DBusiness Daily Update: Fall Programs Return to Greenfield Village, Amazon Prime Brings Same-day Delivery to Metro Detroit, 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.
Events like the Old Car Festival, pictured, and Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village are returning to the Dearborn attraction this fall. // Courtesy of The Henry Ford
Events like the Old Car Festival, pictured, and Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village are returning to the Dearborn attraction this fall. // Courtesy of The Henry Ford

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.

Fall Programs Return to Greenfield Village

Programs like the Old Car Festival Powered by Hagerty and Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village Presented by Meijer are returning to Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn this fall.

America’s longest-running antique car show, the Old Car Festival, will take place Sept. 11-12. This year’s event celebrates Women at the Wheel, showcasing how early automobiles supported women in making inroads in American life.

Beginning Oct. 7 and taking place during select evenings in October, Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village continues its 2020 format, allowing guests to stroll the event at their own pace. New this year, programming will transition from a family friendly harvest-themed atmosphere complete with Fall Flavor Weekend elements during daylight hours, to the traditional Hallowe’en atmosphere at night. The popular Hallowe’en Express, also introduced last year, is back for 2021. Member tickets go on sale Wednesday, Sept. 1 with public tickets on sale Sept. 8.

To best support fall programming, Greenfield Village will close to the public on Sunday, Oct. 3. Beginning Oct. 7, it reopens for Members-Only Strolling Days. Every Thursday-Sunday in October from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., members have access to the historic destination with limited programs and amenities available. Public operating hours start again Friday-Sunday in November, beginning November 5.

Following the success of The Jim Henson Exhibit: Imagination Unlimited, closing on Sept. 6, Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation will welcome a temporary exhibition centered around its recent acquisitions in mobility. The new exhibit runs Oct. 22, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022.

For updates on hours, tickets and more, visit thf.org.

Amazon Prime Brings Same-day Delivery to Metro Detroit

Amazon announced Tuesday that Prime members in metro Detroit now can get same-day delivery in as few as five hours for as many as 3 million items.

The company is able to offer this service by storing need-it-today and popular items in a new facility in Hazel Park. This is a first-of-its-kind building in Michigan and serves as a mini-fulfillment center optimized for faster click-to-delivery speeds.

Hundreds of full-and-part-time employees are working in the facility — which launched earlier this summer — to pick, pack, and ship customer orders. These roles pay at least $15 per hour and provide comprehensive benefits starting day one on the job. Deliveries are made via Amazon Flex, which allows drivers to be their own boss, create their own schedules, and make $18 to $25 per hour delivering packages for Amazon.

The faster delivery speeds enabled by these facilities help lower carbon emissions in line with Amazon’s Climate Pledge to be net zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. These new facilities are located close to the cities they serve, which decreases the distance drivers have to travel to deliver packages to customers.

In addition to the Detroit market, Amazon is offering same-day delivery in the Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas, Nashville, Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Chicago, Tampa, Charlotte, N.C.; and Houston markets.

For more information and to see the items eligible for same-day delivery, visit here.

Flagstar-New York Community Bancorp Merger Approved by Shareholders

The shareholders of Flagstar Bancorp Inc. in Troy and New York Community Bancorp in Hicksville, N.Y. approved the proposed merger of the two entities in separate meetings Wednesday.

“I am very pleased with today’s vote, which validates the shareholder value created by the merger,” says Sandro DiNello, president and CEO of Flagstar. “The entire organization is very excited about the opportunities which lie ahead for the combined company while maintaining a strong commitment to our employees, customers, and to all the communities we serve.”

Upon closing, which is expected in the fourth quarter, the combined company will have $85 billion in total assets, operate nearly 400 traditional branches in nine states, and 86 retail lending offices across a 28-state footprint. It will have its headquarters on Long Island, N.Y. with regional headquarters in Troy, including Flagstar’s mortgage business.

The transaction creates an organization with significant scale in several lines of business, accelerates the transition toward building a “dynamic” commercial bank, “drives strong financial results and enhances capital generation.”

“We are extremely pleased by the overwhelming support received from both sets of shareholders in favor of this transaction,” says Thomas R. Cangemi, chairman, president and CEO of NYCB. “The strong approval confirms the financial and strategic benefits of the transaction. I am looking forward to working with Flagstar to create one of the top regional banks in the country.”

Little Caesars Looks to Expand by 15 Stores in Denver Market by 2024

Detroit-based Little Caesars says it is looking to grow its presence in the Denver area with the addition of at least 15 units by the close of 2024.

“Our franchise business model — renowned for our revolutionary Reserve-N-Ready system bolstered by our signature Pizza Portal pickup and delivery — is perfectly suited for the active, on-the-go Denver community,” says Craig Sherwood, vice president of U.S. development at Little Caesars. “Couple this with the forecast that Colorado stands out among the top 10 states expected to sustain the highest franchise business growth throughout 2021 per the International Franchise Association (IFA) Annual Economic Outlook Report, growing our brand’s footprint in this capital city is a no-brainer.”

Given the positive outlook for franchising in the current economy, Little Caesars is looking to accelerate the brand’s growth in the Denver market beyond its more than 30 existing locations by focusing on multi-unit agreements in its search for partners to lead this expansion.

Prospects interested in learning more about the brand and its growth opportunities in Denver are invited to attend an exclusive, live webinar event taking place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. (MT). To register for this free event being hosted by members of the Little Caesars franchise development team, visit here.

Little Caesars franchising investments start at $360,000, with incentive programs available for veterans and first responders. Interested prospects should visit Franchise.LittleCaesars.com.

Gardner White Opens New Location in Canton Township

Gardner White is opening a new location, at 41661 Ford Road in Canton Township, at 6 p.m. today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The location will fill the former Art Van’s cutting-edge, contemporary building, which is less than five years old. It has two floors, surrounded by glass and natural lighting, to display Gardner White’s selection of traditional and contemporary furnishings.

“The new stores get bigger, bolder, and better with more new locations to come,” says Rachel Stewart, president of Gardner White. “It all starts now. This is such an exciting time to be in Canton as we open this beautiful store.”

The new Canton Township location will be nearly double the size of the previous Canton Gardner White store.

A variety of family-friendly activities will be available during the grand opening weekend, including a Saturday appearance by Clownie from America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, balloon twisters, superhero appearances, prize giveaways, and more. Family activities will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

The new store will include a Design Studio with premium brands like Bernhardt, Vanguard, Rowe and Century; a Clearance Center; a bedding gallery with the state’s largest selection of mattresses, and a Jonathan Louis Design Lab.

With the opening, Gardner White is adding 20 new career positions. Interested people can visit here.

“We are thrilled to be bringing back former Art Van and new employees into our Gardner White family as we grow again,” says Stewart. “We want to see them thrive in this gorgeous location and build an unprecedented team.”

Chase Opens ‘Innovative’ Branch in Detroit, Makes $1M Investment in New Economy Initiative

Chase Bank has opened its first Community Center branch — a completely new branch experience — in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

The Community Center branch features a new community-inspired model offering free financial health resources like skills training, pop-up shops, and fintech innovation for local residents and small businesses.

The Corktown branch’s mission is to help the community realize a better financial future through innovative tools and resources, including growth support for local entrepreneurs starting or expanding their small business, mentoring for entrepreneurs, access to a pop-up space to display and sell their merchandise, workshops to build financial health, and Wi-Fi for community groups and residents to utilize for remote learning and work.

The Corktown location is just the seventh Community Branch of its kind among Chase’s 4,800 branches nationwide.

“We’re moving beyond community banking to community building,” says Lawrence Bailey, head of community and business development for Chase Consumer Bank nationwide. “We’re deeply committed to this city and remain focused on giving more residents access to financial education, Chase advisors, and products they need to succeed, so they can participate in Detroit’s continued recovery.

“Our new Community Branch in Corktown is another example of this commitment in action. We want to help people build a strong financial foundation so they can thrive and build wealth.”

In addition, Chase is actively working to promote the growth of Black- and Latinx-owned small businesses, including through increased lending and technical assistance to businesses in Black and Latinx communities.

To help advance this commitment in Detroit, the firm announced a $1 million philanthropic investment in the New Economy Initiative (NEI) to help support the local small business ecosystem and create an innovation fund to pilot new programs and products to support micro-entrepreneurs.

This new fund builds on NEIs focus on existing and new small business owners that are navigating the challenges of COVID’s impact and looking ahead for growth opportunities. Through the NEI network, small businesses will be able access capital, practical assistance, information, and trusted connections to business resources. NEI is a philanthropic collaboration and special project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

ASE Survey: Health Insurance Premiums Remained Flat in 2021

Troy-based employer association ASE has released its 2021 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey, which examines premiums, deductibles, and co-pays of Michigan employer-sponsored health plans, as well as wellness benefits and cost control strategies.

Highlights of the ASE 2021 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey include:

  • Median premium increases (after plan changes) remained flat compared to data reported in last year’s study. According to this year’s sample, median premium increases were just 3 percent for 2020 and 2021 plan years. Median increases for 2022 are projected to be 5 percent.
  • A majority of the participants (66 percent) reported offering two to three types of health plans. The most utilized plan type continues to be Preferred Provider Organization Plans (PPO) with 87 percent of companies offering this option.
  • Forty-one percent of the sample of participants report self-funding their health plan, relatively unchanged from a year ago.
  • The three-tiered price structure (generic, preferred brand, non-preferred brand) for prescription drug plans were the most popular among traditional PPOs with 54 percent of non-unionized organizations reporting this structure. This is up three points from a year ago. Five-tiered structures followed as the second most prevalent option at 22 percent. This was an increase of five percentage points from a year ago.
  • Few organizations are offering wellness benefits. Thirty-seven percent percent of non-union organizations provided some form of a preventative intervention-type wellness program. This is down from 46 percent a year ago. These programs are defined as smoking cessation, stress management, and/or weight loss programs.
  • Median annual employer contributions to health savings accounts remained unchanged from the last four years with an employee only contribution totaling $500 and an employee + family contribution totaling $1,000 in non-unionized organizations.
  • The number-one strategy that employers planned to implement in 2021 was increasing employee education regarding health plan features and costs (12 percent). Implementing or expanding wellness programs (26 percent), changing providers (22 percent), and increasing the employees cost share (21 percent) top the list of strategies that companies are considering but for which they have yet to set a timeline.

“The results from this year’s survey show that employers did not make dramatic changes to their health plans or health premium contributions during the pandemic,” says Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE. “However, survey respondents shared that cost-control efforts are still a priority and being addressed by educating employees on their health care plan features.”

To obtain a copy of ASE’s 2021 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey, contact ASE’s Survey Team at surveys@aseonline.org or 248-223-8025. The survey is available at no cost to ASE-member survey participants and is available for $1,450 for non-members.

Detroit Tigers Announce 2022 Schedule

The Detroit Tigers have unveiled their 2022 season schedule, which begins March 31 in Seatle against the Mariners.

Opening Day at Comerica Park will be April 8 against the American League Central Division rival Chicago White Sox.

Interleague games will be played against teams from the National League West including home contests against the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, and the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NL East.

A charter member of the American League, 2022 will mark the 122nd season of Tigers baseball and the team’s 23rd season at Comerica Park.

The Tigers will be home for three summer holidays in 2022. Detroit begins a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Memorial Day, May 30, while the team will celebrate Father’s Day on June 19 against the White Sox. The Tigers also will be home on Independence Day, opening a series against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, July 4.

Fans can select their seat location for the 2022 Tigers season by placing a deposit for season tickets by visiting here or calling 313-471-2255. Season ticket holders receive access to exclusive events, discounts on concessions, merchandise, and more.

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to Remain Cashless After Reopening Aug. 9

When the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel reopens on Aug. 9 for vaccinated U.S. residents, it will remain cashless on the Detroit side of the border for those vehicles traveling to Canada.

The new cashless process is simple: Travelers can sign up for a Nexpress account, load up their account and receive a toll discount on every trip. Additionally, customers can continue to use credit and debit cards or mobile payments in the lane. Learn more at DWTunnel.com.

“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we navigated this global pandemic together,” says Neal Belitsky, president of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. “We are happy to announce that we are reopening border travel to Canada through the tunnel to vaccinated, nonessential travel, and we will be working with our partners in the U.S. and Canadian governments to ensure a safe return to service.”

Transit Windsor’s tunnel bus service currently remains suspended. Health screenings at points of entry may be required per U.S. and Canadian government guidelines. Prior to crossing the border, American visitors to Canada should consult the Public Health Agency of Canada website to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria to enter Canada. To cross into Canada, travelers must provide proof of their vaccination against COVID-19 and be permanent U.S. residents.

Stone Temple Pilots Headline Arts, Beats & Eats

Stone Temple Pilots is headlining the “Beats” part of the Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats presented by Flagstar Bank Labor Day weekend festival in downtown Royal Oak, Sept. 3-6.

Other acts slated to participate in the annual festival include The Guess Who, Bobby Brown, The Gin Blossoms, Neon Trees, Justin Moore, Mac Watts, Starship, a tribute band that transports its audience through five decades of music, BeatleMania Live!, “The Voice” 2016 finalist Laith Al-Saadi, and Detroit’s Thornetta Davis. As many as 17 new local acts also are scheduled to perform.

“Since we were unable to hold the festival last year due to the pandemic, we wanted to rise to the occasion this year, and our team has stepped up to deliver a big-time event,” says Jon Witz, producer of the Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats festival. “This Labor Day weekend, festivalgoers get to feast their ears to plenty of popular acts … and one of the biggest bands to be booked since the festival’s conception, Stone Temple Pilots.”

The “Eats” portion of the festival will feature a full menu of taste options from more than 50 restaurants and caterers throughout metro Detroit.

“After having to bring food trucks into local neighborhoods in the 2020 Beats Go On last year, we are excited to bring metro Detroit’s top restaurants and favorite foods back to downtown Royal Oak,” says Witz. “We encourage festivalgoers to come hungry, as we’ll have over 50 restaurants coming to whip up some delicious dishes in a variety of cuisines.”

Among the participating restaurants are Tequila Blue, ImagineATE, Crispelli’s, Sedona Taphouse, Café Muse, Wahlburger’s, Gosia’s Pierogies, Trattoria Da Luigi, a local, Beans & Cornbread, Chick-A-Dee, Great Greek Grill, Cinnabon, Kona Ice, Big Mike’s Mexican, Niko’s Gyro, Drunken Rooster, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Korean Beef, Proving Grounds, Eddie V, Frick N’ Good Cookies, For the Love of Cheesecake, Trapped Coffee, Ryba’s Fudge, DutchTroit, Cool Jacks, Island Noodles, Big Mike Butterfly, Fun Foods, Shatila Bakery, Bowdler Smoothie, Crepe Day-Twah, Andre’s Louisiana Seafood, La Feast, Lekker Choco Treats, A Taste of Mo-town, Fork In Nigeria, 2 Fat Boyz and a Grill, Almond King, Kozmic Gardens, Niko’s Greek Truck, Mercurios, and more.

The ”Arts” elements will be covered by the Beaumont Health Fine Art Show, serving as one of the nation’s premier fine art events with more than 100 booth spaces. Top artists from across the continent will be contending for cash awards totaling $7,000. The show will feature art in a wide selection of styles and mediums, including ceramics, digital art, drawing/pastels, fabric/fiber/leather, glass, graphics/printmaking, jewelry, metal, mixed media 2-D and 3-D, painting, photography, sculpture, and wood.

For more information, visit www.artsbeatseats.com or call 248-541-7550.

Boblo Documentary to Premiere Sept. 22 at Film Festival

The world premiere of “Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale,” a documentary that follows preservationists’ efforts to keep the island park’s ships from the scrapyard, will be the centerpiece of Freep Film Festival’s Opening Night on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Redford Theatre.

The film will serve as the launch pad for the 8th annual documentary-focused festival, which will feature more than 35 screenings (in-person and virtual), parties, filmmaking events, and more, Sept. 22-26.

Narrated by Motown legend Martha Reeves, the documentary explores the history of the island and its boats, while also placing the story in the present day. Before Boblo Island was shut down in 1993, passengers by the thousands reached the amusement park by way of two steamships: the SS Columbia and the Ste. Claire.

“Boblo Island and the boats that took us there hold a special place in the hearts of many metro Detroiters, but this isn’t just a nostalgia exercise,” says Kathy Kieliszewski, artistic director of the festival. “This film is about now — and the people dedicated to preserving history and memories despite some extreme hurdles.”

The film introduces the New York-based nonprofit resurrecting the SS Columbia into a traveling museum destined for the Hudson River. Meanwhile, the Ste. Claire’s fate rests in the hands of a doctor, a psychic and an amusement park fanatic.

The documentary is the feature-length debut for director Aaron Schillinger.

“There is something magical about generations of Detroiters carrying around memories of an amusement park that closed down almost 30 years ago,” says Schillinger. “I wanted to pay tribute to those memories while simultaneously peeling back the layers of nostalgia to see what stories or characters might be hiding underneath.”

Shot primarily in Detroit and nearby, the documentary uses contemporary interviews and settings, archival footage and photos, and stop-motion animation, which is deployed to tell the story of Sarah Elizabeth Ray, an African-American woman who in 1943 was thrown off the SS Columbia and took that segregation battle to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to the screening of the film, opening night will include a pre-film VIP party and post-film panel discussion. Detroit’s Redford Theatre (17360 Lahser Rd.) will be hosting the festival’s opening night for the first time. It is a historically preserved theater that has been in continuous operation since 1928.

Tickets for the premiere are available here. VIP doors will open at 6 p.m. General doors will open at 7 p.m. The program begins at 7:30 p.m.

Royal Oak’s Airfoil Group Expands Management Team

Airfoil Group, an independent public relations firm and marketing agency in Royal Oak, has expanded its management team with two new hires and three staff promotions.

Brian Blondy has joined Airfoil Digital as the head of demand generation. Blondy spent the past six years as the head of marketing and demand generation for Total Media in Israel, where he led the creation and management of all outbound marketing activities.

Airfoil has selected Eric Mally to serve as director of content and social media, a critical integration role in the agency that will bridge Airfoil’s communications and digital firms. Mally spent much of his career at Fleishman Hillard in Detroit, where he was responsible for award-winning content strategy for a range of B2B and B2C clients.

Chris Austin has been promoted to manager, media relations; Amanda Braniecki has been promoted to account manager on the firm’s strategy and client services team, and Sarah Masters has advanced to director of project management.

“Our success as a brand growth accelerator for our clients is directly tied to our ability to evolve our own business,” says Keith Donovan, president of Airfoil Communications. “These five professionals are all strong strategic communicators who have the right experience to counsel our clients through today’s ever-changing business environment. We look forward to the fresh thinking and leadership that Brian and Eric will bring, and to the continued quality work and collaboration Amanda, Chris and Sarah are known for.”

Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival Returns to Southfield Aug. 13-14

The city of Southfield will host the 5th annual Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival on Friday, Aug. 13 from 6-10:30 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 14 from 3-10:30 p.m. on the front lawn of the Southfield Municipal Campus, 26000 Evergreen Road.

The free, outdoor two-day event will feature live music, food trucks, boutique vendors, and a beer and wine tent sponsored by the Southfield Chamber of Commerce as well as a Jazzy Roll Bike Cruise, and presentation of a lifetime achievement award to a legendary artist.

Saturday will kick-off with a Fitness and Fun morning for the entire family from 8 a.m. to noon featuring the High-Stepping Majorettes at 8:30 a.m., followed by the Jazzy Roll Bike Cruise at 9 a.m., and a Hula Hoop Workout at 10 a.m. at the Southfield Municipal Campus. A Classic Car and Bike Show will take place at the corner of Evergreen Road and Civic Center Drive from 10 a.m. to noon.

The Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival is free and open to the public. Attendees should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for seating. VIP Parking will be available on the Southfield Municipal Campus for $10 in both the north and south parking lots and in front of the Municipal Campus on the corner of Evergreen Road and Civic Center Drive. Parking fund proceeds will benefit the Southfield Public Arts Commission. A variety of food will be available for purchase from several food trucks in addition to boutique vendors offering unique products for sale.

For a complete lineup of artists and activities, visit here.