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 to Build $5M Animal Care & Control Building
City of Detroit officials Monday announced plans for a new, $5 million, 30,000-square-foot animal shelter and office building for Detroit Animal Care and Control. The facility will be located at Ferry and Russell roads, near the county’s new criminal justice complex southeast of the I-75/I-94 interchange.
Construction expected to begin early next year and take 18 months to complete.
The new building will provide nearly twice the space as DACC’s current 16,000-square-foot headquarters and shelter. It will include 200 kennels (up from the current 86) to expand its capacity for boarding the dogs and cats it takes in and have larger outdoor areas for dog runs. It also will include a modern veterinary medical clinic with better amenities and more space to allow Detroit Animal Care to provide a higher level of care and treatment.
“The team at Animal Care and Control have done tremendous work to pick up more loose dogs, educate pet owners, and significantly increase their live release rate,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “The one thing that has been missing is a new facility. When this new shelter is completed, the DACC staff, as well as residents and animals will have the type of first-class facility they deserve.”
Plans call for the complete overhaul — inside and out — of the existing building at 5700 Russell, which most recently has been used for office space for the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRAA). It also will include an expansion of the building that will house the kennels and have the highest level of air filtration and draining systems needed for this type of facility.
This plan for an entirely new facility replaces a previously announced plan to renovate the current facility and add modular office and veterinary space behind it.
“During the COVID pause, we had a chance to take a breath and really look at what we needed and what our options were, and we all agreed a new facility was the right approach,” says Brad Dick, group executive for services and infrastructure for the city. “It will take a little longer, but this will allow us to finally and completely address every challenge the current facility now faces.”
Since the beginning of 2020, Detroit Animal Care Shelter has retained its no-kill shelter status with a 93 percent live release rate this year. The shelter’s continued focus on medical care, adoption events, and agreements with multiple rescues resulting in transfers have added to the increase of the live release rate. Detroit Animal Care hosts adoption events regularly, at least two a month, to help get animals into loving homes. In the past six months, nearly 1,000 dogs and 270 cats have been adopted out.
“Animal Care has seen significant improvements focusing on key priorities, including increasing the number of licensed dogs, improved care for shelter animals achieving no-kill status despite the pandemic,” says Mark Kumpf, director of Detroit Animal Care Director Mark Kumpf. “More dogs are finding their new home today than at any previous time in the history of our city’s municipal shelter.”
For more information, visit here.
MEDC’s Export Assistance Program Gives Michigan Businesses More Flexibility
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced Monday that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has changed requirements of the Michigan State Trade Expansion Program (MI-STEP), removing reimbursement limits on activity categories that now will give companies more flexibility in growing their sales in international markets.
“The removal of the reimbursement caps on export activity categories will allow for our International Trade program to support more businesses, especially growing small businesses, as they compete in today’s global economy,” says Alyssa Tracey director of international trade at MEDC. “Export sales help to diversify customer bases, provide longer term stability, and support higher-paying jobs that are critical to our long-term economic growth as a state, and these changes will allow Michigan businesses to grow even more.”
In September, MEDC announced that Michigan received $2 million in federal grant funds — the maximum amount awarded by the SBA and a $650,000 increase from 2021 — to help Michigan small businesses grow in the state through increased access to global markets.
Administered by the MEDC’s International Trade Program, MI-STEP funding supports export development for small- and medium-sized businesses through financial assistance grants for virtual and in-person trade missions, international sales trips, and trade shows along with website translation, localization, and search engine optimization and more.
MI-STEP is designed to spur job creation by empowering Michigan small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to export their products, providing financial assistance awards for eligible export development-related expenses.
Previously, certain activities had limitations on the allowable reimbursement amounts. Eligible companies can still receive 75 percent reimbursement up to $15,000 annually, now with no limitations among MI-STEP-eligible categories. The eligible activities include:
- International website design, development, and translation.
- Search engine optimization and localization maintenance and monitoring.
- eCommerce fees including hosting and maintenance.
- Design and translation of international marketing media including social media and digital ad placements.
- Cost of compliance testing for existing product’s entry into an export market.
- Sample product shipping.
Additional eligible activities not previously impacted by limitations that continue to be allowed include:
- Participation in foreign trade missions.
- Foreign sales trip.
- S. Department of Commerce services.
- International trade show participation.
- S.-based international trade show participation.
- Participation in export training workshops.
The Michigan Strategic Fund is providing an additional $667,000 as the state match to support the Michigan STEP grant initiative, now in its 10th year of supporting financial assistance for exporting activities of eligible Michigan businesses. To date, MEDC’s International Trade program has facilitated more than $4.1 billion in export sales through federal and non-federally funded programs. In fiscal year 2020, Michigan businesses in the program generated total export sales of $592 million.
The International Trade Program recently added international certifications and export credit insurance premiums from EXIM Bank as expenses eligible for MI-STEP grant funding. International certifications such as ISO, AS9100, CE Mark for Europe, and CCC for China, can be expensive hurdles for Michigan small businesses to face when trying to expand their capacity to sell to global markets and credit insurance extends credit to international buyers and provides businesses with access to working capital.
For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit here.
U-M: Wayne County Recovery Expected to be Strong But Uneven
Michigan’s most populous county has recovered most of its employment losses from the start of the pandemic, though the economic comeback varies widely among the kinds of jobs and between some of its more affluent suburbs and the city of Detroit, according to a University of Michigan study.
Wayne County is expected to nearly recover its pre-pandemic payroll jobs count by the end of 2023, somewhat stronger than Michigan as a whole, say economists with U-M’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics. As of July, the county’s jobless rate had fallen to 4.5 percent, representing a nearly 90 percent recovery of the pandemic-induced job losses.
The relatively strong recovery, researchers say, is driven by the end of pandemic restrictions on the service economy, significant federal income support, rising personal comfort levels, and reopening of schools for in-person instruction. They also expect the city of Detroit will resume its promising economic trajectory before the pandemic.
The Wayne County Economic Outlook for 2021-23 finds particular optimism in its outlook for finance and insurance, transportation equipment manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing industries. Accommodation and food services, along with the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries, however, are forecast to lag well behind their pre-pandemic levels by the end of the forecast.
Researchers say average inflation-adjusted wages in the county jumped about 7 percent in 2020, as more lower-wage workers lost their jobs than their higher-wage counterparts. That’s expected to slip this year and hold roughly flat next year as lower-wage workers return to jobs before moderate growth returns in 2023.
Real wage growth is strongest in the lower-educational attainment services sector, forecast to be 11 percent from 2019 to 2023. Real wage growth in the higher education services sector is expected to grow by 6percent. Real wages in the county’s blue-collar industries, however, are forecast to be about 2 percent lower over the period.
Despite these wage trends, the economists expect higher-wage industries to see much faster job growth than lower-wage industries. That leads to a concern that income inequality will rise after the pandemic.
They also note a geographical disparity within the county when looking at average annual household incomes adjusted for cost of living and household size. In 2019, incomes in Detroit averaged $59,400 for a three-person household and $101,000 in the rest of the county. The area containing Plymouth and Canton townships had an average three-person household income of $148,000.
Divides also emerge among racial and ethnic groups: Black and Hispanic residents are less than half as likely as non-Hispanic white residents to live in households researchers classify as higher income, and they are nearly twice as likely to live in households classified as lower income.
“A strong economy and tight labor market tend to reduce economic disparities by boosting the prospects of lower-income workers,” says Gabriel Ehrlich, director of RSQE. “We hope that the economic recovery we are forecasting for Wayne County will eventually lead to more broadly shared prosperity in the county, although there are challenges in the near term.”
HAP’s Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO Earn 4.5 Star rating
Detroit-based Health Alliance Plan has earned 4.5 Stars (out of 5) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its Medicare Advantage HMO and Medicare Advantage PPO plans.
“HAP has proven to be the most consistent high-performing health plan in Michigan,” says Dr. Michael Genord, president and CEO of HAP. “HAP is committed to providing our members with an exceptional customer experience — every single time. These ratings are a testament to the efforts we make to put our members at the center of all we do.”
All health plans that offer Medicare coverage are evaluated by CMS based on quality, service, and member satisfaction. Ratings are based on a five-star scale and are released every October to help Medicare beneficiaries select a health plan for the following calendar year. A plan must earn at least four stars to qualify for a quality bonus payment from CMS. These bonus payments are invested back into member benefits and programs.
“HAP’s exceptional star ratings help the people of Michigan because, as a Michigan-based insurer, we invest these federal bonus dollars back into creating enhanced benefits and programs for our members who are also based here,” says Genord. “That’s why a regional health plan is so important. We know what’s important to the people we serve, whether it’s our care management programs — like diabetes management — that we can offer to members free of charge, or enhanced vision, hearing and dental benefits, or our popular over-the-counter allowance. We’re proud to say that HAP is made in Michigan, for Michigan.”
For more information, visit here.
Educator Portrayed in “Freedom Writers” Headlines NCJW/MI Event Oct. 14
The National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan (NCJW|MI) will be hosting its annual fundraising event “Women of Vision” on Thursday featuring noted educator Erin Gruwell.
Gruwell’s experience of inspiring inner-city children in Long Beach, Calif., to learn and write about anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and injustices became a Hollywood movie called “Freedom Writers” starring Hilary Swank.
Since then, Gruwell has founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she works with students and teachers all over the U.S. and in more than 12 countries, to inspire young people to write, keep journals, and make films about their experiences and how they can work to combat racism.
The event also will honor two local women. Rabbi Marla Hornsten, of Temple Israel, will be awarded The Woman of Vision Award because of her advocacy for equality for women, her efforts for women’s programming, and her work with domestic abuse organizations.
The Josephine S. Weiner Award for Community Service will be awarded to Beverly Stone, a former English teacher, middle school principal, and assistant school superintendent, who has been a long-term volunteer with NCJW|MI. Stone also organized an NCJW|MI symposium on autism for the community and serves on the advisory board of Project Healthy Schools, promoting healthy lifestyles for local middle schoolers.
The event will be used to support NCJW|MI’s community-service projects and social justice advocacy work.
Tickets for the “Women of Vision” event are available at several donation levels, starting at $54. There is also a raffle. For more information on the program visit here.
Kaufman Group, Burns & Wilcox Donate $103K+ to Help Combat Hunger
H.W. Kaufman Group, a global network of insurance companies based in Farmington Hills, and Burns & Wilcox, its largest flagship organization, have donated $103,475 to benefit local community food banks, food distribution centers, and hunger-relief charities throughout the United States and Canada. The donation is a result of its associate-driven initiative Harvesting Hope Against Hunger.
To leverage the company’s global network and workforce, each policy bound with Burns & Wilcox in the United States and Canada during the month of September resulted in a donation of up to $6 to charities leading the fight to end hunger. Additionally, personal contributions made by associates throughout the month were matched dollar for dollar by Kaufman.
Throughout September, Kaufman and Burns & Wilcox associates also were encouraged to utilize their paid volunteer time and participate in philanthropic activities. In total, Kaufman associates volunteered 620 hours to local food banks in the areas in which they conduct business.
“At H.W. Kaufman Group and Burns & Wilcox, we strive to support the communities where we work and live and act fast to help those in great need,” says Alan Jay Kaufman, chairman, president and CEO of H.W. Kaufman Group. “Our 52-year legacy of giving and supporting others is more important than ever as we face long-standing impacts of the pandemic. The insurance industry exists to provide relief when disaster strikes, which is why we dedicated a full month to this hunger relief effort for the second year in a row. Our associates are equally passionate about supporting organizations rooted in their communities and we encourage and support their commitment. Working together for change rings true to our company culture.”
Kaufman’s Michigan associates raised more than $8,000 for Forgotten Harvest, the No Kid Hungry, and Food Gathers program.
For a full list of designated charities, visit here.