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.
Online Sports Betting in Michigan Drops Below $250M in April
Michigan experienced its first month-over-month decline in sports betting since launching online sports betting, but the seasonal slowdown didn’t stop the state from becoming the quickest in the U.S. to $1 billion in online wagering.
According to PlayMichigan.com, online casinos continued to dwarf sports betting with another month of revenue that neared $100 million.
“Sports betting gets the lion’s share of attention, but it will take years for Michigan’s sportsbooks to reach the kind of revenue that online casinos are already producing,” says Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayMichigan.com. “In addition, online casinos aren’t susceptible to the same seasonal ebbs and flows like sports betting. That said, $1 billion in less than four months of online sports betting is no minor feat either.”
Relying mostly on regular season baseball and NBA games to generate action, Michigan sportsbooks accepted $249.9 million in online bets in April, according to official data released Friday. That total was down 30.5 percent from $359.5 million in March. Combined with $24.2 million retail handle, Michigan’s online and retail sportsbooks collected $274.2 million in bets. The combined handle was down 28.5 percent from $383.7 million in March.
Michigan will likely stay at No. 5 in the U.S. in combined handle, behind New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. But with $1.03 billion in online wagers made through April 30, Michigan is the quickest to reach $1 billion in online wagers.
April’s gross operator revenue from online betting slipped to $20.4 million, down 36.8 percent from $32.3 million in March. That revenue yielded $312,824 in state taxes.
FanDuel/MotorCity Casino led with a $74.2 million online handle, down from $107.2 million in March. That produced $7.0 million in gross sports betting receipts, resulting in a market-best $5.2 million in taxable revenue.
Michigan’s online casinos and poker rooms continued to impress with $94.9 million in April — down slightly from $95.1 million in March. Revenue per day rose to $3.16 million per day for the 30 days of April from $3.07 million per day in March.
The win generated $17.8 million in tax revenue for the state and $5.2 million in local taxes. BetMGM/MGM Grand Detroit led with $36.8 million in adjusted receipts, yielding $7.2 million in state taxes.
GameAbove-EMU, Mr. October Foundation Expand STEM Efforts in Detroit Schools
GameAbove at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and Reggie Jackson’s California-based Mr. October Foundation are collaborating to expand STEM education within Detroit area schools.
GameAbove funds assisted the foundation in expanding its Digital Divas and Digital Dudes programs this past school year. The programs provide learning opportunities for middle and high school students to build their STEM skills and knowledge while also expose youth to the college campus experience in hopes of improving high school graduation rates.
For this upcoming 2021-2022 K-12 school year, GameAbove will again contribute $250,000 to the Mr. October Foundation to continue bringing STEM education to young women and men in the area. Since January 2020, GameAbove contributions to STEM K-12 education outreach now reach over $800,000.
“STEM is a clear pathway to college, especially for underserved communities and for children of color. In addition, given the projected demand for future workers with STEM-related degrees, it’s important — now more than ever — to reach out to our youth and inspire them into these careers,” says Kristin Young, a GameAbove advisory board member. “GameAbove is extremely pleased to be supporting the expansion of the success demonstrated by the Mr. October Foundation and Digital Divas and Dudes,”
Jackson, who played many games at Tiger Stadium in Detroit during his Hall of Fame career, including the 1971 All-Star Game in which he hit a towering home run, says, “More Detroit youth have definitely benefited this past year from our collaboration with GameAbove and Eastern Michigan University. “The importance of bringing STEM into our inner cities was even greater this past year, given the educational obstacles faced by children during the pandemic.”
Over the past 18 months, GameAbove has donated more than $20 million to academic, athletic, and supportive programs at Eastern Michigan University and the surrounding community.
State Awards $800K in Grants to Six Communities
The State Land Bank Authority (SLBA) and Michigan Department of Treasury announced $800,000 in blight elimination grants will be awarded to six cities across Michigan.
“This is a great opportunity for communities across the state to tackle blight, remove vacant and abandoned structures from neighborhoods, and prepare areas for developments that spark future investment, expansion and growth,” says Emily Doerr, executive director of the SLBA.
The Blight Elimination Grant program was made available to a city, village, township, county, or land bank for projects that pose an immediate public safety or health risk to the community. The grant assists in removing vacant and abandoned structures in preparation for future developments, helping launch business investments and spurring economic growth.
Grants will be awarded to the following communities:
- Albion ($200,000)
- Bessemer ($24,800)
- Jackson ($125,200)
- Lapeer ($200,000)
- Saginaw ($200,000)
- Johns ($50,000)
Proposals were evaluated on their anticipated impact in promoting public safety and health, enhancing economic development, public and private investment in the project, and their alignment with a local place plan or other placemaking effort.
Colleges, Universities Launch National Alliance with Students Designing Education’s Future
A national alliance of six colleges and universities led by Grand Valley State University in Allendale Township near Grand Rapids, together with hundreds of high school and community partners, announced the launch of REP4, an initiative to change the future of education.
Unique to the alliance, students will take the lead conducting “Rapid Education Prototyping” to address the urgent challenges of access and completion to fully deliver on higher education’s promise of social and economic mobility.
The six founder institutions collectively serve more than 100,000 students. The five other partners are Amarillo College in Texas; Boise State University in Idaho; Fort Valley State University, an HBCU in Georgia; San José State University in California; and Shippensburg University, in Pennsylvania.
The REP4 name underscores how student-led, Rapid Education Prototyping, will engage the voices of learners in designing innovative, actionable solutions for pressing challenges. Learners will co-design education prototypes, and best ideas will be scaled nationwide through the alliance to maximize impact.
Microsoft will participate in the REP4 summit to support the alliance in reimagining student-centered experiences, consistent with its recent whitepaper. Microsoft will help shape how technology, particularly data and AI, can empower personalized and inclusive learning experiences.
The REP4 alliance formed as a response to a growing number of challenges facing higher education: low completion rates, lack of access, and racial gaps. By allowing learners to design solutions, REP4 will focus on improving outcomes and eliminating these barriers.
“We are inspired by young learners with keen perspectives on what their future can be,” says Philomena V. Mantella, president of Grand Valley.
Visit here for more information.
Detroit’s ATC Healthcare Services Receives Most Improved Office Award
Detroit’s ATC Healthcare Services of Metro Detroit recently was presented with the national company’s Most Improved Office Award by posting the most revenue improvement in 2020.
“Receiving the Most Improved Office Award is validation for our office’s hard work over the past year,” says Marina Marchese, owner of the office. “My team and I have worked incredibly hard to find medical professionals placements in roles where they were needed most and make sure that communities had the resources they needed to battle the pandemic. To see it pay off like this is a wonderful feeling.”
ATC Healthcare Services, a system with 45 franchisees nationwide, provides health care staffing services to a variety of businesses including hospitals, outpatient centers, medical offices, schools, travel-based businesses, and more.
Comerica Bank Partners with National College Group for Empowerment Weekend
Comerica Bank and the National College Resources Foundation are partnering to present Detroit Empowerment Weekend May 20-22. The free, three-day virtual series presents opportunities for high school students to have their college application fees waived — as well as chances to earn acceptance and receive scholarships to colleges on the spot.
Seminars and workshops for K-12 students and their families also will be available.
“Coming together with the National College Resources Foundation is a natural fit for Comerica Bank’s continued commitment to helping young people and the communities they live in, especially in response to many challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Linda Nosegbe, southeast Michigan market manager at Comerica Bank. “Ensuring we provide the next generation of leaders opportunities to better themselves and further their education is critical, and this virtual Empowerment Weekend is a step in the right direction to make that happen.”
The virtual Detroit Empowerment Weekend consists of:
- STEAM Expo (May 20, 1:30-4:30 p.m.)
- Tuskegee Airmen Presentation (May 20, 2:30-4:30)
- Empowerment Series (May 20, 5-8 p.m.)
- Latino College Expo (May 21, 4-6 p.m.)
- Black College Expo (May 22, 12-3 p.m.)
To participate in Detroit Empowerment Weekend, visit here.
DIA Receives Gift of Work by Artist Titus Kaphar
Expanding the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) collection of African American art, museum supporters Nancy and Sean Cotton have donated Nip Tuck (a portrait of Lillian Dandridge), a 2009 painting by Kalamazoo native Titus Kaphar. The Cottons have loaned an additional nine works of art that will be on display beginning May 15, 2021.
“It’s extremely generous of collectors Nancy and Sean Cotton to gift the DIA this powerful painting that uncovers hidden truths in American history,” says Valerie Mercer, curator and head of the DIA’s Center for African American Art. “In that respect, it, along with nine loaned contemporary artworks by various Black artists represented in the Cotton’s outstanding collection, refers to the theme of Black Lives Matter directly and indirectly by emphasizing aspects of Black humanity through the examination of numerous issues, such as the complexities of historical narratives, cultures, identities, myths, genders, fears, humor, imagination, influences, communities, families, and more.”
Nip Tuck will be displayed alongside eight works on loan from the Nancy and Sean Cotton Collection, all by artists from the African diaspora. Highlights include Color Men (2015) by Rashid Johnson, Princess (2017) by Tschabalala Self, and two additional works by Kaphar.
The DIA has been at the forefront of collecting and presenting world class art from artists of the African Diaspora in the Americas, and it was the first museum in the U.S. to dedicate a curatorial department and galleries to African American art. With a collection of more than 600 works created from the mid-19th century to today, the DIA’s Center for African American Art was the inspiration for Nancy and Sean Cotton to collect works of art produced by artists of color.
In addition to the gift and loans, the Nancy and Sean Cotton Collection also has loaned 11 paintings that comprise American Spectacle: Selections from the Nancy and Sean Cotton Collection of American Art, part of the DIA’s statewide exhibition program. The exhibition will be on display at the Lorenzo Cultural Center at the Macomb Community College Center Campus from June 11-Sept. 11. In addition, 40 works from the Cotton’s collection comprise a second statewide exhibition, Visions of American Life: Selections from the Nancy and Sean Cotton Collection of American Art.
Detroit’s Focus: HOPE Introduces New Board Members
Detroit-based civil and human rights organization Focus: HOPE has elected two new members to its board of directors — Jonathan Jennings, vice president of global commodity purchasing and supplier technical assistance at Ford Motor Co., and Chris Villavarayan, president and CEO of Meritor.
Jennings joined Ford in 1993 as a manufacturing engineer, and held roles including executive director of global commodity purchasing and director of enterprise product line management before beginning his current role in 2020.
Villavarayan began his current position in March 2021. Prior to serving as CEO, Villavarayan’s 20-year career at Meritor included roles as executive vice president and chief operating officer, as well as senior vice president and president of global truck.
“We are thrilled that Jonathan and Chris have brought their leadership and expertise to support Focus: HOPE’s mission,” says Portia Roberson, CEO of Focus: HOPE. “Our organization is grateful to benefit from their commitment to community improvement, and I am excited to work with them and with the entire board of directors to continue moving Focus: HOPE forward in 2021 and beyond.”
Jennings and Villavarayan join Chair D. Scott Sandefur of General Motors Co., Vice Chair Lizabeth Ardisana of ASG Renaissance and 15 other prominent business and community leaders on the organization’s board.