DBusiness Daily Update: May Mobility Launches Robo Shuttle in Grand Rapids, 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.
May Mobility’s new on-demand service includes four May Mobility Lexus RX450h vehicles and one wheelchair accessible Polaris GEM equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous vehicle technology. // Courtesy of May Mobility
May Mobility’s new on-demand service includes four May Mobility Lexus RX450h vehicles and one wheelchair accessible Polaris GEM equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous vehicle technology. // Courtesy of May Mobility

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.

May Mobility Announces On-demand Autonomous Service in Grand Rapids

May Mobility in Ann Arbor, in partnership with the city of Grand Rapids, Via, and Gentex, today announced the launch of an on-demand autonomous shuttle service in the west Michigan city.

The expanded, on-demand service began July 26 as part of Phase 2 of the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (AVGR), and transitions the prior fixed route AV service into a flexible, dynamic system in a new service zone.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City of Grand Rapids through an expanded zone in the downtown area,” says Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “The new service allows us to explore transportation needs in new areas of the community and provides additional opportunities for people to experience safer, greener, more accessible transportation through autonomous mobility.”

The on-demand service, which includes four May Mobility Lexus RX450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous technology, operates within a 1.36-square-mile service zone that includes more than 20 designated pick up and drop off areas in downtown Grand Rapids. The May Mobility AV shuttles are free to ride and operate Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

For more information, visit here.

Lawrence Tech Hits the Road with ‘21st Century Mobile Tour’

Lawrence Technological University in Southfield has converted a 53-foot semi-trailer into a mobile laboratory and demonstration center to take on high school recruiting trips.

The plan is for the “LTU 21st Century Mobile Tour” to visit more than 400 high schools and 60,000 students over the next three years. The tour will consist of a trailer with eye-catching graphics and an extended tent pavilion promoting the programs of Lawrence Tech’s four colleges — Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering — that prepare students for fun, challenging, financially beneficial and rewarding careers that benefit society.

“LTU is in the business of preparing students for future careers and job descriptions that don’t exist yet,” says Tarek Sobh, provost and chief academic officer at LTU. “While many universities wait for students to come to them, we are going directly to high school campuses.”

The mobile LTU exhibit will feature the latest technical advances, displaying working models, prototypes, experiments, and information on high-growth industries.

“The tour is a transformative project with tremendous opportunities to offer significant scholarships, potential internships, and career paths,” Sobh says.

A limited number of opportunities for employers and companies to collaborate in this outreach effort are available. To view early concepts of the exhibit’s design, visit here. For more information on participating in the project, email techtrailer@ltu.edu.

Marathon’s Detroit Refinery to Host Southwest Farmers Market

Marathon Petroleum Co.’s Detroit refinery is sponsoring an event that will bring fresh produce and locally sourced goods to the Kemeny Recreation Center in southwest Detroit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 14

The first 100 guests will receive a $20 voucher that can be redeemed at any booth of their choice. All guests will receive a reusable market bag for shopping and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits including masks, hand sanitizer, and vaccination card holders.

The market also will feature complimentary food from two local businesses — Catfish and a Cure and 2 Fat Boys and a Grill — as well as entertainment from a resident of the neighborhood.

FordDirect Relationship with New York Company to Enhance Dealer Marketing

Dearborn-based FordDirect is forging a relationship with automotiveMastermind, part of Southfield’s IHS Markit, that will result in new integrations that will enhance the Mastermind automated sales and marketing platform used by Ford and Lincoln dealerships in the U.S.

The partnership delivers bi-directional data sharing that allows both companies to improve their respective services to Ford and Lincoln dealers in the United States.

Ford and Lincoln dealers will enjoy the benefits of seamless billing via the OEM parts and accessory statements, automatic co-op processing, and integration with FordDirect CRM. automotiveMastermind will be building additional upcoming data-driven integrations such as incorporating VIN data and AXZ pricing into the Mastermind platform. Mastermind is currently 100 percent co-op approved for Ford.

“Our mission at FordDirect is to help our Ford and Lincoln dealers sell more vehicles,” says Matt VanDyke, CEO of FordDirect. “We believe the benefits of our relationship with automotiveMastermind advances that goal, and we’re pleased to reduce the administrative workload on our dealers with streamlined billing and co-op processing.”

Marco Schnabl, co-founder and CEO of automotiveMastermind, says, “Empowering our dealer partners to take a data-driven approach toward building lasting relationships with their customers has always been the focus of automotiveMastermind. This new and exciting relationship with FordDirect puts Ford and Lincoln dealers in a great position to capitalize on the innovative technology that Mastermind offers. It will make the sales process more seamless for the dealer professionals, as well as their customers.”

There is no additional cost to dealers for the integrations with FordDirect.

Bloomfield Hills’ Alline Salon Group Adds Four Supercuts Locations in Michigan

Alline Salon Group, the Bloomfield Hills-based largest franchisee of Regis Corp. with nearly 400 salons throughout the Midwest, has acquired four additional Supercuts in Michigan.

The salons are located in Livonia, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, and Lake Orion, and will be folded into Alline Salon Group’s existing structure.

“Despite the challenges of the past year facing us and countless others in the salon industry, we continued to look for opportunities to grow and expand,” says Mike Sarafa, co-founder, and CEO of Alline Salon Group. “We’re excited to have these four new locations in Michigan, and we are eager to serve customers with exceptional, affordable hair service.”

ASG had previously acquired 384 Regis-owned salons in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The group successfully operates under its three core franchise brands: Supercuts, Cost Cutters, and Holiday Hair. To date, ASG is the largest global franchise partner for Regis Corp. and the largest individual franchisee for each of the brands.

For more information, visit here.

Kirco Manix Building Shrine Catholic Schools’ New Athletic Field

Troy-based construction firm Kirco Manix announced that it is constructing Shrine Catholic Schools’ $2.1 million athletic field located on its high school and academy campus. Completion of the project is expected by fall 2021.

“We are pleased to have been selected by Shrine Catholic Schools for this important investment in the future of its schools and students,” says Mike Moore, vice president of operations for Kirco Manix. “We hope that the athletic complex will bring new opportunities to its current student athletes, as well as help attract new students to their already thriving Catholic schools.”

According to Moore, the design team (led by TMP Architecture) and Shrine’s owner representative for the project (The Monahan Co.) were impressed with the classroom, auditorium, and athletic complex renovation projects Kirco Manix recently completed at Divine Child in Dearborn. Additionally, the recommendation of the Archdiocese of Detroit led Kirco Manix to be part of the Shrine team.

“We made a promise to our Shrine community which we always intended to fulfill,” says Fr. Joe Horn, president of Shrine Catholic Schools and rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica. “The initial title of our campaign was ‘The Time is Now.’ There was no disclaimer that outside forces (such as the pandemic) would break this commitment. The time has come to construct an athletic complex where athletes can safely perform to their highest potential, students and families can support one another, and generations of traditions and memories can be made.”

The renovated athletic complex will feature a concussion safety pad and new artificial turf, which will allow for expanded use of the field regardless of weather. Permanent lighting is also being installed to allow for evening use by Shrine’s teams. New ornamental fencing and added landscape will enhance Shrine’s campus look as well.

Among the teams that will practice and play on the new field include its grade school, academy, and high school football, soccer, and lacrosse teams. The school system also plans to provide the greater community with the opportunity to rent the field for future events.

DAV, RecruitMilitary to State Career Fair for Veterans Aug. 19 at Ford Field

DAV and RecruitMilitary will host a Detroit Veterans Job Fair from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Aug. 19th at Ford Field. Registration is free and available online to all transitioning military, veterans, military spouses, and dependents.

RecruitMilitary has a history of adapting and responding to new ways to serve its ecosystem of 1.5 million job seekers. Since the onset of COVID-19, RecruitMilitary has hosted 99 virtual veteran career fairs, providing 4,400 exhibitors with access to 93,000 military-trained candidates.

“Our mission is to empower veterans with career opportunities and the return of our face-to-face events allows us to serve our community of 1.5 million job seekers in the most effective way possible,” says Tim Best, CEO of RecruitMilitary and a former Army Special Operations Attack helicopter pilot. “While our virtual events provided a way for us to connect with our job candidates and employers throughout 2020, we’re ready to turn the page and bring veterans and employers together in person for meaningful career opportunities.”

For more information about the Career Fair and how to register for the event, visit here.

Eastern Michigan Names New Campus Police Chief

Matthew Lige, a 28-year public safety veteran in Washtenaw County, will become the next executive director of public safety and chief of police at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

Lige will replace Robert Heighes, who will retire at the end of September after serving the last nine years as EMU’s executive director of public safety and chief of police.

Lige currently serves as deputy chief of police/assistant director of emergency management at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, a position he has held since April 2018. From 1997 to 2018 he was a member of the Ann Arbor Police Department, starting as patrol officer and rising to commander of the Investigative Division and Administrative Division as lieutenant. From 1994 to 1997 he was a patrol officer with the Ypsilanti Police Department.

He was selected after a national search yielded five finalists, each of whom came to campus for a day of interviews, including a public forum. The appointment, which is effective Aug. 23, 2021, is subject to approval by the board of regents.

Lige will lead a department of public safety with a staff of more than 50, including 30 sworn officers, that focuses on community policing with regular and direct interaction with students, faculty, and staff by foot patrols, bike, and motor vehicle. University investments in the department include a new police headquarters building that opened in September 2009, body-worn cameras for all of its officers, de-escalation training, and a special victims unit with trained officers.

Upgrades in technology that support a safe campus environment include a mass text and email alert system that provides immediate notification of students, faculty, and staff of major issues or weather-related closings, more than 1,000 cameras across campus, an outdoor-indoor emergency loudspeaker system, and electronic ID card locks on residence hall doors.

In Related News: Melissa Thrasher has been named EMU’s director of media relations, pending approval by the Board of Regents. The appointment is effective Aug. 30.

Thrasher will oversee the university’s media relations and social media efforts and contribute to its external and internal communications strategies.

Thrasher comes to EMU from Ascension Michigan, where she served as the senior communications specialist. Prior to that, she was an internal communications manager at Beaumont Health, and communications and marketing director at the American Heart Association.

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