DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit Opera Unveils 2022–23 Opera and Dance Season, 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.
A still from a production of “Xerces” at Detroit Opera/ // Photo by Karli Cadel/Glimmerglass Opera
A still from a production of “Xerces” at Detroit Opera/ // Photo by Karli Cadel/Glimmerglass Opera

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 Opera Unveils 2022–23 Opera and Dance Performance Season

In its first full season in the newly renovated Detroit Opera House, Detroit Opera will present a wide array of operas and dance productions during its 2022-2023 performance season.

The schedule runs the gamut from beloved classics in fresh new stagings to a contemporary masterpiece in an international co-production.

The opera season opens on Sept. 17 with Artistic Director Yuval Sharon’s new staging of “Die Walküre: Act III,” co-produced with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and starring Detroit Opera Associate Artistic Director Christine Goerke.

The season also includes a new production of Osvaldo Golijov’s “Ainadamar,” marking Detroit Opera’s first international co-production with Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera. Other staged productions include “Gounod’s Faust,” directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz and conducted by Dame Jane Glover, in a production from Opera Omaha, and Tazewell Thompson’s staging of Handel’s “Xerxes” from the Glimmerglass Festival. Rounding out the season are a concert performance of Verdi’s “Aida,” featuring role debuts by soprano Angel Blue (Aida) and Goerke (Amneris) and conducted by Jonathon Heyward; and a Detroit-specific production devised by Sharon will premiere in the summer of 2023.

The dance season at the Detroit Opera House will provide patrons with envelope-pushing dance experiences. Alonzo King LINES Ballet brings its signature combination of contemporary choreography and classical ballet esthetic to Detroit for its 40th anniversary tour, while Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut will make its first appearance in Detroit.

Ballet Preljocaj takes flight in a reinvention of the timeless masterpiece “Swan Lake,” co-presented with the University of Michigan’s University Musical Society. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Detroit Opera House stage to celebrate the African American experience. Nina Ananiashvili will lead a rare U.S. appearance from the esteemed ballet company, The State Ballet of Georgia.

“One of my ambitions for Detroit Opera is to make opera aspirational and accessible by bringing new unique voices to the table,” says Sharon. “I’m thrilled to work with (president and CEO) Wayne Brown, Christine Goerke, and the entire Detroit Opera team to create a fresh, ambitious standard for opera in Detroit — one that reflects the creativity and vibrancy of a city that has always celebrated innovation and looking at things differently.”

Visit here for the full 2022-2023 opera and dance schedule.

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Awards More than $200K in Journalism Projects

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in Detroit announced that six journalism projects will receive a total of $208,333 from the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund.

Grants from the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund total $1.3 million over the past five years.

The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund was launched in March 2017 as a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The fund, through its grantmaking program, seeks to advance quality journalism while reflecting the perspectives of diverse constituencies including people of color, women, and low-income communities.

“We are thrilled by the work and impact of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund,” says Ric DeVore, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “It is important that our community’s diverse views are represented in local media coverage. The recipients selected this year are working to address existing barriers in journalism, expand local media partnerships, involve residents in the reporting process and increase connectivity and transparency.”

2022 Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund grantees include:

  • Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) received $43,423 for their DEAL Race and Justice Reporting Initiative (Phase III) to create a virtual newsroom and establish a racial justice news beat in Detroit to strengthen the freelance journalist ecosystem. In addition, DEAL staff will provide programming to participating journalists including one-on-one coaching, mentorship opportunities, workshops, a radio bootcamp, and “Meet the Editors” event.
  • Outlier Media Products received $42,000 to expand the Detroit Documenters program by launching a nonprofit newsroom hub. Outlier will establish a talent pipeline of freelance opportunities for Detroit Documenters with member media partners. The media partners — Planet Detroit, Tostada Magazine, Chalkbeat, WDET and Metro Times — will be publishing Documenters pieces and notes.
  • ARISE Detroit! received $39,800 to help Detroit residents find solutions and strategies to improve their neighborhoods. ARISE Detroit! will create a monthly 1-hour podcast in partnership with WWJ Radio, develop a Neighborhood Solutions Handbook, and expand the online newsletter.
  • Riverwise Magazine received $20,000 to grow its podcast products focused on community-building and grassroots organizing. The organization will also host monthly Riverwise collective workshops and develop a “pop-up” podcasting series to include Detroit residents and continue to build its network of grassroots organizations and media outlets.
  • Urban Aging News received $18,110 to create a Super Ager column that will highlight interviews of older adults that don’t fit society’s standards. Retired investigative reporters will write on critical issues to older adults. Also, Urban Aging News will create a DEI training for the partner Michigan State University journalism interns.
  • Planet Detroit received $45,000 to develop an online interactive environmental tool/navigator for Detroit residents. The online portal will have easy access to research, data, and information about local public health and environmental issues in neighborhoods.

“The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund is a great example of what happens when the goal is centered around community,” says Nate Wallace, Detroit director, Knight Foundation. “The importance of an informed and engaged community is as important as it’s ever been.”

Steve’s Mediterranean Chef Honors Donates Portion of Sales in May to Women’s Nonprofit

Mediterranean Chef, a Madison Heights-based family-owned company which produces Mediterranean foods like hummus, tabouli, garlic sauce, grape leaves, and more, will be donating one percent of sales throughout May 2022 to Michigan Women Forward to help women to become more financially secure by expanding their economic opportunities through nurturing business owners and investing in new businesses is the focus of this nonprofit.

“We wanted to do something to honor moms this Mother’s Day and partnering with an organization which empowers women to be financially independent that ultimately benefits their families for generations to come, seems a good way to do that,” says Christina Chammas, director of marketing and brand communications. “The business world can be intimidating, and we want to support Michigan women, giving them as many opportunities as possible.”

Steve’s Mediterranean Chef debuted a rebranded look in 2021 and recently celebrated seven-fold sales growth since the company’s purchase in 2013, with sales rising from $800,000 (resale and wholesale) to $6 million in 2021. The company has invested more than $500,000 in state-of-the-art equipment which is being used alongside hand-crafted stages of food production to keep the product authentic.

Originally available in 40 stores, Steve’s Mediterranean Chef line is now sold in 250 stores in Michigan including Kroger, Meijer, Nino Salvaggio, Papa Joe’s Market, Holiday Market, and Westborn Market. It has recently expanded distribution into northern and western Michigan and many restaurants and hotels serve the high-quality brand, including Leo’s Coney Island, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino Hotel.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra Celebrates 50th Anniversary of its Civic Youth Ensemble April 29-May 1

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Civic Youth Ensemble (CYE) with a weekend of concerts from April 29 through May 1 at the Orchestra Hall at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center at 3711 Woodward Ave in Detroit.

Special events include:

  • Friday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m. — Wu Family Academy Showcase concert featuring world premieres by the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble ($15)
  • Saturday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m. — Civic Jazz Live!, a performance by CYE’s Civic Jazz Orchestra (Free)
  • Sunday, May 1 at 1:00 p.m. — CYE Family Experience concert ($15)

CYE engages hundreds of youths from Detroit and southeastern Michigan each week, offering unique opportunities for students to experience their world through music. CYE is one facet of a robust structure of music education programs offered by the DSO for youth. This programming continues to evolve and grow to meet the needs of students in Detroit and beyond.

Tickets are still available at dso.org.

Michigan Schools Encouraged to Apply for Building Healthy Communities Program

Michigan K-12 schools are invited to apply for Building Healthy Communities (BHC) from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), a public-private school-based initiative that supports children’s whole health by providing teachers, administrators, and students a variety of resources, curriculum, equipment, and more.

Also provided by the initiative is professional development to create healthier school environments, prevent childhood obesity, reduce chronic disease, improve academic achievement, reduce absenteeism, and address mental health and well-being.

More than 200 schools are participating in the program this academic year, reaching over 90,000 students in Michigan.

Three programs are available through BHC to help meet the needs of Michigan schools for the 2022-2023 school year, which include:

  • Building Healthy Communities: Reducing Health Disparities in Elementary Schools is focused on addressing the social determinants of health that have contributed to wide disparities in many communities across Michigan and implements the program in all elementary school buildings within a school district simultaneously.
  • Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools creates a culture of wellness enabling middle school students to increase physical activity, eat healthier, improve mental health, and understand, through classroom lessons specifically targeting 6th graders, how nutrition, activity and well-being influence their lifelong health and learning.
  • Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness is flexible to meet the diverse needs of school buildings across the state. This program provides a menu of nutrition, physical activity, and well-being resources that schools can choose one or more from to make their school environment healthier and create a culture of wellness.

“The Building Healthy Communities program is at the core of Blue Cross’ social mission to improve the health of all Michiganders, especially our children,” says Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for community relations at BCBSM. “We are joined by a group of dedicated partners committed to ensuring schools have the proper support and resources to improve children’s physical and mental health.”

Launched in 2009, BHC is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA), Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Virtual, SHAPE Michigan, TRAILS, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact.

“The Health Fund is committed to reducing health disparities in Michigan, and especially for our youngest Michiganders. We’re proud to partner with BCBSM and other funders to support Building Healthy Communities and empower more Michigan residents to live their healthiest lives,” says Jan Delatorre, program officer at the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

All public, charter and private nonprofit schools in the state are encouraged to review the full program description and eligibility information at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth. Applications are currently being accepted for the Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness Program and Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools.

  • Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness — Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on June 30, 2022. Click here.
  • Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools — Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on August 26, 2022. Click here.

Building Healthy Communities supports BCBSM’s ongoing commitment to children’s health and its #MIKidsCan campaign — an initiative focused on encouraging kids to adopt healthy habits early in life that are more likely to be carried into adulthood. Since its inception, BHC has supported 469,000 students and 1,100 schools statewide. For more information on Blue Cross’ ongoing efforts to help improve childhood health, click here.

Six Grants Totaling $577,000 Awarded to Support Electric Vehicle Adoption in Michigan

The state of Michigan will launch six new services to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure, increase access to electric vehicles, and broaden electric vehicle adoption in communities around the state.

The six mobility companies — Chargeway, eCAMION, ElectricFish, Fleet Lab, MoGo and Volta — will receive more than $577,000 in total funding through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform to deploy mobility projects in Lansing, Traverse City, Port Austin, Allegan County, Burt Township, Monroe, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and DTE Energy’s Service Territory.

Launched by the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform provides grants to mobility and electrification organizations looking to deploy solutions in the state of Michigan

“As the legacy automaker in the country, Michigan is uniquely positioned with the right combination of knowledge and resources to lead the charge of widespread vehicle electrification,” says Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer at the OFME. “We are proud to support these visionary companies as they work to make the future of electrification and sustainable, equitable mobility a reality.”

This round’s Michigan Mobility Funding Platform Grant recipients are as follows:

Chargeway ($150,000 — Lansing and Traverse City)

To help improve the customer experience at dealerships, as well as simplify and accelerate EV sales, Chargeway will work in coordination with the Michigan Auto Dealers Association, DTE, Consumers Energy, Michigan Clean Cities, the Lansing Board of Water and Light, and Traverse City Light and Power to identify dealerships in Lansing and Traverse City to take part in the Accelerating Dealership EV Sales with Chargeway program.

The program will use Chargeway’s software platform as both a training and sales tool for dealerships, and as an educational tool for car shoppers. Additionally, retail informational kiosks called Chargeway Beacons will be placed at select auto dealerships throughout the state to provide simplified dealership electric vehicle sales tools and interactive experiences with electric vehicle charging information from various Michigan utilities. Shoppers will be able to download the Chargeway mobile app to take their electric vehicle research and shopping experiences with them.

eCAMION ($86,690 — Port Austin)

Widespread electric vehicle adoption can be stymied by energy grids that don’t have enough power to effectively support an influx in electricity demand when it comes to the more remote areas of Michigan.

To help address this need, eCAMION, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), DTE, and the Village of Port Austin, will install its Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) in Port Austin. The systems, which include DC Fast Chargers, are designed to operate independently and act as a buffer to electric grids. Additionally, they rely on very little power, making them ideal for supporting electric vehicle charging in more remote, rural areas.

ElectricFish ($72,000 — DTE Electric service territory)

In partnership with DTE Electric, ElectricFish will deploy its microgrid-integrated DC Fast Charging system at a public site where DC Fast Charging would otherwise be challenging due to grid constraints. Once deployed, the solution will charge electric vehicles as well as provide backup energy to a local grid feeder to boost the site’s resiliency.

Unlike traditional systems, ElectricFish’s solution is directly compatible with existing electrical infrastructure while still increasing DC Fast Charging capacity by three to seven times. This will help achieve a rapid ramp-up of electric vehicle adoption while also helping to maintain a reliable and safe electric system for DTE customers.

Fleet Lab ($90,000 — Burt Township, Allegan County, Monroe, Ann Arbor)

Fleet Lab — along with partners Burt Township School District, Allegan Area Integrated School District, St. Mary Catholic Central High School, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute — will deploy its Community Optimized Student Transportation system in three Michigan school districts.

As part of the system, Fleet Lab will recruit, vet and train drivers to transport students in specially equipped electric passenger vans. Once implemented, the system will enable districts to cut emissions while saving money on vehicle, fuel, and maintenance costs. The system will also help address the extreme driver shortages, eliminate hazardous bus stops on the side of busy roads and slash student travel times, which can be up to four hours per school day.

MoGo ($80,000 — Detroit)

To address the rising demand for e-bikes, MoGo will use their awarded grant to build a 15-dock electric charging bike share station with a solar panel roof in a lower income neighborhood of Detroit with partners Michigan Central Innovation District, PBSC Urban Solutions, Shift Transit and SkyHook. Charging at the structure will be 100 percent solar powered.

By adding an e-station to MoGo’s service network, electric pedal-assist bicycles will become more available to the public, allowing people to move more quickly, and making bike share a more reliable option in Detroit’s overall transportation ecosystem. Additionally, by charging these bikes exclusively through solar energy, MoGo will be able to drastically reduce its carbon footprint – not only for e-bike charging, but for bike maintenance team pickups and returns.

Volta ($98,750 — DTE Electric service territory)

Access to electric vehicle infrastructure is increasing across Michigan. Charging stations, however, are not always distributed equitably from neighborhood to neighborhood. Low and moderate-income areas are historically underserved by electric vehicle charging networks, leading to a “chicken-and-egg” dilemma in which drivers may be reluctant to shift to electric vehicles before public charging is readily available and visible along drivers’ typical routes.

To help address this dilemma, Volta and DTE partnered to design a program that will target locations — including lower-income and environmental justice communities that have not seen as much investment by electric vehicle charging network operators to date as higher-income regions.

In total, Volta will install six Level 2 and two DC Fast charging stations at four different locations within these targeted areas. The team leveraged Volta’s PredictEV machine learning software to identify optimal locations to place the stations based on forecasted electric vehicle adoption, EVSE demand, and expected utilization for the region.

Additionally, a portion of the funds provided by DTE will be applied to educate customers on the benefits of electric vehicles and available incentives that can make them more affordable by promoting DTE’s programs on large digital screens at Volta’s electric vehicle charging stations.

“Our partnerships with Chargeway, eCAMION, ElectricFish, and Volta support cleaner solutions where we live and serve,” said Tony Tomczak, Vice President of Electric Sales and Marketing, DTE. “These initiatives are some of the many ways DTE is working with our state agencies to promote transportation electrification for all.”

OFME, in partnership with Charge Up Michigan and EGLE, reviews and administers the grant applications, which are accepted on a rolling basis here.

Detroit Wing Company Opens Roseville Location, Fourth in Macomb County

Detroit Wing Company (DWC), a Michigan wing restaurant offering all-natural chicken wings and 20 house-made signature sauces, has announced the grand opening of its store at 31831 Gratiot Ave. in Roseville.

The new location is operated by first-time DWC franchisees Chrissy and Emmanuel Peratsakis.

“Based on its strong reputation and commitment to making all menu items fresh and from scratch, we were immediately drawn to Detroit Wing Company as a brand,” says Chrissy Peratsakis. “We have no doubt the Roseville community will soon fall in love with our fresh wings, homemade sauces and sides.”

Based in Eastpointe, Detroit Wing Company has nearly 20 locations across Michigan. DWC also has an additional 20 stores in development in Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, more than doubling its footprint as it ventures out of state.

“We continue to enjoy incredible growth in the Tri-County area, and we identified Roseville as a natural fit for a location based on strong customer feedback and support that we’ve received in neighboring communities,” says Gus Malliaras, founder of Detroit Wing Company.  “This new location allows us to cater to more of the great people in Macomb County.”

For more information, click here.