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.
HM Style Lounge and Chill Room Opens in Detroit
HM Style Lounge and Chill Room, a recipient of a Motor City Match grant, celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 23 in Detroit’s Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood and was attended by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit City Councilmember James Tate, Motor City Match program manager Andrew Lucco, and Executive Director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., Sherita Smith.
Owner Herschell Masten began renovations on HM Style Lounge and Chill Room in the fall of 2019, but progress was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He received a MCM round 10 business plan and round 12 space award totaling $5,000 in business services. Masten also received support from ProsperUs Detroit and was a Hatch Detroit Top 10 finalist.
The 2,000-square-foot bar and lounge will offer cultural events such as live art, poetry readings, and fashion shows with a focus on local artists and talent. DJ classes will be offered to patrons at no charge; the lounge will also host pop-up chefs serving unique cuisine. Masten currently has four employees and plans to hire 15 full-time and five part-time employees as his business grows.
“HM Style Lounge and Chill Room is the only business of its type in the Rosedale Park neighborhood,” says Matsen. “Residents told me exactly what they wanted. Mostly importantly, they want this business to succeed.”
Motor City Match is a partnership between the City of Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corp., Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that issues grants supported by numerous partnerships in southeast Michigan with community development financial institutions and corporations.
Michigan Strategic Fund Approves Support for Three Major Projects
Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to announce economic assistance for projects approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board that will create 150 new jobs and generate more the $500 million in investment in Michigan.
The projects include a new facility for SK Siltron near Bay City, the semiconductor wafer manufacturer with Michigan operations in Auburn, and two community revitalization projects in the Corktown and Lafayette West neighborhoods in Detroit.
The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $302 million and create up to 150 jobs, supported by a $1.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen for the project over sites in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas for its talent and proximity to automakers.
“SK Siltron’s high-profile commitment proves further evidence that Michigan remains a place where high-tech talent needs can be met and tech companies can grow, and we thank the company for its vote of confidence in our state and our workforce,” says Quentin Messer, Jr., CEO of the MEDC and president and chair of the MSF.
The Corktown Mixed-Use Project will construct three mixed-use buildings on Michigan Avenue. When completed, the project will include 188 apartments, seven townhomes, parking, and retail space.
At least 10 percent of the apartments will have rents targeting those residents at 60 percent of average median income. In addition, public infrastructure improvements will be made to the site, including sidewalks, brick pavers, curbs, and gutters, paving and landscaping in the public space.
Lafayette Acquisition Partners plans to construct six new five-story buildings on a vacant, underutilized lot. When completed, the Lafayette West Project will include rental apartments and for-sale condominiums as well as commercial space, along with amenities such as a pool, clubhouse, and greenspace.
Approximately 20 percent of the rental units will be held at rents considered affordable for renters making 80 percent of the area mean income. The commercial spaces will target local, place-based businesses and address underserved markets. The project will also include public improvements including landscaping, public lighting, sidewalks and more.
Survey: Michigan Public Schools Need More Funding
A public opinion survey that polled 600 voters commissioned by Launch Michigan, an organization that is reimagining how schools are structured and funded to ensure equity, performance, and accountability for all students, shows a majority of voters would support a modest tax increase to support improved student outcomes for all children.
More than half of those surveyed — 54 percent — approve of Michigan’s current public education system, while 27 percent disapprove. Only 25 percent believed Michigan public schools have enough money, with 65 percent believed they need more funding. Nearly everyone — 90 percent — approved of additional money for students that are experiencing disability, language skills, or poverty.
“Concerns about the quality of a child’s education are normally borne by parents, yet this survey shows that a lack of confidence about Michigan’s current education system extends to those without children in public schools,” says Adam Zemke, president of Launch Michigan.
“Employers who count on the state’s public education system for a future talent pipeline are reckoning with the fact that many students are not being equipped to succeed in the 21st century workforce.”
When asked about the quality of public education over the past few years, 75 percent of respondents said it has stayed the same or worsened, with 13 percent saying it has improved. Educator salaries also were examined, with 58 percent saying they are too low and 28 percent saying they are about right.
The 600-person sample of registered voters via live phone survey was conducted July 10 to 15, 2021 by the Glengariff Group. The full survey is available here.
Higher Hopes and Famous Dave’s Partner for 1,000 Labor Day Food Kits
Higher Hopes, a nonprofit based in Commerce Township that provides food kits to those in need, has partnered with Elliot Baum, owner of several Famous Dave’s locations, for a 1,000 Labor Day barbecue kit give-away for food insecure families in Detroit.
The giveaway is also being made possible by Applebaum Family Philanthropy. Higher Hopes states it needs to raise a minimum of $25,000 in order to match the contributions.
Each kit will contain two pork butts totaling 15 pounds with Famous Dave’s rib rub and barbecue sauce, plus Meijer brand baked beans, fresh corn of the cob, Jiffy cornbread mix from Chelsea Milling, fresh cabbage and coleslaw dressing, and watermelon for dessert.
The 1,000 kits will be distributed at three site locations around the Detroit area on Sept. 2, allowing families with children enrolled in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Programs to celebrate the Labor Day weekend with a Labor Day BBQ.
Gage in Detroit and Cookies Extend Licensing Agreement to 2026
Gage Growth Corp. in Detroit, a leading cannabis brand and operator in this state, announced it has entered into an amended agreement and new licensing agreement with Cookies, the California-based cannabis brand, from 2024 to 2026.
The amended licensing agreement will introduce ‘Cookies Corners,’ a store-within-a-store concept along with the extension of the exclusive partnership. The goals set include 12 Cookies branded retail dispensaries and Cookies Corners in all Gage stores by the end of 2024.
“We are excited to continue this journey with the Cookies family as we extend our exclusive licensing agreement,” says Fabian Monaco, CEO of Gage. “We look forward to continue working with the entire Cookies team to produce and supply the best cannabis products in Michigan, now, and for years to come.”
“We have developed an amazing relationship with Gage and they fully understand and respect the vision, brand, and standards when it comes to quality,” says Berner, co-founder and CEO of Cookies. “With the Cookies Detroit 8 Mile location being one of our highest performing stores, we have decided to expand Cookies’ footprint throughout the state. The Michigan market has welcomed us with open arms and for that I’m extremely humbled. We are working on developing exclusive menus for Michigan and we can’t wait to release them in our new stores.”
Eastern Michigan University Welcomes 2,250 First-year Students, 20% Jump from Last Fall
Eastern Michigan University is welcoming more than 2,250 new first-year students to campus this fall — a 20 percent increase from fall 2020 with 1,867 new students — with a cumulative high school grade point average of 3.43, the highest ever for an incoming class at the university.
The class represents Eastern Michigan University’s stated commitment to serving diverse communities, with 43.8 percent of the new students representing ethnically diverse populations. More than 2,750 students have made a deposit to live on campus, compared to 2,031 last fall, an approximately 35 percent increase.
“Our enrollment and housing numbers reflect the great attention paid by our faculty and staff to providing quality degree programs, experiential learning, and support services that lead our graduates to successful careers,” says James Smith, president of EMU. “Our continuing appeal and outreach to diverse audiences reflected in these data are particularly noteworthy.”
First-year students will move into on-campus housing on Thursday, Aug. 26 and Friday, Aug. 27 during a staggered move-in to allow for COVID-19 safety precautions, while upper class student residents will move in Friday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 29 with the same staggered approach.
Online School Western Governors University Offers Scholarship to Michigan Students
Western Governors University (WGU), the Milcreek, Utah-based online university, announced it is offering the Moving Michigan Forward Scholarship (MMFS) to learners looking for financial assistance to cover tuition costs. The university is accepting applications now through Aug. 1, 2022.
The MMFS is one of many scholarships offered by the university. Eligible students could receive up to $4,000 for tuition. In the last 15 years, WGU has awarded 824 scholarships to qualifying students in Michigan, totaling more than $1.8 million, including $359,000 last year alone.
“WGU is committed to providing pathways for individuals in Michigan who are seeking a flexible, affordable and accessible higher education,” says Alison Bell, regional vice president for WGU. “This scholarship furthers our commitment to provide opportunities to current and future students in Michigan, especially those looking to transfer their credits from a community college and pursue innovative online bachelor and master’s degree programs and credentials.”
Capitol National Bank Earns National Award for Commercial Lending
Capitol National Bank in Lansing was named one of the Independent Community Bankers of America’s (ICBA) top ten commercial lenders in the ‘less than $500 million’ category.
This is an objective award based on FDIC data that measures the strength of competitive banking services and operational efficiencies. Loan growth and credit quality in 2020 are the primary factors in the ICBA’s evaluation.
“This award reflects the efforts of the entire Capitol National team,” says Ed Harden, president of Capitol National Bank. “We’ve always been focused on serving small businesses, but last year it was even more critical for us to step up and support them.”
Capitol National secured funding for approximately 1,700 paycheck protection loans, with an average loan size of under $80,0000.
“Everyone put in extra time, effort and energy because we knew the PPP loans were essential to the survival of our neighbors’ companies,” says Harden. “We helped make it possible for customers in our community to stay in business.”