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 Hispanic Chamber Planning Dec. 3 Fiesta Hispana Gala
The Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Fiesta Hispana Gala at 6 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the MotorCity Casino and Hotel in Detroit.
The chamber’s signature fundraiser of the year serves to increase the contributions that help the MHCC expand and offer programs to further its mission of working with all members of the community to support the economic advancement, professional growth, and sustainability of Hispanic owned businesses, Hispanic business leaders, and the Hispanic community in Michigan.
This event kicks off with a cocktail reception then moves into the Grand Ballroom where guests will hear prominent guest speakers, receive awards, have dinner, and enjoy dancing. Television news anchor and health reporter Lila Lazarus will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Live entertainment will be provided by the Bluewater Kings Band.
For more information, visit here.
Michigan Awards $2.5M Business Groups to Address Labor Shortages
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) awarded a total of $2.5 million in Michigan Industry Cluster Approach 3.0 (MICA 3.0) grants to business groups across the state to address labor shortages.
“These grants are putting Michiganders first by helping innovative employers in high-demand industries address talent shortages across Michigan,” says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Together, we can continue leading the future of agriculture, construction, IT, manufacturing, mobility, and so much more as we usher in a new era of prosperity for our families, communities, and small businesses.”
Business groups across the state are focused on addressing talent shortages in high-demand industries such as agriculture, construction, energy, health care, hospitality and tourism, information technology, manufacturing, or mobility.
“Supporting the convening of industry representatives and their critical partners will help Michigan create innovative solutions to address the state’s diverse talent needs,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, director of LEO’s Office of Employment and Training.
The 11 organizations receiving funds include:
- Focus: HOPE — $250,000
- Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit — $249,660
- IMPART Alliance —$249,914
- Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance — $220,000
- Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium — $249,137
- Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association — $140,509
- Michigan Works! Region 7B — $240,780
- Michigan Works! West Central — $150,000
- Traverse City Center for Entrepreneurship — $250,000
- United Way of Genesee County — $250,000
- Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! — $250,000
MICA 3.0 funding supports activities that help employers address critical workforce needs. These activities include, but are not limited to, talent recruitment; creating customized training programs including registered apprenticeships; providing support services, such as transportation and childcare; financial planning education; and success coaching to enhance retention and career mobility.
Plum Market Opening its First Location in Florida
Farmington Hills-based Plum Market is opening its first location in Florida, in Aventura, north of Miami. The 22,600-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022.
“Florida is one of our most requested markets to enter,” says Matt Jonna, co-founder and CEO of Plum Market. “We have a built-in community of Midwesterners who spend their winters in the Miami area. They know our brand, they know our quality, and they want to rely on our services year-round. We couldn’t be happier to serve Miami residents and we look forward to continued growth in the Florida market.”
Plum Market has more than 25 locations across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas, with new locations recently announced in Hollywood, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
MSU Federal Credit Union Taps California AI Firm to Aid Customer Service
Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) in East Lansing says it has improved its member satisfaction and efficiency by using two “virtual agents” from Boost.ai in Santa Monica, Calif.
Boost.ai claims it has the largest network of bots available, with a robust portfolio of intents and more than 250 virtual agents in production today. Its broad-scope approach enables large-scale deployments that deliver high levels of accuracy and value across multiple agents and service needs.
With Boost.ai, MSUFCU offers one of the industry’s only internal service chatbots, “Gene,” to assist service representatives with quick information in real time, as they interact with members. This works hand-in-hand with a member-facing chatbot, “Fran,” which answers member questions and helps with key tasks. The success of the virtual agents led to MSUFCU creating a new position titled AI content administrator, who is responsible for reviewing and updating conversations while making sure any outgoing text is easily consumable.
“We don’t look at conversational AI as a technology project, Gene and Fran are a member service opportunity and we support their development with that in mind,” says Ben Maxim, vice president of digital strategy and innovation at MSUFCU. “Boost.ai enabled us to provide the superior service we are known for in a new way, allowing us to grow quickly and efficiently.
“We have 315,000 reasons why Gene and Fran are so important to our organization. Boost.ai’s user-friendly platform enables our in-house AI team to continue to find new ways to provide the best possible service for our members.”
Rehmann Launches Paint by Red Wings Numbers Art Contest
Troy-based financial services and advisory firm Rehmann has officially launched its first art contest, Paint by Red Wings Numbers, in partnership with the Detroit Red Wings.
The contest invites participants to submit hockey-themed artwork that honors players, dates, and milestones in Red Wings history.
“We’re excited to be kicking off such a fun, empowering contest with our partner, the Detroit Red Wings,” says Randy Rupp, CEO of Rehmann. “We know that Red Wings fans are bursting with creativity, and we can’t wait to see the ways they’re inspired to express their appreciation for the franchise through their art. We look forward to seeing submissions from the local community and beyond.”
Submissions will be accepted through Jan. 21, 2022. To enter, individuals must submit a 24-by-30-inch creation that can be framed, such as a drawing, painting, etching, or another type of two-dimensional art. Pieces will be judged based on creativity, originality, and theme, portraying historical numbers in Red Wings history.
There will be two categories, one for youth submissions and another for adults. On Feb. 9, 2022, one winner will be chosen from each category. The winning artwork from the adult category will be installed in the Rehmann Club at Little Caesars Arena.
“This initiative is an exciting and unique way for our community to engage with our organizations, while reflecting upon the iconic history of the Detroit Red Wings,” says Molly Wurdack-Folt, vice president of corporate partnership activation for the Red Wings. “We invite everyone who loves the Red Wings, and has a passion for art, to participate over the next couple months. We can’t wait for the winner’s artwork to prominently be displayed in the Rehmann Club at Little Caesars Arena.”
Both categories will be judged by a panel comprised of Rehmann and Red Wings executives and a Detroit art critic, with four youth finalists advancing to a final online fan vote period from Jan. 28-Feb. 8.
In addition to having their artwork displayed in the Rehmann Club, the adult winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and four Detroit Red Wings tickets. The winner of the youth contest will be awarded the same amount in a scholarship fund, as well as four game tickets and a Zamboni ride. Artwork also will be published on DetroitRedWings.com.
For detailed contest information, visit here.
State Makes IT Training Available for Individuals with Disabilities
The Michigan Bridge to Opportunity Academy (MBA), specifically developed to empower and enable people with disabilities to achieve meaningful careers in information technology, is seeking candidates for its training and certification program.
MBA is the result of a public-private partnership with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), operated by Three Talents. The program provides technical and ready-for-work training and a strong support team to ensure each candidate reaches their full potential.
“MBA is built on the best practices of successful, similar bridge academies worldwide with high student success rates,” says Patrick Romzek, founder and CEO of MBA. “It provides employers with a valuable supply of untapped talent and gives candidates meaningful opportunities that can transform their lives.”
This tuition-free opportunity for Michigan residents with disabilities runs for 20 weeks, uses curriculum provided by the Cisco Networking Academy, and leads to certification as a Cisco Certified Technician to enable entry-level IT jobs for participants. Potential candidates must have a documented disability, an 11th grade reading and math level, and an interest in IT.
“We are pleased to partner with MBA to support the need to fill in-demand IT roles with a diverse pool of individuals,” says Tina Fullerton, director of MRS. “This training opportunity balances the technical aspects with career preparation to provide students with the confidence and skills they need to experience a lifetime of success after graduation.”
Those interested in applying, can visit here.
Detroit Goodfellows Tribute Breakfast Honors PVS Chemicals’ Nicholson
The Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit conducted its 31st Annual Tribute Breakfast Nov. 12 at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters and honored James B. Nicholson, president and CEO of PVS Chemicals Inc.
Nicholson was presented with the Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award during a live broadcast on WJR-AM.