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.
Rocket Cos. Closes $89B in Loans During 3Q
Detroit-based Rocket Cos. generated record closed loan origination volume of $89 billion and net rate lock volume of $94.7 billion in the third quarter of 2020, which represented year-over-year improvements of 122 percent and 101 percent, respectively.
Rocket Cos. consists of tech-driven real estate, mortgage, and financial services businesses including Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Homes, and Rocket Auto.
“In the midst of the pandemic, we were able to help an unprecedented number of Americans buy and refinance homes, providing financial relief through our tech-driven platform and award-winning service,” says Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Cos. “Rocket Cos assisted more clients in the third quarter of 2020 than any quarter in our 35-year history. More importantly, the company did this while maintaining industry-leading margins and profitability, demonstrating the sheer power of our platform as Rocket executes at incredible scale.
“While the mortgage industry sits at a critical inflection point, Rocket Cos continues to build for the future – always looking for the next opportunity,” Farner continues. “Throughout the first three quarters of 2020, we have generated $6.6 billion in GAAP net income. As the company enters the last quarter of 2020, it does so with all cylinders firing and looks forward to a strong end to the year.”
Additional third-quarter Rocket Cos. highlights include:
- Increased gain on sale margin by 37 percent year-over-year to a historically strong 4.52 percent.
- Invested more than $500 million company’s technology to further innovate, increase monthly loan production capacity, and enhance efficiency.
- Grew net revenue by 186 percent and adjusted revenue by 163 percent compared to the third quarter of 2019.
- Total expenses increased by 46 percent, primarily driven by higher variable compensation and an increase in team members in production roles to support growth.
- Increased other income by 140 percent year-over-year, which included Amrock’s growth from title insurance services, property valuation, and settlement services as a result of the increase in origination volume noted above.
- Successfully completed one of the largest U.S. IPOs of the last five years.
Detroit Casinos Report $101.4M in October Revenue Operating at 15% Capacity
The three Detroit casinos reported $101.4 million in monthly aggregate revenue in October while continuing to operate at 15 percent capacity due to COVID-19 health concerns. Table games and slots generated $93.8 million in revenue, and retail sports betting produced $7.6 million in revenue.
During the month, the casinos’ table games and slots revenue fell 18.9 percent compared with October 2019 results. Monthly revenue was up by 6.7 percent compared with September results. For table games and slots, the casinos’ year-to-date revenue of $550 million was down 54.2 percent from the $1.2 billion in revenue reported during the first 10 months of 2019.
Compared with October 2019 results, gaming revenue for MGM was down by 22.7 percent to $37.8 million. MotorCity’s revenue fell 7.7 percent to $36.3 million. Greektown’s gaming revenue was down 28.2 percent to $19.7 million.
The three Detroit casinos paid $7.6 million in taxes to the state of Michigan in October compared with $9.4 million for the same month last year.
The Detroit casinos reported submitting $11.2 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city of Detroit during October.
A new feature at the city’s casinos, retail sports betting, brought in a total of $7.6 million. The three Detroit casinos paid $287,166 in state taxes on retail sports betting. The three Detroit casinos also reported submitting $350,980 in retail sports betting taxes to the city of Detroit.
Group Celebrates 10 Years of Training Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans
Florida-based Guardian Angels is celebrating 10 years of raising, training, and donating medical service dogs to veterans, first responders, and civilians with permanent disabilities by organizing an anniversary fund raising campaign.
Guardian Angels typically provides 50 dogs per year to veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, diabetic and seizure disorders, mobility issues, and more. Over the last decade, the national nonprofit has placed more than 350 medical service dogs across 26 states.
The dogs undergo a two-year training process, written by Founder and CEO Carol Borden, which is one of the only college accredited curriculums on training service dogs in the United States and is also approved by the Veterans Administration. These dogs are trained to have situational problem-solving skills in addition to command-based prompts for performing and assisting with essential daily tasks such as opening doors, retrieving dropped items and alerting to impending medical conditions. The dogs also use these skills to perform lifesaving tasks like detecting changes in blood sugar, alerting to oncoming seizures by helping the recipient get in a position that is safe, preventing any additional trauma, and waking recipients with PTSD out of traumatic night terrors.
It costs $25,000 for the organization to raise and train a single medical service dog. These dogs then are donated to recipients free of charge. In order to pair 10 additional service dogs with recipients, the organization is seeking to raise $250,000.
To contribute, visit here.
Consumers Energy Seeks Military Veterans for Line Worker Apprenticeships
Consumers Energy in Jackson is recruiting military veterans with electric experience to join its new Basic Electric Line Worker Apprentice program, earning $35 per hour following 10 days of free training.
“We value the skills and strengths our country’s military veterans bring to work every day,” says Guy Packard, vice president of electric operations for Consumers Energy and a Navy Reserve veteran. “Electric lines work is a high-demand occupation that is physically challenging and requires a high degree of mental discipline. Veterans have an excellent track record of career success at Consumers Energy.”
Consumers is recognized as a Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Gold-Level Employer and ranked third in Michigan in The Military Times Best for Vets Employers 2020 list.
Military veterans with documented electrical experience are encouraged to get more information and register for the Electric Lines Boot Camp here.
Those accepted to participate will receive 10 days of free pre-apprenticeship training from Power for America, which will be followed by a four-day pass/fail assessment. Successful candidates then will begin as paid Basic Line Apprentices at Consumers Energy, earning a starting wage of $35 per hour while completing an 11-week pass/fail climbing school.
Qualifications include honorably discharged veterans, the ability to carry up to 50 pounds of tools and gear, documented experience working with electricity, and the ability to work at heights.
All training will take place at the UWUA Power for America Training Center in Eaton County.
Beaumont Seeking Participants for COVID-19 Vaccine Study
Researchers at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak are now enrolling patients in a national study to test the safety and effectiveness of an investigational COVID-19 vaccine known as AZD1222.
“Because there is currently no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19, we’re eager to have Beaumont participate as one of the trial sites,” says Dr. Christopher Carpenter, principal investigator for the study site and chair of the Department of Medicine at Beaumont, Royal Oak. “Beaumont Health cared for the most COVID-19 patients in Michigan during the surge in March and April. We’re hopeful the study will attract a diverse group of participants.”
The Phase 3 research, known as the AZD1222 COVID-19 Vaccine Study, is seeking about 40,000 participants nationwide. Those who meet the study criteria will receive two injections four weeks apart. Participants will not be told if they are receiving the vaccine or a placebo. Two-thirds of the study volunteers will receive the investigational vaccine, and the other one-third will receive a placebo. A placebo looks like the investigational vaccine, but contains no active vaccine. Participants will be followed for approximately two years.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, are providing funding for the research study. The Phase 3 trial is part of Operation Warp Speed, a collaboration led by the HHS.
“This large-scale study definitely has the potential to save lives across our state, the nation, and across the globe,” adds Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious diseases research at Beaumont Health.
All clinic visits will take place at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Tests will be provided at no cost. Participants will be reimbursed for their time and travel.
To learn more about the study, visit here.
Federal $3.33 Million Grant to Support Workers Unemployed Due to Pandemic
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has been awarded a $3.33 million Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support the continued reopening of Michigan’s economy and to mitigate workforce disruptions related to the ongoing pandemic.
Approximately 30 percent of the grant funds will be used to employ temporary workers to assist with contact tracing, sanitizing, test-site facilitating, and other jobs directly tied to the state’s COVID-19 relief and recovery effort. All temporary workers will receive additional employment services and, potentially, training to enable them to transition into full-time employment when the crisis ends.
Approximately half of the grant funds will be used to support those whose jobs have been permanently eliminated.
“Through this grant, we’ll be able to support the state’s pandemic relief efforts while directly supporting impacted workers,” says Stephanie Beckhorn, training director at LEO Office. “This funding will provide essential reemployment services such as assessment, career counseling, training and other supportive services to help our hard-working Michiganders get back to full-time employment in high-growth, high-demand industries.”
For more information about the state’s Dislocated Worker Programs, visit here.
TiiCKER Shareholder Loyalty Platform Launches Free Mobile App
Detroit’s TiiCKER Inc. today announced the launch of its free iOS mobile app, which offers access to shareholder perks, commission-free trading, and insights needed to help individual investors.
“TiiCKER is reinventing how individual investors are rewarded for brand loyalty,” says Jeff Lambert, founder and CEO of TiiCKER. “We’ve created a unique, tech-driven platform that allows consumers and public companies to interact directly with each other, something never before seen in the financial industry. The launch of this app breaks down barriers for investing and helps those new to investing unlock opportunities to engage with the brands they love and own a piece of the company.”
For more information, visit here.
Autistic Teens to Learn Job Skills from Virtual Training Tool
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, SIMmersion, and Michigan State University in East Lansing have received a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Health to further develop a new job training tool for autistic teens.
The new training tool, Social Cognitive and Affective Learning for Work, which is expected to be available in 2022, is designed to help learners communicate effectively with customers, co-workers and supervisors within a virtual workday.
U-M researcher Matthew Smith has devoted more than eight years to help young people with ASD gain employment through virtual job interview training, in partnership with tech-training company SIMmersion.
“One of the exciting things about this project is that we are working directly with the autism community, teachers, employers, and diversity experts to develop an intervention that not only seeks to assist autistic youth to sustain employment, but is inclusive for autistic youth from diverse communities—an approach that is often overlooked,” says Smith, a U-M associate professor of social work.
The training tool will have three levels, allowing users to build and practice their soft skills in an interactive way:
- Understanding People in the Workplace.
- Workplace Conversations.
- Virtual Workday.
Albion College Announces New Scholarships for 2021 High School Seniors
Albion College (west of Jackson) has announced the Albion College Promise, a scholarship program aimed at Michigan families who have college affordability concerns due to COVID-19.
Exclusive to graduating high school seniors and transfer students, the Albion College Promise will cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for Michigan students whose families make less than $65,000 annually, after the Michigan Tuition and Federal Pell grants are applied. Families making more than $65,000 at minimum will receive $92,000, or as high as $136,000 in Albion College scholarships over the course of four years.
“Providing accessible opportunities for students to further their education is more important now than ever,” says Mathew Johnson, president of Albion College. “By alleviating some of the financial pressure associated with a college degree, we are eliminating one of the major hurdles that many local students and their families face when deciding on where to pursue a quality education. While the future is still unknown, Albion is committed to providing needed support right now to position Michigan students for success so they can achieve their dreams.”
To apply for admissions by the Dec. 1 early application deadline, visit here.
Grace Centers of Hope to Unveil 52nd Renovated Home in Pontiac Nov. 16
Five women who have turned their lives around through the help of Grace Centers of Hope and Grace Gospel Fellowship Church will move into an historic home the nonprofit has purchased and renovated at 57 Fairgrove in Pontiac on Nov. 16.
This is the 52nd home renovated by the faith-based Pontiac nonprofit in its Little Grace Village community.
The nonprofit has invested approximately $180,000 in upgrading the three-story home, which was built in 1901 and had been slated for demolition by the county before it was purchased by GCH two years ago.
Pastor Kent Clark says this is the nonprofit’s biggest home project yet, and that he’s encouraged to see Little Grace Village grow.
“Seeing our community thrive year after year is truly a blessing to our organization, the city of Pontiac and everyone who lives in the neighborhood. It truly is an extended, faith-based family that supports each other, which is especially important right now,” Clark says. “The women moving into 57 Fairgrove have faced much adversity in their lives, and Grace Centers is excited to offer them a new home and a new start to the next chapter in their lives.”
For more information and to donate, visit here.
Forgotten Harvest Partners with Vimax Media to Raise Awareness and Funds
Oak Park’s Forgotten Harvest is partnering with Vimax Media, a metro Detroit food marketing agency in the #FloodingYourFeedToFeed social media campaign to help feed families in need.
By flooding audiences’ social feeds with creative, compelling food videos, from now until Nov. 29, the campaign aims to initiate fundraising efforts that help feed surrounding communities while raising awareness of hunger and food insecurities.