DBusiness Daily Update: Registration Open for Aug. 8-11 National Brownfields Training Conference in Detroit, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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Huntington Place
Huntington Place is hosting the EPA’s National Brownfields Training Conference Aug. 8-10. // Photo courtesy of Huntington Place

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Registration Open for Aug. 8-11 National Brownfields Training Conference in Detroit

Registration is open for the 20th National Brownfields Training Conference, which will be take place Aug. 8-11 at Huntington Place in Detroit. The event is staged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Previous conferences have attracted as many as 2,000 environmental and economic development officials, finance and insurance providers, planners, attorneys, and many others interested in community revitalization.

Addressing the nation’s brownfields — abandoned or underutilized properties stigmatized by past commercial or industrial uses — is an ongoing challenge for communities of every size. EPA’s Brownfields program works collaboratively with federal, state, tribal, local, and private partners to return these sites to productive use. These revitalization projects protect people from exposure to contaminants, improve property values and provide much needed redevelopment opportunities.

At the conference, the exhibit hall will include representatives from federal agencies, engineering firms, developers, environmental cleanup companies, legal and financial expertise, nonprofits, and other types of organizations.

To register or find more information on the conference, please visit the conference website.

Construction on Stellantis-LG Energy Solution Canadian Gigafactory Resumes

NextStar Energy, the vehicle battery joint venture between Auburn Hills, Stellantis N.V., and LG Energy Solution (LGES), has signed a binding agreement that secures the future of battery cell and module production in Windsor, Ontario, and honors the commitments that were made by the Canadian government to level the playing field with the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“The IRA fundamentally changed the landscape for battery production in North America, making it challenging to produce competitively priced, state-of-the-art batteries in Canada without an equivalent level of support from government,” says Mark Stewart, COO of Stellantis North America. “We are pleased that the Federal government with the support of the Provincial government came back and met their commitment of leveling the playing field with the IRA.

“This collective effort enabled the deal to close and we are now resuming construction on the site in Windsor. We are very grateful to the governments for their leadership to resolve and bring this deal to fruition, as well as Lana Payne and her team from Unifor for tirelessly advocating alongside us in our shared commitment to protecting thousands of new jobs as we achieve our electrified future propelled by our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan.”

NextStar Energy is one of eight battery plants that LGES has secured in North America in response to its growing EV market.

Effective immediately, all construction at the NextStar Energy battery plant in Windsor will resume with production operations planned to launch in 2024. The plant aims to have an annual production capacity in excess of 45 gigawatt hours (GWh) and will create an estimated 2,500 new jobs in Windsor and the surrounding areas.

CURE Auto Insurance Recognizes Two Years in Michigan

New Jersey-based CURE auto insurance is recognizing its two-year anniversary of its entrance into Michigan with nearly 100,000 drivers, new jobs, and a new office in The Icon building on the Detroit Riverwalk.

Over the past 12 months, CURE says it has nearly doubled its number of insureds, providing an average per policy savings of 41 percent with some paying 80 percent less than they were paying with their old insurance company.

Illustrating its commitment to Michigan, this month CURE plans to open its first office in metro Detroit at The Icon building (200 Walker St.). The former training center for General Motors and the United Auto Workers (UAW) will house up to 100 employees over the next two years.

“Year two has solidified our presence here in Michigan and reaffirms what we believed from day one — the reforms were needed and really are working,” says Eric Poe, CEO of CURE. “Michiganders continue flocking to our website for quotes and are using the CURE app for ID cards, payments and more.

“Our plan was always to have an office in downtown Detroit, where 61 percent of our insureds live. We have now found our new home — one that will allow for growth and even more job opportunities.”

Consumers Energy Proposes New Program to Explore Burying Power Lines

Consumers Energy in Jackson is proposing a targeted undergrounding pilot program pending approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission. The program is meant to help the company better understand how to bury power lines in a cost-effective way to strengthen Michigan’s electric grid and reduce outages.

The pilot will study real-world resiliency improvements that result from burying power lines, and how those improvements compare with other approaches to improving electric service for nearly 2 million Michigan homes and businesses.

Buried power lines are protected from common outage causes, including lightning, high winds, tornadoes, heavy snow, ice, and falling tree limbs. Buried lines also reduce or eliminate downed wire electrocutions, fire hazards, vehicle collisions, and falling poles, improving public safety.

Based on results from other states and energy providers that have moved overhead lines underground, Consumers Energy estimates it can improve resiliency 90 percent along circuits where lines are buried.

“We know burying power lines will help make the grid stronger, especially during violent storms that are hitting Michigan more frequently,” says Greg Salisbury, vice president of electric distribution engineering at Consumers Energy. “Historically the costs to bury lines have been too expensive, but we have driven down the cost per mile to be equivalent to above-ground hardening costs. This pilot will help us learn even more about how to bury lines in ways that keep costs as low as possible, allowing us to bury additional lines in the future.”

The pilot program will target circuits in Genesee, Livingston, Allegan, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Iosco counties that have frequent, lengthy outages and are in areas with dense trees, which are often responsible for the outages.

In the future, Consumers Energy aims to underground about 400 miles of line annually. Today, about 15 percent of Consumers Energy lines are underground, and most are located in subdivisions and areas with high population density.

“It is important to remember burying our lines might be the right solution for some areas but not others,” Salisbury says. “We will use a strategic approach and do it in the most cost-effective way for our customers. And by using a few different strategies to strengthen the grid, we will be able to deliver a brighter future for all the communities we serve.”

New York Firm Completes $93M Bob Evans Disposition

The Necessity Retail REIT Inc. in New York has closed on the sale of 44 properties leased to Bob Evans restaurants for a total of $93 million. The properties sold are in Michigan and eight other states.

“The sale of this portfolio is the latest example of our commitment to maximizing portfolio value, in this case by strategically reducing our exposure to fast casual dining assets while enabling us to recycle capital accretively,” says Michael Weil, CEO of RTL. “With this sale, we have intentionally reduced our total portfolio exposure to fast casual dining to less than 2 percent from 4 percent, based on annualized straight-line rent. We will continue to pursue the strategic sale of select properties as we focus on optimizing our portfolio and on building a pipeline of similarly favorable dispositions.”

SpartanNash, Flashfood Successfully Divert 1M Pounds of Food Waste

Food solutions company SpartanNash in Grand Rapids recently achieved a milestone in its collaboration with technology company Flashfood. In its first three years, the company and the app-based marketplace have successfully diverted 1 million pounds of food waste and saved families $1.9 million on their groceries.

Reducing food waste and providing affordable access to nutrition are key elements of SpartanNash’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy, which aims to promote healthy lives and well-being for all.

“At SpartanNash, we’re focused on innovative ways to meet shopper needs,” says Amy McClellan, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at SpartanNash. “This solution has made a tremendous difference in preventing food waste while helping families save on imperfect produce and other products that might otherwise end up in landfills.”

Kent County Bioenergy Awarded $5M Grant from State of Michigan

Kent County Bioenergy Facility in Dorr Township near Grand Rapids, a subsidiary of Anaergia Inc, has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission in support of developing the Kent County Bioenergy Facility, a world-leading project in partnership with the Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW).

The project is designed to increase recycling, reduce Kent County’s dependence on landfills, create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce carbon-negative renewable fuel.

The total cost to implement the overall project is currently estimated to be approximately $380 million. The grant from the state is an important step in advancing this potential project, according to officials.

Michigan’s Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure Enhancement and Development grants are given to projects that develop low carbon energy infrastructure and help move the state toward carbon neutrality.

“Kent County has a real opportunity to create a better world for future generations by building the Kent County Bioenergy Facility and Sustainable Business Park,” says Dar Baas, director of the Kent County Department of Public Works. “Thank you to the Michigan Public Service Commission for recognizing the importance of this project in helping achieve Kent County’s landfill diversion goals.”

Kent County Bioenergy Facility, planned as the anchor tenant at the greater Sustainable Business Park, is designed to help Kent County reach the ambitious goal of diverting 90 percent of trash from the local landfill by 2030. The facility is expected to initially divert more than 50 percent of municipal solid waste while reducing methane emissions by recovering organic material in the waste and converting it into renewable natural gas and fertilizer. Non-degradable recyclable materials otherwise destined for a landfill would also be reclaimed.

The Kent County DPW anticipates requesting approval from the Kent County Board of Public Works to move forward with the Kent County Bioenergy Facility project this month. The project would then go to the full Kent County Board of Commissioners for review and approval. If approved, the Kent County Bioenergy Facility project could be fully operational by early 2027.

PulteGroup Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of its Built to Honor Program

For 10 years, PulteGroup has committed to helping ease one burden for military veterans, especially those who are disabled, ensuring they have a place of their own to call home.

Launched in 2013, PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program has built and donated 76 (and counting) mortgage-free homes to disabled veterans and their families. From Michigan to Texas, Washington D.C. to California, the company has gifted more than $35 million in value across the country in the markets it serves.

“It is a tremendous honor to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Built to Honor program,” says Ryan Marshall, president and CEO of PulteGroup. “This milestone is more than just a year, it’s a testament to the veterans who no longer worry about having a roof over their heads, the children growing up with the stability of a home, and the countless memories these families have created together.

“As a company, one of our promises to our customers is to build a home where they can live out their dreams. Our hope is that we are providing just that for the heroes and their families who have given so much in service to our country.”

PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program serves honorably discharged veterans living with disabilities due to injuries incurred during active military service. The program has met the needs of veterans from the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as Gold Star families of fallen service members. The company has awarded homes in 18 states, in communities under its renowned Centex, Pulte Homes, and Del Webb brands.

Veterans selected for the program have demonstrated financial need, do not currently own a home or land, and meet other eligibility requirements. Consistent with PulteGroup’s beliefs regarding the value of diversity and inclusion, the Company partners with nonprofit veteran organizations to identify candidates and ensure that recipients of Built to Honor homes reflect the diversity present within our country and the United States military.

Southfield Parks & Recreation to Host Gazebo Concert Series Beginning July 11

The Southfield Parks & Recreation Department will host the Gazebo Concert Series on Tuesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. July 11-25 at the Burgh Historical Park (26060 Berg Road).

Three soul and R&B artists are slated to entertain. They include:

  • July 11 – Notorious
  • July 18 – Angela Davis
  • July 25 – Yaminah Brock

Concert goers are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating, their own food for a picnic dinner or snacks (no alcohol).

The Burgh Historical Park is an historic district that contains several of the oldest buildings in Southfield. It was the first business and government center in Southfield and dates to 1837. The Gazebo was built in 1988 by the city of Southfield as a focal point for the Burgh Historical Park.

For more information, call the Southfield Parks & Recreation Department at 248-796-4620.

Midtown Art Fair to Feature Performances, Paintings by Artists Living with Mental Illnesses

Midtown Art Fair in Detroit (111 East Kirby St.) is a free event taking place from 1-6 p.m. on July 16 hosted by Michigan Arts Access (MiAA) featuring artists and performers with mental illnesses and disabilities showcasing their talents.

For the first time, there will be seven featured performers from the Gesher Human Services’ Creative Expressions Program in Southfield who currently attend Gesher’s Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center, known as Clubhouse.

There will be a solo piano performance, a group project using recorded background music from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra that participants helped compose, and solo singing performances.

Clubhouse provides enrichment (including arts enrichment with the Creative Expressions program) and educational and employment opportunities for people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression.

Motown legend and MiAA Ambassador Martha Reeves will be signing autographs from 3-6 p.m. during the fair.

For each piece of art sold, 60 percent of the monies earned go to the artist and 40 percent will go back to supporting the Creative Expressions program. Gesher will have two tents at the event displaying its members’ artwork.

For more information, visit shopcreativeexpressions.com.

Registration Open for Friendship Circle’s 18th Annual Walk4Friendship

Registration is open for the West Bloomfield Township-based Friendship Circle’s 18th annual Walk4Friendship fundraiser that will take place starting at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 27 at Friendship Circle’s Farber Center (5586 Drake Road).

The fundraising goal for this year’s walk is $750,000.

Walk4Friendship is a 1.7-mile-long community walk that raises funds for the nonprofit’s vital recreational, social, educational, and vocational programming. Fundraisers like Walk4Friendship allow Friendship Circle to continue its mission of providing friendship and inclusion to nearly 3,000 individuals with special needs.

This year’s theme, “As You Are,” embodies the principles of inclusion and serves as a reminder that Friendship Circle is a place where kids and adults alike are accepted, valued, and celebrated.

In addition to the walk and supporting a great cause, Walk4Friendship participants can enjoy a post-walk celebration that includes food, activities, entertainment, and a new addition to the walk — the Faces of Friendship scavenger hunt. Participants can collect their scavenger hunt clues by picking up a water bottle on the day of the walk. Walkers will win great prizes while learning about the seven core concepts that make up Friendship Circle: heal, play, grow, learn, create, work, and serve. To learn more about the scavenger hunt and the seven concepts, visit here.

General donations, as well as donations to an individual walker or team of walkers, can be made on the Walk4Friendship website. Those interested in walking for friendship can register here.