COVID-19 Update: Suburban Collection Dealerships Launch Online Express Store, Fathom Realty Enters Michigan Real Estate Brokerage Market, 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.
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map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of Dec. 17

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.

Suburban Collection Dealerships Launch Online Express Store
Suburban Collection, the Troy-based group of 54 vehicle dealerships selling 33 brands mainly in southeast Michigan, has launched Express Store, an effort to improve the car-buying experience by offering complete online transactions at all of its dealerships.

According to the megadealer, it had been working on transitioning all of its locations to digital shopping and financing, and home delivery prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but went into high-gear in March to further develop and finalize.

Consumers now can visit express.suburbancollection.com and go through the entire car-buying or leasing process online if they choose.

At the Suburban Collection’s Express Store, customers can explore 33 vehicle brands across 54 locations. A consumer can compare a Jeep Compass to a Ford Escape to a Volkswagen Atlas – with all pricing found online matching in-store pricing – receive an instant cash offer to trade, communicate digitally with an advisor, accomplish financing and payment remotely, and schedule delivery of the vehicle to their home.

The express program has minimal touch points, no paperwork, and accelerates the sales process.

Fathom Realty Enters Michigan Real Estate Brokerage Market
Fathom Holdings Inc., a national, cloud-based residential real estate brokerage has entered the Michigan market.

Fathom initially is focusing on 17 communities, comprising five of the most populous cities in the state, including Dearborn, Livonia, and Farmington Hills. The company now operates in 27 states and 113 local markets.

The company also announced it has hired Kay Ready as its southeast Michigan district director.

“Entering Michigan brings us another step closer to our goal of serving every state in the country,” says Joshua Harley, CEO of Fathom. “Expected growth in Michigan’s population over the next five years should contribute to continued increased housing demand in the state.”

For more information visit here.

Survey: One in Four Small Businesses in Danger of Closing Amid COVID-19
One-in-four small business owners reported that they will have to close their doors in the next six months if the current economic conditions don’t improve, according to the latest survey by the NFIB Research Center in Lansing.

Another 22 percent of owners anticipate they will be able to operate no longer than seven to 12 months under current economic conditions.

“As we head into the winter months in Michigan, the ability for small businesses to use outdoor venues as a way to limit the spread of the virus will diminish and contribute to a further deterioration in revenues,” says Charlie Owens, state director of NFIB. “As the legislature and the governor continue to grapple with state assistance for small business, it is clear that the magnitude of the Michigan situation will require more federal relief.”

Other findings from the survey, NFIB’s 14th since March, focused on the Paycheck Protection Program.

The majority of respondents who were PPP borrowers (91 percent) say they have spent their entire PPP loan. More than half (53 percent) of borrowers anticipate needed additional financial support over the next 12 months.

Other survey PPP findings include:

  • More borrowers have submitted their PPP loan forgiveness application over the last month – 44 percent of owners have submitted one, up from 26 percent last month.
  • Almost half of small business owners who have submitted a PPP loan forgiveness application have received final confirmation from the SBA and over three-fourths of them had 100 percent of their loan forgiven.
  • After using the PPP loan, 22 percent of borrowers have or anticipate having to lay off employees in the next six months, an increase from 19 percent a month ago.

More than half (56 percent) of small business owners say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine either as soon as it’s available to them (28 percent) or eventually (28 percent), according to the survey.

To review all of the survey’s results, visit here.

Meijer Joins Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag
Grand Rapids-based Meijer has joined the Beyond the Bag Initiative aimed at identifying, testing, and implementing sustainable solutions to move beyond the single-use plastic bag.

It’s among the retailer’s latest efforts to reduce waste and improve recycling, says Vik Srinivasan, senior vice president of properties and real estate for Meijer.

“Meijer operates under the philosophy that to be a good company, we must be a good neighbor,” says Srinivasan. “We are committed to lessening our impact on the environment and believe our participation in this initiative is an important step in keeping our communities clean for generations to come.”

Meijer is among numerous retailers partnering in the initiative that launched earlier this year by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. The three-year collaboration is working to find a replacement for the single-use plastic bag that’s functional, easy for customers to use, and better for the environment. The initiative also engages with stakeholders, including suppliers, materials recovery facilities, municipalities, advocacy groups, and others to support this collaborative approach designed to promote viable market solutions that can be scaled, and bring value to retailers and customers.

“The scale of the challenge is vast, with single-use plastic bags used widely across industries, sectors, and geographies,” says Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “Addressing a systemic waste challenge requires bringing stakeholders together to solve for a shared challenge. That’s why we’re thrilled to have Meijer join the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, alongside CVS Health, Target, Walmart, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kroger, Hy-Vee, and Walgreens. Together, we are thinking outside the box and collectively reinventing the retail bag, and we encourage other retailers to join us.”

Henry Ford College and Baker College Sign Articulation Agreement
Baker College in Owasso and Henry Ford College in Dearborn have signed articulation (credit transfer) agreement that provides HFC students with a simplified and path to bachelor’s degree studies at Baker College.

The agreement, which takes effect immediately, ensures a smooth curriculum transition, minimizing loss of credits and duplication of coursework. Additionally, Baker will waive any new student application fees for eligible students admitted in connection with the HFC articulation agreement. Baker College also offers scholarships for transfer students, including the Trustees Transfer Scholarship, with up to $9,000 per year available to eligible students.

“We’re enthusiastic about formalizing our partnership with Henry Ford College through this important articulation agreement, which is focused, first and foremost, on student success,” says Bart Daig, president of Baker College. “We look forward to welcoming more HFC students to our Baker campuses and are ready to help them achieve all of their academic goals and dreams.”

Under the arrangement, Baker College and HFC agree that any student who has successfully completed coursework and/or programs at HFC may transfer the course credits as indicated in transfer guides toward their degree at Baker. The associate degree to bachelor’s degree pathway, under which Baker College will accept a minimum of 60 transfer credits, will be available across a variety of degree programs, including: business administration, computer science, criminal justice, game software development, general studies, health care administration, human services, information systems, information technology and security, psychology, and more.

“Seamless transfer agreements such as this new opportunity at Baker College will allow our graduates to pursue their goals by earning a quality education and valuable experience in an accessible environment,” says Russell A. Kavalhuna, president of Henry Ford College. “We encourage HFC students to consider extending their education and career prospects through this opportunity.”

More information on the articulation agreement is available at baker.edu and hfcc.edu.

Report: Vitamin D Potentially Helpful in COVID-19 Fight
Vitamin D could be helpful in the fight against COVID-19, according to a recent study.

In a Dec. 11 article in Internal Medicine News titled “Vitamin D Deficiency in COVID-19 Quadrupled Death Rate,” Dr. Dieter De Smet and colleagues from AZ Delta General Hospital in Belgium studied 186 patients hospitalized early in the pandemic, in March 2020, with severe acute respiratory syndrome and confirmed COVID-19. Almost 60 percent of patients, 47 percent of women and 67 percent of men, were Vitamin D deficient on admission. The deficiency was worst in men with the most severe pneumonia. The correlation of Vitamin D deficiency with death, with an odds ratio of 3.87, was independent of age or comorbidities.

The report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, notes that studies involving hundreds to thousands of individuals in the U.S. and Israel showed an association between prior Vitamin D deficiency and the possibility of a positive PCR test. Studies involving tens to hundreds of patients in Iran, Germany, Israel, Spain, China, and the U.K. reported correlations between low Vitamin D levels and intensive care unit admission, ventilator dependency, and death.

Beside its role in calcium metabolism, Vitamin D stimulates defenses against pathogen invasion of the respiratory tract and inhibits the destructive “cytokine storm.” Deficiency has been associated with more frequent viral respiratory infections and asthma attacks.

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