DBusiness Daily Update: ‘Detroit: The City of Chefs’ Documentary Embarks on Fundraising Campaign, and More

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.
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Documentarian Keith Famie is looking for funding to expand his “Detroit: The City of Chefs” project from a single film to the addition of four follow-up episodes. // Photo courtesy of Keith Famie

‘Detroit: The City of Chefs’ Documentary Embarks on Fundraising Campaign

Keith Famie, the Wixom-based documentarian, is embarking on a fundraising campaign for his latest project — “Detroit: The City of Chefs.”

“It was always a concern that an 80-90 minute film just would not do justice to our culinary heritage here in Detroit,” Famie explains. “The historical story and journey to where we are today is so in-depth, especially if you take into consideration the impact that our rich and diverse ethnic communities have had on the Detroit culinary scene.

“I met with DPTV/PBS and explained that this really needs to be a series with a launch of an 80- to 90-minute film, and then four half hour episodes. Now I hit the pavement for the necessary support to pull this off.”

The first airing will be Dec. 10 with the premier on Dec. 9 at the Emagine Theatre entertainment complex in Novi for roughly 1,000 guests.

Famie is asking all interested people to not only contribute to the cause but to share the following crowdfunding link with their contacts: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/detroit-the-city-of-chefs#/.

For those who contribute, there are cook books from Chef Brian Polcyn, Chef Jimmy Schmidt, Chef George Vutetakis, dinner at Cuisine, Diamond Jim Bradys, Chef Baldwins restaurants, and tickets to the premiere.

Lingenfelter Collection in Brighton to Host Charity Event Honoring GM Proving Ground

The General Motors Proving Ground Retiree Club is hosting a charity event from 10 a.m. to 3  p.m. on May 18 at the Lingenfelter Collection (7819 Lincoln Drive) in Brighton. The event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Milford test track.

In addition, the charity open house will benefit the Gleaners Community Food Bank and feature as many as 175 vehicles that are part of one of the world’s top-rated automotive collections.

No tickets are necessary. Kids are welcome and donations are accepted at the door.

Southfield’s Mars Agency Rebrands to Mars United Commerce

The Mars Agency in Southfield has rebranded as Mars United Commerce, a name reflecting the company’s growth into a full-service commerce marketing partner for brands and retailers worldwide, according to the company.

Officials say Mars United Commerce embodies the ongoing evolution of the commerce marketing industry, which has become a complex array of shopping channels and engagement opportunities that must be mastered individually to deliver program-level success but also managed collectively to drive company-wide growth.

“Mars has long been known for relentless reinvention, for staying ahead of industry trends to build expertise in the emerging skill sets our clients need to drive sustainable business growth,” says Rob Rivenburgh, global CEO of Mars United Commerce. “We have best-in-class capabilities across the full spectrum of commerce marketing, and an unmatched ability to unite them to drive even greater success for our clients. That’s what rebranding as Mars United Commerce says to the marketplace.”

Significant investments in technology and infrastructure have helped Mars United Commerce become a global leader in four key commerce disciplines — Strategy & Analytics, Digital Commerce, Content & Experiences, and Retail Consultancy — that together form a United Commerce Ecosystem providing all the expertise clients need to navigate the complex commerce marketing landscape.

Practices such as retail media, ecommerce, and marketing analytics are enabled through the company’s proprietary Marilyn Commerce Marketing Technology Platform. (In another nod to the company’s heritage, the platform is named after founder Marilyn Barnett, whose visionary spirit continues to inspire every growth initiative, just as her namesake platform empowers all client activity.)

These new capabilities inform and enhance what has long been the company’s core strength: applying unique shopper insights, deep retailer intelligence, and creative excellence to help clients make better decisions, create connected experiences, and drive stronger business results.

The company has expanded its reach around the globe, establishing regional operations that provided the foothold needed to bring its full complement of commerce marketing capabilities to new regions. In Europe, the scope of the U.K. office has steadily grown across the continent as its service offerings likewise expanded.

Mars United Commerce now encompasses a workforce of 800 professionals integrated across North America, Europe, Australia-New Zealand, and Asia, all experts in specific functions but also trained and certified in every aspect of commerce marketing. All operations around the world will rebrand as Mars United Commerce.

To learn more about Mars United Commerce, visit marsunited.com.

U.P. Campground Makes The Dyrt’s List of Best Places to Camp in 2024

The Mouth of Two Hearted River State Forest Campground in Luce County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula made No. 3 on The Dyrt’s list of the Best Places to Camp in the Midwest.

Located on Lake Superior at the mouth of the Two Hearted River, this rustic campground offers opportunities for paddle sports, fishing, and hiking.

This campground is managed by Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Cunningham-Limp Breaks Ground for Northville Township Essential Services Complex

Cunningham-Limp, a construction management firm based in Novi, participated in the May 14 groundbreaking of its latest municipal project, the Northville Township Essential Services Complex.

The 96,000-square-foot space includes a new police station and jail, fire department, department of public works facility, and parks and recreation amenities at what is now Legacy Park, the former home of a state psychiatric hospital.

Cunningham-Limp has been involved in the development of the new facilities for Northville Township from the beginning phase, utilizing an integrated project delivery approach focused on collaboration and transparency, managing projects from concept to completion. While the project was initially projected at $35 million for a modest police station and EMS facility, the new complex is being constructed at a cost lower than the initial estimate.

The Northville Township Essential Services Complex marks the sixth municipal project in recent years for Cunningham-Limp, following work in Orion Township, Bloomfield Hills, Auburn Hills, and Farmington Hills. The project also involves collaboration with Partners in Architecture for the project’s architects and OHM Advisors for civil engineering. It is slated to be completed in April 2025.

Detroit City Distillery Celebrates 10-year Anniversary with New Product Releases

To commemorate its 10-year anniversary, Detroit City Distillery (DCD) is announcing the release of a signature spirit every month throughout 2024. This celebratory series starts on Friday with the re-release of Shut Down Single Barrel Bourbon.

Each month DCD will feature a limited-edition bottle, showcasing either a new creation or a gem from the distillery’s archives.

In March 2020, as the world came to a standstill, Detroit City Distillery pivoted from whiskey production to crafting hand sanitizer, producing 25,000 gallons for first responders, hospitals, and essential businesses. Amid those challenging times, DCD released a 120-proof four-grain bourbon to lift spirits. This has only improved with age, the distiller says, and now, four years later, Shut Down Single Bourbon returns.

Shutdown Single Barrel Bourbon is a blend of four different Michigan grains with a mash bill is 58 percent corn, 23 percent rye, 10 percent malted barley, and 9 percent wheat. The bourbon has a robust nose with the classic notes of caramel, leather, toasted oak, and a hint of blackberry. The barley bill brings out a depth of flavor accentuated by notes of pecans, butterscotch, and coffee. It finishes with a long burn from DCD’s signature rye spice with notes of pink peppercorn and burnt orange peel.

Shut Down Single Barrel Bourbon will be available starting Friday at 4 p.m. for $70 per bottle. This special release will be conducted the old-fashioned way: in person, first-come, first-served. Those in line prior to the release will receive a ticket to secure their bottle, with a limit of two bottles per person.

Skillman Foundation Launches Education Visionary Awards Program

The Skillman Foundation in Detroit has launched the Skillman Visionary Awards program, an initiative aimed at honoring education changemakers.

The award program underscores the foundation’s commitment to recognizing and supporting visionary leaders who are transforming the education system to better prepare students to navigate and shape the future.

Through the Skillman Visionary Awards program, the Foundation will provide $50,000 unrestricted awards to individuals who are reimagining Detroit’s education system in innovative, community-informed, and collaborative ways. Awardees represent a span of generations and roles, including education changemakers working in school districts, youth programs, community organizing and policy advocacy.

The 10 awardees selected for the award’s inaugural class are:

  • Sherisse Butler, senior vice president and executive director of City Year Detroit
  • Sirrita Darby, founder of Detroit Heals Detroit
  • Jerjuan Howard, founder of Umoja Debate League
  • Jenell Mansfield, political and legislative coordinator of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan
  • Silver Moore, humanities instructional coach at University Prep Schools and founder of Classroom Clapback
  • Larry Simmons Sr., executive director of Brightmoor Alliance
  • Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Marisol Bien Teachworth Walton, co-lead of Detroit Summer and director of Youth Development at Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.
  • Dawn Wilson-Clark, parent organizer at the Jonathon and Dawn Clark Health and Healing Center
  • Juanita Zuniga, lead youth organizer at 482Forward

For more information, visit SkillmanVisionary.org.

National Coney Island in Warren Hosts Event with INDY NXT Driver Nolan Allaer Friday 

The public is invited to a meet-and-greet at the National Coney Island (30140 Van Dyke Ave.) in Warren with restaurant-sponsored Nolan Allaer, the Detroit native driver of the No. 11 car in the INDY NXT by Firestone series competing at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear (May 31-June 2). His race car also will be on display during the event, which will take place from 4-6 p.m. on Friday.

National Coney Island will be giving away two tickets to the Detroit Grand Prix, posters signed by Nolan, and other merchandise.

Pope Francis Center in Detroit Receives $250K from TD Charitable Foundation

New Jersey-based TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, has awarded a total of $7 million to 37 nonprofits across the bank’s Maine to Florida footprint and in Michigan through its 18th annual Housing for Everyone grant program.

Grants ranging from $150,000 to $250,000 will support independent living for marginalized community members, especially those who experience homelessness and face conditions that make it difficult to maintain a stable home without additional help.

The Pope Francis Center in Detroit, which cares for the city’s homeless, received $250,000.

Washtenaw Economic Club Hosts MICHauto’s Glenn Stevens May 23

The Washtenaw Economic Club will host its May luncheon event May 23 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College (4800 E. Huron River Drive) in Ann Arbor with a session focused on mobility and electric vehicles.

The meeting, titled “Big Picture 2024 — Mobility and Electric Vehicle Transformations,” will feature Glenn Stevens Jr., MICHauto executive director and Detroit Regional Chamber vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives.

The event will include a presentation by Stevens on the state of mobility and electric vehicle transformations in Michigan and nationally, followed by a moderated question-and-answer session.

The Washtenaw Economic Club welcomes the public to participate by either becoming a member of the club or purchasing available individual tickets per event here.

Eastside Golf’s Community Golf Day Set for June 1 at Rackham Golf Course

Eastside Golf, a Black-owned golf apparel brand that’s changing the cultural perception of the game, has announced it will be hosting its first-ever Community Golf Day from noon-5 p.m. at Rackham Golf Course (10100 W. 10 Mile Road) in Huntington Woods on June 1.

This serves as a homecoming for Eastside Golf co-founders Olajuwan Ajanaku and Earl Cooper. Ajanaku started the company and fulfilled its first orders while living in Detroit, and Cooper was born in Flint and later became the first Black PGA professional at the Detroit Golf Club.

Approximately 150-250 people are expected to attend, including 72 with tee times who will be golfing. Special guests include golfers from the Hollywood Golf Institute, Cass Tech High School, Renaissance High School, and Cody High School.

U.P.’s Harbor Haus Restaurant Has a Lake Superior View at Every Table

Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor at Michigan’s northernmost point is now open for the summer season. The restaurant features lakefront dining and a culinary experience whose menu has fresh local fish, seafood, and steak. Local produce is utilized in dishes when it’s available like berries and vegetables.

Waitresses at the Harbor Haus serve your table wearing Dirndls, a traditional dress worn in southern Germany and Austria. Its display of beer steins extend around the dining area.

Every day around 6 p.m. the wait staff goes outside to greet the Isle Royale Queen ferry on its way to the Copper Harbor docks. They perform a festive dance on the patio to welcome back the ship, signifying the “cooperative nature of the community of Copper Harbor.”

The hours of operation are Thursday-Sunday from 3-8 p.m. Call for reservations at 906-289-4502.

Pontiac’s Home Repair Program Positively Impacts Residents

City of Pontiac residents have been significantly impacted by several home improvement projects through the city’s Home Repair Program launched last spring.

The objective for this initiative was to complete home repair projects to help homeowners improve quality and safety for housing. So far, 38 homes have been awarded for repairs, with 14 homes currently under construction, four completed, and 20 additional homes approved to start renovations.

“The Home Repair Program has played a vital role in improving the quality of life for residents, and we’re thrilled that this initiative is assisting so many homeowners with needed home improvement projects,” says Mayor Tim Greimel. “This has been a highly anticipated initiative and it’s amazing to see so many homeowners get the help they need.”

The city received $37.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and allocated more than $3 million of those funds for the initiative. The program granted up to $25,000 per household in home repairs to at least 44 homes during the initial process. The range of eligible home repairs covers a variety of items including plumbing, HVAC, roof repair, and waterproofing. The program is eligible for any residents earning less than 80 percent of the area median income adjusted by family size.

A large number of residents in the program are either elderly, or live in a single to several occupant household, all of which have experienced wear and tear on their homes throughout the years.