DBusiness Daily Update: LIFT to Launch $3M Hypersonic Vehicle Challenge, Faurecia Bringing 140 New Jobs to Highland Park, 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.
graph of coronavirus cases in Michigan
Courtesy of Bridge

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.

LIFT to Launch $3M Hypersonic Vehicle Challenge
LIFT, the Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute based in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, is preparing to issue a major hypersonic vehicle development challenge for the U.S. manufacturing industrial sector.

Operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic vehicles are among the Department of Defense’s top priorities, including developing a safe and secure domestic supply base.

The Hypersonics Challenge is a call for project proposals on three specific topics dealing with the materials and manufacture of hypersonic vehicles, including:

  • Hypersonics modeling and simulation, including integrated computational materials engineering
  • Advanced manufacturing methods for quality and production
  • Advanced manufacturing for high-temperature composites

Companies whose project challenge proposals are chosen will be provided up to $1 million for project development — not including cost-share, which is encouraged, but not required.

In the next several weeks, LIFT will announce a formal project call, which will include more details about the specific topics and proposal requirements.

Faurecia Bringing 140 New Jobs to Highland Park
Faurecia, an automotive technology company with North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, is hiring 140 people for its new manufacturing facility in Highland Park. The open positions include operators, maintenance technicians, and other operations personnel.

The positions start this month and are available across three shifts. Team members will earn competitive pay and benefits and will be eligible to receive bonuses and stock options, Fauricia says. The 210,000-square-foot facility manufactures complete vehicle seats.

“We look forward to being part of the community,” says Collin Malcolm, president of Faurecia Automotive Seating North America. “The automotive industry is one of the most dynamic industries in the world and we are proud to provide exciting career opportunities in Highland Park.”

To apply, interested candidates can contact the Michigan Works Highland Park Division at manufacturingjobs@mhrdi.org or visit here and search “Highland Park.” The facility also will  host a career fair on April 30 and May 1st at 13000 Oakland Parkway.

Warner Norcross + Judd Opens Bloomfield Hills Office
The Warner Norcross + Judd law firm announced it has opened a new office in Bloomfield Hills, the firm’s ninth office in the state.

As the second-largest Michigan-based law firm, with 230 lawyers across the state, Warner’s expansion in southeast Michigan reflects its commitment to its clients in the region, according to the firm. The new office is located at 40701 Woodward Ave., and features a flexible, collaborative layout, conference rooms, on-site parking, and access to a large reception area to host gatherings and social events. The firm anticipates significant growth in this new office.

In early April, Warner announced the opening of its office in Detroit at 2715 Woodward Ave., which has space for 60-plus attorneys and staff. The Bloomfield Hills office is the third in the metro Detroit area for Warner. The firm has had a Macomb County office for 15 years. Collectively, all Warner offices are capable of providing legal services in a wide range of areas.

“Along with our Detroit office opening, the addition of a Bloomfield Hills office demonstrates our commitment to be where our clients live, work and play,” says Linda Paullin-Hebden, executive partner of Warner’s Detroit and Bloomfield Hills offices. “We anticipate continued growth in Southeast Michigan as a result of our expanded footprint and our ability to consistently deliver premier legal services.”

The Warner partners moving to Bloomfield Hills include: Nazli G. Sater, chair of the firm’s Family Law Practice Group; Roquia K. Draper, who represent clients in all aspects of family law; and William C. Lentine, who serves as a business and tax attorney guiding clients in general business law, taxation and trusts, and estates matters.

Downtown Wins Main Street America Award for Pandemic Response
The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority has been awarded a Main Street Forward Award by Main Street America. The Royal Oak DDA is the only downtown community in Michigan and one of just six in the U.S. to receive this award.

The establishment of the Rebound Royal Oak Small Business Assistance Program in March of 2020 led to this recognition. The assistance program included:

  • Grants, totaling $1.3 million, to 92 restaurants, retails shops, coffee shops, salons, and entertainment venues impacted by the pandemic.
  • Creation of its Downtown Dollars gift card program that can be used at more than 70 participating restaurants, retail shops, coffee shops, salons and entertainment venues located in the Royal Oak Downtown Development District.
  • The Royal Oak DDA gave away $400,000 in total Downtown Dollars to the first 20,000 Royal Oak residents and visitors who signed up for its consumer-facing e-newsletter.

As a recipient of the Main Street Forward Award, the Royal Oak DDA received $1,000 and was recognized at the Main Street 2021 virtual conference on April 12.

“The business recovery program established by the Downtown Development Authority is the most impactful project we have ever implemented, and we are honored to be recognized by Main Street America,” says Sean Kammer, downtown manager for Royal Oak. “The grants and the Downtown Dollars program are helping to make sure all businesses are successful, and that Downtown Royal Oak continues to evolve into the future. We have heard from so many that these programs saved their business – and it’s amazing to see what can be accomplished when a community comes together.”

State Invests $2M in Employment Opportunities for Underrepresented Youth
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity announced the recipients of grants totaling $2 million to provide underrepresented young adults with a meaningful introduction to the world of work, including virtual career exploration and preparation activities, jobs skills and earned income.

The Young Professionals grants have been awarded to the state’s Michigan Works! agencies, which were selected through a Request for Proposal process. The 16 agencies will receive awards ranging from $70,000 to $250,000 to support the development and/or enhancement of a Young Professionals employment initiative. The Michigan Works! Agencies receiving grants include:

  • Berrien/Cass/Van Buren ($83,031)
  • Capital Area ($135,131)
  • Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. ($250,000)
  • GST Michigan Works! ($129,869)
  • Great Lakes Bay ($160,000)
  • Macomb-St. Clair ($100,000)
  • Northeast Consortium ($70,000)
  • Northwest Michigan Works! ($100,000)
  • Oakland County ($200,000)
  • Region 7B Consortium ($73,206)
  • Southeast Consortium ($110,000)
  • Southeast Michigan Community Alliance ($125,000)
  • Southwest ($150,000)
  • Upper Peninsula ($100,000)
  • West Central ($72,438)
  • West Michigan Works! ($141,325)

“We’re excited about Young Professionals, because it takes an innovative approach to preparing our future workforce for high-demand, high-paying jobs,” says Susan Corbin, acting director of LEO. “We’re also grateful for the grant recipients who expressed an increased focus on supporting underserved populations, including those with disabilities, making this initiative an even more effective tool in expanding career and educational opportunities for young adults.”

The Young Professionals initiative is designed to reduce youth unemployment and place young adults, ages 14-24, on the right path to achieve lifelong economic self-sufficiency. The initiative supports young adults who are struggling on the path to obtain employment by exposing them to multiple career and educational opportunities, such as entering a Registered Apprenticeship program, earning a college degree or certificate, and obtaining sustainable employment.

More information about the program is available through any of the state’s Michigan Works! agencies. To contact the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center, call 800-285-9675 or visit here.

ACC Receives $50K FCA Foundation Grant for At-risk Youth
ACC, the Troy-based nonprofit human service organization serving southeast Michigan, has received a $50,000 grant from the FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of Auburn Hills’ Stellantis.

The grant will assist in funding ACC’s Youth Program for at-risk youth in Detroit and Sterling Heights.

ACC’s Youth Program provides at-risk youth the support and essential life skills needed to improve academic status and skills, particularly in the STEM areas, along with reducing risk taking behaviors and improving self-image. The FCA Foundation grant also funds a student mentoring program in Sterling Heights.

“There is limited access to facilities that promote physical activities and academic assistance in the Detroit area for low-income families,” says Haifa Fakhouri, president and CEO of ACC. “ACC’s Youth Programs provide year-round services after school and during the daytime summer hours to assist in guiding young people through the everyday challenges they face and promote healthy life choices. We are very grateful for the FCA Foundation’s support and their continued commitment to our area’s youth again this year.”

Christine Estereicher, global COO of the FCA Foundation, says, “The FCA Foundation’s primary focus is to improve education outcomes for youth in communities where Stellantis has a major manufacturing presence. We are honored to join ACC in their efforts to help young people overcome the challenges of today and prepare for the future.”

ACC’s Youth Recreation and Leadership Center provides a safe haven for hundreds of youth ages 9 to 17 in Detroit and Sterling Heights. Services include educational activities, academic assistance, tutoring, computer skills training, service learning projects, physical education and recreation, mentoring, substance abuse prevention, violence prevention, and conflict resolution.

ASE to Host Virtual Compensation and Benefits Conference Series in June
ASE, the Troy-based human resources company, is planning to conduct its 11th annual Compensation and Benefits Conference Series virtually on Wednesdays between 10-11 a.m. throughout the month of June.

Conference attendees will learn effective total reward strategies that engage employees, identify ways to make a meaningful impact on their organization’s bottom line, and hear a briefing on the results of ASE’s 2021 compensation surveys.

“As we have navigated the pandemic over the past year, one thing has remained clear – total rewards remain a priority for organizations in order to engage and retain their employees,” says Mary E. Corrado, CEO of ASE. “This conference addresses how to reimagine total rewards in your organization.”

The opening keynote on June 2 will feature C.J. McClanahan, author and advisor, who will present “Reimaging Success” and discuss how to get more satisfaction and joy in your life while still achieving your professional goals.

Additional sessions and topics include:

  • June 9, Pay Trends
  • June 16, Reversing the “Here’s Your Budget” Conversation — How to Manage Up
  • June 23, The Coming Focus on Family Wellness Programs
  • June 30, Work Anywhere, Together — The New Reality of Work

In addition, three hours of on-demand content will be provided in the areas of wage and hour law, wellness programs, and benefits compliance. For a complete conference agenda and registration information, please visit here.

Math and Spelling Practice App Launches Free Pilot for Schools in Michigan
Sumdog, a personalized math and spelling practice game for K-8 students, is launching a new pilot program in Michigan, called the Digital Equity Solution.

Aimed at narrowing the achievement gap, the game will be provided entirely free of charge during school time for all Michigan students. It will also be completely free at all hours for Michigan families who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The achievement gap has grown significantly during the pandemic across all grade levels, with many students falling behind. The Sumdog app allows students to work at their own pace, giving them confidence to make progress and improve.

“Our goal is to help every child reach their full potential,” says Andrew Hall, CEO of Sumdog. “Bringing the Digital Equity Solution to Michigan will help break down barriers for all students, especially those who haven’t always found learning easy. Our hope is that this pilot program will be successful in Michigan, allowing us to expand the option to students across the country.”

Many Michigan schools already are using Sumdog in their classrooms, from Grand Rapids to Detroit and Traverse City. Nationwide, Sumdog is used in 10,000 schools. Under the Digital Equity Plan, families with mid to high income (those who don’t qualify for free or reduced lunch) will be restricted to a smaller variety of games outside of school hours, unless they pay a monthly subscription fee.

Every game, however, can deliver the whole curriculum so students’ ability to complete assignments will not be affected at any plan level.

Recent research shows that students who used Sumdog for 30 minutes a week made almost double the growth in math compared to non-regular users. Additionally, 77 percent of teachers noted an increase in students’ engagement in math after starting to use Sumdog.

Sumdog has a library of multi-player games to motivate students. It’s personalized, so each child works at the level that keeps them motivated. Teachers can also assign work in the curriculum area they are currently teaching — whether at school or at home.

Sumdog also is hosting a statewide math contest on the app from April 16-22. The contest encourages students to compete against other classes and schools throughout the state.

To learn more about Sumdog and the Michigan Digital Equity Solution, visit here.

Albion College Launches New Mental Health Program
Albion College has launched a new Integrated Well-being Program, which focuses on expanding free access to wellness services, building a campus that supports mental and physical well-being, and forging additional community health partnerships.

A new study from the National Academy of Sciences found that 61 percent of college students surveyed were at risk of clinical depression, two times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Albion’s new Integrated Well-being Program addresses this crisis head on with a full staff of dedicated wellness promoters that will shape the Albion community into a national model for on-campus wellness.

“Historically, anxiety, depression and academic pressure have been common presenting problems on every college campus,” says Mathew Johnson, president of Albion College. “We know the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those factors. We need to invest boldly this year in our people, our campus and our community. We need to create the best, and healthiest, college community in the nation: a college community where every student feels that they belong, and that they have the tools they need to thrive. We’re doing everything in our power to be a part of the solution, and that means making health and wellness resources more accessible and inclusive for our students.”

Albion is expanding free access to wellness services, including 24/7 medical and mental health telecare at school or at home through their telehealth website, AlbionCare, in addition to counseling services on campus. Students also will have access to Albion alumni mentors who are trained to support sustained and deep relationships. Wellness services also include expanded financial advising, nutrition counseling, academic coaching, accessibility services, academic and emotional peer mentoring to support students, and a new campus ministry approach to provide spiritual support for students from all faiths or none.

Albion is working to create a network of informed parents and family members who seek to foster student success and create bonds to increase opportunities for all students. The Albion College Family Leadership Committee, an initiative composed of parents and family members of current students and recent graduates, will enable the Albion community to draw on the voices and leadership of parents and families to support Albion’s students more holistically. This new program is sponsored by a generous donor.

Albion has committed to building a campus that supports both mental and physical well-being. They recently unveiled the Serra Wellness Complex, a new 11,000-square-foot activity center that provides new spaces for fitness, yoga and other wellness classes. Across campus, Albion is investing in major universal design principles to maximize natural light in all buildings, expand green spaces, add outdoor teaching and learning areas, and increase pedestrian-friendly features and city connectors.

Albion’s new partnership with the Battle Creek Family YMCA will expand wellness activities on and off campus, and students can participate in designated YMCA programs for free. The College is also building a partnership with Summit Pointe that will provide access to urgent mental health care, and Albion Healthcare Alliance and the Community Table of Albion to provide students with health navigation services and engage students in addressing food security issues in the community and on campus.

Albion also is continuing partnerships with Calhoun County Health Department of Public Health and Henry Ford Allegiance to provide students access to health and medical services. Albion’s existing partnership with Oaklawn Hospital, which provides urgent care and a medical practice for the campus and the community, remains.

For more information, visit here.

MSU’s Growth Along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile to Add $339M to Local Economy
The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing announced results of a study outlining the future economic impact of the four buildings that comprise university’s presence on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.

The buildings include the Secchia Center, the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center, and two buildings under construction, the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building, and the Perrigo Co. North American Corporate Headquarters.

After construction on the Perrigo Co. building is completed in 2022, the annual direct economic activity related to the four buildings anchored by the MSU Secchia Center is estimated to be $203 million with an annual economic impact of $339 million, annual support of 2,017 jobs and an increase in yearly earnings of $142 million.

“When we began this journey, we knew these partnerships would be impactful in ways beyond expanding innovation in health care services and technologies,” says Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of MSU. “The innovation center is already attracting entrepreneurs who look to capitalize on existing opportunities, create new companies and innovate at scale. We are incredibly proud to be part of the Grand Rapids community and contribute to a more vibrant economy.”

The report also noted a catalytic effect that the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center has on the scientific ecosystem in the West Michigan region. It complements the research efforts of Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health and becomes a magnet for recruiting top researchers who are attracted to innovation, collaboration and new funding opportunities. Research spinoffs also are anticipated to generate new businesses by taking advantage of the scientific innovation.

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