DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit-based Van Dyke Horn PR Agency Rebrands as 98Forward, 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.
Georgella Muirhead (seated, far right) is the founder and CEO of 98Forward and Marilyn Horn (seated, second from left) is the owner, president, and CFO. // Courtesy of 98Forward
Georgella Muirhead (seated, far right) is the founder and CEO of 98Forward and Marilyn Horn (seated, second from left) is the owner, president, and CFO. // Courtesy of 98Forward

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.

Detroit-based Van Dyke Horn PR Agency Rebrands as 98Forward

Van Dyke Horn, a Detroit-based communications agency, has rebranded and now is named 98Forward.

The agency’s new name marks the year that the agency was founded and signifies the continuity with its institutional legacy, and the trajectory of the Black-owned, woman-owned businesses: Forward.

The agency originally was founded by Georgella Muirhead and the late Bob Berg as Berg Muirhead and Associates. It has grown to be one of the region’s leading public relations agencies. It has executed communications campaigns for more than 150 clients from a diverse group of industries.

In 2016, Muirhead and Berg passed the torch to Marilyn Horn, 98Forward’s current president and CFO, and her former business partner. Muirhead has remained engaged with the agency.

“98Forward allows us to put the best elements of our legacy up-front while connecting with the present and innovating for the future. We are here to stay,” Horn says. “Our team is our greatest asset — eight of our 11 team members are long-time employees. Our entire team has been thoroughly engaged in the renaming and rebranding process, a true collaboration with different perspectives and skills — the foundation of our agency.”

98Forward continues to provide communications services, strategy, and solutions for corporations, cultural institutions, government and nonprofit organizations.

“Our new name and identity are as intentional as our indisputable position in the communications industry,” says Muirhead, founder and CEO of 98Forward. “We are true to our origin and our name — allowing us to bring authentic and talented ideas to clients across Detroit, the Midwest and beyond. We remain diverse, driven and determined to serve our clients with expertise, strategy and integrity.”

98Forward is the largest Black-owned communications agency in Michigan and has held a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification for the last 24 years, taking pride in its Detroit-based roots and history.

In 2022, 98Forward announced a strategic partnership with Lambert, a national public relations and investor relations integrated agency spanning six major talent hubs including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Houston, New York, and Phoenix.

BorgWarner’s Brady Ericson to Deliver Kettering University Commencement

Kettering University alumnus Brady Ericson, vice president of BorgWarner Inc. and president and general manager of the company’s fuel systems and aftermarket business, will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater at 10:30 a.m. on June 18.

The ceremony will take place at the Flint university’s Atwood Stadium.

Ericson, who serves on Kettering’s engineering advisory council, was instrumental in developing Kettering’s new BorgWarner Scholars Program, an internship program supporting underrepresented students in STEM fields and revitalizing the mentoring aspect of Kettering’s cooperative education model.

Commencement weekend will kick off at 6 p.m. June 17, with an invitation-only Academic Honors Banquet honoring several categories of graduates:

  • President’s Medal winners.
  • Sobey Scholar award winners
  • Summa cum laude students
  • Outstanding Thesis Award winner

“My wish for each and every student graduating is to be curious, take risks, stay humble, and take time to reflect with pride on all that you have accomplished,” Ericson says. “Your graduation marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next; strive to make all your chapters impactful ones.”

In recognition of his achievements in industry and service to Kettering, Ericson will receive an honorary doctorate of engineering degree.

Grand Valley, Littera Education Partner to Provide Tutoring to Every K-12 Student in Michigan

A new partnership between the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) NextEd Co-Lab and Littera Education means that every K-12 school district in Michigan now can provide its students with research-based, proven-effective tutoring for students who need it the most.

The partnership joins the K-12 Connect tutoring initiative of GVSU, a premiere educator of teachers, with the Littera Academic Support Platform — technology that makes it easy for districts to design, implement and track the performance of high-impact tutoring programs. The result is tutoring on a large scale that is customizable to every student.

“This partnership will reshape academic support for Michigan students,” says Justin Serrano, founder and CEO of Littera. “GVSU is already a leader in providing academic support to K-12 schools. Adopting the Littera Academic Support Platform will enable K-12 Connect to reach even more students and make it easier for Michigan schools to deliver high-impact tutoring.”

GVSU created K-12 Connect in May of 2020 to support Michigan families with tutoring during the onset of the pandemic. K-12 Connect recently expanded to work directly with schools, districts, and community-based organizations throughout the state, providing high-dose 1:1 and 1:2 tutoring in all subjects and grade levels, with an additional focus on targeted reading support.

GVSU employs, trains, and equips the tutors with tools and resources, better preparing them as future teachers. The Littera platform allows organizations to incorporate their own curriculum into the instruction as well as track session attendance and progress for every student.

For more information visit here.

Troy Chamber CEO Series Features Jeff Sloan of StartupNation June 16

On Thursday, June 16th, the Troy Chamber will host its second CEO Series event of the year featuring Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of StartupNation from 8:30-10 a.m. on June 16 at StartupNation Media Group in Birmingham.

During his presentation, Sloan will cover topics that are pertinent to everyone’s business including the Great Resignation, trends in operating, what startups are hot today, how to maintain staff morale, and whether purpose matters.

“We are very excited to have Jeff Sloan present to the Troy business community,” says Tara Tomcsik-Husak, president and CEO of the Troy Chamber. “The business world has changed rapidly over the past two years and Jeff’s entrepreneurial experience can be a great resource to those seeking to grow their business in this post-pandemic era.”

The cost is $20 for Troy Chamber members and $25 for non-members and includes coffee and a light breakfast. Register here.

M1 Concourse Planning 2nd Checkered Flag Ball to Support M1 Mobility

M1 Concourse in Pontiac is planning for its second Checkered Flag Ball, Oct. 1 at the M1 Concourse Event Center. The event raises funds for M1 Mobility, an initiative in partnership with Pontiac Community Foundation to provide transportation solutions for Pontiac residents.

The event is the focal point of the second American Festival of Speed, which will be honoring the 60th anniversary of Shelby American and legendary automotive designer Peter Brock, who was instrumental in the creation of the Corvette Stingray and Shelby Daytona. Some 300 people are expected to attend.

Music will be provided by Devin Scillian & Arizona Son. Cuisine will come from chef and restauranteur Zack Sklar.

For information on sponsorships and tickets, visit here.

Oakland County Providing Veterans with Free Transportation

All military veterans who live in Oakland County now have access to door-to-door transportation services from their homes to Oakland County Veterans’ Services offices in Troy and Pontiac.

“The goal of the program is to eliminate any transportation barriers that may prevent our veterans from accessing the benefits they earned while serving our nation,” says Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter.

In partnership with SMART, free transportation is offered from any point of origin in Oakland County to a Veterans’ Services’ office and back home. All veterans who make an appointment with the Veterans’ Services team will receive contact information for SMART to arrange their transportation.  ADA transportation is available and transportation arrangements should be made at least three days prior to the appointment.

“When the county reached out to us to help with transportation for this grant-funded project for veterans, we jumped at the chance to assist,” says Dwight Ferrell, general manager of SMART, “Through our various community transit partners in Oakland County, SMART is positioned to be able to coordinate a ride to ensure all veterans who need a ride can get one.”

Garth Wootten, manager of Oakland County Veterans’ Services, noted that access to transportation, especially ADA-equipped transportation, can be an obstacle many of veterans face.

“This program will help eliminate that barrier and allow all veterans to access their benefits,” Wootten says. “I’m so pleased to be partnering with SMART for this service for our veterans.”

To book an appointment or learn more, visit oakgov.com/veterans or call 248-858-0785 in Pontiac or 248-655-1250 in Troy.

The Veteran’s Transportation Program is made possible by a grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

MIU Men’s Health Foundation Stages Events for Men’s Health Week

The MIU Men’s Health Foundation is recognizing International Men’s Health Week June 13-19 with its signature events to advocate for men’s health and prostate cancer survivorship.

The week kicks off on June 13 (known internationally as Blue Monday) with its annual cycling event Cogs & Kegs, continues with a gala at Top Golf on June 16, and culminates with signature Run for the Ribbon at the Detroit Zoo on Father’s Day, June 19. The foundation’s efforts this year are supported by health care partners Beaumont Health, Trinity Health, and Ascension Health.

“We are expanding our efforts through new partnerships to raise awareness for men’s health issues,” says Dr. Michael Lutz, urologist and president of the MIU Men’s Health Foundation. “The key to prostate cancer survival is early detection. We’ve got to get this message out to as many men as possible — and to the women who care about them – so we can save more lives, while raising funds that support survivorship and other programs all year long.”

In a show of support, Detroit’s Ford Field will light up in blue on Monday evening, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield headquarters in Detroit will fly the Blue Monday flag. Members of the Bloomfield Township Police and Fire Departments have committed to participating in the events – and competing against one another — to up the ante.

For more information, visit here.