DBusiness Daily Update: A Magical Cirque Christmas Coming to the Fox, Notre Dame Begins Pilot of ELMS Electric Urban Delivery Vehicle, and More

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.
A circus performer balances on a platform
A Magical Cirque Christmas returns to the Fox Theatre in Detroit on Dec. 12. // Courtesy of Magical Cirque Christmas

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.

A Magical Cirque Christmas Coming to the Fox Dec. 12

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on July 30 for A Magical Cirque Christmas coming to the Fox Theatre in Detroit at 3 p.m. on Dec. 12.

Show producer MagicSpace Entertainment says the show will “once again bring together the nation’s greatest entertainers for a spellbinding and incredible holiday production.”

Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased at 313Presents.com, Ticketmaster.com, or the Xfinity Box Office at Little Caesars Arena. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by calling 313-471-3099.

“A Magical Cirque Christmas has quickly become a special family holiday tradition and although we were heartbroken to not be able to spend the holidays with our amazing fans in 2020, we are thrilled to be returning to stages around the country with A Magical Cirque Christmas in 2021,” says Lee Marshall, a producer for MagicSpace Entertainment. “After the last year we’ve all gone through, our amazingly talented cast is very much looking forward to delighting audiences and bringing back the magic of the holidays.”

For more information, visit MagicalCirqueChristmas.com.

University of Notre Dame Begins Pilot of ELMS All-electric Urban Delivery Vehicle

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. has begun an on-campus pilot of the all-electric Urban Delivery vehicle from Electric Last Mile Solutions Inc. (ELMS) in Troy.

The testing program will assess how Notre Dame can advance both efficiency and sustainability within its operations by using purpose-built electric vehicles.

“Partnering with ELMS on this pilot program represents a terrific opportunity to explore how Notre Dame can accelerate its sustainability goals while driving operational efficiency and supporting local manufacturing,” says Carol Mullaney, senior director of sustainability and logistics at Notre Dame. “We look forward to working with ELMS and setting an example for how higher education can move the needle on sustainability through fleet electrification.”

James Taylor, co-founder and CEO of ELMS, says, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Notre Dame, one of the country’s leading research universities, to pilot our Urban Delivery in what we believe is a considerable yet underserved vertical in the commercial vehicle market. With our intended manufacturing operations just down the road, we are excited to work with local partners like Notre Dame to put St. Joseph County on the map as a national hub for American-made, sustainable EVs.”

As part of the pilot program, the ELMS Urban Delivery will be put through the university campus fleet’s various duty cycles. The program also will incorporate the use of advanced vehicle data analytics and telematics, a first for the university’s fleet. Notre Dame and ELMS will work together to gather in-field performance data throughout the pilot.

Production of the Urban Delivery is expected to begin later this year at ELMS’ intended manufacturing and assembly plant in Mishawaka, Ind. The Urban Delivery is expected to be the first electric Class 1 commercial vehicle available in the U.S. and is anticipated to have a range of 150 miles.

Seven Detroit Developments Share $150.2M in Federal Funding for Affordable Housing

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city and state officials joined developers Monday to recognize the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) awarding $150.2 million in competitive federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) awards to seven developments in Detroit.

The developments represent a total of 517 units of affordable housing for residents earning as little as $16,000 per year and up to $45,000 per year. Six of the projects will involve new construction, and two will see the renovation of historic structures.

The seven Detroit projects will receive funding from MSHDA through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). All but two of the developments are reserved as 100 percent affordable housing; a combined 84 percent of the units (517 of 619) in the seven developments will be affordable.

“We have made a commitment to longtime Detroiters that, as this city redevelops, they will not be pushed out of their homes and that we will ensure everyone has access to and can afford quality housing no matter their income,” says Duggan. “To have this level of support from MSHDA is proof that our housing strategy is working. I would like to thank MSHDA and HUD for this incredible level of support and in their confidence in our plan to create and preserve affordable housing in this city.”

The announcement was made at the former home of the Lewis College of Business, once Michigan’s only Historically Black College and University. Thanks to a LIHTC award, the former campus will be saved and turned into 105 units of low-income senior housing for those 55 years and older. The two buildings will have 32 units, and a new four-story senior building with 73 units will be built behind them. The project, co-developed by Wallick Communities of Ohio and Southfield-based Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, represents a $20 million investment in the Littlefield neighborhood in Council District 2.

The redevelopment will be 100 percent affordable, with units at 30 percent to 80 percent area median income. Rents will be determined by income and range from $335 to $765 a month. The units are income-restricted and for those making $16,800 to $48,000 a year.

Other affordable housing projects receiving funding include:

  • Henry Street Development, redeveloping 1920s-era historic buildings in the Cass-Henry Historic District ($30.4 million).
  • AFG Miller Grove Center, new construction in the Old Redford neighborhood at McNichols Avenue and Burt Road ($14.8 million).
  • Preserve on Ash, Corktown ($30 million).
  • Woodward Avenue Apartments, Arden Park neighborhood ($16.7 million).
  • Brush Park, at Brush and Winder streets ($13.4 million)
  • MLK on 2nd, new construction ($8.3 million)

LIHTC is a federal program administered in Michigan by MSHDA that helps fund the construction and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing for households between 30 percent and 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), as determined by HUD. Rents at LIHTC properties are limited based on the AMI, ensuring eligible households have quality units to call home at an affordable price.

Primitiv Co-founders Donate $25K to Detroit Homegrown Fund

Primitiv cannabis co-founders and retired NFL stars Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims announced a $25,000 donation to the Detroit Homegrown Fund, which supports community members who have been negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition and provides social equity education.

Johnson and Sims join leading cannabis marketplace Eaze and national edibles brands Kiva Confections and Mary’s Medicinals in the effort.

“After we retired from the NFL, both Calvin and I stayed in the Detroit area and made it our home, and anything we can do to give back in a meaningful way is important to us,” says Sims.

“The Detroit Homegrown Fund was put into place to support social equity for those who are looking for a voice in the cannabis sector, and we are passionate about supporting these important initiatives,” Johnson adds.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous contribution to the Detroit Homegrown Fund, which will provide start-up capital to Detroit entrepreneurs who have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition,” says Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. “This is an honorable demonstration of voluntary corporate responsibility and community reinvestment. We are hopeful that every cannabis company in our state will join Primitiv, Eaze, Kiva, and Mary’s Medicinals in supporting the Detroit Homegrown Program.”

Nexcess Introduces Membership Sites with WPQuickStart

Southfield-based Nexcess, the fully managed digital commerce platform built to optimize WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento sites and stores, announced the release of the first product in its new WPQuickStart set of WordPress solutions — Membership Sites with WPQuickStart.

Membership Sites with WPQuickStart is designed to eliminate the burden for creators that comes with having to choose from more than 50 membership plugins, the need to find compatible add-ons, and selecting a theme that works with everything only to find out that something doesn’t work after spending hundreds of dollars up front.

“We’ve designed the ideal solution for people in or entering the membership space,” says Chris Lema, a membership expert in the WordPress community. “We bring together the perfect set of plugins and themes, eliminating the stress and delay of picking products that don’t work together. Now business owners, creators, and developers can build membership sites in a fraction of the time, for a lot less than they would normally spend.”

This solution comes bundled with the leading WordPress theme from Kadence, the WordPress membership plugin Restrict Content Pro, and fully managed hosting from Nexcess.

Starting at $49, the membership packages come with a set-up wizard from Restrict Content Pro, an industry leader membership plugin provider. A $349 value is included in every membership site with WPQuickStart plan with powerful features such as built-in payment integrations, multi-level subscription packages, planned and automated emails, and easy-to-use reporting for insights into member subscriptions, payments, and business performance.

For more information, visit here.

Seventh Annual Grand Circus Gala Fundraiser Set for July 22

The Grand Circus Park Conservancy, in collaboration with the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) and the Detroit Theatre District Business Association, will be hosting the seventh annual Grand Circus Gala on Thursday, July 22 at 6 p.m. in Grand Circus Park West.

This year’s Gala will showcase a master planning process that the Conservancy and DDP are launching to bolster the continuing revitalization of downtown Detroit’s oldest and most historic park. Since the first event in 2015, the Grand Circus Gala has raised more than $1.1 million to support the historic park’s maintenance, improvement, and programming.

The Grand Circus Gala will take place in Grand Circus Park West, around the Edison Memorial Fountain and adjoining lawns. Detroit jazz artist Ben Sharkey will perform followed by DJ Tom T. The event also will feature food from Tin Roof and El Parian with full cocktail offerings.

Tickets prices for this event are a donation of $100 for general admission and $250 for VIP tickets. For more information on the event and sponsorship packages, please visit here.

This year’s event will celebrate the first full year of operation of the Grand Circus Park Conservancy, a 501(c)3 corporation that was formed in collaboration with the owners of the Grand Circus Park Garage and the city of Detroit, to secure funding for ongoing capital improvements to the Grand Circus.

One of the first major acts of the conservancy was to issue an RFP for design services to develop a comprehensive master plan for future improvements to the park. Detroit and Ann Arbor-based SmithGroup was selected for this work. This year’s fundraising effort will go toward supporting that planning effort. This plan includes a community engagement effort that will engage property owners, businesses, and residents in the neighborhood in order to draw in input about the park’s restoration efforts. The DDP will partner with the SmithGroup on the community engagement exercise. Funding also will support a later summer return of the park’s Thursday evening Bourbon Garden and music series.

“We at the Grand Circus Park Conservancy are honored to enhance stewardship of this irreplaceable public space and are excited to be able to spearhead the creation of a long-term plan for restoration of Grand Circus” says Stacy Fox, president of the Grand Circus Park Conservancy. “The Grand Circus Park has served the people of Detroit for over 150 years as one of its most remarkable and elegant public spaces, and through this effort we will ensure its role in the community for decades to come.”

Forbes Ranks DFCU Financial Among Best Credit Unions in Michigan

For the fourth consecutive year, Forbes has ranked DFCU Financial in Dearborn as one of Michigan’s best credit unions. DFCU is the only CU in Michigan to have won this award all four years it’s been given.

The magazine partnered with market research firm Statista to survey nearly 25,000 people in the U.S. about their banking relationships. Consumers were asked 20 questions about their financial dealings. The credit unions were rated on overall recommendations and satisfaction, as well as five subdimensions (trust, terms and conditions, branch services, digital services, and financial advice). Overall scores ranged from 77.38 to 95.63. Only 3.6 percent of America’s credit unions made the list.

“Because DFCU Financial always strives to offer best-in-class service through established trust, product knowledge and dedication to our members, we’re very proud to see our work validated,” says Mark Shobe, president and CEO of DFCU Financial. “More and more people are choosing credit unions in general and DFCU specifically for our strong community focus, financial education, and personalized service.”

DFCU Financial has ranked in the top 10 most-efficiently run credit unions in the country for several years running. Since 2001, the $6.2 billion credit union has grown more than 358 percent in assets and 636 percent in net income.

A strong community partner, DFCU Financial reinvests in its membership with new branches and financial literacy education for all ages. DFCU Financial currently operates 28 full-service branches in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Brighton, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. For more information, visit dfcufinancial.com.

College Gazette Names Kettering No. 1 Auto Engineering School in the U.S.

Kettering University in Flint sits atop the College Gazette’s 10 Best Automotive Engineering Schools in the U.S. in 2021 based on its mobility services and automotive engineering design concentrations.

Those concentrations, according to the publication, give Kettering students a “deep understanding of vehicles’ mechanical, electrical, and computer systems.”

“As a result of the top-tier curriculum, graduates are prepared to be leaders and entrepreneurs,” the magazine continues. “Alumni have become founders and CEOs of well-known companies such as General Motors and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

The article also references the university’s variety of labs and students’ ability to select labs and classes to match their career goals.

“Kettering University (formerly the General Motors Insitute) has been teaching automotive engineering for over 100 years, so it’s no surprise that we’re good at it,” says Craig Hoff, dean of Kettering’s College of Engineering. “Still, it’s always nice to be recognized for our expertise and the profound success of our graduates.”

Founded in 2019, the College Gazette researches colleges and stays up-to-date on best practices for admission to be a leading resource for information on higher education in the U.S.

Camp Receives $56K Grant for Programs for Teens with Serious Medical Conditions

North Star Reach, the medical specialty camp for children and teens with serious illnesses and their families in Pickney, has received a $56,380 Generator Z grant to offer community-building and personal development programs for teens living with chronic and life-threatening health challenges.

Launched in 2020, Generator Z is a teen-led initiative to reimagine the future of afterschool. More than 1,000 teenagers from across southeast Michigan and western New York became ‘Generators’ and shared their afterschool experience and insight online, and organizations like North Star Reach stepped up with ideas to turn that teen insight into action.

North Star Reach is one of just 11 organizations in Washtenaw and Livingston counties to receive funding. The support will fund a three-part initiative called “Find Your Place, People and Voice,” which includes an online summer camp experience, virtual year-round meetups, and a conference dedicated to addressing adolescent mental health and wellness. The series will focus on helping teens gain independence, which can be especially challenging for adolescents with serious health challenges as they transition to adulthood.

“Dealing with a serious health challenge, many decisions are out of your control,” says Mike Parker, director of volunteer engagement at North Star Reach. “But at camp we want to give them back that freedom — to empower them to choose and advocate for what they need. Along with the more serious aspects of accepting new responsibilities, we intend to try to incorporate activities our teens already love — video games, sports, music — into the community-building sessions that we have together.”

All programs are offered free to teens who have a qualifying medical diagnosis. The online summer camp, called Solstice Camp, kicks off today and runs until Friday. Virtual meetups will begin in the fall. The virtual Teen Conference is scheduled for Dec. 10.

“Our teen summer camp session has always been a centerpiece of our programming, and we feel exceptionally grateful to have additional monetary support to put our vision into practice,” says Monica Philipp, associate director of development at North Star Reach. “We know that being a teenager is already filled with stressors and then to add the transition from pediatric to adult care is no small feat. We are excited to build support systems and a community to help our teen campers through this important time in their lives.”

Generator Z driven by teens and powered by Lakeshore Connections with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.