DBusiness Daily Update: Bridgewater and Hancock to Headline Detroit Jazz Fest, Michigan Science Center to Open New Exhibit April 24, 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 April 8

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.

Dee Dee Bridgewater and Herbie Hancock to Headline 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival
The Detroit Jazz Festival, the world’s largest free jazz festival, announced its lineup for Labor Day weekend that includes 2021 artist-in-residence Dee Dee Bridgewater and Herbie Hancock.

The announcement was made during a livestream preview event that included performances from Bridgewater and Cuban pianist Omar Sosa at the future home of the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center at Wayne State University in Detroit.

“Our 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival lineup reflects our ongoing mission to present true jazz artists and presentations that define our reputation and legacy across the globe,” says Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “We look forward to continuing our tradition of showcasing a dynamic group of artists from various genres and generations, representing our embedded mission to present multiple facets of jazz in one festival setting.”

Bridgewater will headline multiple performances during the festival including an opening set with protégé group, the Woodshed Network Ladies, and a closing night performance with her all-female big band. Other highlights include performances from Hancock, Gregory Porter, Abdullah Ibrahim, Omar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project, and Kurt Elling’s Big Blind.

A partial listing of this year’s festival lineup includes:

Friday, Sept. 3

  • Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Woodshed Network Ladies
  • Herbie Hancock

Saturday, Sept. 4

  • Matthew Whitaker Quartet
  • Kenny Barron
  • Jerry Bergonzi Quintet
  • Alicia Olatuja – “Intuition: Songs from the Minds of Women”
  • Etienne Charles – Creole Soul
  • David Binney Angeleno Quartet
  • Omar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project
  • Keyon Harrold presents Jazz and the Birth of Hip Hop with special guests “Elzhi,” Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Chris “Daddy” Dave
  • The Summit: The Manhattan Transfer Meets Take 6
  • Kurt Elling’s Big Blind

Sunday, Sept. 5

  • Michael Mayo
  • Roberto Fonseca
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater Bill Charlap Duo
  • Abdullah Ibrahim and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra (Big Band)
  • Anat Cohen Tentet/Musical Director, Oded Lev-Ari
  • Sean Jones: “Dizzy Spellz”
  • Kenny Garrett
  • Tribute to Dave Brubeck @ 100: Brubeck Brothers Quartet – featuring Jerry Bergonzi, Detroit Jazz Festival Choir and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra
  • AZIZA featuring Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland
  • Gregory Porter

Monday, Sept. 6

  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya
  • Jimmy Greene Quintet
  • Eddie Daniels and Bob James; Exploring New Worlds
  • Fly Higher: Charlie Parker@100 Co Music directors:  Rudresh Mahanthappa & Terri Lyne Carrington, Charenee Wade, Adam O’Farrill, Kris Davis, Larry Grenadier and Kassa Overall
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater Female Big Band

Also returning this year is “Detroit JAZZ Fest LIVE!” For $20, festival attendees and out-of-towners unable to make it to the festival can livestream performances from all four stages, all four days via their smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Additionally, the livestreaming services feature select performances throughout the year from the foundation’s year-round initiatives, festival schedules, maps, and more. To register for the livestream, visit here.

Michigan Science Center to Open ‘Earth. Wind. Weather.’ Exhibit April 24
The Michigan Science Center in Detroit will open its newest, permanent installation, “Earth. Wind. Weather.” on Saturday, April 24.

The 2,500-square-foot exhibit features 10 new hands-on experiences that put guests in control of some of nature’s “most powerful, impressive, and unpredictable phenomena,” according to the museum. The exhibit was made possible by General Motors Co. in Detroit with additional support from Harman and PLEX Systems Inc.

MiSci is hosting a special free evening preview for those with MiSci memberships on Thursday, April 22. Members will catch a special showing in MiSci’s 4-D theater and explore the sky through a telescope. Pre-registration here is recommended.

Visitors will be able to create avalanches and geysers, explore Jupiter’s otherworldly atmosphere, command ocean waves, reach into a 12-foot-tall tornado, learn secrets of the Earth’s rotation, transform desert landscapes, and more with this immersive new experience.

“No exhibit puts you at the center of science better than ‘Earth. Wind. Weather.,’” says Christian Greer, president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center. “This experience, that GM made possible, helps learners of all ages connect to STEM concepts that shape our world, as well as highlight potential career paths in meteorology, oceanography, astrobiology and geology. ‘Earth. Wind. Weather.’ is immersed in an aural soundscape featuring recordings from National Parks across America due to a generous donation from Harman.”

Terry Rhadigan, executive director of corporate giving for GM, says, “General Motors’ support for ‘Earth. Wind. Weather.’ brings together our ongoing support for Detroit Public Schools Community District and STEM education with our goal to help create a safer, cleaner, and better world. We’re taking action globally with our commitment to become carbon neutral by 2040, and locally by supporting the Michigan Science Center’s efforts to help students learn more about environmental sustainability.”

“Earth. Wind. Weather.” is included in the general admission price and is a part of MiSci’s new virtual field trip program with select classrooms in Detroit Public Schools Community District. DPSCD third- through fifth-grade students can connect with MiSci distance learning educators for a live, virtual tour of the “Earth. Wind. Weather.” gallery, which connects to each grade level’s earth and space science curriculum.

Students will suggest ways for the educators to interact with the gallery exhibits on camera, play games, and participate in experiments about weather, natural resources, and the forces shaping our planet. Virtual exhibit tours are reserved for DPSCD third- through fifth-grade classrooms only at this time, thanks to the support of General Motors.

MiSci, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 5020 John R. St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. General admission tickets are available here.

State Approves Orders Involving NEXUS Pipeline Contract Costs for DTE Energy
The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved three orders involving natural gas costs for DTE Gas Co. and DTE Electric Co. arising from the utilities’ use of the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline.

A partnership between the utilities, parent company DTE Energy and Enbridge Inc., NEXUS is a 256-mile, 36-inch interstate pipeline transporting natural gas from receipt points in eastern Ohio to interconnections in southeast Michigan.

In Case No. U-20210, the commission approved DTE Gas’s gas cost recovery (GCR) reconciliation for the period ending March 31, 2019, the first time DTE Gas sought approval for NEXUS costs. The commission found that, given the record of evidence, the contracted capacity costs presented by DTE led to lower landed natural gas costs and higher contract utilization for customers than alternatives, and the company’s contract with Texas Eastern Appalachian Lease Project was reasonable and prudent. The Commission said, however, it remains concerned about the steps taken to minimize the cost of gas and will continue to closely monitor the agreement and amendments given the affiliate nature of the contract.

DTE Gas’s 2019-2020 GCR reconciliation balance will reflect a net under recovery, with interest, of $12,991,508. The company’s 2019-2020 gas customer choice beginning balance will reflect a net over recovery, with interest, of $2,167,919.

The Michigan Department of Attorney General, the Residential Customer Group, and the Retail Energy Supply Association intervened in the case. MPSC staff also participated.

In Case No. U-20527, the MPSC approved DTE Electric’s power supply cost recovery (PSCR) plan for 2020, noting objections raised about the utility’s NEXUS pipeline agreement amendments. The commission, however, issued a warning under Section 7 of Public Act 304, MCL 460.6j, that DTE Electric may not be allowed to recover the full combined transportation rate for the NEXUS pipeline agreements or its coke oven and blast furnace gas costs for 2020.

In Case No. U-20543, parties also raised objections to NEXUS pipeline amendments in DTE Gas’s 2020-2021 GCR plan and asked the MPSC to issue a Section 7 warning about recovery of costs in the utility’s reconciliation case. The commission declined to issue a warning but emphasized the obligation of DTE Gas to provide evidence sufficient to justify long-term contracts and compliance with the Code of Conduct.

The MPSC authorized DTE Gas to implement a gas cost recovery factor of $2.43 per Mcf, a supplier of last resort charge of $0.42 per metric cubic foot for gas cost recovery customers, and a reservation charge of $0.28 per metric cubic foot for gas cost choice customers, reflected in monthly billings. The commission directed DTE Gas to address issues related to the appropriate GCR costs for the Antrim Expansion Project pipeline contracts in Case No. U-20544.

In Related News: The MPSC approved Baraga Telephone Co.’s request to expand its eligible telecommunications carrier designation to include Census blocks the company was awarded in the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction in December 2020 (Case No. U-11548).

The MPSC approved two competitively bid contracts between Consumers Energy and solar energy companies as part of the utility’s plans to procure about 6,000 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy resources by 2040 (Case No. U-20165).  The commission approved a build-transfer agreement between Consumers and Mustang Mile Energy for the Mustang Mile Project, a 150-MW solar facility in Lenawee County with a total lifetime cost of approximately $516 million. The commission also approved a 25-year power purchase agreement between Consumers and Calhoun Solar Energy, with a total cost of $395 million, for the output of the 140-MW Calhoun Solar Energy Center in Calhoun County.

The MPSC approved a request by DTE Electric Co. to postpone the start of accelerated amortization of its non-plant regulatory liability from lower corporate income tax rates under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from May 1 to Dec. 1, 2021 (Case No. U-20835). Approval of the postponement allows the utility to defer filing its next general rate case, seeking an increase in base rates, from May 1 to Oct. 1, 2021, or later.

Indiana Michigan Power Co.’s request to amend two time-of-day tariffs for residential general service customers, introduce a new critical peak pricing option, and offer four pilot programs using advance metering infrastructure to manage electricity load were approved as part of the utility’s deployment of AMI for its Michigan customers, expected to be completed in 2023 (Case No. U-20938).

The MPSC opened Case No. U-21032 to take comments from stakeholders related to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order No. 841 of 2018, which aimed to ease barriers to electric storage resource participation in markets operated by regional transmission operators and independent system operators. Comments must reference Case No. U-21032 and be received no later than 5 p.m. on May 6, 2021. Mail comments to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909. Comments may be e-mailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov. Anyone requiring assistance prior to filing can contact MPSC Staff at 517-284-8090 or by e-mail at mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

Detroit Announces $2.7M in Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Grants
The City of Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department announced that it has awarded $2.7 million in grants from federal funding to 36 community organizations through the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, helping to provide funding for nonprofits and neighborhood service organizations across the city.

The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program is part of the city’s Community Development Block Grant program, and provides funds for public services that improve the quality of life for low- and moderate-income residents in the city.

The program awards grants in five areas: education, seniors, recreation, health, and public safety. The $2.7 million comes from the $35 million in CDBG funds allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Detroit in the 2019-20 fiscal year. The grants ranged from $50,000 for the Southwest Detroit Business Association to $82,950 to the Accounting Aid Society, Dominican Literacy, St. Patrick Senior Center, and the Neighborhood Legal Services (Wayne County).

“Our goal through this program is to support the organizations that help support Detroit on a daily basis, offering important programs and services on which so many Detroiters rely,” says Julie Schneider, interim director of HRD. “The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund helps build capacity at public service organizations and helps keep these programs going, helping to create a better city for all.”

The next application process for NOF funding will begin in September. Details will be available here.

“We rely on our community partners to help make a better Detroit for everyone,” says Tamra Fountaine Hardy, director of HRD’s Neighborhood Services Division. “HRD stands by to help other organizations in need of funding to help them understand the process for next year’s awards.”

Oakland County Residents to Receive Federal COVID Emergency Rental Assistance
The Community Housing Network is one of three Oakland County agencies distributing funds via the federal COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (or CERA) program. These funds will help people who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic stay in their place of residence by supporting them with rent, utilities, and other assistance.

The state of Michigan’s CERA program is designed to keep Michiganders who have fallen behind on rent and utilities during the pandemic in their homes. It uses a collaborative community process to get assistance to these tenants — and their landlords.

“It’s important for individuals and landlords to reach out to us as soon as they see a need for support,” says Lisa Chapman, director of CERA at CHN. “The funding we’ve received is available to support individuals as well as landlords with residents that are unable to pay their rent. All they need to do is reach out.”

In Oakland County, in addition to Community Housing Network, Lighthouse of Michigan and OLHSA also are helping to distribute CERA funds.

In addition, legal services for renters will be provided by local legal aid organizations, including Lakeshore Legal Aid funded by grants made through the Michigan State Bar Foundation.

The program began March 15. There are eligibility requirements and those who need assistance are encouraged to apply online via a soon to be developed portal. The online application portal is available now and can be accessed through CHN’s website.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put even more financial strain on low-income families in Michigan, but this program will help ease the burden of homelessness by keeping people in their homes,” says Marc Craig, president and CEO of CHN. “Millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills and this program will help keep them on their feet.”

Those who want more information on eligibility for the CERA program can call Community Housing Network at 248-824-7425 or the Oakland hotline at 1-888-441-1742.

Kohn Trust $17M Donations to Help U-M’s Ford School Expand Policy Work
A set of gifts totaling $17 million from the Kohn Charitable Trust will establish a resource hub at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy to boost interdisciplinary research on policy that promotes social equity and inclusion for all U.S. residents.

A new $10 million gift will fund the Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy and completes the investment made by Harold and Carol Kohn in the last several years.

“We know of no better home for the Kohn Collaborative than the Ford School,” the Kohns say. “Our hope is that it will become a valued national resource for social policy analysis and solutions.”

Michael Barr, dean of the Ford school, says, “We look forward to welcoming the Kohn family of professorships to the Ford School, along with our wonderful students as Kohn Scholars, and the Kohn Collaborative to advance social policy research. Hal and Carol are such wonderful members of the Ford School family.”

With this latest gift, U-M establishes two new professorships, bringing the number of Kohn professors at the Ford School of Public Policy to five. The Harold Kohn Professorship will support applied research in U.S. economic policy that advances social equity and inclusion. The Carol Kakalec Kohn Professorship will promote social equity through U.S. education policy, with a potential focus on childhood development.

Three previously announced Kohn professorships focus on social justice, equity and inclusion, and disability policy. Together, the five Kohn professorships will dramatically expand the school’s expertise and impact in domestic social policy.

The Kohn Collaborative also will provide resources to support social policy research, spur collaborative initiatives, and advance the collaborative’s impact.

MSU Researchers Receive $2.75M NIH Grant to Study Endometriosis
Two researchers at Michigan State University in East Lansing have received a grant from the National Institute of Health to study the connection between a gene important for normal cell survival and endometriosis, a painful disease that affects one in 10 women of reproductive age.

The researchers are Asgi Fazleabas, an MSU distinguished professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology, and Anna Moore, director of MSU’s Precision Health program.

The gene called NOTCH1 is “needed for normal reproduction, but when it goes awry it has a significant role in endometriosis,” says Asgi Fazleabas.

The disease typically is undiagnosed for 8-10 years, making it difficult to determine what triggered it.

“So many women go undiagnosed for so many years,” says Fazleabas, an expert on endometriosis. “As a result, their quality of life is badly affected. For 100 years we’ve been trying to figure out the basic biology of this disease.”

His lab was the first to identify the role NOTCH1 plays in the reproductive system and in the establishment of pregnancy. That gene also appears to be aberrantly expressed in endometriotic tissues, he said.

The $2.75 million grant will allow Fazleabas and Moore to study whether targeting NOTCH1 using nanoparticles could be an effective treatment for the disease.

“I think it’s one of the building blocks associated with the initiation of the disease” and understanding its regulation and mechanism of action may provide insight into treating it, says Fazleabas, whose research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1986. “It’s a continuation of our research for all of these years.”

AllStar Chauffeured Services Hiring CDL Chauffeurs/Drivers
Troy-based AllStar Chauffeured Services is hiring chauffeurs/drivers with valid commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL) of Class B or higher to drive the company’s Van Hool motor coaches, mini-buses, luxury coaches, and Sprinters.

The part-time positions pay $16 per hour along with gratuity opportunities. New hires will also receive a $500 bonus.

Applicants must possess a CDL with air break endorsements and have or be able to obtain passenger endorsements. A Department of Transportation medical card also is required along with two years of experience and a clean driving record. Chauffeurs/drivers must be available to work afternoons, weekends, and out-of-town shifts.

Those interested in applying for a position should visit here or call 248-549-8800.

New Virtual Reality Application from MSU Supports Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Michigan State University has developed a new virtual reality application called A Mile in My Shoes to help individuals recognize unconscious bias through different real-world situations.

The project is led through the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, ODEI, and the School of Planning, Design and Construction, both in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Quentin Tyler, associate dean and director for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the CANR, connected with Linda Nubani, an assistant professor in SPDC, in 2019 with the idea to create a virtual reality application that included data from common scenarios to help individuals recognize their own biases in action. Nubani specializes in interior design and VR, which is a computer-generated simulation of an interactive, 3-D environment.

“The purpose of developing this immersive, 3-D experience is to demonstrate examples of actual situations many people experience every day,” Tyler says. “This tool can help us collectively better understand the lives and experiences of people different from ourselves. It can help build awareness, understanding and empathy.”

VR creates a world that is hypothetical or replicating a physical space in a digital world. These experiences typically require the use of headsets, hand-held controllers, or other electronic equipment that allow people to interact with the simulation.

A Mile in My Shoes will be available through a computer VR software download and immersive VR using Oculus Quest headsets.

Application participants will be able to experience simulated scenes as one of seven avatar characters that represent a cross-section of MSU students. This is meant to accelerate learning, empathy, and understanding of how biases affects certain demographics. Several avatars also can join the virtual space in real time.

For example, a student avatar will find themselves outside of Chittenden Hall and have to find their way to the classroom where an instructor avatar will be waiting. The instructor avatar has the capacity to engage with student avatars, play videos as part of the class and use the web browser for demonstrations.

A Mile in My Shoes is expected to launch within CANR this month. The team will continue testing with VR participants following the launch. Future plans include making the VR application available to more people and units at MSU, as well as supporting broader usage by other universities and organizations.