DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit Auto Show Announces Jennifer Hudson Will Perform at Charity Preview, and More.

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies.
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Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson, winner of an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy, will be the main performer at the 2023 Detroit Auto Show Charity Preview on Sept. 15 in downtown Detroit. // Photo courtesy of The Jennifer Hudson Show

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 here.

Detroit Auto Show Announces Jennifer Hudson Will Perform at Charity Preview

The Detroit Auto Show today announced Jennifer Hudson, winner of all four major American entertainment awards, will take the stage on Friday, Sept. 15, at the Detroit Auto Show’s signature Black-Tie Charity Preview.

The Charity Preview benefits six children’s charities in southeast Michigan and will be held at Huntington Place in downtown Detroit.

“It’s a thrill to have such an incredible talent, especially one who portrayed the Detroit music legend Aretha Franklin (in the movie, “Respect”) grace our auto show stage on a night that celebrates everything great about this city,” says Thad Szott, 2023 chairman of the Auto Show.

Charity Preview has raised more than $100 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan over the past 25 years alone. In total, the event has generated more than $123 million since its inception in 1976. Beneficiaries for this year’s Charity Preview include:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan
  • The Children’s Center
  • The Children’s Foundation
  • Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund
  • Detroit PAL
  • University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

The schedule of events for 2023 Charity Preview start at 5 – 6 p.m. with the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony in the Huntington Place Atrium. From 6 – 9 p.m., the auto show floor is open to attendees. From 7:45 – 8:45 p.m. Jennifer Hudson will offer a special performance on the main show floor.

Tickets to Charity Preview are $400 per person and $700 for a couple and are available at https://naias.com/charity-preview-tickets/.

HTC Global Services Launches HTCNX, an Enterprise AI Solutions Division

HTC Global Services in Troy, a provider of technology services, has launched its new enterprise AI division HTCNXT, which was created to elevate shared human experiences with AI.

“We are building on HTC Global Services’ over thirty years of expertise in technology to power HTCNXT in delivering AI-led solutions,” says Madhava Reddy, president and CEO of HTC Global Services. “With HTCNXT, we are bringing together disruptive technologies, deep domain expertise, and our built-to-purpose AI platform, MAGE, to help enterprises become AI-first.”

AI has moved beyond being a buzzword, and its applications are being explored across industries, which is where HTCNXT comes in. The company helps enterprises test the viability of AI for their business, scale its implementation, and enable them to transform into AI-first enterprises rapidly.

“Enterprises are looking for various ways in which AI-led solutions can positively impact their business. We help them adopt AI through a progressive and holistic approach guiding them through the stages of Learn, Scale, and Transform to ensure that AI solutions are both feasible and transformative for their business,” says Nalin Vij, president of global sales and marketing for HTC Global Services.

The company aims to use its AI platform, MAGE, to facilitate AI-led transformations for enterprises across industries. HTCNXT uses more than 20 contextually relevant Enterprise AI solutions for various sectors, including retail, insurance, travel, and healthcare. These systems help drive operational performance, go to market faster, improve revenue, and business resilience. HTCNXT is designed to give new value for enterprises through capabilities in generative AI, neural networks, AI ops, AI governance, security, and user experience, all implemented with adherence to ethical AI principles.

For more information on HTCNXT, please visit www.htcnxt.ai.

Consumers Energy Helping 11 Michigan School Districts Add Electric Buses

With classes starting across Michigan, Consumers Energy in Jackson is working with 11 school districts to put all-electric school buses on the road.

“Michigan is in the middle of an electric vehicle transformation ― that means vehicles of all shapes and sizes, including the traditional big yellow school buses so many of us rode as kids,” said Lauren Snyder, vice president of customer experience at Consumers Energy. “We’re excited to help our schools make this clean vehicle transition and ensure safe transportation for today’s generation and dollars for our schools.”

Only a few Michigan school systems use electric school buses today, but that will change this school year. Consumers Energy is working with district officials who last year learned they were awarded funding for over 50 buses across Michigan, the most of any Midwest state.

Among the first districts to add electric buses is Pellston, in northern Michigan’s Emmet County. Pellston put four buses on the road in April, making the purchase largely with help from a federal grant. Consumers Energy provided a rebate for the buses’ charging stations and did their electrical work.

In just four weeks, the district reduced their bus operating costs by 45 cents a mile and saved more than $1,300.

“Having never been through the process before, electrification of our bus fleet seemed like a daunting task. I couldn’t be more grateful for how easy Consumers Energy made the process with absolutely zero dollars out of our district’s budget,” says Stephen Seelye, superintendent of Pellston Public Schools.

Other districts Consumers Energy is helping are:

  • Alcona
  • Au Gres-Sims
  • Beecher
  • Britton Deerfield
  • Cadillac
  • Jackson
  • Homer
  • Hopkins
  • Pentwater
  • Sand Creek

Consumers Energy is helping Michigan schools electrify their buses through PowerMIFleet, a program providing expertise and financial rebates for chargers to businesses considering electric vehicles.

“Consumers Energy is on the road to powering 1 million electric vehicles ― including school buses ― by 2030,” Snyder says. “PowerMIFleet and our other programs help make EVs convenient and affordable, whether you’re hitting the road for work or a vacation, whether you’re starting out in the office parking lot or in your home driveway.”

Learn more about Consumers Energy’s EV programs: ConsumersEnergy.com/EV.

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Shapeways Doubles Growth in Robotics Through AI Adoption

Shapeways Holdings, a global digital manufacturer with ISO 9001-compliant manufacturing facilities in Livonia and Charlotte, has announced more than 90 percent year-over-year growth in the robotics sector, driven by customer adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) within their applications.

The increase is attributed to newly acquired business from long-standing customer relationships through Shapeways’ Enterprise Manufacturing Solutions offering. AI is transforming the robotics industry, creating accelerated demand for products, with companies using Shapeways to enable exponential scale.

With the robotics industry projected to reach $260 billion by 2030, Shapeways is developing advanced, on-demand digital manufacturing solutions across the industry.

“The value of digital manufacturing for robotics is immense,” says Aidan O’Sullivan, general manager of enterprise solutions for Shapeways. “Through our on-demand, scalable approach, we can customize parts, minimize overhead, and maximize efficiency. This includes more than additive manufacturing too — our tooling and molding expertise also plays a crucial role—especially for parts with higher volumes.”

The company recently expanded an existing multi-year partnership with a prominent robotics firm producing AI-powered robots for healthcare applications. The newly awarded business will help realize 133 percent year-over-year revenue growth within the health care robotics sector, the company states.

Shapeways’ approach to manufacturing also helps enable on-demand production, with the ability to refine parts quickly, as needed.

“Our dedication to collaborating with robotics companies highlights Shapeways’ commitment to supporting innovative advancements in the industry, beyond just manufacturing parts,” says Greg Kress, CEO at Shapeways. “Robotics is a diverse, growing sector. With the adoption of AI, this sector is anticipated to only become more integrated across industries, as firms look to automate processes and leverage innovation.”

AM General Advanced Vehicle Capabilities and Reveals New Brand Identity at NGAUS 2023

AM General, which has a technology and engineering Center in Auburn Hills, and is a provider of light tactical vehicle and mobility systems, unveiled its new brand identity logo at the recent National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) 2023 General Conference and Exhibition held earlier this month at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev.

The company also showed off its mission-ready capabilities that support the National Guard.

“We are proud of our long and strong partnership with NGAUS and recognize that the work done at this important event furthers the National Guard’s mission to support our communities in this nation and abroad,” says Jim Cannon, president and CEO of AM General. “We are also extremely excited to reveal our new branding at this exhibition as our new brand look was inspired by our purpose to serve those who serve to support us and it’s a signal that there are great things to come from AM General.”

AM General displayed the HUMVEE 2-CT with the troop transport expanded capability kit (XCK); a nine-person conversion kit with crush protection of 10,000 lbs., improved seating with integrated restraints, a 360º weapons ring, and available mountings for squad weapons.

This vehicle has the latest automotive technology that AM General can offer the National Guard, including enhanced occupant safety, upgraded powertrain options, and improved mobility and handling.

AM General’s new brand identity, which was inspired by the company’s purpose and culture which is to serve the warfighter. The company is now represented by SGT Smith; the fearless person who volunteers their service to protect the freedoms in this nation.

AM General took a complete approach to generating its new look and feel which includes an updated logo, a new color palette, and new imagery meant to convey its core capabilities as the leading light tactical vehicle manufacturer in the world and to pay homage to its end users.

The new logo is now capitalized in a more sculpted font designed to represent the strength and power of the company’s products. The tag line “Mission Ready, Future Driven” is also incorporated into the brand to convey that its products will always meet the demands of the ever-changing battlefield. The Star in the logo represents the mark that is emblazoned on its vehicles.

The color palette features the earth tones of the landscapes warfighters traverse in combat and were used for the new look.

Detroit Auto Show, Shinola Create New Partnership – Shinola Timepiece Official Countdown Clock of Detroit Auto Show

The Detroit Auto Show and Shinola entered into a partnership making Shinola’s new Canfield Speedway Lap 06 clock face the official countdown clock of the auto show, which runs from Sept. 13 – 24 at Huntington Place in downtown Detroit.

Shinola will also debut its new Canfield Speedway Lap 06 timepiece, which is built in Detroit, on Friday, Sept. 15, at the Detroit Auto Show Charity Preview, a fundraising gala for children’s charities, on September 15 at Huntington Place. There will be elements involving the Lap 06 at Charity Preview, as well as opportunities with the Shinola Hotel located at 1400 Woodward Ave. in downtown Detroit.

“We started a watch factory in Detroit 10 years ago because this city knows how to make things,” says Awenate Cobbina, CEO of Shinola. “The Detroit Auto Show celebrates that same grit and know-how; we are proud to partner with this historic and exciting event this year. We will provide a sneak peek of the new Canfield Speedway Lap 06 at the Charity Preview to benefit their children’s charities.”

The Canfield Speedway collection debuted in 2021 and was designed to honor racing’s “golden era” in the 1950s and 1960s. This automatic chronograph features a vintage racing-inspired tachymeter that measures the speed of a vehicle over the distance traveled. The Canfield Speedway Lap 06 timepiece comes with a 44mm brushed stainless steel case and a perforated leather strap.

Shinola employs around 400 people, operates 21 retail locations in the U.S., and partners with several American companies to create a line of products. To date, there have been more than 1.2 million Shinola watches built in Detroit.

Tickets for the 2023 Auto Show, Technology Days, and Charity Preview are on sale now at naias.com/buy-tickets.

Report: TD Auto Finance Ranks Highest in National Non-captive Prime Credit Dealer Satisfaction

For the fourth consecutive year, Farmington Hills-based TD Auto Finance, a division of TD Bank, N.A., received the highest ranking in Dealer Satisfaction among National Non-Captive Lenders with Prime Credit, according to the Troy-based J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study.

TD Auto Finance is the sixth largest bank auto lender and the 11th largest overall auto lender in the U.S. Market. TD Auto Finance provides financing for more than 1.1 million consumers and more than 6,800 franchised dealerships across the U.S. Its product offerings include indirect retail financing and commercial financing.

TD Auto Finance achieved an overall score of 878 out of 1,000 in the non-captive national prime credit segment from J.D. Power, 114 points ahead of the segment average. In addition, TD Auto Finance scored highest in all five factors measured by the study: funding process, credit staff relationship, finance provider offerings, sales representative relationship, and e-contracting process.

“At TD Bank, we pride ourselves on delivering legendary service, advice and guidance to all of our customers,” say Ernie Diaz, head of U.S. consumer distribution, wealth for TD Auto Finance. “To win four years in a row demonstrates an unwavering commitment to keeping the customer at the center of every decision and I couldn’t be prouder of the TD Auto Finance team for their incredible, continued success.”

The 2023 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 3,500 auto dealer financial professionals. The study, which was fielded April – May 2023, measures auto dealer satisfaction in five segments of lenders: captive premium –prime; captive mass market–prime; non-captive national–prime; non-captive regional–prime; and non-captive sub-prime.

“I want to thank each and every one of our dealers who took the time to provide feedback,” said Andrew Stuart, president and CEO of TD Auto Finance. “It’s an honor to receive the highest ranking again, but it’s even more important to understand dealer expectations, so we can continue to improve upon the products, services and processes we need to be successful together in today’s market.”

Visit jdpower.com/awards for more details about the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study.

Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer, Peter Vanderkaay, Brings Big Blue Swim School to Hometown of Detroit

Olympic gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay and his brother, NCAA champion swimmer, Alex Vanderkaay, have opened Big Blue Swim School in Sterling Heights near the Lakeside Mall.

The swim school offers weekly, year-round 30 – 45-minute swim lessons for children beginning at just three months old.

Big Blue also offers level-appropriate, engaging swimming lessons led by professional instructors. The swim school’s pool has 90-degree, ultra-clear water, a viewing area for parents; plenty of changing rooms, fall-proof, anti-microbial carpet throughout the facility; free Wi-Fi and parking. Additionally, Big Blue’s mobile app gives parents the ability to coordinate classes for multiple kids simultaneously and track their swimming progress.

Peter was a member of the United States Olympic team in 2004, 2008, and 2012. He won gold medals in the 800-meter freestyle relay in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. Individually, he won bronze medals in the 200-meter freestyle at 2008 Summer Olympics and the 400-meter freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Alex, also a former competitive swimmer and University of Michigan teammate to Peter and Chris DeJong, founder of Big Blue Swim School, was an NCAA champion in the 400-yard individual medley in 2007 and 2008. He also won a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2007 World University Games, as well as the gold medal in the 200-meter IM and the silver medal in the 400-meter IM during the 2009 World University Games.

“The ability to learn how to swim and enjoy the water, which I’ve had most of my life, is incredibly important,” says Peter Vandkerkaay. “I wish Big Blue had been around when I was a kid — warm, 90-degree water, small class sizes, and well-trained instructors makes for a great kids swimming experience. We are excited about the opportunity to develop the next generation of young swimmers in our hometown of Detroit through our partnership with Big Blue Swim School.”

The Vanderkaay brothers plan to open three additional locations in the metro Detroit area and look forward to bringing even more opportunities for kids to gain confidence in and out of the water.  For more information, visit BigBlueSwimSchool.com.

UIA Offers New Coaching Sessions for First-time Filers Seeking Jobless Benefits

Workers applying for jobless benefits for the first time can now get online guidance from trained instructors with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) who will walk users through the steps they need to follow to qualify for payments.

Coaching sessions are available Tuesdays through Fridays and will provide ample time for questions. Workers can sign up at Michigan.gov/UIA for the voluntary web-based orientations. Participating in an orientation session is not required to qualify for benefits.

During the sessions, UIA staff will guide first-time users through the UIA’s new online Claimant Roadmap, which offers six steps that explain applying for and understanding benefits. The roadmap is an easy-to-follow, user-focused tool that provides answers, clarifies instructions, and eliminates confusion about filing for benefits and searching for work.

“The new worker orientations, in combination with our recently launched Claimant Roadmap, is another example of how we are modernizing the Unemployment Insurance Agency to make it easier for anyone to file for benefits,” says Julia Dale, director of the UIA. “We listened to what users told us about their experiences with the UIA. These new user-focused tools are significant improvements and can take a lot of stress out of the filing process.”

Workers can sign up for a coaching session through the UIA’s public website where they can choose a day and time that fits their schedule:

  • 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays.
  • 3-5 p.m. Wednesdays.
  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays.
  • 1-3 p.m. Fridays.

After signing up, users will be emailed a link to use on their selected day and time. Reminder emails will be sent one day and one hour before the session begins.

The sessions are not intended for someone who has a current claim. They can either call UIA’s Customer Service line at 1-866-500-0017; go to the Schedule an Appointment page at Michigan.gov/UIA to make an in-person, phone or virtual appointment; or use the website’s Ask Ava chat feature to get answers to their questions.

‘313 vs. Everybody’ to Debut, Bringing Detroit Reality Show to Viewers Via IndieSoup

“313 Vs Everybody” will officially make its streaming debut on Aug. 31, when Season 1 of the Detroit reality show launches on IndieSoup.

The cast of “313 Vs Everybody” includes Taylor “T Streamz” Todd, his wife Terra, and numerous family members, friends, and acquaintances. Taylor is a Detroit entrepreneur and owner of Xtream Playtime LLC. He is a creative writer, executive producer, director, and actor of the show. Alongside Taylor is his wife, Terra, who is also an executive producer of the show. She is a licensed esthetician, and the owner of Beauty is Her Name by Terra.

The show centers on the daily interactions between Taylor and his family and lavish lifestyles, hectic schedules, and interpersonal relationships are put on full display for viewers to see.

“313 Vs Everybody” and its cast have already been featured in various interviews and podcasts leading up to the official debut of the show. On Friday, Aug. 25, there will be a red-carpet world premiere at Emagine Royal Oak in Royal Oak, from 7-11:30 p.m. On Aug. 28, there will be a soft launch of the show for Sneak Peek Week via social media. The application launch is scheduled for Sept. 4, with the show airing on IndieSoup for the first time on Thursday Sept. 7, at 8 p m. eastern time.

IndieSoup is similar to other mainstream streaming platforms but offers a linear live TV option that showcases indie filmmakers. To see more, visit https://www.313vseverybody.com.