DBusiness Daily Update: GM Breaks Ground on Charlotte (NC) Tech Center Expansion, Oakland County to Host 36th Annual Economic Outlook, 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.
Rendering of new GM tech center in concord, N.C.
GM broke ground last week on its new Charlotte Technical Center in Concord, N.C., that will expand the automaker’s performance and racing capabilities. // Courtesy of GM

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.

GM Breaks Ground on Charlotte (NC) Tech Center Expansion

General Motors Co. in Detroit broke ground late last week on its new Charlotte Technical Center, a 130,000-square-foot facility in Concord, N.C., that will expand the automaker’s performance and racing capabilities.

Additionally, the center will accelerate strategic knowledge transfer between motorsports and production vehicle development.

Representatives of Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports joined GM for the groundbreaking. The site was selected for its proximity to partner racing teams and major technical suppliers. The new technical center will support racing efforts across all series in which GM competes.

The facility is a $45 million investment for GM and is scheduled to open in early 2022.

“After more than a year of unprecedented challenges for everyone, we reevaluated our plans and found we could expand the footprint and scope for the Charlotte Technical Center to make it an even greater resource,” says Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports at GM. “This new location and larger facility is a clean-sheet design, tailored for technology development and collaboration with our racing teams and technical partners.”

Construction has begun on the new facility. A previously announced site was repurposed by GM Defense for production of the new Infantry Squad Vehicle, a light and agile troop carrier developed for the U.S. Army.

The center’s location, in the heart of one of the nation’s racing hubs and near colleges and universities, will provide more opportunities for GM to recruit top talent in the fields of software engineering, computational science, electrical engineering and other technical skill sets.

“The new Charlotte Technical Center will expand GM’s engineering footprint in the epicenter of racing in the United States, and will improve our engineering speed and capability in both the racing and production environments,” says Jim Danahy, vice president of global safety, systems, and integration for GM. “It will be a strong hub for the racing and production engineering teams to collaborate, share resources and learn together, delivering better results more quickly both on the racetrack and in our production vehicles.”

Development technologies often make their way from the racing world to production vehicles. A combination of virtual simulation and physical testing is used to meet the quick development time frames for motorsports teams. The testing methods used in racing, along with frequent competition, provide valuable training experiences for GM production vehicle engineers.

The new technical center will feature advanced virtual tools, including three state-of-the-art Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, aero development and other software-enabled vehicle modeling technology that will enable faster analysis and iteration. The facility will expand GM’s capacity to process, analyze and leverage vast amounts of data, allowing its racing and engineering teams to optimize designs earlier in the development process while simultaneously delivering greater first-time quality.

Oakland County to Host 36th Annual Economic Outlook Online June 9

Oakland County will present its 36th Annual Economic Outlook via Zoom on June 9 from 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

Viewers will learn about the strength of Oakland County’s economy as it recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic from County Executive Dave Coulter and University of Michigan economists Gabe Ehrlich and Donald Grimes.

Ehlich and Grimes will look at indicators for future job growth as well as local, national, and international factors that will impact Oakland County businesses.

The event will be livestreamed on YouTube (@OakGov), Facebook (@AdvantageOak), and here.

Oakland County will host two watch events for the business community: one for small business owners in Birmingham and one for manufacturers in Troy. Please note these events will take place in compliance with current state of Michigan pandemic health orders.

Gordon & Rees Law Firm Adds 12 Attorneys to Detroit Office

The Gordon, Rees, Scully, Mansukhani law firm is expanding its presence in the Midwest with the addition of 12 attorneys from Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman, and Dicker in Novi to its Detroit office.

John T. Eads III will serve as the Detroit Office managing partner along with Juliana B. Sabatini, who will serve as assistant office managing partner.

Joining Eads and Sabatini are Partner Jeffrey Hart as well as Senior Counsel Stacey Heinonen, Jana Simmons, and Cara Swindlehurst, and associates Macy Abdallah, Aaron Boey, Maureen Heilmann, Lauren Penrod, Lindsay Weiss, and Luke Wolf.

“The firm could not be more pleased to welcome our new colleagues,” says Dion Cominos, the firm’s managing partner. “They are all outstanding practitioners and terrific people who will greatly help solidify our national platform by enhancing the firm’s presence in the Midwest.”

Hayes Ryan, managing partner of the Chicago office, says, “We are thrilled to have this group join our firm. “This dynamic collection of attorneys has a depth of knowledge and experience in multiple practice areas and will be of great value to our clients both in the region and nationally.”

Eads says, “Gordon & Rees is a great fit for our practices and clients. The firm’s well-deserved reputation for excellence, its national presence, and its client-centric focus made the decision to join that much easier. We share similar values and the same vision for how to best build and manage long-term client relationships and cannot wait to begin working together.”

Forgotten Harvest Fundraising for New Building Reaches Public Phase

Forgotten Harvest in Oak Park is raising money to facilitate the move from its current 30,000-square-foot facility into a 78,000-square-foot campus on Eight Mile Road more suited to meet the increasing needs of the community.

“Increased community need and neighborhood food insecurity mapping has set our new strategic food volume goal from its current 40+ million pounds annually closer to 70 million pounds,” says Tim Hudson, chief development officer for Forgotten Harvest. “During the pandemic, even with many partner food pantries being closed for periods of time, we were able to distribute 47 million pounds of food to the community, accommodating demand by renting extra warehouse space.”

The $17 million campaign to fund the move is called Solutions That Nourish. It started in 2019, thanks to a $3 million gift from an anonymous community donor. The $2 million match challenge portion of this gift was raised, and many more dollars beyond that. To date, the campaign now totals $12.3 million in pledges and gifts from 85 donors.

The public phase of the campaign just launched in April, leaving one-third of the total to be raised — roughly $5.5 million. Two ways to give make it easy for donors to provide the crucial final funds to complete the building.

Gift commitments can be pledged and paid over a three- to five-year period if needed. Leadership gifts of $50,000 can receive naming opportunities for major-function areas of the planned campus and facility, and gift pledges of $2,500 and higher will receive recognition on a permanent donor wall displayed in the main lobby of the new facility.

Buy A Brick: Individuals, families, or companies are welcome to purchase various sized brick pavers to be placed on a permanent patio outside of the new facility. Bricks are available at the $500, $1,000, or $2,500 levels.

For more information, visit here or call Hudson at 248-298-3421 or email to thudson@forgottenharvest.org.

Decorate a COVID-19 Memorial Rock for Free Admission to Historical Museum June 12

The Detroit Historical Museum is offering free admission on June 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., to anyone who brings a painted rock to add to its COVID-19 Memorial Garden.

The garden is located in front of the museum’s Legends Plaza, at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Kirby Street.

No registration is necessary for this event. Just decorate a stone or two and bring your creation to the museum, or do your decorating on-site with provided paints and supplies. Designs can honor a lost loved one or simply celebrate life. When the memorial garden closes at the end of the summer, some of the stones will be added to the Detroit Historical Society’s permanent collection of artifacts from this era.

Event attendees also will be able to share their experiences from the past year with curators collecting stories as part of Detroit Responds: Stories from the Time of COVID-19 oral history project.

Those unable to attend on June 12 can still add a memorial rock or contribute an oral history at any time! Find more information here.

Automotive Women’s Alliance Planning Aug. 27 Charity Golf Event

The Troy-based Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation (AWAAF) will host its 25th Annual Charity Golf Tournament Aug. 27 at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Township.

The event benefits AWAF’s scholarship and STEM programs, which are designed to increase female exposure and inspire participation in the mobility space as the industry gears up to race ahead with electric mobility and self-driving cars.

For more than 25 years, AWAF has been working with leading women in automotive OEMs, as well as Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, to raise awareness for its mentoring programs, talent enhancement, and community initiatives. The group also supports other outreach projects including online workshops, networking events, sponsorships, and special collaborations to help create and sustain a diverse automotive industry.

“Functioning from the birthplace of the automobile, Michigan, we are deeply rooted and committed to leading the next phase in mobility and building a brilliant network of powerful women charging ahead and leading in this space,” says Kelly Lindsay Treppa, president of AWAF.

To date, the organization’s charity golf tournament has contributed more than $500,000 for a variety of AWAF Scholarship awardees, charities, and other AWAF programs.

For more information, visit here.

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