DBusiness Daily Update: Lawrence Tech Partners with Detect-It to Improve AI Education, 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.
Lawrence Technological students see a demonstration of equipment Oak Park AI startup Detect-It. // Courtesy of Lawrence Tech
Lawrence Technological students see a demonstration of equipment Oak Park AI startup Detect-It. // Courtesy of Lawrence Tech

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.

Lawrence Tech Partners with Detect-It to Improve AI Education

Lawrence Technological University in Southfield has formed a partnership with Oak Park artificial intelligence startup Detect-It to give students and faculty hands-on experience with neural net technology that can be applied in the real world.

As part of the partnership, Detect-It has donated a value of more than $100,000 worth of equipment, consisting of hardware and software, that enables students and faculty to incorporate AI into LTU’s labs.

“There’s no better feeling than seeing the creative ways these young engineers are using our Detect-It software,” says Kevin Kerwin, CEO of Detect-It. “Going forward there will be high demand for talent in this career field and being able to provide students with these AI tools and experiences can give them a head start in landing their first job. This partnership with LTU has been nothing but positive, and we’re excited to see how it and the engineers of tomorrow grow.”

George Pappas, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at LTU, says, “Artificial intelligence is impacting all industries. Our relationship with Detect-It will grow, alongside its technology. We are paving together the runway for students to takeoff and reach great heights.”

The relationship between LTU and Detect-It began in the summer of 2021, and shortly after, Detect-It became involved in the Centrepolis Accelerator program at LTU.

Whitmer Signs $1.5B in SOAR Legislation to Attract Investment, Create Jobs 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Monday signed the bipartisan Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) package to support small businesses and fully fund an economic development toolkit to make Michigan a national leader in business attraction.

The governor signed House Bill 4603 to create a $1 billion economic development fund to ensure the state can compete for billions of dollars in investment and attract tens of thousands of jobs to bolster the state economy. She signed Senate Bill 771 to create a $500 million fund to make the state economy more adaptable to the rapid pace of technological change, supporting small businesses, and creating or retaining good-paying jobs.

Additionally, the governor signed Senate Bill 769 to create a financing mechanism for both programs and Senate Bill 85 to provide full funding to start delivering for Michiganders right away. SB 85 also will provide direct assistance to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This transformative economic development package will build on Michigan’s growing economic momentum.

“Thanks to the effective collaboration between legislative leadership, my administration, and community and business leaders, I signed bills that will back small businesses and empower Michigan to grow and attract billions in investment and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs,” says Whitmer.

“Because both parties in the legislature came together, our state will be able win huge, transformational projects and compete effectively for every dollar and every job for decades to come. The critical economic development fund we have set up will pay massive dividends as we continue staying focused on growing our economy, creating good-paying jobs, and lowering costs for families.”

Michigan added 145,000 jobs in 2021, including 67,000 in the last three months, rounding out seven straight months of job growth and bolstering economic momentum. The legislation is expected to empower Michigan to create tens of thousands more jobs.

“Michigan has re-positioned itself with these new investment funds to ensure our state is highly competitive for advanced mobility jobs and the supply chain industries that come with them,” says Laura Sherman, president of Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. “While these mark a significant shift in Michigan’s economic development strategy, there is more our state can do to attract business and grow jobs. This includes addressing the cost of electricity, which we know is the highest in the Midwest and one of the most expensive nationally, as well as continuing to make investments in charging infrastructure and fleet electrification.”

Maureen Donohue Krauss, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Partnership, says, “With electrification and autonomous vehicles innovating at a historic pace, companies are making transformational investments that will impact the trajectory of the industry for decades to come. This legislation is a big step in creating the economic tool kit our region and state need to compete for major projects that bring jobs and investment.”

MSU Receives $2M from USAID to Support Career Development in Mozambique

Michigan State University in East Lansing has received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help build the skills needed for economic growth in Mozambique.

MSU will partner with three universities to develop their capacity to provide quality employability services to students and launch new career development centers that can be replicated by other higher education institutions across the African country.

“MSU has a long history of research and service in Africa and a deep commitment to making a difference there,” says Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of MSU. “This project will leverage the power of postsecondary education and career services to improve students’ job prospects and advance prosperity in their communities.”

Youth in Mozambique often lack opportunities to gain the skills and applicable work experience that the private sector requires to compete in a global economy. Women and individuals with disabilities face particular difficulties, including gender biases and accessibility issues.

“When Mozambican students graduate, they often rely on informal networks to secure jobs, such as word of mouth or family and friends, not a set of credentials or experiences they gained from earning a degree,” says Matthew Wawrzynski, project director and associate professor of higher, adult, and lifelong education at MSU. “Compounding the issue of securing employment is that few students are engaged in internships or other types of practical work experiences, for example, because of high unemployment rates. We will work with the universities to develop new types of career exploration and training, so students learn necessary soft skills that employers are seeking.”

Detroit Housing Fund to Help Renovate Building in Cultural Center

Local Initiatives Support Corp. Detroit (LISC Detroit) announced Monday that The Belnord, in Detroit’s Midtown area, will receive a $2.9 million renovation and offer units at affordable rates as low as 50 percent area median income.

The Belnord is an historic apartment building at 324 Hendrie St. at Brush. It is being renovated by developer Ed Siegel’s Detroit-based JacobStreet. The renovation project will include upgrading the electric, plumbing, and HVAC systems; replacement of the roof; improvements to the common areas; and other work.

The scope also includes full renovations to the 24 existing units and converting 3,000 square feet of ground-floor space into five new garden-level units. No current residents will be displaced during the work, and all of them will be able to continue living at The Belnord after the renovations have been completed.

Specific displacement prevention and safety standards are recorded in an affordability agreement between the developer and the City’s Housing and Revitalization Department. Renovations, funded in part by a $2.46 million loan from Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, are slated to be completed early next year.

All 29 units in the 26,652-square-foot building will be affordable, with two apartments at or below 50 percent area median income (AMI), 16 at or below 60 percent AMI, and the remainder at or below 80 percent AMI. Units will range in size from studios to three bedrooms. This means the housing is targeted at single Detroiters making between $28,000 and $44,800.

The Belnord is just south of the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood, which LISC Detroit has targeted for economic investment through the implementation of an adaptive-reuse strategy along an industrial corridor finalized in 2019.

Beyond Juicery + Eatery Expands to Dearborn Heights

Healthy fast-casual food outlet Beyond Juicery + Eatery is opening a new location in Dearborn Heights, owned by local pharmacist Ali Saab and dentist Hussein Daher, in the summer of 2022.

“It’s truly an honor to be part of Beyond’s rapid growth and momentum during a time when clean eating and healthy living is in such strong demand,” says Saab. “Given our history in health care and business, Beyond’s commitment to personal wellness and community engagement is what drew us to the concept.

“The restaurant’s delicious, nutritious, and diverse menu offerings will allow our location to positively contribute to the landscape of the area, and we’re thrilled to be bringing Beyond to our hometown of Dearborn Heights.”

Offering a wide variety of made-to-order juices, smoothies, wraps, smoothie bowls, and salads, Beyond Juicery + Eatery’s commitment to fresh ingredients sets it apart from other restaurant concepts in the industry, the company says. Additional offerings include homemade salad dressings, hummus, and salsa, 100 percent USDA organic bottled juices and wellness shots.

Golf Club Manufacturer PXG Opens Location in Troy

Arizona-based golf club retailer PXG opened a location in Troy Monday. It is the company’s first foray into Michigan and its 12th location overall.

PXG is owned by former GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons. PXG is short for Parsons Xtreme Golf.

The new 7,843-square-foot store is located at 2830 W. Maple Road and features three fitting bays with state-of-the-art golf simulators powered by TrackMan technology.

It also has a dedicated 390-square-foot putter fitting studio, a 185-square-foot practice putting green to experience, a customer lounge, and a retail showroom with latest PXG apparel, accessories, bags, and hats

Since inception, PXG says it has maintained a direct-to-consumer sales model that is in opposition to current retail trends that rely heavily on third-party partnerships.

Troy Chamber Brings Back Business Excellence Awards in 2022

The Troy Chamber of Commerce will once again host the TC Business Excellence Awards for 2022. The awards will be announced virtually on Feb. 24.

Nominations are open and will be accepted through midnight Jan. 6 here. Nominated individuals or businesses must be a Troy Chamber member, but anyone can vote.

The event is sponsored by Beaumont, DTE, Horizon Bank, Trion Solutions, and Chief Financial Credit Union. Sponsorships for the individual awards are available. Awards include:

  • Leadership Award, award sponsored by DTE
  • Chamber Advocate Award, award sponsored by Horizon Bank
  • Women in Action Award, award sponsored by Trion Solutions
  • Young Professional Award
  • Nonprofit Excellence Award
  • Innovation Award, award sponsored by Chief Financial Credit Union
  • Marketing Magnet Award
  • Resiliency Award
  • Customer Service Excellence Award
  • Diversity Champion Award, award sponsored by Beaumont
  • Community Impact Award
  • Inspiring Tomorrow Award

For more information, contact Sydney Dych at sydney@troychamber.com.

Michigan Works! Southeast Receives $2.7+ Million to Help Washtenaw Businesses

Michigan Works! Southeast will receive more than $2.7 million from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to train workers at 68 companies throughout the region.

These 68 companies will train a combined 1,005 employees, which includes 749 new hires and 174 U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeships.

The grant awards are part of the state’s Going PRO Talent Fund, which is now in its eighth year. The fund provides competitive awards for training that enhances talent, productivity, and employee retention while increasing the quality and competitiveness of Michigan’s businesses.

“I want to thank all of our local businesses for trusting our Business Services Team with assisting them through the GPTF application process,” says Shamar Herron, executive director of Michigan Works! Southeast. “COVID has disrupted how we work, and these trainings will help workers and their companies across our five-county region to thrive in today’s economy.”

Michigan Science Center Has Last-minute STEM Gifts for Kids

Michigan Science Center in Detroit is releasing a special list of STEM-related gifts perfect for the last-minute holiday shopper.

The MiSci Science Store is open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4:30 p..m, and visitors don’t need a museum ticket to shop. MiSci is located at 5020 John R. St. in Midtown, Detroit and is open on Christmas and Dec. 26.

Among the available gifts are science kits like: fingerprint analysis kit, weather science mini observatory, Yuckology Slime Lab, Pressure Lab Fizzy Adventure Kit, and KidzLabs Math Magic.

Celestial Buddies are the center’s collectable plush planets. There’re also drawstring backpacks, water bottles, wallets, pens, pencils, and more.

Oakland University to Begin Winter Semester Online

In light of the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus, most of Oakland University’s Winter 2022 courses, including hybrid and in-person classes, will start in an online-only format on Jan. 5. Barring a further need to respond to pandemic conditions, classes will return to their previously scheduled delivery formats on Jan. 18.

A small subset of Winter 2022 courses — such as labs, lab-based research, and field experiences may meet in person starting on Jan. 5. Students enrolled in such courses should contact their instructors for additional direction.

“We are proud of the health and safety measures our campus community has taken over the past two years,” says Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, president of Oakland University. “We are grateful that the campus community compliance rates are very high. That said, we also understand that we have to continue to actively work to maintain our health and safety as we go into the Winter semester and the new year.”

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