DBusiness Daily Update: Holly Jolly Riverfront Starts at Detroit’s Valade Park Dec. 10-12, 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.
Sledding is one of the activities offered during Winter at Valade. // Courtesy Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Sledding is one of the activities offered during Winter at Valade. // Courtesy Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

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.

Holly Jolly Riverfront Starts at Detroit’s Valade Park Dec. 10-12

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s Winter at Valade, featuring free family friendly programming at Robert C. Valade Park every weekend this winter season, kicks off with Holly Jolly Riverfront Dec. 10-12.

Holly Jolly Riverfront will feature free photo opportunities with Santa, wreath building, a dance party for kids, ice sculptures, live music, carolers and more.

The 12 weekends of Winter at Valade are presented by Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and visitors can experience a plethora of winter fun every weekend from Dec. 10 through Feb. 27.

In addition to oversized outdoor fires and marshmallow roasters along the riverfront, Winter at Valade will feature hot seasonal alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, food, sledding, synthetic ice curling, and programming from fitness classes to dog walking for all ages every weekend.

Five enhanced weekends where the Michigan winter will be re-imagined through ice sculptures, cultural events, live music and more include:

  • 14-16: Fire and Ice Festival, presented by Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
  • 28-30: Winter Around the World, presented by Visit Detroit
  • 11-13: Motown Love
  • 25-27: Mardi Gras at Valade

Robert C. Valade Park is located at 2670 East Atwater along the East Riverfront in downtown Detroit. The hours for Winter at Valade each weekend are 4-9 p.m. on Friday, noon-9 p.m. on Saturday, and noon-7 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, visit here.

Pope Francis Center Begins New Housing Project, Receives $6M

Pope Francis Center broke ground Dec. 3 for its new Bridge Housing Campus designed to eliminate chronic homelessness in Detroit. The organization also announced it has received an additional $6 million donation from The Julia Burke Foundation toward the project.

The donation is in recognition of Pope Francis Center’s work to end chronic homelessness and to address higher building and material costs, which have increased the project size to an estimated $30 million.

The California-based Julia Burke Foundation previously committed $7 million toward the Bridge Housing Campus. The campus will feature 40 studio apartments, a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, classrooms, and health clinic. It also will include an outdoor shelter with heated sidewalks and overhead radiant heaters for those who have normalized homelessness and struggle to come indoors.

“Today marks the beginning of the end of chronic homelessness in Detroit,” says Fr. Tim McCabe, SJ, executive director of the Pope Francis Center. “Our innovative Bridge Housing Campus will provide a new type of personalized, coordinated care to move people from a life on the streets to a better future.”

Guests will stay for 90 to 120 days and have access to trauma-informed care involving intensive medical, respite, psychological, addiction, and social and job-readiness services designed to break the cycles of chronic homelessness.

Staff will help guests gather documentation needed to qualify for and access permanent housing solutions. When guests are psychologically and practically ready, they will transition into permanent supportive housing.

Construction on the 5.3-acre campus in the Core City neighborhood is expected to begin in early 2022. The facility — which is bordered by West Hancock Street, Lawton Street, and the Jeffries Service Drive — is targeted to open in mid-2023. Once the campus is operational, residents of the surrounding Core City neighborhood will have access to the health clinic, recreational facilities including an art studio, as well as life skills courses and a computer lab.

Blackford Capital’s Aqua-Leisure Recreation Acquires Airhead Sports Group

Aqua-Leisure Recreation, a portfolio company of Blackford Capital in Grand Rapids, has acquired Airhead Sports Group for an undisclosed price.

The deal pairs Aqua-Leisure of Massachusetts, a top brand in pool hammocks and lounges, with Airhead Sports Group of Denver, a leading brand in the marine towable watersports and winter leisure activity product categories.

The new company’s enhanced global footprint combined with expanded sourcing and distribution capabilities and increased manufacturing, as well as product development and R&D expertise, will enhance Aqua-Leisure’s growth trajectory; delivering new opportunities that better serve its blue-chip retail customers and position the company well for growth in additional omni-channel retailers and wholesale distributors.

“The Airhead family of brands is a natural fit for the Aqua Leisure portfolio,” says Steve Berenson, CEO of Aqua-Leisure. “Our combined product offerings will be able to satisfy greater consumer demand for a wider range of outdoor recreational activities. We are big believers in empowering consumers to experience all the fun that can be had outdoors, and we’re excited to move forward under my direction with this next phase of growth and innovation with the Airhead team.”

The existing leadership team at Airhead will remain intact following the transaction close.

Automotive Electronics Manufacturer EOI Pioneer in Dundee to Add 195 New Jobs

EOI Pioneer, an automotive electronics manufacturer in Dundee, northwest of Monroe, has outlined plans to expand its operations, a move expected to add 195 jobs.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $14 million, $1 million coming from a Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites in Ohio, Ontario, and Tennessee.

EOI Pioneer Inc. is a subsidiary of Excellence Optoelectronics Inc., a Taiwan-based manufacturer of LED light sources and electronics assemblies for the automotive industry. EOI is seeing substantial growth in its global automotive business and created EOI Pioneer to begin manufacturing in North America in 2001.

The company says it plans to establish new manufacturing operations in an existing building at its facility in Dundee. The manufacturing area will be converted to electrostatic discharge and temperature- and humidity-controlled clean enclosure for a cutting-edge electronics manufacturing process to fulfill the rapidly growing automotive electronics demand.

“It’s our goal to become one of the pioneers of innovative light sources in automotive industry, to create value to our customers, and to make a big contribution to the world,” says Fanny Huang, chairman and president of EOI.

For information about careers with EOI, visit here.

PappaRoti Opens Coffee Shop in East Lansing

PappaRoti, a worldwide coffee shop franchise, has opened new location in East Lansing at at 1000 Trowbridge Road.

It offers a wide array of beverages and its signature coffee buns.

“We are delighted to bring our cafés to Lansing,” PappaRoti said in a statement. “For nearly 20 years, our specialty coffee buns have been lovingly crafted in Malaysia and internationally, and we can’t wait to share them with Michiganders.”

The company said it decided to establish a franchise in East Lansing because it “believes in the strength of its multicultural community.”

State Encourages Citizens to Explore High-demand, High-wage Career Pathways

In recognition of Career Exploration and Awareness Month, Dec. 1-31, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is encouraging Michiganders to explore the many career pathways, including employment programs and training and educational opportunities available to them.

“We want to make sure every Michigander has access to the tools and resources they need for career exploration at any stage in life,” says Whitmer. “Whether you’re a young student just launching your career, re-entering the workforce, or considering a change to your current profession, there are many resources at your disposal to help prepare you for high-demand, high-wage career pathways in Michigan.”

Individuals of all ages are encouraged to check out the Michigan Career and Education Pathfinder to explore careers and identify educational opportunities throughout the state.

Pathfinder was enhanced recently to better support residents looking to make informed choices about educational and career options. This free tool uses current information related to employment and the workforce, as well as data about the relationship between education and training programs. It allows visitors to better match skills to career paths and jobs.

“All Michiganders should be able to discover successful pathways to high-demand, high-wage careers,” says Stephanie Beckhorn, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) Office of Employment and Training. “Career exploration tools are crucial in helping individuals find the path that suits them best, regardless of where they are at in their lives.”

Autocam Medical Recognizes Latest Apprenticeship Program Graduates

Autocam Medical, a global contract manufacturer of precision surgical and medical components and devices in Grand Rapids, presented 11 students with certificates of completion for their CNC Machinist Apprentice Program during a November ceremony at the AMP Lab at Western Michigan University in Grand Rapids.

The year-round program requires students to complete more than 700 hours of classroom instruction over a period of 90 weeks. Apprentices are employed by Autocam Medical, maintaining a full work schedule during the training period. In addition to CNC Machinist certification, the course of study also covers the necessary schooling required by the Federal Department of Labor for students to receive a certified journeyman card and puts them on the path to receive an associate degree, earning 27 college credits.

“Autocam Medical’s Apprentice Program is a win-win,” says Andy Beach, a Grand Rapids Community College instructor. “It’s a win for the skilled trades industry and a win for the students. The students gain skills that put them on a career path with unlimited opportunity, and it helps build a ready workforce for the manufacturing industry, which is starving for CNC Machinists.”

To keep up with Autocam Medical’s dramatic growth in West Michigan, the company will be expanding its footprint with a new plant in Kentwood. The new expansion will create 250 jobs and they will be increasing their hiring efforts over the next year.