COVID-19 Update: State Expects Delay in Federal Unemployment Benefit Payments, Mackinac Island Family Hotelier Receives National Honor, 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 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.

State Expects Delay in Federal Unemployment Benefit Payments
Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency says there will be a delay in certification and payment of benefits for those currently enrolled in the federal PUA and PEUC programs due to the timing of the finalization of the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package.

According to the MUIA, Michigan, like all states, must wait until guidance is issued by the U.S. Dept. of Labor before it can begin processing the benefits provided under the new legislation. This guidance will include new rules and instructions that will require updates to the state’s UI system.

Program extensions and expansions include:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): Extends and phases out PUA, a temporary federal program covering self-employed and gig workers, to March 14 (after which no new applicants) through April 5, 2021. It provides additional weeks for those who would otherwise exhaust benefits by extending PUA from 39 to 50 weeks— with all benefits ending April 5, 2021.

New PUA program eligibility requirements: New and active claimants must provide documentation to substantiate employment (not just self-certification as is currently the case) starting at the end of January.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC): Provides all unemployment recipients with an additional $300 per week from Dec. 27 through March 13, 2021.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): Extends and phases out PEUC, which provides additional weeks when state unemployment runs out, to March 14 (after which no new applications) through April 5, 2021. It provides additional weeks for those who would otherwise exhaust benefits by increasing weeks available from 13 to 24—with all benefits ending April 5, 2021.

“This federal extension will bring much needed relief to nearly 700,000 Michigan workers who are currently receiving benefits under the PUA and PEUC programs,” says Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency. “The continuation of these benefits coupled with the additional $300 in weekly payments for all claimants will provide our workers with the emergency financial assistance to buy essential items like groceries and prescription drugs.”

The relief package also includes:

  • Extension of 100 percent federal financing for the use of the WorkShare program.
  • Extension of Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations through March 14.

MUIA encourages existing PUA and PEUC recipients to ensure they complete any outstanding certifications through Dec. 26. To do this, they need to log in to their MiWAM account and click on the inactive PUA or PEUC claim. Outstanding certifications will appear under the “Alerts” tab should there be any to be completed.

For more information, visit here.

Mackinac Island Family Hotelier Receives National Honor
The Callewaert family, owners and operators of the Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island, has been named the Legendary Family Historic Hotelier of the Year by Historic Hotels of America.

Victor Callewaert and brother-in-law James Ryba purchased the historic estate in 1969, saving the property from demolition after decades of neglect and deterioration. After several years of restoration and maintaining the historic value of the property, the Island House Hotel reopened in 1972, and one year later was declared an historic landmark by the state of Michigan.

“Accepting this prestigious award on behalf of everyone engaged in the operation, care, and management of our historic hotel is a tremendous honor, and a true testament to value in all the work that has gone into the Island House Hotel over the last 50 years,” says Todd Callewaert, CEO of Island House Hotel.

After 50 years of operations, the Callewaert family says it remains committed to enhancing the guest experience by adding contemporary conveniences to Island House Hotel, while preserving its historic ambiance.

“Mackinac Island is known for careful preservation of rich and meaningful history, and Island House Hotel is a phenomenal example of what makes this destination truly unique and treasured,” says Tim Hygh, executive director of Mackinac Island Tourism.

For information on the Island House Hotel, visit here.

ACG to Host Webinar on Special Purpose Acquisition Companies
The Association for Corporate Growth Detroit is hosting a webinar on the resurgence of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) on Jan. 12, 2021 between 8-9:15 a.m. via Zoom.

Questions that will be addressed during the webinar include: “So why choose the SPAC route?” “How does the process, cost-benefit analysis, and experience differ from that of a traditional IPO?” and “Would it make sense for your company or client to consider a SPAC?”

The discussion will be moderated by Clay Vanderpool, senior vice president of PNC Business Credit. Speakers will include:

Tony Colucci, chief financial officer of Alta Equipment Co.

Jeff Hoover, partner at Howard and Howard

Jeff Kuras, an attorney at Honigman

Kim Easterle Mattes, producer at Aon

Chris Rafferty, COO at Aon’s Financial Services Group

Dom Schiano, senior advisor at Gores Holdings

Zoom link for the session will be sent prior to the event to those who register here.

Baker College Team Wins IACBE Live Case Competition
A team of four undergraduate business students at Baker College recently earned first-place honors in the International Accreditation Council for Business Education 2020 Virtual Live Case Competition.

The winning students, all Michigan residents, include: Jamarr Pettiford of Detroit, Paula Sunderman of Drummond Island, Tess Lewis of Macomb Township, and Ebony McGee of Canton Township. Lewis attends Baker College of Auburn Hills, and Pettiford, Sunderman, and McGee all attend Baker College Online. They were coached by Beth LaValley, a Baker College business instructor.

Co-sponsored by CapSource in collaboration with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville, Fla., the IACBE competition tasked student teams with creating an actionable strategy to virtually engage RMHC Jax’s network of more than 4,000 volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic and throughout 2021. Teams had to submit a written executive summary and give a three-minute video presentation of their proposal.

The Baker College team proposed a RMHC Jax mobile app, with functions for messaging, task list management, volunteer sign-up, calendar, chat, donations, event check-in, virtual story time, and more. The concept earned them a score of 68.5 out of 75 points, the highest score in this year’s competition, among both the undergraduate and graduate teams.

“I’m so proud of what our students accomplished, and I also am beyond impressed with the incredible amount of teamwork and collaborative effort they put forth in this competition,” says Na “Lina” Li, professor and dean of the College of Business at Baker College. “These students are already juggling school, jobs, and family responsibilities, and to see their enthusiasm for this project, and for the people it would help, was truly awesome.”

The winning students earned internship opportunities with RMHC Jax, and modest cash prizes.

CMU Researcher Receives NIH Funding to Explore COVID-19-related Issues in Children
The National Institutes of Health in Maryland has awarded a research grant that could be as much as $2.5 million over four years to Usha Sethuraman at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant to explore risk factors of COVID-related respiratory infection in children.

Sethyuraman’s focus is the severity predictors integrating salivary transcriptomics and proteomics with multi neural network intelligence in SARS-CoV2 infection in children.

The CMU grant is among eight nationwide with the aim of developing approaches for identifying children at high risk for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare and severe after-effect of COVID-19 or exposure to the virus that causes it. Up to $20 million will be provided for the projects over four years, pending the availability of funds.

“These awards underscore NIH’s commitment to identifying children at risk for MIS-C, which will inform development of interventions to improve their health outcomes,” says Dr. Diana Bianchi, director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

In most cases, children exposed to or infected with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will not develop any symptoms or will develop only a mild illness. Some children become seriously ill at the time of infection. Others who initially have no symptoms may go on to develop MIS-C, a severe, sometimes fatal, condition marked by inflammation of one or more organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract.

Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Present Michigan Mitten Drop at Canterbury Village
The Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers are presenting the Michigan Mitten Drop at Canterbury Village in Lake Orion to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

The event, which takes place from 4-7 p.m. Dec. 31, will feature a 6-foot illuminated mitten dropping 80 feet at 6:30 p.m. to ring in the new year a few hours early.

Family-friendly activities including live entertainment, kid’s karaoke, kid’s trivia, a fire show, horse-drawn carriage rides, fire pits to make smores, hot chocolate, food trucks, and a special appearance by the Ghostbusters Detroit are planned. The evening will be hosted by Shannon from the Mojo in the Morning show.

Tickets are $5 per person. Children under 2, active military, and veterans are free. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit here.