DBusiness Daily Update: Kettering University Opens $63M, 105K-square-foot Learning Commons, 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.
Kettering University in Flint today officially opened its new Learning Commons. // Courtesy of Kettering University
Kettering University in Flint today officially opened its new Learning Commons. // Courtesy of Kettering University

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.

Kettering University Opens $63M, 105K-square-foot Learning Commons on Flint Campus

Kettering University in Flint today officially opened its new Learning Commons, a $63 million, 105,000-square-foot building designed to facilitate optimum collaboration and transform the social and academic life for students and faculty.

“We see the Learning Commons as a revolution in how universities conceptualize space, how they fashion space to create and support behavior and a collaborative model,” says Robert K. McMahan, president of Kettering University. “To learn more about it and its purpose, you must first suspend everything you think about university spaces. The Learning Commons is unique. There is no building on a college campus, or anywhere else, quite like this.”

The building has collaborative and social spaces designed to bring together students, faculty, and staff, and reflect Kettering’s commitment to creating a campus that best prepares students for future careers.

Featuring wide-open, technology-enriched spaces, the Learning Commons layout encourages collaboration and innovation, attributes McMahan says is fundamental to Kettering’s 103-year history and its values as a cooperative learning model today and in the future.

The facility includes a digital library, a 200-seat auditorium described as a “mini” IMAX theater, dining facilities, media resource centers, outdoor patios with seating, multiple collaboration spaces, and a suite for guest professors and lecturers. There also is a reflection space where people can have privacy.

The natural light throughout the building is meant to be welcoming, which should energize people and make them excited to work, the university says. The study spaces feature views of the campus.

McMahan says the Learning Commons is the first new building on Kettering’s campus in 20 years. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $25 million to support its construction.

The Learning Commons was the centerpiece for the university’s Boldly Forward Capital Campaign, which raised $155 million from July 2012 through December 2021. Of that total, $45.4 million went toward the facility. Kettering received funds from more than 6,000 donors through the capital campaign, which will provide scholarships and upgrades to several buildings.

Officials broke ground on the Learning Commons on Feb. 5, 2020.

Farmington Hills’ RHP Properties Acquires Florida Community

RHP Properties in Farmington Hills, the nation’s largest private owner and operator of manufactured home communities, has acquired Winter Haven, a premier 55+ lifestyle manufactured home community in Winter Haven, Fla. with a total of 238 home sites.

Winter Haven is an active senior community set in a quiet, wooded neighborhood with a lake. The property features health and fitness amenities including a pool and gym, as well as a library, ballroom, clubhouse, and social spaces to for shuffleboard, billiards, and horseshoes. It also offers RV storage and off-street parking.

“We take great pride in the communities we acquire and manage, and one of the many things that excites us about Winter Haven is the opportunity to invest in a community that clearly places a great emphasis on quality of life,” says Ross Partrich, CEO of RHP Properties. “We are committed to fostering an environment where Winter Haven residents can fully engage in all that this incredible community has to offer.”

RHP plans to invest in the Winter Haven manufactured home community with clubhouse and office upgrades, as well as road improvements and overall signage upgrades within the first 18 months of ownership. RHP also will be bringing in 20 new affordable homes.

Downtown Detroit Partnership to Host Annual Fall Stakeholder Meeting Sept. 28

The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) will host its signature event and Fall Stakeholder Meeting from 3-5:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

Attendees will hear from key developers, including Andrew Cantor, president of Related Companies Michigan, and Keith Bradford, president of Olympia Development. Both will discuss the forthcoming Detroit Center for Innovation. A second session with Laura Grannemann, executive director of the Gilbert Family Foundation, also will take place.

“Despite a global pandemic and a shifting workforce population, downtown Detroit continues to evolve in resourceful ways,” says Eric B. Larson, CEO of the DDP. “This meeting aims to not only put our downtown on display, but also our collective progress through the proverbial storms.”

During the event, all participants will receive the DDP’s newly released development report, which details the recently completed, current and forthcoming commercial real estate projects in downtown Detroit. This year’s report also will include the investments in community and public spaces, infrastructure, and mobility.

Following the 60-minute program, a networking reception will take place, at which attendees can speak with and watch developers’ live presentations. The DDP also will debut its development dashboard, illustrating the latest data on downtown Detroit’s economic vitality, population, and more.

For more information and to register to attend, visit DowntownDetroit.org.

Mopar Unveils Factory-backed Accessories for New 2023 Ram ProMaster

Mopar, the aftermarket division of Auburn Hills’ Stellantis, has released a series of accessories for the new 2023 Ram ProMaster.

Adding to the upfit adaptability of the ProMaster, Mopar is offering a comprehensive portfolio of quality-tested, factory-backed accessories for vocational, delivery, lifestyle, and #vanlife users.

“The new 2023 Ram ProMaster is designed and built to meet the demands of a variety of customers and their upfit needs,” says Mark Bosanac, North America senior vice president, Mopar service, parts, and customer care. “To further enhance the customer experience and the demand for customization, Mopar offers more than 140 quality-tested, factory-backed parts and accessories for the new Ram ProMaster and more than 600 across the entire Ram Truck lineup.”

Examples include:

  • Cargo-load floor (CT1 | $975 – $1,325): Using a modular design that precision fits all ProMaster models, the cargo-load floor features an anti-slip surface coupled with integrated rails, carriage bolts and D-Ring hardware.
  • Crew-van Package (AAF |$ $6,495): Includes a rear bench seat that provides three additional seat spaces while leaving the rear cargo area open for other uses and separated with a built-in safety partition. The rear seat is designed to accommodate under-seat loading for longer items. Fixed polycarbonate windows are added to second-row positions (driver side panel and sliding door). The result is a premium-executed, flexibly equipped offering.
  • Paint-protection film (XPG | $695): Protects exterior paint in high-usage areas. The kit includes approved film specs designed to fit the contours of the vehicle and tested to meet Mopar’s stringent quality and performance requirements.
  • Upper side panels (CTE | $295): Includes upper interior trim panels for multiple wheel-base models.
  • Cargo compartment floor mat (CKL | $445): Provides layer of floor protection with factory-designed and exact-measured fit.
  • Cargo lighting (LCP / 82214239 | $260): Set of two, 4-inch, LED, easy-to-mount light strips that illuminate the rear cargo area.

For more information, visit here.

Detroit Privacy Service Hush Announces $4M Capital Raise Led by Greycroft

Hush, a Detroit-based premium digital privacy company, announced its $4 million seed round of strategic capital investment from Greycroft, a leading venture capital firm focused on investments in the Internet and mobile markets.

Other investors in this round include Detroit Venture Partners, ID Ventures, and Annox Capital. The raise allows Hush to invest further in its proprietary artificial intelligence technology and expand commercial activities.

Consumer risk is soaring to new highs, with reports of identity theft growing more than 100 percent and incidents of unemployment fraud up more than 3,000 percent, according to Hush. The need to safeguard individuals against the dangers looming on the internet — including financial, physical, and reputational risks — has never been greater. Hush says it was built to support individuals and companies who are in need of accessible and effective privacy protection technology.

“Hush is building the most powerful, proactive digital privacy service available,” says Mykolas Rambus, co-founder and CEO of Hush. “Leading employers will leverage Hush as a benefit to their team members, and employees will utilize the platform to safeguard themselves and their families against the efforts of bad actors who jeopardize their safety.”

Trade School Students Returning to the Classroom in Record Numbers

The Southeast Michigan Construction Academy (SEMCA) in Madison Heights reports that it is seeing an increase in the number of students enrolling in its classes.

As recently as only six years ago, enrollees into SEMCA classes totaled 185. This fall, more than 550 students signed up with more than 600 expected by the time Winter 2023 courses begin in January.

“We are seeing a significant shift into the trades from both younger traditional college-entry age students as well as other adults who are looking for a career change into something that would help provide a more stable living for their families,” says Keith Ledbetter, CEO of SEMCA.

SEMCA offers students the opportunity to build careers in electrical, carpentry, and welding at campuses in Madison Heights, Lapeer, Grand Blanc, Westland, and Monroe. In January, a heavy construction training program will launch.

After successfully completing the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) curriculum and documenting 8,000 hours of on-the-job hours for four-year programs, graduates are qualified to take their journeyman’s certification exam.

Additionally, a path has been charted for construction professionals under 40 to take on leadership roles. This includes pinpointing and enhancing a worker’s leadership roles by their companies and industries with trade associations playing a big part in that role.

DIA’s 10th Annual Community Exhibition Honoring El Día de Muertos Opens Saturday

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate of Detroit and the Southwest Detroit Business Association, will display 14 ofrenda altars, or offerings, created by local artists from Sept. 24-Nov. 6 in celebration of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), which honors the life and memory of lost loved ones.

This year’s display, “Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos 2022,” marks the 10th consecutive year of the popular program.

The annual exhibition, designed to familiarize visitors with ofrendas and the Day of the Dead tradition, builds a sense of community as visitors identify with the reasons and ways people honor the deceased while collectively taking part in the act of remembering. The display has become one of the DIA’s most popular exhibitions.

“Detroit has a vibrant Mexican American community, and we are honored to share this important cultural and artistic tradition at the DIA,” says Salvador Salort-Pons, director of the DIA. “Our hope is that visitors from all backgrounds will make their own personal connections to each of this year’s ofrendas, as well as to the local artists who created them.”

This year, 58 proposals were submitted from local artists and nine were selected to be on display. All submissions were juried by a selection committee of DIA staff and local community members of Mexican heritage. This year, there are two additional altars from the exhibition’s partners, the Mexican Consulate and the Southwest Detroit Business Association.

The subjects of the ofrendas vary greatly — some honor a personal loss of the artist, while others honor communal loss, highlighting current events and political issues.

This year the museum will again offer a digital exhibition experience for those not able to visit the museum. Using an interface similar to Google Maps, viewers will be able to “walk-through” the exhibition and view each altar and the accompanying interpretative labels from home.

DIA admission tickets can be reserved online in advance at www.dia.org or by calling 313-833-4005. Tickets are be timed to control attendance levels so a limited number of tickets will be available for each time slot. Mask are required for all visitors regardless of vaccination status. Admission is free for residents of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.

Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance Hosts Tour of West Warren Mural Project

The Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance (CRCAA) will host a walking tour starting at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Fairland Foods (16520 W. Warren) in Detroit to view eight new murals along West Warren Avenue in the Warrendale neighborhood that are part of the city’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund efforts.

The murals were designed by prominent mural artists from Detroit and beyond, who then worked with 15 young Detroiters to paint portions of the projects, giving them a key role in the beautification of their neighborhood.

The West Warren Mural Project is one of two grant projects from the city’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF) in the Warrendale/Cody Rouge planning area, with the other being a business facade improvement program to help small-businesses owners.

Mural locations and artists are as follows:

  • Fairlane Foods, 16520 W. Warren – Erica Husted
  • Dannie’s Soul Food, 17044 W. Warren – Marlo B
  • Royal Furniture, 16900 W. Warren – Torrance Jackson
  • Iraqi Bakery, 17022 W. Warren – Nicole Macdonald
  • Nick’s Bar and Grill, 16807 W. Warren – Andrea Slomczenski
  • Gigi’s, 16920 W. Warren – Richard Wilson
  • Soboh Insurance – 16800 W. Warren – Zach Yarrington and Kelly Golden
  • Simone’s Fashion – 16255 W. Warren – Danae Brisso

Gale and Boston Public Library Deliver Online Accredited High School Completion Program

The Boston Public Library (BPL) now offers Gale Presents: Excel Adult High School, an accredited online diploma completion program from Gale in Farmington Hills. The program is designed to help busy adults who have aged out of the education system obtain their high school diploma online with the convenience of a self-paced schedule.

Boston Public Library began piloting the program at the end of last year (2021) and has already had two students graduate.

The library says it decided to invest in Gale Presents: Excel Adult High School to make more education services available to residents through their public libraries and help drive workforce development and create economic growth within their communities. As the library for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, state funding and private donations have made it possible for BPL to expand the program to all eligible residents of Massachusetts.

“With Gale Presents: Excel Adult High School, we are implementing a program that gives Bay Staters another option to advance their education and achieve their career goals, setting the stage for future workforces and economic growth, and we are excited to offer it,” says Gianna Gifford, chief of adult library services at Boston Public Library.

Lingenfelter Collection to Conduct Open House Oct. 8

Lingenfelter Performance Engineering will open the doors to its top-rated classic car collection to benefit The Pink Fund from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 8 at its facility in Brighton (7819 Lochlin Dr.).

Approximately 200 vehicles are expected to be available for viewing. For more information, visit Lingenfelter.com.