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.
Movie Night Returning to Detroit’s Monroe Street Drive-In Nov. 12
Detroit’s Bedrock and Emagine Entertainment are bringing back the Monroe Street Drive-In Powered by Emagine beginning Friday, Nov. 12.
The drive-In theater, located at 32 Monroe St. in downtown Detroit, will be an expansion of last year’s effort with new and improved outdoor, open-air free seating, artwork by Detroit’s own Sheefy McFly, and enhanced film screenings.
“Last winter’s Monroe Street Drive-In Powered by Emagine showed us that thousands of families across metro Detroit need more safe, approachable activities to enjoy in their downtown, especially during the colder months when we’ve all been cooped up for so long,” says Ivy Greaner, COO at Bedrock. “The theater is back this year for its sequel, but this time we want to do even more. We hope that the addition of outdoor seating and local artwork will help make this season unforgettable for all the right reasons.”
New this year, the Monroe Street Drive-In Powered by Emagine will feature unique artwork by McFly whose work was part of the Monroe Street Midway activation this summer, spanning the entire floor of the Rollout Detroit Roller Rink. Now, he’s designed a whole new concept that will be prominently displayed on the Campus Martius-facing side of the 60-foot-tall theater screen.
“I’m honored to design another installation at the Monroe Street space! I have such a connection to this area since the creation of the Rollout Detroit Roller Rink this summer,” says McFly. “I am excited to watch it evolve through the fall and winter seasons. I promise to beautify the space as abstract and Detroit as I possibly can, and I can’t wait to watch my hometown connect to it.”
Additionally, the Drive-In will feature nine new outdoor seating pods that can seat two to four guests for those who want to experience the theater outside of a car. The outdoor screen will continue to show classic, family-friendly films, just steps from Campus Martius Park and downtown’s Woodward shopping district.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the world-class team of professionals at Bedrock,” says Anthony LaVerde, CEO of Emagine Entertainment. “The community response to the Monroe Street Drive-In Powered by Emagine was tremendous, and we are thrilled to again be a part of bringing this unique experience back to the community.”
Automation Alley Receives $1.3M Federal Grant
Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center and a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America, has received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship through its Build to Scale Program.
This is Automation Alley’s first time receiving the grant, which was awarded for Automation Alley’s Industry 4.0 Accelerator (I4.0 Accelerator).
EDA’s Build to Scale Program presents grants to organizations that are aiding companies in developing the next generation of technologies. These organizations may be operating initiatives to unlock investment capital across a region or sector, operating programs to accelerate company growth, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs, and/or enabling technology commercialization.
This year’s Build to Scale Program has two components — the Capital Challenge and the Venture Challenge. Automation Alley’s award is part of the Venture Challenge, which seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in communities, regions, or combinations of regions; the Capital Challenge aims to increase access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply.
“There is an urgent need for manufacturers to understand and adopt Industry 4.0 technologies, and a great risk in not doing so,” says Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley. “This national funding award from the Build to Scale Program will allow Automation Alley’s Industry 4.0 Accelerator to bolster our region’s competitive position in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by amplifying startups’ efforts to fortify and expand Michigan’s Industry 4.0 ecosystem.”
Automation Alley will use the money from the Build to Scale Program to grow the I4.0 Accelerator, aiming 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. It also will work to provide high-value match-making and accelerated commercialization opportunities for domestic startups and small manufacturers to bring their I4.0 technologies directly into Michigan manufacturing operations.
The I.40 Accelerator is powered by Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator and the Lean Rocket Lab. Its mission is to attract startups from around the world that are developing the next generation of manufacturing technologies. Manufacturing and technology startups that are accepted into the I4.0 Accelerator receive a combination of capital, programming, and contracted services from partner organizations.
For more information, visit here.
In Related News: TechTown Detroit received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship to unlock angel capital and diversify angel investing throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
The TechTown grant is part of the EDA’s Build to Scale Capital Challenge program, which seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in communities, regions, or combinations of regions; Capital Challenge aims to increase access to capital in communities where risk capital is lacking or in short supply.
The grant will allow TechTown Detroit, in partnership with the Angel Capital Association (ACA), VentureWell, and Ann Arbor SPARK (AAS), 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 with a goal of supporting 50 projects, totaling $34.7 million in early-stage capital.
“Expanding the pool of angel investors to include more people who intrinsically understand the experience of founders of color and women is critical to unlocking more high-risk capital and creating a more robust innovation ecosystem,” says Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown Detroit.
All of the recruits will complete the ACA’s Angel University Angel Investing Basics program and be encouraged to continue learning and deepening their engagement, network and experience in angel investing.
“This project will boost metro Detroit’s innovation-driven economic development by increasing diversity in Michigan and the Great Lakes region’s angel investing community,” says Dawn Batts, capital strategist at TechTown. “By activating more angel investors who identify as people of color and women, this project will unlock more capital in the community and increase the number of diverse perspectives in investment decision-making roles.”
Member Driven Technologies in Farmington Hills Powers OMNI CCU JHA PayCenter
Member Driven Technologies (MDT), a credit union service organization in Farmington Hills, is providing the Episys core processing system from Symitar to power OMNI Community Credit Union’s JHA PayCenter.
OMNI Community CU recently received approval to expand its field of membership from 22 counties to the entire state of Michigan. The credit union selected JHA PayCenter through its partnership with MDT to meet members’ rising demand for faster payments options that compete with the likes of PayPal and Venmo.
OMNI Community CU’s members now can more quickly and easily send and receive payments through the convenience of their digital banking apps, improving the overall payment experience.
“We were able to secure a state-wide charter in large part because of our advanced digital strategy, which JHA PayCenter directly supports,” says Ted Parsons, CEO of OMNI Community CU. “MDT and Jack Henry have been our trusted technology providers since 2006, and this latest initiative has only reinforced the value of their collaboration and expertise as we continue to grow. By offering faster payments functionality, we are empowering members with more flexibility and making their financial lives more convenient. At the same time, we are solidifying ourselves as frontrunners in the technology arena, especially for an institution of our size.”
JHA PayCenter is Jack Henry’s proprietary payments hub that provides seamless connections to the RTP and Zelle networks and enables real-time payments to be sent and received through Jack Henry’s core and digital solutions as well as third-party digital solutions. By partnering with Jack Henry and MDT, OMNI Community CU is able to deliver faster, easy-to-use payment capabilities that enhance the member experience while increasing efficiencies, the company says.
“Strategic credit unions like OMNI Community CU understand that if they’re not providing faster payments functionality, their members will look elsewhere,” says Larry Nichols, president and CEO of MDT. “By offering Jack Henry’s centralized payments hub, we are delivering an efficient way for credit unions to meet the skyrocketing member demand for faster payments with confidence. We are proud to partner with leaders like OMNI Community CU as they continually invest in modern digital technology to facilitate a superior member experience and strengthen their competitive position in the market.”
Varnum Law Firm Opens Office in Naples, Fla.
Varnum, a law firm with seven offices throughout Michigan, has expanded with an office in Naples, Fla., which will be led real estate partner Tom Forster.
“Establishing a presence in Florida is a natural extension for us, given our strong client base in the region,” says Ron DeWaard, chair of Varnum. “We are optimistic about our continued growth, both in terms of new clients and of attorneys who wish to join a progressive and growing firm.”
Varnum Executive Partner Scott Hill noted that the firm has a number of business and corporate clients based in Florida as well as individuals who have either retired to or winter in the southwest Florida area. With nearly a dozen Florida-licensed attorneys providing a variety of business and personal legal services, the firm has been serving clients in the state for many years.
“In addition to serving existing clients in Naples, we are excited about the opportunity to further our presence and visibility in southwest Florida,” Hill says. “It is a growth market and the opportunities in key areas such as real estate, corporate, finance, and emerging technologies are a great fit for our firm.”
CMS Energy Completes $1B Sale of EnerBank USA to Regions Bank
CMS Energy in Jackson today announced the close of its previously announced sale of home improvement point-of-sale lender EnerBank USA to Regions Bank, a subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp. for an estimate $1 billion.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund key initiatives in CMS’ core utility businesses.
“EnerBank has been a valued part of the CMS Energy family for nearly two decades,” says Rejji Hayes, executive vice president and CFO of CMS Energy and former chairman of the board of EnerBank. “They have delivered consistently for all stakeholders and we look forward to their continued success with Regions.”
Scott Peters, senior executive vice president and head of the Consumer Banking Group for Regions Bank, says, “The addition of EnerBank’s exceptional team and leading-edge technology will help Regions Bank deliver even greater value to customers who are seeking convenient, competitive solutions for efficiently financing home improvement needs. We appreciate the collaboration of the CMS Energy team, and we are proud to welcome our new EnerBank colleagues.”
Salvation Army of Metro Detroit Meets $250K Matching Donation from Toyota
The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit concluded its second consecutive “Summer in the City fundraising campaign presented by Toyota,” meeting the automotive company’s matching donation of $250,000.
“Through the support of Toyota and the community, The Salvation Army can continue to improve the quality of life for residents on Detroit’s east side,” says Lt. Colonel John Turner, divisional commander and regional chief executive officer for The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division. “To everyone who donated or helped spread the word – thank you. It is a true privilege to do God’s work serving those in need in the community and we could not have done it without the generosity of Salvation Army supporters across metro Detroit.”
Toyota has supported The Salvation Army for ten consecutive years through various community initiatives, including $77,777 in a matching donation towards the nonprofit’s “Summer in the City” fundraising campaign in 2020.
“Toyota believes in serving in the communities where we live and work, which is why we’re honored to be a part of the work The Salvation Army is doing in Detroit neighborhoods,” says Alva Adams Mason, group director of multicultural business alliance and strategy and multicultural dealer relations for Toyota Motor North America. “We’re excited for the expansion and renovation of the Conner Creek Corps Community Center because it will benefit families who rely on this essential community resource.”
All donations raised throughout the nine-week campaign fund the expansion of the Detroit Conner Creek Corps Community Center, located at 3000 Conner St. on Detroit’s east side. Groundbreaking is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2021 and will include:
- Construction of new classrooms.
- Expansion of Conner Creek’s existing senior, student and youth programs.
- Construction of a gymnasium.
- Renovation and expansion of the current food pantry.
Salvation Army supporters can still make a $25 sustaining donation to fund the construction and ongoing activities and critical, life-improving services to children, seniors, and families in need at Conner Creek, by:
- Texting SUMMER to 24365.
- Visiting org and clicking DONATE.
- Calling 877-SAL-MICH.
- Sending a check made payable to “The Salvation Army” to: 16130 Northland Dr., Southfield, MI 48075.
For more information, visit here.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Buildings to Go Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Several Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan buildings will turn pink today in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is recognized in October.
Buildings include the Blue Cross Lafayette Tower and the tops of the Renaissance Center Towers in Detroit, the Accident Fund building in Lansing, and the Lyon Meadows Conference Center Water Tower in New Hudson.
“Throughout October, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is lighting our buildings pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to honor breast cancer survivors, those currently fighting this disease and those we have unfortunately lost,” says Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of BCBSM. “We encourage everyone to stay up to date on mammograms and associated screenings and to encourage your friends and loved ones to do same. Early detection is associated with significantly higher survival rates from breast cancer.”
According to breastcancer.org, breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the United States (not counting some types of skin cancer). More than 281,000 women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed in 2021, along with more than 2,650 men. About one in eight U.S. women (about 13 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer became the most common cancer globally as of 2021, accounting for 12 percent of all new annual cancer cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.