Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Survey: 84% of Small Business Owners Expect to Exhaust PPP by the End of June
Most small business owners in Michigan (84 percent) expect to exhaust their second round of Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) funding by the end of June, according to a new national survey by Goldman Sachs.
Additionally, only 25 percent of the state’s small business owners say they’ll be able to maintain their current payroll without additional relief.
Seventy-seven percent of small business owners nationally expect to spend their PPP funds by the end of June.
The data comes from “Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices” and shows that while America’s Main Street businesses are reopening and their owners have access to vaccines, small businesses remain concerned about maintaining payroll through the summer without additional relief, highlighting the fragility of the recovery and the urgent need for continued access to capital.
“Across America, it’s back to business on Main Streets as operating restrictions are eased and customers are becoming increasingly comfortable visiting their favorite local businesses,” says Jessica Johnston-Cope, chair of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices National Leadership Council and owner of Johnson Security Bureau in New York. “Even as optimism increases, the stark reality is that COVID-19 has forever changed the landscape for small businesses — in ways big and small.
“After a year with significant challenges, a full recovery for small businesses is not yet in sight and the reality is the majority of small business owners surveyed expect to need additional aid to maintain payroll through the summer.”
A year ago, when Goldman Sachs began surveying American small business owners, only 39 percent of respondents were open for business. Today, 84 percent of respondents report they are fully open for business, and 15 percent are partially open. Compared to a year ago, small business owners overall are 21 percent more confident of their business’ survival – 89 percent in April 2021, compared to 68 percent in April 2020. Eighty-eight percent of Michigan small business owners are confident they will be able to survive.
Additionally, 80 percent of respondents nationally report having been given the opportunity to be vaccinated and 67 percent have received a COVID-19 vaccination. In Michigan, 74 percent of small business owners surveyed have been personally given the opportunity to receive a vaccination, and 63 percent have received a vaccination.
While small business owners begin their recovery in earnest, warning signs remain about their ability to return to business as usual. Ninety-one percent of small business owners who qualified and applied for the PPP’s second round have received their funding.
Seventy-one percent of respondents say that COVID-19 will impact their business operations long-term. For example, 55 percent expect their business model to permanently change, and 53 percent believe their employees will continue to work from home more than before the pandemic.
“Policymakers’ action to pass a second round of PPP was a significant in keeping American workers on payroll, but the message small business owners are sending our nation’s leaders is that while they are on the path to recovery, the road is long and more assistance may be needed as their businesses have fundamentally changed,” says Joe Wall, national director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices.
The data was collected from a survey of 2,140 Goldman Sachs participants between April 5-9. The survey included small business owners from 49 U.S. states and four U.S. territories, 55 percent of whom were women.
Michigan iGaming Explodes During March
Internet gaming operators in Michigan reported $95.1 million in internet gaming gross receipts during March, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
Internet sports betting operators received $32.3 million in total gross sports betting receipts and reported a total handle of $359.5 million for the month.
“It looks like March Madness added a bounce to the sports betting handle (total bets), which jumped 19.1 percent from February, and internet gaming seemed to increase in popularity with monthly adjusted gross receipts going up 18 percent from February,” says Richard S. Kalm of the MGCB. “This led to increases in taxes and payments, which means more funding for the city of Detroit, K-12 education, economic development and tribal communities.”
Taxes and payments are based on adjusted gross receipts, which were $88.7 million for internet gaming and $19 million for internet sports betting during March. Adjusted gross receipts include deductions for the monetary value of free play incentives provided to and wagered by bettors. The operators delivered approximately $17.8 million in taxes and payments to the state of Michigan for March.
“Michigan appears to be past the customer acquisition phase, and the March revenue numbers give us a much better idea of the viability of mobile sports betting in the state,” says Geoff Fisk, head analyst at michigansharp.com. “As the industry matures, Michigan could give Pennsylvania a run for the No. 2 spot in the US mobile sports bet-ting market. Even as land-based casinos continue to increase capacity, online sports betting will likely continue to surge throughout 2021 in Michigan.”
The three Detroit casinos reported city wagering taxes and municipal services fees of $5.2 million for March from internet gaming.
Detroit’s Sports Data Labs Receives Patent for Data-collecting Drone
Detroit-based Sports Data Labs Inc. has been issued U.S. Patent No. 10,980,218 covering a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based system for collecting, analyzing, and distributing biological sensor data from humans and other animals.
Operable as a remote data collection, analytics, and transmission hub within communication networks, the patent enables automation of UAV-to-sensor communication while streamlining the selection and use of UAVs within a network, which can include non-UAV based communication infrastructure.
The patent also covers real-time communication with, and control of, any number of sensors on any number of persons/animals, and has wide-ranging applications in sports, fitness, military, healthcare, insurance, and UAV-based first responders.
“We have been developing novel technology solutions for issues foundational to the collection, analysis, and distribution of sensor data from on-body sensors and other sensing systems,” says Mark Gorski, co-inventor and CEO of SD Labs. “We have prioritized establishing a long-term, highly scalable value proposition in the remote health monitoring ecosystem and are thrilled to have been issued this patent, which we believe will fuel the expansion of sensor-based data collection and distribution opportunities in a variety of high-growth verticals.”
Vivek Khare, co-inventor and SD Labs’ head of technology, says, “This is a major milestone for SD Labs that confirms that our proprietary methodologies and systems are unique and differentiated from other product offerings in the sensor ecosystem.
“While applications of our technology are broad, we see tremendous value for multi-sensor, multi-person use cases — including large groups of people or animals — where real-time, two-way communication with any number of sensors is required. As the UAV and sensor spaces continue to grow, we believe our IP will be foundational to help unlock the value of sensor data.”
Goldfish Swim School Announces Two Multi-unit Agreements in California
Troy-based Goldfish Swim School has signed two new multi-unit agreements that will bring as many as six schools in California over the next three to five years.
These new agreements contribute to the brand’s overall nationwide growth, having closed out 2020 with 19 signed agreements, 14 new school openings, three openings in the first quarter of 2021, and six more slated to open in the second quarter.
Multi-unit signings have played a strategic role in the brand’s recent expansion, coming on the heels of a 19-unit agreement set to bring schools to Florida, Texas, and Arizona, in addition to three other multi-unit development announcements in New York, Texas, and Arizona.
“Our franchise partners take great pride in knowing their business is truly impacting their community,” says Dan Israel, vice president of franchising for Goldfish Swim School. “With Goldfish, they’re investing in an organization with a strong culture, solid systems, and a strong business model with a talented support team — all reminders that they’re operating their business with the backing of the No. 1 brand in the space.”
For more information on Goldfish Swim School and its franchise opportunity, visit here.
Troy’s motormindz Expands Presence to 30+ Countries
Troy auto industry venture consultancy motormindz Inc. today announced a global expansion to more than 30 countries across North and South America, the U.K., Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions.
“This move is a key component of our global strategic plan and marks the transition from the formation of geo focused strategic partnerships, to a formalized infrastructure aimed at providing a single-source, end-to-end global solution for our clients,” says Jeff Van Dongen, CEO of motormindz.
The global expansion will provide local resources to advise and assist motormindz’ clients worldwide, bringing a boots-on-the-ground perspective to the challenges and opportunities that exist in each geographic region.
“The expansion provides an opportunity for our clients to not only access a native approach to each region, but also tap into motormindz’ entire global network of automotive industry executives, technologists, and advisors,” says Alan Harris, global director at motormindz.
According to motormindz, the move is fueled by increasing consumer demand for safe, frictionless, buying and ownership experiences. OEM, venture, and private equity investments in both ACES and modern retailing technologies continue to grow at a rapid pace.
“The number of technology providers developing solutions for automotive has never been greater,” says Martin Wilson, a global director at motormindz. “In an increasingly crowded space, providers try to differentiate themselves by solving for smaller, more disparate problems. Our clients depend on us to leverage our operational experience to help source, validate and integrate the right technologies aimed at solving their most critical challenges.”
Report: Detroit’s Air Gets Failing Grade for Ozone
This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association in Madison Heights finds that Detroit’s rankings were mixed for the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone.
Ozone pollution has improved with fewer unhealthy days, but still received a failing grade. For particle pollution, the metro area posted more unhealthy days with daily spikes and slightly worsened for year-round particle pollution. Particle pollution comes from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires, and wood-burning devices.
“Particle pollution can lodge deep in the lungs and can even enter the bloodstream. It can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes and cause lung cancer,” says Ken Fletcher, director of advocacy for the Lung Association in Michigan. “We all have the right to breathe clean, healthy air. We must stand up for clean air, especially to safeguard our most vulnerable community members. Our leaders at all levels take action to ward off climate change and other threats to the quality of the air we all breathe.”
Compared to the 2020 report, Detroit again improved its ozone pollution and ranked tied for 38th most polluted city of ozone in the nation.
“State of the Air” 2021 found that year-round particle pollution levels in Detroit were slightly higher than in last year’s report. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution. The report found that Detroit posted more unhealthy days for daily spikes as in last year’s report.
The year’s report found that nationwide, more than 4 in 10 people (135 million) lived with polluted air, placing their health and lives at risk. In Detroit, particle pollution placed the health of 981,706 residents at risk, including those who are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, such as older adults, children and people with a lung disease.
The report also shows that people of color were 61 percent more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people, and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades. The report also finds that climate change made air quality worse and harder to clean up.
To review the full report, visit here.
DIA Adds First Surrealist Painting by a Woman Artist
The Detroit Institute of Arts’ board of directors has approved the purchase of a work by Danish artist Rita Kernn-Larsen (1904-1998), furthering the museum’s goal of increasing the number of works by women artists in the collection.
This will be the first work by the artist — and the first Surrealist painting by a woman — to enter the museum’s collection. It also will be one of the only paintings by Kernn-Larsen in an American museum collection.
“And Life Anew…” will bolster and diversify the DIA’s holdings of Scandinavian art as well as modern European Surrealist art, which includes such masterpieces as “Shadow Country” (1927) by Yves Tanguy and “Self-Portrait II” (1938) by Joan Miró. The museum also recently acquired a Surrealist sculpture by Austrian artist Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959).
“We are thrilled to bring Rita Kernn-Larsen’s painting into our collection,” says Jill Shaw, curator of European Art, 1850-1970, and interim head of the DIA’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. “It has a deep resonance with other Surrealist works in the DIA’s collection, and we are happy to expand our modern European holdings to include those artists who have been largely overlooked in the canon.”
The work will be on view later this year in the DIA’s gallery of Surrealist art.
Community Foundation Announces $19M+ in Grants
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan announced more than $19 million in funds to organizations and initiatives in areas including arts, civic life, education, health, and human services.
“The effects of the pandemic and racial and social justice crises continue to significantly impact our region,” says Mariam C. Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “Food insecurity, mental health, and education are just a few areas that are experiencing increased needs. Nonprofits in our region are finding innovative ways to serve the community and we are consistently inspired by their work.”
Grants announced during the first quarter of 2021 include:
- $100,000 to the Michigan Opera Theatre for the presentation of an opera that captures the anguish of a Black family navigating racial profiling.
- $60,000 to Signal Return to help local artists reimagine connection and public engagement at a time of global social isolation.
- $30,000 to the Detroit Historical Society for new photographic technology to expand images of artifacts that will be publicly accessible online.
- $85,000 to New Detroit Inc. for organizational capacity building to help address systemic racism in the region.
- $40,000 to Alliance for Housing Oakland County Continuum of Care to implement racial equity training for homelessness service providers.
- $75,000 to the Midnight Golf Program for a college readiness initiative that provides additional support during this disrupted learning environment.
- $50,000 to Urban Alliance Foundation for a youth internship program that connects Detroit youth to mobile careers in response to COVID-19.
- $50,000 to Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center to provide short-term mental health services, crisis intervention, and grief counseling for residents in southwest Detroit.
- $30,000 to Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan for food delivery for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $75,000 (over two years) to Avalon Healing Center to evaluate programs and services for survivors of sexual assault.
- $50,000 to Autism Speaks for a caregiver skills training program in partnership with Color of Autism and Brilliant Detroit.
Grants also were approved for the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Fund and for other special programs.
For more information, visit here.
Kettering University Selected to Participate in AutoDrive Challenge II
The Society of Automobile Engineers International and General Motors Co. have announced that Kettering University in Flint will compete in AutoDrive Challenge II, putting students at the forefront of technological innovation related to the development of autonomous vehicles.
Kettering’s team, Bulldog Bolt, currently is competing among eight universities in the first AutoDrive Challenge that started in 2017 and wraps up its fourth year in June at the University of Michigan’s autonomous vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor, MCity.
Teams are recognized in various categories, as well as overall. In the third year of the last AutoDrive Challenge, Bulldog Bolt won first place in the vehicle safety assessment category and second place in the MathWorks Simulation Challenge.
Kettering’s team also earned second place for its social responsibility report, third place for its concept design report, third place in the concept design event, second place for its technical reports, and second place in the lateral challenge in year one of the competition. In year two, the Bulldog Bolt team won first place for its concept design report and third place in the MCity Challenge.
“Being invited to join AutoDrive Challenge II is critically important to helping us further the development of our advanced mobility systems program,” says Craig Hoff, dean of Kettering’s College of Engineering. “And it is a great complement to the performance of our students and their faculty advisors in the original AutoDrive Challenge competition. Their hard work and success clearly has impressed the SAE/GM organizers.”
The competition, which is four years long, calls for teams to develop and demonstrate autonomous vehicles that can navigate urban driving courses as described by SAE J3016 Standard Level 4 Automation. Each year, the competition builds on the next by adding more tasks — and this next challenge actually increased from eight competitors to 10. GM provides each team with a Chevrolet Bolt EUV to use for the competition.
Throughout the competition, students also are given access to national workshops hosted by SAE International and connected with a network of scholars and peers from the nation’s elite schools as they attempt to solve similar challenges.
Michigan Technological University in Houghton also was selected to participate.
FLAG Metro Detroit Targets Fundraising During National Volunteer Week
The team at FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group) Metro Detroit is fundraising this week, National Volunteer Week, to purchase meals from local restaurants to workers at five local hospitals.
“These frontline heroes are being stretched to the limit again,” says Monica Toomey, one of six co-founders of FLAG Metro Detroit. “We can’t just watch this happen, so we decided to focus our fundraising efforts on them for at least a week.”
Th five hospitals that will benefit include:
- William Beaumont, Royal Oak
- William Beaumont, Troy
- Henry Ford, Detroit
- Henry Ford, Macomb
- Joseph Mercy, Ann Arbor
“We’ve set a modest goal of $10,000 for the week,” says Toomey. “That allows us to get meals
not only to all five hospitals but to other medical facilities that might need some help.”
Donors can participate online here, or by mail: FLAG Metro Detroit Fund, 500 Water St., Port Huron, MI 48060 (do not send cash).
State Approves Additional Food Assistance for 350,000 Michigan Families
Approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits during April as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Michigan previously approved the additional food assistance beginning in March 2020 – and now that is being extended for April 2021 with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.
Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card April 24-May 4.
Additional benefits, between $234 and $1,408 depending on family size, will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.
“Michigan will recover from the pandemic as more people received the safe and effective vaccine, says Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHHS. “In the meantime, MDHHS will continue to help families affected by the pandemic put food on the table.”