DBusiness Daily Update: Blue Cross Blue Shield Sponsors NXG Youth Motorsports Program, Marathon’s Detroit Refinery to Expand Water Conservation Program, 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.
graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

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 Sponsors NXG Youth Motorsports Detroit Expansion
NXG Youth Motorsports, an experiential academy for life skill development, is expanding to the Detroit area and will host its inaugural program June 5-6 at Belle Isle Park.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has made a multi-year commitment to sponsor the NXG program so youth in the Detroit area can learn about the opportunities for personal growth, education, and career development through participation and understanding of the motorsports industry.

NXG (Nexgeneracers) programs, which feature science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), create opportunities and experiences for its youth participants through motorsports while focusing on minority students from underrepresented communities.

After building a successful program and network that’s connected with thousands of youth participants in Indiana over the last 15 years, NXG became an official partner with IndyCar and Penske Entertainment through its Race for Equality and Change initiative in 2020 and the academy has targeted the Detroit community as it expands its reach in 2021.

Following the current health and safety protocols in the state of Michigan, the NXG Detroit pilot program will launch June 5-6 with its MA100 classroom and on-track activities in the paddock area of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, which will take place the following weekend on Belle Isle. All of the NXG Detroit participants and their families will be invited to attend and experience the Grand Prix, June 11-13.

“As we begin our 15th year of NXG, the extensive collaboration and support between our sponsors at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and our partners at Penske Entertainment and the Detroit Grand Prix allows us to bring dynamic programming and exciting learning experiences for underrepresented girls and boys, 11-15 years old, into the city of Detroit,” says Rod Reid, co-founder and chief instructor of NXG.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to support programs like NXG Youth Motorsports that increase opportunities for students in the Detroit area to learn life skills, explore interests and form friendships,” says Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “NXG’s expansion in Detroit provides the ability to reach students in some of our state’s most underrepresented communities. I am confident the academy will make a difference.”

NXG program courses MA100, MA200, and MA300 progressively introduce boys and girls to the fundamental aspects of go-kart racing that include advanced driving techniques, track geometry, mechanical equipment understanding, and self-control.  NXG’s curriculum aligns with middle and high school academic standards in science and math related subjects. The academy is offered to participants in Detroit as a NON-FEE enrollment due to the generous support of its title sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

For more information and applications, visit here.

Marathon’s Detroit Refinery to Expand Water Conservation Program
Marathon Petroleum Co.’s Detroit refinery will expand a water conservation program that is expected to allow the site to nearly double the amount of water reuse annually.

Under the new initiative, the current rate of approximately 350 gallons per minute will be expanded from the current six-month operation to a year-round operation.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, water demand in the U.S. has tripled over the last 50 years and the EPA is urging major water-users to adopt water management planning.

“The fuels we manufacture help keep Detroit and the rest of our state moving, and our commitment to a sustainable operation helps ensure a healthy future for our planet,” says Dave Leaver, general manager of MPC’s Detroit refinery. “Marathon prioritizes our sustainability commitment with ample investment, and our team here does an excellent job of implementing viable programs and stepping up in tremendous ways to contribute to environmental stewardship.”

In 2017, MPC began temporarily operating reverse osmosis units at its Detroit refinery for part of each year as a trial run. The RO units filtered wastewater and created a recyclable, high-quality water stream that could be reused in refinery processes. The RO units, however, were only able to run six to eight months each year because they were not equipped to operate in colder weather.

This year, MPC approved a plan to invest approximately $1.8 million to allow operation of the RO system year-round by winterizing essential components, such as hoses, RO filters and tanks.

“We recognized that the RO system was creating substantial benefits and decided to expand our investment in the process,” says Leaver. “We anticipate that our fully winterized system will be operational in the fall and continue our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

As a result of its long-time focus on sustainability, the refinery currently operates 40 percent below the facility’s yearly permitted emission levels and has reduced its emissions by 80 percent over the past 20 years. More than 10 percent of that reduction has occurred in the last decade due to a $350 million investment in environmental and safety improvements.

Report: Used Commercial Truck Sales Look Strong in 2Q
March was a strong month in all segments of the used truck industry and that trend is expected to continue in the second quarter of 2021, according to the Commercial Truck Guidelines Industry Review for April 2021 from J.D. Power Valuation Services in Troy.

The report states that most dealers of Class 8 (long-haul semis) saw greatly increased sales volume in March, which bodes well for the next few months, says the analysts at J.D. Power.

The newest trucks available in the marketplace continue to bring strong money. The average sleeper tractor retailed in March was 68 months old, had 458,197 miles, and brought in $57,489. Compared to February, this average sleeper was three months newer, had 8,774 (2 percent) more miles, and sold for $3,102 (4.7 percent) more money. Compared to March 2020, this average sleeper was one month newer, had 3,187 (0.7 percent) more miles, and brought in $13,148 (29.7 percent) more money.

Medium-duty trucks in general also are performing strongly, according to the report. Cabovers are benefiting from very healthy urban and local delivery activity, while lighter-gross-vehicle- weight conventional trucks are seeing demand from contractors, consumer products deliveries, and many other sectors. As with the Class 8 segment, parts shortages are constraining new truck deliveries, so J.D. Power says it expects higher demand for the newest medium duty trucks available in the used market.

“We predict late-model trucks will remain a solid bet into the summer and we won’t be surprised if this dynamic is in place well into the second half of the year,” says Chris Visser, commercial truck senior analyst at J.D. Power Valuation Services. “We’ll stop short of guaranteeing a hot market for all of 2021, but March’s results add optimism to our assumptions.”

Key findings in the report include:

  • Late-model sleeper tractors are extremely strong at auction.
  • Retail traffic for Class 8 trucks is the highest it’s been in more than six years.
  • Medium-duty segments had a strong March.
  • Used trucks continue to benefit from constrained availability of new trucks

BetMGM to Integrate Responsible Gaming Program into Mobile Gaming
BetMGM, the mobile sports betting and iGaming company, announced today that it will integrate GameSense into its platform. GameSense is a responsible gaming program licensed to MGM Resorts International by the British Columbia Lottery Corp.

The agreement marks the first time an online gaming operator in the United States will utilize the program.

Developed by the BCLC, GameSense is a program that incorporates responsible gaming resources and education into the customer service model — providing every player with tools and support to make informed decisions and play responsibly. It also connects players with trained specialists, known as GameSense Advisors, and focuses on positive, transparent, and proactive communication to educate players about healthy habits and how to keep gaming fun, safe and responsible.

“As the mobile gaming industry in the U.S. continues to grow, responsible gambling is a key focus for BetMGM and is critically important for the industry as a whole,” says Adam Greenblatt, CEO BetMGM. “GameSense presents a forward-thinking approach to responsible gambling. We look forward to empowering our players with a proven program, designed to help support a positive gambling experience.”

GameSense is expected to be fully integrated into the BetMGM platform later this year. The program provides content and customer interaction, and is designed to help guests and customers make informed decisions while wagering.

L.A. Rams to Use Rocket Mortgage Draft House
The Los Angeles Rams will operate their draft out of the Rocket Mortgage Draft House, a 9,000-square-foot home in Malibu, Calif. In addition, the Rocket Mortgage Draft House will be opened to the public through a sweepstakes with one lucky winner and three guests enjoying a three-day, two-night stay at the home.

In partnership with Detroit’s Rocket Mortgage, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, the Rams have converted a luxury home into a unique location to serve as General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Sean McVay’s draft headquarters April 29-May 1, as well as host other team business throughout the month of May. The Rams will be the only NFL team to make their selections away from their team headquarters.

“To complement the bold leadership of Les and Coach McVay, we continue to push the envelope in how we operate and collaborate with our partners,” says Lexi vonderLieth, vice president of partnership marketing for the Rams. “We are thrilled to work with Rocket Mortgage to build this stunning and first-of-its-kind draft headquarters and set the foundation for drafting a little differently for years to come.”

The Rams will produce live draft coverage from the Rocket Mortgage Draft House, including up-to-date content about each of the team’s selections and live shows. In addition, the Rams’ “Inside the Draft presented by Rocket Mortgage” series will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into building a championship roster.

“There is a simple philosophy when it comes to working with our partners — First. Best. Only. We love to build fun, engaging activations that have never been done before – like what we are doing here with the Rams,” says Casey Hurbis, chief marketing officer at Rocket Mortgage. “The Rocket Mortgage Draft House creates a relaxing atmosphere for the Rams to make their selections in the draft, while also providing four lucky fans an opportunity to participate in a unique experience of their own.”

The Rams and Rocket Mortgage are launching a sweepstakes for a lucky fan and three guests to stay in the Rocket Mortgage Draft House for a weekend from May 14-16. The winner and their friends will enjoy all the amenities of the Rocket Mortgage Draft House. The state-of-the-art complex is complete with a top-of-the-line TV, a fridge stocked with tons of drinks and snacks and an infinity pool with ocean views. The sweepstakes will run through Monday, May 3 here.

Davenport University Offers New ‘Stackable’ Certificates
Davenport University in Grand Rapids has launched a new concept for students called the Stackable Certificate, undergraduate certificates that they can apply to an eventual bachelor’s or graduate degree in the same field of study.

“Stackable certificates provide another path to a degree — with immediate skilled employment opportunities,” says Richard J. Pappas, president of Davenport University. “The additional skills and knowledge gained gives students an advantage over other applicants and provides a pathway for additional training funded either by the student or their employer.”

Davenport offers undergraduate stackable certificates in the following areas, all serving as a pathway to current Davenport associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees: business, technology, and health.

Each Stackable Certificate is designed to be a building block toward an associate, bachelor, or master-level degree. Program credits can be applied to the corresponding degree program.

In addition to Stackable Certificates, Davenport offers post-baccalaureate, graduate certificates, and post-graduate certificates. Students also can explore general certificates to enhance and improve their skills in a specific field of study without pursuing a higher degree.

For more information, visit here.

Detroit’s Fafnir Lab Launches Free COVID-19 Recovery Roadmap for Small Businesses
Detroit-based Fafnir Lab has launched a recovery roadmap, a free digital tool designed to help small business owners understand and respond to business impacts from COVID-19.

The latest myfinalytics small business tool from Fafnir Lab, the recovery roadmap helps business owners identify business strengths, understand and respond to current financial conditions, and map out their COVID-19 recovery plan.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey show a large negative effect from COVID-19 on 51.4 percent of respondents, with small business owners expecting it to take more than six months to recover. With the free myfinalytics recovery roadmap tool from Fafnir Lab, business owners can better understand the true impact the COVID-19 economic crisis has had on their business.

“We wanted to create a way for small businesses to evaluate financial data from before, during and after the economic crisis and provide easy-to-understand recommendations on how to recover quickly,” says James Yagley, founder of Fafnir Lab.

To provide business owners a comprehensive picture of how their business fared in 2020, the myfinalytics recovery roadmap offers analysis using data science and machine learning. The side-by-side comparison of 2019 vs. 2020 data is available in graphic form, with key indicators highlighted in a way that is intuitive for business owners to understand and use.

The free tool helps small business owners identify their greatest strengths, offers projections for the year ahead, and provides practical guidance on action areas essential for business recovery. The recovery roadmap can be found here.

JVS Webinar Offers Job Seekers Tips to ‘Dress to Impress’
JVS Human Services in Southfield is joining forces with Council Re|Sale in Berkley (3297 W. 12 Mile Road) to provide a free webinar on how to prepare for an interview and dress to impress without spending a lot of money.

After the webinar, registered participants will be able to shop for suitable business attire with a $25 store credit. The resale shop is known for selling high-end clothing, including designer wear, casual and work attire, accessories, and jewelry, at bargain prices.

“Practicing your answers, ensuring your technology is going to work if the interview is virtual, and wearing the appropriate clothes are all vital towards the success of the interview,” says Hannah Berger, employment specialist at JVS Human Services.

Some of Berger’s top interview techniques include:

  • Research the company/organization beforehand. Be prepared with specific details about the company and what you can bring to the role that will set you apart.
  • Practice, practice, then practice some more. Google common interview questions for the position you are applying for to get a sense of what you might be asked. Practice in the mirror or with another person.
  • Remember you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Make the interview as much of a natural, flowing conversation as possible. Ask questions.
  • When dressing for an interview, look at the company culture to get a sense of what might be appropriate. Dress in neutral colors and avoid distracting patterns. Keep hair, makeup, and accessories simple. Outfits should be clean, wrinkle free, and fit well. Consider wearing a blazer or sports jacket to look professional.

To register for the free program, visit here. For more information, visit here.

Gleaners to Address Child Hunger During Virtual Women’s Power Breakfast
With child food insecurity on the rise, some of southeast Michigan’s most powerful and influential corporate, civic, and nonprofit female leaders will unite virtually on May 4, from 7-9 a.m., during Gleaners Community Food Bank’s 2021 Women’s Power Breakfast.

Gleaners founded the Women’s Power Breakfast in 1994 with the intention of bringing together powerful women from across southeast Michigan in the spirit of philanthropy. The event — which has raised $3.55 million since its inception — provides the opportunity for hundreds of women from different industries to gather together to network, learn, and philanthropically support the Gleaners programs that are so crucial to the well-being of the children and families the organization supports.

“This year’s virtual breakfast may look a little different from our events in the past, but we remain committed to celebrating the power of women, the achievements that raise us up, and our dedication to the community,” says Stacy Averill, vice president of community giving and public relations at Gleaners. “Philanthropic support is needed now more than ever as we navigate what has arguably been one of the most difficult chapters in our region’s history.”

Women’s Power Breakfast virtual attendees will learn about Gleaners’ impactful work in the community throughout the pandemic and have the opportunity to participate in interactive breakout and networking sessions.

The event also will feature a keynote address by Faye Alexander Nelson, director of Michigan Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Ticket and sponsorship information for the Women’s Power Breakfast is available here. A patron ticket is $125. Potential sponsors also can contact Angela Halverson at wpb@gcfb.org.

Detroit City Football Club Announces Partnership with Passage
Passage, an event ticketing company in Detroit, and the Detroit City Football Club, Detroit’s professional soccer team, announced a five-year partnership in which Passage is the official ticketing provider of DCFC.

“We’re very excited to be working with DCFC and to help grow the world’s largest sport right here in our hometown,” says Alex Linebrink, CEO of Passage. “Right from the start, DCFC has maintained an enthusiastic and loyal following. For us, it’s all about helping create a seamless experience for the fans, from the moment they buy their tickets until they enter the stadium.”

Sean Mann, co-owner of DCFC, says, “We chose to partner with Passage because they’ve consistently delivered support above and beyond our expectations. Our fans count on us to deliver an excellent matchday experience, so it’s important to us to have partners who understand our vision and care as much about our fans’ experiences as we do.”

In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sporting events around the world, the Passage team started working on solutions to help teams reopen safely. One of the first features Passage introduced was Social Distance Seat Selection.

“Social Distance Seat Selection allows venues like Keyworth Stadium to designate a given number of seats, rows, or aisle space which must be left open in between guest parties” says Linebrink. “This will provide fans with peace of mind when selecting their seats, and help ensure that a minimum six-foot distance can be kept between unfamiliar parties.”

Virtual events and virtual queuing also are new to the Passage platform in response to COVID-19.

“Partnering with Passage means we don’t have to worry about ticketing and payments,” says Mann. “We can focus on building an exceptional team and providing fans with a safe and fun matchday experience.”

Season passes for the DCFC 2021 season currently are sold out. Single game tickets will be available beginning April 22 here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Offered by Chaldean Community Foundation in Sterling Heights
The Chaldean Community Foundation is offering a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in partnership with FEMA and the Macomb County Health Department on Thursdays and Fridays, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Pfizer vaccine will be administered for free, by appointment only, to all individuals 16 years of age and older. Those who are 16-17 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Photo ID is required. No insurance is needed.

To schedule an appointment, call 586-722-7253. Phone lines are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Chaldean Community Foundation is located at 3601 15 Mile Rd. in Sterling Heights.

Buddy’s Pizza, Capuchin Soup Kitchen Provide Meals for Metro Detroit Community
Buddy’s Pizza and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen are continuing their 45-year partnership to feed metro Detroiters in need.

On April 26, Buddy’s Pizza is donating 20 percent of pizza sales from all locations to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

“This fundraising day is really special for everyone at Buddy’s Pizza, as it marks 45 years of partnering with the Capuchin Soup Kitchen — a vital organization within our community,” says Wes Pikula, chief brand officer at Buddy’s Pizza. “For us, it’s important to not only cultivate new partnerships, but to also create long-lasting, meaningful partnerships. Capuchin is a testament to our ongoing commitment to supporting our community.”

Over the past 45 years, Buddy’s has helped raise more than $3 million for Capuchin Soup Kitchen programs, including:

  • Two soup kitchen sites that prepare and serve both sit-down and takeaway meals six days per week.
  • Jefferson House residential substance use disorder treatment and recovery program.
  • Rosa Parks Children’s and Youth Program.
  • On the Rise Bakery residential program for men coming out of prison.
  • Earthworks Urban Farm Program, supplying organic produce to both of the soup kitchens.
  • Capuchin Services Center for emergency pantry and clothing distribution.

“Since the founding of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 1929, we’ve been blessed with strong support from the metro Detroit community in our mission of serving people experiencing homelessness, poverty and hunger,” says Br. Jerry Johnson, OFM Capuchin, executive director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. “We wouldn’t be able to carry out this work without generous support from community partners like Buddy’s through the annual Slice for Life fundraiser.”

Camp North Star Offering Camp-at-home Programs
Registration for Camp-at-Home programs from Camp North Star in Pinkney is open.

Six summer sessions connect campers with similar medical conditions and provide community-building experiences through safe and secure online gathering spaces.

Sessions include:

  • June 15-18: Transplant (Camp Michitanki) Camp (and children w/ congenital adrenal hyperplasia)
  • June 22-25: Solstice Camp (aged 16-17 with core medical diagnosis or a sibling)
  • June 29-July 2: Cardiology Camp
  • July 13-16: Epilepsy (Camp Discovery)/Neuro-oncology Camp
  • July 20-23: Sickle Cell/Hematology/Pain Management Camp
  • July 27-30: Sibling Camp

New for 2021: game-themed events, a series of real-time camp clubs with special guests, all-new camp-in-a-box experiences, and a chance to connect with friends.

Programs are open to children who have a diagnosis within the areas associated with one of our core summer programs or are a brother or sister of a North Star Reach summer camper.

Campers must be 7-15 years old by the first day of the session. Campers for Solstice Camp must be 16 or 17 years old at the start of the session (campers who turn 18 during the session are eligible).

The registration deadline for the full camp experience, including camp-in-a-box supplies, is May 31 for the first three camp sessions, and June 28 for the last three camp sessions. This allows time for campers to receive their camp-in-a-box prior to the start of their camp session.

To register, visit here.

Registration for the camp’s second session of family camp-at-home (May 21-22) is available here. Registration by May 10 ensures families will receive the VIP Camp Care Package prior to the opening event. New families are welcome.