DBusiness Daily Update: New Program for Detroit’s Black-owned Small Businesses, 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.
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Shot of a young female designer working in her office
General Motors, the National Business League, and Comerica Bank have partnered with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City to offer free executive training in Detroit. // 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.

GM, Others Partner to Strengthen Black-owned Businesses in Detroit

General Motors Co. in Detroit, the National Business League, and Comerica Bank have partnered with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) in Boston to offer a free executive education and virtual training program designed to help strengthen and grow Detroit’s Black-owned small businesses.

Through the partnership dubbed the Black Technical Assistance Initiative, a cohort of ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program, a tuition-free 40-hour ‘mini-MBA’ program that combines executive education, webinars, and coaching delivered by university professors and local experts. It is actively recruiting Black-owned businesses in under-resourced communities to apply to the program that begins in October.

“At General Motors we recognize that supplier diversity is the economic engine that drives empowerment, equity, and inclusion into our supply chain and business community,” says Reginald Humphrey, GM’s director of DEI Partnerships.

“Our vision is to achieve equitable and sustainable supply chain inclusion goals that ensure long-term viability for our diverse supply base. Our mission is to serve as bridge builders, connecting an ecosystem of diverse suppliers, communities, advocacy organizations, and customers. Our aim is to ensure that these connections drive lasting business relationships, customer loyalty, and world class parts and services that support our long-term viability.”

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Black business ownership declined 41 percent nationally compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses during the height of the pandemic.

“As a response to the severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Black businesses in the city of Detroit and nationally, it is important that our national organization provides measurable solutions in response to economic problems,” says Kenneth L. Harris, president and CEO of the NBL.

“Being that there are more than 49,000 Black-owned businesses in the city of Detroit, which comprise 80 percent of Detroit’s 62,000 small businesses, the Black Technical Assistance Initiative will aim to help these neighborhood enterprises build the necessary capacity, scope, and scale to compete in the growing minority marketplace throughout the United States of America and globally.”

The program consists of 40 hours of high-impact virtual learning that is divided into four components designed to maximize each participant’s experience and accommodate schedules. The first ICCC cohort will open Oct. 18.

The application deadline for the ICCC 2021 Detroit cohort is Friday, Sept. 24. For more information and to apply, visit here.

Six Labs in Chesaning Signs Licensing Deal with Oklahoma Gummy Maker

Chesaning-based Six Labs, a licensed cannabis cultivator in the state, has announced a licensing deal with Oklahoma-based Kosmik Brands, a seller of cannabis gummies, to produce and provide Kosmik products in Michigan.

The products are available now in Michigan provisioning centers and come in eight flavors, with the products being produced at Six Labs’ 45,000 square foot cultivation lab. It is the second deal of its kind this month for Six Labs.

“This partnership with Kosmik is a part of our larger initiative to bring the best quality cannabis to Michigan,” says Adam Duke, director of sales for Six Labs. “Due to cannabis federal laws surrounding state lines, it doesn’t always make sense for quality brands to set up new labs in each state.

“That’s where we come in to help them produce, distribute, and provide their products to the residents of Michigan. Kosmik aligns with our (Six Labs) standards of quality, so this partnership was in line with our company mission.”

Kosmik Brands was founded in 2019 with a commitment to taste, texture, potency, and quality. The company developed a proprietary THC measuring process, which ensures accurate dosing and consistency with each piece. Michigan is the company’s third state, with the first licensing deal outside its Oklahoma-home in Nevada.

Gale to Host Virtual Library Conference

Gale in Farmington Hills, part of the Cengage Group based in Boston, will host its first Impact Live 2021 virtual event on Sept. 29 and 30, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The free, two-day professional development event is exclusively for public library professionals to learn from peers, thought-leaders, and industry experts about how they can adapt and ensure their libraries are on a path to success. The event will feature more than 20 sessions and 40 speakers.

“Libraries keep communities connected in ways that bring us all closer together,” says Brian Risse, vice president of public library sales at Gale. “We miss the face-to-face interactions that conferences and meetings give us and coming together virtually in this way allows us a path to still share trends and challenges. With Impact Live, we want to connect conversations and learnings in a big way — and most importantly, inspire the actions that help libraries, and their communities thrive.”

The theme of Impact Live 2021 is ‘connect, inspire, and elevate.’ In March 2020, 99 percent of public libraries closed due to the pandemic. This event aims to help public libraries get back on track by connecting and evolving alongside peers and experts.

Keynote speakers include:

J.D. Power Forecasts Declined Vehicle Sales in August

According to a forecast by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive in Troy, new vehicle-retail sales are expected to decline from August 2020 and August 2019 by approximately 14.3 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively.

Comparing the same sales volume without adjusting for the number of selling days translates to a decrease of 17.6 percent from 2020 and a decrease of 30.0 percent from 2019.

The average new-vehicle retail transaction price in August is expected to reach a record $41,378. The previous high for any month was in July 2021 at $40,879. Consumers are on pace to spend $40.8 billion on new vehicles, down $1.8 billion from August 2020, and $6 billion from August 2019. Trucks and SUVs are on pace to account for 77.4 percent of new-vehicle retail sales in August.

“The month of August is historically a peak selling month as manufacturers launch promotional events to clear inventories of outgoing model-year vehicles and begin sales of the new model year. This year, however, the industry has insufficient inventory at dealerships to meet strong consumer demand. The consequence is that the retail sales pace is depressed, but transaction prices are elevated,” says Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power.

Total retailer profit per unit, inclusive of grosses and finance and insurance income, are on pace to reach an all-time high of $4,430, an increase of $2,321 from a year ago and the second consecutive month above $4,000. Grosses have been above $3,000 for four consecutive months.

Despite the supply constrained retail sales pace, total aggregate retailer profits from new-vehicle sales are projected to be $4.4 billion, the fourth highest on record and up a remarkable 133 percent from August 2019. August is on track to be the fourth consecutive month for aggregate retailer profits on new vehicle sales to exceed $4 billion.

Marathon Petroleum Detroit Refinery Expands Local Partnerships over Summer

The Marathon Petroleum Corp. Detroit refinery expanded its partnerships and built new ones with organizations committed to enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the refinery, including nearly $100,000 in Marathon Petroleum Foundation funding and support for several organizations identified by refinery employees.

“We’re grateful for the partnerships with our neighbors that are helping us to continue making a positive impact in our local community,” says Dave Leaver, Detroit refinery general manager. “When we combine these partnerships with the enthusiasm and direct support of our local employees, it gives us the opportunity to truly have impactful programs.”

MPC’s community engagements this summer include:

  • Expanding involvement with Wayne State’s Healthy Homes Initiative by granting an additional $50,000 to the program to ensure that 111 households received healthy home kits. Last year, MPC granted $150,000 to the program that covered startup costs, hiring support and healthy home kits for 90 households. This time around, all funding will go toward kits.
  • Launching “Fueling Detroit,” an event series held at the Kemeny Recreation Center, that brings family fun and community resources to the neighborhood. Nearly 200 attended MPC’s walk-in movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, in July. The refinery team followed up in August with a local Farmers Market involving 36 vendors and two restaurants from the neighborhood, ensuring the event supported local businesses and residents at the same time. Attendees at both events were able to sign up for the Healthy Homes program and register their kids at Mark Twain School. The next event is a Back to School Blitz on Sept. 11 and the season will wrap up with a Health and Harvest Fair on Oct. 9.
  • At Mark Twain School for Scholars, MPC is improving the learning environment for students through the installation of a new air filtration and conditioning system which is anticipated to be completed by August 31. This project was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action taken by EGLE for violations of air quality law. According to EGLE, “Projects must improve the environmental health of communities, earn community support and be a new project that the corporation would not otherwise initiate.”
  • Cleaning up the neighborhood through an employee-driven program along I-75 that removes litter and trash near the freeway, keeps the grass mowed and improves the look of the area as drivers enter the Boynton neighborhood.
  • Donating $26,000 to several local nonprofits, including Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP); Jimmy’s Kids; Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan; Sit On It Detroit, an organization that provides reclaimed wood benches at bus-stops around the city; Gleaners Community Food Bank; Habitat for Humanity; and Trinity-St. Mark’s Pantry and Garden.
  • Participating in the Motor City Makeover, which helped provide safer routes to and from Mark Twain School for Scholars and cleared debris along Fort Street, promoting a cleaner, safer environment.

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