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.
Stafanini Group Launches Solution for Smart City Operations
Stefanini Group, a global technology company based in Southfield, has launched a new Smart Cities solution that increases sustainability and optimization while utilizing new technologies and digital solutions for the various challenges cities face today.
The Smart Cities solution, the company says, unites technology and infrastructure to enhance citizens’ interactions with the urban environment and improve their quality of life. Using the Internet of Things, Stefanini’s Smart Cities solution can identify opportunities and challenges in real-time, reducing costs by pinpointing issues prior to their emergence and allocating resources more accurately to maximize impact.
According to Stefanini, it is one of the few technology firms offering a comprehensive solution, bringing multiple technologies together for a holistic package.
“Smart living solutions are more than the excellence that should come with managing a city; they are about people and the ability to give citizens inspiration and motivation,” says Giandri Machado, digital transformation director at Stefanini. “A smart city program works to minimize the time citizens are spending in traffic or discussing problems with government or utility companies and provides them with more hours to sustain a higher quality life. We are thrilled by the tremendous potential this all-encompassing solution holds and how it will evolve how cities operate and citizens live moving forward.”
Leveraging automation, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, computer vision, IoT, and big data and analytics, the Smart Cities solution collects data to improve utility allocation, airport operations, and city processes. These city processes include transportation, mobility, security, environmental, crowd management, emergency response, lighting, and parking.
Pandemic Performance Reviews Pose Challenges for Managers
Deborah Brouwer, a partner with the Detroit-based management side labor and employment law firm Nemeth Law, says working from home presents a variety of challenges for evaluating employee performance.
“The performance review process and criteria will need to be adjusted, especially for jobs that don’t have numeric, objective measurements as a performance gauge,” Brouwer says. “Plus, while productivity may have increased for some during the stay-at-home period, many solid employees didn’t adapt well working from home, and that presents a quandary for their evaluating supervisors.”
Brouwer harkens back to the ‘90s management philosophy of “Managing by Walking Around” to explain the difficulty of evaluating performance under current conditions.
“In the office, supervisors can observe staff interacting with colleagues, handling phone calls, and generally doing their jobs – or not,” she says. “With remote work, managers are not walking around the office and providing immediate feedback, support, or guidance. The regular online meetings that employers substituted during the pandemic, while certainly important, do not provide the same insights.
“These realities make the normal evaluative criteria of a performance review difficult to track and may require a hybrid of old and new criteria to be used, as is sometimes done in normal times when an employee has two different supervisors within a performance review period.”
She says employers should recognize that as a result of working from home, job duties and requisite skill sets may have changed, and evaluation criteria should account for those changes.
“To the extent that expectations changed on a day-to-day basis to account for the unexpected, flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly may become critical performance criteria,” she says.
On the other hand, people have reacted in a variety of ways to working remotely and other changes to our previously normal lives. Understandably, these changes have affected work performance in ways the employee might not even be aware of.
“Sympathetic employers may be tempted to recognize that the stress of the situation is affecting the employee more than she may realize, but in doing so, the employer risks impermissibly tying performance to either a real or perceived medical condition,” Brouwer says.
Likewise, there are a host of new protections for employees arising from federal statutes and emergency orders, ranging from childcare leave to quarantine requirements that have to be accounted for. Employees cannot be evaluated more harshly because they took a protected leave of absence. But what about employees who chose not to take a leave of absence, continuing to work remotely while simultaneously providing home schooling to their children and caring for a quarantined spouse?
How harshly should they be evaluated for not always being immediately available during set working hours or for being slightly untimely in the completion of work tasks? More important, will the employer be equally forgiving to all similarly situated employees, or will some be judged more harshly than others because the supervisor is more or less sympathetic to some circumstances than others?
Another dilemma facing employers is how to manage performance evaluations when the employer is not able to offer salary increases. How you do communicate that the employee has contributed greatly during the pandemic while also saying that the company cannot afford to give anyone raises?
“As tempting as it might be to forego reviews altogether when raises are not an option, that approach may be short-sighted, because the employer may end up letting poor performance continue, while good performers may look elsewhere for work, absent some encouragement,” Brouwer says. “Instead, this might be a time to think creatively, perhaps offering benefits that are low or no cost, such as additional PTO, paid holidays, or the possibility of end of the year bonus.”
M1 Concourse’s Woodward Dream Show Postponed until 2021
The inaugural Woodward Dream Show, scheduled for Aug. 13-15, at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich. has been postponed until 2021.
Pontiac Motorsports Exposition, organizer of the new event, decided that instead of pressing ahead with an online-only show in the current landscape, it will bring the full week of activity to the public next year when it will present the 2021 version of the Woodward Dream Show on the eve of next year’s Dream Cruise.
“This was a difficult decision, but based on the ever-changing business environment and health concerns in Michigan and across the country, we have decided to postpone the inaugural Woodward Dream Show to 2021,” says Tim Hertge, CEO of PME. “Our mission at PME is to create and execute premium, in-person automotive events for enthusiasts and car owners, and that was going to be difficult to do this year, so we have decided to focus on creating an even better event for 2021.”
The Woodward Dream Show had recently been reduced to an invite-only and live-streamed event for this year.
“We certainly appreciate the capabilities that online car shows have to offer, but no matter how we scheduled it, the final product wasn’t going to be all we hoped to bring to the car enthusiast public, Hartge says. “The level of premium cars that people were bringing is something that the public should get a chance to experience first-hand. Postponing our debut will allow us to better plan for next year’s show and allow the public to experience our ‘best of the best’ philosophy of an automotive event.”
The postponement follows the cancellation of public events around the Woodward Dream Cruise on Woodward Avenue, a mainstay that draws car enthusiasts from all over the country and around the world. PME’s marquee event, the American Festival of Speed, is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2021.
Automakers to Battle for Michigan Heritage Trophy this Weekend at MIS
The competition has always been fierce in the NASCAR Cup Series – between drivers, teams, and even the three manufacturers – Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota. When that stage shifts to the backyard of two out of the three, the stakes become even greater.
Such is the case again this year, when, for just the second time in NASCAR history, NASCAR Cup Series races will be contested at the same track on consecutive days, with Michigan International Speedway in the Irish Hills of Brooklyn serving as the site.
The NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 will be run on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 4:00 p.m. (NBCSN), while the Consumers Energy 400 will take place the following day at 4:30 p.m. (NBCSN). The top-finishing OEM from the weekend Cup Series events will be presented with the Michigan Heritage Trophy, which has been awarded by MIS since 2013. The distance for each race will be 312 miles.
In an effort to bring even greater awareness to the significance of the Heritage Trophy, this year the NASCAR Cup teams will be saluting their respective manufacturers during the course of both races, with each car featuring the decal of their manufacturer in the “contingency space,” which is located on left front-quarter panel of the car. In addition, the hashtag #HeritageTrophy will be included on each car as well.
“The Michigan Heritage Trophy is one of the more unique and coveted prizes in NASCAR,” says Rick Brenner, president of MIS. “The competitive spirit at any race, especially at MIS, isn’t just confined to the drivers, and this trophy allows the winning manufacturer to boast about their accomplishment.”
Domino’s Looking for a Pizza-loving Steven Spielberg
Ann Arbor’s Domino’s is looking for the next Steven Spielberg, as long as the next great movie director is a pizza lover.
Domino’s is asking its customers to submit home movies that showcases their love of Domino’s for the chance to win free pizza for a year.
“Millions of Americans are spending more time than ever at home and looking for activities to entertain their families,” says Kate Trumbull, vice president of advertising for Domino’s. “What better way to have a fun day than to make a home movie and possibly win free pizza for a year because of it? Domino’s might even use some of the submissions in a future TV commercial.”
The pizza company is accepting video submissions until Aug. 21 at DominosFilmFest.com. Between Sept. 7-11, customers can visit the site to vote for their favorite home movie. Domino’s will announce the grand prize winner, who will receive free pizza for a year in the form of $1,560 in Domino’s eGift cards, on Sept. 18. The second-place winner will receive a $500 Domino’s eGift card, while third place will receive a $200 eGift card.
The film festival was inspired by the brand’s latest lo-fi TV spot, which was filmed with an iPhone.
For a complete list of requirements and to read about some inspirational filming ideas, visit here. Rules for the contest can be seen here.
Karmanos Cancer Institute to Benefit from In-person Country Music Concert
The Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit will be the beneficiary of Michigan’s first vertical “socially distant” concert, Nashville Music Meets Kentucky Bourbon, on Aug. 13 at 7 pm., at the Royal park Hotel in downtown Rochester.
The concert will feature a Nashville in the Round with musicians Mathew Austin Bell, Jobe Fortner, Jesse Wayne Taylor, and Matt Daniel, and coincides with the launch of the hotel’s
limited-edition Maker’s Mark Private Select Barrel Rochester Reserve Bourbon.
“We are thrilled to bring this vertical concert to the community,” says Sue Keels, general manager of the Royal Park Hotel. “It is truly like nothing this area has ever seen with guests enjoying a Creekside concert safely from their private balconies or reserved tables on the PARK 600 terrace.”
Visit here or call 248-652-2600 for tickets.
Detroit to Get State Outdoor Recreation Development Grants
The city of Detroit will receive a yet-to-be-announced share of the $28.7 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust grants Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approved last week for the May Creek Greenway Path and pathway improvements on Belle Isle.
Overall, Public Act 145 of 2020 approves funding for 78 recreation development projects and land purchases recommended by the trust fund board to bolster outdoor recreation in the state.
“Over the past months as Michigan continues to combat COVID-19, we’ve seen just how important having access to public land, developed parks, trails, and outdoor recreation is for all Michiganders,” says Whitmer. “In communities throughout the state, the Natural Resources Trust Fund grant program provides essential opportunities for people to continue to get outside and recreate safely.”
The Trust Fund board recommends funding to both state and local agencies for development projects and land acquisitions that will increase the quality and quantity of public outdoor recreation opportunities.
This year the board recommended nearly $17.2 million in acquisition grants and $11.5 million in recreation development grants. Of the $17.2 million recommended to fund acquisition projects, $8.1 million would be awarded to local units of government, while the remaining $9.1 million would be awarded to the Department of Natural Resources.
The $28.7 million in trust fund grants is matched with nearly $20.7 million of additional funding for a total of nearly $49.4 million being invested in land acquisition and development projects across the state.