DBusiness Daily Update: Michigan 11th in CNBC’s Top States for Business Ranking, Jimmy John’s Field in Utica to Welcome Millionth Fan Saturday, 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.
Jimmy John's Field
The millionth USPBL baseball fan is expected to come to the Utica minor league ballpark tonight. // Photo courtesy of USPBL

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.

Michigan Jumps 13 Spots in CNBC’s Top States for Business Ranking

Michigan has jumped 13 places since 2019 to wind up 11th in CNBC’s ranking of top states for business.

The Great Lakes State increased its scores in education and infrastructure, and posted high scores in the technology and innovation, cost of living, and cost of doing business categories to drive the ascension in the ranking.

“By ensuring critical relief to small businesses throughout the state during the pandemic, and keeping a focus on long-term economic growth in the state, Michigan is in a position to not only recover, but thrive as we continue our efforts to jumpstart the economy,” says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “We are excited to see the impact of these efforts reflected in CNBC’s Top States for Business Ranking as we keep that momentum going by getting people back to work across the state.”

The annual ranking, which was last released in 2019, evaluates 10 broad categories of competitiveness, in part based on issues states have identified as the most important in business attraction efforts. In 2021, cost of doing business and infrastructure categories took on increased importance in the ranking — both areas in which Michigan excelled.

“Truly competitive states prize innovation, nurture new ideas, and have the resources to support them,” says CNBC. “And Michigan once again scored high in the technology and innovation category, which looks at factors including patents issued per capita and the vitality of each state’s technology ecosystem based on people, companies, and investment. With world’s largest tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google investing in Michigan, the state is also home to home to hundreds of startups across a broad cross section of the tech world.”

Among the developments that impacted the ranking:

  • Cybersecurity firm Duo Security stayed in the state after it was acquired by Cisco.
  • American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. investing $38.6 million and adding 100 new jobs in Three Rivers.
  • Whirlpool investing $60 million to rehabilitate and reconstruct its Global Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center in St. Joseph and launch a new development for workforce housing in Benton Harbor.
  • Speedrack Products investing $64.5 million and adding 164 new jobs in Walker.
  • Flex-N-Gate investing $52.1 million and adding 245 new jobs in Troy.
  • Software developer TechSmith investing $15 million and adding 50 new jobs at a new global headquarters in East Lansing.
  • Boston-based XL Fleet investing $1.2 million and adding nearly 50 new jobs at its new Fleet Electrification Technology Center in Wixom.
  • Mission Design and Automation investing $5.3 million and adding 109 new jobs at its headquarters in Holland, and supporting Industry 4.0 adoption efforts in the state.
  • Superior Extrusion Inc. in Marquette County adding 44 new jobs as part of one of the largest manufacturing expansions in the Upper Peninsula in several years.

Key professional service industries in the state, like Rocket Mortgage in Detroit, Homepoint in Ann Arbor, and Acrisure in Grand Rapids also are continuing to grow and find success in the state. Places like the Medical Mile in Grand Rapids, home to Perrigo’s new North American corporate headquarters, are strengthening the life sciences sector in the state.

“From our strengths in technology and innovation to a business-friendly environment and the Pure Michigan quality of life, Michigan has what it takes to build a championship economy,” says Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “CNBC’s Top States for Business Ranking shows we are moving in the right direction with a 13-spot jump to No. 11. This is significant progress, but trust and believe we will not stop working alongside our regional and industry partners to put Michigan in that No. 1 spot and to ensure all Michiganders are realizing the full benefit of our thriving economy.”

Jimmy John’s Field in Utica to Welcome Millionth Fan Saturday

The United Shore Professional Baseball League at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica will welcome its millionth fan through the turnstiles Saturday before the first game of a double header.

The millionth fan will receive a $1,000 OUR Credit Union account, a 1 millionth fan USPBL jersey, a cabana suite for five years, and a photo on the USPBL Wall of Fame at Jimmy John’s Field.

The USPBL is in its sixth season. Four minor league professional baseball teams play 75 games, all at the ballpark at 7171 Auburn Rd. in Utica.

For more details and ticket information, visit here.

Winning Futures Program Recruiting Mentors for High School Students

 Warren-based Winning Futures is recruiting hybrid (virtual and in-person) mentors for the 2021-22 school year for students in Detroit, Harper Woods, Southfield, Warren, Sterling Heights, and Pontiac.

The deadline to apply here is Aug. 31.

Workforce Prep is Winning Futures’ mentoring and life skills development program that helps metro Detroit high school students achieve success. The program features local business professionals who, with training, guidance, and support from Winning Futures staff, teach students important life and job readiness skills while exploring different career fields.

Winning Futures mentors receive training and support before, during, and after every session. The curriculum is evidence-based and planned with structured and fun activities that reinforce key lessons. The program includes 16 one-hour weekly sessions beginning in November. Depending on COVID safety measures and school policy, up to eight of these sessions might be in-person at the school. The remaining sessions will be virtual via Zoom.

Detroit Children’s Choir to be Featured in “Shoah Ambassadors” Film

Detroit landmarks and the Detroit Children’s Choir are being featured in the film “Shoal Ambassadors,” a documentary about the Holocaust that has a contemporary angle of telling the story.

Director/producer Keith Famie and his Wixom-based Visionalist Entertainment Productions are behind the project, which is hoped to engage a younger, non- Jewish audience.

Famie and his team have been working for more than 18 months on “Shoal Ambassadors,” which is built around two local twenty-year-old’s who have been selected to tell the story of the Holocaust through their own artistic expression.

Hailey Callahan, a graduate of College for Creative Studies is a fine arts major whose medium inspired her to recreate a train car out of stained glass to tell the story of how these trains were used to transport prisoners. Curtis Bates is a singer-songwriter from Detroit whose use of lyrics through two rap songs will help illustrate general themes of the Holocaust and at the same time, generate an interest for the younger generation.

Bates has written and recorded two songs for the film so far. The third, “Never Again,” was recorded Thursday with Bates and the Detroit Children’s Choir singing together.

To learn more about the film, visit here.

Ally Shines Spotlight on Unsponsored Tokyo Olympians

Ally Financial in Detroit is committing $250,000 in funding to support unsponsored U.S. athletes traveling to Tokyo for the Olympic Games later this month and will share their stories in hopes of inspiring others to show support.

“Thousands of athletes train for years chasing down a dream to represent our country at the highest level, and while some will make it this year — and even go on to enjoy glory and lucrative contracts — many will have to stay at it, training, sweating, and competing for another three years,” says Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer for Ally. “The road is hard and expensive. But it can be a little easier when you have a financial ally in your corner. We wanted to bring the stories of the unseen and the unsponsored to the forefront, offer our support and hopefully spur others to follow suit.”

Ally’s funding will enable these unsponsored athletes to pay for essentials such as training equipment and coaches’ fees, as well as basic life necessities. To rally additional support, the company will be airing 30- and 60-second film spots across social media and national media properties, highlighting three unsponsored athletes’ journeys as they strive to reach the top echelon of their sports.

Directing the stories is award-winning filmmaker Daniele Anastasion, whose “Run Mama Run” short docu-series was a Tribeca Film Festival special selection.

For more information, and to participate in funding the athletes, visit here.

EMU and Gen.G Collaborate on Esports Summer Programming

Global esports organization Gen.G and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti have announced a new slate of esports programming — include a Summer Showdown Tournament, an esports summer camp, and a Gaming Career Speaker Series — to gather students, alumni, and local community members.

The Summer Showdown Tournament is an invitational tournament for 5v5 League of Legends July 24-25 and 3v3 Rocket League on July 31-Aug. 1. Local universities, high schools, as well as other collegiate teams outside the region with strong performances will be invited to participate. Spectators will be able to watch the matches on the EMU Esports Twitch channel. Students from the esports program will also curate up to 20 hours of additional weekly Twitch programming on the official EMU Esports Twitch page.

“Eastern Michigan University created several gaming programs — for prospective and current students, and alums — last year even while students were studying remotely,” said Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G. “We are thrilled to continue that great work together this summer in a big way.”

Other upcoming programming includes the revival of the Eagles Gaming Club, EMU’s on-campus esports club, by students that will bring curated events to the EMU community. Those interested can reach out to the club via Discord.

“The overall interest among students in collegiate esports is reaching new levels every year,” says James Smith, president of EMU. “Having Gen.G, a recognized international leader in the esports world, as a partner is a tremendous asset to the university and our students.

“Engaging students in gaming competitions is a fun and exciting way to create new friendships as well as establish campus pride. Even more significant, from my standpoint, are the opportunities to share with our students the many career prospects in the exploding esports industry – which can include everything from arts and graphics, to business and marketing, to science, cybersecurity, and technology.”

EMU and Gen.G also have launched an esports summer camp, where registration is still open and those interested can sign-up here.

Heading into the end of summer, EMU also will host a Gaming Careers Speaker Series, which will teach students across various majors how they can apply their traditional degree to the gaming industry and seek other professional opportunities in the space.

Tickets Now on Sale for the Stahl’s Autos for Autism Charity Event

Tickets are now on sale for the third annual Auto for Autism Charity event hosted by Stahl’s Auto Collection in Chesterfield Township from 4-8 p.m. on July 22. The event will benefit the Ted Lindsay Foundation.

Outdoor activities will include a cruise-in, a community-driven car show (where people can bring their own classic cars for public viewing) in the parking lot adjacent to the museum. There is no charge to participate in the cruise-in, which will feature live music, a bounce house, and more. Guests also can enter for a chance to win a variety of prizes, including a Achatz pie and Amore’s gift card. Optional $10 tickets are available for the Hagerty tent, which will have tables, chairs, and bottled water available to guests. Availability for these tickets is limited.

Tickets for entry to the museum are available at two price levels:

$30 tickets provide access to a special VIP Meet and Greet with host of the TV show “Chasing Classic Cars,” Wayne Carini, Detroit Red Wings Danny DeKeyser, and Red Wing Alumnus Darren McCarty. Guests also will receive a gift bag including three autograph photo cards for signing and entry to the museum.

$15 tickets provide access to the museum for touring.

Ted Stahl, founder of the Stahl’s Automotive Collection, says in addition to the museum’s regular collection of classic automobiles and vintage music machines, the event will feature a few new additions from friends of the collection, notably a 2006 Mercedes McLaren SLR, which is one of only 141 in the U.S. and a Rolls Royce Moxiecar replica.

“I love classic cars and being able to put that love to use to help such a worthy cause is something that gives me great joy,” says Stahl. “I urge all my fellow car lovers to come out and attend Autos for Autism. The money raised will go toward helping the most vulnerable in our society. I can’t think of a better way to honor the history of the automobile.”

Leading up to the event, the collection is hosting an online auction, open through 3 p.m. July 21. The public can bid on items donated by the iconic classic rock band Kansas, and packages including VIP tickets for the Concours d’Elegance of America and the Woodward Dream Show at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac. One of this year’s most popular items includes a four-person tour of Jay Leno’s Garage in southern California.

For more information and to participate in the online auction, visit here.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum to Host Antique Outboard Motor Event July 24

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle is hosting a free, outdoor Antique Outboard Motor Club Meet from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 24.

Paused in 2020 for the pandemic, this annual gathering brings together antique outboard motor enthusiasts from Michigan, Ohio, and usually Ontario. The display will include engines from Detroit manufacturers Waterman (the first commercially successful outboard) and Caille. This event is produced in partnership with the Great Lakes Chapter of the Antique Outboard Motor Club Inc.

For more information, visit here.