todd Palmer, CEO of Extraordinary Advisors in Farmington Hills, has published a new book “From Suck to Success,” available today for preorder on Amazon. It will be available in paperback on Feb. 26.

Todd Palmer and "From Suck to Success"
Todd Palmer and his book, “From Suck to Success.” // Image courtesy of Todd Palmer

The book was written to help entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business leaders learn of how navigate business challenges. The work details Palmer’s business journey and all the ways failure turned out to be the best thing that happened to him.

As Palmer’s first company was approaching a decade in business, things were ugly, he recalls. There was a toxic culture, $600,000 in non-startup debt, dwindling cash flows, and a strategy that made for “an excruciating day-to-day.”

When the business nearly went bankrupt in 2006, Palmer needed to find a way to rescue his company. With a little faith and the help of his coach, he was able to turn his situation around and transform the company into a cohesive, debt-free, six-time Inc. 5000 recruiting firm. He emerged from the experience a coach for entrepreneurs and established Extraordinary Advisors as an outlet for his expertise.

“From Suck to Success” is designed to be a framework for starting up, building up, or pivoting through change. It is broken down into two simple parts. Part One explores the internal side of things, including mind-set, leadership, and goal setting. Part Two delves into the improvement of operations, including culture building, and team empowerment.

Comcast RISE to Award $1M Grants to Minority Small Businesses in Detroit
Comcast today announced that its Comcast RISE Investment Fund is providing $1 million to 100 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses in Detroit. The initiative is part of an effort to award $5 million dollars in grants to 500 of companies in five cities nationwide.

Starting March 1, eligible businesses in Detroit can apply for a $10,000 grant at The application deadline is March 14. Awards will be announced in May. Other cities involved in the program include Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.

The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE, a multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in October 2020 that initially focused on black-owned small businesses and then extended to BIPOC-owned to help those hardest hit by COVID-19.

The Comcast RISE Investment Fund is focused on small businesses that have been in business for three or more years with up to 25 employees. Businesses must be in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park.

“Detroit’s economic comeback depends greatly on the success of its small businesses — and they need support now more than ever,” says Mayor Michael Duggan. “I am deeply grateful to Comcast for its commitment to support our city’s entrepreneurs by helping them stabilize and rebound through the Comcast RISE $1 million investment opportunity.”

In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for BIPOC-owned small businesses nationwide to apply for one or more of the following support focus areas for the opportunity to receive one.

Marketing Services: The following services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, and its creative agency, Mnemonic, are designed to help recipients with their marketing and media campaigns, including:

  • Media: A linear TV media campaign to run over a 90-day period.
  • Creative Production: Turnkey :30 TV commercial production, plus a media strategy consultation and 90-day media placement schedule.
  • Consulting: Advertising and marketing consultations with local Effectv marketing, research and creative teams to gain insights on how to drive business.

Technology Makeovers: The state-of-the-art equipment and technology upgrade from Comcast Business includes computer equipment as well as Internet, Voice and Cybersecurity services for up to a 12-month period. (Taxes and other fees may still apply for technology makeover services.)

More than 700 recipients were announced in November, with the next wave of recipients to be announced in March 2021.

In addition, all eligible applicants will receive a monthly Comcast RISE newsletter with educational content, and all small business owners can visit the Comcast RISE destination on the X1 platform, which features aggregated small business news, tips, insights, and more. The destination is designed to help businesses grow by empowering them through inspiration and entertainment. Just say “Comcast RISE” into the X1 voice remote.

Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched this summer.

More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or the marketing and technology services are available here.

Ford and Partners Sign Safety Pact to Protect Workers at Michigan Central Station
Ford Motor Co. and its partners working on the rehabilitation of Michigan Central Station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood have signed an agreement focusing on zero worker injuries and incidents during the project.

The Christman Company in a joint venture with L.S. Brinker, A Brinker Company, (Christman/Brinker Corktown Transformation Joint Venture), the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) are working with Ford on what they call “an unparalleled workforce safety program.”

The partnership will have a safety commitment of “zero injuries and zero accidents.” As a level three partnership, the primary goals are specific in scope and will center around safety training with a focus on workers new to the industry. The Michigan Central Station project is host to a new worker Fast Track Job Program.

Ford is transforming Michigan Central Station into the centerpiece of a new mobility innovation district in Corktown to shape the future of mobility and transportation. It will be the place where Ford and its partners will work on autonomous and electric vehicle businesses, and design new solutions that make mobility more convenient and accessible through smart, connected vehicles, roads, parking and public transit.

“This is a pivotal project for Ford, for Detroit, and for the hundreds of workers that are restoring one of the city’s greatest historic assets,” said Wendy Burkett, Ford’s director of global safety for Ford. “The safety of workers is our number one priority, and we welcome the opportunity this agreement provides to unite as one team with MIOSHA, Christman/Brinker, and the onsite trades to achieve our goal of zero injuries or accidents. We want everyone who plays a role in restoring this magnificent building to return safe and sound to their families and communities.”

Bart Pickelman, director of MIOSHA, says, “The mission of MIOSHA is to protect the safety and health of Michigan workers and these types of collaborative agreements help ensure everyone goes home at the end of their shift healthy and whole. These construction companies embody the dedication that puts safety and health at the center of the work, and they serve as mentors to the other trade contractors on this project.”

Michigan Central Station built in 1913 is one of the few surviving grand railroad stations. The 647,000-square-foot building consists of a 15-story office tower set atop a three-story base that includes a vaulted waiting room, arcade, ticket lobby, and concourse.

To view a video on the safety partnership, visit here.

Grown Rogue Acquires Indoor Cannabis Growing Assets from Acreage Holdings
Oregon-based Grown Rogue International Inc., a multi-state cannabis company with operations and assets in Oregon and Michigan, announced that its subsidiary, Grown Rogue Distribution, has agreed to acquire a 30,000-square-foot indoor cannabis growing facility in Medford, Ore.

The acquisition, for which financial details were not disclosed, brings Grown Rogue’s total indoor capacity to 127,000 square feet and adds a fully operational retail dispensary in Portland, Ore.

“This strategic asset acquisition further solidifies our commitment to the Oregon cannabis market, which saw a record $1.1 billion in sales in 2020 according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission,” says Obie Strickler, CEO of Grown Rogue. “The new indoor facility will more than double our Oregon capacity and yearly production volume and, more importantly, Grown Rogue is positioned to generate $20 million per year in revenue on a pro-forma basis including $10 million in wholesale sales in Oregon and a projected $10 million of revenue from our Michigan partner’s operations.”

Grown Rogue operates an 80,000-square-foot indoor growing facility and dispensary in Warren, in partnership with Golden Harvests.

In Related News: Grown Rogue has closed the second tranche of its previously announced non-brokered private placement, including an upsized amount for total gross proceeds of $1.02 million.  In addition, one of the company’s non-operating subsidiaries raised an additional $250,000 by way of an unsecured promissory note.

Institute of Trading and Finance Adopts Benzinga Newswires
Benzinga, the Detroit-based financial news vendor to North American brokerages, announced that it will be partnering with the Institute of Trading and Finance to help drive the institute’s mission of training individuals in trading with hands-on experience.

Using Benzinga’s newswire, IOTAF students will obtain a fundamental understanding of how news flow impacts financial markets.

“We are very excited to be involved with IOTAF on supporting their mission of teaching students how to trade in a live, hands-on environment through the real-world application of trading principles,” says T.J. Paige of Benzinga. “Benzinga was founded with the mission of leveling the playing field between institutions and individual investors, so our goals and products naturally align.”

“Benzinga’s real-time news content is fast, reliable, and relevant, making it an essential tool for our students’ success,” said Marco Gomez, founder and CEO of the Institute of Trading and Finance. “By adding Benziga’s content to our Agora trading education platform, our students can be sure they will never miss a market-moving headline.”

Read more about Benzinga’s news and data APIs at

About The Institute of Trading and Finance (IOTAF)

The Institute of Trading and Finance (IOTAF) is an elite trading school based in Montreal that fosters student success with one-on-one mentoring and top-of-the-line facilities, technology, and educators.

IOTAF offers training programs for individuals and corporations on a trading floor equipped with multi-screen stadiums, the fastest connections, and premier news services.

IOTAF’s Agora app and desktop platform provides students with daily educational content as well as news, research, and live-trading mentoring sessions.

Journalist Kathy Gray Joins Oakland County’s Leadership Team
Veteran journalist Kathleen Gray has joined the Oakland County Executive Office as a senior advisor for strategic communications.

Prior to joining the county, Grey worked for the New York Times, Detroit Free Press, and Oakland Press.

“Kathy is a trusted and talented journalism professional, and now more than ever the public must have confidence in the information they receive from all levels of government,” says David Coulter, county executive. “I have respected and enjoyed Kathy’s work as a reporter for decades and I know that she will bring this same integrity and passion to her work at the county to advance issues important to residents.”

Gray’s responsibilities will involve both policymaking and communications and will advise Coulter. She will be engaged in external communications, internal communications, and broad-based marketing efforts for the county.

“The focus of my journalism career has been to serve the public by helping them understand important issues through the written word,” says Gray. “County Executive Coulter is affording me the opportunity to continue this mission in new ways that will lift up Oakland County and our region.”

Big-box Store in Lansing Offered as Part of Stock+Field Bankruptcy
A&G Real Estate Partners in New York is making the former Stock+Field big-box store in Lansing available for sale or lease as part of the Stock+Field bankruptcy.

Located at 340 East Edgewood Blvd. in a Target-anchored shopping center, along a primary commercial thoroughfare, the 137,454-square-foot building sits on a 10.6-acre site that includes an out lot for additional development.

“The building originally opened as a Sam’s Club in 1989 but underwent a renovation by Stock+Field just two years ago,” says Mike Matlat, a senior managing director at A&G. “With eight dock doors in all, the building is well-suited for occupation by large-format retailers with omnichannel operations.”

The Lansing property serves an overall market of 399,100 people within a 15-mile radius of the site, including a primary market of 317,000 residents within 10 miles.

A&G also is handling the distribution of a cross-dock distribution center in Watseka, Ill., and another big-box store in Portage, Wisc.

For additional information on the properties, visit here or contact Emilio Amendola at or Mike Matlat at For information on the Illinois distribution center, contact Jamie Cote at

Swift Biosciences Hires Marketing Exec for China and Asia Pacific
Swift Biosciences in Ann Arbor has hired Bruce Zhang as director of sales and marketing for China and the Asia Pacific region to strengthen the company’s collaboration with customers and partners in the region.

Swift Biosciences develops DNA and RNA library preparation kits for next-generation sequencing systems.

Zhang has 10 years of experience and has led efforts to increase product adoption.

“Within a few years, we’ve grown from a start-up into a scale-up and the global demand for our products is accelerating,” says Steven Riedmuller chief commercial officer at Swift Biosciences. “Swift has seen a substantial growth trajectory this past year with strong double-digit growth and fast adoption of many of our new products and broadening of our customer base.”

Holocaust Memorial Center to Host Program on Genocide in China
The Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills is hosting an online program, “Genocide Today: The Uyghurs in China” on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

Ellen J. Kennedy, executive director of World Without Genocide, will discuss the plight of the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group in western China who are being persecuted by the Chinese government. She also will talk about the efforts to hold the Chinese government accountable.

The program can be watched here. Viewers may submit questions to Kennedy by visiting here.

Jay Leno to Perform Live April 22 to Benefit Forgotten Harvest
Forgotten Harvest has announced its 28th annual Comedy Night fundraiser event on April 22 will feature Jay Leno, live from the Jay Leno Garage in Burbank, Calif.

Proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships will benefit Forgotten Harvest’s network of more than over agencies in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Due to Covid-19, the event will be conducted virtually.

Leno was the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and currently produces and hosts the CNBC television series “Jay Leno’s Garage,” now in its third season.

“Although Comedy Night looks a bit different this year, we will still be celebrating the accomplishments of Forgotten Harvest and its supporters during this unprecedented time,” says Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest. “We’re looking forward to an entertaining event that will positively impact many families in need here in our community.”

Forgotten Harvest’s goal is to raise vital funds to provide 2 million meals for those in need in metro Detroit. The comedy show is recommended for ages 18 and up due to language and content.

For full event details and to purchase a ticket, visit here.

Partners Launch Youth Impact Award for Vaping Prevention
Meridian in Michigan and the Centene Institute for Advanced Health Education have announced the Centene Institute Youth Impact Award for Vaping Prevention, a curriculum and contest for adolescents ages 14 through 19 to raise awareness about vaping, e-cigarette use, and prevention.

Students will learn about the dangers of vaping and take action by developing and submitting a 30- to 60-second public service announcement video. The contest is accepting submissions through April 16. Winners will be announced in early summer of 2021.

“Nationally, and in Michigan, vaping and e-cigarette use has dramatically increased among middle school and high school students,” says Sean Kendall, president and CEO at Meridian. “The Youth Impact Award for Vaping Prevention will help empower students to share the dangers of vaping and become a part of the solution.”

“At Meridian, we are excited about the potential positive impact this program will have on our youth and communities across Michigan. We welcome entries from young Michiganders and look forward to their creative work.”

All submissions are eligible for up to 10 hours of community service and prizes are available for the top submissions. For more information, visit here.

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