DBusiness Daily Update: Pope Francis Center Receives $500K from Auction Sale of Custom Ford Bronco, 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.


David Fischer of the Suburban Collection donated a custom Ford Bronco to the Pope Francis Center that brought in $500,000 at auction. // Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
David Fischer of the Suburban Collection donated a custom Ford Bronco to the Pope Francis Center that brought in $500,000 at auction. // Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

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.

Pope Francis Center Receives $500K from Auction Sale of Custom Ford Bronco

The Pope Francis Center in Detroit received a $500,000 donation this week — the winning bid on a custom Ford Bronco at a collector car auction run by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Ariz.

David Fischer Jr., president and CEO of The Suburban Collection in Troy, donated the one-of-a-kind 2021 Bronco First Edition, and the Ford Motor Co. Fund played a key role bringing the vehicle to auction.

“We’re incredibly grateful to David Fischer Jr. for his generosity and to the Ford Motor Co. Fund for working with us to create this unique opportunity,” says Fr. Tim McCabe, SJ, executive director of the Pope Francis Center. “This kind of support truly inspires us in our efforts to combat chronic homelessness in Detroit.”

Proceeds from the auction will go toward Pope Francis Center’s new Bridge Housing Campus, a facility that will feature 40 studio apartments, a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, classrooms, and a health clinic. The campus in Detroit’s Core City neighborhood is targeted to open in mid-2023.

“We are proud to support the Pope Francis Center and their new Bridge Housing Campus located near downtown Detroit,” says Fischer Jr. “Their mission to eradicate homelessness in Detroit by 2030 exemplifies their dedicated efforts to make a difference in our community.”

For more information, visit here.

Bank of Ann Arbor Announces Asset Based Lending Group in Birmingham

Bank of Ann Arbor today announced a new Asset Based Lending Group, stationed in its new branch office at 260 East Brown St. in Birmingham.

This new branch location housing retail banking, commercial lending, and asset-based lending was acquired from Nicolet National Bank after formerly being part of mBank.

“We are excited to join the very successful team at Bank of Ann Arbor who have built a welcoming culture for its clients, employees, and community,” says Ed Lewan, president of Asset Based Lending at Bank of Ann Arbor. “Asset Based Lending offers another banking solution for organizations with special circumstances. Our team works directly with the client to assess their needs and find a solution.”

Tim Marshall, president and CEO at Bank of Ann Arbor, says, “Bank of Ann Arbor welcomes Ed and his team, who have had great success with their asset-based lending customers over the years. We are grateful to add an exceptionally talented team and a product line that can be leveraged across the bank platform.”

Ground Breaks for $18M Senior Housing Project Names for Rev. Holley

Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council President Mary Sheffield and other state and city leaders joined the Rev. Jim Holley and MHT Housing Inc. last week to break ground on an $18 million affordable housing project located across from Holley’s Historic Little Rock Baptist Church. The development will serve as a new anchor along Woodward Avenue in the Piety Hill neighborhood, replacing a vacant building that has been demolished to make way for the new affordable housing.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Holley Residences will bring 60 one-bedroom units, all designated as senior affordable housing and all of which will be offered at or below 50 percent area median income (AMI). This translates to no more than $750 a month, however, because of Section 8 project-based vouchers made available through the Detroit Housing Commission, none of the seniors will pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income in rent. The units are for those making less than $28,000 a year, and their affordability is guaranteed for at least the next 40 years.

“I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to Rev. Jim Holley than a building that will provide so much to our community,” Duggan says. “Rev. Holley has dedicated his life to serving this city, and this project will go a long way to providing quality housing at deeply affordable rates for decades to come.”

DTE Energy Invests $2.2B with Michigan Businesses in 2021

DTE Energy announced it invested $2.2 billion with Michigan businesses in 2021, creating and sustaining more than 10,000 jobs across the state.

DTE has invested nearly $16 billion with Michigan-based vendors since 2010, creating and sustaining 54,000 Michigan jobs. The company invests five times more with local businesses than it did a decade ago.

In addition to Michigan investment, at the same time, DTE is increasing spending with suppliers owned by women, minorities, veterans, and members of the LGBT community. Recently, DTE also expanded its diverse supplier outreach to include disability-owned businesses. In 2021, the company spent more than $715 million with certified diverse suppliers and $820 million with businesses located in Detroit.

“Doing business in the communities we serve helps Michigan companies grow and puts people to work,” says Jaspreet Singh, vice president of corporate services at DTE. “We’re committed to improving people’s lives with our energy. That fuels our passion for giving local and diverse suppliers new opportunities to succeed.”

DTE partners with businesses throughout Michigan:

  • Southeast Michigan and Metro Detroit: DTE bought $1.7billion in goods and services from more than 1,200 companies, generating and supporting nearly 7,800 jobs. Nearly half – $820 million – was sourced from companies based in Detroit.
  • West Michigan: DTE spent $97 million with 200 companies, creating and sustaining nearly 450 jobs.
  • Northeast and Northwest Michigan: DTE invested $17 million with nearly 144 companies, positively impacting about 70 jobs.
  • South Michigan: DTE partnered with more than 300 companies, spending $222 million and adding or maintaining about 1,000 jobs.
  • Central Michigan: DTE invested $46 million with more than 90 companies, creating and sustaining about 200 jobs.
  • Thumb Region: DTE spent $103 million with nearly 130 companies, positively impacting about 475 jobs.
  • Upper Peninsula: DTE partnered with more than 40 businesses, spending $10 million
  • and generating and supporting 45 jobs.

Michigan companies interested in learning about bid opportunities at DTE can find more information here.

Blumark Tax Advisors in Troy Acquires Northville’s Svoboda Group

Blumark Tax Advisors in Troy has acquired The Svoboda Group in Northville. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the combined operation will operate as Blumark.

The Svoboda Group was established in 2005 to provide personal and business tax and accounting services. Over the past 16 years, its range of services continued to grow in response to its client’s needs, and in response to changes in tax law and the overall business environment.

“This is a significant move for Blumark Tax Advisors, as it further expands the work we can do for our clients,” says Chris Reid, director of business development at Blumark. “We also are fortunate to have the entire Svoboda Group team join our organization. The addition of their insight and expertise will improve the experience for all of our clients.”

Ken Svoboda, former CEO of The Svoboda Group, says, “I spent almost half my career building our practice in Northville with the philosophy that it’s a personal business, and nobody was ever just a client number. So, when it came time to seek a successor, the first thing I considered was whether they would be a trusted advisor to my clients.

“When I was introduced to Blumark, I was convinced we shared that passion for client service.  I’m proud of my business and proud to work with Blumark transitioning my clients to a team that offers the high-quality personal service they expect and deserve.”

Svoboda will remain as a senior executive with Blumark Tax Advisors. The entire Svoboda Group staff also will stay and transition to Blumark Tax Advisors.

FAN Launches Macomb County Street Medicine Team

Clinton Township-based Families Against Narcotics’ HARM:LESS harm reduction program has formed a new Macomb County Street Medicine Team in partnership with the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The medical team — consisting of medical students and a doctor — will be assisting HARM:LESS by offering on-the-spot medical treatment to those in need. They’ll be providing such things as wound care, a basic needs assessment, harm reduction supplies, and a direct link to medical care.

The HARM:LESS support team meets people on the streets, in parks, and elsewhere, and helps connect them with the essentials they need to stay safe, healthy, relatively comfortable, and alive. The reason behind their work is simple: harm reduction works.

For more information, visit here.

Pure Roots Dispensary Expands, Offers Personalized Shopping, Delivery Service

Pure Roots Dispensary has added a store at 26673 Lawrence Ave. in Center Line to the one in Ann Arbor and has added delivery service.

The company also is planning to open a third location in Battle Creek in February and a fourth in Lansing in March.

The Pure Roots experience for customers begins after showing their ID. They are directed to one of the touchscreen stations throughout the store that asks a variety of questions to identify their tolerance levels.

“Using the iPad app we created, our system will match them with products available in our inventory with the appropriate level of THC,” says Reni George, vice president of governmental affairs at Pure Roots. “Beyond that, our budtenders will also ask them questions, make recommendations and give information.”

Pure Roots also will be launching a delivery app at the end of February with which customers can order products from their phones and then see a map of the delivery vehicle, on its way to their home – much like the Uber app.

“They don’t have to wait around all day for their product to show up,” George says. “They can go about their day and get notifications as the car gets closer.”

For more information and to schedule a delivery or pick-up, visit here.

Dickinson Wright Earns Fifth Consecutive 100 Score in Corporate Equality Index

The Dickinson Wright law firm in Troy has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index, the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality.

Dickinson Wright’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria also earn the firm the designation as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.

“We were thrilled to participate in the 2022 Corporate Equality Index and honored to achieve a perfect 100 for the fifth year in a row and being designated as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality,” says Michael Hammer, CEO of Dickinson Wright. “This achievement reflects the firm’s strong commitment to fostering a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive workplace environment for our LGBTQ+ personnel.

“At Dickinson Wright, we understand that hiring, training, integrating, and retaining a diverse workforce is at the core of our firm’s values and is instrumental to providing our clients with the best legal service.”

The ratings criteria is rigorous and specific, providing businesses with a transparent set of metrics and best practices that improve the experiences of LGBTQ+ employees across industries. Only 13 companies achieved a 100 score on the first CEI in 2002. Twenty years later, 840 major U.S. businesses earned top marks, demonstrating the incredible impact the CEI has had on the business community.

The full report is available here.

Business Group on Health Honors GM with Helen Darling Award

Business Group on Health in Washington, D.C. has presented Detroit’s General Motors Co. with its Helen Darling Award for Excellence in Health Care Value and Innovation, for the company’s “inventive approach to health benefits.”

“General Motors’ leadership in driving value in the health care delivery system, innovative partnerships with health care providers, and commitment of prioritizing quality in the benefits delivered is impressive and more than warrants this recognition,” says Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health.

The honor was announced at the Business Group’s Employers’ Summit on Health Care Cost and Delivery. Previous winners include Boeing, Cerner Corp., Costco, and Walmart, among others.

Kelsay commended GM for implementing an industry-leading value-based purchasing partnership with Henry Ford Health System in the Detroit region; developing a joint concierge model in support of employees navigating the health care delivery system; driving improvements in health care quality; expanding virtual care offerings; and reducing costs.

More specifically, the concierge model successfully managed hospital admissions and emergency room usage; boosted member satisfaction and access to care; and improved preventive screening compliance and blood pressure management, among other outcomes.

“GM’s track record of leadership in employer-sponsored health care spans many years, and the ability of the company to leverage existing partnerships to pivot during a pandemic further demonstrates the value of hard work and innovative thinking,” Kelsay says.

Janice Uhlig, vice president for global compensation and benefits at GM, says, “Being innovative is one of the behaviors that helps shape our culture at General Motors, and receiving this prestigious award recognizes that we are also living those behaviors in how we provide health care for our employees.”

EMU Launches Lori’s Hands Chapter with Michigan Health Endowment Funds

With support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, help for older adults with chronic illness is underway with the launch of a collaborative initiative between Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and Lori’s Hands, a Delaware-based nonprofit organization.

Lori’s Hands creates mutually beneficial service-learning partnerships between older adults with chronic illness and college students. EMU students assist older adults, individuals with chronic conditions, and their caregivers in Wayne and Washtenaw counties with essential daily activities such as grocery shopping, housekeeping, and meal preparation.

Simultaneously, clients play a role in students’ education: interns from the schools of social work and nursing and campus volunteers will develop insight and empathy into chronic illness and will develop skills relevant to their future professions.

“For older adults living in their homes, available support services are often insufficient in meeting the full range of their needs,” says Christina Marsack-Topolewski, associate professor at EMU’s School of Social Work. “Another obstacle that exists is lengthy waitlists for home- and community-based services.”

“This presents the possibility for students across numerous fields to observe the daily challenges that people with chronic illness experience and solutions to address them accordingly,” Marsack-Topolewski added. “As the population ages and health care needs continue to grow, this knowledge and experience are relevant to many careers, including social work, nursing, public health, and more.”

Funding provided by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund will be used to launch the chapter, support a full-time program manager, provide supervision to interns from multiple disciplines, and manage the overall needs of the program. This funding will span for two years with the hope to extend services to older adults and their caregivers in underserved areas of Michigan while offering valuable internship and service-learning opportunities to prepare future healthcare professionals.

For more information, visit here.

Lighthouse Welcomes Huge Food Shipment from Utah

A massive semi-trucked loaded with 24 pallets of food rolled up to the Lighthouse emergency warehouse in Waterford Jan. 27. The delivery was a gift from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Since the start of the pandemic, for almost two straight years, Lighthouse has been providing emergency food to nearly 5,000 people per week, but inventory was at an all-time low before the truck from Utah arrived.

“Thanks to this generous donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it looks like the shipment will provide six weeks of food for the people we serve,” says Ryan Hertz, CEO of Lighthouse.

Lighthouse, which helps fight homelessness and poverty by providing food, shelter, transitional housing, affordable housing developments, and other services, has pivoted and expanded to accommodate the local community’s needs due to COVID-19.

“People think the pandemic is over and it is not,” says Tarra Mitchell, emergency food and volunteer support manager for Lighthouse.

Mitchell is a member of the Mormon church. She worked to help Lighthouse receive the donation. The truck was packed with everything from beef stew and green beans to spaghetti, peaches, mac and cheese, cereal and jam, shelf-stable food that will go a long way for local families.

To donate to Lighthouse, visit here.

Book Foundation in Ann Arbor Welcomes New Board Members and Staff

The Book Industry Charitable (BINC) Foundation in Ann Arbor is welcoming new board members, updating its Executive Committee, and bringing on new staff members.

“I am thankful for all of the talented individuals, both board members and staff, who lend their expertise to make certain the foundation is prepared and ready to help those in need,” says Pamela French, executive director of BINC.

The new board members are New York-based Erin Coffey, senior vice president of communication and events at Macmillan Publishers U.S. and a member of Macmillan’s Trade Management Committee, and Jonathan Putnam, an author of historical fiction, who lives in London.

BINC’s newly elected Executive Committee consists of Annie Philbrick, president; Julia Cowlishaw, vice president; Ken White, secretary; and Putnam, treasurer. Matthew Gildea will remain on BINC’s board as immediate past president.

Philbrick is the owner of the Savoy Bookshop & Cafe in Westerly, R.I. and Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn.  Cowlishaw is the CEO of Vroman’s of Pasadena, Calif., and Book Soup of West Hollywood, Calif. White is the founder of Query Books in San Francisco.

New BINC staff members include Wyoming-based development coordinator Jennifer Rojas and  communication and project manager Judey Kalchik.