DBusiness Daily Update: DawanaFit Fitness Studio Opens in Detroit’s Obama Building, 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.
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Mayor Mike Duggan observes as Dawana Vickers and her family cut the ribbon during the grand opening of DawanaFit. // Courtesy of Motor City Match
Mayor Mike Duggan observes as Dawana Vickers and her family cut the ribbon during the grand opening of DawanaFit. // Courtesy of Motor City Match

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.

DawanaFit Fitness Studio Opens in Obama Building

Dawana Vickers, a Black female Detroiter and military veteran, has opened a fitness new studio — DawanaFit — in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood today.

DawanaFit is one of several Black-owned businesses to open in the recently renovated Obama Building at Grand River and Lahser, located at 22000 Grand River Ave, Suite. 500. The building sat vacant for years and received its name from a portrait of former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama that once adorned the outside of the building and now is on display inside.

Vickers received financial assistance through Round 11 of the Motor City Match (MCM) program. The business received a business plan award from MCM, which includes a $1,000 cash grant, as well as technical assistance. After winning the award, MCM also helped secure DawanaFit’s current location.

As a military veteran, mother, and a native Detroiter, Vickers started her fitness company as a way of providing women in Detroit with a welcoming and inclusive fitness environment. The studio aims to provide close attention to its clients and encourages them to build a strong connection amongst one another.

“Motor City Match is all about helping people make their dreams of owning their own business come true,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “I can’t think of someone more deserving of having that dream come true than Dawana. She’s served our country and now wants to serve this community in a new way and we are so very proud of her.”

Vickers says DawanaFit prides itself on providing women with more structure and attention than competitor gyms. She also will be launching a 30-day crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $15,000 from supporters and potential class participants who are eager for a new wellness community in northwest Detroit.

For more information, visit here.

Bosch Honored for Innovative IoT Apprenticeship Program

Global technology and services provider Bosch and associate Arin Minasian were honored this week with a Michigan Works! Association Impact Award, recognizing the company’s commitment to workforce development and its collaboration with Oakland County Michigan Works!

In need of a new type of talent pipeline, Bosch in Farmington Hills launched an IoT (Internet of Things) apprenticeship program for software application developers, with a focus on on-the-job training and mentoring.

The program’s first five apprentices graduated from the program in 2021, with eight new apprentices in the program this year. Minasian, who previously worked in the banking industry in California, seized the opportunity to switch careers and moved to Michigan to participate in the apprenticeship program, with his family joining him later in the year.

The IoT apprenticeship program lasts approximately 12 months. It is competency based, with apprentices required to complete specific learning hours and on-the-job training that has been designed to ensure they are developing the skills and competencies necessary to be a software application developer in the mobility field. Apprentices learn and grow professionally with project work, job shadowing, intensive training, and individual mentoring.

Oakland County Michigan Works! provided Bosch with funds to pay apprentice wages, as well as other supportive services to qualifying participants. For example, Minasian did not have transportation when he first moved to Michigan, so Oakland County Michigan Works! purchased a bicycle for him to make the five-mile trek to work each day.

Jennifer Llewellyn, director, Oakland County Michigan Works!, said Bosch is a role model for other employers across the region facing talent shortages.

“We supported Bosch because of its commitment to apprenticeships, which are expanding well beyond the skilled trades into a range of industries,” says Jennifer Llewellyn, director of Oakland County Michigan Works!  “Bosch hired individuals with limited previous software experience and gave them the opportunity to become part of a high-demand industry in Oakland County with room for growth. This is a win for everyone involved.”

Chris Morgan, who leads the IoT apprenticeship program for Bosch in North America, says, “We think this apprenticeship program reflects the strength of the relationship we’ve built with Oakland County Michigan Works! and our joint commitment to talent development. Our recent apprenticeship graduate Arin is a great example of what partnership like this can accomplish for job seekers and employers.”

New York Company Finances New Affordable Housing in Mount Clemens

R4 Capital, a New York-based affordable housing tax-credit syndicator, lender, and asset manager, arranged more than $8 million in gross tax credit equity financing to build a new 30-unit supportive housing apartment complex — Edison Crossing — situated within walking distance to downtown Mount Clemens.

R4’s equity investment in Edison Crossing is one of 18 expected property investments for R4 Housing Partners XVII LP, a $262 million national multi-investor fund.

Edison Crossing is being developed by Columbus, Ohio-based Woda Cooper Cos., one of the nation’s top affordable housing developers. In the past 30 years, Woda has successfully financed more than 11,000 affordable rental units with housing tax credits across 15 states.

Woda also will be serving as the general contractor and management agent of this property, which will be restricted to residents earning up to 80 percent of the area median income utilizing income averaging and will include 10 one-bedroom units and 20 two-bedroom units in one four-story elevator-serviced residential building.

Eleven units will be set-aside as Permanent Supportive Housing units for chronically homeless individuals and households and benefit from project-based Section 8 vouchers provided by Michigan State Housing Development Authority. These units are expected to be pre-leased given the significant need for housing for the homeless. Macomb Homeless Coalition will provide on-site services to the PSH tenants and will coordinate with outside service agencies such as AMVETS Department of Michigan.

Comerica Bank, one of the investors in Fund XVII, will provide an interest-only construction loan of more than $7 million to Edison Crossing.

Edison Crossing closed in December 2021 and construction is projected to be completed within 15 months.

Grand Valley Partners with Multimedia Company to Host Detroit Gig Worker Job Fair

Grand Valley State University, in Allandale on the west side of the state, has partnered with Detroit Is Different to present a job fair for entrepreneurs and southeast Michigan nonprofit organizations.

The 2022 Gig Fair will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 1 at GVSU’s Detroit Center, 163 Madison St. The event is free and open to the public. Registration for both individuals and organizations is required; visit thegigfair.com for details and to register.

“Gig workers are increasingly important as businesses and nonprofit organizations look to reimagine roles and assignments,” says Kara Van Dam, vice provost for graduate and lifetime learning at Grand Valley. “This fair partners organizations with specific needs with those who are in business to meet them; it is solution-based and benefits all parties involved.”

EMU Names $25K Winner of Entrepreneurship and Venture Challenge Program

Brighton resident and Eastern Michigan University alumnus Sara Beatty recently was awarded a $25,000 prize after pitching her business idea to a panel of business leaders from southeast Michigan. She was among 16 entrepreneurs in the school’s Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Venture Challenge program

Beatty, founder of Ann Arbor-based Culturewell, says it was “incredibly fulfilling” to share her idea with the community. Culturewell is a cleanliness analytics platform that saves health care administrators money by empowering them to make data-driven decisions on how to strategically deploy cleaning resources to prevent infections.

“It was an honor to win the award because the significant effort I’ve put into building Culturewell is beginning to make a difference,” says Beatty, who plans to use the funding to deploy testing for COVID-19 on surfaces, allowing clients to help improve customer and employee confidence in returning to work in person.

In addition to Beatty being selected as the winner of the Venture Challenge program, five runners-up were chosen to receive a physical address and mailbox provided by the Michigan Innovation Headquarters in Ann Arbor and 20 hours/month conference room access for a year. Two more finalists will receive similar benefits from Ann Arbor SPARK-east. Each participant also received a certificate for successfully completing this program.

EMU’s Center for Entrepreneurship launched the Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Venture Challenge program in early January. The eight-week certificate program was a mix of in-person and virtual programming featuring experts in academia, industry, professional coaches, start-up investors, and mentors. Topics ranged from evaluating startup ideas and business concepts to financial planning and attracting customers.

For more information, visit here.

Fifth Third Foundation Awards $300K Grant to Wright Museum

The Fifth Third Foundation has awarded a three-year $300,000 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit to enhance the museum’s public programming for young people and families.

The donation is part of Fifth Third Bank’s accelerating racial equality, equity and inclusion initiative and represents one of Fifth Third Foundation’s largest gifts to a Detroit cultural institution.

“It’s a privilege to support The Charles H. Wright Museum, which is dedicated to opening minds and changing lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture,” says David Girodat, regional president of Fifth Third. “For more than half a century, The Wright has been a vital institution in our community inspiring greater understanding, acceptance and unity.”

The grant will help The Wright expand its award-winning programs that provide a forum for exchange on a variety of art and humanities topics. This includes film series, lectures, book events, workshops, performances, and special events that complement the museum’s exhibitions. The Wright also plans to expand its centerpiece youth program, Camp Africa, from a summer offering to a year-round opportunity for young people and families to connect.

MGM Grand Detroit, Champion Foods Are in Hiring Mode

The MGM Grand Detroit and Champion Foods in New Boston are looking to add several different positions to their staffs.

The MGM Grand is hosting a job fair from 9:30 a.m.-noon on March 31 in the hotel’s motorcoach area just past the garage west entrance. The MGM Grand is looking for 16 valet attendants, 27 cooks, and 16 security officers. For more information, visit here.

Champion Foods in New Boston is looking to hire more than 50 team members. Available positions include production, maintenance, sanitation, and more. Learn more here or email jobs@championfoods.com.

Showcase of Black Excellence and African American Art Premieres April 22

Umoja Fine Arts, a black-owned gallery in Southfield that focuses on positive Black images through artistic expression, will be premiering a new art exhibition April 22-June 22 called “Blooming in Color — a homage to Black Excellence.”

Umoja Fine Arts Gallery is located at 16250 Northland Drive, Suite 102 in Southfield. The premiere is open to the public, but registration is encouraged.

The exhibition leads with its most popular artist — Rosemary Summers whose latest original painting, called “Black Love Will Keep Us Together,” is featured on the February cover of BLAC magazine.

The “Black Love Will Keep Us Together” painting represents the triumphant dance of the sustaining force that kept black people alive, flourishing, and successful in many areas of life, while overcoming incredible obstacles and disadvantages.

This exhibit has been curated to display artistry and colorful minds of other premium artists like Marcel Stewart and Joshua Rainer. Both Stewart and Rainer bring a youthful, vibrant, and exciting approach to the exhibit. Their craftsmanship and attention to detail has caught the eyes of many collectors throughout the region.

For more information, visit here.

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