DBusiness Daily Update: EMU Awarded $2.2M Grant for 3D Arts Complex, Community Foundation Unveils $19.5M Small Business Fund, 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.
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.

EMU Awarded $2.2M Grant from Windgate Foundation for Proposed 3D Arts Complex
The Eastern Michigan University School of Art and Design in Ypsilanti has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the Windgate Foundation as part of a matching gift agreement with the university to construct a new 3D Arts Complex.

The overall plan for the new 3D Arts Complex is subject to approval by the EMU Board of Regents, which will consider the recommendation at its June 10 meeting.

The new 3D Arts Complex is designed to advance opportunities in several arts disciplines by providing a new and expanded space that establishes a collaborative, creative environment for artmaking. Programs to be housed in the new facility include: sculpture, ceramics, furniture design, digital fabrication, 3-D design, and metalsmithing. Currently, these programs are spread across several campus buildings.

The 3D Arts Complex will primarily serve general education and 3-D media studio art students. The new facility will provide functional studio space as well as offices for faculty. The estimated 13,000-ssquare-foot facility will be constructed on the northwest corner of campus as part of the university’s current Sculpture Studio. It is scheduled for completion in 2023.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to expand the university’s footprint in the 3-D arts world with an exciting, dynamic, and highly functional space that will bring together many disciplines in a creative environment,” says James Smith, president of EMU. “We are most grateful to the Windgate Foundation for supporting the vision and extensive planning for the new complex under the fine leadership of School of Art and Design Director Sandra Murchison.”

Community Foundation Unveils $19.5M Fund to Support Small Business
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in Detroit announced a new $19.5M fund that will strengthen an inclusive small business support network of nonprofit business support organizations (BSOs) in Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and other Wayne County communities.

This network provides small businesses with inclusive access to capital, practical assistance, information, and trusted connections to business resources. The new fund builds on the Community Foundation’s New Economy Initiative focus on existing and new small businesses with fewer that 50 employees that are navigating the challenges of COVID’s impact and looking ahead for growth opportunities. Headshots are available here.

“In Detroit and neighboring Wayne County communities, thousands of small businesses are underserved because of race, national origin, and gender, in addition to the historical underinvestment in these areas,” says Pamela Lewis, executive director of NEI. “NEI’s investment in an inclusive small business support network will do more for these small businesses that are serving all residents and community members through employment, services, and community wealth building.”

Contributors to the fund include the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Ford Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, William Davidson Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Detroit Native Launches ObservaMé Athletic Apparel Company
After a year of research and development, Karen D. Fultz-Robinson, who was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, attended Cass Technical High School and Michigan State University has launched ObservaMé, a Tampa-Fla.-based line of sports, athleisure, and health care professional apparel.

Fultz-Robinson is an attorney and former Thomas M. Cooley law school assistant dean now fashion designer, earned her juris doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing. Fultz-Robinson now is a part-time resident of Detroit.

The ObservaMé brand was developed to meet the demands of those living active lifestyles while addressing the need for easy access to personal fitness trackers and watches while training. All active wear shirts include a provisionally patented design that allows for easy viewing and access to fitness devices directly through the sleeve. Recently, Fultz-Robinson also learned that there was a need for the patent design to allow access to watches in the medical field, which led to the development of the ObservaMé compression sleeves.

A marathon runner, Fultz-Robinson came up with the ObservaMé design concept during a 15-mile run. Fultz-Robinson developed sketches and assembled a team to help her put together the mock-ups and final patterns.

“As an athlete, regardless of weather, I wanted to track my progress — pace, heart rate, and distance, and sometimes you just want to know what time it is,” says Fultz-Robinson. “Why should something seemingly so simple be difficult to access?  Athletes or anyone living an active lifestyle shouldn’t have to struggle to view their devices.”

The product line has grown to include the signature shirts along with vests and performance pants and a variety of accessories. ObservaMé’s brand name also was chosen by Fultz-Robinson to explain the company’s purpose for its customers. ObservaMé means “watch me” in Spanish.

“We help the consumer watch their performance and provide a stylish look that draws others to watch them as they compete or overcome performance barriers,” says Fultz-Robinson. “It references the clocks (watches) on our wrists but also encourages accountability, which helps us strive to maintain our fitness goals.”

For more information, visit here.

Oakland County Hires Stuedle to Lead Mobility Strategy Expansion
Oakland County has hired former Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk Steudle to lead the development of the county’s strategic initiative for mobility.

Steudle, the past president and CEO of the American Center for Mobility and former MDOT director under both Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Gov. Rick Snyder, will work with Oakland County, industry leaders, and organizations to build a collaborative plan that will encourage innovation, expansion, and diversification.

“Oakland County has a long history of innovation and leadership in emerging research and development,” says Dave Coulter, Oakland County executive. “As the county responsible for one-fifth of Michigan’s economic output, it is vital that Oakland County is actively engaged in mobility to ensure our state remains a leader in the next generation of transportation technology. Kirk Steudle is the right leader at the right time to assist us in the development of a transformational strategy for mobility.”

Steudle says, “Oakland County has a tremendous private and public mobility ecosystem that is an integral part of the regions and statewide mobility efforts. I’m proud to work with Oakland County to develop a strategic approach to leveraging the county mobility strengths to leverage the best value for citizens.”

One of the partners Oakland County says it is looking forward to engaging in this conversation is Automation Alley. As the knowledge center for Industry 4.0, Automation Alley has ability to help existing local manufacturers diversify and engage in the mobility sector.

“As the smart and connected technologies of Industry 4.0 rapidly transform the way manufacturers do business, automakers are now operating as technology companies because they know innovation and data will drive the future of mobility,” said Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley.

Forum Health Acquires Waller Wellness Center in Rochester Hills
Flint-based Forum Health, a nationwide provider of personalized functional and integrative medicine, has acquired Waller Wellness Center based in Rochester Hills.

With more than 35 years of experience helping patients uncover the root cause of their symptoms to attain optimal wellness and resolve chronic health issues, Waller Wellness Center is led by Dr. Catherine Waller with an experienced team that includes a psychotherapist, acupuncture specialist, physician assistant, and registered dietitian.

The practice offers a wide variety of treatments and services including in-depth diagnostic testing, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, diet and nutritional counseling, health coaching, psychotherapy, weight loss programs, and acupuncture.

“The patient-focused philosophy of Waller Wellness Center and their dedication to using science-backed tests and treatments to help patients reach their health goals align directly with Forum Health’s mission,” says Phil Hagerman, CEO of Forum Health.

Detroit’s Crosby Innovations Partners to License New Cleaning Technology
Crosby Innovations in Detroit has entered into a patent and technology license partnership with Orlando, Fla.-based Healthe Inc., which will manufacture a UVC 222nm cleaning device that cleanses hands or gloves of viruses and bacteria.

Crosby Innovations is an alumnus of Michigan’s XLerateHealth. The product is expected to be available for commercial sale late this year.

“Healthe is excited to partner with Crosby Innovations, a company that shares our passion for UVC innovation and creating cleaner indoor environments,” says Fred Maxik, chief scientific officer of Healthe. “By bringing this product to market, we look to inactivate pathogens on hands and gloves without the use of chemicals.”

Subject to obtaining any necessary FDA marketing authorization, the new product, called Healthe HANDS, will be designed to use the properties of UVC 222nm light to quickly and easily clean hands with a quick pass under the light. The UVC eliminates the need for hand sanitizers and wipes, which are full of chemicals.

It can also inactivate viruses and bacteria on gloves, eliminating the waste of having to throw gloves away and fill up landfills quickly. UVC 222 destroys viruses and bacteria at the source by inactivating the microorganisms’ RNA, and provides a powerful additional solution to your multi-layered virus mitigation strategy.

Novi’s Noble Gas Systems Awarded Grant from the National Science Foundation
Noble Gas Systems in Novi has received a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help it develop a safe, conformable, lightweight compressed gas storage and delivery system to support the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and hydrogen fuel cell.

“We are honored to be awarded this grant by the National Science Foundation because in a way, it validates our work to date and the current needs of the industry to meet low- and zero-emission government regulations,” says Chris Kondogiani, principal at Noble Gas Systems. “The grant money allows us to solely focus on refining and expanding the capabilities of our solution.”

The Noble Gas high-pressure, lightweight storage and delivery system can accommodate the most common compressed gases, including natural gas, air, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. It features a tank comprised of a polymer liner, woven reinforcement, and protective outer shell. Designed to be a safer alternative to other options, the system currently meets burst and hydrogen permeation requirements for 350-bar working pressures and has a leak-before-burst failure mode to eliminate the opportunity for a catastrophic, instantaneous release of high-pressure gas.

The gas storage system can be fabricated in a variety of shapes and sizes to be easily integrated into unique and existing product configurations.

By receiving the Phase I SBIR grant, Noble Gas is eligible for apply for a Phase II grant of up to $1 million and up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.

Supercar Maker Koenigsegg Names Centigrade as Global Agency of Record
Sterling Heights-based Centigrade Inc., an integrated marketing company, has been selected by Sweden’s Koenigsegg Automotive AB, a manufacturer of high-performance sports cars, as its global agency of record.

Centigrade will develop and drive strategic communication plans, media outreach, and amplify the Koenigsegg brand awareness globally.

“’Centigrade has a proven track record of collaborating with some of the most emblematic brands in the world,” says Christian von Koenigsegg. “Their team of communication professionals has the global experience needed as we move into the next phase of growth.”

Centigrade President Julie Barnard says, “’At Centigrade, we’re not just communications professionals but also diehard automotive enthusiasts. So naturally the opportunity to work with this iconic brand is very exciting for us. We’re eager to bring their stories to life on behalf of passionate tech and automotive enthusiasts everywhere. Not simply for hypercar enthusiasts, but as an illustration of a tech-minded company on a constant quest to develop innovation, design, engineering, and culture.”

Koenigsegg Automotive engineers and manufactures ultimate performance megacars and sustainable mobility technologies using space age materials.

Johnson Controls Picks Ohio Firm as Building Controls Specialist
Johnson Controls, a provider of technology for smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings, has selected Ohio’s Gardiner as an Authorized Building Controls Specialist (ABCS) for the Michigan counties of Lenawee and Monroe and Ohio.

As a Johnson Controls ABCS, Gardiner now carries the Facility Explorer, Triatek, and Verasys product lines. The move enhances Gardiner’s building automation and controls offerings.

“Building owners have been telling the industry for years that they don’t want to be locked into propriety platforms or be restricted from access to software and service tools,” says Todd Barnhart, president and CEO of Gardiner. “We’ve always firmly believed that clients deserve to have a choice when it comes to who services their building. This new relationship with Johnson Controls reinforces that to our clients and the market.”

The Johnson Controls Facility Explorer Building Automation System offers network-wide coordination for multiple sites and buildings, while the Verasys Building Controls System provides a turnkey solution for light commercial properties.

Healthify and Tangelo Establish Partnership to Increase Access to Fresh Produce
Healthify, a company that works with health care organizations to integrate social determinants of health (SDoH) into the health care ecosystem, and Tangelo, a company that provides food-as-medicine programs, have announced a partnership to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for people in need in Ohio and Michigan.

“About 38 percent of Americans are food insecure and the lack of access to healthy and fresh nutrients remains a challenge,” says Jeremy Cooley, founder and CEO of Tangelo. “This partnership with Healthify allows us to advance our mission to improve access to healthy food so people can eat well and live better.”

Through this partnership, payers, providers, and staff at community-based organizations in Ohio and Michigan that are working with food insecure members can send food referrals to Tangelo via the Healthify platform. The referral automatically triggers a text to members who will be prompted to download the Tangelo app and fill out eligibility information. Members can then place orders for free fruits and vegetables for home delivery via the app.

Ann Arbor Restoration Company Doubles Size of Network Amid Pandemic
Ann Arbor-based restoration company 1-800 WATER DAMAGE has nearly doubled the number of franchise owners in its network since the start of 2020, amid the global pandemic.

During that span, the property restoration franchise has grown its national footprint to more than 150 locations across 30 states. Looking ahead, 1-800 WATER DAMAGE expects to hit the 200-unit mark within the coming year as it seeks new owners to fill prime territories that are still available across the country.

Coinciding with its geographic expansion, the brand’s systemwide revenues have grown as well, having increased by 123 percent during this period.

“You won’t find a franchise owner in our system thumping his or her chest about accomplishments — you’ll find them putting customers first and rising to the occasion to support them through a challenging time by working to restore their property in a caring and compassionate way,” says Tim Fagan, president of 1-800 WATER DAMAGE. “We take pride in helping the communities we serve and the unique opportunity we have to help residents and businesses get back on their feet.”

1-800 WATER DAMAGE is part of the Belfor Franchise Group, a family of nine industry-leading residential and commercial services franchise concepts owned by the worldwide restoration leader Belfor Property Restoration.

To learn about franchise opportunities with 1-800 WATER DAMAGE franchise opportunity, visit here.

Northwood University Hosts Virtual Freedom Seminar May 13-16
The annual Northwood University Freedom Seminar will be conducted virtually May 13-16 in a series of presentations by distinguished guest speakers and faculty of the university in Midland.

Traditionally hosted on Northwood’s Midland campus, the Freedom Seminar is an annual symposium focused on free-enterprise and investigates current business and economic topics of utmost interest to the academic and business communities.

“Our speakers will be addressing the two complementary aspirations of liberty and justice for all in their presentations,” says Dale Matcheck, economics professor at Northwood and organizer of the seminar. “These speakers include journalists, film-makers, philanthropists, public servants, professors, and one tough mom turned activist. From them, we will learn more about progress we’ve made and challenges that remain; we will hear about laws and public policies, entrepreneurship and leadership, historical events, personal experiences and visions of the future.”

The Freedom Seminar is open to the public. Registration and a schedule of speakers can be found here.

Applications Open for Apple Developers Academy
Applications are open for the first cohort of the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, in collaboration with Michigan State University.

The academy is scheduled to open in October in a redesigned space in downtown Detroit as part Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. All Michigan residents 18 and over are welcomed to apply, regardless of prior coding experience, here.

Metro Detroit Parkinson Walk Slated for June 26 in Birmingham
The Metro Detroit Walk Presented by Tom and Carol Cracchiolo will take place Saturday, June 26 at the Seaholm High School Football Field at 2436 West Lincoln in Birmingham.

The “I Gave My Sole for Parkinson’s” walk event is the Michigan Parkinson Foundation’s signature fundraising event that raises funds to keep its programs and services in place for those that need the help.

Twenty-seven teams and close to 200 participants have registered so far. The MPF’s goal for the event is $225,000.

MPF’s services include:

  • Financial assistance for in-home respite care
  • Daily Parkinson Exercise Classes led by physical therapists
  • Professional Caregiver Training Module
  • Newly Diagnosed Patient Information Package
  • Parkinson Medication Assistance

To register to participate in the walk, visit here. To sponsor a walker or team of walkers, visit here. For more information in the event, visit here.