DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit Zoo to Stage Annual Wild Lights Holiday Show Starting Nov. 24, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies.
Detroit Zoo fundraiser shot
Wild Lights at Detroit Zoo features a walk-through light tunnel. // Photo courtesy of Detroit Zoo

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.

Detroit Zoo to Stage Annual Wild Lights Holiday Show Starting Nov. 24

Wild Lights, the Detroit Zoo’s annual holiday light show presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions, will be back Nov. 24-Jan. 7.

Visitors will be able to enjoy nearly 500 festive displays featuring millions of twinkling LED lights illuminating buildings, trees, sculptures, and a walk-through light tunnel.

The exhibition will be on view from 5-10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 5-9 p.m. on Sundays.

For tickets, visit here.

New Episode of ‘Unpack Your Financial Baggage’ Podcast Drops

Lou Melone, managing member of Melone Private Wealth in Auburn Hills, and R.J. King, editor of DBusiness magazine, DBusiness Daily News, Hustle and Muscle, and Detroit 500, have launched a new episode of the “Unpack Your Financial Baggage” podcast.

In the world of behavioral finance, there are common mistakes people make that can impact their financial well-being. This episode explores nine key behaviors that often lead individuals down the wrong path in their financial decision-making.

The nine behaviors are: loss aversion, narrow framing, mental accounting, diversification, anchoring, optimism, media response, regret, and herding.

These behaviors can be seen as the “nightmare” of mistakes, as they have the potential to wreak havoc on your financial future.

“By anchoring your decisions to your long-term goals and maintaining a rational, informed approach, you can navigate the complex world of finance with confidence and resilience,” says Melone.

The next episode talks about the role of the financial advisor as the quarterback for a client.

To tune in to the podcast, visit here.

AF Group Provides Community Support for Education Across Five States

AF Group, a Lansing-based holding company whose affiliated companies provide workers’ compensation and other specialty insurance solutions across the U.S., has contributed $100,000 to six organizations that serve the educational needs of children and families across five states.

“AF Group has a long history of giving back to those most in need in the communities where we work and live,” says Sarah Garcia, director of community relations at AF Group. “We are proud to support the incredible work of these amazing organizations so that the children and families in our local communities can build successful, happy lives.”

The organizations receiving assistance include:

  • Communities in Schools of Michigan, Ohio, and Chicago — Surrounds students with a community of support, helping them overcome barriers to learning and empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
  • Orange County Community Housing Corporation/SteppingUP — Helps low-income families transition toward greater self-sufficiency through safe, stable housing and education.
  • United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County — Provides resources, volunteers, experts and other services to give back to the local community, including providing students in kindergarten through 12th grade with school supplies.
  • Volunteers of America Michigan — Provides critical services, shelter and food for veterans, affordable housing for aging seniors and supportive services for struggling families, including backpacks, and school supplies to children in low-income households in metro Detroit.

Farmington Hills’ Centria Autism Delivers 500th Practical Functional Assessment

Centria Autism, a Farmington Hills-based national provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism and their families, achieved a significant milestone in its efforts to fundamentally change autism treatment for children by delivering its 500th practical functional assessment (PFA).

The PFA is a brief, in-person assessment that is used to identify why a person is engaging in behavior that is concerning to their welfare or gets in the way of achieving their goals. Using these insights, Centria technicians can develop patient-centric treatment plans that achieve meaningful outcomes.

Previously, the goal of an assessment was to see the dangerous behavior in action, and then try to backtrack into the reasons that dangerous behavior occurred. With the PFA, the goal is still to identify the root of this behavior, but only in an environment that is safe and immediately translated to effective treatment — something achieved by responding to less intense versions of the behavior.

Of the 500 assessments, Centria’s Functional Assessment and Treatment Department conducted a thorough review and analysis of 300 — well above the 10 percent industry standard. The data from the 300 analyzed demonstrated that 99.7 percent were completed in a safe environment, with only 38 instances of any dangerous behaviors.

“The Practical Functional Assessment is a critical tool in Centria’s work to help the individuals we serve achieve their goals in a way that is dignified and safe,” says Hillary Laney, vice president of functional assessment and treatment at Centria Autism. “By understanding what is occurring in the environment that causes the individual to engage in dangerous behavior, we can develop interventions that are effective, sustainable and center around each individual client.”

According to Centria, not only is the use of the PFA safer for clients and staff, it is also more efficient when compared to other types of assessments.

5GAA Publishes Comprehensive Guidance for Deployment of C-V2X Day 1 Safety Services

A coalition of industry leaders, including the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) and Crash Avoidance Metrics Partners (CAMP), has released a comprehensive guidance aimed at infrastructure owners and operators for the deployment of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology, specifically focused on C-V2X direct communication at 5.9 GHz in the United States (US).

The guidance, developed by 5GAA, benefitted from essential input from ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) ecosystems stakeholders, and partners, including the Utah Department of Transportation, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), OmniAir, ITSA (International Transportation Safety Association), and researchers from the University of Michigan.

The document is a valuable reference for Day One C-V2X deployment by gathering established requirements and new considerations, and it provides compatible guidance for several Day 1s, ranging from road infrastructure owner-operators seeking early deployment based on waivers, through Day 1 where automakers deploy. The primary target audience includes road Infrastructure Owners and Operators (IOOs), who are pivotal in taking up C-V2X technology for transportation safety and efficiency.

The 5GAA guidance report focuses on C-V2X direct communications and streamlines this complex field into commonly understood profiles, simplifying deployment timelines, and ensuring effective communication between vehicles and infrastructure.

It also provides findings from various guidelines, standards, and deployment projects to offer a straightforward guide for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) connectivity required for Day One Connected Vehicle (CV) applications. In addition, it includes guidance and a profile on the messages that can be sent.

The complementary nature of both modes of communication (C-V2X and V2N) can deliver a richer experience for end-to-end use cases by leveraging both local short-range and cloud-based long-range connectivity.

Key highlights of the report include:

  • Clarifying expectations for a swift V2X roadside unit deployment, providing concise and accessible materials for all participants in safe traffic communications.
  • Identifying a limited but crucial set of messages, interoperability needs, and performance requirements to expedite deployments, ensuring an orderly and safety-critical message set.
  • Providing SAE J3161 communication profiles and parameters, creating a standard set of rules for optimal channel access and message usage.
  • The report aims to establish V2X communications that support interoperability and data integrity, delivering the necessary performance for various Day One applications. It also offers insights into potential Day Two messages, preparing the V2X community for the next deployment stage.

GrowCase in Kalamazoo Launches All-In-One Grow System for Beginners

GrowCase in Kalamazoo has introduced its complete indoor grow kit for beginner home cannabis growers. This all-in-one system is designed to make growing high quality, high yield cannabis at home easy for everyone.

GrowCase originated from research and conversations with inexperienced home growers frustrated with the complexities and costs of unsuccessful cannabis cultivation experiences.

Dale V., Director of Engineering, was inspired by these challenges and determined to design a better solution.

“What distinguishes GrowCase is its innovative patented design, and its integrated components, setting it apart from conventional grow tents and cabinets,” says Dale V., director of engineering at GRowCase. “GrowCase comes with a step-by-step grow recipe, state-of-the-art energy-efficient LED lighting, CO2-enriched air ventilation, replaceable activated charcoal filters, practical features like magnets on reflective covers, liquid nutrients, and more to help novice home growers optimize quality, efficiency, and high yields while maximizing space.”

GrowCase is delivered directly to homes in a sturdy and compact carrying case with handles crafted using proprietary mold technology, ensuring both sturdiness and easy transport and storage. Every aspect, including a top tray for tools and plant care, has been meticulously designed, to create an enjoyable and productive home-growing experience for beginners. What’s more, it seamlessly complements any room and décor.

“Our system is modular, allowing for space-efficient stacking, and the entire structure is designed to provide beginners with virtually everything they need for successful cultivation and high yields,” Dale adds. “Home growers only need to add soil, their choice of seeds, and water. GROWCASE takes care of the rest, ensuring a successful first grow.”

For more information, visit shopgrowcase.com.

Human8 Appoints Katherine Ephlin as New Managing Director, North America

Human8, the global consultancy with its U.S. office in Royal Oak (previously known as Gongos and InSites Consulting), has appointed Katherine Ephlin as managing director of North America.

Previously head of operations, North American, Ephlin takes over the new role from Camille Nicita, who recently was appointed to global CEO of Human8.

“This is undoubtedly an exciting time for our North American region but the confidence and excitement around Katherine’s new role is felt around the globe,” says Nicita. “We’ve had the pleasure of working side by side for many years, and I couldn’t think of a more capable and ready leader to guide the North American region into the future.”

Ephlin’s started with the organization in 2006 as an account director and over the past 17 years, she has held numerous leadership positions, such as director of financial and diversification, vice president of operations, COO, and head of operations for North America. She brings a wealth of experience overseeing operations — from client-side strategic consulting to managing internal teams to create efficiencies for better client outcomes.

“I am excited to step into leading the North American region, knowing that Camille has set the stage so well for our continued future success,” says Ephlin. “After 17 years with this organization, I have a deep understanding and commitment to our purpose and people. I love solving challenges and connecting dots and look forward to helping our people and clients do the same.”

Joyce Ivy Foundation in Ann Arbor Expands into Indiana

The Ann Arbor-based Joyce Ivy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting high-achieving, high school-aged women in the Midwest, has announced its expansion into Indiana, made possible through an endowment from 2022 MacArthur Fellow Jennifer Carlson, a gun culture expert, professor at Arizona State University, and author.

With this move, Indiana becomes the eighth state under the Joyce Ivy umbrella, joining the ranks of Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Through the foundation’s flagship initiative — the Summer Scholars program — exceptional young women are offered scholarships each year to participate in pre-college summer programs at partner institutions, including Barnard College, Brown University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Smith College, Spelman College, and Yale University.

More than 1,100 students have received scholarships since Joyce Ivy’s founding. Of those students approximately 30 percent are first generation college students and 70 percent identify as women of color. The majority of students describe their families as economically challenged.

The Indiana scholarship, named The Steve Carlson Perseverance Scholar in honor of Carlson’s late father, aims to support an exemplary college-bound female high schooler. The inaugural award, set for summer 2024, will benefit a student from Indiana Academy, Carlson’s alma mater. The foundation’s vision is to expand scholarship offerings in the state, aiming to support up to 20 students annually from high schools across Indiana.

U.S. News Ranks Eastern Michigan University No. 1 for Disadvantaged Students

U.S. News and World Report has ranked Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti tied for first among Michigan universities for advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating a large proportion of economically disadvantaged students.

The latest rankings confirm Eastern Michigan’s place among state universities for serving an important population of students who may have not had opportunities for a college degree otherwise.

“While Eastern scores highly in a number of national rankings of various academic and service-oriented programs, this particular ranking is one of the most significant and rewarding,” says James Smith, president of EMU. “We don’t use the phrase ‘mission of opportunity’ lightly. It is what Eastern Michigan University stands for — providing pathways to opportunities and careers for those who might otherwise be left behind.”

UnitedHealthcare to Offer Individual, Family Plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace

UnitedHealthcare announced its 2024 Individual and Family ACA Marketplace Plans, which feature affordable coverage, convenient access to care and a wide range of benefits in 26 states including Michigan.

Consumers can enroll by visiting uhc.com/exchange during the open enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1-Jan. 15.

Individual and Family ACA Marketplace Plans play an important role in expanding health care coverage by providing affordable coverage and benefits. UnitedHealthcare’s expanded ACA plan footprint will bring access to affordable benefits to more than 60 percent of the eligible population, including those who do not qualify for or cannot afford other types of coverage, with many people qualifying for plans as low as $0 per month depending on their income.

In 2023, 90 percent of UnitedHealthcare Individual and Family ACA Marketplace plan members are receiving a subsidy to help lower their health insurance premium.

“It is as important as ever for everyone to have access to quality health care coverage,” says Marcus Robinson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Individual and Family Plans. “We are honored for the opportunity to serve more people in 2024 with affordable, convenient plans and to help expand equitable access to care.”