DBusiness Daily Update: Rally House Sports Merchandise Retailer Opens in Taylor, 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.
Rally House has opened its newest location in Taylor in the Southland Center. // Courtesy of Rally House
Rally House has opened its newest location in Taylor in the Southland Center. // Courtesy of Rally House

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.

Rally House Sports Merchandise Retailer Opens in Taylor

Kansas-based sports merchandise retailer Rally House has opened its newest location in Taylor in the Southland Center. It is the company’s 12th Michigan store.

Rally House Southland Center says it offers “an unmatched, personalized assortment of products for fan-favorite area teams.”

The store offers what it calls an “enormous selection” of sports apparel and accessories from reputable name brands like ’47, Nike, and Mitchell & Ness. This store offers merchandise for pro teams like the Detroit Tigers, Lions, and Pistons. This location also carries college gear for former, current, and future Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Grand Valley State Lakers, and others.

It also sells products for prominent hometown businesses like Detroit Brewing, Detroit Distillery, and General Motors Co.

Champion Home Builders in Troy Acquires North Carolina Builder for $10M

Troy-based Champion Home Builders, a subsidiary of Skyline Champion Corp., announced that it expects to close by the end of the month on the acquisition of Manis Custom Builders Inc. and related companies in Laurinburg, N.C., for approximately $10 million.

“We look forward to welcoming the Manis employees to the Skyline Champion family,” says Mark Yost, president and CEO of Skyline Champion. “While working with founder Joe Manis and his team during this transaction, we learned that their core operating principles mirror our own. Mr. Manis has been a leader in the industry since 1983 and we are fortunate to benefit from the high quality which Manis is known for.

“With the addition of this 250,000-square-foot campus in Laurinburg and Manis’ retail location in eastern North Carolina to our existing North Carolina campuses, we are now better able to serve customers throughout the region with cost effective, streamlined product offerings that are greatly needed in the current economic environment. We anticipate continuing to build out the approximately $15 million of backlog as we upgrade and re-tool portions of the plant.”

Comcast RISE to Award $1M in Grants to Small Businesses Owned by Women and People of Color

Comcast today announced it will award $1 million in grants to 100 Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck small businesses owned by women and people of color, including Black, indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American owners, among others.

Detroit was one of five cities, including Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Twin Cities, selected for the program. Comcast will award a $10,000 grant to 100 local businesses from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, for a total of $5 million across 500 businesses. This brings the amount awarded to $16 million to date.

The application process will open to qualifying businesses June 1-14, and prospective owners must have their businesses located in the geographic boundaries of Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck.

To help drive outreach about the program and provide additional support, training, and mentorship, Comcast also is awarding $60,000 in grants to four community-based organizations in Detroit, including Build Institute, Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance, Michigan Women Forward, and TechTown Detroit.

In addition, Comcast RISE invests in ongoing mentorship and resources to help businesses succeed over the long-term. The program has partnered with Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to provide grant recipients with business coaching to help build skills in company foundation, growing customers and financial stability.

All Comcast RISE recipients also will have a specialized online networking community within Ureeka with access to educational resources, sources of capital, and vetted experts such as U.S. Black Chambers, National Asian Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Walker’s Legacy, and Operation Hope.

More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available here.

AEye Demonstrates the Power of Adaptive Lidar to Enhance Software-defined Vehicles

AEye Inc., a California-based provider of adaptive, high-performance lidar solutions, on Wednesday showcased its vision for adaptive lidar in software-defined vehicles during a press conference at AutoSens Detroit at the Michigan Science Center.

AEye demonstrated the design of its 4Sight Intelligent Sensing Platform, which enables automotive OEMs to embed the same lidar sensor in multiple integrated locations, optimizing performance for vehicle-specific packaging and integration using AEye’s proprietary sensing software. With AEye’s adaptive lidar, automakers gain design flexibility, without compromising performance, further advancing their pursuit of the software-defined car.

This achievement of utilizing a singular platform, configurable through software and shown in multiple mounting locations, provides automakers full vehicle design and aesthetic flexibility. The result is a design advantage over hardware-centric lidar systems that do not adapt to the evolving performance and integration requirements of OEMs.

Additionally, the 4Sight platform’s inherent software configurability is designed to enable over-the-air updates to improve a vehicle’s autonomous safety features over time, without having to replace the sensor.

“AEye customers gain the distinct advantage of utilizing a single platform that can be modified for any vehicle model and application, increasing adoption and deployment across OEM platforms and reducing engineering costs,” says Jordan Greene, co-founder and general manager of automotive at AEye. “Moving AEye sensor hardware from one location on a vehicle to another does not require a mechanical adaptation, as the sensor’s performance parameter can be configured by a simple software operation. This provides our go-to-market partners, like Continental, the ultimate flexibility in design, without compromising top-end performance in the process.”

As automakers shift towards software-driven business models, they are looking to software-defined hardware to absorb new technological advancements, and to deploy new, innovative services. AEye’s adaptive sensor platform can be configured via software for different vehicle placements, use cases, and markets to help OEMs realize their vision of smart assets and software definable vehicles.

AEye says it’s the first and only lidar company to validate its sensor’s performance through a leading third-party testing service and recently passed the milestone of more than 100 patents filed globally, spanning four continents and more than 10 countries.

Forgotten Harvest in Oak Park to Host Open House May 21

Forgotten Harvest invites its agency partners, donors, community members, and clients to visit its new 78,000-square-foot distribution center and warehouse at 15000 W. Eight Mile Road in Oak Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 21.

The new building is designed to help create better health and quality of life annual outcomes for the more than 610,000 children, families, and seniors Forgotten Harvest serves throughout southeast Michigan, helping those who live in urban areas such as Detroit and Pontiac, as well as many suburban and rural communities. The new building is 48,000 square feet larger than its previous building.

“What makes Forgotten Harvest unique for clients at critical risk of hunger in metro Detroit is that we use advanced logistics to rescue surplus, highly perishable, nutritious food from retailers, distributors, and growers, then share it free of charge with a comprehensive network over 200 food pantry and shelter partners,” says Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest. “We’re thrilled to have such increased capacity at our new building to help thousands more people.”

The building was constructed from the ground up starting in November 2020. The first staff members moved into it in February 2022. Some of its features include:

  • Expanded truck docks-from two to 15 to accommodate the entire fleet of 37 trucks.
  • Innovative logistics to accommodate merging warehouse and grocery rescue.
  • Parking to accommodate 200 volunteers and all staff
  • 90-million-pound capacity — the current rescued pounds will grow to approximately 55 million pounds by 2023 and 70 million pounds by 2028. (The old facility was outfitted to accommodate 35 million pounds per year.).
  • Ground-level agency pick up door for partners.
  • Expansive refrigerated and freezer food storage, five levels of rack storage, and large food processing and repack areas, administrative offices.

The new campus and distribution center was a pillar in Forgotten Harvest’s strategic plan because of the restrictions at its former facility on Greenfield Road in Oak Park. The organization formerly was limited by the lack of refrigerated storage, only two dock doors, and not enough space in the warehouse to implement the repackaging and sorting to create the proper nutritional mix.

The Children’s Foundation Provides $30K to School-based Mentoring Program

Winning Futures announced today that The Children’s Foundation has awarded it a $30,000 grant to support its School-Based Mentoring program.

This program supports 240 10th-grade students in six different schools across the tri-county area. It empowers high school students to achieve the life they dream of through a workforce prep and mentoring program.

The curriculum includes mental health topics along with career and continuing education opportunities, financial literacy, workforce readiness, and critical life skills. The evidenced-based curriculum has shown statistically significant improvements as determined by evaluators from both Saginaw Valley State University and the University of Michigan and has poised Winning Futures as one of the leading and longest running mentoring programs in Michigan.

“We are very grateful for the Children Foundation’s generous support,” says Kristina Marshall, president and CEO of Winning Futures. “The funds from this grant award will provide programming to traditionally underserved students, empowering them to create a vision and develop the skills they need to find success after high school.”