COVID-19 Update: Michigan Reopens Movie Theaters and Performance Venues Oct. 9, U-M Report Reflects Detroiters’ Priorities for Economic Mobility, 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. 26

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.

Michigan Reopens Movie Theaters, Performance Venues, Other Businesses Oct. 9
Beginning Oct. 9, indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and other business are slated to reopen, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last week.

Under Executive Order 2020-183, instead of being limited to 10 people, non-residential indoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues.

Non-residential indoor venues must require a face covering. Instead of being limited to 100 people, non-residential outdoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people.

Regions 6 and 8 (northern lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula) are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues.

The governor also strengthened mask wearing for school children in grades K-5 from recommendation to a requirement.

Executive Order 2020-183

Executive Order 2020-185

New U-M Report Reflects Detroiters’ Priorities for Economic Mobility
A new report from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions in Ann Arbor reflects more than a decade’s worth of input from Detroit residents on how to increase economic mobility and decrease poverty in their city.

The community-based research project, “Investing in Us: Resident Priorities for Economic Mobility in Detroit,” aims to provide policymakers, philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, and other service providers with clear guidance on how Detroiters define economic well-being and what strategies they think will work best to increase economic mobility, which is the ability to improve one’s economic status.

“The research world produces a lot of data, indicators, metrics, and maps to tell us how people are doing and how public policy might respond to the need,” says Afton Branche-Wilson, strategic projects manager at Poverty Solutions’ Detroit Partnership on Economic Mobility and lead researcher for Investing In Us. “Often missing from this picture is the voices of residents themselves. Our goal with this project was to listen to residents and make the voices of Detroiters our primary source of data.”

Key findings from “Investing in Us” include:

  • Residents want initiatives to reduce high costs of living in the city.
  • Many Detroiters care deeply about economic opportunities for people returning from incarceration and support more interventions to reduce barriers in accessing housing and employment for this population.
  • Detroiters commented on the urgency of making sure everyone is prepared for life after high school and shared their experiences with inequalities in school funding and the high cost of college.
  • Detroiters reported feeling unsafe often and insisted on serious changes in community safety.
  • Detroiters want economic agency and the power to shape their communities by growing food, starting businesses, and owning land, but they point out the need for more flexible regulations, technical assistance and financial support to make these visions a reality in a city where the median household income is less than $32,000 a year.
  • Advocacy works.
  • Residents point to overall neighborhood neglect and overexposure to specific health and safety threats like blight and poor-quality food as evidence that their communities are not of value to decision-makers.
  • Residents call for collective action to clean polluted air, build green infrastructure, provide access to quality food, and invest in physical and mental health resources in all corners of the city.

To view the full report, visit here.

Plymouth’s Esperovax Wins Federal Contract to Study Oral Vaccines
Plymouth-based biotech company Esperovax has been awarded $607,000 in funding to further studies into the feasibility of oral vaccine production and delivery.

The funds come from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Esperovax has developed a proprietary method for bioengineering probiotic yeast to deliver continuous and high concentrations of vaccine antigen in the gut. These antigens are delivered as enveloped, virus-like particles (eVLPs) directly into the lymphoid tissue of the intestinal mucosa, the innermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract, which may induce strong immune protection.

“Our oral vaccine approach is unlike anything available today, and could possibly bring greater efficacy, efficiency, and safety,” says Roger S. Newton, founder of Esperovax. “As the northern hemisphere enters another flu season, we look forward to applying our oral vaccines in the very near future to fight influenza and, potentially, a host of other illnesses and maladies.”

Esperovax’s biotech utilizes common baker’s yeast to produce vaccines in less than two weeks. This technology means billions of doses could potentially be manufactured in less than a month. This oral vaccine will not require costly purification, cold storage, or delivery devices (i.e. syringes), so each dose could be economically produced and self-administered via pill or edibles, according to the company.

“With this new oral vaccine platform, Esperovax is poised to become the global leader in oral tablet and capsule vaccinations for some of the world’s deadliest yet treatable diseases,” says Newton. “That means saving countless lives. We’re working hard to make that a reality.”

Home Point Financial Launches Community Foundation for Mortgage Industry
Home Point Financial, based in Ann Arbor, has launched a new charitable community foundation with the goal of empowering individuals to achieve their dreams through investment, education, and support.

Home Point will dedicate its first $1 million from the foundation to funding 50 new minority and female-owned mortgage brokerages throughout the nation.

“At Home Point, we’re passionate about expanding opportunities for people from all walks of life interested in participating in the mortgage industry,” says Phil Shoemaker, president of originations at Home Point Financial. “Through this foundation, we’re committed to investing our financial and human capital where it’s needed most. We look forward to helping people make their entrepreneurship dreams a reality.”

The initial $1 million in grant money will be distributed in coordination with the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts, as sponsorship of their Spark program, which expands opportunities for women and minorities in the mortgage industry.

In total, the Home Point foundation will allocate grants to 25 minority and 25 female-owned mortgage brokerages. Awards include one $50,000 grant, four $25,000 grants and 20 $17,500 grants per group. To be considered, an application must be submitted that includes a business plan and shows relevant experience in the mortgage industry. The funding amount will be based on state-required resources for operations. For more information on the AIME Spark program, visit here.

Honigman and Proxie Collaborate to Help Black Women-owned Businesses in Metro Detroit
The Detroit-based Honigman law firm has partnered with Proxie Detroit, a resource geared toward helping African-American women entrepreneurs grow their businesses, to help Black women-owned businesses navigate and overcome various legal issues that may arise.

“Honigman’s involvement is a dream come true in many ways, not only for me but for several businesses who fear dealing with a lawyer,” says Autumn Kyles, CEO of Proxie. “The goal is to debunk some common myths while empowering founders to get the guidance they need to ensure success in all aspects of their business.”

Proxie’s Launch Course is one of the many opportunities where business owners can hear from Honigman’s Emerging Companies Group, which is dedicated to helping startup companies in the community gain the legal insight needed to thrive as a new business. The 25-day business plan and strategy course for new and emerging brands will offer two webinars led by Honigman attorneys, discussing best practices for contracts and confidentiality agreements, post-course legal workshops, and much more.

“We value inclusion and equitable investment,” said Donald Kunz, chair of corporate development at Honigman. “We believe in the work of Proxie and the number of small businesses that are taking advantage of starting their own endeavor during the pandemic.”

William Hill and Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos Open Sports Book
William Hill U.S. and Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos have opened their first Michigan sports books at Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel along with a satellite location at Leelanau Sands Casino.

The long-term partnership with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians makes William Hill GTB’s exclusive partner for sports books, along with mobile sports betting and iCasino gaming, pending regulatory approvals. The Onyx Sports Book by William Hill and its satellite location now are open for business seven days a week.

Today’s grand opening ceremony included a ribbon-cutting with National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., followed by a ceremonial first bet placed by NBA All-Star Rick Mahorn. On hand for the momentous celebration was Dan Shapiro, VP of Strategy and Business Development for William Hill US, Tribal Vice-Chairman Mark Wilson of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Michael Schrader, CEO of Grand Traverse Resort & Casinos, Johnny Barrientoz, General Manager of Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, and other area dignitaries and members of the press.

“The grand opening at Turtle Creek Casino officially marks the 13th state where William Hill now offers sports betting,” says Dan Shapiro, vice president of strategy and business development for William Hill. “This is just the beginning of our partnership with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, with plans to launch mobile sports betting and iCasino gaming throughout Michigan as soon as permitted.”

The Onyx Sports Book by William Hill at Turtle Creek Casino features two ticket windows and two kiosks, adjacent to the popular table games and slot machines on the casino floor. The sports book also offers 20 high-definition televisions, complimentary games, food and beverages, and an outdoor patio. Staffed hours are Monday through Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to midnight.  The kiosks will be available during casino hours at Turtle Creek from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

The satellite location at Leelanau Sands Casino includes two kiosks for sports betting available daily from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Customers at both locations will be serviced according to CDC-recommended guidelines and will find a seamless experience from setting up their accounts to placing bets.

State Job Fair in October to Address Direct Care Workers During Pandemic
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Adult Services Agency has partnered with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to host a virtual job fair for southeast Michigan employers to help address a shortage of direct care workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has worsened the existing shortage and created significant staffing demands for licensed long-term care organizations throughout Michigan. Support for home health agencies is needed more than ever. The virtual job fair allows home health agencies the opportunity to highlight their organizations’ mission and vision, summarize current job opportunities, post a video about their organization, and talk with job seekers in a virtual platform.

“Michigan currently has a direct care worker shortage of 34,000 and this is one of several strategies we are pursuing to help build and support this important sector of the health care workforce,” says Dr. Alexis Travis, MDHHS senior deputy director at Aging and Adult Services Agency.

The virtual event will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to noon. Home health agencies looking to hire can sign up for a “virtual booth” at no cost until Oct. 13. Job seekers can sign up for the event here.

“The older adults we serve rely on home care agencies to provide services that allow them to age in place,” said Ronald S. Taylor, president and chief executive officer at Detroit Area Agency on Aging. “We hope the virtual job fair will connect job seekers with a passion for supporting older adults to opportunities in the communities we serve.”

LTU Accelerator is Part of National Manufacturing Day Pitch Event
The Centrepolis Accelerator, the manufacturing business accelerator operated by Lawrence Technological University and the city of Southfield, is hosting a National Manufacturing Day Virtual Pitch Event on Friday, Oct. 2.

The event is produced in cooperation with Pure Michigan Business Connect, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Automation Alley, and the Jackson business accelerator Lean Rocket Lab. Sponsors include Consumers Energy, the Hurst Foundation, Jaffe Law, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The event will run from 2 to 5 p.m. and feature select manufacturing technology startups. Sectors represented include Industry 4.0, manufacturing technology, cleantech, and hardware.

Prizes for the event include $10,000 for the best manufacturing technology company, sponsored by Lean Rocket Lab; $10,000 for the best cleantech hardware company, sponsored by EGLE and the Centrepolis Accelerator; $10,000 for the best Industry 4.0 technology company, sponsored by Automation Alley; and a $5,000 People’s Choice Award selected by an audience vote, sponsored by Jaffe Law.

To register for the event, visit here.

Motown Museum Accepting Submissions for 2020 Amplify Singing Competition
The Motown Museum is accepting submissions for its third annual Amplify “The Sound of Detroit” singing competition.

Comcast Business will serve as a sponsor and broadcast the competition to its subscribers on Friday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m.

“There are so many incredible musical artists in our community and this competition was created to serve as a platform to showcase their talent,” says Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the museum. “While typically held in front of a live audience, this year’s competition is appropriately shifting to account for safe distancing, and we are grateful to Comcast Business for partnering with us to air the finale. This competition will be an uplifting and memorable musical experience at a time when so many in our community need this inspiration.”

The submission process for Amplify focuses on talent in southeast Michigan and invites individual singers or groups to apply by completing an application form and audition video. Applications must be submitted online here by Oct. 16. A committee of Motown Museum judges will then select eight total finalists to advance to the grand finale, to be recorded at Hitsville U.S.A.

The winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize and a studio session with Motown Museum Amplify Music Director Kern Brantley. The winner also will get to audition for the Motown Accelerator Program and will be featured through various Motown Museum digital opportunities and events throughout the year. Second and third place winners also will receive a cash prize.

For more information, visit here.

Rose Hill Center in Holly Raised $153K During Virtual Golf Event
Rose Hill Center, a residential treatment center for adults with serious mental illness in Holly, says its John Kelly Memorial Techno Invitational last month raised $152,000 in support of the Rose Hill Foundation – despite COVID-19 forcing the live event to go virtual.

“During these challenging times, we are very grateful for the generous support of our private and corporate donors who helped us surpass our $100,000 fundraising goal,” says Rochelle Rothwell, president and CEO of the center. “The funds will be used to support the Rose Hill Foundation’s Financial Assistance Fund, which helps our residents and their families fill gaps for treatment that insurance and private pay does not cover. As a private nonprofit mental health care facility, Rose Hill Center relies on philanthropic support to cover the expenses of day-to-day operations for those residents and their families who cannot afford the full cost of quality mental health care.”

Key to the successful fundraising effort was a $50,000 challenge gift supported by the Jeannine Gundle Family and an anonymous donor, encouraging others to contribute an additional $50,000. Key sponsors of the event included the Penske Corp., Avis Ford, KPMG, Corrigan Oil, Accent Decorating, and Northern Trust Bank plus a host of private donors.

For more information about Rose Hill Center or the Rose Hill Foundation, visit here.