DBusiness Daily Update: Elton Park Brings Italian-style Gelateria to Corktown, Minor League Baseball Season at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica Opens May 28, 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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graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

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.

Elton Park Brings Italian-style Gelateria to Corktown
Soave Real Estate Group in Detroit announced it will open Momento Gelato Café at Elton Park in the fall, bringing the first gelateria to Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood.

The new 1,500-square-foot space at 2120 Trumbull Ave., north of Michigan Avenue, will be located at the entrance to Checker Alley, Elton Park’s outdoor gathering area. When construction is complete, Momento will be marked by a large outdoor dining enclosure designed with folding glass windows for year-round use. The design is reminiscent of retail offerings in Rome and Paris.

Owned by Tom Isaia, Momento will offer a wide variety of handmade gelato flavors, European-style pastries, freshly roasted Italian coffee, and more.

“We are very excited to bring Momento Gelateria Café to Corktown,” says Anthony Soave, president and CEO of Soave Enterprises. “We look forward to announcing additional tenants in the future that will add entertainment and amenities to this thriving neighborhood.”

Isaia traveled to Bologna, Italy, twice in 2017 to learn the art of Italian gelato-making from the experts before he began making his own. Isaia’s made-from-scratch dessert was first seen in containers packed by the hundreds in freezers inside Coffee Express, his Plymouth Township business. The operation quickly outgrew the singular gelato-making machine that sits in a rear room of the coffeehouse.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing a taste of Italy right to the heart of Corktown, Detroit’s original and still thriving neighborhood, a stone’s throw from downtown,” says Isaia. “I was born and raised in the Bagley area and it is high time to return. Elton Park provides the perfect central location, filled with new residents and endless potential.”

Elton Park Corktown welcomed its first residents in the spring of 2019 and officially opened late that summer, completing the first phase of Soave Real Estate Group’s $150-million development project. Elton Park has 151 residential units among its six distinct buildings, as well as 11,400 square feet of retail.  For residential or retail information, visit here.

Minor League Baseball Season at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica Opens May 28
The USPBL powered by UWM announced that single-game tickets now are on sale for the opening weekend of the 2021 baseball season at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, May 28-30.

Fans can purchase tickets here or by calling the Fifth Third Bank Box Office at 248-759-5278.

Opening Day will be Friday, May 28 as the two-time defending champion Utica Unicorns take on the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers at 7:05 p.m. Click here to view the full 2021 USPBL game schedule and promotional calendar.

During the 2021 season, the USPBL will welcome its 1 millionth fan through the gates at Jimmy John’s Field. That fan will receive $1,000 from OUR Credit Union in an OUR Credit Union account, a 1 millionth fan USPBL Jersey, one stadium Cabana Suite for five years, and a photo on the USPBL Wall of Fame at Jimmy John’s Field.

The USPBL has redesigned its facility seating manifest to allow for proper social distancing, thus decreasing the overall ballpark capacity. Each pod of seats is separated by 6 feet. As capacity will be limited during the 2021 season, the USPBL is encouraging advance ticket purchases to the greatest extent possible. The league anticipates that many games will sell out due to the capacity limitations, and that there will only be a limited number of tickets available for game day purchases at the Fifth Third Bank Box Office.

Detroit’s Rebel Nell, Motown Museum Unveil New Jewelry Collection
Rebel Nell, the Detroit-based jewelry company and social enterprise, has unveiled a new collection with Motown Museum, using reclaimed record material.

Motown Museum Album Collection is a tribute to the life and work of Berry Gordy, who was a social entrepreneur before the term was coined, making the synergies between the two brands, and their respective missions a natural fit.

“We are honored to be able to preserve a piece of history that holds a spot in the hearts of people across the globe,” says Amy Peterson, co-founder and CEO of Rebel Nell. “We hope this collection serves as a reminder of the joy and peace that resonates when you hear the Motown sound and inspires us to push toward a more peaceful and inclusive world.”

The collection itself will feature 10 pieces of signature Rebel Nell-style artistry and modern craftsmanship, built exclusively by the company’s creative designers, who repurposed the vinyl into wearable pieces of art. It features an array of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and lifestyle pieces made of brass, stainless steel, and gold. Proceeds will benefit Motown Museum. Pieces from the collection will range in price from $45 to $130.

For more information, visit here.

Detroit and Google to Create Tool to Find Affordable Housing
Google announced that the city of Detroit has been selected for Google.org’s Fellowship Program, in which 13 Google employees will spend six months pro bono developing an affordable housing locator search tool.

Google.org fellows will work alongside the City’s Housing and Revitalization Department with the mission of addressing housing instability in the city by helping Detroiters find affordable housing, making it easier to rent and stay in the city.

The vision is to streamline the process of searching and applying for affordable housing, and having housing opportunities listed in one place and updated frequently.

When it is ready later this year, Detroiters using the portal will be able to:

  • Use search filters to help them find the affordable housing options they want.
  • Gain an understanding of how affordable housing works and their eligibility for different types of affordable housing.
  • Learn about the process and requirements for applying for and accessing affordable housing.

Additional functions may include an online application for affordable housing and enrollment in text message updates about new housing opportunities.

“We are proud of the work we are doing to preserve and create thousands of affordable housing units across the city, but it doesn’t help if the people who need them don’t know how to find them,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “I am deeply appreciative to our partners at Google.org Fellows to develop a tool that will help more Detroiters find the right housing options so they can have the opportunity to live affordably in the neighborhood of their choice.”

Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Kicks Off National Travel and Tourism Week
This week is National Travel and Tourism Week and the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau is recognizing the importance of the tourism industry by unveiling new programs to encourage hometown tourism among local and regional visitors.

The DMCVB is launching its new Detroit Experience Packages this week, designed to provide immersive experiences for all types of travelers, including those who want a getaway close to home.

Both day and overnight packages are offered with themes such as “Landmarks and Luxury” including an overnight stay at The Henry in Dearborn combined with a visit to The Henry Ford; and “Bike Local” presented by the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, which provides an opportunity to explore more than 50 miles of trails and includes the use of two cruisers or mountain bikes during the stay. “Detroit Dog City” packages includes an overnight at the Element Hotel in Downtown Detroit and VIP treatment for your dog, such as the use of a Westin Heavenly Dog bed and branded bandana. Several other hotel packages and themes are offered as well.

Day packages include tours of Detroit for shoppers, foodies, or history buffs; private group bicycle tours and glass blowing experiences.

Visitors can link to the Detroit Experience Packages here. Packages will be available throughout 2021.

“We’re so pleased to be able to offer these new packages at a time when travelers are exploring and visiting attractions near their own zip codes,” says Claude Molinari, president and CEO of the DMCVB. “And when visitors from out of town are ready to travel again, we have these amazing experiences in a safe, clean environment to offer them in metro Detroit.”

Molinari said that the DMCVB believes it is important to put focus on National Travel and Tourism Week because the industry directly and indirectly supports more than 400,000 jobs in metro Detroit.

Pre-COVID, the region welcomed nearly 19 million visitors annually that spent more than $6 billion annually in the region in lodging, dining, attractions, transportation, and other services. Today, the region is beginning to recover from the worst of the pandemic. Several high-profile events that were cancelled last year are slated to be back on track, such as the Detroit Grand Prix, Detroit River Days, Woodward Dream Cruise, Detroit Jazz Festival, and the Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats and Eats.

Hotel occupancy rates in metro Detroit are 58 percent this week compared to 23 percent the same week in 2020. New convention business is beginning to return to the region. In the past month, the DMCVB convention sales team has booked several pieces of business totaling 40,000 attendees that will contribute about $41 million of direct spending into the local economy.

The DMCVB is also unveiling Hometown Tourist videos on its social media channels and website during National Travel and Tourism Week to encourage tourism. The videos explore various attractions in the metro Detroit area, showcasing some of the most visited venues in the region. The videos include segments at the Ford House, Detroit Zoo, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, TreeRunner Adventure Park at West Bloomfield, Great Lakes Crossing, Marc Filipo Winery, Historic Avenue of Fashion, the Glass Academy, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Museum.

Report: Recovery Continues Amid Increased Vaccinations, Fiscal Package
Citizens announced that continued economic recovery from the shock of COVID-19 kept the past quarter’s national Citizens Business Conditions Index in upbeat territory, with a reading of 53.3. This compares with the fourth quarter 2020 reading of 56.0. A reading above 50 is considered expansionary.

Better-than-expected vaccination rates buoyed the outlook for many Americans, while a newly signed fiscal relief package provided additional stimulus checks, as well as support for the unemployed and for state governments.

These developments helped to boost business activity and put the recovery on more stable footing, based on CBCI indicators. This momentum extended across both manufacturing and services sectors, though mixed signs in employment and new-business applications underscored the uneven progress across the economy.

“Positive vaccination trends have been really powerful in facilitating the normalization of consumer activity, providing a big boost to economic activity,” says Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens. “The fiscal package signed in March was a further step towards recovery.”

The index is derived from a number of underlying components, many of which improved during the first quarter. As of 1Q 2021, the methodology was modified, with new-business applications and initial jobless claims replacing the wage growth and employment components. The changes were designed to increase timeliness and adjust for the impact of month-to-month trends across the quarterly period.

Initial jobless claims showed periods of weakness, though the trendline was improving by the end of the first quarter, and new-business applications were flat. Companies in the health care sector led performance for the quarter, according to the bank’s proprietary business activity data. The Index also indicated strong performance from telecommunications companies, government-sector businesses and consumer goods businesses.

For more information, visit here.

Foundations Announce Investments in Community Policing Innovations
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and its partners announced a first round of support from the Community Policing Innovations Initiative totaling $200,000 to provide support for local public safety departments to work with their communities to address issues in police practices, systems, and services.

Launched in early 2021 and committed to police reform in southeast Michigan, the initiative was established with support from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Ballmer Group, and Oakland County.

“To catalyze local investment and respond to local needs, the Community Foundation and the Hudson-Webber Foundation came together to establish the Community Policing Innovations Initiative,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We are pleased that Ballmer Group and Oakland County have also made substantial contributions to support this Initiative, which provides technical assistance tailored to each community based on their specific needs. Our goal is that the first communities receiving support can serve as examples to others in southeast Michigan and beyond.”

The goal for the Initiative is to provide the guidance and support necessary for local communities in partnership with local law enforcement, to develop community-driven, substantive, and pragmatic changes in the way that policing and public safety services are provided.

Organizations selected for this pilot phase include:

  • Canton Township Police Department and Canton Coalition for Inclusive Communities (CCIS)
  • City of Detroit/Detroit Police Department
  • East Downtown Dearborn Development Authority and Black Legacy Advancement Coalition (BLAC)
  • Inkster Police Department
  • Beloved Community Initiative and First AME Church of Farmington Hills

Applications for the second round of investments of the Community Policing Innovations Initiative are now being accepted. For more information on the Initiative, please visit here.

Impact100 Metro Detroit Announces Nonprofit Finalists for 2021 Big Give Event
Impact100 Metro Detroit will award $252,000 in grant dollars to local nonprofit organizations during its hybrid 2021 Big Give event at noon on May 26. The finalists include Accent Pontiac, Brilliant Detroit, Developing Kingdoms in Different Stages, Freedom House, and LifeBuilders.

Two organizations will receive $100,000 each from Impact100 Metro Detroit, and the remaining three will split $52,000 in additional dollars.

“We’re blown away by this incredible group of finalists for this year’s Big Give — our biggest give to date since our chapter’s inception,” says Amy Bouque, president of Impact100 Metro Detroit, which unites women philanthropists to award high-impact grants to local nonprofits and fuel transformation in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. “We were really impressed and inspired by the proposals we received this year, and choosing our finalists was no easy task. We know these grant dollars will be transformational for these nonprofit heroes and the incredible work they are doing in our communities.”

Grant applications were submitted by local nonprofits in early February and were then vetted by Impact100 Metro Detroit members, including financial reviews and virtual site visits. Prior to the May 26 event, each finalist will present their transformational grant proposal to members who will then vote for their top finalist.

The winners will be revealed during the event, which will be held in a hybrid format. A select number of members will have the opportunity attend in-person under a tent on the front lawn of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial overlooking Lake St. Clair; the event also will be live-streamed for members and the general public to view at home. To register for the virtual Big Give event, visit here.

The Big Give also will feature a local artist creating a mural to capture the joy of collective giving, which will be repurposed into wearable art for purchase by Rebel Nell, a Detroit-based, women-owned, mission-driven company that provides employment, equitable opportunity and wraparound support for women with barriers to employment.

State Conference to Address Housing Concerns
The Building Michigan Communities Conference takes place virtually today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Keynote speakers such as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Dept. of Housing Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Arthur Jemison. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), a key partner and sponsor of the BMCC event, will be discussing the current climate of housing throughout Michigan.

MSHDA will speak to:

  • Incoming housing funds coming soon to Michigan citizens.
  • The truth about equity in housing affecting minority communities and how to rebuild.
  • What MSHDA and key partners are working on to ensure Michiganders safe and affordable homes.

For more information, visit here. To register, visit here.

Livonia’s FastTek Global Gains Woman Business Enterprise Certification
FastTek Global, a Livonia-based international staffing, managed services, and executive search solutions provider, has been certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.

The WBE certification is granted after an extensive verification process that confirms that WBE-certified businesses are woman-owned, controlled, operated, and managed. By including women-owned businesses among their suppliers, corporations and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier diversity programs.

FastTek Global, originally founded in 2003 as the Michigan division of former parent company, Fast Switch, broke away as a separate business named Fast Switch Great Lakes in January 2020 before the final name change to FastTek Global. It has been led by Carey Pachla, since its beginning.

“As a prominent supporter of women in tech, I’m excited to keep moving forward as a woman-owned business enterprise,” says Pachla. “As always, our number one goal is to help people write their own success stories. I’m proud to say that we have a wonderful, growing team of very successful professionals who are well-respected among clients and candidates, alike.”

MSU Opens Applications for Mentor Roles for the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit
In January, MSU and Apple jointly announced their partnership to launch Apple’s first United States-based Developer Academy in Detroit. The Detroit Academy is part of Apple’s $100 million national Racial Equity and Justice Initiative aimed to build the next generation of diverse leaders in the tech industry.

The academy will welcome its first cohort of students in Fall 2021, and MSU currently is seeking highly motivated candidates with coding, design, and business experience in the app economy to guide them through their learning experience.

“Being a part of this exciting partnership will be an incredible experience for tech professionals to help shape the next generation of developers,” says Sarah Gretter, associate director and head of design at MSU’s Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology and director of the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit. “Not only will mentors foster relationships with and support tech education for students in Detroit, but they’ll also be a part of a larger movement aimed at advancing racial equity nationwide.”

The current opportunities include 18 positions for coding mentors, design mentors, and business/marketing mentors located in Detroit. Mentors have industry and/or academic experience in technology, and are interested in guiding others through their journey to becoming world-class developers in a vibrant ecosystem. Mentors will be full-time MSU employees with year-long, renewable contracts.

The academy program lasts one year and mentors will guide students through a curriculum covering coding, design, entrepreneurship, and an array of professional skills. They also will lead the Foundations program, a month-long offering aiming to introduce app development to community members.

For more information and to apply to be a mentor, visit here.

JVS Human Services Offers Free Webinar for Job Seekers May 11
JVS Human Services in Southfield is offering a free webinar to Michiganders aimed at helping them improve their LinkedIn profile, a vital networking platform in today’s job search process.

The webinar will take place May 11 at 10 a.m. and offer tips on looking for a job, following companies, and making connections. No registration is necessary for the webinar which will be streamed on the JVS Human Services Facebook page.

“LinkedIn should be considered a place to build a personal brand and a way for job seekers to market themselves in the best way possible, just like they might market a company,” says Julia Tapper, financial education counselor at JVS Human Services.

Adding different features to a profile and important updates job seekers should make for 2021 will all be discussed during the webinar.

Job seekers looking for individual help with LinkedIn or their resume should contact employmenthelp@jvshumanservices.org or 248-233-4245.

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