DBusiness Daily Update: Blue Cross Blue Shield Moderates 2021 Rates for Small Businesses, Community Foundation President Mariam Noland Announces Plans to Retire, 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.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of March 22

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.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Moderates 2021 Rates for Small Businesses
Small group customers renewing in the third and fourth quarters of 2021 will see statewide average rate increases below 2 percent for the remainder of the year on their Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network health plans.

These rate adjustments are consistent with those filed by Blue Cross for the first and second quarters of 2021, representing an ongoing effort to moderate costs.

Average rate adjustments will consist of a 0.9 percent increase for BCBSM PPO plans and 1.9 percent for BCN HMO plans. Since 2015, small group rates have remained moderate with a total average increase of only 1.2 percent over the last six years.

“The last thing small businesses need right now is more surprises, especially when it comes to health care coverage for themselves and their employees,” says Sandra Fester, vice president of Middle and Small Group Business at BCBSM. “We know this is a critical time for employers and every dollar counts, so we’re committed to doing our part to ensure maintaining health care coverage is not another concern, but a value-add for their business as they focus on the future.”

Michigan is home to more than 885,000 small businesses, which employ 49 percent of the state’s workforce. Closures during the pandemic resulted in an almost 40 percent drop in small business revenue as of March 2021, compared to January 2020. Currently, more than 290,000 Blue Cross members receive health care coverage through small business employers.

Community Foundation President Mariam Noland Announces Plans to Retire
Mariam C. Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, has announced plans to retire at the end of 2021, concluding her 36th year with the organization.

Under her leadership as the founding president of the Community Foundation, the organization has awarded more than $1.2 billion in grants to nonprofit organizations primarily throughout southeast Michigan, spearheaded some of the region’s most transformational initiatives, and accumulated assets of more than $1 billion. 2020 marked a record year of annual giving for the foundation with grants totaling $104 million.

“Mariam Noland’s leadership in this community cannot be overstated,” says James B. Nicholson, chair of the foundation’s board of trustees. “Her career has been dedicated to building our region’s charitable infrastructure. Along the way, she became a hero in the effort to preserve retiree pensions and cultural assets during Detroit’s bankruptcy.”

During Noland’s tenure, the Community Foundation grew into one of the 20 largest community foundations in the country. Noland personally launched and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in support of community projects, including the regional Detroit GreenWays Initiative, Arts and Cultural Participation Fund, HOPE Fund, the New Economy Initiative, and challenges to help more than 200 charitable organizations build endowment.

“The generosity and caring nature of this region are extraordinary,” Noland says. “I have been so fortunate to work with many others to help our region and its residents thrive. Seeing the Community Foundation’s positive impacts grow over the years is thrilling.”

The Community Foundation will begin a national search for its second president in the near future.

Ford Donates $100K+ of Leather Hides to Detroit Small Businesses
Cleanup of the soon-to-be-demolished Ford Motor Co. Product Development Center in Dearborn recently uncovered more than $100,000 worth of leather hides that the automaker donated to small businesses supporting veterans and survivors of abuse.

The Ford Fund identified Pingree Detroit and Mend on the Move as recipients of the hides. Pingree Detroit is a worker-owned, social impact company founded in 2015 that uses high-quality leather reclaimed from the Detroit auto industry to make boots, wallets, and drink coasters. Mend on the Move is a nonprofit social enterprise that employs women survivors of abuse in Metro Detroit.

The leather was used by the Ford color and materials design and fabrication teams to create interior prototypes for vehicles like the Ford Escape, Ford Explorer, Ford F-150 King Ranch, and Lincoln Black Label Navigator. A variety of leathers in colors such as Ebony and Cashmere, as well as King Ranch Red premium hides are being donated and upcycled.

“This is a unique situation where we are able to donate bundles of real, automotive-grade premium leather to small businesses in Detroit,” says Jim Conner, 3D process director at Ford.  “We’re excited to see these leather hides that were collecting dust in the basement be put to good use by impactful businesses in the community.”

ProsperUs Detroit Streamlines Loan Lending Process
ProsperUs Detroit, which provides access to capital to low- and moderate-income, immigrants, and people of color in Detroit neighborhoods, has selected Celant Innovation’s Computer Assisted Legal Drafting System as its document automation platform to automate the generation of its loan documents, including security agreements, guarantees, and mortgages, utilized in its Micro-Lending Program.

The organization also will begin using an internal software called Downhome Solutions for servicing and collection services. This will allow ProsperUs Detroit to automatically deduct monthly payments directly from business banking accounts instead of collecting physical checks or payments online.

Both newly implemented programs will improve efficiency as borrowers will no longer have to obtain information from a third-party vendor and will have access to data immediately.

“The foundation for any successful funding engagement is based on establishing a trusting and transparent relationship between the lender and borrower,” says Matthew Bihun, loan fund manager at ProsperUs Detroit. “Providing the best customer service to our borrowers is one of our guiding principles and these advancements improve our forward-facing interactions.”

Pulte Family Foundation Commits $3M to Expand Florida Mental Health Campus
The Pulte Family Charitable Foundation has committed $3 million to Florida-based Henderson Behavioral Health to support the organization’s Growing Strong Campaign.

The gift has been directed specifically to support the development of a new state-of-the-art Crisis Stabilization Unit and a Centralized Receiving Facility on the Henderson Behavioral Health Central Broward Campus in Fort Lauderdale.

“Our family, like so many other families, has been impacted by mental illness,” says Nancy Pulte Rickard. “My father would have been extremely proud of the decision that was made by the Pulte Family Foundation board to make this gift.”

The Pulte gift is supporting the $14 million expansion of Henderson Behavioral Health on the Pulte Family Foundation Campus.  It is helping to fund the cost of the relocation of the former CSU to the new state-of-the-art facility that has a higher capacity and will offer an evidence-based therapeutic environment that is much more accessible to the community. The number of beds has increased from 23 to 48 and the facility can be licensed to serve both adults and children.

MEC AmeriCorps Launching Free Summer Education Program
Hope Network’s Michigan Education Corps is launching a free AmeriCorps Summer Program for schools and community partners statewide.

During the program, which runs from June 14-Aug. 14, MEC AmeriCorps members will be hosted by partner organizations across Michigan to support youth enrichment and academic programs, and/or COVID-19 recovery services. AmeriCorps members will be placed at no-cost to the service site with the partner organization. Members earn a living stipend and education award. Site-specific training is provided by the host organization.

Partner organizations can be preschools, elementary, middle, or high schools; community-based organizations, or government agencies that facilitate youth programs. Service activities will be determined by what the partner organization determines are youth and community needs.

Partners can apply to participate here by March 29. Individuals and students can apply here by May 17.

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