DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit is 7th in Nation for Apartment Conversions, 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.
The Albert Kahn Building in Midtown is among the most recent apartment conversions in Detroit. // Courtesy of The Kahn
The Albert Kahn Building in Midtown is among the most recent apartment conversions in Detroit. // Courtesy of The Kahn

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 is 7th in Nation for Apartment Conversions

Detroit is among the hottest cities in the nation — seventh in the U.S. — where adaptive reuse projects are bringing new apartment units on the market, especially from school and office redevelopments, according to a recent study by RentCafe.com.

Nationwide, more than 20,100 new units are being completed repurposed in 151 old buildings during 2021. Most of these units come from office redevelopments, a trend that began even before the pandemic, hinting at how things may go if work-from-home arrangements continue.

Highlights of the local activity featured in the report include:

  • Detroit redeveloped 874 new units by repurposing six old buildings like former schools or former offices.
  • 36 percent of these new apartments come from school conversions, while offices account for 29 percent, and factories for 24 percent. Hotel redevelopments represent 11 percent of redevelopment projects in Detroit.
  • A standout among them is The Press/321, the former Detroit Free Press office building from 1925. Converted to multi-family use in 2021, it now houses more than 100 units.

Not listed among the featured activity in the report is the $70 million conversion of the Albert Kahn Building in Detroit’s New Center Area to The Kahn, a building with 206 apartments.

In 2022, according to the study, Detroit will create 759 new units through adaptive reuse projects, when another six buildings will be repurposed to residential use.

Stellantis, National Business League Start First Black Supplier Development Program

Stellantis in Auburn Hills and the National Business League in Detroit have begun a pilot of their National Black Supplier Development Program, consisting of 13 Black-owned businesses selected to represent geographic diversity and a range of disciplines and commodities.

The pilot, which will run through the first quarter of 2022, is the initial phase of a larger program to develop Black suppliers for future contracting and procurement opportunities in pursuit of greater racial equity in the marketplace.

“The Stellantis-National Business League Black Supplier Development Program is an idea whose time has come,” saya Mark Stewart, COO of Stellantis North America. “An idea that addresses the need to take direct, decisive, and intentional action to bring economic opportunity to communities that have been denied equal access to the marketplace for far too long. To confirm, in a very intentional way, that our ability to realize the full promise of our country is to ensure that its economic systems are open to all, equally.”

The Stellantis-NBL National Black Supplier Development Program will support the development of more than 2.9 million Black businesses around the country and internationally for future opportunities within the federal government, and public and private sectors.

“Equitable access to both international and domestic opportunities by Black businesses is fundamentally important to the future of our economy and opportunities available to Black people and communities,” says Marvin Washington, director of electrical and electronics purchasing for Stellantis North America, who will also serve as national co-lead for the program. “This historic leadership by Stellantis and the National Business League will become a model for other Fortune 500 companies to embrace.”

The program’s online virtual procurement and contracting marketplace is expected to realize 20-30 percent of the untapped business potential of Black suppliers. The goal is to create sustainable Black businesses that will impact the local and global economies, creating jobs through entrepreneurship and growing the number of Black businesses of all sizes.

The companies involved in the pilot include:

  • ACE Petroleum, Detroit
  • Assured Quality Systems, Dallas
  • Coltrane Logistics & Trucking, Wixom
  • Devon Industrial Group (DIG), Detroit
  • Dunamis Clean Energy Partners, Detroit
  • GS3 Global, Livonia
  • ISIAH International and One World Pharma, Chicago
  • Multi-Training Systems (MTS), Southfield
  • Russell Westbrook Enterprises, Los Angeles
  • Ryan Industries Inc., Wixom
  • Simontic Composite Inc., Greensboro, N.C.
  • TEN35, Chicago
  • TKT & Associates Inc., Louisville, Ky.

InvestNext Unveils Enhanced End-to-end Portal for Real Estate Investment

InvestNext, a Detroit-based technology platform that provides real estate investors and syndicates with the tools to streamline back-office tasks and reduce overhead, announced a series of new product features to deliver an intuitive end-to-end investor experience.

InvestNext enables every step of real estate syndication, including engaging potential investors, accepting payments, waterfall calculations, distributions payouts, and completing tax forms, to take place within its white-labeled online portal.

The platform is designed to eliminate document management and information silos, building transparency and stronger relationships between syndicators and investors.

“We worked closely with our existing user base to develop these updates, and it was clear that we needed to create almost an Etsy or a Shopify for real estate investment,” says Kevin Heras, co-founder and CEO of InvestNext. “How you present yourself to investors matters, especially as you grow your syndicate. That’s why it was so critical to enhance the white labeling capabilities in this update, so you can put your own brand onto our pre-built all-in-one platform.”

The new investing experience should allow investors to discover open offerings more quickly, as well as access historical investment performance and critical tax documents, encouraging due diligence, exploration, and self-sufficiency. Among them is a standardized key metrics widget that draws potential investors’ attention to the most important aspects of an investment before they even enter the deal room.

A3 Robotics Conference Breaks Records in Return to In-person Event

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) in Ann Arbor returned to live events in October, hosting the Autonomous Mobile Robots & Logistics Conference in Memphis, Tenn., which drew more than 650 people.

A3 says the event, which attracted 50 percent more attendance than the 2019 pre-pandemic event, demonstrates the surging interest in mobile robotics, distribution, material handling, and e-commerce automation technologies. The conference exhibit hall in Memphis featured 60 exhibitors, doubling the 2019 exhibit numbers.

“The demand for mobile robots has clearly been on the rise, but the growth and potential for widespread success across all industries was never more evident than at last week’s conference,” says Ed Mullen, vice president of sales at Mobile Industrial Robots. “Being back in person for the first time — interacting with hundreds of potential customers, fellow vendors, and other industry influencers — was both exciting and motivating.”

A3 announced it will launch an AMR and Logistics Digital Hub on Nov. 15 and host an in-person Autonomous Mobile Robots and Logistics Conference in Boston Oct. 11-13, 2022. This is in addition to the Automate Show and Conference in Detroit June 6-9, 2022.

BlueGrace Logistics Establishes New Office in Detroit

BlueGrace Logistics, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider in Detroit, announced the opening of its 11th nationwide office in Detroit, expanding its freight network to serve a growing portfolio of shipping customers and carriers.

The company says it opened a location in Detroit to better serve its core market of managed logistics customers, particularly automakers and manufacturing plants, as well as capitalize on recruitment opportunities from surrounding top supply-chain programs at Central Michigan University, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University.

“The Detroit office will add to the number of BlueGrace control towers across the Midwest, expanding on our established Chicago location,” says Todd Trompeter, vice president of logistics operations at BlueGrace.

Kerwin Gordon, senior director of logistics operations, will lead the managed logistics operations team at that location.

“Our managed logistics team are market leaders, and we believe this is the right time to build our presence in Detroit, as the city is headquarters for many of our customers,” says Jason Lockard, senior vice president of managed logistics at BlueGrace. “Our goal is to grow with the same intensity that many of our clients are experiencing. This is the first step in establishing long-term presence in Detroit.”

BlueGrace Detroit secured a 5,700-square-foot permanent space for more than 50 and there are immediate employment opportunities for the new location.

“There is an incredible opportunity for the growing logistics demand across the Midwest, especially with the supply-chain snarls that have gridlocked our shipping system for the last two years,” says Bobby Harris, CEO of BlueGrace. “Not only that, but Detroit also has amazing talent and presents a growth possibility for our organization. We’re looking forward to supporting the local community and being closer to our shipping customers and carriers.”

Canton High School Wins 10th Michigan Cyber Summit

Teams from Canton High School swept the top three spots in the 2021 Governor’s High School Cyber Challenge, part of 10th Michigan Cyber Summit, featuring 169 teams, consisting of 520 students from 21 schools across Michigan.

Taking first place in the competition were Eric D’Urso, David Reeves, and Jacob Eason; second place, Alex Liao and Jayden Sarveshkumar; and third place, Pranav Merugu, Fritz Geib, and Robert Everitt. All were coached by Scott Obsniuk.

The summit (formerly the North American International Cyber Summit) virtually brought together nearly 1,000 participants to discuss solutions for the cybersecurity dangers that threaten the security of citizens and business throughout the world. The summit is the signature event of Michigan Cybersecurity Awareness Month, conducted each year in October.

Cybersecurity experts from around the country joined the virtual event including Chris DeRusha, federal chief information security officer; U.S. Sen. Gary Peters; U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin; Paul Ajegba, director, Michigan Department of Transportation; Tracey Barnes, chief information officer from state of Indiana; Jim Beechey, executive director, Consumers Energy; Kelley Goldblatt, cybersecurity advisor, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; Leah Hurley, managing director, Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Government & Public Services Cyber Risk Services; and numerous other information technology and cyber experts.

The summit also recognized Michigan students who participated in the CyberPatriot competitions. This year 102 Michigan teams made up of middle and high school students competed against 3,500 students from across the nation in the Virtual CyberPatriot program. Three teams took the top spots in the Michigan CyberPatriot competition.

Taking first place in the high school open division were students Nolan Kuza, John Paul Robin, Luka Cvetkovic, and Jonathan Hubbard, with coach Eden Konja, from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac.

Maj. Kevin A. Adams Memorial Composite Squadron students Clara Ballard, Ryan Kersten, Lily McCready, and Kira Shaffer, with coach Capt. Matt Roberts from Ann Arbor, placed first in the all-services division.

Placing first in the middle school division were Amelie Strickfaden, Shaila Cranson, Heidi Gee, and coach Jerry Gee from the Farmington STEAM Academy in Farmington Hills.

Gale Launches New Platform to Prepare Students for Life After Graduation

Farmington Hills-based Gale, part of Cengage Group, is launching Gale Presents: Imago, an online social and emotional learning (SEL) and career readiness platform available to K-12 schools.

In partnership with Imago, the offering allows schools to infuse video-based SEL content into 5th-12th grade curriculums to improve students’ emotional intelligence in the classroom to help them thrive in their life and careers after graduation.

School districts now can provide an engaging curriculum to support students’ social and emotional development and the building of soft skills needed for 21st century careers.

As students move into careers, social emotional competencies continue to play an essential role. A CareerBuilder survey found that 71 percent of employers value emotional intelligence over IQ. Gale Presents: Imago will help schools shift to help students develop these critical skills and explore new paths that align with their interests and abilities to achieve their professional goals.

“We chose to partner with Imago because their solution meets a need our customers have expressed for video-based SEL and career readiness lessons,” says Shawn Clark, senior vice president of domestic learning at Gale. “This partnership allows us to change students’ thinking and behavior that will help them better understand their future options, and apply the skills they have learned immediately, with more motivation to learn.”

For more information, visit here.

KIRCO MANIX Completes Webasto’s New Americas Headquarters in Auburn Hills

KIRCO MANIX in Troy has completed the $40 million renovation and expansion of Webasto’s new Americas headquarters at its existing building at 2500 Executive Hills Blvd. in Auburn Hills.

Phase one of the expansion for the tier one global supplier of roof systems to automotive OEMs began in May 2019 with demolition of the interior of the existing 109,000-square-foot building was completed in July 2019.

In phase two, KIRCO MANIX broke ground on a 40,000-square-foot addition in October 2019, which included adding a testing lab, office space, and a dining area. Simultaneously, phase three began in February 2020 with interior renovations.

“Webasto selected our company for this project, not only because of the scale of the renovations, but also because of our personal history,” says Douglas W. Manix, president of KIRCO MANIX. “The existing building was originally constructed by Campbell/Manix in 1995.”

According to Manix, it has been an architecturally interesting project for KIRCO MANIX to have been a part of. The building has a unique style of architecture, not typical for an office building in the metro Detroit area. It was modeled after an anthropology museum in Veracruz, Mexico.

Webasto was firmly dedicated to preserving the original characteristics and design intent, so KIRCO MANIX worked to match building styles and elements throughout the new addition. For example, replacement and improvements to the building’s original skylights and matching the 3,000 existing punched out windows from the original design carried over to the new addition.

Roush Enterprises Launches ‘Leave A Dent’ Hiring Campaign

Roush Enterprises in Livonia has initiated its “Leave a Dent” hiring campaign aimed at recruiting new talent to join its team of innovators, thinkers, and dreamers.

“The campaign is designed to get people excited about careers that interest them,” says Jack Roush Jr. “A lot of emphasis is placed on our automotive companies, but between our other brands, we have so many different opportunities and look forward to growing our team. We work alongside the best and brightest to do incredibly cool things you wouldn’t believe. At Roush, you’re part of building the future.”

Roush Enterprises is comprised of Roush Performance, Roush Industries, Roush Clean Tech, and Roush Fenway Racing.

Roush services span a variety of markets including eMobility, aerospace, defense, theme parks/entertainment, transportation, and oil and gas. Career opportunities include working on projects such as building high-performance vehicles, the development of autonomous and electric vehicles, as well as theme park rides and space exploration projects.

To view a video about career opportunities at Roush, visit here. To explore available positions, visit here.

Ann Arbor’s XanEdu Offers Open RN Courseware Platform

Ann Arbor educational products and services company XanEdu announced the addition of Nursing Skills to its FlexEd digital courseware portfolio, which provides an affordable alternative to traditional nursing course materials.

“Nursing Skills” is the second FlexEd course in the series that is built on high-quality, peer-reviewed content by Open RN, a provider of OER (Open Educational Resource) nursing textbooks.

Nursing Skills and the other titles in this series are aligned to state nursing standards and contain active study tools designed to assist students as they learn challenging concepts, and how to apply them to patient care, in the manner in which they will be tested with the new NCLEX Next Generation test questions.

Because these titles are open resources, other nursing programs across the country will be able to easily customize to their own specifications, providing engaging, accurate, free content to their students.

“Nursing Skills” joins “Nursing Pharmacology” as part of a five-book series of nursing titles authored by the Open RN team. The third title, “Nursing Fundamentals,” will be available this winter, with FlexEd courseware available shortly thereafter.

“Nursing: Mental Health & Community Concepts” and “Nursing Management and Professional Concepts,” will be available in 2022. Each title will be accompanied by FlexEd courseware, designed to enhance students’ learning experience through curated supplemental content and to provide instructors will a complete course-in-a-box platform that can be used out of the box or customized to their individual, institution or state requirements.

Applications Open for Oakland County’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2022

Applications are now open for Oakland County’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2022, a program that recognizes groups of men and women, under the age of 40, who are passionate about their work, committed to creativity and collaboration, and dedicated to working together for a common good.

Members of past 40 Under 40 classes are leaders of business and industry, entrepreneurs bringing new ideas and concepts to light, elected officials who are leading schools and communities and the state, and nonprofit directors who are making sure that the underserved are seen, heard, and helped.

“We’re opening the doors this week for young leaders who are making a difference, not only in their workplaces, but in their communities, too,” says Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter.

For more information, visit here.

Waterford Township’s Cygnet Institute Earns Fiduciary Excellence Certification

The Cygnet Institute of Personal Financial Literacy, a nonprofit educational organization in Waterford Township, recently achieved certification from the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence for its adherence to recognized global standards of fiduciary excellence.

To earn the distinction, Cygnet Institute participated in a multi-month audit and certification process guided by the “Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors,” an industry-recognized handbook that is grounded in law, regulation, and professional best practices.

According to CEFEX Managing Director Carlos Panksep, “As a result of successfully completing the process, Cygnet Institute of Personal Financial Literacy has earned the right to use the CEFEX Mark, which indicates the organization’s established practices are aligned with investors’ interests and worthy of trust and confidence.”

“From its very beginnings, Cygnet Institute was built on total adherence to the fiduciary standard of care; that approach permeates all of our educational content and its delivery,” says Ted Lakkides, founder and president of the Cygnet Institute. “We believe this newest designation recognizes our long-standing dedication to transparency and the particular needs of 401k plan participants making decisions about their retirement.”