COVID-19 Update: Pistons Partner with Rival to Establish eSports Community, Bloomscape Raises $15M in Series B Funding, 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.
chart of Michigan coronavirus cases
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.

Detroit Pistons Partner with Rival to Establish Motor City Rivals eSports Community
The Detroit Pistons have partnered with platform provider Rival to establish a new esports gaming community called Motor City Rivals. The organization becomes the first U.S. professional sports organization to partner with Rival in launching a gaming community for its fans.

Utilizing Rival technology, the Motor City Rivals esports community will be a place for Pistons fans to communicate, compete, and earn rewards points that can be used to redeem team merchandise and partner prizes. The new platform will feature sports game titles such as NBA 2K, Madden, EA NHL, and FIFA, engaging both Xbox and PlayStation users through the cloud.  Fans can begin earning points by registering with their gamertag here.

Motor City Rivals will launch with an inaugural NBA 2K21 Tournament presented by Gamestar on Oct. 14. Tournament prizing includes $1,000 in total cash, with $500 to the Xbox tournament winner and $500 to the PlayStation tournament winner, as well as the ability to play online against either Pistons guard Bruce Brown or another mystery NBA player courtesy of Gamestar.  Registration is open here.

Outside of weekly tournaments, gamers can log in at any time to compete in on the fly tournaments and participate in other interactive components.

“We are excited to work with Rival in creating our Motor City Rivals esports gaming community,” says Mike Zavodsky, the Pistons’ chief business officer. “Whether it is competing in NBA2K or other sports related gaming products, this unique platform will enhance our ability to engage fans, distribute content and provide rewards for users experiencing our brand away from the basketball floor.”

Bloomscape Raises $15M in Series B Funding After Year of Growth
Detroit-based online garden center Bloomscape today announced $15 million in Series B financing led by General Catalyst, bringing its total fundraising to $24 million.

Joel Cutler, co-founder and managing director of General Catalyst, and Bob Mylod, managing partner at Annox Capital Management, will join Bloomscape’s Board of Directors. Bob Mylod, Jeff Boyd, a member of the Home Depot Board of Directors, and John Replogle, formerly CEO of Seventh Generation and Burt’s Bees, also are contributing to the round with participation from existing investors including Revolution Ventures and Ludlow Ventures.

In addition to funding, Bloomscape is announcing the acquisition of Vera, the plant care app, which will provide customers access to plant care tips and content, troubleshooting, watering reminders, and more. The app, Vera by Bloomscape, is another initiative toward Bloomscape’s mission to arm “plant parents” with ongoing plant care support, resources, and tools to ensure plant parents have what they need to succeed.

“We’re proud of the rapid growth our business has seen since launch, but this is just the beginning,” says Justin Mast, founder and CEO of Bloomscape. “With this new round of fundraising and the acquisition of the Vera app, we’re ready to take our product offering to the next level with new plants, tools, and educational information to ensure our customers have everything they need to be successful plant parents, all in one place.

“Our business model is uniquely positioned for success in a time where ecommerce is key in consumer purchasing, and with our team’s historic knowledge of plant care and horticulture supply chain as well as distribution, we’re thrilled to be using our new funds to grow and continue in our mission to be the leading modern garden center for a new generation of plant lovers.”

Since its Series A round last year, the company has seen four-times growth and has more than doubled its team.

For more information, visit here.

Bedrock Adds Amenities to Public Spaces in Downtown Detroit
Bedrock is installing parklets, sidewalk extensions with seating and amenities, in front of storefronts and restaurants in the Central Business District.

These parklets, being installed with approval from the City of Detroit, are expected to be ready for use by this weekend.

Each parklet will allow for proper social distancing, following the CDC guidelines, and will be thoroughly cleaned with medical-grade equipment multiple times a day. They are designed to be places to eat a carryout meal, read a book, or simply enjoy the outdoors. They will be open to the public and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Bedrock is offering free, four-hour parking validations with a purchase from any participating retailer or restaurant.

In addition, the public is invited to take part in Bedrock’s “Sights & Delights” Downtown Digital Scavenger Hunt. Running through Oct. 4, the scavenger hunt run exclusively through the PlainSight app will walk users through a series of downtown retail and restaurant sights to see and delights to redeem along the way. Every series completed will earn users a $25 Detroit Card.

For more information, visit here.

Consumers Energy Commits $12M to Help Customers Affected by Pandemic
Consumers Energy in Jackson is providing $12 million to help Michigan residents and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with energy bills.

“We stand with Michigan and are working to help our friends and neighbors through a time like no other,” says Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy. “Our company’s $12 million contribution will provide a lifeline to many families and businesses, helping them stay on their feet until we can defeat the pandemic and Michigan can fully reopen.”

Consumers Energy has set a goal to help about 25,000 households and 1,000 small businesses with this new assistance. The funding will go directly to customers in need and to Michigan nonprofit organizations.

The best way for people to get help is to call 2-1-1, a free service that connects people with nonprofit agencies in their communities, including the new financial help that Consumers Energy is announcing. Consumers Energy customers struggling to pay bills also can call 800-477-5050.

Since March, Consumers Energy and its charitable foundation have provided more than over $16 million to help Michigan residents.

Clay Apartments Open to House Homeless Detroiters
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city officials joined Neighborhood Service Organization Wednesday to officially open the Clay Apartments, marking the completion of the first of two development phases that will comprise the new Healthy Housing Campus once construction of Phase II is completed.

The two-story Clay Apartments stands at 3364 Mack Ave., near Gratiot, in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt neighborhood and was made possible with support from the city of Detroit and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Residents will begin moving in within the next few weeks and will be provided permanent housing and additional wraparound services to address the economic, health, and social barriers to stability.

The building’s first floor houses NSO’s on-site staff who will support residents with person-centered services to help them improve their quality of life while at the Clay Apartments and beyond. Some supportive services include linkages to primary care and behavioral health care, substance abuse treatment, workforce placement and readiness training, and restorative services. The building’s 42 one-bedroom apartments for single adults have 30 percent reserved for those with complex medical conditions that have required frequent hospitalizations.

“This incredible new facility is an example of our strategy to help more people stay out of homelessness, as opposed to just providing temporary overnight shelter,” says Duggan. “Thanks to the NSO, residents here will have access to their own private apartment and a range of support services that will help them on their new path in life.”

To contribute to NSO, visit here.

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to Host Fundraiser Oct. 16
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is planning to host an Oct. 16 physically distant but socially connected fundraiser, #BeingApartTogether, that will provide new ways for guests to experience the riverfront.

A free virtual broadcast of musical performances by local artists along the riverfront will be available at 6 p.m. on the conservancy’s Facebook page. The concert will feature performances from In Transit, Al Bettis, Juuni, and New World Soul.

Prior to the musical performances, Detroit Experience Factory is hosting a free virtual tour at 4:30 p.m. To register, visit here.

“We are excited to announce this opportunity to support our work by #BeingApartTogether and hope the community will embrace it in the same way they have embraced our parks over this last year,” says Cassie Brenske, chief development officer for the conservancy. “The creativity and hustle from our team that continues to keep the Riverwalk and the Dequindre Cut open for all people to enjoy is showing us firsthand how essential these spaces are for healing, exercise and respite for the community.”

Supporters will receive a package curated in partnership with Detroit’s City Bird that is filled with limited-edition riverfront items, locally sourced gifts and unique activities for outdoor fun that can be enjoyed from the comfort of their own backyard or during a visit to the riverfront.

“The Detroit Riverfront is an incredible gem for the entire community to enjoy, especially during times when safe and accessible outdoor spaces are so critical,” said Rick Hampson, president of Citizens, Michigan. “We are proud to support the conservancy and excited about this unique fundraiser that will celebrate the riverfront and introduce new supporters to the organization making these spaces possible.”

For more information, visit here.

Bloomfield Hills’ O’Keefe Opens New Office in Arizona
O’Keefe, a Bloomfield Hills-based financial and strategic advisory firm, has opened a new office in Phoenix, Ariz., and appointed Matthew Rizzo managing director of the new facility.

“Our professionals are vital to the continued growth of our firm and have demonstrated much success in our industry.” says Pat O’Keefe, founder and CEO of O’Keefe. “This is a natural expansion to a new market with an up and coming leader in our firm.”

According to O’Keefe, Rizzo has expertise in business valuation in many types of transactions including mergers and acquisitions, shareholder disputes, and gift tax valuations.

O’Keefe is a financial and strategic advisory firm specializing in enterprise consulting, litigation support, strategic advisory, turnaround, and restructuring. Established in 2001, the company has locations in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and now Phoenix.

Focus: HOPE to Host Virtual Weekend of HOPE
Focus: HOPE’s two signature events – Heroes for HOPE and Eleanor’s March 4 HOPE – will be completely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the culminating celebrations taking place during the second weekend of October as part of the Virtual Weekend of HOPE, led by Honorary Chair Dave Bing.

This year’s Heroes for HOPE, which recognizes corporate and community leaders dedicated to social justice, will take place virtually Oct. 9 at 7 a.m. Presented by Ford Motor Company and  Lear Corp., the event will honor Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley; Detroit Pistons Coach Dwane Casey; Jim Tobin, executive vice president of Magna International; and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

The keynote presentation will be a conversation between Farley and WDIV-Local 4 anchor Devin Scillian.

This year’s Eleanor’s March 4 HOPE, presented by Magna and WDIV-Local 4, also is taking place virtually, culminating with an online celebration Oct. 11 at 1 p.m.

“It is our hope that, by bringing community members together through the Weekend of HOPE, we will be able to celebrate, reflect, and move forward together through action to support real change in southeast Michigan and beyond,” says Portia Roberson, CEO of Focus: HOPE.

For more information and to register to participate, visit here.