DBusiness Daily Update: Pistons Owner Tom Gores Pledges $350K to Youth at SAY Detroit, 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.
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores has committed $350,000 to SAY Detroit, with $100,000 earmarked to help create an entrepreneurial program for youth at the SAY Detroit Play Center. // Courtesy of SAY Detroit
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores has committed $350,000 to SAY Detroit, with $100,000 earmarked to help create an entrepreneurial program for youth at the SAY Detroit Play Center. // Courtesy of SAY Detroit

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.

Pistons Owner Tom Gores Pledges $350K to Youth at SAY Detroit

Platinum Equity founder and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores announced a $350,000 commitment to SAY Detroit, with $100,000 earmarked to help create an entrepreneurial program for youth at the SAY Detroit Play Center.

Gores made the pledge during his yearly call to WJR-AM radio host and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom’s 10th annual SAY Detroit radiothon, an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit Albom founded in 2006 to address homelessness, health care access, and other charitable support to underserved communities.

Albom announced that the commitment from Gores helped the radiothon raise more than $1.6 million, which is a record for the fundraiser. Since its first broadcast in 2012, the annual radiothons have raised more than $10 million.

Gores says he hopes the entrepreneurship program will teach life lessons and potentially generate additional money for the center.

“I want them to be able to build a business product in an entrepreneurial program we could put together in the summer,” Gores says. “I’m willing to fund the kids’ idea — whatever it is. Hopefully they’re able to make a profit and those profits can go right back to the center.”

The entrepreneurship idea builds on a similar pledge Gores made during last year’s SAY Detroit radiothon, during which he also pledged $350,000 to SAY Detroit, but tasked the SAY Detroit youths with exploring ways to donate $100,000 of that amount to other local charities. When the program was complete, four nonprofits received grants of $25,000 each.

In Related News: Tom Gores contributed more than 10,000 toys, bicycles, and tablets that will be distributed to families in Detroit, Flint, and surrounding neighborhoods this holiday season through the U.S. Marines and volunteers of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

A special event took place Dec. 14 in Detroit and another will take place Dec. 16 with Voices of Children in Flint.

Tricycles with helmets were gifted to all children under 3. Children ages 4-7 received bicycles (assembled) with helmets.  Youth ages 8-10 will receive drones and those ages 11-13 will receive tablets.

“All children deserve a chance to smile and feel the joy of the holidays at this special time of year,” says Gores. “We launched this effort 15 years ago to spread happiness to kids and families in Michigan during the holiday season. Inspiring kids, giving them hope and the excitement it brings is so important. We are honored to partner with these incredible organizations and support the work they are doing for young people in our communities.”

In addition to partnering with Toys for Tots in Detroit and Voices for Children in Flint, the Gores family is supporting a downriver holiday drive by No Kids Without a Christmas in River Rouge.

Gardner-White Partners with Pontiac’s PC Miracles for Cybersecurity

Gardner-White has partnered with Pontiac IT solutions provider PC Miracles to improve the security of the furniture company’s online sales.

Over the last year, business has increased at Michigan’s No. 1 furniture and mattress store. During the pandemic, with people sitting on their sofas for days on end and ordering new ones online, there was a need for a stronger technology footprint to help ring up all those new sales, manage inventory, track a growing workforce, and schedule home deliveries.

The company says it needed a technology makeover to keep up with the boom in business. So, in March 2020, it hired PC Miracles to update their technology, offer backup Cloud-based services, provide around-the-clock support, offer cybersecurity solutions, and more. And, with a global surge in cyberattacks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this partnership couldn’t have happened at a better time to keep Gardner-White protected.

“Technology is critical,” says Rachel Stewart, president of Gardner-White. “We can’t afford gaps. PC Miracles helped us set up the right solution, so our transactions are safe and our data is secure. That peace of mind is important to the success of our family business.  We want to recommend in-stock items and guarantee deliveries with certainty for our customers. Data makes that happen.”

Some of the services PC Miracles delivered to Gardner-White include:

  • Providing onsite and remote technical support to the entire Gardner-White team.
  • Updating their Wi-Fi networks to make them faster and more reliable for employees and guests.
  • Installing multiple layers of security on the company networks and computers.
  • Streamlining the new hire process to make it more efficient.
  • Offering regular cyber security training for employees.
  • Regularly scheduling Strategic Business Reviews to ensure that Gardner-White is on track regarding overall security, stability, and long-term planning.

“Companies need to make sure they’re prepared – not if they have a cybersecurity issue but when,” says Dan Izydorek, CEO of PC Miracles. “We help them set up a disaster recovery plan, and then we manually test their backups and disaster recovery plans every quarter. We also make sure they stay up-to-date with the newest security software to prevent ransomware from getting into their systems in the first place.”

Livonia’s Pet Supplies Plus Opens 600th Store

Livonia-based Pet Supplies Plus recently opened its 600th store, in Gresham, Ore.

Pet Supplies Plus has currently has 107 signed new store commitments for this year alone. Out of those signings, 62 are new franchise owners who are joining the experienced retailer and 45 existing owners will be opening additional locations to keep up with the high-demand industry.

“Pet Supplies Plus’ tremendous new store growth is not only from new owners joining our pack but also from owners who have been with us for 30 years that continue to open new stores,” says Chris Rowland, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus. “Our friendly, local neighborhood pet store reputation is based on the passion our owners have for the pet industry and serving their community. They love what they do and know that we support them with purchasing, marketing, technology, eCommerce and more.”

PointsBet Adds Live Dealer Games to Michigan Online Casino Offerings

PointsBet, a Denver-based global online gaming operator, has introduced live gaming options for customers living in and visiting the state of Michigan as part of its iGaming platform.

Through a relationship with Evolution, PointsBet customers now can participate in live dealer games, including infinite blackjack, blackjack, European roulette, auto roulette, and baccarat.

Evolution provides an authentic live dealer experience delivering content across the globe, with streams originating from broadcast studios situated within state jurisdictions. Their live casino games offer the most realistic experience possible, with professional dealers streamed live to player mobile devices in real-time.

“Online casino products have seen a rapid growth in the U.S. and the team at PointsBet is responsive to our users and eager to bring our customers the experience and games they are looking for,” says Aaron O’Sullivan, vice president of online casino revenue at Pointsbet. “We are helping our users ‘Live Your Bet Life’ with the feel of an authentic casino delivered on a user-friendly and approachable platform.”

The Live Your Bet Life campaign highlights PointsBet’s technology infrastructure, in-game betting capabilities, and strategic approach to the competitive sports betting space.

“Since the launch of our iGaming platform, we have been working to diversify and expand the casino content we offer to players,” says Manjit Gombra Singh, president of product and technology at PointsBet. “Our live gaming options in Michigan offer top-tier choices for our players and will serve as a template as iGaming expands in other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada.”

Fifth Third Bank Partners to Provide Services to Those with Disabilities

Fifth Third Bank and the National ABLE Alliance are making the checking account they designed for the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program now is available in Michigan.

Fifth Third’s ABLE Checking Option offers all the features of a traditional checking account such as a debit card, checks, access to more than 50,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide and more, making it easier for people with disabilities to manage their accounts and pay for their expenses.

The Fifth Third Bank ABLE checking account will feature a “notched” ABLE Debit Card. A physical notch in the debit card assists a visually impaired customer to easily identify the card and help ensure the card is inserted correctly into ATMs and PIN pads. The ABLE debit card provides easy access to the ABLE-related expenses/programs, including health and wellness, housing, transportation, and more.

“Supporting our customers and communities while enhancing inclusivity and access is an ongoing focus at Fifth Third Bank,” says David Girodat, regional president of Fifth Third Bank. “We are pleased to support the MiABLE program and make banking easier for all of our customers.”

For more information, visit here.

Trion Solutions Selected Among the ‘Best and Brightest Companies to Work For’

Troy-based Trion Solutions has been selected one of the National Association for Business Resources’ (NABR) “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” for the seventh consecutive year.

Trion is among the Top 10 largest professional employer organizations in the United States. It works with more than 500 small- to mid-sized companies throughout the United States to help relieve the stress and burden of processing payroll and taxes, and managing human resources, benefits administration, workers’ compensation, and regulatory compliance.

“To achieve this for so many years both locally and nationally is such a tremendous honor and tribute for Trion,” says Bonner Upshaw III, co-founder and CEO of Trion Solutions. “The recognition and distinction never grow old, even in the seventh year.”

Trion has additional offices in Traverse City; Aventura, Fla.; and Scottsdale, Ariz.

Benton Harbor’s Sitedropp Joins Chicago-based Sente Network

Benton Harbor-based Sitedropp, a micro-fulfillment network that connects the construction industry and homeowners with on-demand materials delivery, has joined the Sente Foundry ecosystem of LogisticsTech startups.

“We’re excited about working with Sitedropp,” says Gerod Carfantan, COO of Sente Foundry. “Sitedropp solves a problem that I regularly experience personally and is tackling a big opportunity in the industry-specific micro-fulfillment space.”

As part of Sente’s LogisticsTech network, Sitedropp will gain access to Sente’s base of logistics enterprise partners, collaborate with its peer technology startups, and receive support as they work to become market leaders and scale nationally and internationally.

“We recognize Sente’s expertise in technology development and innovation management,” says Steve Wandel, CEO of Sitedropp CEO. “Sitedropp’s goal of scaling our on-demand delivery platform aligns with Sente’s strength in scaling international startups. Our partnership with Sente provides the resources necessary to help build and grow a world-class company.”

For more information, visit here.

Michigan Women Forward Bridges the Digital Divide

Women entrepreneurs in Detroit’s East Warren Business District now have a digital presence and knowledge to launch an online business thanks to Michigan Women Forward’s (MWF) Let’s Get Digital program, funded by The Kresge Foundation.

The nine-month intensive training program provided 17 women entrepreneurs with digital marketing training in time for the 2021 holiday shopping season.

The weekly training program, which launched in March 2021, was designed to assist women entrepreneurs with its digital marketing efforts. The technical assistance program helped small business owners with a non-existing or minimal online presence fill in the gaps of their digital marketing footprint.

The program provided support by establishing websites, email marketing, social media strategy, Google Analytics, and more. Business owners recently launched campaigns that will allow them to track and evaluate their upgraded digital identities to ultimately learn how to attract and retain customers.

Let’s Get Digital participants also were beneficiaries of a laptop, equipped with Microsoft Office, Shopify, and QuickBooks, donated by Dynamic Technology Solutions. Each participant also received QuickBooks training by AD Accounting, Auditing and Compliance Firm and digital marketing training provided by Kanopi Social.

The websites and social media accounts of program participants launched to coincide with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Nov. 19. The following are 10 of the 17 businesses who completed the Let’s Get Digital program:

  • Aura Vibez Jewelry
  • Grandma Hands Sweets and Treats
  • Kea Aromas
  • Quintessential Body Butters and More
  • Simone’s Health Emporium
  • Stacey’s 2 Day Tea
  • Sweet Suga’s
  • Tbakes Treats
  • Terri’s Cakes Detroit
  • The Bottom Line Coffee House

For more information, visit here.

Detroit Filmmakers Raising Funds for Latest Project

Detroit area filmmakers Lisa Hagopian and Eric Harabadian are raising finances for their third film entitled “We Thrive,” a tale of Armenian genocide, struggle, survival and, ultimately, renewal.

The focus of the film is on Armenian-American musicians from all walks of life and artistic approaches using interviews with prominent Armenian-American musicians, candid street encounters, historical footage, and live performances.

The producers are asking for tax-deductible contributions to help cover the appropriate music licensing fees, legal fees and archival photo and film footage costs.

To contribute, visit here.