DBusiness Daily Update: MGM Grand Detroit Opens Detroit Central Market Food Hall Concept, 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.
Fat Daddy’s Hot Chicken, Diablo’s Tacos, Grand Wok Noodle Bar, and The Corners Detroit-Style Pizza are part of the Central market Food Hall at the MGM Grand Detroit. // Courtesy of MGM Grand Detroit
Fat Daddy’s Hot Chicken, Diablo’s Tacos, Grand Wok Noodle Bar, and The Corners Detroit-Style Pizza are part of the Central market Food Hall at the MGM Grand Detroit. // Courtesy of MGM Grand Detroit

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.

MGM Grand Detroit Opens Detroit Central Market Food Hall Concept 

MGM Grand Detroit has opened its new urban food hall dining concept, Detroit Central Market.

The new venue offers distinct dining options, including globally inspired culinary favorites from Mexican street tacos to authentic Asian noodles and a downtown Detroit outpost of Fat Daddy’s Hot Chicken.

“These new offerings showcase the talents of our culinary team and allow us to continue to support local businesses to expand into downtown Detroit,” says David Tsai, president of the Midwest Group for MGM Resorts International. “Nothing brings a community together quite like food does, and we are so excited to play our part in Detroit’s exciting food scene. Detroit Central Market is yet another way we’re dedicated to providing guests with new and uniquely Detroit experiences.”

MGM Grand Detroit’s partnership with local entrepreneur Chef Jay (Jim) Brandon has brought his take on Nashville-style hot chicken to the new concept.

“Opening a location in Detroit has been a dream,” says Brandon of Fat Daddy’s Hot Chicken & Waffles. “It’s a blessing that MGM Grand Detroit provided this opportunity and we’re thrilled to bring our heat and flavor downtown.”

The local influence extends into the ingredients used and design of the space. Local suppliers are used throughout the venue, such as home-style tortillas from Hacienda Mexican Foods. Art featured in the space pays homage to the spirit of Detroit with a signature mural at the main entry depicting a young woman’s memories of her journey through Detroit. A mural by local artist Aaron Miller from 248STUDIO showcases a vintage view of the Detroit River, with additional local pieces scheduled to be installed.

The new food hall, situated in the former Palette Dining Studio, complements other full-service offerings including TAP at MGM Grand Detroit and D.PRIME Steakhouse.

Other Detroit Central Market offerings include:

  • Diablo’s Tacos
  • Grand Wok Noodle Bar
  • The Corners Detroit-Style Pizza

Detroit Central Market will be open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, and weekend late night, operating Sunday to Thursday from noon-midnight, and Friday and Saturday from noon- 2 a.m.

Detroit Receives Moody’s Credit Rating Upgrade

Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the city of Detroit’s credit rating to Ba2 with a “positive” outlook in a report issued Wednesday, a move the ratings agency says reflects the “improving and strengthening of the city’s financial position.”

The announcement comes days after Mayor Mike Duggan presented his recommended 8th consecutive balanced budget to City Council.

“Moody’s upgrade is an acknowledgement of the hard work done to restore the city from bankruptcy,” says Jay Rising, the city’s chief financial officer. “We know we have more work ahead of us and we are confident we will overcome the challenges to the city’s credit posed by risks with future pension funding.”

Detroit last saw an upgrade from Moody’s in May 2018. This is the first time since 2009 that the city has received a Ba2 rating. Improved bond ratings are indicative of a city’s finances and financial profile, and higher ratings mean lower costs for governments when they borrow funds to pay for various capital improvements.

“Detroit’s revenue base was exposed to the pandemic-driven economic disruptions,” the Moody’s report said. “Income taxes dropped because of nonresidents working remotely and wagering taxes were halted as casinos closed. Despite those pressures, Detroit posted its sixth consecutive operating surplus in fiscal 2021 and is on pace for another strong year in fiscal 2022.”

The report also highlights the city’s diversifying economic base and strengthening job growth.

“Detroit is poised to further expand its employment base with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Stellantis N.V. and a number of auto suppliers making major investments in the city that are creating thousands of jobs,” the report says. “Detroit is also a logistics hub, a position that will be bolstered by a second international crossing that is being constructed, the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Huntington Bank, which recently absorbed Chemical Bank and TCF bank, is making Detroit its commercial banking headquarters with a new 20-story building that is under construction.”

Moody’s indicated several key factors that led to the rating upgrade:

  • Despite disruptions, the trajectory of the city’s job base and income tax receipts is positive.
  • Reserve position is quite healthy and growing.
  • Very strong financial planning practices include annual conference to estimate revenues, long-range financial planning, and conservative budgetary assumptions.

The Moody’s report also cited the city’s early management response that mitigated pandemic losses and Detroit’s favorable revenue trajectory, noting that, “The city is well poised to further strengthen its finances over the next two fiscal years.”

Moody’s indicated that factors that could lead to a future upgrade include:

  • Robust revenue growth that makes rising fixed costs easier to accommodate.
  • Strengthening of full value per capita, median family income and population trends.
  • Accumulation of additional resources in an irrevocable trust to reduce budgetary risk of rising pension costs.

Moody’s rating is based on economic and demographics measures, as well as possible notching factors as defined by the US Local Government General Obligation Debt methodology. The full report can be found here.

State of Michigan to Divest from Russian and Belarusian Investments

The State of Michigan Investment Board has voted unanimously to divest the State of Michigan Retirement Systems (SMRS) pension plans from companies based in Russia and Belarus.

The state will begin divesting from Russian and Belarusian companies as soon as practical when market conditions allow.

“Today, the board decided this action is more than the right thing to do,” says State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks, who is the chairperson of the State of Michigan Investment Board. “We have directed the investment team to begin the divestment process. Any state assets that could be used to support and prolong Russian’s war against Ukraine runs contrary to the purpose of providing benefits to individuals who dedicate their professional lives to public service.”

The SMRS provides benefits to active and retired civil servants and other individuals who have worked for the benefit of the state of Michigan.

With the SMRS portfolio exceeding $98 billion, approximately 0.06 percent of state pension assets are associated with Russian institutions and organizations. There are no Belarusian holdings in the state portfolio.

The Russian holdings are managed by external investment managers and primarily invested in low-cost international stock index funds. The index funds are the direct owners of the Russian securities.

The SRMS will send formal letters to all relevant investment managers, requesting expeditious divestment from any Russian investments.

Tower Construction at Gordie Howe International Bridge Enters Next Stage

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is entering the next stage in the construction of the bridge towers in Windsor and Detroit.

Now that the tower legs, also known as the lower pylon, have reached their full height of 140 metres/460 feet, Bridging North America will begin work on the final portion of the tower – the pylon head. The towers’ modern form will take shape as this final 80 metres/262 feet is completed over the remainder of 2022.

The process to transition from the lower pylon to the pylon head, anticipated to be completed in the spring, involves modifications to the jump form systems and concrete pours to construct the upper cross beam that will merge the tower legs into a single structure. Once the transition work is complete, construction begins on the pylon head. Critical to the cable-stayed design, anchor boxes within the pylon head will house the cables that will connect the towers to the bridge and decks. This work will be easily visible to those in west Windsor and Southwest Detroit.

The towers have been under construction since 2019. Each inverted Y-shaped bridge tower is made of cast-in-place reinforced concrete and has been built in a sequential manner through lifts or tower leg segments of approximately 4.67 metres/15.3 feet tall to achieve their aesthetic design and their desired functionality.

“It is an exciting time as the towers – arguably the most visible aspect of construction to date – move into the next and final build phase,” says Bryce Phillips, CEO of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “With the towers currently standing at over two-thirds of their final 220 metres/722 feet height, they represent the significant progress the project team has been able to achieve.”

Click here to read a feature story about the Gordie Howe Bridge from the pages of DBusiness magazine.

Bakehouse46 Opening in Plymouth Township

Bakehouse46, the culinary collaboration between Michigan-based businesses Cupcake Station and Blake Farms, will open the doors to its new Plymouth Township location March 18. It is the fourth location for the partnership.

Located in the former Cupcake Station at 318 S. Main St., the Plymouth Township Bakehouse46 will offer a variety of treats including Cupcake Station cupcakes and Blake’s goods such as its signature cider mill and gourmet donuts baked onsite daily, apple cider, gourmet apples, and fudge as well as coffee, bagels, and sandwiches.

In recognition of the grand opening, the Bakehouse46 is offering:

  • $46 gift cards (plus a 15 percent discount on all purchases for life) for the first 46 customers on March 18 and 19.
  • Daily Happy Hour (4-7 p.m. March 18-26) with all items only 46 cents.
  • Drawings to win free bagel sandwiches for a year, donuts for a year, or $250 towards catering.
  • Face painting and balloons for the kids on March 19.

TechTown Detroit Adds Hatch Detroit to its Program Lineup

TechTown Detroit has added Hatch Detroit to its program lineup.

Hatch Detroit is a nonprofit focused on supporting, funding, and developing independent storefront retail businesses in targeted metro Detroit neighborhoods and will become the newest initiative of TechTown’s small business services programming.

The integration with TechTown will provide a sustainable future for Hatch while creating synergies between the two organizations that both champion and support small businesses in and around Detroit.

“Hatch Detroit is the perfect complement for TechTown’s small business programming,” says Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “Hatch is the premiere retail concept contest and TechTown is the premiere business support organization. It makes perfect sense to partner and provides Detroit’s entrepreneurs expanded opportunities to make their small business dreams come true.”

In addition to offering programming to support entrepreneurs, Hatch Detroit has administered an annual contest, with the longtime support of Comerica Bank, that awards one entrepreneur a cash grant and a package of in-kind services to open their own brick-and-mortar retail business in Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck.

Hatch gives the public a role in the redevelopment of their neighborhoods and the city by allowing them to vote at various stages within the contest. Details about the signature Hatch Detroit contest will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Our transition into TechTown will allow Hatch Detroit to expand capacity, increase reach, and improve communication with business owners and the public,” says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. “Hatch now has the opportunity to grow and touch the lives of future business owners for many years to come.  The network of alumni winners can now mentor the next generation.”

Piston Group Champions Learning By Offering Employer-Sponsored Education for Employees

To solidify its efforts to build a culture of learning, Detroit-based Piston Group has launched a strategic workforce education program for its U.S.-based employees in partnership with InStride. The Piston Group Future-Ready Education Program will offer courses towards earning high school diplomas, skills certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees to help full-time employees expand their opportunities within the company.

Employees will be able to choose from a wide variety of course offerings selected to meet employees where they are in their learning journey and career. Piston Group will cover tuition upfront each year, allowing employees to focus on advancement and achievement instead of payment.

“I know first-hand what it’s like to learn a new set of skills and make a career change that propels your life forward,” said former two-time NBA champion and Piston Group Founder and Chairman Vinnie Johnson. “As a company, we want to encourage our employees to continually advance and adapt as the world of work evolves.”

Piston Group includes Piston Automotive, Irvin Products (and their newly acquired A Lava & Son Co.) and Detroit Thermal Systems. These companies bring state-of-the-art manufacturing and design expertise to clients, ultimately providing value to consumers.

The Future-Ready Education Program will initially encompass the company’s U.S.-based employees in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Texas, joining other visionary corporations supporting their employees and their families through workforce education. In the future, Piston Group’s global employees will have the chance to join the education program as well.

“Piston Group is demonstrating its commitment to its employees’ future and the value it places on the long-term strength of its business,” said InStride CEO Vivek Sharma. “Given the determination and passion Vinnie exhibited as an NBA champion, it is not surprising that he is applying that same winning attitude and energy towards his Piston Group employees’ futures.”

InStride now has more than 40 corporate partners including Aramark, Banfield Pet Hospital, Carvana, Labcorp, and Magna and a curated network of quality global academic institutions including Arizona State University, the City University of New York School of Professional Studies and Kingsborough Community College, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Memphis and Universidad Tecmilenio.

Andoni Brothers Mark 30 Years of Shield’s Pizza in Troy

Brothers Paul and Peter Andoni are celebrating 30 years of ownership of Shield’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Troy in 2022.

In commemoration, Shield’s will offer 30 percent off any large pizza from March 14-17 all day at the Troy location (1476 W. Maple Road).

Shield’s first opened in 1946 at Davison and Shield’s streets in Detroit. The restaurant began serving pizza in the 1960s. In 2021 the restaurant chain celebrated its 75th anniversary.

“It’s been an incredible ride the first 30 years, including the over $1-million renovation we did a few years back,” says Paul Andoni. “When I look back, it’s hard to fathom that 30 years passed so quickly.

“We have second- and third-generation families that still come to the restaurant for parties, celebrations, and to eat our delicious pizzas, salads, ribs, and other items. We have some staff members who have been with us from almost the very beginning. We’ve been blessed by our loyal customers and our hard-working staff.”

For more information, visit here.

Detroit Pistons to Celebrate 313 Day with Series of Festivities

On Sunday, March 13, the Detroit Pistons will launch a series of festivities to celebrate 313 Day, a Detroit area code-inspired holiday honoring all things Detroit.

These festivities will include fan giveaways, halftime performances, pop-up locations from Detroit small businesses, pre-game and post-game parties, and more. Fans can follow all the Pistons 313 Day activations and celebrations through the hashtag #Pistons313Day.

A fan contest inspired by the Pistons in-game “swag cam” started March 9 that will see the winner receive a custom 313 logo gold chain during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. The swag competition asks fans to submit a photo or 30-second video of how they represent Detroit, with submissions accepted until 3:13 p.m. on Friday, March 11.

Four finalists will be given tickets to Sunday’s Pistons game, where the winner will be announced. The first-place winner will receive the custom 313 logo chain, with second place receiving a pair of white buffs, third place receiving a $313 gift card to the Pistons313Shop, and fourth place receiving a 313 logo neon sign.

Additional 313 Day activations will include:

  • A halftime performance by Detroit-native artist Kash Doll, presented by Snipes.
  • The launch of merchandise pieces designed by Detroiters that will be sold on com and in the team store at Little Caesars Arena. Brands and designers include Starter by Ty Mopkins, Detroit Up, Dare to be Yer’Self, and Filthy Americans.
  • A pre-game party at Eastern Market Tap Room featuring the launch of a new 313 IPA. The beer will be available all day for $3.13 beginning at 11 a.m.
  • A Shopify Shop313 Marketplace at Little Caesars Arena featuring pop-up shops from 13 local businesses.
  • A post-game party at Russell Industrial Center, presented by Snipes.

TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants Among Top 25 Workplaces

TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants in Livonia has been recognized as a 2022 Top Workplaces USA national award winner.

The Top Workplaces USA award celebrates companies that “make the world a better place to work together by prioritizing a people-centered culture and giving employees a voice.”

The award is based entirely on feedback from an employee engagement survey completed by the employees of participating workplaces. The survey measures 24 factors in seven categories, including company leadership, communication, career opportunities, cultural environment, managerial skills, pay, and benefits.

TSFR, which employs more than 6,500 employees throughout Michigan, ranked 22nd out of 50 recognized companies in the large business category, and was awarded alongside 200 total businesses among more than 2,500 total applicants.

“At TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants, commitment to our people first is a core value — so it is gratifying to be named a Top Workplace not only in Michigan, but on a national level,” says Mark Schostak, executive chairman of TSFR. “In 2021, we celebrated our fourth consecutive year of being recognized as a Top Workplace in Michigan. National employer recognition is an even more significant achievement, and evidence of our accountable culture and commitment to training and development. We’re thankful to our employees for their continued dedication to serve guests, grow as professionals and lead the way.”

Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade Returns to Corktown Sunday

Irish pride is making a comeback in Corktown on Sunday when the United Irish Societies (UIS) host the 2022 Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade.

The parade begins at 1 p.m. near Sixth Street and Michigan Avenue and continues west to 14th Street in Corktown. The parade is sponsored by Ford Motor Co. and Kitch Attorneys & Counselors. The emcee is Paul W. Smith from WJR AM-760.

The parade, which includes marching and pipe and drum bands, color guard units, floats, clowns, novelty groups, and marching units, moves west on Michigan Avenue, passes the grandstands, disperses at 14th Street, and lasts roughly two hours.

The parade last took place in 2019 after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. The parade typically attracts 80,000-100,000 people, making it one of the largest St. Patrick’s parades in the country.

“On behalf of the United Irish Societies, parade sponsors and participants, we’re thrilled to be back and know this year’s event will be better than ever with all of the positive momentum in Corktown for everyone who lives, works and spends time there,” says Mike Kelly, president of UIS.

The parade also offers a Family Fun Zone, sponsored by Liberty Security Group. It’s a reserved, family-friendly area located at the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Sixth Street. The Family Fun Zone, which runs from 12:30-3:30 p.m., includes live Irish entertainment, coffee, donuts and water and private restrooms. Family Fun Zone tickets are $12 per person or $60 for six tickets, $12 for a single ticket, and $60 for a family package of six tickets.

For more information, visit here.

Detroit Red Wings and The Children’s Foundation Unveil Esports Lounge

The Detroit Red Wings Foundation and The Children’s Foundation Wednesday unveiled an Esports Lounge for youth members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM) at the Lloyd H. Diehl Club.

Completion of the lounge is part of a $300,000 investment between the Red Wings Foundation and Children’s Foundation to strengthen the career and entrepreneur pipeline for youth in the sports and Esports industries and is a core component of the Red Wings’ Learn, Play, Score platform.

Building on the success of an Esports Lounge previously installed by the Detroit Red Wings Foundation at the Dick and Sandy Dauch Club, the Esports Lounge at the Lloyd H. Diehl Club is the first of three additional lounges the Red Wings Foundation and The Children’s Foundation have committed to build at BGCSM locations to benefit the youth of metro Detroit.

Featuring the latest technology, a total of five Esports Lounges will come online this year at BGCSM locations through support from the Red Wings Foundation, The Children’s Foundation, and other donors.

Esports + Hockey lounges and programming will be offered at the following BGCSM locations across metro Detroit:

  • Dick and Sandy Dauch Club (Detroit, opened 2020)
  • Lloyd H. Diehl Club (Detroit, opened 2022)
  • Fauver-Martin Club (Highland Park, opening Summer 2022)
  • Eastpointe Club (Eastpointe, opening 2022)
  • Matilda R. Wilson Club (Auburn Hills, opening 2022)

Bright Colors, Playful Characters, Bring Smiles in Children’s Health Care

Healthmark Industries, Avanti Press, and Fathead have created themed areas featuring whimsical, universally relatable Avanti animal characters in designated locations at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

The areas selected were chosen because they are where children might be more apprehensive for care, including the surgery waiting room area, along with some patient rooms and clinics.

In addition, PPE themed scrub caps with Avanti animal characters are being provided to staff in the children’s operating room areas to help create a fun distraction for children in preparation for surgery.

Children also will be able to select animal character themed stickers that they can use as a badge of courage on patient gowns, IV bags, PICC line sleeves, casts, and other areas. All images are being provided by Avanti Press, the Detroit-based publisher whose humorous characters are featured on greeting cards and numerous consumer goods sold nationwide and around the world.

Healthmark Industries envisioned this as a way to provide children with a fun, calming distraction within a hospital, doctor’s office or dentist’s office and would allow them to create a bond with hospital teams and focus on something other than their illness.

“Michigan-based Avanti Press was the perfect fit for this objective,” says Ralph Basile, vice president of marketing and regulatory affairs at Healthmark. “Their upbeat character humor connects with people young and old, from all walks of life.”

The three companies will work with University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to evaluate response and gain input from patients, as they move forward with this concept introducing it to other locations.

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Berkley Jaycee Park Development Project

The city of Berkley will build an inclusive playground at Jaycee Park and update the park’s pathways, pavilion, and restrooms to increase accessibility and use with the help of a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and city of Berkley announced.

The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by May 9, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, visit here.

“Jaycee Park is already a beloved destination in the city of Berkley, and this playground will further enhance the park by providing an inclusive, vibrant outdoor experience within the park that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” says Michele Wildman, senior vice president of community development at MEDC. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for the Jaycee Park Development project through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

Michigan Colleges Partner to Enhance Community College Transfer Process

Student transfer access from community colleges to independent institutions will be improved, thanks to a $275,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

The grant received by the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) and Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities (MICU), will be used to improve the transfer process from community colleges to four-year independent institutions, helping more students complete their bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts programs.

“Offering strong transfer pathways is a huge part of the community college mission and Michigan’s community colleges are looking forward to partnering with more independent colleges and universities to meet the needs of students,” says Erica Lee Orians, executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success at the Michigan Community College Association.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 52 percent of all students who earned a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution in Michigan had been enrolled at a two-year public institution in the previous 10 years.

“Michigan’s independent colleges and universities look forward to continued collaboration with our community college partners,” says Robert LeFevre, president of the Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities. “Working together to make the transfer process more streamlined with additional majors of study helps to keep students engaged and will increase the number of college graduates.”

For more information, visit here.

Washtenaw Economic Club Stages Annual Outlook March 24

A new season of the Washtenaw Economic Club kicks off March 24, with the annual economic outlook presented by University of Michigan economists Gabriel Ehrlich and Michael McWilliams.

The forecast will be hosted from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at The Kensington Hotel in Ann Arbor and marks a return to in-person Washtenaw Economic Club events.

Business organizations and community members are invited to attend. Seating is limited. Visit the Washtenaw Economic Club for information about individual tickets or business sponsorships.

The 2022 Washtenaw County Economic Outlook offers an economic forecast for the county based on payroll employment growth, unemployment, and consumer inflation rates and looks ahead to employment changes in a wide array of industries.

“This is always our most heavily attended meeting of the year and an important focus for the community,” says Brandon Tucker, associate vice president of workforce and community development at Washtenaw Community College. “We look forward to receiving the economic forecast for our county from these well-known experts and are glad to return to in-person meetings.”

Oakland Mediation Center Initiates New Statewide Mediation Program

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Oakland Mediation Center in Bloomfield Hills a grant to manage and administer a statewide mediation program, Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services.

The program, which launched in September 2021, is underway for qualified community mental health participants.

In partnership with Michigan Community Mediation Association, Oakland Mediation Center developed the new program to ensure community mental health clients have access to a neutral, independent mediation professional to resolve matters related to their services or service providers.

“We know that by offering this much-needed service, we will be helping community members statewide resolve matters through mediation,” says Charity Burke, executive director of Oakland Mediation Center. “Mediation through Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services is a free, conflict-resolution option that will save time, money, and stress for clients, Community Mental Health staff, and providers.”

Mediation is a structured process where an impartial, third-party assists disputing parties in resolving a conflict through specialized communication and negotiation techniques.

To learn more about Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services, visit here.