DBusiness Daily Update: Michigan Receives $2M in Federal Development Grants for High-tech Startups, 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.
The State of Michigan has received $2 million in federal development grants for high-tech startups. // Stock photo
The State of Michigan has received $2 million in federal development grants for high-tech startups. // Stock photo

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.

State Receives $2M in Development Grants for High-tech Startups

The state of Michigan has been awarded $2 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration funding to three state SmartZones to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development.

The grants were awarded to Troy-based Automation Alley’s Michigan Industry 4.0 Accelerator ($1.3 million), TechTown Detroit ($400,000), and Innovation Marquette Enterprise Corp. ($305,465).

The grants were awarded in two categories: The Venture Capital Fund, which seeks to leverage regional strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship and fostering inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship models. The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs that focus on both traditional and hybrid equity-based models.

Automation Alley received a Venture Capital grant which it will use to expand its Michigan Industry 4.0 (MI4.0) Accelerator, powered by Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University and Lean Rocket Lab in Jackson. The MI4.0 aims to attract best-in-class advanced manufacturing technology companies from around the world and find pathways for these firms to provide a meaningful impact to our domestic value chain, using Michigan’s existing manufacturing base as a gateway catalyst.

TechTown Detroit received a Capital Challenge grant that it will use, in partnership with the Angel Capital Association, VentureWell, and Ann Arbor SPARK, to recruit and train 200 high-net-worth individuals from Michigan who are underrepresented in the angel investor community and activate their potential as investors. TechTown’s goal is to support 50 projects, totaling $34.7 million in early-stage capital.

Innovate Marquette also received a Capital Challenge grant, which will be matched with $306,446 in local funds. Innovate Marquette plans to use the new resources for the Make it Marquette Start to Scale (Marquette STS) project, which will leverage educational, economic development and capital investor partnerships. Together, with project partners, Marquette STS will educate local angel investors about scalable tech investment opportunities and connect to state, regional and national venture capital (VC) networks.

The project is also designed to be 100-percent sustainable after the proposed three-year project timeline.

Greenleaf Trust Announces Kalamazoo Expansion

Greenleaf Trust, an independent Michigan-chartered bank and wealth management firm, today announced the expansion of its offices in Kalamazoo.

The firm’s in-house research team will move into the new, 6,200-square-foot space at 277 South Rose St., next to its current headquarters. The facility features an all-glass trading room, private office and meeting space, and an open seating area to accommodate gatherings and events.

Greenleaf Trust’s expansion comes as the firm has grown client assets under advisement to more than $16 billion, up approximately $7 billion in the last five years.

“Independent decision-making is at the core of Greenleaf Trust, and this expansion underscores our firm’s commitment to serving the best interests of our clients,” says Nicholas Juhle, senior vice president and director of investment research at Greanleaf. “We intentionally outfitted this space with state-of-the-art technology and an open design to foster collaboration and enhance our ability to deliver scale and resources rivaling larger firms, while maintaining the personalized approach to investment management that our clients value.”

Greenleaf Trust’s neighboring office at 211 South Rose St., which the company has operated in since 2008, will continue to serve as the company’s headquarters office.  Both properties are owned and managed by Catalyst Development Co.

“This new facility showcases our in-house research team’s capabilities and emphasizes our dedication to purposeful growth for the benefit of our clients,” Juhle says. “We’re excited to move into a new purpose-built space and look forward to continuing to provide exceptional service and counsel to our clients.”

For more information, visit here.

Comcast RISE to Support 13,000 Small Businesses Owned by People of Color Nationwide

Comcast RISE — which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment — announced it will support 13,000 small businesses, owned by people of color nationwide with monetary grants; a TV campaign, production of a TV commercial or consulting services from Effectv; or computer equipment, internet, voice, or cybersecurity from Comcast Business by the end of 2022.

The Comcast RISE Investment Fund monetary grants are intended to help small businesses owned by people of color grow as they navigate the challenges of the pandemic. The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE, the multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in 2020 to provide small businesses owned by people of color the opportunity to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable.

In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE provides the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color nationwide to apply for one or more of the following support focus areas with the opportunity to receive one.

The following services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, and its creative agency, Mnemonic, are designed to help recipients with their marketing and media campaigns, including:

  • Media: A linear TV media campaign to run over a 90-day period.
  • Creative Production: Turnkey 30-second TV commercial production, plus a media strategy consultation and a 90-day linear TV media campaign.
  • Consulting: Advertising and marketing consultations with local Effectv marketing, research and creative teams to gain insights on how to drive business.
  • Technology Makeovers: The state-of-the-art equipment and technology upgrade from Comcast Business includes computer equipment as well as internet, voice and cybersecurity services for up to a 12-month period. (Taxes and other fees may still apply for tech makeover services.)

In the first round of Monetary Grants, Comcast RISE announced $5 million in grants to 500 businesses across five metropolitan areas including Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston. Each business received $10,000 to invest in its own growth and sustainability. The grants were awarded in May. In September 2021, Comcast RISE announced that $10,000 grants will be awarded to 600 small businesses in Houston, Miami, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C., providing $6 million additional dollars to hundreds of small businesses owned by people of color, bringing the total to $11 million in grants awarded as part of the Comcast RISE Investment Fund.

All small business owners can visit the Comcast RISE destination on Xfinity X1, which features aggregated small business news, resources, Comcast RISE recipient stories and more. The destination is designed to help businesses grow by empowering them through inspiration, education, and entertainment. Just say “Comcast RISE” into the X1 voice remote.

For more information or to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services, visit www.ComcastRISE.com.

NFL Alumni to Motivate Detroit high Students in Beyond Basics Leadership Series

As part of the Beyond Basics Leadership Series, Detroit Lions alumni Andre Fluellen and Ray McElroy will speak at four Detroit Public Schools Community District High Schools on Tuesday.

This series gives high school students an opportunity to learn from and interact with inspirational community leaders, and expand their awareness of the world around them. The leaders have one thing in common – they’ve overcome challenges and worked hard to pursue their dreams and passions; they believe in giving back to the community.

The former NFL players are speaking in Detroit through the district’s partnership with literacy nonprofit Beyond Basics. Beyond Basics delivers intensive literacy interventions to district students who are farthest behind in reading.

“People’s life stories resonate with students,” says Pamela Good, CEO of Beyond Basics. “A few years ago, Joique Bell had students on the edge of their seat listening to his words of advice and encouragement. Sharing that he came from a similar background to the students motivated them to work hard in their studies. We appreciate that they are giving their time to engage with and motivate young people. Whether the speaker’s personal story is similar or different from those in the audience, students can draw lessons from their experiences, and connect to their messages of hope and inspiration.”

McElroy, who played for the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and the Lions, will speak at:

  • East English Village, 5020 Cadieux in Detroit at 9:15 a.m. (200 ninth graders in the school auditorium)
  • Southeastern High School, 3030 Fairview St., in Detroit at 10:50 a.m. (more than 300 10th and 12th graders in the school auditorium)
  • Osborn High School, 11600 7 Mile Rd. in Detroit, MI 48205 at 2:25 p.m. (entire school assembly outdoors unless inclement weather)

Fluellen, who played on and off for the Detroit Lions from 2008-2015, will speak at:

  • Denby High School, 12800 Kelly Rd. in Detroit at 4 p.m. (in the weightlifting room to student athletes)

Lung Force Walk Raises $76K at Detroit Zoo

Hundreds of people raised $76,000 for the American Lung Association in Detroit’s Lung Force Walk Sunday at the Detroit Zoo. The event exceeded its goal of $65,000.

Individuals, families, groups of friends, and corporate teams walked through the zoo for 1.5 miles and were six feet away from each other to ensure social distancing.

“We appreciate everyone in our community coming together and taking the meaningful steps toward improving lung health and preventing lung disease,” says Maureen Rovas, executive director of the Lung Association in Michigan. “Thanks to our wonderful supporters, we can continue our work for life-saving research, advocacy and education and provide the critical lung health resources for those who need it in Michigan.”

Funds raised at the Detroit Lung Force Walk will support the Lung Association’s efforts to end lung cancer and lung disease, as well as support the Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative. The COVID-19 Action Initiative is a $25 million investment to address COVID-19 and protect against future respiratory virus pandemics.