DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit Jazz Festival Pivots to a Virtual Event, 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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A pianist, guitarist, drummer, saxophonist, and trumpeter playing in a jazz band.
Detroit Jazz Festival Goes Virtual for Labor Day Weekend // Courtesy of Detroit Jazz Festival

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 Jazz Festival Pivots to a Virtual Event

DETROIT – The Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage, the world’s largest free jazz festival, today announced a pivot to a virtual format that will be streamed and broadcast “live” for free this Labor Day weekend.

The festival begins Friday, Sept. 3 and runs through Monday, Sept. 6.

The festival was originally scheduled to be in-person this year, but organizers decided to switch to the virtual format based on several following factors.

First, Hart Plaza is currently being improved and construction won’t be complete until fall. While plans were being devised to bring people into the plaza, the enormity of the jazz festival made it difficult to continue to host the thousands that attend the festival annually, organizers say. The festival would then have to be staged completely in the Campus Martius area, which would cause overcrowding and overflow of patrons in a smaller area. That situation was not an option for jazz festival management due to conflicts with carefully designed health and safety protocols.

Due to its open footprint, the jazz festival does not have the ability to require COVID-19 testing results and/or request proof of vaccination, which is becoming the gold standard for large concert events.

There also was concern among some artists, which also a deciding factor.

“This is a winning solution that preserves the legacy of the Detroit Jazz Festival while bringing amazing performances into a virtual format,” says Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “We’re thankful for our sponsors, donors, and patrons for their support, which enables us to once again provide a jazz festival that is safe, live, and free for everyone. Also, a special thank you to the city of Detroit for the great improvements happening at Hart Plaza, which will make the 2022 Detroit Jazz Festival even better along with many other events held at this venue.”

The festival, which will take place without audiences, will be streamed or broadcasted live and free (no replays or on-demand) from indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and closed to the public. More details will be announced at a later date.

Jazz enthusiasts will be able to view or listen to performances for free in a number of ways including the festival’s social media channels and web page; on public radio and television stations; and on the DetroitJazzFest LIVE! app.

This year’s artist-in-residence, Dee Dee Bridgewater, will headline multiple performances during the festival including an opening set with protégé group, the Woodshed Network Ladies, and a closing night performance with her all-female big band. Other highlights include performances from Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold, Omar Sosa, and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project; Kurt Elling’s The Big Blind featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater: A Jazz Radio Play written by Kurt Elling and Phil Galdston; The Summit: Take 6 Meets the Manhattan Transfer, Monty Alexander HKX, and Detroit hometown artists.

“We are excited about the work we do to seek out new talent, promote excellence, produce everything jazz, and celebrate all of it at the Detroit Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend in an environment that is safe for everyone,” says Gretchen Valade, chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation Executive Board.

Little Caesars Unveils New Crazy Calzony

Little Caesars in Detroit on Monday released a new menu item — Crazy Calzony. The item will be available “hot-n-ready” Aug. 23 and be available for a limited time.

Each slice of the new Crazy Calzony provides customers with two different experiences, pepperoni pizza in the middle and calzone at the edges. It features a folded calzone-like crust that is filled with garlic white sauce, mozzarella cheese, and julienne pepperoni, sprinkled with parmesan cheese. The pizza-calzone combo is served with Crazy Sauce for dipping. The new item will be available to order online for $8.49.

“Our pizza visionaries have been working on this innovation for months,” says Jeff Klein, chief marketing officer at Little Caesars. “I’m eager for customers to finally get the chance to taste the cheesy goodness of one of our most exciting products yet.”

Customers can order their Crazy Calzony for delivery using the Little Caesars app, or pre-pay and then collect their order using Pizza Portal pickup (a heated, self-service mobile order pickup station) at any participating Little Caesars locations.  Starting Aug. 23, customers can stop in between 4-8 p.m. to pick up a “hot-n-ready” Crazy Calzony without preordering.

Roadkill Nights Brought Drag Racing Back to Woodward Avenue

Back after a one-year hiatus, MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge staged a return to Woodward Avenue Aug. 14, drawing 38,000 performance enthusiasts to M1 Concourse in Pontiac.

“Roadkill Nights is all about stoking the passion of the Dodge Brotherhood of Muscle, and this year the energy and excitement of our fans was off the charts — people were so pumped up to be back on Woodard Avenue celebrating the return of live, street-legal drag racing,” says Tim Kuniskis, CEO of the Dodge brand at Stellantis in Auburn Hills. “In its sixth year, Roadkill Nights remains the ultimate celebration of performance-car culture and the perfect grassroots event to showcase what Dodge represents — a pure performance brand.

“We set out to settle once and for all the great debate; who’s faster: TV or online car builders. In the end, the debate will rage on until next year.”

Woodward Avenue was transformed into a 1/8-mile straight-line playground for 110 street-legal drag racers, while spectators took thrill and drift rides in Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat vehicles on the M1 Concourse.

The Hellcat Grudge Race pitted Eric Malone of MotorTrend’s television series “Fastest Cars in the Dirty South” and four online automotive builders in heads-up racing. Malone and each of the online builders — Alex Taylor, Tavarish, Westen Champlin, and Throtl — received a Challenger or Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye and $10,000 in cash for car modifications.

Taylor emerged victorious in the battle between the four online builders, earning a spot in the final round face off against Malone thanks to a .002-second reaction time that helped her knock out Westen Champlin and his twin-turbo modified Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Taylor was victorious in her modified, racing slicks-equipped Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye ride after Malone left the line too early in his Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. In a “just for fun” exhibition run after the final, Malone left first and beat Taylor to the finish line, leaving room open for further discussion in the TV-versus-online builder debate.

The Big Tire (unlimited size tires) and Small Tire (tires 275 mm wide or narrower) classes saw competitors battling for bragging rights and cash prizes totaling $30,000 on the 1/8-mile Woodward Avenue drag strip, with urban features including an active railway located just behind the starting line. Each class winner earned $10,000, with the Quickest Dodge cars in both classes taking home $5,000 each.

Jimmer Kline, of Wyoming, Mich., repeated as champion in the Big Tire class. Kline raced his 1966 Acadian Chevy to victory in the final against Litchfield, Ohio’s Jeremy Bonnett and his 1928 Pontiac Sedan. The event wrapped up with one of the best races of the day, as Nicholas Taylor drove his 2000 Ford Mustang to a close win in the Small Tire final over Shawn Fensler’s 1993 Ford Mustang in a battle of Fort Wayne, Ind., natives.

James Pranis of Verona, Pa., (Big Tire – 1968 Dodge Charger) and Peter Bokedon of Roseville, (Small Tire – 1972 Dodge Dart) earned back-to-back honors as the Quickest Dodge winners in their respective classes. Both also claimed the Quickest Dodge purse at the 2019 Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge event

Additional activities included a First Responder Showdown between southeast Michigan fire and rescue teams, virtual head-to-head racing in Dodge Challenger SRT Demon simulators, a classic/modern muscle car show with 300 vehicles, and flamethrower, wheelstander and pro-mod exhibitions.

Event fan packages and experiences also were auctioned off, raising thousands of dollars for the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

Fans unable to attend MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge can view an event replay at DodgeGarage.com. Two half-hour Roadkill episodes will air on MotorTrend television, with additional coverage in an hour-long episode of MotorTrend’s Roadkill TV series.

Fiserv Helps Detroit Small Businesses Get Back2Business

Fiserv Inc., a global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions based in Wisconsin, is helping Detroit get “Back2Business” by providing support to small, minority-owned businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fiserv Back2Business program is part of a $50 million commitment to provide financial grants of $10,000 and connect minority-owned small businesses with critical resources, including complimentary consulting, leading technology solutions such as the Clover point-of-sale platform from Fiserv, and community partners.

Eligible Black- or minority-owned small businesses located in Macomb, Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties may apply for a Back2Business grant to assist with payroll, rent, or lease payments, technology or equipment purchases, or premises redesign. Merchants must have revenues of less than $1 million annually, be founded prior to Jan. 1, 2020, and have fewer than 10 employees. Applications will be accepted here.

On Monday, Fiserv presented Back2Business grants to three Detroit-area merchants, each of which is also a client of First State Bank. Those receiving grants were:

  • Denise Lomax of Child Star Development Center.
  • David Anderson of Anderson & Son Painting.
  • Saad Attisha of Sahara Restaurant & Grill.

“Many small businesses are continuing to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Neil Wilcox, head of corporate social responsibility at Fiserv. “Through the Back2Business program, Fiserv is committed to providing capital and technology to help sustain these businesses and fuel growth in our community.”

In addition to Detroit, Fiserv has sponsored Back2Business grants in multiple cities where small business communities have been heavily impacted, including New York, Milwaukee, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oakland, Calif. To date, Fiserv has presented more than 900 grants to small businesses through the program.

Olympia Entertainment, 313 Presents to Host Job Fair at DTE Energy Music Theatre Aug. 19

Olympia Entertainment and 313 Presents are hosting a job fair at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Aug. 19. Positions are available at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, and Meadow Brook Amphitheatre.

No reservation or appointment is needed. Available part-time positions include guest relations, crowd managers, security, restroom attendants, parking attendants, maintenance crew, supervisors, and more.

For additional information and to apply online, please visit DistrictDetroit.com/Jobs.

Eaton Expands Detroit Diesel, Volvo, Mack Aftermarket Portfolio

Power management company Eaton, based in Galesburg (east of Kalamazoo), today announced its Vehicle Group has introduced two new concentric pneumatic clutch actuators (CPCAs), designed for commercial vehicle push-type diaphragm spring clutches.

The CPCAs help optimize vehicle performance by working with a vehicle’s automated manual transmission (AMT) to continuously determine the ideal release position and clutch actuation when the transmission shifts.

The CPCAs serve as an aftermarket replacement for the clutch actuator used in the Detroit Diesel DT12, the Volvo I-Shift, and Mack mDRIVE automated manual transmissions. With many AMT-equipped trucks on the road no longer under factory warranty, service providers need reliable parts to complete repairs and maintenance, according to Eaton. Replacing the CPCA during clutch service can help save repair time and cost while reducing downtime for unscheduled maintenance.

With the addition of the CPCAs, Eaton now offers a complete line of aftermarket clutch products, enabling customers to purchase an Eaton Advantage automated clutch and replacement CPCA, and to calibrate the system with Eaton’s ServiceRanger4 Pro Plus software.

“The addition of the CPCAs expands our clutch portfolio of products in order to serve all makes and models of vehicles in North America,” says Tim Bauer, vice president of aftermarket at  Eaton’s Vehicle Group North America. “Customers can now buy all their clutch products from Eaton’s expanded offering, with support from ServiceRanger4 Pro Plus software and the Eaton Roadranger team. We’re pleased to be able to provide these products to customers who may not have had access before.”

Eaton’s CPCAs will be available for purchase in the third quarter of 2021. Visit here to find an Eaton aftermarket distributor or learn more about its clutch portfolio.

McLaren Integrated HMO Group Expands Relationship with ZeOmega

Flint-based McLaren Integrated HMO Group (MIG) has expanded its relationship with ZeOmega, a population health management solution provider in Texas.

MIG will use Jiva — ZeOmega’s comprehensive PHM platform — at McLaren Health Plan (MHP), a subsidiary of MIG, to improve outcomes, enhance efficiencies, and optimize return on investment.

“We chose to add new users to the Jiva platform for MHP because our other subsidiary of MIG, MDwise in Indiana, has greatly benefitted from its powerful capabilities,” says Beth Caughlin, chief health operations officer for MIG. “MDwise has been leveraging Jiva since 2012 to enhance care management, disease management, and appeals and grievances.

“The modular architecture of Jiva will help ensure our organizations have the tools and resources they need — exactly when needed — to easily personalize solutions that will accelerate success. As we grow and change, we won’t need to invest in a new PHM platform and deal with the large amount of time and money that type of transition demands. Jiva will grow and change with us. We look forward to the care improvements Jiva will support and the superior assistance ZeOmega’s experts offer.”

Former NBA Player and MSU Star Paul Davis Establishes Endowment at Alma Mater

Paul Davis, a former Michigan State University basketball star who played in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Washington Wizards, has established a $50,000 athletic scholarship endowment at the East Lansing institution.

Davis now is partner with Podium Risk Management in Southfield, which helps athletes, entertainers, executives, and business owners create long-term financial success. The endowment will award a $10,000 scholarship annually to a qualified MSU student-athlete.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to give back to the university that served as a launching pad for my career and life after basketball,” Davis says. “MSU opened so many doors for me and I was able to build relationships that continue to this day. I’m excited to create a path for student athletes, just like the one I took, so they can continue to work towards their dreams.”

There is no application process. MSU Athletics will select the scholarship winners and announce the award each spring, beginning this year. The scholarship will go to athletes in sports other than football or basketball.

“Athletes who participate in other sports put in just as much time and work with less fanfare and recognition,” Davis says. “I don’t want any kid that’s dreaming to be deterred by a lack of funding or opportunity. We need to create pathways for kids to pursue their dreams, but it will always be their responsibility to put in the work, compete and represent the university.”

Residents Moving into New University Edge Residents Apartments in Lansing

Hundreds of new Lansing residents are moving into their new off-campus apartments at University Edge, located on the key corridor of Michigan Avenue at the Red Cedar Development site.

University Edge already is at 95 percent capacity. The luxury one-, two-, four-, or five-bedroom apartments include a 1,800-square-foot resort-style pool, community courtyards, social/game room, fitness center, private study lounge, an internet cafe with Mac computers, and free parking.

Residents have access to all the necessary amenities, which will include 45,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the first floor. Students have less than half a mile to get to Michigan State University’s main campus.

The Red Cedar Development project took more than a decade to work its way through three different city councils before it was adopted by the Lansing City Council in 2019. The project played a role by sharing the cost to properly repair and redesign the Montgomery Drain project, which promotes environmental stewardship through private investment, according to the developer.

Continental/Ferguson converted a former city-owned and operated golf course into a tax-paying entity within the commercial corridor connecting MSU/East Lansing with downtown Lansing and catalyzing collaboration amongst communities in the region.

Private investment dollars totaled more than $256 million, which are financing the development’s multi-generational housing, two hotels (full service and select service), market rate and student housing options, a senior village with independent, assisted and memory care services and a new 20 plus acre dog-friendly city park connecting to the Lansing River Trail.

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