DBusiness Daily Update: Ludington Celebrating 150th Anniversary in 2023, 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.
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Photo of ship on water with lighthouse in foreground
The Michigan west coast city of Ludington will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year with a series of activities and events. // Photo courtesy of ToddandBradReed.com

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.

Ludington Celebrating 150th Anniversary in 2023

The city of Ludington will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year with a series of activities and events — including historic tours, music concerts and a birthday street party with fireworks — throughout the year to honor its past and future.

A new website — ludington150.com — lists the sesquicentennial events, activities, and historical information about the city.

“This will be an exciting year of celebration as we commemorate Ludington’s sesquicentennial,” says Ludington Mayor Mark Barnett. “We have a full schedule of events designed for everyone to enjoy, whether you love Ludington as a resident or a visitor. We encourage you to learn more about our history and how it has created who we are today as a city.”

Ludington’s primary sesquicentennial celebration will be the Love Ludington Weekend June 9-11, kicking off Friday evening with a downtown street party that also will feature live music, kids’ games, food vendors, and fireworks. Other events throughout the weekend include the Ludington Lakestride Races, historic home and B&B walking tours, discount days at JCI Ludington Mini Golf, and anniversary celebrations for two other Ludington icons – House of Flavors at 75 years and the S.S. Badger at 70 years.

Other sesquicentennial events scheduled include:

  • Ludington’s Lumbering Heritage – April 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Mason County Research Center.
  • Sesquicentennial Concert featuring the Scottville Clown Band – June 14, 7 p.m. at Waterfront Park.
  • Maritime Heritage Day – Aug. 12 at Port of Ludington Maritime Museum.
  • Cemetery Walk – Aug. 26 at Lakeview and Pere Marquette Cemeteries.
  • “Trial of the Century: Mason County-Style” – Sept. 23 at Historic White Pine Village.
  • Sesquicentennial Ball – Oct. 7 at Stearns Hotel.

Detroit Casinos Report $105.5M in February Monthly Aggregate Revenue

The three Detroit casinos reported $105.5 million in monthly aggregate revenue in February. Table games and slots generated $105 million in revenue while retail sports betting produced $458,752.

Market shares during February were:

  • MGM, 47 percent
  • MotorCity, 30 percent
  • Hollywood Casino at Greektown, 23 percent

Monthly table games and slots revenue rose 9.8 percent when compared to with February 2022 results of $95.6 million. Revenue increased 1.6 percent compared with January results of $103.4 million.

Compared with February 2022, monthly gaming revenue for MGM rose 8.2 percent to $50.1 million. MotorCity’s monthly revenue was up 7.9 percent to $31.2 million, and Greektown reported $23.7 million in monthly revenue for a 16.3 percent gain.

Combined January and February table games and slots revenue increased 7.1 percent compared with January and February 2022 revenue.

During February, the three Detroit casinos paid $8.5 million in gaming taxes to the state of Michigan compared with $7.7 million paid in February 2022.

The three Detroit casinos reported submitting $12.5 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments to the city of Detroit during February.

Retail sports betting qualified adjusted gross receipts (QAGR) increased by $1.3 million in February compared with February 2022 when all three properties reported combined QAGR losses of $872,552. QAGR rose by $347,729 compared with January results of $111,023.

February QAGR totals by property were:

  • MGM, $6,463
  • MotorCity, $78,773
  • Hollywood Casino at Greektown, $373,516
  • Total gross receipts were $475,913, and total handle was $12,218,814.

Combined QAGR for January and February was $569,775.

State taxes from the Detroit casinos were $17,341 compared with zero collected during February 2022 when the casinos reported negative QAGR.

The three Detroit casinos reported submitting $21,194 in wagering taxes to the city of Detroit during January.

During January, fantasy contest operators reported total adjusted revenues of $2.9 million and paid taxes of $244,698.

123NET Partnering with Ottawa County on High-speed Broadband

Ottawa County, west of Grand Rapids, has selected 123NET, a fiber internet, colocation, and voice services provider, to bring broadband internet to the county’s underserved residents and businesses.

Funding for the $27 million project is slated to come from a variety of sources, including $7.5 million of Ottawa County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, $3.5 Million in 123NET’s private capital, and additional state and federal grants.

“In Ottawa County, we are active listeners who heard over and over again that countywide access to reliable, broadband internet was a top priority,” says Paul Sachs, director of the Ottawa County Department of Strategic Impact. “The monumental action the County Board of Commissioners have taken will provide Ottawa County citizens the high-speed connectivity necessary to succeed now and into the future.”

Many Ottawa County citizens report they do not have access to broadband, available broadband is unreliable, or service is too expensive. The county enlisted the help of Urban Wireless Solutions, a team of broadband experts and advisors, to help guide the project’s planning and execution.

Working with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and additional community partners, Ottawa County conducted a Broadband Data Collection Survey in 2021. This survey revealed 10.5 percent of county households do not have access to fixed (wired or wireless) high-speed internet. Furthermore, 26 percent of those with fixed broadband access it at speeds slower than the FCC’s minimum broadband threshold.

The project includes approximately 383 miles of new fiber in the county, which will further provide access to nearly 10,000 addresses with approximately 3,300 being unserved and 1,200 underserved. As a result, Ottawa community members can expect internet speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, 100 times faster than traditional AT&T and Comcast speeds. Additionally, the network will be both open access and carrier-neutral, allowing other network providers to access the fiber to sell their services, giving residents and businesses the ability to choose their preferred internet provider.

Lincoln Avenue Capital Closes Financing for Affordable Housing Developments in Ypsilanti

California-based Lincoln Avenue Capital (LAC), an acquirer and developer of affordable housing, has acquired and closed on the financing for construction of Huron Vista and Residences at Huron in Ypsilanti, marking LAC’s fourth and fifth ground-up deals and its first new construction developments in Michigan.

These new communities will provide 156 units of affordable housing for families and individuals and 152 units of senior housing, respectively.

“Lincoln Avenue Capital is thrilled to continue expanding our nationwide portfolio to communities like Ypsilanti where quality, affordable homes are needed,” says Jeremy Bronfman, CEO of LAC. “Our fast-growing ground-up development program represents a significant opportunity to deliver affordable housing to seniors, families, and individuals facing high rental costs in Michigan and across the country.”

The developments were separately financed through tax-exempt bonds and 4 percent tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA); a PILOT from the city of Ypsilanti; an equity investment from KeyBank Community Development Corp.; a construction loan from KeyBank; and a permanent loan from Freddie Mac, serviced by KeyBank.

Construction on both communities is scheduled to begin in March, with initial units expected to be available for occupancy in fall 2024. Both properties will feature outdoor gathering spaces, a pool, and a fitness center. Huron Vista’s amenities will also include a standalone clubhouse building with a community room and play area for children, while the Residences at Huron will include a pickleball court, clubroom, and underground parking.

MEDC Helps Launch $10M Microloan Fund for Women, Veterans, Entrepreneurs of Color

Michigan Women Forward (MWF), the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), Huntington National Bank, and the Ballmer Group have launched a new $10 million microbusiness loan program for women, veterans, and entrepreneurs of color in Michigan.

The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will lend to individuals who don’t qualify for traditional loans through banks or other financial institutions, providing opportunities for those who are socially and economically disadvantaged due to a lack of access to capital and credit.

“Starting and growing a business takes grit, courage, and tenacity – and here in Michigan, that runs deep in our DNA,” says Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of MEDC. “By taking a truly Team Michigan approach, this new fund will facilitate more risk-takers across the state in acquiring access to the capital and support they need to be successful and build a future right here in Michigan. Work remains to aid microbusinesses, but this is a significant and praiseworthy start.”

The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will be managed by MWF, a certified community development financial institution (CDFI). The organization will have more flexibility in allowing microbusinesses the same opportunity as larger companies. The MWF will process applications that come through its website, along with referrals made by its banking institution partners.

Partial support for this program comes from a $1 million grant from MEDC and a $1.5 million State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) loan participation. The SSBCI program provides federal funding to states to empower small businesses to access capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities as the country emerges from the pandemic.

Additional funding comes from a $1.5 million investment from launch partner Huntington National Bank and $1.5 million in grant support from Ballmer Group. An additional $2 million from other private funders will be announced later in 2023.

MWF will manage the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund by processing applications that come through its website, along with referrals made by its banking institution partners. Huntington National Bank will provide an additional pool of applicants through its Lift Local Business® program that supports minority-, women-, and veteran-owned small businesses.

Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for up to $50,000 in loans through this program. With the average loan managed by MWF at $25,000, the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will be able to assist approximately 400 entrepreneurs. Last year, the nonprofit organization provided 88 loans for $2.456 million invested in primarily women-owned businesses.

Women, veterans, and entrepreneurs of color can apply for Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund loans by visiting miwf.org.

Wayne County Ranks Among Nation’s Best for Rental Property Returns

Wayne County ranks among the nation’s 17 best growth markets for single-family rental properties Best SFR growth markets, according to ATTOM, a California-based curator of land, property, and real estate data.

The top markets include areas where wages grew over the past year and potential 2023 annual gross rental yields exceed 10 percent. Wayne County can expect growth at a 13 percent rate, according to ATTOM.

The report analyzed single-family rental returns in 212 U.S. counties with a population of at least 100,000 and sufficient rental and home price data. The analysis for this report incorporated median rents on three-bedroom properties and median single-family home prices collected from ATTOM’s nationwide property database, as well as publicly recorded sales deed data licensed by ATTOM.

The report shows that the average annual gross rental yield on three-bedroom properties, (annualized gross rent income divided by purchase price) among the 212 counties analyzed is projected to be 7.5 percent in 2023. That is up from an average of 6.7 percent in 2022 in those same markets and marked the first time since at least 2019 that the figure rose across the country.

The single-family rental yield is increasing from 2022 to 2023 in 91 percent of those counties, after declining from 2021 to 2022 in 72 percent of them.

With rental yields on the rise, rents are increasing faster than home prices across most of the country. From 2022 to 2023, three-bedroom rents rose more than single-family home prices in 192, or 91 percent, of the markets analyzed. Rents commonly have risen by around 5 percent to 20 percent over the past year, while changes in home values have typically ranged from a 5 percent loss to a 5 percent gain.

“The broader housing market didn’t fare nearly as well in 2022 as it did in 2021. Prices finally hit the wall, at least temporarily,” says Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM. “But that appears to be benefitting the growing number of investors around the U.S. who rent out single-family properties. Rents for single-family homes are growing while prices have flattened out, which has helped boost yields for landlords for the first time in at least several years.”

Little Caesars’ Love Kitchen Served Free Meals to 5,500 Detroiters This Winter

The Little Caesars Love Kitchen rolled through the chain’s hometown of Detroit to provide fresh pizza meals for an estimated 5,500 people in need in the months of February and March.

The Love Kitchen visited multiple community organizations throughout the city of Detroit and its suburbs. The mobile food truck provided meals at several Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries locations, the Salvation Army, Central United Methodist Church, St. Patrick Center, SAY Detroit, Boys & Girls Club, Michigan Veterans Foundation, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and COTS.

“It’s important to us to reach out to the communities where we do business and help make a difference, especially in our hometown,” says David Scrivano, president and CEO of Little Caesars. “Food insecurity impacts many in our city, and the Love Kitchen helps to provide meals to those in need. We are proud to work together with our local franchisees and company-owned stores to be there for the people who need assistance and build on our legacy of community service.”

Jrop Announces Partnership with CashForCars.com

Jrop, a Detroit-based on-demand roadside assistance platform, has partnered with CashForCars.com, part of the Copart auction company, to streamline its junk car removal process.

The partnership will enable Jrop to streamline the purchasing process of junk cars, trucks, and SUVs nationwide — any make, any model, damaged, running, or not running.

“The junk car removal industry is heavily fragmented,” says Carlo Redding, CEO of Jrop. “Integrating with CashForCars.com allows us to seamlessly connect junk car sellers to buyers in their area. We are excited to see where this partnership takes us. We look forward to expanding our service area and increasing our presence in our current service area.”

TriTech Titanium Parts in Detroit Qualifies for 3-D Printing Production System

Desktop Metal Inc., a Boston-based mass production 3-D printing technology provider, has approved TriTech Titanium Parts for binder jet 3-D printing on Desktop’s Production System.

The Production System platform features high-speed Single Pass Jetting (SPJ) technology on two models: the P-1, for research and development of binder jetting projects for serial production, and the P-50, the world’s fastest metal binder jet system, offering the lowest cost per part, with SPJ technology.

TriTech Titanium Parts uses metal injection molding (MIM), investment casting, and now, binder jet 3-D printing on the Desktop Metal Production System P-1 to produce titanium parts. The company is a spin-off of AmeriTi Manufacturing Co., which was founded in 1984 and sold last year to Kymera International.

“With binder jet 3-D printing, titanium production of even the most complex geometries can be greatly simplified and achieved at a lower cost,” says Robert Swenson, owner of TriTech and also the former owner of AmeriTi. “Our team is incredibly proud to be the first Desktop Metal Production System P-1 customer worldwide to binder jet 3-D print titanium, and we’re excited to offer this new manufacturing technology to our customers.”

For more information, visit here.

Motown Museum Names Drey Skonie Amplify: Sound of Detroit Artist of the Year

Local performer Drey Skonie won the Motown Museum’s Amplify: The Sound of Detroit singing competition March 15 at the Gem Theatre and was crowned artist of the year.

The grand prize includes $5,000, an engagement with Motown Records Label executives, and studio time.

Judges included Spotify global marketing chief Justin Norman, artist manager Toya Hankins, and music producer Marcus Devine.

Amplify: The Sound of Detroit singing competition seeks to build on the legacy of Motown by celebrating Detroit’s unique voices and curating authentic experiences for the creative synergy of artists past and present to grow and connect. This singing competition is designed for singers who would like to challenge themselves in a competitive environment.

The program is part of Motown Museum’s Hitsville NEXT–the Museum’s hub dedicated to educational and community programming focused on finding and nurturing aspiring Detroit artists and entrepreneurs.

Wisconsin County Launches FlySafe Program from Detroit’s AirHub

The Sheboygan County Planning and Conservation Office in Wisconsin has launched the FlySafe Program, powered by Detroit-based AirHub, aimed at safely integrating drones into the community.

The FlySafe Program enables Sheboygan County residents and visitors to quickly understand FAA drone rules, local advisories, ground risk hazards, and additional information to help them plan safer and compliant flights when operating in the region.

The FlySafe Program is critical in establishing two-way communication between drone pilots and their communities to ensure operations are in harmony with the community providing near-instant authorizations when operating in controlled airspace.

Greenhouse of Walled Lake, Choice Labs to Give Away $30K Wedding

Greenhouse of Walled Lake and Choice Labs of Jackson are partnering to give away a weed-lover’s wedding valued at $30,000.

The Greenhouse grounds will be transformed into a wedding wonderland, and the fortunate winning couple will be able to turn their dream wedding into a reality with the help of wedding planner Haley Makay.

To win, couples need to fill out the form located here with a short message on why they want to win. Entries will be accepted through Sunday, April 30.

“We’re seeing a generation choose weed over booze, even when it comes to traditional celebrations like weddings,” says Jerry Millen, owner of Greenhouse. “Move over ‘open bar,’ hello ‘bud bar.’

“This top- shelf bud bar, manned by budtenders and stocked with high-quality flower and Choice products, will accompany a custom-made Mojo-infused chocolate wedding cake. Post-ceremony fun will include the throwing of weed leaves instead of rice, along with a DJ, music, and dancing.

All who are old enough to receive a marriage license are eligible to win, and there is no purchase necessary. Winner will be announced in early May.