DBusiness Daily Update: Cranbrook Bringing Back In-person Women Rock Science Gala Oct. 12, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
The Women Rock Science gala helps support more than 35,000 children annually through Cranbrook’s Service to Others initiatives. // Courtesy of Cranbrook
The Women Rock Science gala helps support more than 35,000 children annually through Cranbrook’s Service to Others initiatives. // Courtesy of Cranbrook

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Cranbrook Bringing Back In-person Women Rock Science Gala Oct. 12

The Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills is returning its annual Women Rock Science fundraiser to an in-person format this fall.

Hosted at the Institute of Science, the event will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 12. This women-led fundraising event aims to celebrate women in STEAM and ignite curiosity in children in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Proceeds from the event will help bring more STEAM programming, delivered by Cranbrook Institute of Science, to Pre-K-12 students in underserved communities throughout metro Detroit, including Detroit, Pontiac, and Flint.

“Science will always be here, and because of that we need to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have access to STEAM education, and Women Rock Science is one way we can help support our youth,” says Michael D. Stafford, director of Cranbrook Institute of Science. “And we are thrilled to welcome everyone back to the Institute of Science for the first time in two years, to learn more about the impact these funds are having on students and educators in Michigan, and how each and every one of us can make a difference.”

This year’s event will honor three women who are making an impact and difference in Michigan, and across the country, in STEAM education. Honorees include:

  • Beth Paretta, CEO and team principal at Paretta Autosport — Outstanding Leader Award.
  • Melissa Koronka, science teacher at Accelerated Learning Academy (ALA) in Flint — Outstanding Educator Award.
  • Raven L. Jones, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University — Rock Star Award.

Attendees will have the opportunity to feel the impact STEAM education has on the development of children in Michigan, hear from the three honorees, explore the notorious predator’s world in the institute’s newest exhibit, SUE: The T. rex Experience, presented by PNC Bank, view the night sky in the Acheson Planetarium, participate in hands-on, interactive science experiments; and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and science-themed cocktails.

General admission tickets can be purchased for $100 or $250. Sponsorship packages are available and range in price from $1,000 – $50,000. To purchase tickets and for more information about Women Rock Science please visit the Institute’s website. This gala is not only for women. Men are welcome to attend.

Since 2018, Women Rock Science has raised more than $750,000. The proceeds help support more than 35,000 children annually through the institute’s Service to Others initiatives. Additionally, this year’s support will mean:

  • An inaugural Women in Science lecture series.
  • 10 scholarships to the Institute’s first ever week-long career bootcamp.
  • More than 25 summer camp scholarships for girls interested in STEAM at Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Downriver Communities Receive $1.6M in Federal Funds to Support Small Businesses

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $1.6 million grant to the Downriver Community Conference (DCC) in Southgate to support the Downriver Riverfront Communities Economic Recovery Implementation Project.

This grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan and EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment.

This EDA investment will help the DCC create a new regional economic development manager position to oversee a community-inclusive strategic planning process to redevelop two coal plant sites and establish a new small business technical assistance program to help diversify the local economy. The EDA investment will be matched with $401,514 in local funds.

“This EDA investment will spur economic diversification and build a more robust regional economy in a state that has been impacted by the declining use of coal,” says Gina Raimondo, secretary of commerce.

This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to American communities.

EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment allocates $300 million of EDA’s $3 billion American Rescue Plan appropriation to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic and to help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector.

JGA Design Firm in Southfield Joins New York Retail Design Company

JGA, a Southfield-based branded environmental design firm, is joining forces with ChaseDesign, a category growth design agency in Syracuse, N.Y., to incorporate operational functionality and behavior-based creative with artistic innovation to build more drama and passion at the store.

ChaseDesign and JGA will continue to operate as separate firms to meet the needs of clients, but this integration of companies is expected to provide a platform for closer partnership and collaboration on new opportunities.

“We’re combining two teams that address design opportunities in a very different but complimentarily way — one from the bottom up and the other from top down — to offer the first full end-to-end environmental design service,” says Joe Lampertius, president of ChaseDesign. “The resulting agency has award-winning talent with full environmental design capabilities.”

JGA began 52 years ago as Jon Greenberg and Associates, a retail architecture firm in the metro Detroit area, and is recognized for creating upscale progressive projects in the specialty retailing space. Ken Nisch, who joined JGA more than 35 years ago and is now chairman, expanded the agency by building branded retail environments all over the world.

“For JGA, this union provides the perfect partner, complementing our branded environments practice within our core retail expertise while providing us resources and expertise across the broader world of retail, covering research, product packaging, digital and point of purchase. It also helps us extend our portfolio to include innovation centers, institutional, corporate settings and more,” Nisch says. “My colleagues and I couldn’t be happier to become part of ChaseDesign and McCann/IPG.”

Nisch will remain chairman of JGA, sit on the leadership team of ChaseDesign, and report to Lampertius.

PNC Bank Expands Fee-free ATM Access with NCR’S Allpoint Network

Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, which has several locations in Michigan, announced a new partnership with NCR Corp. and its Allpoint ATM network, providing customers with surcharge-free access to cash through more than 41,000 machines across the United States.

PNC customers now have surcharge-free access to nearly 60,000 PNC Bank and PNC partner ATMs across the country.

“As a Main Street bank, PNC is committed building a platform that empowers the financial well-being of our customers,” says Alex Overstrom, head of retail banking for PNC. “A key part of that is making our solutions available to customers no matter where they live or where they may travel. Partnering with NCR’s Allpoint ATM network allows us to more than triple our already expansive network, providing our customers with significantly greater surcharge-free access to their cash from coast-to-coast.”

NCR’s Allpoint network, the largest retail-based surcharge-free ATM network in the U.S., provides banks like PNC with access to ATMs at top retail establishments including grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, and big-box stores.

“We know consumers prefer a financial services provider that delivers convenient account access and management, including surcharge-free cash access,” says Don Layden, executive vice presient of payment and network at NCR. “Through NCR’s robust Allpoint ATM network, PNC can help meet their customers’ cash access needs in the places that work best for them – the conveniently located stores that already are part of their lives.”

To locate one of the nearly 60,000 PNC Bank or PNC partner ATMs, visit pnc.com.

California Credit Union Partners with Detroit’s Bankjoy for Digital Banking Experience

UMe Credit Union in Burbank, Calif. has partnered with Detroit-based digital banking provider Bankjoy to provide its members with a best-in-class online and mobile banking experience.

UMe Credit Union was chartered in 1940 by a group of Burbank Unified School District teachers, establishing themselves as Burbank Teachers Federal Credit Union. Today, UMe Credit Union has expanded to serve more than 16,000 members across the Burbank area. Throughout the credit union’s history, UMe has remained focused on maintaining strong member relationships and supporting their financial needs.

By partnering with Bankjoy, UMe is able to further its mission and empower members to easily manage their finances digitally, as UMe’s members can access Bankjoy’s digital banking platform, which includes mobile and online banking, and other advanced features.

“To offer a superior member experience for today’s generation of consumers, a feature-rich, fully integrated digital banking platform is essential,” says Michael Duncan, CEO of Bankjoy. “Recent research shows that more than 43 percent of consumers in the U.S. switched their primary financial institution because of mobile banking-related reasons and 35 percent switched due to online banking-related reasons.

“UMe Credit Union is focused on delivering the latest digital tools and mobile banking features that members want. Our team at Bankjoy is proud to help facilitate this with our digital banking platform and we look forward to serving UMe and their members.”

UMe selected Bankjoy over other digital banking vendors because of Bankjoy’s ability to customize the platform to align with UMe’s fun and distinct brand that sets the credit union apart from other financial services providers. Bankjoy also stood out because of the company’s future vision for its digital banking platform and the strong relationships built between the two organizations and their executive leadership teams.

“UMe Credit Union is deeply rooted in the local Burbank community and we have always valued our strong, personal relationships with our members,” says Robert Einstein, CEO of UMe Credit Union. “We aim to continue that tradition while finding newer and better ways to support our members’ financial needs. Bankjoy helps us achieve this by giving our members a modern digital banking experience that makes it easier and more convenient to manage their finances.”

J.D. Power: Electric Utilities Lack Customer Support They Need to Meet Sustainability Goals

According to the J.D. Power 2022 Sustainability Index, few utilities have the customer awareness and support they will need to make their stated carbon reduction goals a reality.

A significant majority (81 percent) of electric utility customers are now served by a utility with a carbon-reduction target. Many utilities, however, do not have plans that are disclosed or validated by independent groups such as CDP or the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

“If the aggressive carbon reduction goals most utilities have in place are ever going to be achieved, customers are going to need to play a key role, both in terms of modifying their current energy use habits and supporting the funding required to improve infrastructure and deliver the clean energy sources,” says Andrew Heath, senior director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power. “Right now, even the best-performing utilities are not where they need to be in terms of customer engagement, awareness and support for sustainability initiatives.”

Following are some key findings of the 2022 index:

Persistently low consumer awareness for utility climate initiatives: The overall sustainability scores for electric utilities evaluated in the study — which are based on consumer awareness, engagement, and advocacy for their local utility’s climate initiatives — is 28 (on a 100-point scale), up just one point from 2021.

Engagement and awareness of utility sustainability initiatives remains stubbornly low: Just 6 percent of residential electric utility customers and 28 percent of business customers are using environmental products and services. Similarly, just 41 percent of residential customers and 56 percent of business customers are aware of their utility’s efforts to improve their impact on the environment.

Despite low engagement, many customers care about climate change: More than half (53 percent) of electric utility customers believe that climate change is either a “serious” or “very serious” issue. Utilities serving coastal customers in the Northeast and West have the greatest percentage of customers who are concerned about climate change, with many serving 60% or more customers who believe climate change to be a serious issue.

Few utilities have clear carbon reduction plan/targets meeting highest level of ambition: According to the CDP, just 23 of 65 electric utilities evaluated receive a score of B- or better for their disclosed plans to reduce carbon emissions. Only two have committed to set science-based targets, according to the SBTi.

Highest-scoring utilities: NextEra Energy and Sacramento Municipal Utility District have the highest scores for a second consecutive year, each with a score of 34.

DTE Energy was next on the list with a score of 33. CMS Energy checked in with a score of 29.

For more information on J.D. Power’s sustainability certification program, visit here.

MDOT, Flint MTA, Detroit DOT, Midland Dial-A-Ride Get Federal Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced grant awards of $12 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), $4.3 million to Flint Mass Transportation Authority (MTA), $6.9 million to the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), and $167,000 to the City of Midland Dial-A-Ride to invest in public transit vehicle fleets and facilities.

Eligible Michigan urban and rural public agencies can apply to MDOT for these federal funds to replace their older fleets, upgrade their equipment and facilities, and invest in new technology. Some of these funds will be invested in battery electric and hydrogen cell transit vehicles and related infrastructure.

“Michigan continues to be on the leading edge of zero-emission vehicle development and cleaner technology,” says Paul C. Ajegba, the state’s transportation director. “It is vital that we invest in buses and facilities that are energy efficient and safe for the environment. In the long-run, public transit agencies, riders, and taxpayers save on energy costs and are provided better services for their communities.”

Made under FTA’s Buses and Bus Facilities and Low or No Emission (Low-No) Vehicle programs, the bus grant award are FTA’s first competitive grant selections under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Michigan is at the forefront of investing in the transition to energy-efficient and low-polluting vehicles and modernizing public transit,” says Zach Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer and director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office. “These bus upgrades will create transit systems that deliver all the benefits of low-cost, convenient commuting while improving air quality and eliminating noise pollution, making our neighborhoods more accessible, safer, and healthier.”

Webinar to Address Rising Tensions Between Entrepreneurs and Customers

Small business owners and the general public are invited to a one-hour, no-cost MI-SBDC webinar at 11 a.m. Aug. 25 to discuss rising tensions between entrepreneurs and customers.

The live panel discussion will feature experts from academic and business perspectives discussing ways to allay frustrations and foster civil discourse and understanding. A question-and-answer period will follow the panel. The webinar also will be available on demand after the live event.

“The topic is all over the news,” says Jim McLain, growth team consultant at MI-SBDC. “Customers are fed up with their buying experience, staff are ready to quit, and entrepreneurs are exhausted since the pandemic. Tempers are running high, and the emotion is palpable.”

The five-member expert panel will include:

  • David Beeson, SBDC Growth Team consultant in human resources.
  • Patty Janes, professor, hospitality and tourism management at Grand Valley State University.
  • Brooks Kindel, MI-SBDC Growth Team consultant in finance.
  • McLain, whose expertise is in marketing and communications.
  • Joe Weaver, associate professor, psychology department at Saginaw Valley State University (host institution to the MI-SBDC Lake Huron region).

“There’s a much bigger societal issue going on here since the pandemic,” Weaver says. “My research interests focus on the intersection of cognition and emotion for topics such as emotion regulation and decision making, so while it’s been a fascinating phenomenon to observe, ultimately my role is to help people better understand each other.”

More information and registration for the webinar is available here.