DBusiness Daily Update: Iron and Steel Industry Expo Coming to Huntington Place in May, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
AISTech 2023 will take place May 8-11 at Huntington Place in downtown Detroit. // File Photo
AISTech 2023 will take place May 8-11 at Huntington Place in downtown Detroit. // File Photo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Iron and Steel Industry Expo Coming to Huntington Place in May

AISTech 2023, the Iron & Steel Technology Conference and Exposition, will take place May 8-11 at Huntington Place in Detroit.

This event brings the steel industry — as well as suppliers and academics — together and provides a global perspective on current marketplace by featuring technologies from all over the world that help steelmakers to compete more effectively.

Among the events scheduled include:

  • Howe Memorial Lecture, 8-9 a.m., May 8
  • President’s Award Breakfast, 8-10 a.m., May 9
  • Press Conference, 10-11 a.m., May 8
  • Town Hall Forum, 10 a.m.-noon, May 10

For more information, visit here.

Consumers Energy Reports Nearly 20% Fewer Power Outages in 2022

Consumers Energy announced today there were nearly 20 percent fewer customer outages in 2022 compared to 2021 after the company made significant upgrades to its electric grid and completed more than 2,000 electric projects last year.

After reviewing last year’s results, the energy provider also reported reducing nearly in half the total number of minutes customers were without power compared to the previous year, and more than 96 percent of outages were restored in fewer than 24 hours.

“Last year we were able to provide more reliable service for our customers because of the work we have been doing to build a more resilient power grid,” says Chris Laird, vice president of electric operations at Consumers Energy. “By trimming trees, investing in our electric grid, and using automation and other technology to quickly resolve problems, we will continue to make upgrades to meet our goal of having fewer and shorter power outages for our customers.”

Greg Salisbury, vice president of electric distribution engineering at Consumers Energy, says:

“The results from 2022 showed improvements across the board. We trimmed vegetation along more miles of lines than ever before, inspected more than 30,000 miles of lines and made repairs where needed, and added new technology on equipment to help prevent and fix outages.

“It can be easy to get lost in the numbers, but the bottom line is we are building a power grid that is more reliable across the state for all Consumers Energy customers.”

The reduced number of customers impacted by power outages last year was a result of reliability work throughout 2022. The company addressed issues after inspecting more than half of its Low-Voltage Distribution system and the entirety of its High-Voltage Distribution system. The company also completed more than 7,100 miles of forestry trimming and maintenance around its lines, addressing the number-one cause of power outages in Michigan.

Additional work on the Consumers Energy electric system covered areas across the state and included:

  • Replacing 10,000 poles with sturdier material that can withstand higher winds.
  • Upgrading, rebuilding, and expanding nearly 100 substations.
  • Adding smart technology like 32 Automatic Transfer Reclosures (ATRs) that help limit the frequency and duration of power outages.
  • Strategically piloting a project to underground power lines in areas that would receive the greatest benefit for less cost.

Last year’s efforts are part of Consumers Energy’s larger continued efforts to build a stronger energy grid through its five-year, $5.4 billion Electric Reliability Plan. That plan is a blueprint for serving Michigan today and innovating to meet the challenges of the coming decades.

TechTown Detroit to Host Conference Geared to Black Mobility Entrepreneurs

In recognition of Black History Month, TechTown Detroit will host a free, one-day conference to honor the legacy of Black leaders in the mobility industry while highlighting the current achievements of the new generation of pioneers.

Detroit on the Move: Celebrating the Evolution of Black Mobility presented by Ally will take place in person at the Wayne State Industry Innovation Center from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 16. Entrepreneurs who are interested in mobility are encouraged to attend.

Detroit on the Move, TechTown’s second annual Black History Month conference, will include panels geared toward mobility-focused entrepreneurs and startups, a business pitch competition for high school students, and a fireside chat with Donna Bell, executive vice president of product creation, engineering, and supply chain at Lordstown Motors in Ohio.

Bell will lead a discussion on the evolution and future of mobility and the industry’s impact on Detroit. The two panels will focus on funding sources for mobility startups and resources available for existing mobility businesses in Michigan.

“TechTown aims to inspire the next generation of Detroit entrepreneurs and prepare them with the funding and resources needed to thrive in the ever-evolving mobility industry,” says Angeline Lawrence, entrepreneurial education director at TechTown Detroit. “Our Black History Month conference will provide networking opportunities for rising entrepreneurs, which is an important step in solidifying Detroit as the epicenter of mobility and electrification.”

TechTown has once again partnered with Minerva Education and Development Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships and funds to Detroit youth and families, to engage 11th and 12th grade students in the conference through a mobility pitch competition. Students were encouraged to submit a pitch video to address mobility challenges within the Black community. Five standouts will be selected to pitch their ideas live at the conference and compete for more than $2,000 in startup funds. The finalists also will have access to experts from TechTown to strategize and pursue their business ideas.

“This conference is a great collaborative effort between TechTown’s entrepreneurial education and tech teams that allows us to introduce TechTown’s new mobility programming while honoring Black leaders in the space,” says Marlo Rencher, senior director, technology-based programs at TechTown Detroit. “We look forward to many more mobility-related events in the future.”

To register for the conference, visit here.

Blackford Capital Awarded Two M&A Atlas Americas Honors

Blackford Capital, a lower middle market private equity firm in Grand Rapids, was recognized by the Global M&A Network at the 14th Annual Americas M&A Atlas Awards on Jan. 19, 2023, for its accomplishments in the following categories:

  • USA Private Equity Firm of the Year – Small Mid-Market
  • USA Deal of the Year – Small Markets for the acquisition of Airhead Sports Group by Aqua-Leisure Recreation, a Blackford Capital portfolio company

“We are extremely honored that our people, our deals, and our firm were all recognized at the recent M&A Atlas awards,” says Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital. “What an exciting way to kick-off 2023 and celebrate one of the best years in our history. This recognition reflects the depth and talent of our transactional practices and our team’s track record closing strategically significant deals for our clients. I would like to thank everyone on the Blackford team for their hard work to make this achievement happen.”

Named Private Equity Firm of the Year – Small Mid-Market, Blackford Capital currently operates seven portfolio companies that generate more than $550 million in annual revenues across 10 U.S. states, Germany, and China, employing more than 2,000 employees.

“We aren’t the oldest firm, we’re not the most well-known firm, and we are far from the largest, but we do have one of the best teams in the industry and we are honored by the tremendous partnerships that we have established with our LPs, portfolio companies, management teams, lenders, and service providers,” says Jeffrey W. Johnson, operating partner at Blackford.

Blackford Capital also was recognized with the Small Markets – USA Deal of the Year Award for the acquisition of Airhead Sports Group by its portfolio company Aqua-Leisure Recreation. The acquisition was a step in Blackford’s growth strategy to transition Aqua-Leisure into the premier market leader within the aquatics consumer products industry, and has presented synergistic purchasing and cross selling opportunities between the legacy businesses, significantly priming the combined company for growth across omni-channel retail outlets and wholesale distribution.

For more information, and for a detailed list of all the Award winners for the 2023 Americas M&A Atlas Awards and Rising Star Awards, visit globalmanetwork.com.

Detroit Public Theatre Announces 2022-2023 Residency Partners

Detroit Public Theatre has announced three partner arts organizations that will participate in the first season of Detroit Public Theatre’s TAG residency program. They are:

Motor City Sings, which partners with artists, community organizations, and mental health professionals to creatively and without judgment provide psycho-education and mental health resources to our audiences and greater community.

Joel Fluent Greene Presents, provides the needed space and a team that understands big ideas and fully aligns with the goal of bringing the best open mics, themed events, national talent, and artist workshops to Detroit and creating a new home here for spoken word and live entertainment.

Sofa Stories, which uses live theatre and digital media to amplify the stories of young people impacted by housing insecurity or homelessness who may have resorted to couch-surfing as a means to survive.

The program offers innovative Detroit arts organizations heavily subsidized workshop and performance space in DPT’s new home at The Third Avenue Garage at 3960 Third Ave. in midtown Detroit. The program also offers marketing, box office, and technical support.

The three resident companies participated in a “rigorous” application process and were selected by a committee of Detroit arts leaders and DPT staff members. DPT is committed to establishing 3960 Third Ave.  as a welcoming performance hub and resource for the community where Detroit artists and organizations can create, collaborate, engage audiences, and make meaningful contributions to Detroit’s cultural landscape.

DPT’s subsidized residency and partnership program, The Third Avenue Garage (T.A.G.) Residencies, will provide one fully subsidized residency and two heavily subsidized partnerships  for Detroit artists and organizations that do not have their own space. This program seeks to  address a severe shortage of state-of-the-art performance space for small and mid-sized arts organizations in Detroit, reduce strain on budgets and provide more freedom to create relevant, ambitious work of, by, and for the city and region.

For more information, visit detroitpublictheatre.org or call 313-974-7918.