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.
Hospitality Worker Recalls Lead to State Unemployment Rate Decrease in February
Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined by half a percentage point during February to 5.2 percent, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Leisure and hospitality industry recalls pushed up payroll jobs in February by 64,000, or 1.6 percent, to 4,121,000.
Most of the monthly job expansion occurred in the leisure and hospitality sector, as recalls of laid-off workers resulted in a sharp monthly job gain of 56,000. Jobs advanced in the restaurant industry in Michigan in February, and the entire accommodation and food sector recalled nearly 50,000 workers.
Minor employment additions occurred in several other Michigan industries. The only sector in Michigan with a measurable job cut in February was construction, where difficult weather conditions resulted in a decline of 3,000 jobs.
Overall, the state’s labor force experienced a second consecutive month of labor force withdrawal, down by 42,000, in February. Despite the jobless rate reduction, the state employment level edged down slightly over the month (-14,000), as did the number of unemployed (-28,000).
The unemployment rate in the U.S. inched down in February by 1/10th of a percentage point to 6.2 percent. Michigan’s February jobless rate was a full percentage point below the national rate. Over the year, the national jobless rate increased by 2.7 percentage points, while Michigan’s rate advanced by 1.5 percentage points.
“For the second consecutive month, Michigan’s jobless rate reduction primarily reflected fewer persons active in the state labor market,” says Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “A separate business survey revealed a significant level of job recalls in the restaurant industry in February.”
Monthly labor force trends and highlights include:
- Michigan’s total number of unemployed in February was the lowest level exhibited by the state since March 2020 (183,000).
- The state workforce fell by 4.7 percent over the year, a reduction well above the nationwide labor force drop (-2.6 percent).
- Total employment in Michigan receded by 6.1 percent since February 2020, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Since the height of pandemic-related layoffs in April 2020, Michigan unemployment fell by 841,000, or by 77.6 percent. However, the number of Michigan unemployed in February was still about 59,000 above pre-pandemic levels.
The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted February jobless rate declined by seven-tenths of a percentage point to 4.5 percent. As with the state, a monthly workforce reduction resulted in the jobless rate decrease, as the number of employed moved down by 7,000.
Industry employment trends and highlights include:
- Payroll jobs in Michigan have increased in nine of 10 months since the large, pandemic-related job reduction in April 2020. Since then, total nonfarm employment has advanced by 723,000, or 21.3 percent.
- However, payroll employment in Michigan remained 332,000 below pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.
- Despite the monthly recall of jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, jobs in this industry remained 94,000 below year-ago levels.
- Employment in the state retail trade sector rose for the fourth consecutive month during February, up by 11,000 since October 2020.
- Over the past year, the Michigan industries with the largest percent payroll job cuts included leisure and hospitality, other services, and information.
- Average weekly hours in the state’s manufacturing sector fell by 6.5 percent over the past year.
Detroit Grand Prix Returns to One-weekend Format June 11-13
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear will return to its traditional one-weekend format in 2021 as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will join the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, June 11-13 on Belle Isle.
The IMSA sports cars were originally scheduled to race in Detroit one week earlier in order to provide teams and drivers the opportunity to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the recent announcement that Le Mans has been delayed to August, the road to Detroit is clear for IMSA competitors to join IndyCar and Indy Lights June 11-13.
IMSA will practice and qualify on the Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit on Friday, June 11 and then race in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic late in the afternoon on Saturday, June 12.
“We are excited to bring the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear back to Belle Isle in 2021 and return to a traditional one-weekend format featuring five great races with three incredible racing series,” says Michael Montri, president of the Detroit Grand Prix. “With the established stars of IndyCar and the rising stars of Indy Lights both racing on Saturday and Sunday, and Corvette Racing joining the intense IMSA sports car action on both Friday and Saturday, it’s going to be an incredible weekend in the Motor City.”
The 2021 Grand Prix will mark the 11th time that IndyCar and sports car racing will compete together on the same weekend at Belle Isle. It also will represent the first time since 2016 that Corvette will compete in Detroit and the first time in 13 years that a Corvette GT sports car will race at its home track.
For a full schedule of events and ticket information, visit here.
SMART Launches SMART Flex, Region’s First On-demand Transit Service with Via
The new SMART Flex, an on-demand public transit service offered by SMART and the New York-based Via Transportation Inc., is now available in Dearborn, Troy, and the Hall Road corridor.
SMART Flex works like a shuttle that comes when you want, where you want. Book a ride straight from your phone and get picked up in minutes.
The Dearborn Flex Zone runs down the Michigan Avenue corridor and includes The Henry Ford. The Troy Flex Zone features the Somerset Collection on the west end of the route and Oakland Mall on the east end. Hall Road Corridor Flex Zone, the largest zone, connects Utica to New Baltimore.
The program will utilize small vans and cars to provide short trips to people traveling within the designated pilot areas. Rides will cost between $2 to $8, depending on the distance. Some of the vehicles will be Chrysler Pacificas. Others, which are equipped to fit wheelchairs, will be Dodge Caravan.
Via Transportation, which operates services in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other international cities, provides the technology, the drivers, and the vehicles.
Affordable Housing Projects in Detroit and Jackson to Receive $10M Each from MSHDA
Affordable housing projects in Detroit and Jackson were approved to receive more than $10 million in funding support each from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) during its March board meeting.
In Detroit, the MSHDA board authorized the issuance of bonds and a bond-financed loan for the construction of Mid Apartment Projects, a new 61-unit affordable housing development. The developer will reserve 14 percent of the units for tenants at or below 30 percent of area median income. The rest of the units will be for tenants with income levels up to 80 percent of area median income.
The MSHDA board also approved an inducement resolution for Woodland Hills Apartments in Jackson to acquire and rehabilitate 125 affordable housing units. Each unit will receive comprehensive interior updates, including energy-efficient appliances, fixtures and hot water heaters, as well as new cabinets, counters, plumbing, and more. Additional exterior improvements to landscaping, roofing, windows, and siding, as well as common area upgrades and elevator repairs also will be conducted. Approximately 27 full-time construction jobs are expected to be created as part of the project.
“Both of these projects align with MSHDA’s vision of providing every Michigander access to quality, safe, affordable housing, which we know is the cornerstone of diverse, thriving communities,” says Susan Corbin, chair of the MSHDA board and acting director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “These projects will serve a critical role in bringing them to life and creating a positive ripple effect in Detroit, Jackson, and beyond.”
In other rental development activity, the board approved a new mortgage loan for $1.5 million for Minges Creek Village Apartments in Battle Creek for property improvements, including replacement of entry doors and hardware, cabinets, countertops, sinks, faucets, toilets, hot water heaters, flooring, and more.
The board also adopted and approved the Annual Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Public Housing Authority (PHA) Plan and the proposed changes to the Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program. The Administrative Plan changes are to:
- Include stepfamily and in-laws in the definition of a prohibited relative, when families are searching for a housing unit that may be owned by a relative.
- Consider a family member’s unborn child when determining the family’s voucher size or unit size eligibility for the HCV and Project-Based Voucher programs.
- Consider smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that are chirping as inoperable and thus a life-threatening condition, even if the device is hardwired and has a battery backup.
- Conduct remote virtual inspections on program units when MSHDA staff or MSHDA housing agent cannot access the unit.
- Consider properties that receive funding via a competitive process by HUD, such as the Choice Neighborhood Program, to be eligible to receive Project-Based Vouchers.
- Rely on records of conviction when determining applicant eligibility for the HCV program. In doing so, the review of criminal records will be centralized with MSHDA staff to ensure consistency in final determinations of eligibility.
J.D. Power Forecasts Auto Retail Growth in March
Troy-based market research firm J.D. Power says it expects new-vehicle retail sales in March are expected to show growth over March 2020 and March 2019, according to a joint forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
Retail sales for new vehicles are projected to reach 1,288,100 units, a 70.7 percent increase compared with March 2020, and an 9.2 percent increase compared with March 2019, when adjusted for selling days. March 2021 contains one more selling day than March 2020 and one fewer selling day — and one fewer selling weekend — than March 2019. Comparing the same sales volume without adjusting for the number of selling days translates to a year-over-year increase of 77.5 percent from 2020 and an increase of 5.1 percent from 2019.
New-vehicle retail sales in the first quarter of 2021 are projected to reach 3,160,500 units, a 20.5 percent increase from Q1 2020 and a 4.7 percent increase from Q1 2019.
“The very strong demand for new vehicles among U.S. households seen in January and February is continuing in March, meaning that multiple performance records will be broken for the first quarter,” says Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power. “On a volume basis, Q1 retail sales of 3.16 million units will be the second highest ever, and records will be established for average transaction price, total consumer spending on new vehicles and retailer profitability.”
The average price of a new vehicle is on pace to reach $37,314 in Q1 — the highest ever for the first quarter — nearly $3,000 higher than 2020 and more than $4,000 higher than 2019.
The combination of strong retail volumes and higher prices means that consumer expenditures on new vehicles is expected to reach a Q1 record of $177.9 billion, up 31 percent from 2020 and up 18 percent from 2019.
The average new-vehicle retail transaction price in March is expected to reach a monthly record $37,286. The previous high for any month, $37,966, was set in December 2020.
Average incentive spending per unit in March is expected to reach $3,527, down from $4,415 in March 2020 and down from $3,789 in March of 2019. Spending as a percentage of the average MSRP is expected to reach 8.2%, down 2.5 percentage points from March 2020 and down 1.4 percentage points from March 2019.
Convention & Visitors Bureau Launches Contest to Help Restaurants During Pandemic
The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau has created the Eats in the D Restaurant Giveaway, a contest to urge locals and visitors to enjoy exploring and rediscovering metro Detroit’s local culinary scene while earning a chance to win prizes.
Participants can play by first following @visitdetroit on Facebook and Instagram. Next, snap a picture of their food or experience, while dining at a restaurant in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. Tag the restaurant and @visitdetroit, then share it on Facebook or Instagram. Use the hashtag, #EatsintheD to enter a picture into the raffle.
At the end of each month, a winner will be randomly selected and awarded a $100 gift card to another restaurant of their choice from a predetermined list.
“Our metro Detroit restaurants have been hit very hard financially during the COVID 19 pandemic, establishments that are special to our residents and visitors alike,” says Claude Molinari, president and CEO of the DMCVB. “We urge diners to help us create some visibility for these eateries so they can increase business and keep their doors open.”
The rules of the contest are as follows:
- Posts must have all of the required elements listed to be eligible to enter.
- Only one entry per day, per person permitted. Unlimited posts per month allowed.
- Only one winner per month and will be selected at random, the last day of each month.
- Winner will be contacted by Visit Detroit to obtain mailing address to send gift card.
- Diners must follow all COVID safety regulations when patronizing local restaurants.
- Posts submitted with inappropriate content will automatically be removed from the raffle.
- Program ends on Dec. 30, 2021.
Downtown Northville Sees Small Businesses Growth During Pandemic
The Northville Downtown Development Authority is reporting the opening of new small businesses and the expansion of local businesses during the pandemic.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat that move a community forward and our downtown Northville businesses have adapted, with DDA support, while continuing to provide much needed services,” says Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority. “We have witnessed Northville citizens and businesses come together to minimize the potential economic impact of COVID-19, and we are thrilled to see so many businesses flourish and expand their footprint even during a pandemic.”
In the year since the pandemic hit, TeaGather has opened the downtown’s first Bubble Tea Shop and Sugar Lu’s has opened a candy shop. Spice Merchants has expanded and Pear-aphernalia has relocated to a new space.
Located within walking distance of each other – here is a look at visitors to Downtown Northville can expect to see at these new and expanded local businesses:
For more information on downtown Northville businesses, visit here.
U-M Names Buildings After Mary Sue Coleman and Eisenberg Family
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has announced that it is naming the building that houses its Life Sciences Institute after former president Mary Sue Coleman and renaming of the U-M Depression Center for Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and their family, in recognition of their $30 million total giving to depression research and scholarship.
As president, Coleman established the North Campus Research Complex, led the fight for affirmative action to the U.S. Supreme Court, and brought the creation of the Life Sciences Institute to fruition.
The building — to be called Mary Sue Coleman Hall — is the first academic building on the Ann Arbor campus to be named for a woman. Coleman, who served as U-M president for 12 years before retiring in 2014, was the first woman appointed to that position.
“To me, this richly deserved naming of Mary Sue Coleman Hall is a reflection of all she has done to enhance the University of Michigan and heighten the impact of higher education on our society,” says Mark Schlissel, president of U-M. “Thanks to President Emerita Coleman, U-M has a faculty rich in intellectual diversity, a physical campus that is the envy of our peers, and numerous academic programs that are amongst the best in the world.”
The U-M Depression Center now will be known as the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center. U-M established the Depression Center in November 2001, at a time when people with depression and bipolar disorder faced a heavy stigma, and research on these conditions lagged behind progress in other areas of medicine such as cancer.
The Eisenbergs’ philanthropic support for the center includes a gift made in 2016 that supports advanced science in the field of mood disorders and a professorship now held by the center’s new director, Srijan Sen.
“Thanks to the Eisenbergs’ extraordinary commitment to moving depression and bipolar illnesses out of the shadows and into the sunlight of advanced scientific research, discovery, and evidence-based care, our university will be able to accelerate the pace of prevention, detection, treatment and support,” says Schlissel. “It’s hard for me to imagine a more important and timely investment in medical research than what is being made by the Eisenberg family.”
The Eisenbergs’ total giving to U-M is $39 million, including gifts to the Taubman Medical Research Institute and other areas of Michigan Medicine, to the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and contributions to the School of Education and TeachingWorks, School of Social Work, Department of Athletics, and University Musical Society.
Redwood Living Adds Third Apartment Neighborhood in Brownstown Township
Ohio-based developer Redwood Living Inc. is adding its third neighborhood in the downriver community of Brownstown Charter Township. Redwood Brownstown Telegraph Sibley Rd. will include 94 apartment homes ranging in size from 1,294 to 1,620 square feet. Residents will begin moving in this May.
“We’re thrilled to add 94 more Redwood apartment homes in Brownstown, a township that has truly embraced the Redwood lifestyle,” says David Conwill, CEO of Redwood.
Unlike traditional apartment complexes, Redwood’s are designed to feel more like a single-family home thanks to the single-story floor plans, attached garages and private entrances with dedicated street addresses.
Transparency Dashboard Promotes Public Trust in Law Enforcement
Oakland County is paving the way to easier access to information about law enforcement interactions through a Transparency Dashboard that local law enforcement agencies can make available on their websites.
“Community trust in their government, including law enforcement, is an important part of working together to strengthen the fabric of our communities” says Dave Coulter, Oakland County executive. “We hope communities find the Transparency Dashboard a useful tool to enhance their local transparency efforts.”
In partnership with Oakland County’s Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System and Arx Community, Oakland County led the development of the tool, which features information about citations, arrests, and calls for service. Users can drill down to more detailed information about arrest trends, including breakdown by age, race, and gender. Agencies also can add information and data to their dashboards.
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, and police departments in Novi, Lathrup Village, and Southfield helped to develop the dashboard and their data is available as a model. The dashboards are being provided free of charge for the first two years and all agencies are invited to participate.
The way the dashboard works is, a report is initiated by the law enforcement agency, which is then verified, approved and entered into the CLEMIS records management system. CLEMIS provides the data to Arx Community, which pushes the data to the agencies’ Transparency Dashboard for the public. Refreshing the data every 24 hours ensures that the information is always current.
UP’s ‘Tour Da Yoop, Eh’ Cycling Challenge Slated for Aug. 6-15
Registration is now open for the 2021 Tour Da Yoop, Eh, which takes place from Aug. 6-15 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Cyclists are encouraged to ride as many or as few days as they would like, with individualized packages to fit any rider’s needs. Rides average 120 miles per day (some sections as little as 92 and some as many as 137). If riders complete the 10 Day Challenge they will have ridden 1,200 miles in 10 days.
Any rider who completes all 10 sections, over any course of time 1, 2, 5 or even 10 years, will be eligible to receive a plaid finisher’s jersey. Riders who finishe all 10 sections in 10 straight days receive a plaid finisher’s jersey. Each year “PlaidERs” are invited to take part in PlaidER Day where they can ride the last section of the TDY free.
For more information on the ride, sponsorships, and to register, visit here.