DBusiness Daily Update: Holiday Season Begins in Downtown Detroit with Nov. 19 Tree Lighting, 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 Detroit Tree Lighting at Campus Martius Park returns as an in-person event in 2021. // Courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership
The Detroit Tree Lighting at Campus Martius Park returns as an in-person event in 2021. // Courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership

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.

Holiday Season Begins in Downtown Detroit with Nov. 19 Tree Lighting

The Downtown Detroit Partnership and DTE Energy Foundation say the 18th annual Detroit Tree Lighting at Campus Martius Park, the official kick-off of the holiday season, will be bigger, brighter, and better than ever.

Returning in 2021 as an in-person event after a year off due to COVID, the Detroit tradition will take place from 5 p.m.-midnight on Nov. 19. A full schedule of free festivities and entertainment is planned.

“Detroit’s Tree Lighting is a cherished tradition that brings so much holiday cheer to families across Michigan,” says Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. “We are proud to offer the community an opportunity to come together and experience this festive occasion in person.”

David Cowan, chief public spaces officer at the DDP, continues: “We welcome all to downtown for this unforgettable night and then return throughout the season to ice skate, shop, dine, and so much more.”

Festivities will center around a Michigan-grown, 65-foot Norway spruce that is said to be taller and brighter than any other to grace the center of Detroit’s gathering place. It will be decked with ornaments and illuminated by 20,000 shimmering LED multi-colored lights – after a count down by Santa.

The signature event will be marked by live entertainment on The Rink and stage at Campus Martius Park, including performances by Olympic and U.S. national champion figure skater Ashley Wagner. “The Voice” Season 20 winner Cam Anthony will perform as will Thornetta Davis, Detroit’s Queen of the Blues; and Ryan Neal, a Detroit-based singer/songwriter/producer.

“The Tree Lighting Ceremony is such a special night for metro Detroit, and we are honored to support an event that brings families and friends together. We can’t wait to see everyone — downtown or virtually — with their loved ones making memories for years to come,” says Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Energy Foundation. “Light Up Beacon Park offers an additional downtown destination with family-friendly programming, performances and space to gather. This is our third year hosting Detroit’s only Children’s Tree in the park and we look forward to seeing the ornaments created by local kids who will have a hand in decorating the tree.”

WXYZ-TV Channel 7 will serve as the official broadcast station of the annual Detroit Tree Lighting ceremony, broadcasting coverage of the event during a live special, “Light Up the Season,” from 7-8 p.m.

Other holiday-related activities and attractions include:

Light Up Beacon Park + Detroit’s Children’s Tree — Nov. 19, 9-11 p.m. Includes food trucks and live holiday music from singer/songwriter Devon Gilfillian. A full list of activities at Beacon Park is available at DTEBeaconPark.com.

The Rink at Campus Martius Park — Opens Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. and stays open until March 6, 2022. For more information, visit DowntownDetroitParks.com.

Carriage Rides — Carriage rides take passengers on a journey through the bustling city and around Campus Martius Park.

Downtown Detroit Markets — Residents, visitors, and out-of- town travelers can celebrate the season in the city through engaging activities and experiences, and dining and shopping at Downtown Detroit Markets at Cadillac Square.

Whether window shopping or on a spree, the Downtown Detroit Markets are the place to be for specialty apparel, accessories, jewelry, bath products, home décor, children’s toys, pet goods, books and snacks. More information is available at DowntownDetroitParks.com and DeckedOutDetroit.com.

Cadillac Lodge by Bea’s — This family-friendly gathering space right next to the Downtown Detroit Markets offers drinks, eats, games, and program for everyone to enjoy.

Food Trucks — An assortment of food and beverage will be available from food trucks, offering a variety of cuisines to feed hungry visitors to the Detroit Tree Lighting.

GM and EVgo Boost Build Plan for High-power Fast Chargers Across U.S.

EVgo Inc., the California-based owner and operator of the nation’s largest public fast charging network for electric vehicles, and General Motors Co. in Detroit today announced an expansion of their fast charging infrastructure build-out collaboration currently underway across the U.S.

The automaker and previously announced a tripling of the EVgo network with plans to build 2,750 charging stalls through 2025.

In response to the growing demand for charging infrastructure and new vehicles coming to market in the later years of the program, the companies have expanded their plan adding another 500 high-powered DC fast charging stalls, bringing the total to 3,250 through 2025 and extending the geographic reach from 40 metropolitan markets to 52.

Stations that are part of the program are now live in eight states, including in Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Carolina. The joint program is designed to accelerate widespread EV adoption and increase public access to charging, including future markets in Alabama, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.

The target audience includes drivers who live in multi-unit dwellings, rent their homes and can’t install chargers, or might not otherwise have access to home or workplace charging. These DC charging stalls also could provide a fast-charging option for drivers who’d like to charge on-the-go.

EVgo will continue scaling fast-charging deployments for the program as newer EV models hit the market in the next few years. The new EVgo sites all deploy cutting-edge power sharing technology, including high power fast chargers capable of delivering up to 350 kW. Sites can provide up to 150 miles of range in 8-12 minutes1 for new 350k -capable EV models coming to market.

“As EV adoption picks up momentum across both consumer and commercial segments, the charging infrastructure buildout needs to continue being a few steps ahead of demand,” says Cathy Zoi, CEO of EVgo. “EVgo is committed to reliable and convenient charging for all. We are thrilled to expand the scope of our collaboration with GM — a testament to our successful partnership. We look forward to working together as we expedite the journey to an electrified future for the betterment of our planet.”

The infrastructure collaboration builds on GM’s commitment to offering zero emissions vehicles across a range of price points. The new stations added to the EVgo network will continue to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity.

“DC fast charging is crucial to our goal of putting everyone in an EV and making electrification convenient,” says Rick Spina, vice president of AV/EV commercialization and infrastructure at GM. “Growing the geographic footprint of our collaboration with EVgo to even more metropolitan areas will be key to making fast charging accessible to more customers.”

Rocket Community Fund Teams with Experian for Housing Stability Campaign

The Rocket Community Fund in Detroit today announced a collaboration with Experian that will enable the organization to pivot from its door-to-door outreach by calling 50,000 Detroit homeowners at risk of tax foreclosure through Neighbor to Neighbor, the organization’s flagship housing stability program.

With Experian, this new approach should increase the program’s efficacy while reducing the time traditionally spent canvassing door-to-door.

The Rocket Community Fund’s annual census of tax delinquent properties also will begin gathering additional data during surveying, so that it may understand the residents’ current needs for home repairs and inform future interventions.

Neighbor to Neighbor reaches out to those at risk of tax foreclosure to connect families with available resources, while simultaneously collecting data to support systemic change. Between 2015 and 2019, this annual campaign, other philanthropic investments, and the work of partners have collectively achieved a 94 percent reduction in the number of occupied homes entering the Wayne County Tax Auction. The auction was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.

“The Rocket Community Fund is obsessed with finding a better way to ensure that all Detroiters have access to a stable home,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund. “The ongoing pandemic has pushed us to find new ways of creatively reaching Detroiters in order to support them and collect data around their changing needs. Thanks to the collaboration with Experian, this year’s Neighbor to Neighbor does just that.”

Neighbor to Neighbor traditionally conducts a door-to-door campaign with the goal of aiding residents in obtaining a property tax exemption through the Homeowner Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP), now called HomeOwners Property Exemption (HOPE). This year’s survey also will include more extensive questions about home repair needs.

“We recognize the pandemic has taken its toll on consumers across the country, and we’re committed to empowering and protecting those communities that are most impacted,” says Genevieve Juillard, president of marketing services and data quality at Experian. “Working alongside the Rocket Community Fund gives us an opportunity to help and serve these consumers, but more importantly, provide them with the resources needed to have confident, stable housing.”

The Rocket Community Fund also will underwrite the costs for nonprofit partners to hire 20 full-time phone canvassers, who will make $20 per hour over the course of the campaign, which is expected to last 8-12 weeks.

This year’s campaign is part of an ongoing, $500 million joint philanthropic commitment between the Rocket Community Fund and Gilbert Family Foundation. The Rocket Community Fund is the philanthropic arm of Rocket Cos., while the Gilbert Family Foundation is the personal foundation of Dan and Jennifer Gilbert.

LIFT Offers Advanced Manufacturing Certification to Service Members in Michigan

LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, today announced its Operation Next advanced manufacturing certification program is being made available to National Guard and Reserve members and spouses in Michigan

Operation Next is a self-paced, advanced manufacturing-focused training initiative, which blends hands-on and virtual learning, giving service members and their spouses the opportunity to earn a credential in many of the most in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs, including welding and CNC machining, at minimal or no cost to them. Credentialling opportunities in Industrial Technology Maintenance and Robotics are expected to be available in the near future.

Following the Biden Administration’s Joining Forces initiative to support “the military and veteran communities through economic and entrepreneurship opportunities for military spouses,” LIFT and Operation Next are putting an additional focus on military families.

After a successful pilot at Fort Campbell, Ky. in 2019, today’s expansion announcement is part of Operation Next’s ongoing and planned expansion to military installations in Virginia, Florida, and Wisconsin, all with funding provided by the Department of Defense Manufacturing Engineering Education Program.

Interested servicemembers and their families can enroll at www.opnextjobs.com.

CleanSlate Technology Group Opens Metro Detroit Office

CleanSlate Technology Group, an Indiana-based advanced consulting partner with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a consultancy specializing in building advanced cloud solutions, has opened a new office in metro Detroit to accommodate rapid growth and leverage the area’s high tech talent pool.

“The decision to expand our presence into the Detroit metro area was a logical step in our business expansion strategy in the Midwest,” says Chris Konow, COO of CleanSlate. “Our partnership with AWS has allowed us to grow very rapidly to support enterprises with modernization efforts using cloud and AWS-native services.  We are excited for what the future holds in Detroit, and we believe we have a tremendous value proposition to offer clients in the area looking to digitally transform, modernize and move to the AWS cloud.”

The new office will be led by the newly hired regional director Scott Bonato, who brings to more than 15 years of experience working with clients in this area to help solve challenges and providing them with solutions to grow their business.

“Seeing the talent and completed work by CleanSlate made joining the team an easy decision,” says Bonato. “We are at critical time for businesses to advance with cloud-based solutions, and I’m eager to lend my expertise and drive results for companies across Michigan, an area I’ve spent the last 14 years of my career.”

Detroit Pistons to Host Veterans Hiring Event Nov. 10

As part of Hoops for Troops Week, the Detroit Pistons will host a veterans hiring event from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 10, 10:00 a.m. at Little Caesars Arena.

Civilians, veterans, and active-duty military members are invited to this hiring/resource event, presented by United Wholesale Mortgage. Participants will interact with corporate resources, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Throughout the day, corporate recruiters from close to 50 organizations will be discussing employment opportunities. Government and nonprofit agencies will be providing information about benefits and resources for all attendees. The information they provide will benefit the families by enhancing their access to career, economic, health, and benefit resources. Hoops for Troops week began on Nov. 3 and will conclude on Nov. 12.

Additionally, the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center will be available to provide COVID vaccinations and booster shots to veterans and their family members in need of them.

Beaumont Sites in Dearborn, Farmington Hills Named Best Nursing Homes in America

Beaumont nursing homes in Dearborn and Farmington Hills have been recognized as top nursing homes in America by Newsweek, as well as two of the Top 25 nursing homes in Michigan.

Beaumont Rehabilitation & Continuing Care — Dearborn and Farmington Hills were two of only nine nursing homes recognized in metro Detroit. Newsweek’s Best Nursing Homes 2022 ranks the best nursing homes in 25 states with the highest populations.

“There are more than 450 nursing facilities in Michigan and only 5 percent of facilities were honored with this designation,” says Margaret Lightener, vice president of senior services at Beaumont Health in Southfield. “We’re grateful to provide compassionate, extraordinary care for our wonderful residents every day. This is a true testament to our teams’ focus on quality and care, year after year. The leaders and staff of these facilities have a lot to be proud of with this recognition.”

The rankings are based on scores in three areas: key performance data, peer recommendations, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Performance data includes the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ratings for staffing, quality, and health inspections.

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lightener credits the support of the entire medical community at Beaumont Health — from infectious diseases doctors and supply chain managers to hospital system leadership and others — for the expert care residents receive.

“It’s that whole support system and clinical expertise of a health system that makes us successful,” Lightener says. “At the start of the pandemic, we had medical supplies from day one, while other nursing homes across the nation suffered from not having adequate personal protective equipment. That was huge. And because of our medical resources at Beaumont, we had expertise throughout the system to support us and verify we were doing the right things. This network supports our residents every day for all of their medical needs.”

A full list of the Best Nursing Homes can be found here.

EMU Center for Entrepreneurship to Launch New Certificate Program

The Center for Entrepreneurship at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti is launching a new program to help aspiring entrepreneurs jumpstart their ideas.

Funds raised from EMU alumni and community partners is making the eight-week, in-person and online hybrid program possible. It offers business instruction, professional coaching, mentorship, networking, and the chance for participants to pitch their startup ideas for one or two awards sharing a $25,000 business expense fund.

“Entrepreneurship is challenging especially at the very early stage,” says Sanjib Chowdhury, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “We are thrilled to be able develop this program for passionate entrepreneurs and help them move their ideas forward.”

Also interacting with the participants will be Chris Kaufman, co-founder and chief creative officer with StockX. “As an entrepreneur and EMU grad I understand the impact a program like this will have. I am looking forward to working with the participants and helping them develop their ideas. I am also very glad to be part of the team at the EMU Center for Entrepreneurship that is committed to helping our community and southeast Michigan.”

The Executive Certificate in Entrepreneurship will include additional industry experts, professional coaches, mentors, startup investors and was developed for aspiring entrepreneurs with growth oriented and scalable business ideas and executives looking to expand their entrepreneurial mindset. The program will consist of eight modules with topics including:

  • Developing and evaluating startup ideas and business concept.
  • Discovery and acquisition of customers.
  • Forming a company and networking with stakeholders.
  • Financial planning.
  • Fundraising options and pitching for ventures.

Several scholarships are available to participants. The application deadline for the initial program is Nov. 22. For more information and to apply, visit here.