DBusiness Daily Update: Foster Financial Completes Renovation of 211 W. Fort St. Lobby with Living Wall, 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.
The plant wall in the lobby of 221 W. Fort St. in Detroit is one of the largest living plant walls in Michigan. // Courtesy of Foster Financial
The plant wall in the lobby of 221 W. Fort St. in Detroit is one of the largest living plant walls in Michigan. // Courtesy of Foster Financial

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.

Foster Financial Completes Renovation of 211 W. Fort St. Lobby with Living Wall

Foster Financial Co. in Detroit, which purchased the 221 W. Fort St. building in 2020, has completed the renovation of its lobby that includes a large plant wall, one of the largest living plant walls in Michigan.

The Urban Blooms Foundation in Detroit installed the plant wall, which is joined by a commissioned piece of artwork by local artist Mike Han behind the lobby’s new marble security desk.

The lobby renovations, as well as new exterior landscaping, took approximately three months to complete, slowed due to global supply chain issues felt around the construction community.

The lobby is the first phase of a more-comprehensive building renovation that will include new elevators, new building systems, and other capital expenditures that will exceed $10 million.

As tenants move into the building, each floors’ corridor, elevator landing, and restroom are also renovated.

Report: Small Business Owners Across U.S. Urge Congress to Modernize SBA Programs

The Bipartisan Policy Center and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices, in partnership with small business owners across the country, today released a new report — “From Pandemic to Prosperity: Bipartisan Solutions to Support Today’s Small Businesses.”

The report urges Congress to reauthorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the first time in more than two decades, allowing programs supporting small businesses to be reimagined to reflect the realities of today’s economy.

The report crystalizes more than a year of conversations with small business owners, as well as national surveys of small business owners conducted by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices, and discussions with current and former government officials. Its findings underscore the urgent need for Congress to further support small businesses and reauthorize the SBA to address persistent challenges small business owners are facing, primarily: recruiting and retaining workers in a highly competitive environment, ensuring that employees have access to affordable childcare, accessing capital and competing for government contracts.

“Small businesses add to the economic vitality of our country, but outdated policies are holding them back,” says David Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. “Our new report shows bipartisan solutions, like expanding access to retirement plans and investing in high-quality childcare, will advance economic growth.”

The policy report identifies for Congress and policy makers critical challenges facing small businesses as members consider modernizing the SBA through reauthorization and supporting small businesses more broadly. Select key findings include:

  • Small businesses are unable to compete with larger businesses for talent.
  • Affordable, reliable childcare is critical for workers and small business owners.
  • Access to capital inequities will persist beyond COVID-19.
  • Simplifying the government contracting process is essential to small business participation.

The full report can be found here.

Hagan Drives Dodge Funny Car to First NHRA Win for Tony Stewart Racing

Tony Stewart Racing pilot Matt Hagan drove the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat to the first NHRA win for Tony Stewart Racing at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Florida Sunday.

“Congratulations to Matt Hagan and the Tony Stewart Racing team for their first win of the 2022 season aboard the Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car at the NHRA Gatornationals,” says Tim Kuniskis, CEO of the Dodge brand for Stellantis. “It’s great to see Matt earn his 40th career win and continue to demonstrate what Dodge//SRT performance looks like and what enthusiasts can expect from Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection.”

TSR’s first national event win puts Stewart on an exclusive list of team owners with victories in both NHRA and NASCAR series that includes Ray Beadle, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Gibbs, and Jack Roush.

After wet and unseasonably cold weather disrupted most of the weekend schedule and limited qualifying to just one session for the nitro categories, Hagan’s sole qualifying pass of 3.898 seconds at 320.13 mph put the Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car No. 4 on the eliminations ladder for the 53rd edition of the famed event.

His opening round pairing against No. 13 seed Dave Richards saw him launch his 11,000-horsepower machine off the line first, but an immediate loss of traction had Hagan skillfully pedaling it before regaining control and turning on the first win light. A solo run in the quarterfinals after Terry Haddock broke on the burnout was followed by a solid 3.894-second run at 332.84 mph to defeat Chad Green and advance to the final elimination. Hagan powered to a 3.910-second / 330.96 mph run aboard his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to defeat No. 6 seed Blake Alexander and earn the win he had been looking forward to.

BitNile Launches New Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Mining Division

BitNile Inc., which has a data center in Dowagiac on the west wide of Michigan, today announced it has formed a new division, BitNile Mining Solutions, that will focus on the sourcing and sales of cryptocurrency miners and related equipment and offering additional blockchain infrastructure services such as hosting, managing electrical power, repair, and other crypto-focused infrastructure solutions.

BitNile’s cryptocurrency mining focus to date has been on self-mining Bitcoin. BMS will offer products and services to companies ranging from start-ups to providing fully integrated industrial operations and solutions including self-mining. Interested parties can contact the new division at Solutions@BitNile.com.

“We are excited to launch this new division, which is built upon our more than four years of experience as bitcoin-mining and data center operators and investors,” says Milton “Todd” Ault, III, executive chairman of BitNile Holdings Inc. “The digital mining space is dynamic and can be difficult to navigate with continuous changes in product offerings and technology. We believe it is important to partner with a team dedicated to managing these changes and providing real-world solutions.

“We look forward to leveraging our relationships and industry knowledge to develop a robust single-stop source for all things crypto. We are proud to strengthen the cryptocurrency mining market in North America and believe we can provide our customers with reliable expertise to secure miners, power and all the elements necessary to create a thriving operation.”

General RV Hiring in Metro Detroit to Meet Demand for RVs

Wixom’s General RV Center, Michigan’s largest RV retailer, will host hiring events on March 15 and 16 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at its dealerships in Brownstown, Clarkston, Mount Clemens, and Wixom. The company has grown exponentially in recent years and is staffing up now ahead of its busiest season.

“We have experienced record growth in multiple areas with strong RV sales and several construction and expansion projects,” says Loren Baidas, president of General RV Center. “Our focus now is on expanding the General RV family with employees who can help us deliver first-class experiences for our customers.”

Recruiters will answer questions from applicants and conduct interviews during the two-day hiring event. Full-time roles are available in all departments including: finance, parts, service, sales, insurance, and administration.

General RV offers medical/dental/vision benefits, parental leave, paid time off, 401k savings program, bonus opportunities, additional training, and paths for career growth. New employees also are eligible for a sign-on bonus. Job seekers can register and learn more here.

Also, anyone who refers a friend or family member to work at General RV may be eligible for a $500 referral bonus through the company’s external Refer a Friend program. Those interested provide their referral’s contact information through a simple online form. A General RV recruiter will then reach out to the referred candidate about current opportunities. If the candidate joins the company, General RV will pay the person who referred the new employee after their first 90 days of employment are completed.

Diversity In Design Collaborative Launches First Youth Design Fest in Detroit

The Diversity In Design Collaborative (DID), a group of companies united by the belief that diversity plays a critical role in creating strong, impactful businesses and innovations in the design world and beyond, DID will present its inaugural youth design fair, Designed By, March 18 at the College for Creative Studies.

The DID youth design fair will be focused on five themes — form, space, language, culture, and experience — that highlight the pervasive nature of design.

The day will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a keynote address by hip hop architect Michael Ford. This will be followed by a series of round table discussions led by 30 Black design leaders. A panel conversation featuring Estelle Bailey-Babenzian, founder of Dream Awake, an interior architecture and experiential design studio and co-founder of clothing brand NOAH, with The Ronin’s chief strategy officer Christion Banks will be moderated by Neala Muniz, a 15-year-old member of the Detroit Institute of Arts Teen Council.

Design installations by select collaborative members such as Civilization, D-Ford, fuseproject, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Studio O+A, Wolff Olins, and Work & Co will bring to life different design disciplines.

Detroit will be the first city to host Designed By, setting a precedent for communities in major cities to cultivate young talent by demonstrating that design is a viable profession and offering opportunities for students to gain experience and thrive.

Pistons Broadcaster George Blaha to Miss Rest of Season Due to Heart Surgery

Detroit Pistons play-by-play announcer George Blaha will miss the remainder of the 2021-22 NBA season due to a heart bypass procedure slated to take place on Tuesday.

Doctors diagnosed the need for the procedure during a routine check-up completed earlier this week and anticipate a full recovery.

“I am disappointed to miss the remainder of the season, but my health is the number-one priority right now and I have a great team of doctors guiding my short-term and long-term health,” Blaha says. “I’m grateful that they caught my issue early and they expect a full recovery. I look forward to getting back to full speed with rest and rehabilitation during the offseason and returning next year for my 47th season calling games for the Pistons.”

Blaha began his career with the Pistons in 1976 and has called more than 3,200 regular season games and over 260 playoff games.

“George is part of our family and he and his wife, Mary, have our full support every step of the way,” says Pistons owner Tom Gores. “George is in the best of care and in great spirits. We join his many fans, friends and colleagues in wishing him a full and speedy recovery.”

Rocket Mortgage Classic Adds Detroit Community Days to Tournament

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is adding Detroit Community Days presented by DTE Energy on Tuesday and Wednesday of tournament week – offering the chance for all Detroiters to enjoy complimentary access to participate in events during tournament week.

The Detroit Community Days will give local golf fans and their families an exclusive view of the course and players along with a unique way to celebrate the hometown of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and title sponsor Rocket Mortgage.

“One of our overarching goals is to make the Rocket Mortgage Classic accessible to all Detroiters,” says Jason Langwell, executive director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Opening our doors with complimentary access to our one-of-a-kind special events on Tuesday and Wednesday alongside a dedicated partner will provide a terrific way for everyone to be able join in the excitement of a week that is so special to our community.”

DTE Energy has supported the Rocket Mortgage Classic since the PGA TOUR event debuted in Detroit in 2019, providing on-site activations and hospitality sponsorships.

“We’re proud to continue our partnership with the Rocket Mortgage Classic by presenting the Detroit Community Days and celebrating our city’s residents,” says Lynette Dowler, vice president of public affairs for DTE Energy. “Our aim is to find impactful opportunities to positively engage Detroiters, and the Detroit Community Days at the Rocket Mortgage Classic are an exciting way for us to give back to our hometown.”

The Rocket Mortgage Classic returns to the Detroit Golf Club July 26-31.

DIA Seeks Entries for Día de Muertos Exhibition

The Detroit Institute of Arts, in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit, the Southwest Detroit Business Association, and MexicantownCDC, is looking for local artists and community members to create ofrenda altars for the museum’s 10th Annual Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos exhibition at the museum.

Artists and Community members interested in submitting an ofrenda proposal can do so here by May 15. Selected ofrenda altars will be on display in the museum from Sept. 24-Nov. 6. For the third year, the exhibition also will be available online in 3-D video. A Spanish application for can be found here.

In Mexico and other Latin American countries, the Day of the Dead celebrates the lives of close relatives, friends, or community members who have died. Objects important to lost loved ones, such as favorite foods, drinks, mementos, and pictures are collected and incorporated into elaborate displays that often include pan de muerto (bread of the dead), sugar skulls, candles, flowers, papel picado (paper cutouts), and other decorations.

Over the past nine years, the DIA has exhibited 137 individual altars and featured the work of 104 different artists/groups.

Additional information can be found here.

Artist Mike Han Plans Digital and In-Person Exhibition in Ann Arbor and Detroit

Art lovers have an opportunity to experience the work of Mike Han in a one-of-a kind exhibition, presented digitally and physically, in two separate venues, April 1-4.

“The House of Han from A to D” examines the physical and digital lives we live and the impact we have on our environment through an experiential diptych exhibition. Han’s work explores sustainability and our perceptions of value by creating digital and analog works of art that are separate yet deeply connected.

The exhibition is gamified as collectors will have the opportunity to buy one of one NFTs in Ann Arbor (in person), which they can present in Detroit, to receive an original painting, for free. The digital and physical work will create one connected work of art.

The drive from Ann Arbor to Detroit requires gas, and the physical artifact will be made with carbon emissions (AIR-INK). NFTs also require gas or a fee that covers the cost of minting an NFT. Through the artwork itself and the steps needed to acquire the artwork, Han seeks to connect the physical and digital worlds while illuminating the cost of acquiring things of value through participation and intentional acts.

If both works are collected, the collector will be invited to Han’s apartment in downtown Detroit to experience his omakase sushi to connect more deeply, and experience sustainability in an intimate and tangible way. Each collector may bring up to three guests (capacity is four) with them to experience the omakase dinner.

As an artist, Han’s clients include Google for Startups, LinkedIn, and vitaminwater, and has works in the permanent collections of Shinola Hotel, Daxton Hotel, Henry Ford Health Systems, and Huntington Bank.

As a chef, Han opened NYC’s first sustainable sushi restaurant in 2017, which was rated as one of NYC’s best new restaurants by The Village Voice, opened Detroit’s first sustainable seafood concept in 2019, and has made sustainable sushi at the James Beard House.

For more information, visit here.

New Standard Opens West Michigan Adult Use Provisioning Center

New Standard is opening its ninth provisioning center, in Whitehall (north of Muskegon) today.

New Standard Whitehall offers adult use/recreational cannabis sales, allowing anyone over the age of 21 to come in and learn more about the many products offered at the location. Walking into a New Standard location, guests are welcomed by experienced product specialists and budtenders.

“Our Whitehall location has been a labor of love for some time, and we know the community is excited to see it finally open,” says Mary Turon, COO of New Standard. “We’re thrilled to be located on the city’s main business strip and have been welcomed with open arms as we’ve navigated the build-out of this location. We can’t wait to meet more residents from the surrounding area as they come into the store.”

Guests stopping into New Standard Whitehall will be greeted with 20 percent off all cannabis products throughout opening week, as well as an in-store drawing for a Pot of Green prize pack. The store also will host special vendor days daily from March 17 through March 19.

New Standard Whitehall is located at 812 East Colby St. For more information, visit here.

DNR: Elk Population Estimate Shows Healthy Herd

Results of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 2022 elk survey show the state’s herd is healthy and growing.

During an aerial survey of the elk herd conducted over eight days in January, DNR staff flew over 1,080 square miles of predetermined sample plots across the northern Lower Peninsula to locate, count, and photograph elk. Results from the survey estimate the population is between 870 and 1,684 animals.

A total of 793 animals in 92 groups were observed during the survey. A population estimate model was used to account for the animals that may not have been observed during the flight survey. Additionally, the photos taken during the survey were used to calculate the sex and age ratio of the herd. The 2022 survey estimates the population has increased 5 percent since 2019.

The elk population reflects the objectives and actions written in the Michigan Elk Management Plan.

“The latest estimates suggest that the elk herd remains healthy,” says Chad Stewart, deer, elk, and moose management specialist at the DNR. “We will continue to sustainably manage the herd and habitat across the elk range.”

The DNR recommended maintaining the current license quotas and season structure for the 2022-2024 elk regulation cycle.

For more information, visit here.

Birmingham Planning 37th Annual Our Town Art Show

The 37th annual Our Town Art Show and Sale, hosted by The Community House in downtown Birmingham, will take place March 31-April 15 both in person and virtually.

This juried, all-media art show provides a forum for Michigan artists to showcase and sell their work. It includes more than 250 works that include paintings, pastels, sculptures, glassworks, fiber works, photography, jewelry, and mixed media.

Thirty-five percent of the proceeds from the art sales will be used to fund The Community House outreach programs for adults and children. Sixty-five percent of the proceeds from the art sales will go directly to the artists.

Tickets for Opening Night may be purchased here. The virtual show goes live April 1 and art enthusiasts may view and purchase art by visiting here.