COVID-19 Update: Value City Furniture Opens Two New Area Locations, Rocket Mortgage to Sponsor MAC Football Championship at Ford Field, 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.
chart of Michigan coronavirus cases
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.

Value City Furniture Opens Two New Detroit-area Locations, Plans to Hire 65 Employees
Value City Furniture is continuing to expand its Michigan footprint by taking over recently closed Loves Furniture locations in Ann Arbor (425 E. Eisenhower Parkway) and Westland (8300 N. Wayne Road).

To staff those operations, the company will be hosting open interviews for 65 new positions – including assistant manager, sales manager, warehouse, and home furnishing consultant – on Dec. 18 at the Value City store at 43620 W. Oaks Dr. in Novi from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and 4-6 p.m.

This year, Value City Furniture launched its new-concept Designer Looks VCF stores with six new locations across the state, three of which are in the Detroit area and nearby suburbs. All are former Art Van locations. Those openings led to more than 225 new jobs statewide. The brand says it plans to continue expanding and hiring within the state well into 2021 and is dedicated to helping former Art Van and Love’s employees find work at Value City Furniture.

Masks or facial coverings are required for all applicants in attendance. The hiring team on-site will also enforce 6 feet social distancing protocols in any lines that may form during the event, as well as during the interview process.

Applicants should plan to bring several copies of their resumes, as well as a mask or facial covering. Advance registration is not required and applicants can view additional information about open positions here.

Rocket Mortgage Signs on to Sponsor MAC Football Championship at Ford Field
Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, America’s largest mortgage lender, has signed a multi-year deal to be the title sponsor of the Mid-American Conference Football Championship Game at Ford Field. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The 2020 Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Championship Game, which pits the conference’s top teams from the East and West Divisions against each other, will take place Friday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m., and will air live on ESPN. The event marks the 17th consecutive year the game will be played in downtown Detroit at the Lions’ home field, making it the second longest-running championship game at the same venue in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

“At Rocket Mortgage, we have a legacy of playing a role in presenting some of the largest events in sports – from the first college basketball game hosted on an aircraft carrier through the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic to the largest game of Super Bowl Squares ever organized,” says Casey Hurbis, chief marketing officer of Rocket Mortgage. “When we learned about the opportunity to be part of the MAC Football Championship Game, while also helping to keep the game here in Detroit, we knew we had to be a big part of this event.”

In addition to being the title sponsor of the game, Rocket Mortgage’s philanthropic arm, the Rocket Community Fund, will be adding an event in hopes of making an impact on the lives of those who have served in the military. With the Rocket Mortgage Charity Kickoff, if a kickoff at the opening of the game or beginning of the second half is returned for a touchdown, it will donate $1 million to Community Solutions – an organization deeply committed to eliminating veteran homelessness across the country. This is an extension of Rocket’s long-standing commitment to ensure those who have served our country have stable and consistent housing.

“It is a privilege to partner with Rocket Mortgage,” says Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the MAC. “This partnership will assist the conference in continuing the longest-running collegiate event in the city of Detroit, the heart of our conference footprint. During our time in Detroit, we have tried to give back and contribute to the community. That culture of contributing to Detroit is embedded in the DNA of Rocket Mortgage. I look forward to our collective efforts in celebrating the member institutions of the Conference, college football and this great city.”

The final games of the MAC’s regular season, which will decide the teams competing in the Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Championship Game, will be played on Dec. 12.

Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant are members of the MAC.

Detroit Casinos Report $50.4M in November Revenue
The three Detroit casinos reported $50.4 million in monthly aggregate revenue in November while continuing to operate at 15 percent capacity due to COVID-19 health concerns.

All three Detroit casinos were ordered to close at midnight on Nov. 17 under an epidemic order issued Nov. 15 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and enforced by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Table games and slots generated $48.1 million in revenue, and retail sports betting produced $2.3 million in revenue.

The casinos’ November table games and slots revenue dropped by 61.3 percent compared with November 2019 and fell 48.7 percent compared with October 2020 numbers. Through Nov. 30, table games and slots revenue declined 54.9 percent compared with January through November 2019 results.

Compared with November 2019, monthly gaming revenue for MGM declined 62.1 percent to $20.5 million. MotorCity’s monthly revenue dropped 57.1 percent to $17.5 million, and Greektown’s monthly revenue fell 65.7 percent to $10.1 million compared with the same month last year.

During November, the Detroit casinos paid $3.9 million in gaming taxes to the state of Michigan compared to $10.1 million for the same period last year.

The three Detroit casinos reported submitting $5.7 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city of Detroit during November.

During November, MGM reported $561,372, MotorCity, $1,130,956; and Greektown, $645,310 in income from retail sports betting. The casinos paid a combined $88,363 in state taxes and reported submitting $107,999 in retail sports betting taxes to the city of Detroit.

For October, fantasy contest operators reported total adjusted revenues of $2.2 million and paid taxes of $183,236.

The fantasy contest operators reported $12.4 million in aggregate adjusted revenues and paid $1 million in taxes year-to-date through October.

Ambassador Fischer Breaks Ground for New U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca
U.S. Ambassador to Morocco David T. Fischer, former chairman and CEO of The Suburban Collection of automobile dealerships, presided over the groundbreaking for a new, $300 million U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca on Dec. 3.

“The United States is betting on the future of Casablanca as a regional center for business, trade, culture, and travel as King Mohammed VI’s vision of Morocco as the Gateway to Africa comes to fruition,” said Fischer at the ceremony. “From consular services to commercial and trade relations to cultural outreach and beyond, we are building the world-class consulate general that Casablanca deserves.”

The project is expected to employ 300 Moroccans and inject up to $100 million into the Moroccan economy, including expenses for salaries paid to Moroccan contractors, consultants, and labor, as well as locally purchased goods and services procured in Morocco to support the construction process. It is set to be completed in 2024.

The new U.S. Consulate General will be located in the Casa Anfa Development, a rapidly developing district in the center of Casablanca on the former site of the Anfa airport. The design of the new consulate campus blends contemporary American style with Morocco’s many historic influences, creating a symbol of the many connections between Morocco and the United States. The new consulate will have easy access to Casablanca’s public tram network and aims for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design version 4.1 Silver Certification.

Sustainable features in the project include a solar photovoltaic system to improve energy efficiency, native and water-resistant plants throughout the gardens, and efficient water fixtures and a water runoff recovery system to conserve natural resources.

First Computer Science Education Leadership Summit Slated for Dec. 11
The MiSTEM Network is partnering with the Michigan Department of Education to host the inaugural Computer Science Education Leadership Summit, a virtual gathering of stakeholders and leaders in the field to discuss how to support Michigan schools as they continue to implement computer science education to better prepare students for the growing array of in-demand careers in the field.

The virtual summit will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Dec. 11.

The event will bring together organization and business leaders, higher education institutions, curriculum leaders, legislators, administrators, and computer science teachers for discussion and collaboration on how to improve Michigan’s computer science education landscape and make it more accessible for all students across the state.

“Computer science is a key element in strengthening existing education models and preparing students for future career paths,” says Megan Schrauben, executive director of the MiSTEM Network. “This is an opportunity to bring education and business stakeholders together to continue the important work of building computer science opportunities that position Michigan students for career success in our rapidly changing workforce.”

The summit will include a discussion of Michigan’s Computer Science Education Landscape Report and next steps for Michigan’s implementation.

“Developing students’ knowledge and skills for careers in computer science remains critical to building an innovative workforce of the future,” says Michael Rice, state superintendent. “Strengthening partnerships and creating awareness are essential steps on the path to making Michigan a national leader in computer science education in support of our children.”

To register for the summit, visit here.

Pistons Owner Helps Toys for Tots Deliver 10,000+ Gifts to Michigan Families
More than 10,000 toys, bicycles, and Kindle tablets will be distributed to families in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, and surrounding neighborhoods served by Marines and volunteers of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program this holiday season thanks to a generous contribution from Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores.

Distribution events will take place in a contactless, drive-thru format to ensure all necessary precautions are taken for the health and safety of Marines, volunteers, and recipients.

Children aged 3 and under will receive a boxed tricycle, while ages 4-7 will receive a bike voucher from Meijer. Children aged 7 and up will receive a Kindle tablet.

McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Michigan are partnering with the Detroit Pistons to provide meals to families through Toys for Tots initiatives in Detroit and Flint.

“Giving families hope and a reason to smile during the holidays takes on even greater importance this year as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic and its impact,” says Gores. “The goal of spreading happiness and joy in my home state is why we launched this effort 14 years ago. We are honored to work with Toys for Tots for over a decade. It’s an amazing organization and we are proud to support the important work they do.”

The Gores family’s partnership with Toys for Tots began in 2009 and has delivered more than 110,000 toys to more than 40,000 children. (Prior to aligning with Toys for Tots, Gores supported similar gift-giving programs through other organizations.)  After supporting the programs as a Secret Santa for seven years, Gores agreed in 2013 to be identified in order to encourage others to join in with contributions of their own.

“Mr. Gores support of local communities certainly aligns with what the Marine Corps has promoted for over 73 years through our Toys for Tots Program.” says Lt. Gen. Jim Laster, USMC (Ret), president and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “The thrill of tearing open presents on Christmas morning is something every child deserves. And since 1947, the Marine Toys for Tots Program has collected and distributed toys delivering hope to underprivileged kids during the holidays.  This has been an especially difficult year to raise support and collect toys.  This generous support from the Gores family will enable Toys for Tots to fulfill the Christmas holiday dreams of thousands of less fortunate children in southeast MI who otherwise might have been forgotten.”

New Book Focuses on Using Entrepreneurship as a Platform for Social Impact
Local entrepreneur and business leader Jonathan Quarles has written a book about how he uses entrepreneurship as a platform for social impact.

In “Making Dollars While Making Change: The Playbook for Game Changers,” which goes on sale Jan. 7, 2021, Quarles journeys through his formative personal and professional experiences, highlighting how they have shaped him as an entrepreneur. Both reflective and prescriptive in nature, the stories reveal how Quarles has used entrepreneurship as a platform for social impact and are intended as a call to action for all those who have been too afraid to pull the trigger on their game-changing ideas.

Quarles offers a much-needed outlook in the saturated market of business how-tos, gives readers insight into everything from his personal ups and downs to his entrepreneurial endeavors, all against the backdrop of innovation as a force for good, according to publisher BMcTalksPress.

The author heads The BTL Group, a strategic business development and relationship management platform. Quartz Water Source, inspired by the Flint Water Crisis, is his latest entrepreneurial venture.

Former Detroit Lion Herman Moore Teaming with Salvation Army
Detroit Lions legend Herman Moore, The Salvation Army’s 2020 Red Kettle corporate chairperson, is challenging the community this holiday season to support the nonprofit Rescue Christmas.

Herman Moore’s $84,000 Challenge runs Dec. 11-14 and will match all red kettle donations, including physical kettles, text-to-give, and Moore’s Virtual Red Kettle dollar-for-dollar up to $84,000, thanks to an anonymous donor.

In addition, the first person who donates $8,400 to The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit’s Red Kettle Campaign will receive an autographed Detroit Lions Herman Moore throwback jersey.

Starfish Family Services Receives $44K Grant from Marathon Petroleum Foundation
Wayne County-based nonprofit Starfish Family Services has been awarded a $44,000 grant from the Marathon Petroleum Foundation Inc., a philanthropic affiliate of Marathon Petroleum Corp., which owns the Detroit refinery through a subsidiary.

The funds will provide STEM learning materials in classrooms, outdoor play spaces built on STEM concepts, and additional training for the teaching team at Starfish’s Early Education Center at 2237 S. Fort St. in Detroit.

“STEM education for very young children helps them develop across all areas of learning, including language, motor skills, and critical thinking,” says Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish. “We are so grateful to receive these resources for our Fort Street location. Strengthening curriculum during the current crisis with the pandemic bolsters local families and creates a hopeful tomorrow for children.”

Starfish operates 11 centers, comprising 40 classrooms that provide early childhood education programming for 640 children in Detroit and western Wayne County. The Fort Street location has three classrooms with 40 students under the age of 5. Programming at this location includes Head Start Early Preschool and Preschool classrooms.

“We have been a part of the southwest Detroit community for more than 60 years, and we’re grateful that an organization like Starfish Family Services is making a difference to families in our neighborhood,” says Dave Leaver, general manager of Marathon Petroleum’s Detroit refinery. “We’re excited to make this investment in educational excellence for the next generation.”

In addition to the foundation’s financial support, volunteers from the Marathon Petroleum refinery will work with the Starfish facilities team to create materials for the classrooms and outdoor play spaces that reflect STEM teaching and learning. Marathon Petroleum volunteers also will participate in ongoing support opportunities at the Fort Street center.

Four Local Organizations Partner with Blue Cross on Blueprint for Affordability
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continues to expand its Blueprint for Affordability program with health care providers across the state, including Accountable Healthcare Advantage, Beaumont ACO, Medical Network One, and Oakland Physician Network Services, all in southeast Michigan.

Blueprint for Affordability is a value-based payment model launched in January that holds the line on health care costs as it facilitates improved care quality, coordination and outcomes for patients.

“Patients want and deserve high-quality care,” says Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of BCBSM. “Their employers want costs that are more predictable and manageable. These organizations are willing to put a portion of their reimbursement on the line, as they work toward more predictable costs and improved health care quality and efficiency for their patients.”

DMC and Detroit Community Health Connection to Offer Free Flu Shots
The Detroit Medical Center and the Detroit Community Health Connection are offering free flue vaccines and COVID-19 health education in the parking lot of the DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan Specialty Center at 3950 Beaubien St. in Detroit on Dec. 12 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Caused by entirely different viruses, COVID-19 and influenza both are classified as contagious respiratory illnesses, and each can be potentially life-threatening. The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.

The organizations say it’s important for Detroit families to understand the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 and what about each is unique to best assess what testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis and when to seek medical care.