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.
Townsend Hotel Installs New Air Purification System to Guard Against COVID-19
The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham has installed a new state-of-the art UV air purification system in its Rugby Grille Restaurant and the Gallery in its effort to further protect its guests from COVID-19.
The hotel also is in the process of installing the system in the Tea Lobby, the Main Lobby, and the Regency Ballroom.
This new system will send ionized oxidizers into high-traffic areas to destroy airborne viruses and bacteria and bacteria on surfaces, before they can reach guests and staff.
This system was manufactured and installed by American Ultraviolet, which is based in Lebanon, Ind.
“We have implemented many new safety processes to counter COVID-19 into our hotel services over these last few months and this is one additional process we have added to make our visiting guests feel safe,” says Steven Kalczynski, managing director of the Townsend. “We reviewed many systems, but we felt this system was by far the most efficient in reducing and eliminating most airborne and on surface contaminates.”
StartupNation to Host Cybersecurity Webinar Oct. 20
StartupNation in Birmingham, along with Dell Technologies and McAfee, is hosting a webinar and question-and-answer session on cybersecurity best practices on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m.
The webinar will be hosted by Megan Wright, who works with the Dell Small Business Strategic Partnerships team supporting the partnership between Dell and StartupNation. It will feature a presentation by Matthew Papendorf, Dell Security’s OEM brand manager for North America.
In this webinar, participants can expect to get an understanding of where to start on developing a security package for a startup or small business. Among the topics to be covered are:
- Current Trends and the Security Threat Landscape
- How COVID-19 Has Changed Online Security
- Why Security Should Matter to Startups
- Where to Start for Your Business’s Security Measures
Registration is free here. Participants will be entered to win a Dell XPS Work from Anywhere Bundle, valued at more than $3,000.
Downtown Detroit Partnership Recognized for Urban Place Management Excellence
The Downtown Detroit Partnership has received the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence from the International Downtown Association (IDA), an organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts.
The award was given to the DDP for its Detroit Aglow initiative that has created an outdoor holiday and winter destination in downtown Detroit with lighting, placemaking, programming, and public space activations across seven parks and public spaces.
Detroit Aglow was among 29 entries in the Public Space Management and Operations category, which IDA identifies as one of the seven professional urban place management practice areas. This category features unique organizational approaches and projects in the areas of clean, safe and hospitality place-making and activation, and facilities management.
“We are honored to be recognized by the International Downtown Association for our unique programs that we have introduced to create a must-visit, vibrant and dynamic downtown for all Detroiters,” says Robert F. Gregory, chief planning and public space officer for the Downtown Detroit Partnership. “Detroit Aglow, which has kicked off our winter holiday season for the past 16 years, is just one of the many fun, free holiday traditions that Detroiters have looked forward to every year and have grown to love.”
Detroit Aglow centers on the annual Detroit tree lighting ceremony, which kicks off the holiday season, and the opening of ice skating at The Rink at Campus Martius. Last year, more than 19,000 twinkling, multi-colored LED lights and sparkling ornaments adorned a
60-foot Michigan-grown Norway spruce.
Recently the DDP expanded the footprint of the ceremony with Light Up Beacon Park. Both events provide family friendly entertainment that unites the community in celebration and illuminates the holiday spirit.
More than 500,000 seasonal, decorative holiday lights were placed across downtown in partnership with the DDP’s Business Improvement Zone in public spaces, on light poles and trees, and lined pedestrian walkways and along cyclists and vehicle lanes to make dark winter traveling brighter and safer.
Swift Biosciences Introduces DNA Library Kit for a Rapid, Cost-Effective Workflow
Swift Biosciences Inc., an Ann Arbor-based supplier of DNA and RNA library preparation kits, introduces the new Swift 2S Sonic DNA Library Kit to the next-generation sequencing (NGS) industry.
After the debut of Swift 2S Turbo’s low-cost enzymatic fragmentation-based library preparation kit, Swift scientists say they filled the need of researchers looking for high-quality NGS library preparation compatible with mechanically fragmented dsDNA. The new Swift 2S Sonic Kit offers accelerated access to new discoveries, unlocking high throughput quality data and versatile adapter solutions at a lower price, according to the company.
Swift 2S Sonic streamlines NGS sample preparation leveraging end repair, adenylation, and adapter ligation chemistries while enabling cost-effective automated solutions. This new technology minimizes sample handling reducing library preparation time to two hours. The kit supports a wide range of applications enabling researchers to expand their knowledge of precision medicine and make new discoveries in human health, microbial, and environmental applications.
“As sequencing throughput expands, the demand for streamlined and affordable workflows increases,” says Dr. Bita Lahann, lead scientist on 2S Sonic development. “2S Sonic is a new generation of 2S reagents that offer a very well-priced and easily automatable library preparation for fragmented dsDNA without compromising data quality. Swift is looking forward to collaborating with scientists on the NGS emerging applications.”
New Student uMap Technology Eases Frustrations in the ‘COVID Classroom’
Grand Rapids-based technology and training company Become Unmistakable has built the Student uMap, software that helps educators and students connect to each other in the new “COVID classroom.”
“When learning in a virtual or socially distanced classroom, human connection becomes diluted,” says Danielle Bouwhuis, manager of uMap and a former 7th grade science teacher. “And although students can learn mathematics and language arts through online games or video conferencing, they are deprived of personal interactions with teachers and peers that help form healthy, long-lasting habits, and behaviors.”
When developing the Student uMap, Become Unmistakable interviewed clients and educators from a variety of grade levels and school districts to identify the most common thoughts and concerns on teaching during the pandemic.
Reporting features identify kids who may be struggling and privately collects information about personal worries; helping teachers connect emotionally with their students from a distance.
The goal of the Student uMap™ is to ease these common pains and frustrations of COVID in the classroom.
“We’ve seen that technology like Zoom or Microsoft Teams are great tools for making connection possible, yet not necessarily meaningful,” Bouwhuis says. “But to succeed, schools need to make sure they are utilizing technology that focuses on the relational/humanistic approach to learning, versus just the transactional. And that’s exactly why we developed this software — to establish meaningful connections and make sure students and teachers feel engaged and heard.”
For more information, visit here.
Entrepreneur, Small Biz Conference to Focus on Tech Training
The National Entrepreneurs Association in Southfield will host the 2020 Entrepreneur and Small Business Conference virtually on Friday, Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Zoom.
With the theme “The Future of Entrepreneurship,” the event is designed to train entrepreneurs to use technology to maintain and grow their businesses despite challenges from COVID-19.
The event will feature facilitated networking, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and a panel discussion. Topics include financial literacy, more effective online meetings, and tech tools to digitally transform a business.
“This will be the most important conference we’ve ever done given the state of the economy,” says ZaLonya Allen, president of the National Entrepreneurs Association. “The content will focus on how entrepreneurs can use technology to take their businesses online and continue to thrive.”
Early Registration is $47 until Oct. 19 and $97 afterward. To register, visit here.
MSU Researcher Chosen for National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award
The National Institutes of Health has presented Michigan State University researcher Jens Schmidt with its $1.5 million New Innovator Award to study how human cells repair damage to their genome and ward off cancer.
Schmidt, assistant professor in the College of Human Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at the East Lansing university, is studying how cancer can occur when DNA damage response fails, often due to mutations in tumor suppressor genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Schmidt says he hopes the project will lead to new and better treatments.
Over a period of five years, the grant will allow Schmidt and others in his lab to study the DNA damage response in human cells. The DNA in human cells frequently is damaged by smoking, sunlight, and other environmental exposures.
In his lab, Schmidt induces DNA damage to human cells with a laser beam. Using a gene editing tool called CRISPR, he attaches fluorescent tags to proteins in the cells, so he can watch with a high-resolution microscope as the proteins try to repair the damaged DNA.
“We can actually study the processes in the cells at the single-molecule level and watch individual molecules carry out the repair,” Schmidt says. “The idea is if we can understand this process in great detail, we can identify drug targets.”
Those drugs could be used to eliminate cancer cells by blocking their ability to repair damaged DNA, he says.
U-M Survey: More Than Half of Michigan’s Local Governments Have Developed Energy Plans
More than half of local government officials in Michigan see improving energy efficiency for local businesses or residents as relevant to their jurisdiction’s government, according to a survey by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
While 70 percent report having at least considered plans or policies regarding energy issues, fewer (59 percent) report having actually developed local policies, and 55 percent say they have implemented such policies, according to the survey released by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy.
The Michigan Local Energy Survey was sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy in a fall 2019 wave of CLOSUP’s ongoing Michigan Public Policy Survey to better understand local officials’ perceptions of the costs, benefits and likelihood of developing energy policies and engaging in sustainability activities.
“Energy efficiency and energy policy should be a regular topic of discussion among local officials,” says Brandy Brown, climate and energy adviser at EGLE’s Office of Climate and Energy. “Leading by example not only saves taxpayer money but can influence residents’ behavior. Planning for EVs, installing solar panels, benchmarking are all forward-thinking discussions that all local officials should be having with their constituents.”
To see the full results of the survey, visit here.
Make A Blanket Week Aims to Create 1,000 Blankets for Hospitalized Children
Fleece & Thank You, a Farmington Hills provider of comfort care to hospitalized children, is hosting a Make A Blanket Week: Greater Rochester Area presented by Chief Financial Credit Union Oct. 17-24 with a goal of creating 1,000 fleece-tie blankets with video messages of support to comfort children facing extended stays in hospitals across Michigan.
“One of our core values at Chief Financial is community involvement,” says Tom Dluzen, president and CEO of Chief Financial Credit Union. “We are fortunate to have so many community-minded members and area residents who are excited to take time out of their busy schedules to participate in our Make A Blanket Week. This is just one more way that Chief is inspiring creative philanthropy.”
To participate in Make A Blanket Week: Greater Rochester Area, registration is required here. The event is open to the public and registration is free. Once registered, participants can pick up a blanket kit between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 17, at Chief Financial Credit Union located at 200 Diversion St. in Rochester Hills. Participants also will have an opportunity to fundraise for the cause.
All week long, participants will make blankets from the safety of their own home. During this time, they are encouraged to come together virtually on the Make A Blanket Week Facebook event page where they get updates, watch sponsor interviews, and enter giveaways and contests. After completing the blankets and uploading a personalized video through F&TY’s proprietary video platform, blanket makers can drop off blankets at Chief Financial on Saturday, Oct. 24.
Those unable to attend the event, but wish to help, can make a donation online here. Every $25 donated goes toward the making of one blanket. Blanket Making Kits also will be available online here for participants who cannot make it to Chief Financial to pick up a blanket.
“We are grateful to Chief Financial for helping us meet our goal of providing blankets to the 30,000 children who every year face extended hospital treatments,” says Nicholas Kristock, co-founder and CEO, Fleece & Thank You. “With the Make A Blanket Week event, we can give these kids and their families a reason to smile and have hope when they see something bright and colorful waiting for them on the bed.”
Local Country Clubs Participate in Eagles for Children Program
Local country clubs, including Western Country Club in Redford Township and Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Hills, are participating in Eagles for Children, a nonprofit program for private golf clubs to raise funding for local children’s charities in their area.
Members of participating clubs pledge a nominal amount for every eagle scored on their course during the season. Last year, the current 12 participating clubs raised $605,591, which was granted to 86 children’s organizations. Since its 2012 inception, $2.2 million dollars has been donated.
Since the legendary South Course at Oakland Hills is being reconstructed in 2020, the club has instituted Eagles Everywhere for this season, meaning a member eagle scored on another course counts toward the clubs Eagles for Children tally.
Other participating clubs include:
- Birmingham Country Club in Birmingham
- Bloomfield Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills
- Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills
- Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville
- Orchard Lake Country Club in Orchard Lake
- Pine Lake Country Club in West Bloomfield Township
- Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield
- Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak
- Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon
- The Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills
For more information, visit here.